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3D printed Cyvasse is Game of Thrones for the board game geek

Based on the scant clues scattered around A Song of Ice and Fire, you can now play a version of the chess-like game from Westeros.

Michael Le Page

For the purposes of storytelling, not every element in a fictional universe needs be fleshed out; but where you have fans, there you also have those who will gladly seize on a concept and do their best to bring it to life.

Case in point is a board game designed by Michael Le Page, medical scientist and PhD student by day, board game enthusiast and Game of Thrones fan by night. Inspired by a Cyvasse set that appeared on Thingiverse last year, he decided to make his own.

But it wasn't a spur-of-the-moment plan; for a year prior to the Thingiverse Cyvasse, Le Page had been working on creating a set of rules for the game, based on what little information he could find in George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.

"There's not a lot in the books to go off -- GRRM himself never tried to define the rules -- but he did say it was a mix of Chess, Stratego and Blitzkrieg (which is based on a hex grid), and we have a list of quotes that say things like that the pieces are made of 'onyx and ivory', Dragons can be taken by Trebuchets and that Heavy Horses were 'circling around his rear'," Le Page said of his process.

" There's also one quote that says Myrcella and Trystane were moving pieces over squares of Jade, Carnelian and Lapis Lazuli, which if you think about how you do a checkered grid with three colours, suggests a hex grid. The rest was basically trying to make something which played well and felt like it had the gravitas of Chess."

His set, therefore, looks quite different to the traditional square board seen in games like chess, draughts and previous versions of Cyvasse. The board is hexagonal, with three different colours of hex on the grid -- neatly hollowed out so the pieces can slot in, a design choice born of cutting costs by minimising the amount of print material required.

Le Page also found that the process of designing and producing the board changed the rules he had devised.

"In the last year it's been a case of trying to get it made, discovering that wood carvers are expensive, and people who work in metal or any other material are too. I even looked at getting it outsourced to India and it was still going to cost me over a grand. Eventually when I started looking into 3D printing I found Google Sketchup is free! I've discovered I'm half decent at designing in 3D and that ordering designs through Shapeways was much cheaper than anything else I'd seen -- and I didn't even need to buy a printer!" he explained.

"The 3D printing process did change the design a little: I had imagined it in my previous video as a hex grid of squares, the way a lot of footpaths are tiled with concrete squares in a hex grid. Anyway, it turns out it was just easier to make the 3D printed version with hexagons, not squares (with holes in them, so they're cheaper to print)."

The finished set, available on Shapeways, comes in at a total of $304 (AU$322, £179) plus shipping for the board and each of the two sets of pieces. You can read more about the development of the rules on the Westeros forum, and take a closer look at the set in the video below.