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The Game of Crimps: 3D printed design and maritime warfare come together in new board game

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A dedicated fan of classic board games, I am rarely taken with newly released games — with a few exceptions, of course. One of those exceptions is a new strategic board game that draws its inspiration from the seafaring of old and is presented as a beautiful, foldable 3D printed set. The game, called Adella: the Game of Crimps, is arguably as impressive in its design as it is in its gaming concept.

The maritime board game of Crimps, currently being featured through a Kickstarter campaign, was conceived of about six years ago by Cornwall-born Ben Reader and Portuguese artist Ana da Palma Kennerly, and has gone through many iterations before arriving at its final 3D printed form.

“Originally, Adella: the Game of Crimps was loosely inspired by the Mancala game and consisted in shifting beans around an hexagonal board,” explains Reader. “The version you see today was inspired by piracy, especially the act of crimping, an old practice of coercing or kidnapping men from the shores to sell them as crewmen for ships due to shortage of seamen at the time of the gold rush.


“Although this inspiration does not make the gameplay, it certainly influenced the background of it. It incorporates aesthetic elements like the flower of life, and follows an etiquette that could be compared to the one in the game of GO. These are some of the influences but the game itself is completely unique in its dynamics.”

As Reader continues to explain, it wasn’t just the gameplay that underwent years of testing and honing, but the physical package of the game too.

“The first version of the game was a cardboard hexagon with fabric hinges sailed by origami junk ships (this links in to the American word for crimping which is shanghaiing),” Reader tells us. “A wooden version followed which was laser-cut from different layers of plywood. It was about two years ago that I came across the idea of 3D printing the game.


“Because of its complex shapes, it was impossible to carve it out of wood and the 3D printer opened a lot of design possibilities. For instance, hinges could be printed directly into the form and the advent of wood filament meant we could keep the same aesthetic yet print more daring designs.”

The intricate board game was designed and blueprinted by Reader and then translated into a digital 3D model by Ana da Palma Kennerly, an artist who has worked with 3D modeling in the past. The pair relied on a number of modeling software programs for the game’s design, including Rhino and SketchUp.

The 3D printing stage, on the other hand, was something entirely new to both Reader and da Palma Kennerly, though they remained committed to building the board themselves rather than use a 3D printing service.

“We didn’t have any previous experience with 3D printing, so we spent a lot of time experimenting, printing out several versions of the game until we came across the perfect settings and the perfect shape,” says Reader. “We are using a Creality CR-10 3D printer and working with a wood-based PLA filament.”

Notably, the wood-based filament has enabled the board game creators to retain the traditional wood aesthetic that fits with the maritime-inspired game while also allowing for a complex and sculptural structure.


“The aesthetic inspiration mainly comes from ancient history,” adds Reader. “The idea was to take primordial motifs and combine them with modern innovation to create something that has an ancient yet revolutionizing feel. Although the closed game (a chest that contains all the playing pieces) could look like it comes from outer space, there is something familiar in its curves, which mimic organic form and lead the eye over the game’s harmonic body.”

As mentioned, Adella: the Game of Crimps is being featured through a crowdfunding campaign, where backers can make pledges starting at £190 (about $250) for the 3D printed board game. If that seems like more than your run-of-the-mill Monopoly set, Reader reminds us that once the game pieces are 3D printed, the game is post-processed and assembled by hand (including sanding, smoothing, staining and binding the separate components). The Kickstarter runs until August 15th, 2018.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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