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But it Only Goes to Four...

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Learn how to modify board games to accommodate a larger player count!

Do you have a large gathering or class but have a board game that is rated for a smaller player count? Check out below on tips about how to modify certain board games for a larger setting.

There are many great games that are out there to be played! One struggle found most often is having more people than the printed maximum player count on the box. The conversation usually goes... “Well I have played before, so I will sit this one out”, “I own the game, so I can assist the new players”, or "I just want to watch how you play, and then I'll catch the next game".

The problem comes when the whole family wants to play a game, or you are trying to use a small player count game in a larger setting, like a game night with friends, or in a classroom.

While there are no stores or companies out there that will tell you to NOT purchase enough copies of the game to match the player count, there may be a few ways to “hack” the game to expound the player count, especially for an educational setting.


Option #1 - Make it BIG


There are a few companies out there that make giant games, or have alterations on their website to make a game bigger in scale. Not every time, but some of the times, this will allow a few more people to play than what is recommended, create a "team" effort or simply create a larger scale of the game, making it friendlier for younger ages. (TIP: This is also a great way to incorporate fine motor and sensory needs!)

Example: Hedgehog Roll, by Gamewright Games

The original game came with 4 hedgehog meeples (1 for each player), 1 fox meeple (for cooperative mode), game board, cooperative (fox) board, a small brown tennis ball (the hedgehog ball), and several velcro-like nature pieces (plastic/velcro pinecones, flowers, and leaves). The goal of the game in competitive (original) mode is to roll the tennis ball, collecting nature pieces, that will help move the individual hedgehog meeples through the forest (board) until one of them reaches the cottage. The first to reach there wins! The cooperative mode only uses 1 hedgehog meeple, and the goal is working together to move the hedgehog to the cottage before the fox catches up to them.

(take nice picture of altered version)

The altered version (listed here) was simply created to accommodate more people, smaller children and sensory needs. To create this altered version, copy the pieces or find a picture of a leaf, a pinecone, and a flower, then print and laminate 6 each of these about 200% times the original piece (or whatever size is preferred), and place a small strip of hook velcro (rough patch) across the back of the new cards. A large dog tennis ball is about the perfect “oversized” ball that a child can handle. If the board needs to be bigger, the board can be copied and sealed with a paper sealant (like mod podge), or take a plain colored sheet and paint a path with some icons (matching the pictures) on it.

The opportunities are endless!

Option #2 - Add More Meeples


Depending on the game, hacking the game to allow more players may be simpler than you think. If the game requires individual player pieces, all you need is more meeples! Simply gather similar pieces of the same size, and expound to reach the number of people needed. This is not possible in all games, but for some, it doesn’t really change the game.

A good example of this is in Tsuro by Calliope Games. The game was originally designed for 8 players, thus only having 8 player tokens. To expand the player count, simply add similar meeples or other token pieces of different colors, shapes, etc. (TIP: Even with adding multiple meeples/tokens, it is not recommended to add more than just a few more players to the game.) For adjusting the game to accommodate even more people than this, please see Option 5 for a better way to hack for more players.

Option #3 - Change it Up!

If the options are limited by the people or the products in the game, and it is not so easy to just add a token and create a player, maybe the better route will be to simply distribute the pieces in the game, or take certain pieces away to accommodate those who want to play.


Option #4 - Teams, Sharing, and Other Groupings

Another fun alternative to try is dividing into teams, sharing among the group certain aspects to the game, or grouping people in other fashions (based on how the game plays).

Working in teams will also build cooperative skills, communicative skills, and other useful team building skills!

An example for modifying a game to make it "Team Building" would be to use Before There Were Stars by Smirk and Laughter. Instead of everyone having their own individual board and voting on each person's story, break the groups up to spread somewhat evenly among the 6 boards available. Each group around a board is now a pod or a team, and will be working together quickly to come up with the short story that will add to their ongoing storyline. You now also vote as a group and make decisions together. This will also enhance the team building skills cooperation, communication, and cohesion.

Option #5 - Classroom Style

For the ultimate way to hack a game for more players, some games will allow for what we call the "classroom style" hack. So long as everyone can see the primary contents of the game, or create a simple "assignment" sheet that is available to everyone, then the game is easy to adjust to a classroom setting!

One of our favorite games to use for this is Cat Crimes or Dog Crimes by Thinkfun.

Both games play the same way, where the player (it's a single player game originally) is trying to deduce which cat (or dog) committed the current challenge's crime based on clues given on the challenge card. There are 6 cats, 1 clue board, 40 challenge cards, and a rulebook. On one side of the challenge card there are clues given as to where some of the pets may be found (Ginger is next to the fish bowl, a cat with white paws is across from Ginger, etc.), and the other side shows the solution, pointing out where every pet is located. If you deduce correctly, you pass the challenge!

To modify this single player logic puzzle game, we came up with several different alternatives, but we will focus on one primarily for this blog (but keep a watch out in the future for more ways to hack this game) - the classroom style. Create some sort of an "assignment" sheet that will fit with the lesson or idea being presented for the class. Let's say it's a short-story assignment. Have a few challenges from the game set up and read off the clues to the class, and have them assist with sharing where they think the cats should be placed. Then, let them choose 1 of the challenges that were presented, and have them write a short story including the following information: who did the crime, where they were, what type of breed and other information about the pet, and any other details you wish to add. Then have them write a short story including why they think the cat/dog may have performed the crime (you can even involve animal science by indicating age, breed, and other natural factors that may contribute). The possibilities with how to use this game in a classroom setting are endless!

(NOTE: Keep a watch out in our blog posts for future blogs on using games in educational settings, which will expound upon the idea listed above!)


Whatever you do, keep it simple!

There are many different ways out there to hack or modify games. Just to reiterate, they are NOT bad games, just limited! The games are so well designed, fun, and engaging, that they need to be shared with more people. These 5 options are not the only ways to modify games to accommodate the needs of your group, but just a few examples. Whatever you do, however you modify the games, keep it simple! No one wants an overly complicated game, especially for a larger group setting.

For questions, comments, or more information, reach out to us on our Contact page. Keep checking back for more fun and insightful ways to use games!


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