Go Behind-the-Scenes with Prickly Path!

Prickly Path- Family Strategy Game- Plant Board Game- Corné van Moorsel

Join us on a colorful cacti adventure through the desert and get a behind-the-scenes look at SimplyFun's newest family board game, Prickly Path! From licensing, game design, testing, and production, 'stick with us' to uncover what it takes to create a family-fun board game!


Prickly Path, a Fun Strategy & Decision-Making Game

Prickly Path- Family Strategy Game- Plant Board Game- Corné van Moorsel

In Prickly Path, players stroll the desert board game using the coyote pawn to group their blooming cacti for points. This fun family board game is a great addition to our life & thinking games, which focus on building essential soft skills like strategy and decision-making. Play Prickly Path with 2-4 players ages 8 and up, in about 20 minutes per round.


The Origins of Prickly Path

The original concept, Beasty Borders, was brought to SimplyFun by world-renowned game designer, Corné van Moorsel, who has licensed some of our most successful educational games like award-winning SumologySavannaScapes and Time Jumpers among other unique concept games like Triage, Bid-A-Letter and Eat & Tweat.

"Corne's games have the perfect balance of intricacy and accessibility, and I love his unique approach to game design." says SimplyFun's Product Development Director, Tiffany O'Brien. 

Beasty Borders-Corné van Moorsel

The Behind-the-Scenes of Game Design:

Reimagining Beasty Borders to Create Prickly Path

When SimplyFun licensed Beasty Borders from Corné, it was a two-player game on a square grid. One player had farm animals, while the other player had wild animals. Although the original concept was well-received, SimplyFun's game designer, Laine Garrett, drew inspiration from former years living in New Mexico to reimagine the game with a 'cactus in a desert theme.'

"A lot of artists depicting the southwestern deserts push the natural hues of the desert to these over-saturated extremes that I think look really striking. I wanted to try to emulate that in my own style." -Laine Garrett, SimplyFun Game Designer. 

Prickly Path - Plant Game - Game Design Behind-the Scenes

When SimplyFun's product development team begins a new project, they typically pitch 4-10 themes for each newly licensed game. In addition to the cactus-in-a-desert theme, Laine also presented four other design options:

  • Koi fish in a pond
  • Mythical creatures in a fantasy world
  • Trees in a forest
  • Birds in the sky

Out of all the game concepts presented, the cactus-in-the-desert theme was the clear winner, which was Laine's favorite concept as well.

"I liked this theme because it was unique and different from other themes we have done in the past, and it allowed for the best-looking game pieces. The other themes had production limitations, which would have resulted in much simpler pieces."

-Laine Garrett, SimplyFun Game Designer

Prickly Path- Family Strategy Game- Plant Board Game- Corné van Moorsel

The Game Testing Process and Design Challenges

Allowing Flexibility for More Players

After SimplyFun's product development team began play-testing their newly licensed Corné van Moorsel game, they realized that to make it more family-friendly, they needed to accommodate four players instead of the original two-player game mechanics. They quickly realized that individual players would now have less room to group their cacti with the additional players attempting to do the same. Their solution? Our in-house game designers decided to reformat the square grid to a hexagonal one, giving the game more breathing room to connect groups of their cacti.

Prickly Path- Family Strategy Game- Plant Board Game- Corné van Moorsel-BoardGame

Now That the Board Game Accommodates Four-Players, What Happens to the Two-Player Mode?

After changing the original square grid to a hexagonal board game, the design team noticed that when played with only two-players, the board game lost some of the fun challenges associated with the original game mechanics. Large skipping stones were then added as a design element to break up the space, limit playable areas when playing with only two-players, and add a level of complexity similar to that of having another player.

Prickly Path- Family Strategy Game- Plant Board Game- Corné van Moorsel-Rocks

Changing the Point Values to Make it More Rewarding and Fun to Play!

Another challenge they uncovered during game testing was that the point values for different plant groups also needed some adjustments. Initially, players found it more efficient to form multiple smaller cactus groups because larger groupings didn't offer much more point value. To make the game even more exciting and rewarding, they modified the point system to provide a bigger incentive for players to create larger groupings of cacti.

Prickly Path- Family Strategy Game- Plant Board Game- Corné van Moorsel-Scoring

From Licensing to Launch, Prickly Path's Timeline

To re-conceptualize the game theme, complete the artwork and finalize every last detail for production, Prickly Path took approximately six months to complete. Modifying a game's mechanics from the original prototype requires rigorous playtesting for the design team to comprehend their changes and ensure they make sense for the final product. Waiting for game pieces from factories and third-party testing to ensure safety and quality standards also affects the turnaround time. Sometimes, it takes several iterations between the product design team and the factory to determine the best way to manufacture an object in the game. Extra time for back-and-forth revisions is always factored into the timeline.


What Do You Love About Prickly Path?

"I love how the quick and easy it is to understand, and despite it's simplicity it has really engaging strategy. The game changes a lot depending on who you play it with, because someone else's play style and strategy can interact with your own in unexpected ways."

-Laine Garrett, SimplyFun's Prickly Path Game Designer

"I love the elegant design and artwork. It is a game I want to play many times over, generally immediately after playing. There is a straightforward strategy that allows me to concentrate on my plays, and I can choose whether or not I want to make it more difficult for other players. (Spoiler alert: I rarely have the chance due to the surprise moves of other players.)"

-Tiffany O'Brien, SimplyFun's Director of Product Development

Prickly Path- Family Strategy Game- Plant Board Game- Corné van Moorsel-Scoring

Even if you don't have a green thumb, Prickly Path is an enjoyable family game that is a hit with novice and seasoned tabletop gamers alike. Plus, it's the perfect plant game for all the plant-lovers out there! If you are looking for an uncomplicated board game that satisfies your need for a challenge in strategy and decision-making, howl your way through the desertscape to plant colorful cacti in this dopamine-boost of a game. Play Prickly Path with 2-4 players, ages 8 and up in 20 minutes.


Read more about: Prickly Path

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