How To

This page is a collection of articles and videos about building your own Cheapass Games, how to play Cheapass Games, game design in general, and so on. Basic "how to" hints for building the components for our free games are contained in those games' rules.

If you have a good article, video, or interpretive dance describing your experiences with Cheapass Games, send it to us and it just might make it all the way here!

And if there was stuff on the old site that you want to see again (there was a lot) please let us know. We plan to move a lot of that stuff forward to the new site, but there's no telling when we will get to it. Your enthusiasm gives us strength!


James Ernest has a YouTube channel and you should go check it out. We currently have three "How to Build" videos, for Cards (3 Ways), Tile Cards, and Double-Sided Counters, and several "How to Play" videos, including Lord of the Fries, Stuff and Nonsense, Get Lucky, Deadwood, and Unexploded Cow. There are other Cheapass videos there too, but not really in the "how to" category. More, surely, is to come.

How to Play BRAWL   Video 10: How to Play BRAWL

How to Play Lord of the Fries   Video 9: How to Play Lord of the Fries

How to Play Stuff and Nonsense   Video 8: How to Play Stuff and Nonsense

How to Play Pairs   Video 7: How to Play Pairs

How to Make Cards   Video 6: How to Make Cards (3 Ways)

How to Play Get Lucky   Video 5: How to Play Get Lucky

How to Play Deadwood   Video 4: How to Play Deadwood

How to Build Counters   Video 3: How to Build Double-Sided Counters

How to Play Unexploded Cow   Video 2: How to Play Unexploded Cow

How to Build Tile Cards   Video 1: How to Build Tile Cards


If you like to read about how games are made, here are a few articles from James Ernest. There's a rumor that he's working on a completely new game design textbook, based on his tabletop games class at DigiPen. But until he puts the pages online, it's just a rumor. If there's anything you'd like to see here, just ask!

Casino and Pub Games   Article 10: Designing Casino and Pub Games (PowerPoint, 9 MB)

Probability   Article 9: Probability for Game Designers (posted at League of GameMakers)

Fish Cook   Article 8: Fish Cook Designer Diary

Cheapass Games   Article 7: Which Comes First? (Back Story and Game Mechanics)

Cheapass Games   Article 6: Volatility in Game Design (Notes from Gen Con 2012)

Cheapass Games   Article 5: Designing "Panic": a game invention diary

The Big Idea   Article 4: The Big Idea (Semideluxe Edition Rules)

Cheapass Games   Article 3: Keeping it Simple: Efficiency in Game Design

Deadwood   Article 2: Cleaning Up Deadwood: A Post-Mortem

Dead Money   Article 1: How to Play Dead Money (Correctly)

Even More Stuff: For more conversation about the daily grind of making games, follow James Ernest on Tumblr: