I bought Super Mario Party for the Nintendo Switch for my kids as an Easter present (although, honestly, it was more of a “something to do during the Covid-19 safer-at-home order” present), and it’s been a big hit.
However, we’re also trying to limit our kids’ screen time and not just let them spend the whole quarantine as TV and tablet zombies, so after playing quite a few games, we had an idea: let’s build our own Mario Party board game, and play it for real!
We improvised the rules and made all our own game pieces and everything, and then like good engineers, we iterated.
We’ve played it quite a few times now, making little tweaks each time, and it’s actually pretty great. Vastly more fun than Candyland or Chutes and Ladders for all involved. The kids get to get up and move around during the “minigames,” and the adults get to play a game that actually involves some semblance of strategy rather than just rotely doing whatever a card or spinner says on every turn.
1. How to Play
The object of the game is to collect Stars. Each Star costs 3 Coins. To get Coins, you have to win “minigames,” which are all things like: Staring Contest, Thumb Wrestling, Tic-Tac-Toe, etc. The game ends when one player collects three Stars.
Before a winner is declared, two Bonus Stars are awarded. Whoever has the most Stars when after the bonuses are awarded is the winner!
2. What You Need
The only things you need are:
- 1 six-sided dice
- Some kind of timer. I just used my phone, but an hourglass “borrowed” from another board game would work too.
Everything else can be made out of paper (hence “Paper Mario Party”).
3. Craft World
The first step is to make the game board and the pieces.
3.1 The Board
The board doesn’t need to follow any specific design. I originally intended to have four square “zones” with paths connecting each, but wound up with two and a weird second path between them because the paper wasn’t big enough. It works, though!
Just make sure to have have several interconnected paths, since players can move in any direction they choose.
Sprinkle the following typs of spaces throughout the board:
|Start Space||A space for everyone to start on. There should only be one of these.|
|Star Space||There should be exactly six of these, each numbered according to one side of a six sided dice. At the start of a game, you roll the dice to pick which Star Space to place a Star on, and everyone tries to get to the Star to buy it. When somebody does, you roll again and put a new Star on the new Space.|
|Item Space||There doesn’t need to be a specific number of Item Spaces, just sprinkle some throughout the board. When a player lands on an Item Space, they draw a card from the Item Card pile and it goes into their hand for use on subsequent turn(s).|
|Chance Space||There doesn’t need to be a specific number of Chance Spaces, just sprinkle some throughout the board. When a player lands on a Chance Space, they draw a card from the Chance Card pile, and it takes immediate effect.|
|Warp Pipe||We added these after the above picture was taken when we realized that you can’t have a Mario game without warp pipes. I just put two corresponding green pipes on opposite corners of the board, and two corresponding red pipes on the other corners. When you land on one, you instantly travel to the corresponding pipe of the same color.|
3.2 The Pieces
|Stars||We made these by folding a piece of yellow card stock into thirds both ways and cutting a star shape out, which yielded nine Stars.|
|Coins||In the same fashion as the stars, we folded a piece of paper into thirds both ways and then cut out four circles, which yielded 36 Coins.|
Indicated by a Mario-style [?] block, we made ten of these. They have the following varieties:
- Get 1 coin (we made three of these)
- Lose 1 coin (we made three of these)
- Get 1 star (only one of these)
- Lose 1 star (only 1 of these)
- Move 1 space from the star (only 1 of these)
- The Star moves (only 1 of these)
Indicated by a 🍄, we made ten of these as well. They have the following varieties:
|Dash Mushroom||Adds 3 to your next dice roll (we made 3 of these).|
|Poison Mushroom||Subtracts 2 from another player’s next dice roll (we made 3 of these).|
|Golden Dash Mushroom||Adds 5 to your next dice roll (we made 2 of these).|
|Golden Pipe||Move 1 place away from the star (only 1 of these).|
|Double Card||Allows the player to buy 2 stars the next time they land on the Star space (only 1 of these).|
This is where the real fun is. At the end of each round, all players compete in a minigame for a coin. They should be fun games that kids can play which don’t require a ton of equipment.
Here are some of the ones we tried:
|Staring Contest||Either 1 on 1 round-robin, or everyone at once. If you blink, you’re out. Last person standing wins.|
|Simon Says||One player is “Simon” and if they get everyone else out in a minute, they win, otherwise the winner(s) are whoever makes it to the end of the minute.|
|Make a Basket||Pick some object to be the “ball” (we used a stuffed animal and an empty Amazon box), and take turns shooting “baskets,” when you miss, you’re out. Last person standing wins.|
|Guess a Number||Everyone picks a number from 1-6 (you can’t pick the same number as another player), and then one person rolls the dice. Who ever is closest without going over (a.k.a. the “The Price is Right” rule) wins.|
|Rock, Paper, Scissors||Round-robin until one person is declared the winner.|
|Tic-Tac-Toe||Round-robin until one person is the winner, if the last game is a tie, both players get a coin.|
|Footrace||Pick a starting and ending point and have a footrace. Winner gets a coin.|
|Thumb Wrestling||Round robin until one person is the winner.|
We each drew and cut out our own character to use as our piece during the game. We made Mario, Luigi, Yoshi, and Pom Pom.
Now you’re ready to play the game! It’s pretty simple.
4.1 Starting a Game
Setting up is simple:
- Each player starts with one Coin
- Roll the dice to determine which Star Space to place a Star on
- Each player puts their piece on the Start Space
- Have each player roll the dice to determine who goes first
4.2 Taking Turns
Each turn goes like this:
- First, if the player has an item card, they may choose to play it.
- Then, the player rolls the dice to determine how many spaces they will move.
- The player moves the number of spaces (you can move in any direction, but you can’t “double back”).
Here’s what happens depending on what kind of space the player stops on:
At the end of each round, draw a Minigame Card and play the minigame! The winner(s) receive 1 coin each. Make sure to record how many games each player has won, which is used when awarding Bonus Stars at the end.
4.3 Ending the Game
When any player acquires their third Star, the current round becomes the Final Round. You still finish the round (including Minigame), but Bonus Stars are awarded after and a winner is declared.
Roll the dice and award the corresponding Bonus Stars. Do this twice.
We used the following Bonus Stars. You could make up your own as well:
|1||Rich Bonus||The player(s) with the most Coins get a Star. If it’s a tie, they each get one.|
|2||Buddy Bonus||If any two players are on the same space, they each get a Star. If nobody is sharing a space, re-roll for a different Bonus Star.|
|3||Item Bonus||The player(s) with the most unused Items get a Star. If it’s a tie, they each get one.|
|4||Minigame Bonus||The player(s) who won the most Minigames get a Star. If it’s a tie, they each get one.|
|5||Blue Shell Bonus||The player with the fewest Stars gets a Star.|
|6||Baby Bowser Bonus||The youngest player gets a Star.|
I’d like this thing to be “open source,” so if you have changes that make it more fun, or new Minigame ideas, I’d love to hear how it worked so we can incorporate them back into our game as well!