BrikWars Design Diary 1: The Definitive BrikWars

By Mike Rayhawk


It’s been a funny experience, hammering together the “definitively definitive” version of a game that’s been defined for decades by how definitive it definitely isn’t. It’s something like taking a model you’ve rebuilt a hundred times and one day deciding to glue the bricks together.

In the elevator pitch, BrikWars’ big selling point is the construction. Players build whatever armies they want, whether hoplites or galactic battlecruisers or dinosaurs with mobile artillery units for heads, and go toe-to-toe with opponents with the same freedom to build forces equally epic or ridiculous or over-the-top. But under the hood, the design priority has always been on the deconstruction side instead. Physical deconstruction of units and fortifications and armies, for sure, but conceptual deconstruction as well: abstract ideas like victory and power and enmity, the value of martial virtues and sacrifice, and the very ideas of what a game should be and whether rules can or should ever be “definitive.”

And then, Mechanik-like, BrikWars hands the deconstructed pieces to the players to see what kind of wild and janky ad hoc contraptions they remix from the debris.

BrikWars has opened a lot of doors for me over the decades - a bunch of teams at a bunch of companies have brought me in to add BrikWars spice to their projects, and there’s BrikWars in the DNA of more of your favorite billion-dollar toys and games and movies and than anyone will probably ever know. One of the things I learned along the way, though I resisted it for years, is that the more open-ended a product is at the end, the more locked-down and specific it needs to be at the start. Specific landscapes to imagine, specific storylines to play out, specific models to build on the front of the box. From these, the audience learns how the world works, what kind of stories can be told in it, and what kinds of novel monstrosities they can create in defiance of the “definitive” archetypes.

So we’ve spent the past few years setting rules in stone for players to break, nailing down lore for players to throw out, intricately illustrating the look and feel of the BrikWars universe for players to ignore completely as they cobble together every unique bespoke reality their personal brick collections inspire. I hope you enjoy deconstructing the “definitive” BrikWars as much as we’ve enjoyed putting it together.