Aztec - A 3D Game

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Project by vipond33 posted 02-24-2012 05:39 AM 4039 views 31 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m game crazy I know, but how bout a new one? Are ya up for it?

This one’s a beaut. A game that suits a builder’s challenge as well as probably being really well liked by spatial logistical types. You know who you are.

To play, construct a three level building with your opponent, using one of 22 identically shaped playing pieces. Starting around the central cube you must touch two other faces with your piece on every turn and it must be self supporting. Your aim is to build the rampart on your opposing colour sides at the third and final level and score points by the number of blocks nestled there.

To win you may block your opponent or run straight to the top. You may also win by claiming vertigo and changing the board around while your opponent is out of the room getting you a Gravol. Who’s going to notice?

To build, make 133 perfect cubes with 1596 chamfers and assemble dead straight and square. Repetition is an interesting teacher.

The original game had a trapezoidal storage box cum playing surface and the blocks were painted (!) blue. I chose to alternate walnut and spruce in every possible configuration of two colours, six pieces and a dog leg shape, making it more visually interesting and woody, as it were. This had the added and unintended effect of making it more difficult to visualize your next move, especially for 3D dummies like myself.

The usual matched storage box is here, made from a construction grade 2×4 spruce board and it being the first time that the box is way bigger than the game itself. The knots at the front resemble great bleeding wounds, which is just what your ego will look like after being whupped by the under 10 set.

Spruce is a pretty white wood, if not a bit stringy. What is remarkable here is its subtle chatoyance and super silky finish under varnish and wax. There are very few white woods available for contrast or simple inherent beauty available to us, and while spruce is not a normal cabinet grade wood I’m certainly rethinking this. Heavily cupped 2×12’s sometimes show up at the lumberyards or box stores, with a dead centre heart and 5 inches of quartersawn on either side. Rejected by builders and quickly snatched up by us.

There is also a weird three player game possible whereby the third player, with 8 blocks, attempts to thwart both other players. This would be a perfect kids position playing between their parents some evening;
“Uh, that was fun, don’t you think it’s your bedtime?”

Game 9 1/2” x 9 1/2” x 2 1/2” with 1” Cubes About 18 hrs.
Box 6” x 19” x 3 1/4” About 6 hrs.
Minwax Tung Oil (wiping varnish) for box and board, Goddard’s Wax
Oil and wax, buffing wheel, for cubes.
Build on LJs.


thinking through the jungle

thin top brace

working out all possible combinations.

the original game,

& too many cold ones makes it hard to decide.

an interesting review

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

22 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35152 posts in 4635 days

#1 posted 02-24-2012 06:07 AM

Looks crazy.

Great looking build.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View a1Jim's profile


117416 posts in 3812 days

#2 posted 02-24-2012 06:22 AM

Wow Gene
you come up with some of the most unique games .This is very cool.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Nighthawk's profile


556 posts in 2591 days

#3 posted 02-24-2012 09:09 AM

Hey that pretty cool idea and game fun thing… I like

-- Rome wasn't built in a day... but I wasn't on that job? ...

View Spoontaneous's profile


1335 posts in 3565 days

#4 posted 02-24-2012 11:47 AM

I like yours much more than the original. REally nice build…. also, you make spruce look good!

-- I just got done cutting three boards and all four of them were too short. (true story)

View JL7's profile


8692 posts in 3200 days

#5 posted 02-24-2012 12:55 PM

Hey Gene – this is very cool – did you learn any good tricks for applying those 1596 chamfers that you’d like to share?


-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View mafe's profile


11771 posts in 3324 days

#6 posted 02-24-2012 01:25 PM

Gene, as always executed so beautiful in every detail.
Love the last picture with a beer and a good time.

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3947 days

#7 posted 02-24-2012 01:32 PM

Thanks Gene for an interesting project. I think your right about the repitition being a learning experience.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Marpintero's profile


211 posts in 3522 days

#8 posted 02-24-2012 02:29 PM

Hello Vipond. Great job, as usual. How did the perfect cubes and the chanfers? ¿Table saw with crosscut sled + disk sander with jig maybe?
Thaks and greetings.

Hola Vipond. Fabuloso trabajo, como siempre. ¿Cómo hiciste los cubos perfectos y los chanfles? ¿Sierra circular con deslizador + lijadora de disco con plantilla tal vez?
Gracias y saludos.

-- Our lives are marked and bound together by concentric rings. Martín - Argentina

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2596 days

#9 posted 02-24-2012 02:31 PM

Don’t worry, Gene, help is on the way. Nyuk-nyuk

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View shipwright's profile


8184 posts in 3033 days

#10 posted 02-24-2012 03:06 PM

Nice one Gene. I’m glad to see spruce getting a little credit for it’s beauty. The stringiness is why it makes such good masts and the chatoyance is why people are always admiring them. The game would make me crazy in seconds but you certainly did it proud.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View jeb1974's profile


45 posts in 2773 days

#11 posted 02-24-2012 06:52 PM

I love wood games. They make great gifts and people can enjoy them for decades to come. Very beautiful game. Thank you for sharing.

View peteg's profile


4435 posts in 3058 days

#12 posted 02-24-2012 10:25 PM

Hey Gene, if you keep this up you’l have Holdson making a takeover bid for you work :))
Another beautie Man, great job, bet you’re kids dont get bored

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

View vipond33's profile


1405 posts in 2732 days

#13 posted 02-25-2012 12:47 AM

@JL7, Marpintero, et all.

I was thinking of putting these in, but thought it too much like a build lesson. Thanks for asking as these kinda things work across many projects.

The setting block is a simple but painstaking mdf structure with a hole at the back for poking out the freshly glued strip prior to changing planes or setting aside.

I plunge cut mitres in mdf and put it up to my 150g disc sander. The end cuts are but tryouts.

no need to touch them further. still took a while.

-- gene@toronto.ontario.canada : dovetail free since '53, critiques always welcome.

View chopnhack's profile


375 posts in 2629 days

#14 posted 02-25-2012 02:55 AM

Great build Gene! How big are the cubes? Great idea with the disc sander, I thought that you made all those via the router table :O

-- Sneaking up on the line....

View rance's profile


4267 posts in 3395 days

#15 posted 02-25-2012 05:57 AM

Cool game Gene, and great workmanship. I like the randomness of the woods. I like the original all blue too. Thanks for sharing the techniques for chamfering. I find those things the most fun with a project like this, trying to find ways to do things such as you have. I would not have guessed the sander, but it is obviously a perfect solution. Again, thanks for sharing.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

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