Colludo – an abstract comics making game

Colludo is a game of making abstract comics from pre-set instructions that are selected by the roll of two dice. It can be played by 1-4 players using only materials that can be found in most households. Because it is a game about collaboration and creating, there are no winners or losers, only the question of who gets to take the final work home!

This game is freely released to the public on the conditions that it may only be reproduced for noncommercial use, that Allan Haverholm be recognised as the author, and that this page URL is included in all reproductions.

  1. Decide on the game board grid, and the number of boards/pages, them draw them up to your purposes and number them. Colludo game boards can be serial the same way a comic can have several pages. More boards make for a longer comic and a longer game.

    Example of a quickly improvised Colludo game board. Note that it doesn’t need to be straight or pretty, it’ll be covered up with paper bits soon!

    The size of the grid is entirely voluntary apart from the size of paper you may have at hand for the board, but as a rule of thumb the size of individual panels should be at least 2-3 centimetres (~1 inch) square. This affords decent-sized panels on household paper formats while taking into account the size of available scrap paper.

  2. Collect scrap paper materials beforehand. Any coloured surfaces can be clipped from magazines, discarded books, mail envelopes, gift wrapping, print commercials, parking tickets, or even coloured craft paper will do. Most households will have a pile of colour printed paper rubbish lying around at any given time; some envelopes are printed with a colour lining, tear them up and turn them inside out.
    A few recommendations when searching out the scraps:

    1. Recognizable motive can get in your way when you attempt an abstract comic: Look for either monochrome surfaces, blurred (backgrounds of) photographies, or crop your panels to focus on a dominating colour rather than motive.
    2. Avoid text intruding into your clippings as far as possible as it tends to direct the reading of the final work. Of course, you may find that that is exactly what you prefer for added levity! In that case, leave this recommendation to abstract comics purists.
  3. Sort your findings in six piles according to colour as in the Dice roll instructions (below), and two piles for black(ish) and white(ish) scraps. Check that there will be more than enough of each colour to make up one sixth of your game board(s). The full colour spectrum is hard to divide into only six categories, so be flexible with the sorting: For instance, throw pink in with red, brown with orange, beige with yellow or white, &c.
  4. Beforehand or in the heat of the game, cut, clip and tear your gathered material to the size of your game board panels, but note that the instructions may require you to do a double-width panel; keep larger pieces at hand in all colours!
  1. Game board(s) [see Preparations, 1]
  2. Scrap paper sorted by colour [Preparations, 2-4]
  3. Non-toxic glue (stick or liquid)
  4. Scissors, exacto knife, and/or ruler with tearing edge.
  5. Two dice, preferably of different colour. Decide which is D1 and which is D2.

Players should be placed around the (initial) game board, all within reach of all scrap paper piles. They take turns rolling the dice and gluing paper pieces to the game board according to the throw of the dice and corresponding dice roll instructions as detailed below. Unless instructed otherwise, each player may only fill one panel per turn.

The order of game board panels to be filled/covered follows traditional Western comics reading; that is, starting in the top left corner of the page (game board) continuing right until the end of the row and continuing in the leftmost panel of the next row below. The section Variations and alternative plays suggest other systems of progression, which should then be agreed upon before the game begins.

Dice roll instructions

D1 decides the colour of the panel:

  1. Red
  2. Yellow
  3. Green
  4. Blue
  5. Orange
  6. Purple

D2 gives further instructions to your turn:

  1. Skip colour instruction and roll D1 again. Rolls 1-3 means draw from the black pile; rolls 4-6 means draw from the white pile (or leave panel blank. In either case the next player proceeds to fill the next panel in turn).
  2. Repeat panel: Pick two similar paper bits according to your D1 roll and paste one in the next blank panel. Roll both dice again and count as many blank panels forward as their combined result show, and paste the second piece of paper here.
  3. Double panel: roll D1 again. Rolls 1-3 means this panel should extend one extra panel according to reading direction; rolls 4-6 means this panel should extend one panel down into the next row. If it is not possible to follow the instructions because of the player’s placement on the game board, the double panel must be placed on the next possible location (next row, next game board, etc.).
  4. Combine: Pick one piece of paper according to D1 roll, then roll both dice again and pick another piece according to second D1 roll. Tear the two pieces in half and combine in one panel. NB! Second D2 roll may add further instructions.
  5. Add anywhere: Place a bit of paper (picked according to D1 roll) in any blank panel on any game board.
  6. Repeat sequence: Do not pick a new piece of paper as D1 instructs. Instead, count as many (already made) panels back as D1 shows, and reconstruct the sequence of panels from there and forward in the following blank panels using paper pieces as similar in colour and tone as possible.

The D2 instructions allow for leaving panels blank within the filled/covered “sequence” (D2 roll 1), as well as for covering panels ahead of the game play (D2 rolls 2, 3 or 5). It is possible, with D2 roll 5, to go back and cover a panel that has initially been left blank, but once a panel has been covered it cannot be pasted over by a subsequent turn. That is, if the game “catches up with” a panel that has already been covered as just described, that panel must be skipped, even if it breaks up a “Repeat sequence” instruction (D2 roll 6).

When the last blank panel is filled, the game is over and becomes a finished comic. Congratulations!

Variations and alternative plays

  • The above is based on my preferred materials and working process, so all instructions include pasting up squares of scrap paper – a method I obviously recommend to others as well – but anybody should adapt and play the game to their liking and methods.
  • This started as a solo exercise for myself or any similarly inclined artist, but in the rules above references are made to >1 players. Whether and how that works in practice is completely untested. This game is probably not a lot of fun while waiting for your turn, so a (flexible) maximum of four players is suggested.
  • The order in which panels are made is simply assumed to be according to traditional Western comics (fill top row left to right, continue at the leftmost panel of second row), but the result is, after all, not a traditional comic. Start in the centre, perhaps, and work your way out in a spiral?
  • I do suggest, however, that players stick to a symmetric page grid of equally-sized panels for their game board for ease and some pre-fab rhythm to the final result.

Colludo was first announced 8 December 2016; this is version 1.