It’s not all about drinking games

A Board game about the Journey to The West

How do you spend time with your friends? No matter people studying in college or having jobs, most of us like to get together and with friends. Games are a great way to spend time with your friends and get to know them better.

During my college years, my friends and I love to spend time during the weekend playing games. Some are interested in drinking games and some want to play board games together, then people were split on drinking games and board games. I want to bring these two groups — and their games- together.

What if there was a board game for people like me, who wants to go beyond a simple drinking game — to do some physical challenges, learn new things, and get to know their friends better while they have fun? My idea is to make just that: an interesting, playful, and challenging board game.

My board game will be based on Journey to the West, a classic Chinese novel about a Buddhist monk and three apprentices on an epic, fantastical journey. In the story, one of the main characters is a monkey called WuKong. Wukong is always attracted to alcohol, but when he drinks he often messes things up, does some funny things and shows off his skills. Along the journey, they encounter 81 difficulties which will provide inspiration for the challenges in the board game.

To start my own journey of this project, I have started testing an initial set of rules involving 4 players who have different characters and powers. Along the way, they will encounter different monsters/stories and which they will react differently based on their strengths.

In the board game, the main character is Wukong, the monkey. In the end, he will either become the golden monkey king or drunken monkey.

Who are the characters?

Image is from the Internet. Edited by Ning Xu.

Sun WuKong / Monkey King: He has a lot of skills, for example, every time he encounters his territory, Mount huaguo, he has to say, “I’m the Monkey King,” otherwise, he will receive a punishment. Also, if there is a difficult task, he has one opportunity to use his expertise cards to avoid.

XuanZang: He can’t really drink, every time he drinks he gets a punishment to break the rule. He has the power to ask his apprentices to help him.

Zhu Bajie /Pig: Bajie is lazy and greedy. Once Bajie starts drinking, he gains more powers but at the same time his IQ goes low, and when he encounters woman characters, his powers no longer work.

Sha Seng: He is straightforward and honest, but sticks to the rules. He doesn’t have too much power, but he listens to whatever XuanZang says.

How should the board game play it?

The initial idea is to have a map, people either use dices or cards to determine how should they move forward.

I spoke to 2 people in the last two weeks about the board game.

The early draft version

The feedback I got:

  • Emphasize Chinese stories in the game
  • Each small games in the board game should be quick, easy and fun to play
  • Decision making for specific characters
  • About the map, what is the important route?
  • Type of answers can be right/ wrong
  • For people who never know the story maybe give an introduction, such as a video introduction
  • Can I switch characters?
  • Have some specific card.
  • Game cards pools
  • Who are the rest of people? Do I against or with people I play?
  • Maybe involve some Chinese drinking games

I would love to chat with you to hear your thoughts about this board game idea.

If you love board games and want to stay updated about this game, including playtesting opportunities, please fill out this form! I am also very interested in talking to experienced board game designers, so please reach out at ( if you know one! I really appreciate it.