HABA USA 2021 Game Design Contest


Submissions Due 6/25/21; Winners Announced 8/31/21
Contest strictly limited to US only.

Each household participating will receive a design kit that they will use to create new games. Each kit will be unique and will include random items from HABA games, including puzzle pieces, wooden figures, dice, blocks, board sections, and more.


CLICK HERE to purchase the Game Bits Kit

Games designed must adhere to the following rules:
• 2 – 5 players with a 15 - 45 minutes game play time
• Have a minimum recommended age of no higher than 8 years old
• Use at least three of the items from the kit (using the same item multiple times is allowed)
• Using other items not included in the kit is allowed.
• Have complete written rules (the rules and setup should allow anyone to play the game without the designer there to explain).
• Only include intellectual property you own or have rights to use.
• Be a family weight game.
• Theme and mechanics are up to you!

While we are limiting 1 kit per household, there is no limit to the number of games submitted from each household.

Art does not need to be finalized; these are prototypes. Temporary art or no art, either is great!

To submit your game design please email your complete rules to with the header “Game Contest Submission” no later than 6/25/21.

With your game submission, make sure to include your contact information, title of the game, a text document of the rules (.docx, .txt, .pdf are fine), and if possible, pictures of your game in play.

A panel of judges will review all of the game rule submissions and select the top 20 games. These top 20 semi-finalists will be asked to ship their game to HABA’s Games Manager for playtesting and review. From these semi-finalists, 3-5 winners will be selected. The selected winners will receive a HABA games bundle or gift card, and their games will be shown to the HABA Germany Games Development team for review as a potential future HABA release. We cannot guarantee that a winner’s game will be published, but it will be given a fair look. Prototype games will be kept and not returned unless you provide a prepaid return shipping label with your semi-finalist submission. Winners’ games will not be returned if accepted for further review by HABA Germany, until a later date. Games shipped to HABA that were not asked for by HABA will be thrown away. Semi-finalists will be contacted with the shipping address to send their game to.

If you submit a confirmed entry via email, you will be given a $6.00 credit on to use on any future purchase.

Due to the current situation in the US and world, this contest is limited to the US only. Contestants are responsible for paying for the shipping of their submission of their game if they are chosen as a semi-finalist. Must be 18 years or older to enter - or have a parent fill out the consent form if their design is chosen.


Can I use a game design that I have made prior to the contest?
We would prefer new designs, but as long as the game is not currently being published or is not currently being considered/submitted to a publisher you can submit the game. All of the condition/rules for the contest still need to be met for the game to be accepted.

Is there a component limit or any other parts limit?
There is no limit on the number of/type of pieces you can be used. As long as at least three of the components are from the kit. You can add in other pieces you would like or use more items from the design kit.

Are there any theme limitations?
Your game design should fit into the HABA line of games (we like wood over plastic) and be family friendly.

Why is HABA changing the format this year?
With the current situation in the US, we wanted to reduce the amount of physical materials being mailed and handled as much as possible, while still supporting the contest with HABA’s signature wooden bits.

How are the Game Kits made?
Our masked and gloved warehouse staff use a HABA sand shovel to scoop a random selection of wooden bits from our bits bin into each mailer. They weigh each mailer so that every kit receives the same amount of wood, though the wood in each mailer might be drastically different. In the last 4 years, HABA has shipped over 1000 pounds of colorful wooden shapes all over the US as part of this contest! 

Common Mistakes/Issues We've Seen In Past Entrees

Too much randomness and too little player agency. We want players to feel like they have a choice in their fate, and games with multiple layers of randomness don't allow that. Having one, maybe two layers is fine, but games where you had to have 2 to 3 to 4 things all roll or go in your favor to succeed would be too frustrating to our audience.

Too much reliance on text. We publish games in 26 languages and try to have the least amount of text on the actually components themselves. Games that had text as a key part of cards or on the board are less likely to make it, especially if the text is too complex to turn into iconography.

Too similar to an existing game. We often get submissions that are basically just reskinned versions of other games. While reskinning classic games like Chutes & Ladders is fine, they're not really in the spirit of this contest. A twist on a classic is fine! So long as there is a clear twist that adds value. We've also had a few submissions that were just HABA-versions of well known hobby games. We obviously can not pick those, for legal reasons.

Far far too much wood. Some entrees really take the HABA wood thing to heart and have so many pieces, we would have to charge far too much for the game play the game allowed. While plastic pieces would help reduce costs and shipping, that's not really our brand. Please do not try to use ALL the pieces we send you in a single game – we send you so much so you have options.

The game could be mastered. We've had some games submitted that we felt could be mastered after a few plays. Games that, once you learned the "secret", would not be interesting to replay. A lot of our dexterity games use your opponents as the reason you cannot master the game – they'll mess you up and make it difficult. Some games submitted to the contest in the past that were dexterity games had little to no player interaction to help reduce this "mastering".

Too many layers, far from intuitive play. The hardest part of design is boiling down a design enough that it seems intuitive, and something children and families could grasp and remember easily. While this contest does not expect or want fully finished and polished games with all the extra fluff cut off, entrees that are more intuitive do better. We get many games that have a very good idea and core, but then there are just too many layers bolted on top that seem.. unneeded. Extra corner-case rules, multi-step maintenance between turns, etc. Because we have a limited number of semi-finalist spots, even if we feel a game's core is good deep down, we are more inclined to pick a game that has stripped some of the extra layers off to expose that core.