In King Death, each player maneuvers a segment of the population to keep as many people alive as possible during the Black Death.
"The player with the most people left alive wins," Poniske said.
It took nearly five years of research to design his Civil War game, he said.
Once a game is designed and its board and pieces made, it's tested by playing, a process that can take months.
"I take notes as we play and revise the rules until there's no longer a need to revise them," Poniske said.
Poniske teaches middle-school English at Hagerstown Antietam Academy, an alternative school in the Washington County School District.
He has a bachelor's degree in history and is taking night classes at Shippensburg (Pa.) University toward a master's degree in the subject.
"My games are based on history," he said. "I try to include historic events as they happened. You can learn a lot of history when you play."
He lost interest in board games when he became a teenager, but got back into it in a big way when a good friend in the Marines "reawakened my fascination with the hobby," he said.
Board games have been his avocation for nearly 30 years.
"I haven't missed the Baltimore World Board Gaming Convention in 13 years," Poniske said. He won a first prize at the convention last year playing "We the People." The game's political theme is based on the Revolutionary War.
His collection of games numbers about 100, he said.
Poniske doesn't expect to make a bundle off royalties of the games he sells to manufacturers.
"You can't pull them off the shelf at a Wal-Mart," he said.
Historic simulation board games sell for between $30 and $50, he said.
Players range from precocious 12-year-olds to older adults. Poniske said it's getting harder to find players because most enthusiasts are getting older.
Computer games are attracting new players, he said. Most players belong to board game clubs, he said.
Poniske said historic board games bring people together.
"People play computer games by themselves," Poniske said. "Board games make people communicate with each other."