Around the Web, Board game design

Other people’s brilliance: 6 great articles about board game design

2 heads know more than 1. And 10 know more still! So instead of thinking about everything myself, I’m very happy to share with you some of the insightful, brilliant, thought-provoking or otherwise interesting articles that other people wrote about board game design.

Happy reading!

It’s what you don’t notice that makes the game

Sparkly articles too!
For me an important part of board games is “immersing” in them, being to where the game transports me instead of at the table. Andy van Zandt (Twitter) made me realize that what really helps with this is making the playing experience as “smooth” as possible, letting the game flow without interruptions or “clunkiness”.

If you want more than just my take away, go here: Hidden Structure

It’s not the size of your mechanics, it’s what you do with it!

Related to the previous article: Mechanics are a means to an end. Having a really cool mechanic isn’t enough, it’s about the experience you get through that mechanic (and the rest of the game).
Mark Major (Twitter) touches upon the subject, and I would love for him to go much deeper into it.

Take a look at: Experience vs. Mechanics


Jay Cormier (Twitter) and Sen-Foong Lim (Twitter) write about how limitations can be good for your game design. I fully agree with this, in that reducing the size of your design space (all the possible options you could potentially explore) allows you to go much deeper into what is left.

I wouldn’t go as far as they do though (seriously, 25 tiles and that’s it?!).

Check out their thoughts: Design Tip: Constraints are Good

Could there be something beyond winning?

As a player of a board game you get your components and the rule book. From those you can figure out what you can do, but not what you should do (or even better: What’s fun to do). For most games there is nothing beyond “winning”, but why wouldn’t there be? Personally I enjoy beating a previous record, building the largest whatever, winning in a different way (or even losing in a different way!).

The article below touches upon these items from the perspective of computer games. It might be trickier to do the same in board games, but in no way impossible. Something to ponder…

This is what there is to ponder: Achievements as Communication Between Designer and Player

Cats or dogs?

…That’s the question!
Randomness is an important part of many board games. The two most common ways of introducing randomness are cards and dice. But which is better? Teale Fristoe (Twitter) might just have the answer…

Take your pick here: Dice or Cards

Interesting tension you’ve got there…

I believe that interesting decisions and tension lie at the core of good (board) games. So, I was very happy to read Michael Ardizzone’s (Twitter) article about exactly those subjects (albeit in the context of computer games).

Particularly interesting are what he believes is required for tension (i.e. indirectness, exclusivity and situationality). Especially “indirectness” is something I had never thought about (but should have): We never simply “win the game” (no tension, boring!). Instead we take some resources to be able to build a building, which generates different resources, so that we can build a second building… Only very far down the road does any of this (hopefully!) lead to victory.

Does more indirection lead to more tension? Would that make more “strategic” games more tense? I don’t have the answers, but I’m very happy I now know to ask these questions!

Don’t keep yourself in tension and read the article: Tension and Interesting Decisions

About the author

Bastiaan_smallHi, I’m Bastiaan. The goal of this blog is to learn about game design. That’s hopefully for you as the reader, but just as much for me as the writer.

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