Around the Web, Board game design

Brilliance is forever!
I’m a big fan of board game design blogs. I love reading other people’s thoughts, to complement or contradict my own, or as a source of inspiration.

When I read something that I find striking in one way or another, I save it for re-reading. And of course that’s a great source for having things to share with other people as well.

So I hope you also find something interesting in the articles below. Happy reading!

Oh the drama!

I love getting enmeshed in a game, to really feel I’m there. For me this links mostly to storytelling, but Nick O’Leary from MostDangerousGameDesing.com (the site seems to have been abandoned – unfortunately!) makes a connection to tension and three mechanics that can induce this “dramatic tension”. While the last two options are sortof common (hide who’s ahead and engine building), the first one struck my attention as something worth a further ponder: Reducing the amount of resources that are available, so that players have to “fight” over them.

Read the full article here: Three mechanics that create dramatic tension

Time for another lesson

How many lessons can you come up with regarding game design? From the top of my head I’m sure I can come up with 10 or so. And if I really sit down I might get to 30.

But then, I’m not Talen Lee, who came up with a staggering 260.5 (his count, not mine)!

Some insightful, some inspiring, some banal, some funny. But they’re all short and great for some light reading. Here is a random selection:

188: Deck builders give up a painful amount of space to your starter cards, and that’s PER PLAYER
11: There is no game idea too small to be worth trying to make interesting
49: Puns are SURPRISINGLY USEFUL for keeping people remembering game information, or expressing the core of a game idea. Murder Most Fowl is my favorite example, but it’s hardly alone.

The link is to the first ten, just follow the rabbit hole to get to all the rest: 2016’s lessons of gaming

You’re such a loser!

A lot of people play board games to win. But with more than 2 players (and a player vs. player game) the number of players that win will be lower than that number of players that… don’t. So in a sense losing is a more important aspect of games than winning.

In this article Gregory Carslaw gives 4 pointers on how to make losing fun (or at least, as painless as possible): Losing is fun

One thing I’d like to add to this: I’ve been playing Seafall (legacy player vs. player game) and I’m finding that losing a game there is way less bad than losing a “normal” game. There is something about it being just a “small step” in the bigger scheme of things that makes it easier to take? Of course, I can imagine that for the final game it’ll be much bigger…

Agency: Randomize!

Randomness is used a lot in board games. In some games it adds to variety and tension, in others it feels more like a stone being thrown in your face.

This article from No Hidden Info is geared towards computer games, but it is just as applicable to board games. It talks about player agency in the face of randomness: Agency and Randomness

Part of this was already known (input and output randomness), but the important addition to me is that randomness can be “closer” or “further”, meaning that you have less or more time (turns) to “respond” to it. An example that comes to mind is the “random event cards” from Robinson Crusoe. When they are first drawn they immediately do something (usually bad). Then they move to the bottom of the board. The following random event card pushes the first card one to the side and the next one pushes it off of the board, causing a second bad thing to happen. The first random event is “close”: There is nothing you can do about it. The second one is far: You have at least 2 turns in which you can “fix” it.

What other interesting ways are there to push out the results of randomness further down the line?

Traitor!

Player interaction is one of the strongest drivers of depth – other players are both smart and unpredictable and as such you can add a lot of “game” without adding any further rules.

Isaac Shalev from Kind Fortress takes a look at one particular player-interaction element: Distrust. This comes to the fore in coops that allow traitors (e.g. Dead of Winter and Battlestar Galactica), and just about any social deduction game.

I can imagine using this in other settings as well. Imagine a game where trading is possible. You trade cards from your hand and these can be both beneficial and detrimental. Cards are traded closed and to each side of the trade one (also closed) card is added from the general deck. Then if you get one bad card it could be because of bad luck, but it might be because your trading partner screwed you over as well…

Here is the article: Everything you do is the reason I don’t trust you

Final remarks

I hope you enjoyed reading these articles (and my thoughts about them).

What articles did you read that really struck a chord with you and why? I’d love to hear them for my own learning. And perhaps they’ll end up in a next version of “Other people’s brilliance”?

Further reading

In case you want to read more of other people’s brilliance, here is my first post with curated articles from around the internet: Other people’s brilliance: 6 great articles about board game design.

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.

Help me to learn? Leave a comment (below) or connect with me on Twitter? You can also subscribe to this blog (see the sidebar) or like it on Facebook, to get updates when I write them.

And perhaps you know of others interested in learning? Share this post using the buttons below:

Facebooktwitterreddit