Game Design

My Obsession

Board games have undergone a revolution in the past 10-15 years thanks initially to the Germans and their “Euro” style game.

For those unfamiliar with the term “Euro” is a game that is dramatically different to the crop of mainstream games like; Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble, Boggle, jenga, Yahtzee, Chess, Dominoes, etc.

Most Euro games share the following elements:

  • Player conflict is indirect and usually involves competition over resources or points. Combat is extremely rare.
  • Players are never eliminated from the game (All players are still playing when the game ends.)
  • Scores are often hidden during the game and only revealed when the game concludes, or the game may include elements of hidden scoring that can change the end result
  • Games play for a defined span of time – commonly 60-90 minutes.  (No more 4-6 hour Monopoly marathons where you know who the winner will be in the first 20 mins and then have to suffer for hours as they gloat).
  • A vast array of wildly different mechanisms, rather than the common roll and move.
  • There is very little randomness or luck. Randomness that is there is mitigated by having the player decide what to do after a random event happens rather than before. Dice are rare, but not unheard of, in a Euro.
  • The Designer of the game is listed on the game’s box cover. Though this is not particular to Euros, the Euro game movement seems to have started this trend. This is why some gamers and designers call this genre of games Designer Games.
  • Much attention is paid to the artwork and components. Plastic and metal are rare, more often pieces are made of wood.
  • Euro games have a definite theme, however, the theme most often has very little to do with the gameplay. The focus instead is on the mechanics; for example, a game about space may be the same as a game about ancient Rome.

Having discovered Euro games like: Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne back in around 2005, my collect now spans more than 170 with a vast array of themes, mechanisms and game-play to suit all manner of players, numbers and play-time.

 

Designing my own games

Once I got the bug, I decided I would like to try to design my own games.

This is a page in which I will record some of my thoughts, concepts and philosophies I employ when designing board games.

I have several games always in various states of development, including:

Emergency – a co-operative hospital game for 1-5 players

Subterfuge – a highly strategic 2-player game using 12 standard dice on a chess board

Billygoat Mountain – a racing game using cards to build a mountain and race your goats to the top

CyberBall – a futuristic handball game reminiscent of Rollerball

Raptor Rampage – A Humans vs Velicoraptors fight for survival played out on a hex grid with tokens, dice and cards.

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