Game designer tribal warfare

In the first post in this series, I described 4 (rounding up from 3.5) tribes of game designers, each tribe with a core value system that its members shared. Of course, like any categorisation, these tribes are somewhat arbitrary and necessarily forced, but I find putting things in boxes helpful, as it brings clarity to both the box and the thing you’re putting in it. This post, I’m going to take the concepts of the tribes and mix them together, not just because the real world doesn’t neatly fit into the 4 discrete boxes, but because this will actually be helpful. We’ll find that some tribes share values that interact harmoniously and that designers taking ideas from both of those tribes can create some really fantastic games, but other tribes have values that are mutually exclusive and that trying to design while adhering to the beliefs of both tribes can lead to troubled development and a troubled final design. Personally, I often find myself at the dark crossroads between two of these opposing tribes and thinking about this has definitely given me some clarity, and I hope this post will help you come to terms with your own game design tribal identity. Continue reading

Tabletop Deathmatch: Post-match Breakdown

The 2nd season of Tabletop Deathmatch has just wrapped up and, while I felt the first season was a little more genuine and less staged*, I maintain this is must watch viewing for all tabletop designers and cage fighters out there, but before we go any further: SPOILERZ! Watch the season and the finale before continuing! Or decide you’re too lazy to and just read my breakdown. Continue reading

3.5 tribes of board game designers

There has long been a deep chasm in the realm of board games. In recent years, the chasm has narrowed and even a few bridges have built, but there are still some gamers who will not leave their side of their rift for the land on the other side. In board games, the grass is always greener and much more fun on your side. I don’t have a name for the rift, but there is a name for the two sides, Euro games and Ameritrash. In this post I want to move beyond that simple divisive line by creating even more divisions. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to start a new board game cold war, this all has a point, but you’re going to have to trust for me now. Continue reading

The Death Penalty: Player elimination in King of Tokyo

I am not the first person to think that King of Tokyo would be a better game without a player elimination mechanic. Elimination sucks and no player elimination is one of those unwritten rules of modern boardgames. One of those unwritten rules that game designers love to break. So, let’s start with the designer, Dr. Richard Garfield. He’s responsible not just for this kaiju slugfest but a myriad of other games including Magic the Gathering, Netrunner and RoboRally. Dr. Garfield is a pretty smart guy with a PhD in mathematics and one of the few game designer who’s able to make a comfortable living off his work. If game design was cage fighting, there are very few designers who could hold their own with Richard for more than 30 seconds. So, Richard included player elimination in King of Tokyo and he probably did so for a reason, but let’s be punks and fight Richard to fix his broken game. This is going to end well!

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Running nets, taking names

I played my first game of Netrunner about two weeks ago and had almost a dozen games since, as I’ve quickly become born again as a Netrunner evangelist. This is a game that I’ve been meaning to get to the table for some time, and the main reason that I haven’t got it to the table before now is that it wasn’t on my shelf. I’ve never been into CCGs, LCGs or even ECGs before so I wanted to give it a test run before I dove in with the $50 base set and the inevitable expansions.

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