Archive for December, 2006

Resilience of Components

December 29, 2006

I was playing the Game of Thrones board game last night, and it reminded me of something I’d been meaning to write about for a long time.

When playing this game, it is important that you keep various decisions secret until they are revealed (Selection of house cards and order tokens). If another player knows what moves you are planning to make, then this will provide them with an unfair advantage.

The set we were using to play the game has been well used. As a consequence, some of the playing pieces have been worn down slightly. The most commonly used pieces belonging to each player have started to show wear, and some have fairly distinctive tells.

This is a problem, it gives players the opportunity to discover something about the hidden information held by the other player. It is not easy to counteract, nor is it cheap. In a standard card game, if you notice that a card is showing wear, then it is possible to switch the deck, at a negligible cost. With a board game that has specific components, it is much more expensive to replace a part showing wear.

The resilience of the game’s components is important in these situations where it is non-trivial to replace worn or damaged pieces. Once pieces become distinguishable, there are several strategies that can be employed, depending on your concern for the maintainence of the hidden information.

The most difficult is to replace the worn components with new pieces. This is often expensive, or impossible, without purchasing a whole new copy of the game.

Next you can work around the worn pieces, by writing down orders rather than denoting them with tokens, by using dice rather than cards to randomise choices, and so on.

Finally, you can ignore the worn components, deciding that it is easier to play with them, and accept that some of the hidden information is now available to all players.

I cannot recommend any of these approaches over the other, they all have merits and flaws, and will be more appropriate or not depending on your own play group or game, but I’ve written this to give you the opportunity to consider how to approach this issue, and to make sure it isn’t ignored.

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An abstract game

December 18, 2006

I’ve just finished working on a new game. It’s an abstract game for two players, it should be very simple to learn and play.

I came up with the board design first, and then added the other features. I realised I wanted to create a simple game to go with the board, that should be quick to play and explain. I’ve discovered that it is a lot easier to explain the capture rules in person than in text, I hope that the example I provide is clear enough.

I don’t think this is a rival to any of the classic abstract games (Chess, Checkers, Go etc.), but it should provide interest for a few games at least.

Twilight Imperium – Shattered Empire

December 15, 2006

Twilight Imperium has an expansion, Shattered Empire. This provides four new races (to a total of 14). The ability to play with 8 players (Adding another ‘ring’ to the Galaxy), and new political, action and strategy cards.

As usual, I am somewhat concerned about a new expansion, I worry that they take more from the game than they add, bringing extra rules and complexity where it is not needed. Twilight Imperium is already a complex game, taking almost a whole day to play with 6 players, so taking it to 8 might just be a deal breaker on the time front.

The extra races sound interesting, and can probably be safely added to the mix without endangering the playability of the game.

I’ve heard that the new strategy cards reduce the dominance of the Imperial card somewhat, which is vital, in my opinion.

In all, I like Twilight Imperium, and I’m willing to give this expansion a try, and I want to give the game a go with 8 players, to see if it really slows beyond playability. It should be available in the shops now, it appears to be $39.99, or around £20-£25. Hopefully I will get a go with it soon, and when I do, I will let people know what I think.