Board Game Mechanics. The Invisible Cogs.

Welcome to my workshop! Put an apron on, you don’t want to mess up your clothes with oil stains, do you? I will show you only the cool stuff. You see, mechanics are the main meal. Meaty essence making your board game experience thrilling. When can you say, that a mechanic is powerful?

Maintenance of your machine – the replayability

Do you want to play a board game once more after you finished it? That’s a sign that it is replayable.

A game should feel fresh every time you play it. You need not change all bits and pieces. A couple of dice, shuffling a deck or using a different set of components per setup, will usually do the trick. For classic games like chess, decisions of your opponent will give you this variety.

Adding new stuff to a game works too. Let’s say that every time you play, you take 3 new cards out of 20. Chosen randomly or by you. It’s like reheating cinnamon bun in an oven. It makes it taste as new again.

There are games, which you can play only once, but you have an outstanding experience for at least 3 hours – if a game is advertised as such, it’s fine by me. You know what you get yourself into.

Top notch engineering work – the design

Balance prevents strategies from controlling a game. These strategies can make a game dull. Faulty balance means cards, by which some people win the game without their knowledge or skill. A victory on first come first served basis. Like throwing dice to see who won (not exciting).

Good design squashes a game to an elegant minimum. No unnecessary calculations. Decision making is as simple as it is possible. Are there enough tools to help players with their decisions? Additional space to place a marker instead of one more mathematic operation can be a real live saver.

Are all elements necessary? If something will be used only on a rare occasion, should it be used at all? If there are too many elements, it can be both confusing for you and will not serve the environment well.

One more thing: people look for NEW experiences. Games can be like other titles. Enough is enough though. Too much of the same will make you feel nauseous.

Too many controls? the rules

Why should you read 50 pages long rules, if a game takes only 2 hours to play? There are so many board games! You want to try out as many games, as you can. The only way to discover whether you like a game or not is to play it a couple of times. How are you going to play it, if you just wasted all your time learning how to play it?

Overly complicated designs can cause migraines. Use them with moderation and consult with your medical practitioner.

The class is over now! I hope that you’ve learned something interesting today. As you can see all the moving parts aren’t so terrifying, once you had a closer look at them. The most powerful machines consist of loads of clever design decisions, which will serve you for many years to come. They will be easy to use, and you won’t need to check the manual every 5 minutes.

What games do you often like to play? Do you like randomness in board games? Have you played a board game, which gave you a headache? Let me know in the comment section.

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