How I Designed a Board Game: The Making of Rusty Industry.

Would you like to design your own game? Or are you just curious how a beginner game designer came out with a game that people enjoy? Working on Rusty Industry was very challenging and fun; it was so challenging and fun that I wanted to share my experience by writing this article.

Do you want to know a secret? I have no idea how other game designers work! Seriously. I am a big fan of research but for me, the creative process should be CREATIVE. That’s why some people may find this article absorbing. I had to learn everything by doing a lot of mistakes.

Rusty Industry is a 4th board game that I already designed. What are the other 3? Well, you will never hear about 2 of them because they suck. They suck so much that I didn’t want to develop them more and they haven’t been prototyped much. Also, I haven’t shown the prototypes to anyone. I didn’t want people to be hurt by a game which doesn’t make sense. Why I am telling you this? If you are a game designer, don’t become emotionally attached to your work. You will have loads of terrible ideas. Don’t be afraid of them! Just kick them out onto the street. Stop putting effort into something that simply won’t work.

What about the 3rd game though? I hope that I will share the concept with you someday. I will just tell you that it would be too expensive to make. We can’t afford the number of illustrations that we would need to pay for right now.

Okay, I will share some of the magic with you just now. I don’t really think of myself as a creator; I feel more like a tool. I will tell you why in a moment. When I found out how great modern board games can be, I started to watch Dice Tower (if you haven’t heard of it, check it out!) and other YouTube channels a lot. I knew that to become a great designer, I need to know what the gaming community needs. That’s why I immersed myself in information.

I was doing it as long as I felt so full of it that it started to overflow out of my head. I didn’t want it to run away though. I started to make notes. Loads of notes. I wrote down ideas about new mechanics, themes, components, the industry. This is the moment when Yodeling Ogre has appeared. Our mission is to serve the community with visions about making board gaming better. I think that your ideas and problems may be in one of my notebooks too. I didn’t copy anything though. Everything was digested with my brain which has some knowledge of graphic and game design, programming and user interface.

You may ask: Okay Damian! Why are you telling me about Yodeling Ogre? This article is supposed to be about designing the Rusty Industry! Well, I am one of the two Yodeling Ogre creators. Our brand consists of all of our beliefs and values. Designing a board game isn’t making all mechanics work together. It is more about how a game makes you feel. By a board game, I don’t only mean a box full of components, I mean how you’re feeling about a game before you have it into your hands, its rulebook, and the game itself. That’s why if you want to make a good board game you need to have a lot of things in mind. I am telling you this because it isn’t about the brand, it is about our foundations.

One time when I was watching one of Dice Tower videos I heard an opinion of Zee Garcia, one of the 3 hosts of the channel. You need to know that I respect him a lot and I love most of the games that he recommends. He said that there should be a game which gives players a similar experience as Catan gives. I loved Catan, but I’ve stopped playing it because of its randomness and I’ve reached everything out of its depth.

That was a moment of enlightenment for me. Trading with other players is so fun! The economy in a lot of games is so still that I am not sure whether they should be called economic board games at all! There surely are more people who used to play Catan a lot but they can’t find any games which give you a similar thrill.

What I am going to write next may be controversial. Are you ready? I am passionate about the economy! This isn’t something you are normally passionate about. Well, I always loved to work out how the market works and to learn about its history. I thought that by creating a board game with an economy model I can share my passion with a lot of people. If you produce stuff that other players need you can learn a lot about simple supply and demand!

But how do you make a board game where players can sell almost everything they produce? How do you make it work together, and above all, how do you make it an exciting experience? So exciting that you want to play it soon after you finish your first game?

Okay, now it’s time for the tool part. Once I’ve gathered all of the information, most of my work was organizing my thoughts and making sense out of my interpretation of board gaming current of thought. My mind was like a prism working the other way around. It was gathering lights of different colors and creating a laser beam out of it. The laser beam was Rusty Industry.

Rusty Industry wasn’t something that magically materialized in front of my eyes. At first, it was a bunch of noted down ideas and concepts. I didn’t start with a prototype – it came much later. I began with thinking about emotions I want people to feel during game-play. Then I listed all the goals of my design.

The most important thing in the Rusty Industry was a feeling of satisfaction connected with trading and production. I believe that every person is an entrepreneur at heart. That’s why Monopoly has become so popular. I wanted to give people a board game where they can test out their entrepreneurial skills.

I remembered how fast I became bored after playing most of the games multiple times. I wanted Rusty Industry to be different. I am a big fan of Race for the Galaxy. It is a very quick game with a lot of stuff going on at once. It has one downside though: it is difficult to teach. I thought: ‘Hey! I can make a board game which is simple to explain like Catan and has a lot of depth like Race for the Galaxy!’.

I had all of my goals listed. I started to write down mechanics ideas and draw graphs which show dependencies between various cards, resources, and actions. How many ideas did I use out of all of them? I would say less than 5%. I didn’t start with a prototype so I was able to spend more time solving problems instead of on making graphics and improving my scissor skills. Once the game looked playable, I decided to start play-testing it.

I am really glad that I used Tabletopia for playtesting Rusty Industry. It is a very simple tool which I can recommend to all game designers. We have a Facebook group intended for running the tests. I could be present during all games played. During a game, I was doing notes and writing down all the problems that players ran into. I was looking for analysis paralysis moments, weak strategies and unnecessary and over-complex mechanics. After each session, for about half an hour we discussed our feelings, problems and possible solutions to those problems.

I wanted to create many ways to victory to make the game more re-playable. I needed to make it as deep as I could with a minimal amount of rules. That’s why I spent most of my designing time on simplifying things. I was constantly adding new elements to the existing framework and testing them out. Between play-testing sessions, I was thinking about possible new improvements. The game evolved a lot during more than 125 hours of being tested. Some solutions were great, some needed to be fixed, and most of them were worthless.

My biggest challenge was balancing the in-game economy. Because of all the ways to victory, 8 different interlinking resources and hero powers, it was a difficult task. I would say that it took me at least 80 hours of play-testing and much more time of thinking about it to get it right. I had to come out with different algorithms, spreadsheets, and graphs. Every change I made meant new calculations to keep everything in good balance. There were at least 4 major changes which made me do the math all over again. I started seeing through the Matrix – there are so many poorly balanced games!

How about the fun? I focused on emotions and trading at the beginning of the design process, so this part came easily. I was able to keep people focused because turns are quick, there is plenty of interaction in trading and they feel mentally engaged because of the number of possible strategies. I got rid of everything which could disturb the flow of players’ attention. People enjoy Rusty Industry a lot and I am really happy to see them having fun.

I would love to tell you more about my struggles, problems, and solutions, but I have a very busy schedule because of our upcoming Kickstarter. I hope to write part 2 of this article where I can share more knowledge. Let me know if you like it and whether you are interested to learn more about the process of creating Rusty Industry.

I want to create interesting content which is useful for board game community, so if you like it, let me know! Share the article, contact me on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram or write a comment. That way, I know that I created something useful and I should do more of it!

Top 5 Board Games by Damian

There is something magical in top 5 lists, isn’t there? Every time I see any of these little crunchy sweets, I throw everything away and I dig in. Guess what? I have a taste and I can make my own top 5 list! Here it is!

1. Race for the Galaxy. Interplanetary Tycoon 101.

Is science fiction your thing? Do you want to play something quick and tense? Look no further. Race for the Galaxy will throw all SCI-FI bells and whistles at you.
Be careful though. This game has a very steep learning curve. There are many symbols and a lot of strange terminology to learn, but once you get it…
I’ve had more than 35 plays of Race so far, and it is still highly engaging for me. The science fiction theme, artwork, and density of gameplay are a deadly and addictive mix. So much strategy and possible decisions…

2. Summoner Wars. Throw Dice. Kill. Repeat.

Do you want to give orders to your army of fantasy creatures? This game will be perfect for you. Some people may say that Summoner Wars is too much luck oriented because of its dice-driven combat. I have nothing against luck; I think that it makes a game more realistic – “even chances” is an abstract term.
This game has a lot of variety – 16 factions, expansions, etc. You can even make your own deck! You suddenly become a strategy genius! Summoner Wars is also easy to teach, which means I can play it with almost everyone.

3. Seasons. Combo after combo. And then combo.

What’s better than comboing cards and dice chucking? Seasons constantly makes you feel great when you see how your cards interlink with each other.
It has one of the nicest artworks. Full of vivid colours and stunning illustrations. Have you seen the outsized and bursting with colours custom dice?

4. Small World. Cute Battles. Epic War.

Small World is a very simple-minded game, which you can teach effortlessly. For such a straightforward design, it is very thematic. You compete with other players to dominate the board.
I love the cartoony art of Small World.
You can play with countless types of creatures like Skeletons, Elves, Orcs or Skags from video game “Borderlands” (Spider’s Web expansion).

5. Neuroshima Hex. Into Postapocalyptic Battle Cage.

Neuroshima Hex is an example of a stylish design with a variety of gameplay. You deploy your units around a board trying to outnumber your opponent and to destroy his or her HQ. The trick: there isn’t much space for units.
This game is tactical. You feel like a commander on a very dense battlefield. Units with different abilities make every game unique. Post-apocalyptic artwork of Neuroshima universe is bloodthirsty. You are almost afraid of its unstable reality.

That’s it! My top 5. I hope you enjoyed reading it. Maybe I showed you a different viewpoint. I think you can find a pattern here and there between my picks. Great artwork and strong themes are my guesses for now.

Have you seen any interesting top lists lately? Do you know any games, that I should try? What are your favourite games? Do you like the games? Let me know in the comments section.

What Everybody Ought to Know about Gaming Groups.

You told friends about board games, and they looked at you with pity? You don’t know enough people to play with? I’ve been there too. I have good news for you. If your answer to at least one question was “yes”, a gaming group should solve your problem.

Board game groups will save your life, if you are…

• a beginner without board game mentors around.
• a person whose friends despise board games.

You are not in the hobby to waste time, are you?

Well organised groups will often be your best bet. Your usual gaming buddies may have many plans and work at different times than you. Not a problem anymore – board game group meetings are mostly regular, even a couple of times per week. You need not worry about scheduling!
Have you had to explain the rules of each game and prepare before each session? Let someone else to do it for once. Life becomes much simpler, and you can focus on the thing that you wanted the most – the actual play.

Play more often. Play whatever you want to play.

Do you have terrible friends, who don’t want to play with you? Meet new people to choose from. Your chances of finding someone wanting to play the same game as you are further away from zero.

More games in the pool.

Board games can affect your budget. Spending less money makes your wallet happy and more communicative, when you ask him about a new shiny gadget. If you are a beginner, you can start even with no board game. Just check, whether this hobby is for you. You can try out titles you aren’t convinced with yet. Maybe you can exchange titles with others?

Only look for well organised groups

Only this way you won’t waste your time. Good contact with members. Friendliness for beginners. A well organised group will meet at certain times during the week.
It’s up to you, whether you want to play with your friends or join a gaming group. They can make you more experienced and a satisfied board gamer.

Hey, you looked puzzled at first! A vision of playing alone for the rest of your life is almost as scary as playing only one game for the rest of your life. Now you know, what you can do! Look for your group on Meetup, BoardGameGeek forum or Facebook. Trust me. It brings your gaming into the next level.

Do you have a problem with finding people for gaming? Do you have friends, who don’t want to hear about board games? Do you know about any other advantages or disadvantages of board game group? Let me know in the comment section.

Warning: Don’t Waste Any More of Your Gaming Time Until You Read This

Time is valuable to you, am I right? You may dream about spending it perfectly with a board game. Nothing can go wrong with that, can it? The reality has often different plans. What can you do to make your play time enjoyable? How to protect yourself from unexpected situations? From ruining your fantasy about perfect gaming night?

Game Plan

Planning makes things easy. Are you shocked? You probably already know, which game you are going to put on the table. Is there anything that you are going to need? Should you skim through the rules or read them anew?
Everything is much easier, if you make use of all your spare moments. Keep stuff, that you need handy. Maybe download a pdf version of a rulebook to your phone, so you can read it in a train? Keep it in your desk or in a bed table so you can skim it multiple times.

Pearls and nuggets of wisdom – reviews

Don’t waste time playing games, which you don’t like. There are a lot of review sources in the Internet – Dice Tower, Shut up and Sit Down, Rahdo. BoardGameGeek ranking is a good place to go as well.
Reviews save you time making decisions too. They make all the dirty work for you.
Bookmark your top review sources to have insight.

Yet another cliché – learn rules by watching YouTube

Do you like to read rulebooks? Or would you rather listen to someone explaining them? Try out YouTube videos. Some games are complicated as making a Soufflé. Watch a video before reading a rulebook to get a good picture of gameplay. Information is more digestible this way.

Share the burden… I meant board game!

Why should you do all the hard work yourself? Your friends can read too. Delegation is one of the best inventions in business. It’s time to bring it to board gaming.
Send your friend a link to a YouTube video or give him a physical rulebook to read at home. Don’t try it with people, who aren’t into board games.
Do that and see them paying more attention when someone explains the rules. Once they’ve been in this dangerous place, they will understand how difficult it can be.

These are just a few tips, but they can move your gaming into the next level. Some may seem obvious, but it is difficult to get them right. Be creative and make the best use of your time. With preparation, your gaming nights can be much more enjoyable.

Do you have any time-saving tips for gaming nights? How do you learn rules? Do you use reviews before buying a board game? Let me know in the comment section.

Top 5 Board Games for a Coffee Table

Have you had your latte yet? Or maybe you are more of the tough type and prefer it without milk? Ready? Now grab one of your board games and relax. You deserve it.

I will help you choose a perfect game for all these evenings after work when you want to unwind. Oh, and the top 5 is at the bottom.

There is more. You can take some of your board games to your favourite coffee place!

What exactly should you consider, while choosing a game for a coffee table?

Coffee tables are small, aren’t they?

Remember this. Unfortunately, most games with a board will be eliminated, but you have a lot of card games to choose from!

It’s About Regaining Mental Energy

Pick easily-digested games. If you want to set up a board game on a coffee table, you do it because you want to relax on a sofa or watch TV at the same time. No mental lifting.

Slice of Playtime

Short games require less strategy and engagement. Do you remember how badly you wanted to relax? There’s a suggested playtime of 10 to 45 minutes.

Lighting-Fast Set Up Time

Do I need to tell you why you should choose games which are easy to take out of a box, so you can do them in 3 minutes? Less effort means more time to rest. Also, your coffee can’t get cold.

Good for 2 people

You aren’t that lazy, right? If you invited guests around, you want to have a full gaming night experience.

Top 5 Games for the coffee table:

Biblios – dynamic, a lot of going on at once. Illustrations are great. Abstract. Easy to teach. You take 1 card for your hand 3 times. Leave 1 to yourself. Give 1 to your opponent. Place 1 on the auction pile. It has a similar feel to many classic card games.

Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small – a compressed economic game. Send your workers to get materials for building stalls, stables, and other structures. We score points for multiplying our herd of cows, horses, sheep, and boars.

Karuba – this one is just a great puzzle. You place tiles with paths to lead your explorers to temples. Fabulous components. Playing it is like a ballet. It looks light but requires some effort (just the right amount).

Tides of time – well-put-together game, where you take one card and pass the rest to our opponent. He gives you his cards and you do it until there are no cards left. You do it to collect sets, which give you points.

Hanamikoji – Terrific, detailed illustrations, bursting with colours. You strategically allocate your gifts next to Geisha cards by choosing 1 out of 4 actions. You need to be clever with your choices because you often give some cards to your opponent.

Did you enjoy your coffee? Test some board games to see, if they are coffee-table-friendly. The time after work is a good opportunity to play, especially during a busy week, when you don’t have time for long gaming nights. Keep your picks near the coffee table and step up your game!

Do you play board games on your coffee table? What is your favourite coffee? How do you like to relax after work? Let me know in the comments section.

Fetured Image designed by rawpixel.com / Freepik

My 3 Favourite YouTube Channels about Board Games

YouTube is a sacred place for all board gamers. After traveling a long way through dry deserts of complex rules and sailing through seas full of deadly information, you can meet with the priests. The priests will fill your hungry belly with tasty reviews. Restore your hope with their expertise; they will show you way back, which will be easier to travel. Let’s meet with some of them.

Dice Tower (link)

Are you a new gamer? If so, you should go try some of their content, especially the video about their top 10 gateway games. Dice Tower uploads new stuff almost every day. With a ton of top 10 lists, regular segments like “Board Game Breakfast” and “Throat Punch Lunch” and a huge library of reviews, they are easily the number 1 content creator on YouTube.

Their videos are usually long, and they post them often. Be picky!

Tip: Skim video lists and add videos to your “Watch Later” lists. This way you watch only what you need. There is plenty of content out there and it may be impossible for you to keep up with everything.

There are 3 hosts of Dice Tower: Tom Vasel, Sam Healey and Zee Garcia. Each one of them has a very distinct and unique taste in board games. Because of that, during their reviews, they show different approaches. Thanks to their huge experience, you can trust their opinion and save a lot of time researching and money by avoiding miserable products.

Rahdo (link)

Richard Ham is a 40+-year-old video game designer, as you can read on his YouTube “about” page. I really like his content, because all his videos are full of energy.

What makes his videos special? He explains rules very precisely running through a game move after move. After I buy a new game, I usually watch one of Rahdo’s videos.

Doing that and just skimming rules usually does the trick.

There is one more detail, making his content unique: he usually plays with his wife, Jen. That’s why most of his recommendations are very useful if you are looking for a good 2-player game.

Shut Up and Sit Down (link)

Quinns, Matt and Paul – these 3 young gentlemen are very characteristic. Their content is unique – pretty much unlike anything, that I’ve seen on YouTube so far. SU&SD has a very distinctive sense of humour.

Their purposefully cheesy video effects made me instantly click the “Like” button multiple times.  I find them to be highly informative, with the right balance between showing off game components, talking through major advantages or the flows of a design and explaining rules.

They usually somehow manage to fit an essence of a game within 15 minutes. That’s an outstanding skill, making me watch their reviews as soon as they come out.

Welcome to the sacred land! Did you enjoy your stay? There is much more that you can discover yourself. You can spend hours digesting board game-related goodness. Feel on top of the news and make better decisions. All you need to do is to add YouTube to your board gaming routine!

What are your favourite YouTube channels? Are there any I should see? What makes a great YouTube channel for you? Let me know in the comments section.

Artwork in Board Games– a sweet and creamy topping

Artwork is the servant of a game. If you are not able to notice a difference between wood and your workers, or you don’t know where to place your buildings, that’s due to bad artwork. You love it or hate it. The art is subjective. Is there a magic element making some art better? Why is artwork important in board games?

Playground for imagination

Good artwork is like fuel. Your imagination ignites with it. The better the fuel, the longer it burns. It brings pieces on the board to life. You hear people trading when you look at the market card. You smell freshly-baked cupcakes when you manage your bakery.

If there are blanks the size of a moon crater, you can’t do much, can you? Have you ever heard battle noises when you played chess? Me neither.

Art sells you a game, making you want to play it. When you see something nice, you want to interact with it. How many times have you been to the cinema only because you liked the special effects? People are visual. You won’t buy a game if you don’t like the illustrations, unless someone recommended it to you.

Expectations meet reality

Have you ever seen different art on a box than in a game itself? Well, it happens often – there is a promise of distant fantasy worlds bursting with forbidden magic. It is killed by the truth of a board with a dull grid which is thrown at you along with a pair of passionless dice. White dice. It’s like giving someone a week-old cheese sandwich in a wrapper from their favourite restaurant.

Artwork should be consistent. What you see on the box, it’s what’s in the box. This consistency also applies to every other element of the game. Every piece should look like a part of a whole. Sometimes objects seem to be from different Universes.

Art detached from the actual feel of the game is almost the same. It should feel right, like a part of it – not like a photo of Mr. Universe with a face photoshopped on it for a dating site. You will feel disoriented if you see dragon scale textures in a game about recycling.

Art vs purpose

Graphic design can go mental. Vivid colours making your eyes burst in pain? Visual chaos causing migraines? Welcome to the world of nightmarish graphic design.

Dull colours and nothing standing out is a step in a different direction in the realm of terrible art. This kind of nastiness makes you steer clear of a lot of games. You may not even be aware of it. That is one of the reasons why so many book publishers outsource all their illustrations and have a graphic designer working for them full-time.

How about colours? Using them to differentiate between components seems to be a good idea. Wrong! A lot of men are colourblind to some extent. Games should use shapes and symbols in addition to different colours. It isn’t that difficult, is it?

As a perfect servant, Artwork helps the Game to unfold in front of your eyes. It tells you a story about its master, making him or her appear great. Great Artwork will make you remember the story because it will play into your imagination. It won’t use cheap marketing tricks to make you like the Master more. It won’t add any unnecessary details about imaginary dragons and aliens – just the ones which are true. It will please your ears with perfect diction and will talk loudly enough to be convincing. The voice can be soprano or bass. It doesn’t matter if everything feels right.

What is your favourite artwork on board games? Do you have a favourite artist? Do you think that artwork is important? Let me know in the comments section.

What your game collection and a family dinner have in common?

Do you want to keep all your games useful? To make sure that they won’t gather dust? Do you want people to enjoy your gaming nights? It would help if you planned your collection.

Choosing the right games for your collection is like preparing yourself for dinner with your whole family. What should be on your checklist?

What should you think about while diversifying for your collection?

Game difficulty – your dinner shopping list.

Easy – sugar for afternoon tea. You always keep in your cupboard. It doesn’t matter if you use it yourself.

Have in your collection at least three games for beginners to introduce new people to the hobby or to play with people who may have trouble understanding more complex rules, such us your grandparents or kids. You can teach these in up to 5 minutes. They are short, so there is no problem if someone doesn’t get something the first time. After you finish, she can quickly have her revenge.

Medium – Ice cream for dessert. Is your mom on a diet? She will have some eventually.

The usual board game 45 min – 1.5 h

Medium games give us loads of fun within a small amount of time and rules. You should be able to teach most of these in 5 – 10 minutes. People will understand some well after 1st gameplay. You should have them handy if you organise a game night with your friends. Some experienced players only play these to save their time.

Hard – liquorice. Some people love it. The rest will spit it out in disgust.

By difficulty level, I also mean volume of rules. Leave these games for people, who want to give themselves to this hobby as dutifully as a monk. It’s a waste of time for you and others if you explain difficult rules when you are going to play a game once.

These titles will be the best for your gaming group and friends, who want board games to become a precious part of their lives. It’s better to avoid these games if you have no gaming group or you are a beginner.

Main categories – meal courses.

Game categories are important. Let’s divide board games into: light, “heavy”, gateway, and party. You will be prepared for parties, family visits, and your game group meetings. Like meal courses, they serve a different purpose, and you need them all for a family dinner.

Light games are like snacks between courses.

You want to have plenty, after you are tired with huge, thinking heavy titles. These are usually card games, which you can play in 5 – 30 minutes. They can also bring much energy into a long gaming session, where everyone is falling asleep. This is especially true if you plan to play the same game multiple times.

Heavy” game is the main course.

Every game, which is longer than 45 minutes or has rules you need to teach longer than 5 minutes is under term “heavy” in my dictionary. This would be the protein-rich, main course during a gaming session. Having good variety is important.

A gateway game is like a carrot, which you give to an infant as a tasting exercise.

Basically, a game, that you can teach to an average 7-year-old. You use it to introduce people to board games.

You should have a couple of titles to play with people like your parents or someone who didn’t play board games. Once they are hooked and liked the carrot, the chocolate, and the apple, you can try with the lemon, who knows?

Starters are optional

You can also consider the time of a game, its theme, mechanics, and player count.

Usually, the rest of the factors won’t be so crucial. Remember that before you focus on a very specific theme, which you like a lot, it may not be perfect for most people you know. Player count is individual, so you must think about your usual quantity of guests.

 

Dinner postponed. When shouldn’t you diversify your collection?

If you are certain, that your group loves euro games and you are big fans of Vikings, look for games meeting these criteria. It is possible that you will play only with advanced players, you’d rather watch TV with your parents, and your sister’s kids can’t sit in one place longer than 30 seconds. These are all individual factors.

 

As you can see, preparing dinner and diversifying a collection are difficult tasks. And they have a lot in common. You make sure that you have all needed ingredients, and you have all snacks nearby. It would help if you thought about every family member. In the end, thanks to your resourcefulness, everybody drives his car, with a full belly and happy memories looking forward to your next meeting.

Do you think, that diversifying collection is important? What you usually think of, when you do that? Do you have a certain game type, which people whom you play with like a lot? Let me know in the comments section.

3 Types of Board Games You Should Know About

Are you feeling lost into the vast ocean of information about board games? You don’t know, where to start? You are in a good place!

There are 3 genres you need to know about: Euro, Ameritrash, and Party Games. Read about them to know which will be the most fun for you. Once you know more about this trio, you will have enough knowledge to begin your journey on discussion boards and other blogs. Are you ready? Let’s begin.

Euro games make your brain boil

Euro games give you a feeling of working on something huge. Like building a colossal castle or conquering the entire galactic sphere. Each action is a part of your supreme masterplan. Make sure that your opponents don’t buy all the flour. Flour will keep your workers fed. Happy workers can make two times more carpet. You score points for every carpet. Have the most of victory points to win the game. Win the game to make your friends hate you. Do you get the picture?

Components are abstract, like cubes or small wooden dudes (meeples). You can focus all your brainpower on delicious decision making. Shiny figurines and vivid illustrations can distract you. Less is more, I guess…

Euro games aren’t theme heavy. The focus here is on planning. They are here to make your neurons buzz until you sound like a swarm of furious wasps. Estimate, compute, decide, repeat. Did I make it sound ugly? It’s fun! Come on; you are responsible for entire tribes and galactic systems!

Pick one of these if you like complex puzzles, planning and economy.

Examples: Stone Age, Ticket to Ride, Terra Mystica

Ameritrash – experience a story

Do you like fighting ugly and furious monsters? Great adventures making your heart beating like a jackhammer? Juicy storytelling full of glory and defeat? Ameritrash welcomes you with shady grim and a rusty knife in a sleeve.

Brace yourself. Randomness has heard your footsteps. We both know how mad it is. It can send a herd of starving rats to eat you and your friends alive. It can make you wake up tomorrow. It can make you rich. Randomness is moody. The one thing is certain: it makes board games dramatic. You can hate dice, but they have a quest. They want you to be scared. Children like to be scared occasionally. Do you?

Examples: Descent: Journey to the Dark, Cosmic Encounter, Twilight Imperium

Party Games are silly fun

Sometimes you want to have fun. Have friends over. Some are not into board games. You are desperate for fun. You don’t want people to fell asleep, while you teach them the rules. How about a party game? You can play it in a group of 4 – 8 people. They are easy to understand.

Your guests laugh! They cheer! “(your name here)!” They love you! You are their star! Do you see how much fun they had because of your terrific idea of showing them this brilliant game?

Quick tip. I feel generous today. For some folks, “a party game” sounds better than “a board game”. You are welcome.

Examples: Times Up!, Dixit, Sheriff of Nottingham

Which category is the best? Neither. You will probably enjoy a mix of all. There are juicy and stinky board games in every category. Sometimes you want to run a Victorian factory. Sometimes you want to smash rattling skeletons. Sometimes you will have a… Party. Try out every kind to discover what works the best for you.

Now you are equipped with the essential knowledge. You can look up each genre in Google to extend it even more.

What is your favourite category? Do you have your favourite euro, ameritrash or party games? Are there any other genres, that I should mention? Let me know in the comment section.

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.