Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Bidding and game theory

I have been thinking about the game theory construct for the share auction in Chicago Express (designer Harry Wu, publisher Queen). The question isn't only one of absolute valuation but also one of the interactive decision-making in the auction. That thought led to consideration of the auction as a game-theory problem.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Magnificent spreadsheets

There was a bit of a comparative discussion on Twitter among a few game designers about the use of spreadsheets. For my part, I find them useful in maintaining balance in a game's economy, in the relative values of different components of the game. In "Magnificent Marvels," Keith and I recognized the need to be sure that the different components with widely varied point values would need appropriately balanced building costs, and we put together a spreadsheet to try to manage that.

Monday, August 27, 2018

No end in sight

My friends and I played Axis & Allies: 1914 recently, and while I had fun, I was disappointed and irked about a fundamental design flaw in the game end conditions. The rules require one side to capture two opponents' capitals, of which one must be Paris or London (for a Central Powers victory) or Berlin (for an Allied victory). After five turns and eight hours, we had reached something of a stalemate - or at least a realization that the end of the game was still a long way off.

Monday, August 20, 2018

"Magnificent Marvels" signed

Almost two years ago, I recounted an initial foray into a collaborative design with Keith Ferguson. We have come a long way in those two years, and that work has paid off. On August 6, Hexagram 63 Game Studios announced that we had signed with them to produce "Magnificent Marvels," our contraption-inventing game. Keith and I are excited to be working with Anthony Racano and his team to make "Magnificent Marvels" a reality on the tabletop.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Notes on Games with Sequential Moves

In this second post in a series exploring games of strategy (begun last month), designers Aaron Honsowetz, Austin Smokowicz, and I explore strategic games involving sequential moves, i.e. those in which each player's decision happens in the context of knowing opponents' previous decisions.  This exploration has its foundation in Chapter 3 of Dixit, Skeath, and Reiley's Games of Strategy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Notes on Games of Strategy

Over three years ago, I wrote about my effort to approach a simple three-player race game using game theory.  Economist and game designer Dr. Aaron Honsowetz responded, which led to his recommendation that I look up the book Games of Strategy by Avinash Dixit, Susan Skeath, and David Reiley.  I finally obtained the third edition recently, and that has led Aaron, fellow designer Austin Smokowicz, and I to explore Dixit Skeath and Reiley's text in a kind of virtual book club.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Papal Pilgrimage: A preview of the sequel to Avignon

The microgame format that Love Letter popularized poses a considerable design challenge.  Fewer cards mean players face statistically fewer different situations.  Pared down to a skeletal structure, a microgame really has to make every card significant and capitalize on every opportunity for interaction. John du Bois introduced a clever two-player tug-of-war in this format with the 2016 Button Shy game Avignon: A Clash of Popes.  To that tight little design Button Shy Games is Kickstarting a sequel, Avignon: Pilgrimage, that introduces new characters that can stand alone as a separate game or that players can mix in with the original Avignon for a variety of interactions.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Getting to Know "The Grid"

Games in some ways, like people, have personalities.  Some, like Ticket to Ride, are friendly, fun, and easy to get to know.  Others, like Two Rooms and a Boom, are gregarious and a little crazy; if you can handle the energy, they are very entertaining.  Some are obtuse and a little intimidating, like a Phil Eklund simulation or a heavy wargame.  And some are subtle, reserved, and a little introverted; they don't want to show you everything right away, and if you base your opinion on a first impression, you'll miss what's hidden underneath.