Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Quick draw: First impression of Death Pit Duels

In the world of head-to-head two-player battle card games, I'd be hard pressed to name a more distilled, purified entry than Death Pit Duels (designer Bryan Johnson, publisher Frost Forge on Game Crafter).

Monday, September 24, 2018

Notes on simultaneous-move games, and an exploration of the Stag Hunt

Some time ago, the design team of Dr. Wictz and I started discussing the book Games of Strategy by Dixit, Skeath, and Riley.  I wrote on a couple of topics:
In this post, I'd like to address simultaneous-move games with a specific focus on pure discrete strategies. (We recorded our discussion on this topic in April of last year.)  I recall such games represented in my earliest readings on game theory in the form of a decision-payoff matrix.  In a two-player game in which each player makes a single decision from among a finite number of choices, without knowledge of the other player's decision, the decision-payoff matrix labels the rows with one player's options and the columns with the other player's options.  The corresponding cell for a given combination of decisions yields the payoff to both players.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Magnificent feedback

Playtesting is crucial to any successful design, but the tricky part has often been which feedback to accept and which to ignore. Keith Ferguson and I really thought we had "Magnificent Marvels" nailed down when we pitched it at Origins and eventually signed it with Hexagram 63. The publisher identified some modifications for us to explore, so Keith tested some changes out at WashingCon and again at The Island Games, our friendly local game store. The changes that Hexagram 63 requested seem to work well, but some other feedback that Keith received surprised us somewhat. We have to look hard at where to make changes and where to stick with our original design.

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.