Hollandazed: Thoughts, Ideas, and Miscellany

THE FEEL OF THE THING (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design

THE FEEL OF THE THING (by Tom Russell)

  A couple weeks back, I was talking with my friend Rick, and the topic drifted to Mark Herman's Empire of the Sun, a game I am in the very slow process of learning. It's not necessarily a complicated game: each piece in isolation is easy enough to understand, it's just holding all those pieces simultaneously in the old noggin that I'm still getting used to. Anyway, in the conversation, Rick mentioned the Inter-Service Rivalry Rule that sometimes puts certain limitations on the ability of Navy and Army forces to cooperate. Having been a Navy man himself, Rick could attest...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: TIME DISTORTION IN WARGAMES (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design

FROM THE ARCHIVES: TIME DISTORTION IN WARGAMES (by Tom Russell)

The scale of my Shields & Swords II titles has always been somewhat fungible. Hexes don't represent a specific, consistent distance from one title to another. The units do not represent a set number of men (especially as, for some battles, nailing this down with any certainty is next to impossible, given the exaggerations common in the source material). And each turn does not represent a given, defined period of time. There are some folks for whom this kind of thing is a supreme abrogation of a wargame designer's solemn duty to ensure the unity of, and historical accuracy within,...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: ON THE CURIOUS ORIGINS OF TABLE BATTLES (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, game publishing, Table Battles

FROM THE ARCHIVES: ON THE CURIOUS ORIGINS OF TABLE BATTLES (by Tom Russell)

While Table Battles is a direct descendent of my earlier game Christmas at White Mountain, its existence can be better explained in the context of two apparently unrelated games: Richard Berg's multiplayer game Dynasty, and my two-player politics game Optimates et Populares. When we were publishing Richard Berg's Dynasty, we needed to get quite a lot of wood bits. We needed large cubes for armies and little cubes to demarcate control, black cubes for warlords, and wooden discs for home provinces and the Emperor's winter palace. And on top of all that, we also needed some long gray rectangular wood...


BOX COVERS (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Comments 4 Tags cover design

BOX COVERS (by Tom Russell)

There was a game that was published several years ago that had a very good box cover - distinctive, memorable, something special - that is being republished with a very… well, it's not a bad cover but neither could I call it a good one; it's just kinda there, polished and skillful and utterly uninteresting. I'm not going to tell you what the game is - heck, if you're reading this, there's a good chance you know what the game is. I'm also not going to say that I don't understand the decision. First of all, it's quite possible that...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: ON THE SMALLNESS OF TABLES

Mary Russell

Comments 1 Tags game design, game development

FROM THE ARCHIVES: ON THE SMALLNESS OF TABLES

Many of the games we publish have a "small footprint". Partially this is because my own designs tend toward being compact, the result of working habits I developed over the course of a dozen-or-so games designed for magazines and ziplocks. I try to get as much game as possible out of as few components as possible. The venerable Bruce Geryk once said of The Grunwald Swords that it "punches above its weight", and that's a rather nice bit that I'm eager to use in our advertising copy. So for a long time, I've designed reasonably compact games, though of late...