Hollandazed: Thoughts, Ideas, and Miscellany — game design

FROM THE ARCHIVES: GIMMICKS (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, scenario design

FROM THE ARCHIVES: GIMMICKS (by Tom Russell)

One of the maxims that I would repeat to myself back when I was a tyro designer was this: There is no such thing as a normal scenario. The idea being that when you’re designing a scenario-based game, every scenario should have some kind of gimmick: this is the one where one of the commanders might defect, this is the one with the convoy passing through the gauntlet, this is the one with the exploding wagon. You would think it would be easier to come up with these when you're doing a fictional or hypothetical game, but for me at...


THE CLONTARF SCENARIO (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags Clontarf, game design, Kingdom of Dyflin

THE CLONTARF SCENARIO (by Tom Russell)

The Clontarf scenario in Kingdom of Dyflin was in some ways a departure for the Shields & Swords II series, as it was significantly bigger than what had come before: more hexes, more units, longer playing time. That was also something like the point of the thing - it's "the big one", in the same way that another scenario might be "the one with the rearguard" or "the one with the ambush". I'm a firm believer in the maxim there is no such thing as an ordinary scenario, and that the worst thing a designer can do is come up...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: MANDATORY EVENTS (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, Tom Russell

FROM THE ARCHIVES: MANDATORY EVENTS (by Tom Russell)

A new turn begins: you draw up to your hand limit and survey your new cards. A three-ops card, yes, this is just what I needed. A card that might diminish your losses in battle, okay, I can work with that. That powerful special event you were hoping to see on the previous turn, well, better late than never. And then, there's that Mandatory Event card you absolutely did not want to see on this turn, or on any turn. It's the card that will undo your modest, hard-fought gains, the card that will destroy you, that will cheerfully assist...


FIFTY-FIFTY

Mary Russell

Comments 2 Tags game design, playtesting

FIFTY-FIFTY

Most of my games are for two players, and most of those are asymmetric: the Irish Player versus the Viking Player (cf. Kingdom of Dyflin) for example, or Patriot versus Crown (Supply Lines). Because each side has certain advantages and disadvantages - something which doesn't feature in a game with symmetrical player positions - much of the playtesting is preoccupied with ensuring these advantages and disadvantages achieve the proper balance. A conventional and commonplace conception of balance would figure that each side in a given match should have an equal chance of winning assuming players of equal skill. This plays...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: BATTLES ON THE ICE DESIGNER'S NOTES PART 1 OF 2

FROM THE ARCHIVES: BATTLES ON THE ICE DESIGNER'S NOTES PART 1 OF 2

The first game in the Shields & Swords II series, The Grunwald Swords, sold fairly well and was well-received. A number of very kind folks have said some very kind things about it, which encouraged other very kind folks to give it a try. It helps that the subject was, if not exactly popular, then it wasn't exactly obscure, either. The particulars of the battle also make for a rather dynamic gaming situation. (Some folks find the game very hard to win as the Teutonic Player, and while the game does lean towards the Allies - as does the history...