Hollandazed: Thoughts, Ideas, and Miscellany — Practical Problems

PRACTICAL PROBLEMS: INVINCIBLE HOPLITES (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, practical problems, With It Or On It

PRACTICAL PROBLEMS: INVINCIBLE HOPLITES (by Tom Russell)

I had a problem: my hoplite lines weren't breaking. One of the core things I wanted to do in With It Or On It was to represent units - those individual square pieces of cardboard - as parts of a whole. I wanted players to think of the ten or twelve counters that made up a wing as a single "piece". When an individual counter was flipped to its exhausted side as the result of combat, it was like a little stress fracture. As these pile up, it became more and more likely that the line would break. When it...


PRACTICAL PROBLEMS: YELLOW FEVER & 18 BRUMAIRE (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, Practical Problems, Reign of Witches

PRACTICAL PROBLEMS: YELLOW FEVER & 18 BRUMAIRE (by Tom Russell)

I had a problem: my chaotic little freebie game that I designed to end suddenly was ending suddenly. That probably requires some explanation. As you probably know, every year I do a small promotional game that we give away during our end-of-year Hollandays Sale. This year's game is Reign of Witches, which views the Quasi War (1798-1800) through the lens of factional politics within the Federalist Party, cast as a struggle between President John Adams and Alexander Hamilton. Neither side is really "controlling" events, but rather reacting to events that are outside their control, and seeking to capitalize on them....


PRACTICAL PROBLEMS: WEIGHTING GOALS (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Comments 2 Tags game design, Practical Problems, Westphalia

PRACTICAL PROBLEMS: WEIGHTING GOALS (by Tom Russell)

I had a problem: I wanted one player's victory thresholds to be hidden from the other players, but didn't want that player to be hobbled by pure dumb luck. The game was Westphalia, and the player was Austria. The way Austria works is that they start with a bunch of territory and a bunch of authoritarian prerogatives, and over the course of the game they're ceding territory and giving up some of those prerogatives in order to satisfy the demands of their enemies and safeguard the victories of their allies. The trick is that they can't give away too much,...


PRACTICAL PROBLEMS: BARTLEBY (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, Practical Problems, The Vote

PRACTICAL PROBLEMS: BARTLEBY (by Tom Russell)

I had a problem: the players in my highly-interactive game weren't interacting. The Vote tasks one player (Equality) with agitating for a more democratic American society, while their opponent (Supremacy) has to fight them tooth and nail. Equality tries to build popular support, Supremacy tries to confuse the issue with the usual bad faith arguments and calls for unreciprocated civility. Equality tries to garner enough votes for change, Supremacy suppresses them. Equality gets laws passed, Supremacy gets them overturned. And of course while Supremacy is trying to prevent Equality from pursuing their victory, they're trying to rack up points by...


PRACTICAL PROBLEMS: VP RACE (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, Practical Problems, The Vote

PRACTICAL PROBLEMS: VP RACE (by Tom Russell)

 This is a new series of blog-things where instead of delving into highfalutin experimental game design theory, I look more practically at a specific game design problem and talk about how I solved it. This is the first of a handful about our end-of-year release The Vote, a game about voting rights in America during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. I had a problem: I didn't want to do the thing that scores me points, because if I did it wouldn't give me enough time to score enough points to win the game. So, let me back up...