Hollandazed: Thoughts, Ideas, and Miscellany — wargame design

THE BALANCE BINARY (by Tom Russell)

THE BALANCE BINARY (by Tom Russell)

I have a strong preference - as a player, as a designer, and as one-half of a publisher - for dynamic games, by which I mean games where the balance is highly mutable and prone to distortion based on player actions. One of the ways I try to achieve this in my own work is through the use of feedback loops, in which succeeding makes it easier to succeed, and failing makes it easier to fail. The winners keep winning and the losers keep losing. The balance of the game is in flux, capable of being tilted in one direction...


OLD FRIENDS (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Comments 1 Tags game design, wargame design

OLD FRIENDS (by Tom Russell)

In November of 2017, I wrapped up development on the second game in our Shot & Shell Battle Series, a treatment of the Battle of the Alma River in the Crimean War. The Heights of Alma would be my second bite at that particular apple, it having served as the subject of my first published game, 2012's Blood on the Alma. That development process started by getting my debut game back on the table. I hadn't played it in over four years, and remembered bits of it only dimly. As I started to push the counters around the map, I...


DOUBTS (by Tom Russell)

DOUBTS (by Tom Russell)

When my first few games were published, I wasn't very sure of myself, my abilities, or my judgment. I was constantly afraid that a game would come out and gamers would immediately discover some glaring and obvious hole in the rules that had somehow gotten overlooked. Then I'd be the guy who had designed a broken game. But you do enough of these things and you'll start to build up your confidence. After six years of working in the games industry, I have worked on nearly fifty games in some capacity or another, mostly as a designer or as a...


MANDATORY EVENTS (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Comments 2 Tags This Guilty Land, wargame design

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...


MOVING PARTS (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, gameplay, wargame design

MOVING PARTS (by Tom Russell)

We spent this past weekend in Dallas - more on that in a future blog-thing - and I got the chance to play two games that I had been very keen to play. One of these was God's Playground, Martin Wallace's 2009 three-hander about the history of Poland, and the other was Cole Wehrle's John Company, released last year by Sierra Madre Games. They had more in common than my desire to play them; both games are very procedural (lots of phases, lots of little steps) and both are fairly intricate, ornate objects with lots of moving parts. Both games...