Hollandazed: Thoughts, Ideas, and Miscellany

FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE BAND-AID

Mary Russell

Comments 1 Tags game design, gameplay

FROM THE ARCHIVES: THE BAND-AID

One of the most curious things about making weird games on purpose is that there are folks who don't seem to think that it was on purpose. I couldn't really mean for the game to do that; somehow it snuck its way into the design when I wasn't looking. I get this a lot with Table Battles and its mandatory reaction loops. There are folks who feel this is a huge flaw, and they can't believe how obstinate I am in refusing to admit it. But the mandatory reactions aren't just an aspect of the game, they are the game...


FROM THE ARCHIVE: SLUGFESTS (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design, Table Battles

FROM THE ARCHIVE: SLUGFESTS (by Tom Russell)

One problem that became apparent after the release of Table Battles is that when players made poor decisions or did not properly work toward force preservation, the game would degenerate into an exhausted slugfest, a bunch of piddling little one- or two-stick formations limping along as the morale cubes passed back and forth, neither side achieving a definitive advantage. Over the course of the two expansions, I made the morale splits much more asymmetric and fragile as a way to "protect" the game against bad play. If losing just one formation would lose you the game, you'd be less likely...


CHOO-CHOO GAMES (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Comments 2 Tags Dual Gauge, game design, The Soo Line

CHOO-CHOO GAMES (by Tom Russell)

My most recent choo-choo game, The Soo Line, was weird and experimental, in that it involved me deliberately breaking "rules" of train game design: it's very front-loaded, there are fewer companies than players and therefore some players will be taking a less active role, and all the companies are rubbish. It was always intended to be a sort of an oddity rather than a crowd-pleaser, and as expected, there were folks who really dug it, and there were folks who found it frustrating and self-indulgent. I did see some comments about how Soo and the equally experimental/divisive For-Ex proved that...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: MECHANISM AS METAPHOR (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags game design

FROM THE ARCHIVES: MECHANISM AS METAPHOR (by Tom Russell)

About seven years ago Mary and I drove two hundred miles down to Columbus and paid our admission fee at Origins for the sole purpose of demoing one of my euro-style games for an interested publisher. This was probably the best of my games in that style, an economic engine-builder about private equity firms eating up small companies, building them up, and then selling them for a profit. The development process on this one was lengthy, and it was the first one I was really confident about, the game that I thought would at last break through the wall of...


NOTES ON REIGN OF WITCHES (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Comments 4 Tags game design, Reign of Witches

NOTES ON REIGN OF WITCHES (by Tom Russell)

I began working on this year's holiday freebie game just before last year's sale. I was reasonably pleased with that year's game, The Toledo War, and wanted to do something roughly in the same vein: a short card game about an obscure conflict that was mostly bloodless bluster and posturing. I settled on the Quasi-War as my topic almost immediately, and I already had a wonderful title for it: Obnoxious and Disliked. This of course was how John Adams was described in 1776, a stage musical for which I had a tremendous amount of affection, so much so that I...