Hollandazed: Thoughts, Ideas, and Miscellany

FROM THE ARCHIVES: ZUGZWANG! (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags gameplay

FROM THE ARCHIVES: ZUGZWANG! (by Tom Russell)

Oh no, not another short blog article about elements of classic abstract games! What can I say, guys? I'm on a kick. Zugzwang is a concept in chess theory that refers to a serious disadvantage created by your compulsion to move. That is, because you need to do something on your turn, even when you would really rather not, you may be forced to fatally compromise your position. It's a function, like so many other things, of tempo and leverage. A player who has the tempo dictates the terms of the match; his opponent is stuck reacting to what the...


STORIES AND SYSTEMS (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Comments 2 Tags game design

STORIES AND SYSTEMS (by Tom Russell)

Games are systems: a series of inputs and outputs, of actions and reactions and interactions. They can be many things - frivolous or serious, light or heavy; they can appeal to the mathematical rigor of your neo-cortex or ignite giddy thrills in the reptilian part of the brain; they can be meaningless or they can be laden with meaning, and that meaning might be built into the game, or it might be something that we bring to it, and discover, ourselves. But for all the different types of games that exist, and all the different types of experiences we can...


FROM THE ARCHIVES: DOTS

Mary Russell

Tags rules organization

FROM THE ARCHIVES: DOTS

Newcomers to wargaming often struggle with the way wargame rulebooks are organized. The numbered sections with their numbered sub-sections can all seem a little "much" to the uninitiated. Once you've found your way inside though, you'll often find that it makes finding this rule or that one a heck of a lot easier, and a good rulebook will use handy-dandy cross-references in parentheticals to help you connect the dots and master the game's various concepts. At the same time, the structure of a ruleset can sometimes make the whole thing seem a lot more complicated than it really is. I...


TRAINS AND CHIT NINETEEN PART 3 OF 3 (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Tags conventions, Trains and Chit

TRAINS AND CHIT NINETEEN PART 3 OF 3 (by Tom Russell)

I got very little sleep Friday night. This wasn't a surprise, necessarily; I discovered last year that I sleep very poorly when I travel, and that each day of a convention gets harder than the one before it. So while Friday morning saw your humble narrator bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Saturday morning found him a little punchy. Bob and Travis were setting up Meltwater, so that left Matt, Marcus, and myself to our own devices. They thought a Winsome game would be appropriate - there had been precious few trains in this iteration of Trains and Chit - and I readily...


TRAINS AND CHIT NINETEEN PART 2 OF 3 (by Tom Russell)

Mary Russell

Comments 2 Tags conventions, Trains and Chit

TRAINS AND CHIT NINETEEN PART 2 OF 3 (by Tom Russell)

A full day of gaming commenced Friday morning with Time Agent. This is the game that Marcus really, really wanted to play last year, but that never got to the table for a multitude of reasons, first and foremost being his very serious dedications to the duties of playing host. There was a running gag going into this year's con that we actually had played Time Agent last year, we just don't remember it because someone jumped back in time and reversed the event.  If you're unfamiliar, here's the hook: there are six civilizations in outer space, one of which...