Genghis Con 2015


Why Genghis Con?

I joined in the fun at Genghis Con for most of its 4 days last weekend. I live about an hour from where the con is held and it is not far from my office, so I stay at home instead of the hotel where it is held. I’m sure I am missing out on some of the con experience by doing so, but even with the long drive I probably stay fresher. This was my second time to attend, so I knew what to expect. Last year’s observations would have been more focused on finding out what the con was like, but that is lost to memory now. For 2015, here’s a brief summary of how I spent my long weekend.

Mechanics Makeover: Dice in a Cup – Round 1b

Design Workbench

This is the second and final part describing the individual mechanics and their attributes – the modifiers. Again, there are three basic sets of mechanics; starting from the bottom up:

  1. Those that affect the die rolls. (Roll Modifiers)
  2. Those that affect the goal or victory condition. (Goal Modifiers)
  3. Those that affect the players. (Round Modifiers)

Picking up where we left off, in this round we will look at the last set. I set these apart from the other two because these only impact the die rolls in a meta sense. They don’t impact the actual rolls, but may impact the choices you make during rolling, since they impact who you are rolling against and who goes first.

Mechanics Makeover: Dice in a Cup – Round 1a

Design Workbench

Since I am starting to report this progress further into the design phase than previously, I will break up the “rounds” a little differently at first to catch up. Here’s how the first few rounds will shake out:

  1. I will catch up on the mechanics and their attributes, which I will call modifiers.
    1. Since there is a lot to report here, I’ll break this round up into two parts.
  2. I will catch up on the gamelets.
    1. Since there is a lot to report here, I’ll break this round up into three parts.
  3. I will catch up on the game created by compiling the gamelets.

Give Them the Right Tool


In a couple recent articles on the League of Game Makers Seth Jaffe has made the point that “the designer should strive to ensure that a player cannot make a choice or series of choices that will lead them to a state where they’re not really playing anymore.” I agree whole-heartedly with Seth and encourage you to read his articles (“YOU’RE PLAYING WRONG!” – GOOD PLAY EXPERIENCE AND THE DESIGNER’S RESPONSIBILITY and “HEY, LOSER!” KEEPING PLAYERS ENGAGED, EVEN WHEN THEY’RE BEHIND). I have tried to cover similar ground in my article, Eliminating Player Elimination. Just as Seth has published a follow-up article to make his point clear (there were some who misinterpreted his intent), I’ll also add a few words more from an angle closer to Seth’s perspective (though, it is from my perspective also which some have described as other-worldly).

Mechanics Makeover: Dice in a Cup – Glossary


In addition to the standard dice game terms, I have derived a few new ones for this makeover and for use in the Challenge Dice game. Not all are used right away, but this way the glossary can be referenced at any time. This may look like a lot of terminology for a simple game, but it is intended to be used intuitively. Defining terms helps that happen.

Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Round 5

Design Workbench

Design Objective

In this round I will try to address two seemingly unrelated observations: The “1” Action (Reveal/Peek at any card) does not get used much and a player may run out of time sooner than they want. According to the major objectives for this game, both of these observations may not be recognizing negative conditions, but they may be more pronounced than desired. Let’s break them down a bit into what is actually positive about these observations and what might be negative:

Pick A Player, Any Player


Recently on another game design blog there was a debate about whether a designer should accommodate poor player decisions in the game design. Although it was not the topic of the original article, the discussion veered into new territory (as they often do). I pointed to my article Eliminating Player Elimination where one of my points is that the designer takes on a higher challenge and risk by keeping players in the game (rather than eliminating them) because those players need to be engaged in the game to the end. The idea that the designer is responsible for prompting this engagement was challenged by one of the commenters and, in particular, my light-hearted description of behaviors that bored losers will exhibit was criticized with the following. (Paraphrasing…)

Mechanics Makeover: Dice in a Cup – General Playtesting


A few words about the playtesting approach are in order so they are not necessary in every posting. While the specific variations in this makeover are relatively simple, a valuable aspect of this makeover is to review the testing approach to a highly variable game.


For playtesting an individual mechanic, I am introducing what I call a “Gamelet.” A gamelet (like an applet compared to an application) is a mini-game in the sense that it does the functions of a game, but in a very narrow sense. A good gamelet will exercise one mechanic in a very limited sense. In this case there are also Attributes that impact the operation of the mechanic. So there is a grid of Attributes and Gamelets to test if each attribute is tested separately.

Hobby Game Trends 2000-2014 Round 5: Economic & Business Games

Category Focus: Economic Games

Now that we understand a little about the categories available on BGG to direct our study, it is time to dive into our first one; Economic Games. Fortunately, BGG has an Economic game category, so our challenge is partly met already. However, we might also consider the question, “What makes an “Economic” game?” A recent Board Game Hour discussion revolved around “Business” games. Are all Economic games Business games and vice versa? Maybe not, but some other game categories and mechanics were mentioned in that discussion to identify a “Business” game that may be relevant, so I’ll take a look at those attributes as well.

Hobby Game Trends 2000-2014 Round 4: Expansions

Categories Focus: Expansions

As with fans of the movie or TV industry (one I am most familiar with), in the game publishing industry it is common to hear from consumers, “They don’t make anything new anymore. They just keep making serials/add-ons/expansions.” Is there any truth to that sentiment? Before we get into some deeper analysis of specific game categories, let’s take a look at expansions.


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