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Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Interesting Game Article >> Passed Along By Fellow Gamers

It's amazing the series of coincidences, referrals and chats that can eventually lead to discovering something interesting online.

Case in point, I was online checking email, when I was pinged by Simon Hunt (designer of Take Stock) to tell me about an interesting article he saw over on Boardgame News by Larry Levy. His article, titled "The Two Faces of Gaming" was spurred on by his reading of a recent Bruno Faidutti post over on Bruno's web site. The most interesting part about Larry's column was actually the response by my GeekBuddy Valerie Putman.

It was a bizarre web of ideas, concepts, notices and communication that finally got me to read the article, which is essentially about the impact of certain timed events during a game, such as when you draw a card. Does drawing a card at the beginning of your turn create more downtime or analysis paralysis than drawing at the end of your turn? Or does drawing at the beginning of your turn create more excitement and anticipation?

It's a great read, and I strongly recommend you check it out. Both Larry's column, and the article by Bruno that started it. And then Valerie's comments, which succintly mirror my own feelings about the topic. Here is part of her response, which I largely agree with:

When you draw at the end of your turn, you are much less likely to care as much about what you draw. First, you have to wait until everyone else plays before you get to use it. Second, the game might change enough between turns that you don’t know yet when you draw it if it is helpful. It is much more engaging to draw at the beginning of your turn.

What do you think? Does the timing of these game mechanics matter? How about opposed actions, like rolling dice in combat, or "after the fact" card draws after the person's turn has passed? I think it's too easy to overthink the impact and significance of design decisions like this in short, filler games, but perhaps there's more impact in longer, more tactically and strategically rich games, like Card-Driven Wargames. Dunno. You tell me.


  • I'm a big believer in game efficiency, particularly in letting people do their thinking during other people's turns. If you draw at the beginning of your turn there's always a new thing to think about so everyone else has to wait for you to play. E.g. Carcassonne without predrawing, that's just stupid. Games shouldn't have down-time designed in!

    The case where drawing at the start of your turn is essential is where cards can be used up on other people's turns, e.g. Munchkin. In those games it's a tactic to try to empty people's hands and then take advantage of their weakness before their turn comes around again.

    By Blogger Friendless, at 9:26 PM  

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