Hi folks! Welcome to Fun Problems Issue #8, the newsletter for board game lovers.
This week we have:
Board game design tips from Sara and Peter
A game within a game in Ice Cool
Santorini, an abstract game with a twist
Board game terminology: what terms mean and how they’re useful
Hope you like it!
— Peter, Sara, & AJ
Game Design Tips
Getting value out of your components
An important characteristic of board games is their tactile nature, or how you feel and relate to the game by touching it. There are two sides to a game’s tactile feel: the physical attributes of the pieces and the feelings players get from moving those pieces around. Last time we tackled player feelings, so let’s take a look at physical pieces.
The quality of a game’s components and its overall production value can drastically affect a player’s perception of the game. Metal coins, minis, special finishes on cards, screen printed meeples -- there are so many ways to trick out a board game! However, the final product is often constrained by the game’s production budget and retail price. Metal coins feel better than cardboard coins, but they cost much more to produce and will drive up the cost of your game.
Fancy pieces feel good to use, but they’re expensive. If you want to put a special component in the game, make sure that it gets used frequently. The more players interact with it, the more good feelings they get from using it. And the more good feelings a piece produces, the more value you’re getting out of it. Metal coins that get handled by players 50+ times each game can be worth the extra price, but an intricate miniature that only gets handled twice is probably not worth the added cost.
— Sara Perry & Peter C. Hayward
Board Game Easter Eggs
A game within a game in Ice Cool
I love it when creators add “easter eggs” to their games. Hidden nods to other things they’ve created, or clever references to media - anything that rewards you when you go hunting.
Any time a game board contains a table, you have the perfect opportunity to put a game on it. And what better choice than the game that you’re currently playing?
Ice Cool is an incredibly fun game about flicking penguins through a school, which is made up of five nested boxes (each of them a different ‘room’).
One of the rooms has a table in the corner...and sure enough, on that table someone is playing a game of Ice Cool. If you look closer, you’ll see that in the game-in-a-game, they are – in turn – playing their own game of Ice Cool.
It’s penguins all the way down.
— Peter C. Hayward
Santorini: An abstract game with a twist
Santorini is not like other abstracts such as chess or go. For one thing, it’s not that abstract; the 3D board is lush and colourful, the minis are carefully sculpted, and the god cards feature beautiful art. The entire production is fantastic.
The main goal of Santorini is to reach the top of a building three blocks high with one of your workers to see the gods for yourself. The rules are fairly simple; each turn, move one of your workers one space in any direction, then build a block next to it. During your movement, you may climb on top of a block if it’s the same height as the block you’re standing on or if it’s exactly one block higher (so if you were standing on a single block, you could move onto a stack two blocks high). If a building is three blocks high, the next block you place on it is a roof, which prevents workers from climbing on top of it.
The unique god powers are where this game really shines. Every combination is a new puzzle to solve as you leverage your power, and mitigate your opponent’s. There are so many powers to try: a minotaur that can push opposing minis around, Triton who can swim around the edge of the board, Medusa who can turn opposing workers into stone building blocks, and more!
If the powers sound interesting, then you should definitely try the expansion as well. The abilities go off the rails, letting you spawn more workers as you play, move off the board, or even become invisible!
— A.J. Brandon
Fun Problems Podcast
Podcast: Board game terminology part 3
Board game design is a deep and often challenging pursuit. In Fun Problems, A.J. and Peter explore all aspects of game design and the fun problems (and solutions) that come with it.
Join A.J. and Peter for part 3 of their dive into board game terminology. What do board game terms mean, and why are they important and useful?