When you’re brainstorming for a game, it seems intuitive to only write down the good ideas and toss out the bad ones. BUT that actually hinders the brainstorming process!
The goal of brainstorming isn’t to find one good idea, it’s to come up with as many ideas as possible. Some of them are going to be bad, but that’s the nature of brainstorming. If you self-edit as you go, it interrupts your thought process and stops you from reaching flow (and that flow state is where you really want to be).
Even if you know an idea won’t work, write it down anyway! You can always toss it out later, but the momentum you get from continuing to brainstorm will carry you a lot farther.
— Sara Perry & Peter C. Hayward
Board Game Easter Eggs
The astronaut from Gaia Project
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 people who go hunting.
Here’s a great example: Gaia Project is the 2017 follow-up to popular game Terra Mystica. And if you look carefully at the cover, you’ll see that on the left-hand monitor... the astronaut is playing a game of Terra Mystica.
The BoardGameGeek thread where I found this suggested there may be more easter eggs hidden in the game. Reply to this email and let me know if you’ve found any, or what your favourite board game easter egg is!
— Peter C. Hayward
Board Games Through the Ages
The game played by Vikings
I’ve been binging a video game called Bannerlord lately, which contains taverns featuring real historical board games. The game I've played the most is Tablut. It’s like Checkers, but instead of jumping over enemies, you capture a piece by surrounding it on two opposite sides. The result resembles an asymmetrical Go, with one side protecting a precious Chess-like King.
Tablut is a version of the Viking game Hnefatafl, which became popular throughout Europe as Norse influence overtook Roman in the 4th and 5th centuries. (The Discworld game Thud is a variant of Hnefatafl.)
Hnefatafl is based on an older Roman game, Ludus Latrunculorum or The Game of Robbers. Ludus Latrunculorum uses the same opposite-surrounding capture mechanic, but lacks the all-important King.
Ludus Latrunculorum was itself based on a similar abstract grid game from Greece, Petteia. In The Republic, Plato taunts Socrates' opponents, calling them "bad Petteia players, who are finally cornered and made unable to move."
Left: Seega game board, carved on the wall of Temple of Amenhotep III, Elkab, Egypt
Right: Tablut game board from Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord
Plato also tells us Petteia was, you guessed it, inspired by an older game from ancient Egypt.
A different Bannerlord tavern features the ancient Egyptian game, Seega, which also includes surrounding captures. Scholars now believe Seega is the origin of Petteia, and thus all the games it inspired. If you wander Bannerlord's world enough, you can experience two ends of the same game’s history.
— David Y. Stephenson
Muse: For fans of Dixit
Muse is a team-based, Dixit-style party game, complete with gorgeous abstract art on XL cards.
As with Codenames, the team leader can see a card, and they have to help their team guess what it shows by giving clues. However, they are also given a restriction card, which forces them to limit how they communicate. For example, they might only be able to say the name of a celebrity, or hum a tune, or make a face.
But they don't draw their cards and restrictions randomly. The opposing team chooses them. The fun and challenge of the game comes from agonizing over the most difficult combination of card + restriction to give your opponent, and outthinking your opponents with a creative clue.
If you already own Dixit, you can even use Muse as an expansion (and vice-versa)!
— A.J. Brandon
Fun Problems Podcast
Episode #1 – Ideas: Where do board games come from?
A.J. and Peter have just launched the Fun Problems podcast! Board game design is a deep and often challenging pursuit, and in Fun Problems they explore all aspects of game design and the fun problems (and solutions) that come with it.
In this episode, A.J. and Peter discuss the inception of board games. What the advantages are of different starting points and what pitfalls to watch out for.
They also touch on designing board games as a product, designing for early prototyping and how to know if your game is going in the right direction.