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When is a mechanic worth the set-up time? An illustrative example from Ticket to Ride: Pennsylvania

Applying a cost-benefit framework to a specific mechanic in a TTR expansion, I explore if we can create a more objective way of weighing-up design decisions; at least as far as set-up goes. Ticket to Ride: Pennsylvania is the “B side” of the United and Kingdom and Pennsylvania map pack and requires a base game to play. While the train ferries have been seen in previous outings (like the Europe base game I wrote about here), by far the most important special rule is the addition of share ownership to the game. As with most of the series’ expansions, it’s a pretty simple addition: when you place your trains as normal you can also take a company share of any...

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An experimental mission to Flashpoint: The results (Part II)

In the last post I explored some possible reasons why Flashpoint's turn order is just so forgettable. In this post, I present the results of my little experiment and explore what it all means. A brief recap Flashpoint is a co-operative game about firefighting. Its turn order requires each player to undertake three steps: take their actions to fight fire / save people, advance the fire itself, and replenish potential victims. After seeing people frequently forget to advance the fire, I theorised that something about this turn order makes it forgettable and, further, that an order in which players advance fire first would be more memorable. Part I covers my three main working theories: first that the current turn order...

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What makes a memorable turn order? An experimental mission to Flashpoint: Fire Rescue (Part I)

Flashpoint is a very well designed game but it has an oddly forgettable turn order. Can we use it to find out if certain design decisions will always result in a more memorable structure? UPDATE: Full results now available in Part II. A theme that does an awful lot of work Flashpoint: Fire Rescue is one of the best examples of theme-first design that I have ever seen. From beginning to end, its burly theme throws the player over its shoulder and carries them through its mechanics with confidence. The fire itself spreads logically in the way that you'd expect a house on fire to spread: sometimes randomly from a build-up of heat or an explosion, but always gradually and...

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