Blog RSS



Introducing Magnate

It’s time for Magnate, a project I've been working on for nearly 7 years, to become a reality What if there was a game that felt like what you imagined Monopoly was going to be, when you were a child? Not the crushing disappointment of what Monopoly actually is: a very random, overlong and mean-spirited game of simplistic and brutal zero-sum logic. But a game the captures the magic of Monopoly in the imagination: the feel of money in your hands, of the scramble to get the best property, dropping huge piles of cash on big risks each turn, the application of your cunning and critical thinking to make the best bet and sitting back to admire the empire you...

Continue reading



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...

Continue reading



Preview - “The Boardgame Book” (June 2018 Kickstarter project)

A group of experienced games journalists are publishing a 250 page hardback boardgame yearbook and it looks very interesting. While books are not really my focus here, it seems like an interesting product of itself with a strong proposition; making it worthy of a closer look. UPDATE: "The Boardgame Book" Kickstarter campaign is now live. Essentially, it's a Britannica Book of the Year for tabletop games: mixing reviews of the 100+ biggest titles of the year and interviews with designers (including big names like Martin Wallace, Matt Leacock and Reiner Knizia). The goal appears to be to create a single compendium which will capture the essence of what was going on in the boardgame world over the past 12 months....

Continue reading



The designer's drawer: A Dominion mini expansion – "By decree"

Many years and quite a few designs ago, I made a mini-expansion for Dominion. It's been sat in a drawer ever since. So as an experiment in criticism and self-reflection – and with the benefit of hindsight – I've decided to dissect it. I want to see what I did well… and not so well, and what lessons I can learn from it about design. What's the point of looking back? As part of the research for a blogpost about Dominion's design, I went turfing through my old cards. Amongst them, I found a mini-expansion I designed called By Decree that I had mostly forgotten about. As I looked at it, I remembered that I'd actually put a lot of...

Continue reading



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...

Continue reading