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Subject: Designer Notes rss

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Rob Daviau
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I love this site.

We suspected this game would provoke conversation but certainly not this much this fast. It has been enjoyable reading it all. I wanted to take a moment and try to address some big themes that I’ve seen emerging.

WHY PERMANENT?
The design started with an attempt to make a game decision matter, to up the ante, to maybe make you sweat a bit before you do something. We all make plenty of decisions every day. Many are meaningless. Some stay with us forever. We all have the girl (or boy) who got away, the job we should or shouldn’t have taken, the night out that ended badly, the girl (or boy) we should’ve let get away. We can move on from these or try to atone or learn from them or even enjoy who we are because of them, but there’s one thing we can’t do: we can’t take them back. There are no do overs in life. Some decisions just make you who you are.

This led us to wondering why games always have to reset. Why are they a medium that always goes back to start? Movies and books are static forms of entertainment meant to be viewed but not altered. Games, by nature, demand that the user create the experience. We wanted to push that boundary to have lasting effects. Now you really create the experience. This game is not art to be hung on a wall but a leather jacket to be worn around until it has its own unique story.

It is one thing to play a card in a game to gain an advantage. It is entirely different to play a card and then rip it up, banning it from the game forever (I know that none of you will actually rip it up). Or to mark a territory that will change its destiny from here on out. It’s a different decision process. How important is that card now? Will it be more important in a future game? Will you have it then? Is this the time? Is it worth it?

We knew there would be a continuum of opinions of this. We revere games. Marking them in any way has been ingrained into us as “ruining” them. We sleeve cards and preserve blister packs. We wipe our hands fastidiously and ban soda from the table.

Some will find this game liberating. Others a horror. Many will sit on the sidelines.

Of course, you can fake it and give yourself the way back. The undo. The temporary work around. It’s not hard to do that.

What is hard is to put that first sticker on the board and realize that it’ll be there forever.


WHY RISK?
Risk itself is a game where nothing happens by accident. You don’t accidentally take over South America from your friend. You don’t accidentally drive your brother from the game. It involves choices. And few people approach a Risk game without having the preamble of discussing past betrayals, of alliances broken, of tactics favored by the victorious (some may call them lucky and curse the dice). It seemed odd that the world was a mute accomplice to this meta game. It wouldn’t respond to repeated betrayals. But it seemed like a good game to make respond.

WHAT IF I BREAK MY WORLD?
We hope you won’t. We tried to. The decisions you make are, for the most part, a series of micro decisions, that add up to some big influence on the feel and history of your game. It would be practically impossible for any one decision to break it.

But there are certainly decisions that will tilt it in one person’s favor. It would be a mistake to sit down for game 7 of this game and think that all the players are on equal footing. There will be imbalance. If one person has gotten early control over the game system, it is up to the other players to band together to equalize things. These games are about a series of asymmetrical challenges.

If every time you played Risk with your friend and your brother, you and your brother chose to fight, your friend would win. This game will be no different but, in addition, this world will grow to reflect this, giving your friend more and more power. Will you break your habit of fighting your brother to overthrow the now-entrenched friend (put in power by your own inability to change your habits) or will this world's history record that a tyrant ruled the land because of two brothers unable, or unwilling, to find peace when the world demanded they do so?

So be patient. History is lengthy. There will likely be moments that will make you think, “well now it’s all out of whack”. But wait to open up the sealed parts of the game. They add quite a few twists and turns that will pull the game back on track.

We wanted your experience in your world to be as dynamic and unbelievable and fascinating as real world history. History never plods along at a predictable pace. It surprises us at all times.

WHAT IS UP WITH THE SEALED STUFF?
Not much has been made of them. They are the other new twist on the game. This is actually a game with spoilers. Actual things that will make you think on your feet.

We’re going to ask reviewers not to talk about the hidden contents. I guess I’m asking all of you to be careful with this as well. Some are small things. Some bigger. Will the game work if you know everything that is going to happen? Yes. You can certainly go back and watch The Sixth Sense again. But that first time you saw it? That was special.

So if you are a person that really likes game with complete information? Read the spoilers.
Those of you who like your games a little bit more white knuckled and adventuresome? Avoid spoilers.

ISN’T THIS JUST RISK WITH STICKERS?
Hope not. But note that the first few games are fast and light. This is on purpose. You are setting the stage and creating the early history of your world. The focus of those games is getting used to changing things. We wanted all the attention on that, not on new rules. But, by the end of the evolution? There will be a LOT going on. Lot more strategy and rules and decision making.
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Chris Morris
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Risk, for what it is, is a classic game. Do I love it? Hell, no. But I do revere it for what it is. I remember so many times playing this game that will hold a special place in my mind, not many other games can do that, even though I like them better.

I, for one, am very excited about this game and what it brings to the table. Will it be my new favorite game? I highly doubt it. But I do think that it will bring the game more mainstream and allow it actually be put on a table at game night instead of just being played on my iPad.

Looking forward to cracking open that first sealed envelope when it is time to do so and to stickering my game to make it unrecognizable...
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Christopher Paul
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Eirik Johnsbråten
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I just think this idea is so genious I can't put it into words. There should be a Nobel prize for game designers. meeple

Too bad I hate Risk. But I might try this anyway.
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Brad Minnigh
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I too am very interested in this.

I voiced my concerns before and they are still real, but I am really looking forward to trying this out. I like the OP explaining things. A new dawn of games is approaching. The scrapbook genre has started.
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Ville Vuorio
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I was hurt when you talked about ripping the card... surprise
I fear that I might be one of those people that just can't bring themselves to "ruin" a game.

Perhaps I could bring myself to do it on ONE game... I will always have the others and this game might well give an entirely new experience.
Still, it remains to be seen if I can find the courage to do it.

I might be skeptical about this idea, but thanks for taking the time to clear these things up.
I will be following this game with great interest.
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Michael Ptak
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Rob, I want to applaud your guts design senses for taking this step. This is the only game that I'm aware of that is intended to be changed permanently in this way. I feel it's a marketing gamble because it's unorthodox as far as games go. Buyers won't be left with complete sets after the first play. If they wanted that new feeling of shaping the world they would have to buy a new set. Is it cheap enough to keep doing this?

Still one could say that this idea as presented is the term "risk" taken to the furthest extreme. How do you want to Risk your set in the hands of other players? What Risk do you take in them shaping and altering the game not necessarily to your liking?

Half of me would like to fully embrace the premise of the game and just watch it evolve under the hands of me and the other players I bring in. Maybe get my old risk group together from High School (those of us still left in the state anyway) and have at it again for old times sake. It would be our set. Or maybe even for my gaming group, so it would be their set. Maybe one for myself, shaped just by me, to become my set. It's so awesome! But how expensive?

The other half hesitates because with every play you're denying yourself more freedom to shape the game. I'm still not sure how I feel about that.

Whatever the case it's still Risk, and as a Risk fan I want to give it a try. I just pray that it's cheap enough to purchase multiple copies without making my wallet cry. The Risk sets on Target shelves seem to be cheap enough though I never invested in more than one copy because, well, it's the same risk without anything new. Your game changes that. My concerns are how much would it cost and how quickly is it going to fly off shelves?
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Brad Minnigh
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I'm gonna have to make sure I play with people who play the game for fun, but aren't silly about things. It won't be fun for long if they permanently change North America to "Superfunhappyplace". It will take the fun out of it.

This game will also really require the same group of people to play the whole thing. I doubt it would be as much fun to have someone else come in and already be at a disadvantage because of another person's decisions.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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gamjuven wrote:
I'm gonna have to make sure I play with people who play the game for fun, but aren't silly about things. It won't be fun for long if they permanently change North America to "Superfunhappyplace". It will take the fun out of it.

I hope whoever plays with you names it "Reallyseriousbigboyplace". devil


[edit] I hope you realize I'm just joking. I wouldn't really want to see anyone spoil your fun.
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Rob Daviau
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gamjuven wrote:
I'm gonna have to make sure I play with people who play the game for fun, but aren't silly about things. It won't be fun for long if they permanently change North America to "Superfunhappyplace". It will take the fun out of it.

This game will also really require the same group of people to play the whole thing. I doubt it would be as much fun to have someone else come in and already be at a disadvantage because of another person's decisions.


The game should work with a mixed group, including bringing in people who haven't been part of the world earlier or having people leave, turn over, etc. As I think I mentioned elsewhere, it makes less sense when you have totally new people game after game. That would be like having different authors write different chapters of a book. It CAN work but tough to do.
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Brad Restivo
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This is the first I've heard of this game and I'm not yet sure how I feel about it.

For the record, though, a new study indicates that people enjoy things more when they know the spoilers ahead of time.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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geniuslegume wrote:
For the record, though, a new study indicates that people enjoy things more when they know the spoilers ahead of time.

Depends on what people were involved in the study, doesn't it? I don't participate in surveys or polls, so I (and others like me) wouldn't show up, but I strongly prefer not knowing spoilers ahead of time.
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Mr. Bistro
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What a fantastic post to read. My anticipation for this game is nearing critical mass.

I for one am "all in" for the grand experiment. Cards will be destroyed.
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David Gonzalez Rice
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The beauty of this project is that it teases out that essential element of Risk so often overlooked by the common anti-Risk sentiment on BGG: psychology.

Risk is a psychological game, especially played with people you know. Even more so in a game where some people know you and others don't. You can be better at Risk by playing people off each other. You can invest in future games by being a trustworthy ally and losing FOR NOW. Then, five games down the road, you blow your reputation...if it's worth it.

The meta-game is not written directly into the rules. If you want to play as a luck-driven dice fest, you are welcome to do so. But you can also fake-out, play politics, flirt, lie, or take the high ground.

Is this true of other games? Yes. But if Poker is not your thing, Risk serves as an ideal platform for the psychological game: simple on its face but complex in the way it pits you against one another - and creates strange bedfellows.

This new version - with a brilliant, paradigm shifting twist - looks like it will only highlight those aspects. I can't wait.
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Jason John
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gamjuven wrote:
I'm gonna have to make sure I play with people who play the game for fun, but aren't silly about things. It won't be fun for long if they permanently change North America to "Superfunhappyplace". It will take the fun out of it.


"BusenMemoLand"

That is all.
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Larry Neal
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Rob,

Thank you for the insight, I know it is early, and hopefully we can get more as time goes on, but truly this sounds as a very unique take on board gaming, and to go with Risk? Bravo!

For one like myself who usually keeps a running dialog in my head when gaming anyway, it will be incredible to me to see these inner workings aloud on the board time after time, really influencing not only the game world, but the players.

I am cautiously optimistic about getting a regular "right" sized group together to play this time after time, allowing for the inevitable missing in action player. I do think I can pull it off, I also think that is the way to BEST appreciate what has happened here. The other extreme being to come into a set that has run its "course" for changes and just play it, maybe swap boards with another group once you have it good and different! I see that as reading someone Else's take on the report for that book the entire writing class loved..for this I am stoked.

I own a wonderful copy of the 40th anniv. set, and having not gotten in on the franchise freshening as yet (i.e. missed a copy of black ops cry ), was pretty sure I may be done with owning other copies of the game. This has changed everything based on the information I now have, and yes I know it is still early in the information cycle!

I look forward to seeing this one and not just hearing about all the wonderful incredible things that happen in other "worlds" but seeing them unfold before me on my own set.

Also I will not rip up the cards either, I am in that camp. I will lock them away however out of the game box to NEVER return. (unless a card is published at some point that brings it back..but..you wouldn't... ninja surely not!) I WILL sticker my board when it is called for it. yes the thought is....unsettling, but I want what the game offers. Not my interpretation of what it should be. I will follow its base rules (except for ripping) and am very excited to see where it leads!

Also I am the only one with a key to the box firesafe they will be locked in.*


*True Story!
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Freelance Police
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RobDaviau wrote:
The game should work with a mixed group, including bringing in people who haven't been part of the world earlier or having people leave, turn over, etc. As I think I mentioned elsewhere, it makes less sense when you have totally new people game after game. That would be like having different authors write different chapters of a book. It CAN work but tough to do.


Yeah, that's the problem I have with the game. I rarely play Risk, and don't play with a regular group. OTOH, If it's $20 on Amazon on Target, why not? At the worst, it'll be a collector's item. Hasbro's been taking some risks with their franchises, so I applaud the suits who approved these projects!
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Gary Heidenreich
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Huh.

I find this very interesting. We just talked about breaking out a game of Risk. This would be the way I'd want to play, I think.

Marked as Must Have now.
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Jake Waltier
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I am a big supporter of games as art, but I never expected to find that art in Risk. I am very pleasantly surprised.
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This is one of the best things I've ever read on this site. Bar none. Hats off to you and to Chris for taking a massive swing for the fence here, and to Hasbro for having the guts to publish it.
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Lee Fisher
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Sam and Max wrote:
OTOH, If it's $20 on Amazon on Target, why not? At the worst, it'll be a collector's item. Hasbro's been taking some risks with their franchises, so I applaud the suits who approved these projects!


Well as a Hobby Store game, it won't be $20 at target or whatever.
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Sphere wrote:
geniuslegume wrote:
For the record, though, a new study indicates that people enjoy things more when they know the spoilers ahead of time.

Depends on what people were involved in the study, doesn't it? I don't participate in surveys or polls, so I (and others like me) wouldn't show up, but I strongly prefer not knowing spoilers ahead of time.


I'm with Sphere. But, interestingly Roger Ebert came to a similar conclusion as the poll when readers complained to him that trailers gave away movies. He said that most people don't want to be surprised on the chance that the surprise is a bad one.

I understand the point. Folks put down money and they want their money to be well-spent. They don't want to feel like a fool or a stooge after two hours of movie watching.

I also like to be surprised—so long as I get to choose what I let surprise me. If I'm willing to risk money on a game or movie, part of the decision-making process going in is that the purchase/experience could disappoint me. So be it. Let's see what ya got.

So I began to take careful note of the things I liked and why I liked them with just enough margin of error for a surprise to delight or disappoint. Usually, since I know the tells of the things I like, the surprises are usually pleasant. I can pick up a game or CD or select a movie and know that, even if it disappointed, it was at least a surprise. That I gave a piece of commercial art its chance at my reasonably biased but otherwise unsuspecting mind.
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Daryl Wilks
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Very cool idea that will bring me back to this game after many years. I love the idea of game events having a permanent effect on the game! A while back I thought it would be cool (though unorthodox) to do something like that in a video game, but never considered a board game implementation. Genius! I hope this risk pays off for you. I, for one, will take an unspoiled, permanent journey with this game.
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This is just what I needed to play Risk MY way devil

I have thrown dice out the window, into the fireplace, and even once, just once, smashed a cursed die that would only roll a 1 with a sledgehammer. 1 angry

I'm pretty sure I've done many things to the army chits also, including chewing them to death to cope with their defeat. yuk

I'll rip those cards if they don't serve their purpose in my grand strategy to take over the world, and I will enjoy it! I'll even light them up with a match to show my determination.

That's what Risk is about. This format is a great innovative way to capture the spirit of the game thumbsup
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Chris Hahn
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mrbistro wrote:
I for one am "all in" for the grand experiment. Cards will be destroyed.


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