Thoughts by Bez

I am a full-time designer/artist/self-publisher and I am available for freelance work. I go to cons as a trader and help run the all-day Friday playtest sessions in London. I left my last 'real' job in 2014. I was getting benefits for a few years. I'm currently writing sporadically, but getting back into the habit of daily posts. If you have any questions/topics you'd like me to address, send me a geekmail and I'll probably address the topic within a week.

Archive for game rules

Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Starting conditions. An attempt at a break-down.

Bez Shahriari
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: I play with red!Microbadge: I play with purple!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level III - Are we geeks because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are geeks?Microbadge: I'm genderqueer/nonbinary!Microbadge: I'm a gut player!
A week ago, I started a twitter poll. 200+ votes later, it turns out that folk like whimsy in their games. Who knew‽

https://twitter.com/stuffByBez/status/1219914450058252293

Whilst responses came in, I was shown a couple of geeklists that made for interesting reading.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/260601/start-player-r...
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/76700/many-odd-and-mu...

I currently believe that there are (broadly) 4 ways to determine start player:

Compare attributes of the players (physical qualities, or characteristics)
Compare when you all did X.
Compare how much you all did X.
Mini-game/competition.



As someone said on Twitter, these start-selection methods can be fun to read whether you actually use them or not. At worst, they will be ignored in favour of randomness. But given that folk enjoy whimsy, let's all get whimsical, whimsical...

Compare attributes of the players (physical qualities, or characteristics)

E.g. Looks most like a cat. Hairiest. Calmest. Most Zen.

This can be problematic in that it may be unlikely to change. Will 'pointiest ears' ever change, realistically‽

One version of Once Upon A Time apparently asked folk to draw a random card and ask who looks most like that card. This is a clever way to change it up and spark new conversations (which is arguably the reason to play that game).

Having a more mutable quality (best hairdo, most colourful) is another way to ensure that it changes up. But even then, some folk have their preferred style of dressing and stick to it. I'd almost always win the 'wearing most red' comparison.

Some of the comparisons (most money in pocket, biggest house, biggest nose) can lead to some bad feelings. It's important to consider how people will actually feel and the emotional/social impact of this cmparison.


Compare when you all did X.


E.g. Most recent player to touch a tree, find a leaf, visit Portugal, go swimming, buy something.

Arguably, 'youngest', is simply 'most recent to be born'. The issue is simply that it never changes. And what happens if you're all doing it right now, e.g. playing a game in Portugal‽ I really like things that are likely to be done regularly, as that changes the start player within the same group (and facilitates new conversation and interest, which is really the point of these comparisons).

Other than being born, I don't know many games that define start player as the person who has not done X for the longest period of time. That might be a bit trickier to compare, but it'd be fun to have an anti-capitalism game that awarded start player to the person who had not bought anything for the longest period of time. Of course, such a game should probably be given away and not sold, but that's beside the point. I'm sure someone can point out other potential applications, or even games that already do this, in the comments.


Compare how much you all did X.


E.g. Who has read the most sci-fi books.

This just sounds like it's hard to compare in a group that often does X. If 'most boardgames played' were an option at Bastion, I don't think we'd have been able to estimate at all. I've played between 500 and 2500 games, I think? Maybe read between 5 and 25 sci-fi books? It's hard to judge.

Also, the start player is unlikely to change.

This seems like a terrible one to me.


Mini-game/competition


E.g. Who can jump the highest. Who can roar the loudest. Everyone point at another player and the player with the most fingers starts. A quick game of throwing components and trying to get them to land near a wall. Reveal fingers - lowest unique number starts. First player to choose their starting card.

I'm a big fan of the 'lowest unique number' starting method when there is a small advantage to starting.

Interestingly, the last option mentioned allows the mini-game to be a very real part of the actual game and encourages fast play.

Another point of note is that 'who found a leaf most recently' can turn into a mini-game, even though I put it into another section. There is also some cross-over between this group and the comparison of characteristics.

Other methods:


Random, based on game components:
E.g. The person with the card earliest in the alphabet. Cards can have a small indicator to determine start player.

Lottery:
E.g. picking components out of a hand. Chwazi and other apps.

Auctioning of in-game resources.

Previous loser chooses.

Can you think of a start-selection method that doesn't fit into one of these categories?
Twitter Facebook
10 Comments
Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:29 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

House Rules. Do you always follow the rules?

Bez Shahriari
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: I play with red!Microbadge: I play with purple!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level III - Are we geeks because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are geeks?Microbadge: I'm genderqueer/nonbinary!Microbadge: I'm a gut player!
During one of the games I played on Sunday, a rules question came up. I, as the teacher, said I thought we were allowed to X.

It was a 6-player game.

D went to look it up, and a couple of folk pointed out that if we could not do X, the game would be seriously limited. I suggested that if everyone felt that doing X made the game better, then we should play by those rules, regardless of what the rulebook said.

Now, my position may have been different in a low interaction strategic game with many moving parts but this was a high-interaction game all about negotiatin.

Another player said that they preferred the idea of everyone doing X, but didn't feel like they should go around changing the rules of the game.

Designers are not gods creating some immaculate creation that must be preserved for the good of everyone. I'm not suggesting that folk go around thoughtlessly changing things for the sakee of it. And if you do house-rule a game, then please don't go slagging it off when the problems may well have been because of your own houserules. But one brilliant thing about boardgames is that we CAN make changes so easily, simply by everyone around the table agreeing!

Sid Sackson (or at least the publisher of I'm the Boss! clearly knew this, since they go and suggest about 8 official variants to try in the rulebook.

Before D was able to find the rule, it emerged that all 5 of the other players (myself amongst them) wanted to be able to do X (splitting shares). But half the table seemed to be really bothered by whether this was the correct rule or not.

As it turns out, you can split shares. That's the ruling in my rulebook, with no alternative suggestion.

But what if it wasn't?

What would you have done?

Would you have followed the rulebook grudgingly, or would you have encouraged the other players to just house-rule that aspect?
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:47 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
16 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide

Competition: find a mistake in my game(s) to get a refund, comic, and a new game.

Bez Shahriari
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: I play with red!Microbadge: I play with purple!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level III - Are we geeks because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are geeks?Microbadge: I'm genderqueer/nonbinary!Microbadge: I'm a gut player!
I was frankly shocked to read (on a FB group) someone claiming that EVERY boardgame has a typo.

Inspired by the Knuth Reward Cheques, I'll adopt a reward system starting with Wibbell++ 2nd edition and Kitty Cataclysm.

If anyone finds any typos in Yogi (English edition) or any game I release in 2019 onwards, I will:
- pay you the UK RRP via Paypal or another method
- send you a unique comic congratulating you
- send a free copy of the next printing.

(Just for the first person to spot each mistake.)

That seems like a good motivation for folk to let me know about my mistakes and help me make my games as perfect as possible.

I know that perfection is unattainable but it appalls me to hear people saying that 2 typos on a box cover isn't a big deal.

Imperfections and mistakes aren't a reason to start making any creator feel bad. Swearing and personal attacks are often unnecessary. But folk should strive for a level of quality.

In the meantime, I am going to claim that Yogi (the English edition at least) has no typos.

Edit: In the instance that a new edition of a given ruleset has been mass produced, the previous version might no longer be eligible. So if you're reading this in 2037, all the games in Wibbell++ 2nd edition will almost certainly have been reprinted.

I will be upload some rules onto BGG at some point. However, this will be after release. You can either buy the game(s) or wait a few months for me to upload stuff.
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Sat Dec 29, 2018 2:16 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Creativity in Games (e.g. Blank)

Bez Shahriari
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: I play with red!Microbadge: I play with purple!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level III - Are we geeks because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are geeks?Microbadge: I'm genderqueer/nonbinary!Microbadge: I'm a gut player!
I played Blank last month. It starts off as an Uno/Crazy 8s-style game, with the ability to play multiple cards shortening it to an acceptable length.

After each game, players are allowed to write on cards, adding special rules.

It's certainly a legacy game imo, but much more about creating than editing.

Risk Legacy was about choosing between options. Placing premade elements. Any creation was almost superfluous - names of countries or cities.

Blank is more like 1000 Blank White Cards or Nomic. Players are free to write literally whatever they want. The game can be figuratively ruined. At that point, the players would need to change the over-arching rules in order to make the game work well.

It allows everyone to see the ramifications of adding a new rules. It's a live wire, with so much potential for joy and power; but also ruination.

Of course, there are other ways to have this. I once played an old quiz/word game with John-Paul Treen. The winner of each game was allowed to add a new topic and I was delighted to be able to add to the list that had grown over the decades!

Last weekend, I played a social game of truths, lies and dares. It was a great icebreaker at the start of a party. The rules were mine but the content was mostly generated by everyone else (with the assistance of pens and hundreds of blank cards). The game was so much more personal and meaningful than anything I could have made alone, let alone anything mass-produced.

You can have dedicated blank cards in a published game. I had 2 blank cards included in In a Bind, hoping that folk would draw their own crazy binds. Almost no-one does.

Is there a real fear of ruining things? I think that adults do suffer this. A quick performance in Charades can trigger anxiety. Using up one of your only 2 blank cards even more so.

I find that a child has no such compunctions.

I feel that having a game that makes creativity its entire focus - rather than just a few extra blank cards - really forces everyone to embrace the spirit. Things can go wrong. They probably will.

But there's so much joy in creation.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sun Jul 1, 2018 7:00 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
13 
 Thumb up
1.01
 tip
 Hide

Superfluous information in rulebooks

Bez Shahriari
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: I play with red!Microbadge: I play with purple!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level III - Are we geeks because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are geeks?Microbadge: I'm genderqueer/nonbinary!Microbadge: I'm a gut player!
At the end of the day, what is superfluous?

Flavour text could be considered superfluous. And yet it adds a new dimension to the game.

Spirit Island has some lovely bits of text about the characters. I've only skimmed it so far, but when I play a 2nd time I'll read through. My experience might well be enriched by this fuel for my imagination.

Does anyone need to know the history of a game's creation? Does anyone need to know the backstory of the characters? Jokes and tangents may be extraneous to the mechanical playing of the game but they heavily impact the experience.

And that's the purpose of the game - to create an experience.

Of course, the primary purpose of the rulebook is to let you play. But it also sets a mood.

In my rulesheets in the 2nd edition of Wibbell++ there will be tangents. Reminding folk of why they are playing. Talking about the noises you hear in the word and mindfulness. There is also a large section on the history of each game.

Most folk will probably skip these sections.

But as long as it doesn't impede learning and makes even 1% of the folk who buy the game smile, it was absolutely worth including.

Even if it's only tangentially related, maybe nothing is superfluous.
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Mon May 7, 2018 11:22 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

I had a dream - of head to head, cat-themed charades

Bez Shahriari
United Kingdom
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
Microbadge: I play with red!Microbadge: I play with purple!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level III - Are we geeks because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are geeks?Microbadge: I'm genderqueer/nonbinary!Microbadge: I'm a gut player!
I had a dream. Literally. This morning.

For some reason, I had many piles of slips of paper and one pile was just phrases/words that involved cats. Catapult, catatonic, the catcher in the rye, the cat howls at midnight.

Some of these phrases were strange things, which I wasn't sure were actually phrases. Do people really talk about the cat jumping over the bottle? I'd have to cut some of these stranger phrases. What was this culture, from which the phrases had originated?

Suddenly, there was a crowd of 10-20 people demanding entertainment, so I invented a game.

rules

2 people would come to the front and each would get a slip of paper. People would then shout for EITHER of the 2 people. When someone's thing was guessed, the guesser would come to the front and the person who did the miming would sit back down.

At the end, the winner would be whoever had the most cards.


I woke up before we started playing and now I really want to play cat-themed double-charades.

Is double-charades even a thing?

The concept reminds me of Doodle Rush - it'd probably be very chaotic and turn off some people, but massive fun for others.

Realistically, maybe I'll get to play this around my birthday.
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Wed Mar 28, 2018 11:04 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls