Thematic Solitaires for the Spare Time Challenged

A blog about solitaire games and how to design them. I'm your host, Morten, co-designer of solo modes for games such as Scythe, Gaia Project and Viticulture.

Archive for States of Siege

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Morten’s guide to the States of Siege series – Interlude: It’s alive!

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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A few days ago, VPG’s new owner, Dan Yarrington sent out a newsletter which as far as I know is the first time the new VPG has shown any signs of life since firing the old create staff.

By this time many of you probably already seen the news, but just to make sure that everybody who’re following this series I’ll repost the relevant parts.
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Mon Feb 3, 2020 1:29 pm
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Morten’s guide to the States of Siege series – part 5: Dice, event resolution, and combat

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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After a long vacation I’m back with the next installment of my guide to the States of Siege series of games. This time the topic is dice, event resolution, and combat.
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Thu Aug 8, 2019 2:07 pm
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Morten’s guide to the States of Siege series – part 4: Tension vs. variation

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Some of my best experiences of solitaire gaming come from periods within a session where I’m constantly teetering on the brink of oblivion, where I feel like I could lose the game every single turn but manage to hang on until I finally succeed or get crushed. On the other hand, I also like games with a lot of variation.

Often high-tension and high-variability gameplay are at odds with each other. The tension zone is generally narrow and it’s hard to keep the game there as a designer if you don’t keep a tight control of the gameplay and that tight control is hard to maintain if there are many highly variable factors in the game.
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Thu Jul 11, 2019 11:20 am
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Morten’s guide to the States of Siege series – part 3: Designer control, storytelling, and pivotal events

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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In part 2 of this series I introduced the major event deck structures used by the games in the States of Siege series and compared them (you don’t need to read it to continue here). One of the core elements of that comparison was the trade-off between designer control and game variation.

Apart from the deck structure, there’s another important way in which event cards are involved in such trade-offs.
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Thu Jul 4, 2019 2:55 pm
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Morten’s guide to the States of Siege series – Interlude: Sad news about VPG

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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This is a brief interlude in the my blog series about the States of Siege games.

I saw some sad news about the publiser of the games, Victory Point Games, posted by its founder, Alan Emrich:
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Mon Jul 1, 2019 6:57 am
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Morten’s guide to the States of Siege series – part 2: Event deck structures

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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With all the introductory stuff for this blog series handled in post 1, we are ready to dive into the State of Siege (SoS) mechanisms. We’ll do this both to understand the core mechanical concepts and to see how they evolved and explored the nooks and crannies of the design space.
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Fri Jun 28, 2019 4:00 am
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Morten’s guide to the States of Siege series – part 1: The boring introduction

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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To me the most interesting series of solo board games in existence is the States of Siege series published by Victory Point Games. This is not caused by their quality as games (they’re good), instead it’s because they’re a series of 16 games that all share the same engine with each adding its own new mechanisms and tweaks to existing mechanisms.

This means that the series represents a unique chance to study the effects of a specific mechanism, since you can compare it to very similar games that don’t have that specific mechanism. For this reason, I’ve used the States of Siege games numerous times in my posts on game design - it also doesn’t hurt that I enjoy playing them .
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Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:41 am
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Math or Might? Do you crunch games with math or do you play the theme?

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Fair warning: I’ll be a very black’n’white in this post . I know that anything involving humans is rarely black’n’white, but I’ll ignore that and intentionally jump right into the fallacy of the excluded middle with eyes wide open .

Warning aside, we’ll go on to tonight’s main event. In the red corner, we have the thematic gamers, who get into the game world and play as if they were actually there and in the blue corner we have the math’ers who dispassionately dissects a game and beat it up using its own mechanics.
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Sun Aug 27, 2017 4:10 am
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Variation AND tenseness?

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Can board games be both tense and varied? A while ago I argued that it’s very hard to accomplish, since going for variation makes it hard to balance the game well enough to make it consistently tense. Game designer Wes Erni seems to have regarded this a challenge and tried to make a game he codesigned, Mound Builders, do both. The question now is: Did he succeed?
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Sat Sep 27, 2014 4:01 pm
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Making a game feel tense through emotional investment

Morten Monrad Pedersen
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Death tension is often an important factor in making solitaire games fun for me. I must feel that something important is on the line most, but not all of the time. So since all game designers are of course aiming to please me, they should now be asking themselves how they go about creating death tension in their games. Luckily for them I’m going to present one answer to that question today.
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Wed Aug 20, 2014 2:40 pm
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