Thoughts of a small publisher - Value Add Games

We are a small publishing company from Slovenia. We primarily focus on family and smaller board games in which we are always trying to add some additional value. We also make custom board games for corporate clients, which make great business gifts. We have our own team of game designers, graphic designers and illustrators. This allows us to have complete control of the game design process from the start to the very finish. With this blog, we plan to share our experiences we have picked up in board game and graphic designing, illustrating and publishing. We hope that both newcomers and experts in the industry will find this blog informative and interesting.
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Replayability of a simple game

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The criteria of what makes a good board game has a lot of variables. First that comes to our mind is fun – is the game even enjoyable to play? After that, there are plenty of other factors that vary in priority among the people – production quality, art, ease of play…
But we think that one of the important factors of what makes the game fun, besides fun, is its replay value.

Shelf life
When one goes to see a movie, they pay a certain amount of money to, hopefully, have fun for the next hour or two. From there, we can calculate how much money is spent per hour of entertainment.
Most board games are more expensive than movie tickets but we also expect that they will entertain us for a longer time. If an expensive game is only played once then it had a very poor ratio of money spent per hour of entertainment.
To those who are new to board games – there is an expression that refers to this, and it is known as shelf life (not the same one you find on food). It refers to how long the game stays relevant on your shelf – how many times it gets picked up and played.
We think that it is quite important that a game has a good replay value. It doesn’t have to be infinite but it has to be large enough so people will consider it a good investment – a good ratio of money spent per hour of entertainment.

Increasing replay value
Sometimes, this can be easy to accomplish, but it can get a lot harder with games for kids and families. Those games usually have simple mechanics that do not offer a lot of variety in strategy, which can make replays of the game feel more or less the same.
With this blog post, we would like to present how we added replay value to one of our family games, WolfWalkers: The Boardgame.

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WolfWalkers The Board Game box

WolfWalkers: The Boardgame
In this cooperative game, players take control of the characters from the film and traverse the forest and the city, looking for parts of the wolf soul. The objective of the game is to gather the soul before soldiers make their way through the forest to the wolfs’ lair.
The game is fairly low on the difficulty scale and with a reason – it was created to be a family game. A game that anyone can pick up, quickly learn and play, regardless of age or previous experience.
Therefore we wanted to challenge ourselves to make a game that would stay fresh even after numerous play-throughs.

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Set up of the game

Additional game modes
The first thing we added were additional game modes. The base game has simple rules, but the players have the option to play various game modes that include additional mechanics that make the game more complex. While some of these might not be recommended to those who play the game for the first time (and for smaller children) due to their increased complexity, they are perfect for those who already had a few sessions with the game (and for older children) and are looking for something additional.
One of the additional game modes is also a competitive mode. This completely shifts the dynamics of the game, since in its core it is a cooperative game. It allows the players to use the knowledge that they have gained while working together in a fun competition.

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Example of two game modes found in the game

Achievement sheet
The second way we added replay value to the game was with an achievement sheet.
A lot of video games these days offer various achievements to the players if they manage to accomplish something difficult. While holding no inherent value, they are given value externally by the player, especially if they are of the completionist nature – a player who wishes to complete every challenge in a given game.
We have included a similar list of achievements in our games that the player can tick off once they accomplish a certain feat. These range from simple ones – just playing all four game modes, to difficult ones – like winning multiple times in a row.

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Achievement sheet found in the game rules

A third way we added replayability is by including challenges to a game. They are similar to achievements, except they introduce some additional mechanics to the game or limit a certain mechanic previously introduced. For example: In the game, there are some tiles that can help you delay the soldiers that end the game. A challenge mode in the game prevents you from using these tiles.

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Examples of two challenges found in the rulebook

To sum it all up, the three ways we added shelf life to our family game were:

Game modes: By including a variety of game modes the game can feel fresh from the very start

Achievements: By completing objectives under certain conditions players get to tick off achievements on a list.

Challenges: By limiting or changing certain mechanics the game can feel different and more difficult.

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