If you're keeping score at home - you'll know that I'm discussing inspiration for the design of Cultures of Man, cataloging the things I wanted out of the design. Just to refresh:
1. A 'civ' or 'civ'-light game.
2. A modular board (if possible make it feel like a 'living world')
And now, more inspiration - Go. How about a picture to get started (image credit to SiskNY):
You've been living under a rock if you're on this website, reading this blog, and haven't heard of Go. Maybe you've heard and haven't delved deeply. The board is a grid (19 lines x 19 lines is the standard). Your pieces are identical stones, either white or black. You take one color, your opponent takes the other. The player with the black stones starts the game by placing a stone on an intersection of lines, then the player with the white stones follows (see picture above). And on and on, with the goal of surrounding more territory than your opponent.
One way it could work out is like this (image credit to msaari):
[These pictures were taken by two different users - the second picture didn't necessarily follow from the first!]
Some look at this second picture and feel overwhelmed, like the weight of the complexity threatening to shatter the mind and body. I'm such a person. But I find beauty in it as well.
There's more to Go than what I just mentioned - there's rules for capturing opponent's stones, rules for Ko situations (where repeated capturing of the same stones threatens to throw the game into stalemate), scoring rules that vary slightly depending on country of origin, and rules to deal with the perceived first-player advantage. If you dive deeper you'll find hundreds of books on Go with exercises, tactics, theories, and ideas that seem philosophic in nature. You'll find the same in Chess of course, and both games have spirited followings. Sounds rather complex actually.
But at it's heart, simplicity. A game you could teach a child that naturally becomes more complex without rules machinery to get in the way. And there's the heart of the inspiration. Go is, to me, the ultimate example of a game with simple rules that empowers my imagination. I wanted to create a game like that.
Did I succeed? Not at first - and even now not to the level of Go. But at every step I kept coming back to Go thinking to myself, "look at how effortlessly Go does it! It doesn't need a lot of extra rules, dice, cards, tokens, etc. and yet it's so damned interesting!". My co-designer, Edgar, who is my occasional Go opponent got really tired of hearing me talking about it I'm sure.
Last time I asked the readers a question to spark some conversation - and I think I'll continue that trend. What other games can you think of that offer both rules simplicity and yet still spark your imagination?