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Subject: Filler or Microgame? rss

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Kevin Garnica
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With the recent fad of microgames being all the rage, I've been having a difficult time parsing out the distinctions that define each category.

Here are my thoughts thus far:

A micro game is generally defined by 3 main criteria, right? -
a) small footprint
b) short playtime
c) minimal components


Are these not the same guidelines for "fillers" as well? Off the top of my head, here is a representation of games that I have come to understand as being Fillers-

Coloretto, For Sale, High Society, Jaipur, Battle Line, No Thanks!

But in my mind, I think No Thanks!, Coloretto, qualify as microgames. In contrast, Battle Line takes up a surprising amount of space sometimes, and thus misses the "small footprint" requirement either way.

Also, games like Sail to India, Tiny Epic Kingdoms, and Valley of the Kings are not "short" games compared to others. Yet I know they are often referred to as microgames because of their (for lack of a better word) compactness.
And what do we do with games like Love Letter, Coup, Lost Legacy, and the Werewolf franchise. Is bluffing/social-deduction a cornerstone to what makes a game "micro"? Hardly.

So, what is going on? Is one term replacing the other? Are they interchangeable?

In the end, I guess I'm just not sure how to view them anymore since both categories seem to be bleeding into each other in terms of their defining characteristics.

Please share your thoughts, I'd like to get a discussion going and see if this is a lost cause. If nothing else, my brain enjoys thinking like this, so this is fascinating to me regardless.
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Clem Fandango
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We have no definition for a microgame in our glossary http://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Glossary#toc74- which leads me to believe it is simply a coool marketing term.

IN my mind fillers can be huge BUT suitable for first and last game in a session and when one game finishes and you're filling in waiting for other games to end before starting on something else with all players present rearranging tables.



filler

n. A game with very simple rules and an extremely short playing-time. This type of game is frequently used between heavier games. (See also light)


can I suggest if you find a difference you enter it in the glossary?
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Kevin Garnica
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SamNzed wrote:

can I suggest if you find a difference you enter it in the glossary?


Sure. Except that I have no idea how to do that. Let's see if there even is a difference worth making, and that is generally agreeable to everyone.
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Michael Iachini
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You can have a filler that isn't a microgame, and you can probably have a microgame that isn't a filler.

Some examples (my opinions, here) of filler games that are not microgames, primarily because they have too many components:
- Loopin' Louie
- TransAmerica
- Chaos & Alchemy (disclaimer: I'm the designer of this one)

The bottom line is that you can have a "filler" game (short play time, not too heavy) that has big components, a full-size board, etc.

In my opinion, a microgame is primarily defined by a very small amount of components, often something in the neighborhood of a couple dozen cards and a handful of tokens. I feel confident that there can be a deep, long-playing, heavily strategic microgame (though I haven't personally played any yet). Tiny Epic Kingdoms is a step in this direction, although I'd say it's too component-heavy to qualify as a microgame (though not by much).
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bort
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I thought microgame was a kickstarter term, to describe games like Coin Age
 
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Jerbear
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I think of a Microgame as something that you could fit in a pocket. But it COULD be something that isn't a filler. Filler for me is something that has a short play time. I think Tsuro is a filler game, but it certainly isn't micro.

I would say the difference between the two is.

Micro is about size.

Filler is about time. It is possibly to have a game be both, neither or only one of them.
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Samo Oleami
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Syvanis wrote:
I would say the difference between the two is.

Micro is about size.

Filler is about time. It is possibly to have a game be both, neither or only one of them.


What he said.

Microgames were made to deal with cheap production costs (Kanai factory). Filler is gamer's term for games which are short for "in between" main "meaty" course.

I think microgames don't need to be short (but hey, make a 3 hour game with 18 cards, if you can.). Whereas fillers can be full sized boardgames, just with shorter playing time.
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Larry L
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In the good ol' days at least, microgame did refer to game size. The term was originally(?) used by Metagaming, which published many of Steve Jackson's games (including recently re-released titles such as Car Wars and Ogre.) As far as I can tell, small game size continues to be the meaning of the term.

Note that, though some people might think of Ogre or Car Wars as fillers, they aren't typically what comes to mind when people refer to fillers, as a good Car Wars game can take a couple of hours. Fillers for grognards perhaps.
 
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Christian Gienger
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And still I think that Microgame really is just a marketing term. The poster child of microgames is Love Letter. It consists of 16 cards and and a bunch of cubes. It's direct successor Lost Legacy consists of 16 cards per game without cubes (yes Japanese and German versions contain 32 cards each, ie 2 games in one box). So with 16 cards and a few cubes or 32 cards and no cubes we have the classic card deck (German and French, 7-10, pictures, aces) and no one calls a deck of cards a microgame.

I know that the 70s Steve Jackson games were called Microgames as well but they were called so because of the price point and size. Even then a deck of cards was about the same price and size. --> Marketing term.

I also think that all microgames are fillers, but not all fillers are microgames or is there really a 60 minute microgame around?
 
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