$30.00
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 Hide
21 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Nomo-what? Nomographs in Games rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Scott Allen
United States
Freeport
IL
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mb
Hi all,
I am working on a design for the Mint Tin Design contest and Todd Sanders mentioned that maybe a nomograph would be a good way of accomplishing what I was trying to do. So, first, I had to figure out what a nomograph is, and now I'm trying to research it a bit more.

Based on the request for a definition below:
What is a nomograph? (copied from blog post link 2 posts down):
"Nomography ... is the graphical representation of mathematical relationships or laws (the Greek word for law is nomos) These graphs are variously called nomograms (the term used here), nomographs, alignment charts, and abacs.


So, the point of this thread is threefold:

1) General discussion on using nomographs in board games

2) Tips and tricks to create useful nomographs

3) Maybe get some specific advice on using a nomograph for my game.

Here are a few examples I found:










So, what do you think?

Do they add to the game experience? Or, are they a necessary evil in certain situations?

Do they work better for certain themes, or genres?

Do they add a "cool factor", or do they add clunkiness?


I'll add my game details in the next post sometime soon.

Thanks.




1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Allen
United States
Freeport
IL
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mb
So, my WIP game is called Falcon Master, a solitaire game where the player balances:
- buying stuff,
- developing skills to help the falcon or build stuff to sell
- train their falcon(s)
- hunt or attend tournament with a falcon

The goal of the game is to attain 12 Reputation points for the player. Reputation points are gained by:
- successful hunts
- increasing falcon(s) skill (at 6, 10 and 14 skill points, reputation increases by 1)


Ideally, I'd like a non-linear increase in reputation if you:
- train 2 falcons instead of 1 (so having 2 falcons each at 6 skill is worth more than one falcon having 12 skill, for example)
- train a falcon to a certain point and learn a skill (leatherwork, for example)and sell goods made from that skill (so you get more reputation for being multi-skilled).


Here is the current gold and reputation tracking card. The -1, 0, and +1 are bonuses for hunts. So those numbers will be one of the results of the nomograph. The other nomograph will be total reputation points, when you get to 12 reputation, you win.


Here's a link to the WIP thread if you want to learn more about the game:
[WIP] "Falcon Master" - A Submission to the 2016 Mint Tin Contest - Contest Ready

I think the game works as is, just wondering if a nomograph would improve the game.

1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Allen
United States
Freeport
IL
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mb
Just found this:

The Next Big Thing - Nomography in Gaming?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Brettell
Australia
South Turramurra
NSW
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb

These are awesome! Anything that can convert complexity and procedural tasks into a simple step gets a big plus in my book.

I think you could do with adding an explanation of what a nomograph actually is to your initial post. It wasn't obvious to me with the examples you gave that you use a straightedge to join points on two of the lines, which give you the result on other lines. How does Todd's example actually work?

They give players a nice visual way of estimating the effect of something.

I wonder if this might be an example of some people loving them, and some people hating? Some people are more visual learners, and others are more detail step learners.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Allen
United States
Freeport
IL
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mb
A simple application I am thinking of for Falcon Master is the rewards for hunts an tournaments. I'll just talk hunts here, to keep it simple (tournaments will have some additional bonuses).

Here is the current hunt rewards (HP = "Hunt Points" or skill points for the falcon, R = Reputation for the falconer/player):

Doves:
0 birds = -1 HP
1+ birds = +1 HP

Quail:
0 birds = -1 HP
1 bird = +1 HP
2+ birds = +2 HP, +1 R

Pheasant:
0 birds = 0
1 bird = +1 HP
2+ birds = +2 HP, +1 R

Duck:
Pheasant:
0 birds = 0
1 bird = +2 HP
2+ birds = +2 HP, +2 R


So, there are 4 different kinds of hunts, with 3 different results (0, 1, or >1 birds taken), that result in various "rewards" to the falcon and falconer.

I've got some things scribbled on paper. I'll try to formalize it more this weekend.

Thanks.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marianne Waage
United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmb
It can look cleaner than a lookup table. Whether people like it I suspect depends on the person. I think it's both more elegant and probably more daunting to an average joe. But perhaps it conveys more fun than a spreadsheet/lookup table might. It definitely is easier to dress up.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Russ Williams
Poland
Wrocław
Dolny Śląsk
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
FWIW there are some interesting useful past BGG blog posts and threads about them.
Narrow Gate Games wrote:
So, what do you think?

Do they add to the game experience? Or, are they a necessary evil in certain situations?


For me, they seem clever but strange/clunky/off-putting because by automating some game calculation, they in some sense hide the underlying game formulas by making them more opaque. Just as people playing a computer game often are not really aware of what the rules & formulas are, a nomograph can have the same effect. And generally if I know the formula, it's easier for me to simply do the math myself than to fiddle around with a physical stick on several columns/dots/lines/etc.

Also, if you use them, please be sure that the results are always unambiguous, and that in no combination of inputs is the output unclear (i.e. "Hmm, crap... is it touching that dot or not?")
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bojan Prakljacic
msg tools
Avatar
I think you would need a special part in the rule book just to explain how nomographs work. XD

It is a cool idea, but I think it would be more of a gimmick than something that would find a solid place in board gaming. Imagine making a nomograph for 40K players. They would murder you with their rulers.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Allen
United States
Freeport
IL
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mb
I'm going to try it for a couple different parts of my game. Not sure I'll use it in the game but I want to try it as sort of a design exercise. I think it might be real cool in spy games or submarine hunt game something like that. I'll try and find out.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
James Ronald Lo
Philippines
TAGUIG
METRO MANILA
flag msg tools
mbmb
brettellmd wrote:

These are awesome! Anything that can convert complexity and procedural tasks into a simple step gets a big plus in my book.

I think you could do with adding an explanation of what a nomograph actually is to your initial post. It wasn't obvious to me with the examples you gave that you use a straightedge to join points on two of the lines, which give you the result on other lines. How does Todd's example actually work?

They give players a nice visual way of estimating the effect of something.

I wonder if this might be an example of some people loving them, and some people hating? Some people are more visual learners, and others are more detail step learners.



Nomography in games sounds great. Not only does it simplify game complexity, but it also cleans the visual design of board game art. It becomes a tool for aesthetics.

Ditto on the explanation, I was looking for better clarity on the definition.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
C. L.
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If you want to be inspired by some (non-game related) classics, this blog post has links to many I remember from my wanderings.

http://civilstat.com/2013/03/visual-revelations-howard-waine...

(The the Mann Gulch fire graph was new to me. Heartbreaking.)
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cornixt
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Narrow Gate Games wrote:


This one is plain confusing. The numbers don't line up, so I can't tell if 2 on the servant spirit damage means 5 or 6 attack dice. And if it is one of those then the other one isn't even used so why is it on the chart at all? For discrete values, it doesn't make sense. It looks like a sneaky way of pretending you don't use tables or score charts.

The numbers aren't evenly spaced on either side of the line (one side should be consistent, which adds even more weirdness. I'm not sure if I am missing something somewhere or if this is just a poorly constructed version.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Allen
United States
Freeport
IL
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mb
I have not used the above or any other, but if you read more about the games these are from, they seem very useful - the uneven spacing is all part of the science of nomographs.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
todd sanders
United States
pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
cornixt wrote:

This one is plain confusing. The numbers don't line up, so I can't tell if 2 on the servant spirit damage means 5 or 6 attack dice. And if it is one of those then the other one isn't even used so why is it on the chart at all? For discrete values, it doesn't make sense. It looks like a sneaky way of pretending you don't use tables or score charts.

The numbers aren't evenly spaced on either side of the line (one side should be consistent, which adds even more weirdness. I'm not sure if I am missing something somewhere or if this is just a poorly constructed version.


there is more than one nomograph on that chart. some of the line graphs are shared between the nomographs



2. Combat: When units of both players occupy either adjacent or the same hex, combat occurs. Players take each combat situation in clockwise order. The Grayking player totals the attack dice value on all servant units and divides this number by 4, rounding it up to the nearest whole number. This is the base combat number. Use the Combat Table graphs (A) and (D) to find the additional attack dice (C) to add to the base combat number. This total number is the Servant Combat Strength. To find any Combat Table value, position the Nomograph Rule across the 2 known numbers, reading the value on the 3rd graph line.

The Warden player then adds the total attack dice value on all warden units for their base combat number. The Warden player uses Combat Table graphs (G) and (D) to find (E), the total number of spaces the marker may move on the Spell Rondel. The player can then decide if they wish to use one spell during this round [Note: the Warden player can use a spell at any point during their turn if the spell rule can be used at that point, but they must move the marker at least one space] and moves the marker that number of spaces (to the maximum allowed, along the dotted path clockwise and/or following any direction arrows) on the Spell Rondel, applying any modifiers to combat as directed by the chosen spell. This total number is the Warden Combat Strength.

Both players then roll dice equal to their Combat Strengths. Any dice values which match between both players rolls are removed. (ex. Servant rolls 1 4 4 5, Warden rolls 2 3 4. One 4 is removed from both sides). The Warden Player may use a chosen spell if applicable during this part of combat.

Players compare dice totals. Whichever player’s number is highest is the victor. In the case of tie neither side is victorious and neither receives any damage.

3. Damage The victorious player consults the Combat Table graphs (A) and (G) to determine the total spirit damage (Servant - B) or ( Warden - F) (ex. the Grayking Player (Spirit Strength 7) is victorious in combat over the Warden Player (Spirit Strength 4). Locate 7 on graph (A) and 4 on graph (G) and, placing the Nomograph Rule on these two points, read off the value of 3 total Spirit damage on graph (F). If the Warden Player was victorious they would locate 4 on graph (G) and 7 on graph (A) to determine a total Spirit damage value of 1 on graph (B)) . The losing player then removes one or more units from Salilth until the total Spirit Strength meets this damage number.
6 
 Thumb up
2.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marianne Waage
United States
Davis
California
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmb
russ wrote:
For me, they seem clever but strange/clunky/off-putting because by automating some game calculation, they in some sense hide the underlying game formulas by making them more opaque. Just as people playing a computer game often are not really aware of what the rules & formulas are, a nomograph can have the same effect. And generally if I know the formula, it's easier for me to simply do the math myself than to fiddle around with a physical stick on several columns/dots/lines/etc.

I think the point is when the nomograph could be used if the calculation is more complex. For instance, if the distribution of numbers is a parabolic curve, or really any function more complex than 2x+1, a nomograph would be simpler for most people.

I think I would have preferred a nomograph than some of the lookup tables in D&D 1st edition.

Quote:
Also, if you use them, please be sure that the results are always unambiguous, and that in no combination of inputs is the output unclear (i.e. "Hmm, crap... is it touching that dot or not?")

I think that's just a design consideration, just like any game element. It has to be clear.

I like the ideas Scott was having, where it's used more for a spy game or stealth game. Then it somehow feels like charting or sleuthing something. In that case, it might feel more thematic. Or the other cases where it's used in combat, it might feel more like attacking than a dry chart. (For instance, having the two cities on each side of the nomograph.)
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Allen
United States
Freeport
IL
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mb
cornixt wrote:
Narrow Gate Games wrote:


This one is plain confusing.


That's probably my fault. I picked a cool looking item and posted it out of context and said "isn't this cool?" without explaining how it works.

One thing I really like about these is they feel more "in the game" and thematic than "wait, let me check the book".

I know Todd already explained it in detail, but I guess I just wanted to publicly apologize to Todd Sanders and Michael Ptak for posting images of theirs and starting a discussion around them.

Here is Todd's WIP thread that explains the nomograph in more detail:
WIP - 2014 Two-Player Print-and-Play Contest - The Tain (Contest Ready)

You may still think it's confusing, and that's fine, but I at least wanted to give a little more info on them.

I'll post more on my attempts at using them soon, Then, we all can pick apart my creations, rather than someone else's blush

Thanks.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
todd sanders
United States
pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
no problem . good to be part of the discussion. I definitely think nomographs can be a very useful alternative to lookup tables
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Scott Allen
United States
Freeport
IL
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mb
OK, here's my first sort of simple possible application.

A little background:
In the game, the falcons can hunt 4 different types of birds, from easiest to hardest:
dove, Quail, Pheasant, Duck

Here is how I am currently explaining hunt results (HP = Hunt Points, sort of a skill track for each falcon, Rep. = The falconer/player's Reputation):

Not great, have to read through it all.


A table might be better:

Color coding helps, but it's a bit jumbled.


A sorted by results table might be better, or is it confusing?:



I'm sketching out a nomogrph and it sort of makes sense. I'll try to pretty it up a bit and post it later.

Thanks.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Haverty
United States
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
My feeling is that they are really most appropriate when the calculations they are performing are really complex. If the math (or relationship) isn't complex enough to justify a nomograph then it probably means you need to simplify it instead, heh.

For example, the calculations for energy, G-loading, acceleration, speed, turn rate, all at different air densities in 3D space, etc. make great use of nomographs in Birds of Prey because that's a lot of math otherwise.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
C. L.
United States
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Narrow Gate Games wrote:

A table might be better:


I do think this first table is just fine -- very clear. It tells me at a glance that I need to quickly graduate from doves and build my falcon's prowess in order to drive up my reputation.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
G. Uitz
Austria
Vienna
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
+1 to what C.L. said.

Sort by birds (after all this is what you have to decide at the beginning of the hunt), then color code. The greener the better. Everybody will realize this after looking at the table for a few seconds.

Dark.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.