$15.00
$20.00
$5.00
$30.00
Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 Hide
20 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: Sand timers out of date? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Andrew Oborn
United States
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I am in the process of designing a game and I am thinking about using a short sand timer (10-30 seconds) to time turns and other aspects of the game.

Are sand timers out of style? Too cumbersome? Annoying?
The purpose is to force one team to move quickly, because when the time runs out the other team can begin their turn, even if the first team hasn't finished.
If you want turns to move quickly, and under pressure, what is the best way to do that without a timer? Any thoughts/suggestions?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
Sand timers are very common in board games.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Jones
United States
Gainesville
Florida
flag msg tools
Yeah it's here! Really it's right here.
mbmbmbmbmb
I am not a huge fan of 'sand timers', but that's because I don't like a lotof 'timed' games.

But, those 'timed' games I do play, I enjoy those with snad timers MUCH more. The alternative forme is a CD player of lugging around a desk top.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nathaniel Grisham

Indiana
msg tools
mb
IngredientX wrote:
Sand timers are very common in board games.


Whenever I play a game that includes a sand timer, we usually treat the timer as optional. It's a pain to require someone to watch the timer, because that player either can't participate fully, or they miss the timer running out, because they were trying to participate.

If the timer is required, I (sort of) prefer a timer that makes noise. Everyone knows when the timer runs out. The part I don't like about these, is that they make a lot of noise while they are running, and the way a lot of them change tempo based on the remaining time causes a lot of unneeded stress.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Daniel Blumentritt
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I've found most sand timers to be pretty inaccurate. E.g. a 1-minute timer could be anywhere from 50 seconds to 1:10. May not be important though.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Phil DeKoning
United States
Bozeman
Montana
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
As someone who went through the saga that was Wok Star's disaster of an electronic timer, I think sand timers are cheap, simple, and effective and prefer them to most alternatives. I'm also not a fan of using one ap or another for stuff like that if I don't need to.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
Statalyzer wrote:
I've found most sand timers to be pretty inaccurate. E.g. a 1-minute timer could be anywhere from 50 seconds to 1:10. May not be important though.


Another consideration is that sand timers will have a different running time based on which way they're flipped. So a "60-second" timer may be 50 seconds in one direction and 1 minute 20 seconds the other.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
J J
Australia
flag msg tools
IngredientX wrote:
Statalyzer wrote:
I've found most sand timers to be pretty inaccurate. E.g. a 1-minute timer could be anywhere from 50 seconds to 1:10. May not be important though.


Another consideration is that sand timers will have a different running time based on which way they're flipped. So a "60-second" timer may be 50 seconds in one direction and 1 minute 20 seconds the other.


How can it possibly be different? The grains are passing through the same aperture.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Thanee
Germany
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
The very current Mechs vs. Minions utilizes a sand timer.

Bye
Thanee
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jay Nabedian
United States
Milwaukee
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
All out of bubblegum
mbmbmbmbmb
Another issue that may come up with sand timers is the "reset". If they are used to limit each turn to a specific amount of time, when one player finishes before the time is up, the next player must wait until the sand runs out to flip it over (potentially gaining an advantage of extra time during the wait).
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Seth Pinter
United States
Liverpool
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
JasonJ0 wrote:
IngredientX wrote:
Statalyzer wrote:
I've found most sand timers to be pretty inaccurate. E.g. a 1-minute timer could be anywhere from 50 seconds to 1:10. May not be important though.


Another consideration is that sand timers will have a different running time based on which way they're flipped. So a "60-second" timer may be 50 seconds in one direction and 1 minute 20 seconds the other.


How can it possibly be different? The grains are passing through the same aperture.


Because nothing is perfect in life. The grains of sand aren't uniform and so they will flow at slightly different rates each time you flip it over. Some times sand timers just out right get stuck.

My opinion, is that if the timing isn't crucial, but important, sand timers are cheap and work. Players can easily replace them with their own electronic timer if they wish. If timing is critical, then you need to provide an electronic timer and it needs to work well.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Austin Andersen
United States
Berrien Springs
Michigan
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't know about out of date, but I find they are terrible to use as they require someone to monitor them.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marco F.
Italy
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
A system to track time that has not been mentioned above is the use of die rolling "correct" results as in Space Cadets: Dice Duel. In case you just did not consider it...
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Oborn
United States
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
bbblasterfire wrote:
I don't know about out of date, but I find they are terrible to use as they require someone to monitor them.


This would not be much of an issue as the opposing team is looking forward to their turn, and they would be watching the timer in interest. More strategy/thought is required on one team then the other.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gil Hova
United States
Jersey City
New Jersey
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
JasonJ0 wrote:
IngredientX wrote:
Statalyzer wrote:
I've found most sand timers to be pretty inaccurate. E.g. a 1-minute timer could be anywhere from 50 seconds to 1:10. May not be important though.


Another consideration is that sand timers will have a different running time based on which way they're flipped. So a "60-second" timer may be 50 seconds in one direction and 1 minute 20 seconds the other.


How can it possibly be different? The grains are passing through the same aperture.


They're not. The hole in the middle may be the same, but the angle of the two bowls leading into the hold are usually slightly different sizes.

If you have a really nice, well-made sand timer, the difference will be miniscule. But margins are tight in the board game industry, so you're more likely to encounter cheap timers.

I'm a huge fan of the game Space Dealer, which starts each player off with 2 sand timers. Many gamers (myself included) discovered this phenomenon through the game.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoffrey Burrell
United States
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
flag msg tools
They work fine in the game Boggle.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
patrick mullen
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I think they are out of date. Tell players how much time they have and let them sort out timing themselves. They can use an egg timer they probably have lying around for cooking, or just use the stopwatch feature of their phones. The cd/mp3 method can be good too. The added tension is of course the reason you would go that method!

The biggest issue with sand timers is the need to prep them. Sometimes I forget, and then when we get to a timed event, the timer has half of the sand on one side and half on the other. Or we complete one event and get to another before the sand from the first event has gone all the way through. Sure, you can fix that in design, but they are just clunky. And they don't quite have the tactile fun of other game components that might be out of date (dice etc) to be worth keeping around.

They aren't terrible, but if you include it, at least also indicate how much time the events are supposed to be so I can use my stopwatch instead.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andrew Oborn
United States
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
This is good info! I think a sand time (and a specified time in the rule book for those who want to use stop watches) will work well for my game. It is not critical for the time to be exact. In fact, having a slight variable changes it up for the team that is timed. This works to the benefit of the non timed team, which works towards my goal. Also, the non timed team won't have an issue monitoring the timer as they have to wait for the time to run out before they can take their turn, so they won't be missing much. The non timed team also doesn't require as much strategy so there wouldn't need to be much planning or strategizing between turns. I'll run it through some test plays as see how it works.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Zachary Pickel

Dubuque
Iowa
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Grishhammer wrote:
It's a pain to require someone to watch the timer, because that player either can't participate fully, or they miss the timer running out, because they were trying to participate.


Space Cadets almost requires that someone do nothing but watch the timer. It's too fast paced to try watching the timer and complete your job. It may be noisy, but I'd prefer a digital timer with an alarm.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Matt Lee
United States
East Meadow
New York
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
IngredientX wrote:
JasonJ0 wrote:
IngredientX wrote:
Statalyzer wrote:
I've found most sand timers to be pretty inaccurate. E.g. a 1-minute timer could be anywhere from 50 seconds to 1:10. May not be important though.


Another consideration is that sand timers will have a different running time based on which way they're flipped. So a "60-second" timer may be 50 seconds in one direction and 1 minute 20 seconds the other.


How can it possibly be different? The grains are passing through the same aperture.


They're not. The hole in the middle may be the same, but the angle of the two bowls leading into the hold are usually slightly different sizes.

If you have a really nice, well-made sand timer, the difference will be miniscule. But margins are tight in the board game industry, so you're more likely to encounter cheap timers.

I'm a huge fan of the game Space Dealer, which starts each player off with 2 sand timers. Many gamers (myself included) discovered this phenomenon through the game.


This is also likely why TAMSK leaves a real love/hate impression on people. Personally, I'm impressed with the game and the differences in the timers don't bother me overall, but I can see how critical that can be for some players who want more control over their plays and can't enjoy the extra pressure of the variations in the timers on top of the time pressures already involved in the game.
1 
 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.