karlo arciaga
United States
California
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Hello!

My name is Karlo Arciaga - and here I would like to share with you my Study in Board Games, a blog dedicated to an analysis of the multiple facets to tabletop gaming that allow the hobby to shine. Before we begin, let me introduce myself



Name: Karlo Arciaga
Occupation: Sports & Orthopedic Physical Therapist
Favorite board game mechanics: dice/card drafting, worker placement, multi-use cards
Least favorite board game mechanics: negotiation, auction/bidding, stock management/manipulation
Been playing since: 2014
Gateway game: Settlers of Catan
Top 3 Board Games: Arcadia Quest, La Granja, Yokohama

Throughout my blog, each post will focus on an umbrella topic. I will flesh out my thought process on how the term is integral to success in the hobby. My approach to the blog will be a read for those who are starting out in the hobby and looking for some general overview

Let us begin with board game mechanics:

#1: Spatial elements
- Classically known as "area control", utilization of a spatial element in a board game forces players to consider the literal location of where they are interacting with the board. In some instances players may fear placing a pawn/meeple adjacent to another for fear of conflict. Others may place a worker near another player as a tactical move, perhaps to scare or provide incentive to an opponent to engage in combat/interaction. Other board games may take a spin on area control and utilize "area majority". In this permutation players need to start consider not only where they place, but the amount of what they place. Games often utilize this element to award "influence bonuses" where players are rewarded for having majority within a given region on the board. Conversely, there is also a minority bonus, or situations whereby the player with the 2nd most influence will receive a reward. Games like this force players into conflict/interaction by awarding some compensation. Games may also utilize visuospatial orientation as a means of a board game mechanic. This is often expressed as a form of tile laying where direction, shape and size of a tile or board game chit influence how an action is carried out.

#2: Temporal elements
- Utilization of time in a board game is expressed in a multitude of ways. Some games are structured over a given number of rounds, turns, actions, or end game conditions. For these types of temporal rule sets, the timeline can be predictable which enables players to plan ahead while also applying some form of pressure to score objectives in a timely manner. Other expressions of time can be seen in a literal sense, whereby a timer (facilitated by an app or an hourglass) is forced upon players. In these instances urgency is created which leads to unhealthy (but sometimes healthy) chaos on the table.

#3: Tactical elements
- Utilization of tactics can be seen with the push/pull between players depending on the given objective of the game. Tactics utilizes careful movement/action selection that is dependent on analysis of not only your own pawns, but of your opponent's as well. This can be expressed as blocking your opponents out of objectives, taking a suboptimal action to our own benefit as a means of blocking your opponent out of their optimal action, or deception as a means of confusing your opponent.

#4: Social elements
- Not all games have to be overly dense with rules and mechanics. Some board game mechanics rely on the interaction between players on a table. Classically known as "social deduction", social elements of the game focus on players' behaviors as opposed to player performance related to score/victory points. Games may require laughter, while others may require deduction. All in all, social interaction and conversation serves as a crux for board game fun, regardless of the complexity of a board game. Additionally, player interaction in a literal sense is also crucial to the enjoyment factor of a game. This may often require a player to experience varying games with similar players on the table in order to identify personalities that may enjoy or not enjoy interacting with.

#5: Theatrical elements
- Games that heavily emphasize theme focus on players immersing themselves in the board game by allowing players to feel like an avatar in an alternate universe. Certain games may utilize apps, music, miniatures, flavor text, or role playing to help players envelop themselves in the desired atmosphere. Games that rely on theatrical elements attempt to create "memories" or "moments" where players must make challenging decisions that may be influenced by the emotions that they are experiencing while playing the game.

Games that heavily emphasize each style of mechanic:
#1: Spatial elements: Kemet, Carccassone, Risk
#2: Temporal elements: Unlock, TIME Stories, any standard Euro worker placement game (i.e Lords of Waterdeep)
#3: Tactical elements: Twilight Struggle
#4: Social elements: Happy Salmon, The Resistance
#5: Theatrical elements: Mansions of Madness, Betrayal at House on the Hill

As you perform your board game research, you will come to find that many games will have some general overlap between these 5 categories. As you explore, you will come to find your own style of games that fits your preferences.
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