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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Don’t Count My Vote…

Looking over the list of possible game mechanics I did what a lot of you did – I didn’t find the ones I dislike most! In my case, it’s subterfuge (where the rules allow you or tell you to do something normally considered cheating).

The easiest example, though not that it ruins the game, is Dragon’s Gold – where one card tells you to steal jewels until you are caught by another player. Another favorite is in the regular card game called “I Doubt It” or any of its ilk (yes Mike, ilk). In that game, I lay down cards on the stack and announce “3 eights”, daring someone to say “I Doubt It.” But it’s OK for me to lay down 5 cards, two extras below my 3 eights, as long as I don’t get caught. And if I’m doubted, I turn over the top three cards, all eights, and the poor sap takes the whole stack – even the extras I slipped in. Clever for ten year olds.

OK, so on to a mechanic I don’t care for that is on the list – “VOTING.” There’s voting in some games, integral to the game, that doesn’t bug me at all. For instance, using cards to “vote” at the same time whether to destroy outhouses is crucial in Drunter und Drüber (if you haven’t seen this one, check it out. Up to four players, object is to smash everyone else’s buildings using roads, rivers, etc.)

Maybe it’s the blind-voting I like, I’m not sure. It doesn’t bug me in Schrille Stille either – each player is voting in secret (casting many votes) for bands that we like and bands we don’t. And the votes aren’t swayed (much) by table talk and who-to-impress.

One other honorable mention–Twilight Imperium–where we vote on new laws that may change game rules substantially. Here it seems fine to me, since I am trying to buy votes behind the scenes as part of the negotiation / backstabbing / “let’s you and him fight” story within the game.

So on to what I don’t like: voting, where often the vote is based on the personality of the person being voted for or against. Or it’s based on the presentation of that player. For example, in Balderdash we each make definitions for little-known words and “vote” for the best. But often the votes get chosen partly on who can write well, or on who you think wrote those words and whether you want to help them or not.

In Die Erben von Hoax, we vote for who we think is faking the character they just claimed. And this vote is often marred by “What do we think of you? (or your fakery skills).” Likewise in Democrazy, we all “vote” for new rules in the game. But for me, personality plays too much role in whether I vote for your new rule or not. So games where the voting aspect is tied to who I’m voting for just don’t do it for me.

And there are a few exceptions here too. Probably tied to what Mike just wrote about the social aspect of gaming always trumping the game. Right on. So, I like The Big Idea since part of the wacky fun is coming up with a bizarre product (like a Deadly Erotic Obelisk) and then trying to sell it to your friends and so gain their vote for best new product.

Last time I promised a bit more about going from avid gamer to avid game designer. Sorry, the “question of the week” takes continuity precedence. Maybe soon!

Meanwhile, I got some design time in this week on our Israeli prototype (thanks Yehuda!), a new one of mine called Sphinx of Black Quartz (any guesses what it’s about?) and a little more work on a “fewer roads per tile” set for Isla Nova, which the Dragonflight folks who played it thought looked too cluttered as it played. Always testing.

1 Comments:

  • At 6:55 AM, Blogger Matthew Marquand said…

    Voting for personalities is what, for me, turns the party game Apples to Apples into a boring time waster.

    If you've ever played, I'm sure you've been in the situation where you just throw the card that best matches the judge almost regardless of the word on the table. Let's see...Sophie likes cats so I'm throwing my "Tiger" card.

    Bleh.

     

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