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When is a game mechanic just too much work?

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Pt314
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Joined: 12/31/1969

I ask this question because many times I come up with a mechanic to implement in a game, but then discover that it is just too much work, and detracts from the game. One example would be having a method for managing individual pieces, forgetting how much time it would take if applied to dozens of pieces on the board (Such as keeping track of hit points, and what pieces have already moved.)

Whay this concerns me right now, is that I think I just came up with a neat idea for my tactics game, but I am wondering if it actually work.

I know of many games where you place tiles on a board, many games may have hundreds of tiles. However in most of these games, once you place a tile down, you don't remove it until the end of the game (such as Aquire). However in my game each tile on the board will show who owns that tile, and this can constantly change since players take control of territory that their pieces land on.

Perhaps if my game is enjoyable enough, and the tile placing / removing / switching is integrated with the rest of the moves nicely, that it wouldn't matter.

Is my idea too time consuming for a board game? Any thoughts?

CardboardAddict
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Joined: 12/31/1969
When is a game mechanic just too much work?

A mechanism in my opinion is too much work if you need to introduce multiple other mechanisms to allow it to work. For example, I once created a travel game with days and nights. In the nights people would (among other things) choose cards they needed for the days. This idea needed a bidding system, a starting player's pawn, twenty-five extra coins and 40 new cards.

When you notice creating all this extra stuff takes too much time and makes the game too complicated, come up with a new idea or change the old one.

In your type, maybe you could force players to place the tiles in a way that all tiles of a color are near eachother and can be replaced together?
Or you could force the players to replace eachother's tiles, in that way not all tiles are replaced and it brings more tactic/strategy in the game.

Good luck

Michiel

jkopena
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Joined: 12/31/1969
When is a game mechanic just too much work?

Moving or flipping tiles is very fiddly---it takes a lot of time, the board can get knocked around/slightly out of join very easily, etc. I think it should be avoided at all costs unless it's very rare/you have very few tiles. In addition, flipping tiles requires that they be thick in order to be easily picked up, which makes them harder to produce (from the perspective of a small commercial run).

Emphyrio
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Joined: 02/10/2010
When is a game mechanic just too much work?

Drakon is an example of a tile-based game where players move, rotate, remove, and switch already-placed tiles fairly often. It seems to work out all right at that frequency -- no more than one tile every few turns. More than that, and I think it would get too fiddly.

One alternative would be to use tokens (beads, poker chips, counters) to denote control of the tiles.

jkopena
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Joined: 12/31/1969
When is a game mechanic just too much work?

Drakon is an example of a decent game with tile flipping, though I think already placed tiles are manipulated much less than once per turn. It's also very annoying when it does happen (at least, I think so).

Guessing at what your game is like, Pt, think of someone taking control a tile in the center of some area. There's no way for someone to pick it up and flip over or replace with another without pushing the surrounding tiles slightly to create a crack so they can catch the edge with their fingernail. I find many gamers to be at least borderline obsessive-compulsives, and that sort of thing will drive them crazy as continually try to fix the board only to have it get shifted again :)

Johan
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When is a game mechanic just too much work?

A mechanism is too much if the players feel that the down time is to long.
If the mechanism involves all the players to change the game, then the mechanism is probably not the problem (number of components or complexity can be).
You should always concentrate to limit the:
- The number of actions a player will do (not the number of possibilities) when it is his turn.
- The number of action that has to be done between the turns.

// Johan

Pt314
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Joined: 12/31/1969
When is a game mechanic just too much work?

I was thinking the same things. If I had tiles, it would be too much work to flip them over without messing up the surrounding tiles. Tokens would be only slightly better in that they would be easier to flip/replace, but if you do stuff like this all the time it would become time-consuming. (Although in Othello you flip tokens all the time.)

Is there any other way of keeping track of who owns a tile? Or is this impossible to simplify? If so perhaps I should come up with a different system, or program it on a computer.

Rick-Holzgrafe
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Joined: 07/22/2008
When is a game mechanic just too much work?

jkopena wrote:
There's no way for someone to pick it up and flip over or replace with another without pushing the surrounding tiles slightly to create a crack so they can catch the edge with their fingernail.

There are ways around this. The most obvious is to specify that the tiles should not touch, but instead should be spaced a bit apart. This won't work in a Carcassonne-type game where the edges have to match and would look odd if spaced apart, but perhaps Pt's game isn't like that.

Depending on what the game requires, you could use circular tiles with an arrow pointing outward; rotate the tile to point at the player who owns it. Or (as someone suggested earlier) place tokens on the tiles to indicate ownership.

If tiles must actually be flipped or removed, circular tiles will be easier to grab because there will always be a suitable gap for a fingernail. If rotation is not needed, you could use octagonal tiles as a compromise between square and circular: edges could touch but there will still be "fingernail gaps" at the corners.

None of this addresses the issue of whether your rules are too "fiddly," of course. These suggestions are just aimed at making any necessary manipulations easier to accomplish.

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