Skip to Content

How many components is too many?

5 replies [Last post]

I have a game in the works that will need quite a few types of components for it to work as I envision, and I'm hoping it's not too much... It's going to have map tiles (interior and exterior), cards (for abilities and equipment), pawns/tokens (for unit movement) and probably some other type of markers (for unit HP, and to see the duration of certain abilities)...

I'd like, if possible, an answer to the question from two viewpoints... Fun and publishing.

This game has more components than any other I've designed before, so I don't know if it will be too much to keep track of everything, and it's also the first one I thought I might bring to publishers... Assuming the components can be done with common materials (Standard sized cards, square cardboard map tiles, small plastic pawns for unit movement, and cardboard chits for the other markers), and they are the most effective way of representing what's going on in the game, how can this affect the playability or publish-ability of the game?

I'm not looking as much for a definate answer for my game in specific (which is why I didn't list much in the way of details), but more for general guidelines to follow while I'm refining this game and creating others.

How many components is too many?

This concept was bashed about a little in this thread and possibly others as well (a quick seach for the word "somponents" might turn up more).

I don't think the number of components is necessarily a hindrance in this moder era of mega-games with more components than ever. Witness the success of such component heavy titles as War of the Ring, Civilization, Axis & Allies, Attack!, etc.

The game market has a tolerance for games with a huge amount of components. It's your duty to ensure that they are necessary and streamlined as far as the game play goes. Make sure that the number of components "feels" right when playing the game. Gamers don't mind dealing with a higher number of components when the gameplay is enhanced by them. Conversely, gamers will be put off by a game that has components that are used in fiddly and counter-intuitive ways.

Without knowing more about your game and your use of the components, it's hard to give meaningful feedback. Is it possible to get a game with a huge number of components published? Yes, it happens and often! Wil it be fun for the right crowd of gamers? Could be... The trick is matching your theme and gameplay to the crowd that will find it fun!

Best of luck!

How many components is too many?

SiskNY wrote:
Without knowing more about your game and your use of the components, it's hard to give meaningful feedback.

Like I said, I wasn't really looking for an answer on whether my particular game would sell or not, just on how the community feels about high numbers of components in general... The thread you linked definately helped with thank... I suppose I should have thought to use the search feature before posting :)

Joined: 08/03/2008
How many components is too many?

While I think that Steve is right that the market accomodates bit-heavy games just fine, I also suspect that a huge component list isn't going to help your game find a publisher; it will cost more to produce, and must therefore be that much better to justify producing it as opposed to a cheaper game.

That said, in terms of published games, I don't tend to eschew bit-heavy games, but neither do I drool over them as some are wont to do. War of the Ring is a great game, but saying "It has 240 pieces!!!!!" is not a sellable point for me; for one, that is WAY too many pieces for me to realistically keep track of and strategize around, and moreover, you never really see all 240 pieces in action in a game anyway; many will sit on the sidelines, watching and waiting.

For unpublished games, big component lists are almost always an indication of an incomplete design. The "bits-heavy" games we've seen in the GDW certainly bears this out; there's always room to simplify the game, and simplifying the component list often goes hand in hand. Good designs are economical, and trying to restrict your component list could lead to some elegant mechanics, which will not only make your game cheaper, but better. Seek to eliminate redundancy wherever you can. For example, do you need a 50 card Event deck, or could you get away with 25 cards, shuffled twice? Does everyone need 100 pieces, or could you reduce the size of the board, reduce the number of pieces, and still have an equally interesting game?

Obviously, worry about making the game great more than you worry about making the component list small, but setting aside the cost factor, a game with lots of pieces means lots of information being tossed at the players, and giving players less to think about will almost always lead to quicker gameplay and more focused decisions.

Of course, this is a tough question to generalize about, as it will always depend on the individual game. Some games really justify their big component manifests, others don't. (and some games with few components aren't good anyway, so smaller isn't always better). Bottom line: put in exactly as many components as the game needs to be great, and not a single one more or fewer.

Just my thoughts,


How many components is too many?

WHile Jeff has placed a simple answer of "don't put one more of one fewer component than is needed to make the game great" or something to that effect, this is somehting that is hard to determine.

The way I see it as both a game player and a publisher (with the first release being expect in the summer of 2005), The number of bits is more dependant on the type of game, the depth, and the targeted audience. There are clearly some games that have tons of components that also have high ratings on BGG, including War of the Ring, Roads and Boats, Europe Engulfed, Reef Encounter, and many more that I am probably not remembering off the top of my head. Of course I have never played any of these games due to their typically high price tag or out of print nature, War of the Ring being the most accessible which I have recently ordered.

Things that a large component game seems to need to be great and good enough for a publisher to even consider adding to their product line.

1. At a first description does it sound like the game would benefit from more components?

The best example of this being the case is War of the Ring. Being a fan of both the books and the movies, I can imagine a very deep and expansive world. If somebody told me they made a war game set in Middle Earth, more specifically during the time period of The Lord of The Rings, then my first thought is wow, that will have a lot of pieces. There are just so many options that could be put into such a game, the fellowship, armies of man, elves, orcs, nazgul, tree-people, wizards, hobbit, dwarves, basically you have such a large set of options. If somebody told me they made a comprehensive war game set in Middle Earth and also said there were 10 unit types and a ocuple of cards or something like that, I would personally be thinking that somehting is probably lacking.

The same goes for Europe Engulfed (which I will probably never play due to the expected game time of around 14 hours). A comprehensive game including economic considerations for the entirety of the war in Europe during WWII I would expect the game to have a lot of pieces or be missing something.

2. Do the tons of components lead to a logistical nightmare?

As Roads and Boats is out of print, I have not been able to come close to purchasing a copy, but I however made all of the tokens and printed out the rules so I could play the 1 player puzzle type of scenarios for it. The main problem I had with the game is that in addition to there being around a thousand options (only a slight exageration) for me to do each turn, there was also the logistical nightmare of keeping track of where all the different resources were. Maybe this doesn't happen so much in games with more than one player, because everything will be more spread out, but the game definately has an analysis paralysis problem. In fact I feel the game could be simplified to a great extent and still be as immensly deep as it is.

3. Do the components have a general interest in and of themselves?

Are the components engaging. I can tell from experience that my printed out components for Roads and Boats are not interesting at all. Whereas I imagine the War of the Ring components will be interesting in and of themselves due to their nature. I have also seen examples of the WotR figured that have been painted by people, and this would make for a very engaging game if I end up finding the time to paint mine when I get them.

Good examples of engaging components are in Heroscape, although many companies don't have the resources that Hasbro does (in fact all game companies don't have anywhere near Hasbro's resources). Heroscape has nicely detailed and painted models for the game play, very engaging.

4. And of course the big enchilada, are all of the components necessary?

Can the components from a game be combines as to allow for a lower number of them. This can be determined only by playing the game in my opinion, or at least after reading the rules if it is the case that there are glaring unnecessary components.

sedjtroll's picture
Joined: 07/21/2008
How many components is too many?

DrMayhem wrote:
4. And of course the big enchilada, are all of the components necessary?

A perfect example of this is New England. It come with 4 little black cylindars which have no use whatsoever. The rules say something like "put them onto the tiles you are going to flip over, then take them off and flip over the tiles."

4 pieces may ot be many, but they are completely unnecessry and if I were the one paying for each game printed with extra, useless components, I'm sure I'd complain about thse 4.

- Seth

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut