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Balancing German style mechanics with beer and pretzels play experience?

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 05/01/2010

Hi all,

I am developing a game for 4-6 players in which the goal is to be the first player to acquire and lock up assets in four different categories. Players start with limited funds, and must acquire and exploit assets to generate more funds to acquire more assets. In addition, each player may take actions against other players -- stealing their money and assets, sending them to jail, killing assets, etc. -- which themselves cost money to play. Each turn around the board, players must decide if they want to acquire more assets or exploit their current assets and, on each player's individual turn, whether to attack another player or keep moving around the board to acquire assets/make more money.

In conceiving the game, my idea was to introduce a strong element of decision-making into the familiar Monopoly-style format. After last night's test with friends, and after reading this board, I realize that this may be trying to split the baby: I enjoy the beer and pretzels game environment but I also love games that require full board awareness (in this case, who has what assets and how rich are they) and a balancing of strategy vs. tactics.

So, I guess my question is: does anyone know of a successful model of a game that balances these elements? Or does anyone have any general suggestions about how to do so (I realize I've given a very abstract description of the game).

Thanks much in advance for any help or suggestions.

Hedge-o-Matic's picture
Joined: 07/30/2008
I think your style of game is

I think your style of game is better referred to as roll-and-move, as opposed to "beer and pretzel". Beer and pretzel has the connotation of being portable, quick, and pretty light. Oh, and durability doesn't hurt either. Your games sounds a lot more involved.

But the main difference between these two styles is now influential random factors are. In Monopoly, for example, your options are entirely dictated by your initial roll. you never get a chance to buy Boardwalk if you never land on it. And if you roll consistently low in a game where another player rolls consistently high, you'll lose eventually because your opponent will pass Go more often while vaulting over more of your properties. There is no strategy that will counteract these effects.

German-style games eliminate luck in favor of player-based interaction. dice are often replace by bids or some other player-driven method, for example. I think that this is one of the most important innovations that define the German-style game.

Oh, and I think it's somewhat ironic that German games aren't generally "Beer and Pretzel" games.

Jean Of mArc
Jean Of mArc's picture
Joined: 04/21/2010
One thing that adds more

One thing that adds more strategy to games that are heavily dice-rolling is the ability to modify the results. For example, having a set of cards that allow you to modify your roll when you play them. The strategy is knowing when to use them, since they are limited. Maybe that can play into your game a bit?

truekid games
truekid games's picture
Joined: 10/29/2008
yes, there are a variety of

yes, there are a variety of games that include light play/random elements with interesting and strategic decisions. Settlers of Catan, for instance. So it is possible- unfortunately in MOST cases you don't end up satisfying both audiences, you end up partially or fully alienating both. it's certainly a hard line to walk. but keep in mind it's not really about the "genre" of the game, it's about the audience(s). that may sound like the same thing, but look at it this way:

take your two game genres and make a venn diagram of their attributes. this isn't very useful- because while it yields tons of data, it doesn't show you how to apply it (and the fact that there's such a high quantity AND such a disparity of attributes even within the same genre makes it worth even less). now, instead, take your two intended audiences, and venn diagram what they're looking for in a game in general. THAT is useful information. now do the same with things that "turn off" both audiences. do your game attributes satisfy both audiences? which attributes alienate either audience?

that's about the best advice i can offer without knowing more about the game :P

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