Strategic Asymmetry in Board Games

I recently wrote about what I called fully asymmetric board games. Fully asymmetric games can be great fun, but design challenges abound. A vast amount of playtesting needs to be done to balance the factions; otherwise you end up with a game that’s “solved” pretty quickly by playing one particular faction. Games with limited asymmetry are much more common — I like to call this “strategic asymmetry” because the choice of faction or initial player setup tends to direct the […]

Full Asymmetry in Board Games

One of the interesting trends in board game mechanics is asymmetry. Asymmetry simply means the different players have substantially different capabilities. In extreme cases, the different sides even play by completely different rules. Asymmetric games require smart design effort and significant playtesting to ensure game balance. For players, though, asymmetry can be more fun, allowing individuals to pick factions which suit their play style. I classify asymmetry in competitive games as fully asymmetric, lightly asymmetric, and player-created asymmetric; this post […]

Podcast: The Board Gaming Explosion

Our recent PAX podcast got me thinking about how relatively wonky, hobbyist board games have penetrated the mainstream. So this podcast focuses on the second big explosion in board gaming (the first occurring in the late 90s).  This isn’t a discussion about specific games, but how board games (and even tabletop RPGs) have penetrated the public consciousness. Let’s roll some dice! I launch the discussion by listing some tidbits, such as Riot Games (of League of Legends fame) launching its first board […]

Analyzing Kickstarted Board Games

I’ve bought into more than my fair share of board games on Kickstarter. I’ve begun to back off on using Kickstarter, except for relatively known companies or developers. Just for kicks, and went back and analyzed the board game Kickstarters I’ve been involved with, to check out who’s delivered, who hasn’t delivered, and how long some of the deliveries took. I’m not discussing the quality of the bits or the gameplay, just how well the companies did when it came […]

Board Game Kickstarters That Delivered

Eric Klein and I have lamented on the podcast that hardware Kickstarters often show up extremely late, or fail to deliver. I’ve cut back on Kickstarter quite a bit, but still help fund the occasional board game. I’ve been disappointed on occasion, mostly due to over eagerness or improper expectations, but my delivery ratio has been pretty high. With one exception, every game I’ve Kickstarted has delivered — sometimes quite late, but delivered nonetheless. By my count I’ve helped crowdfund […]

Tabletop Gaming at Kublacon: An Essay in Pictures

Emily and I swing into the parking lot, naturally finding a spot on the top floor of the Hyatt Airport parking garage. We’d already unloaded luggage, boxes of games for the flea market, and a massive suitcase full of games for playing. We headed into the con area, making our way towards the registration desk. We headed down the escalator to pick up our badges and wristbands. The registration desk seemed quite on early Friday afternoon. The folks staffing the […]

Prepping for Kublacon

I’ll be up to my armpits in board games this weekend, attending one of the Bay Area’s best tabletop gaming conventions, Kublacon, held at the San Francisco Airport Hyatt. I’ve been attending this particular con for more years than I care to recount. My two daughters took part in the Kublacon Kids room since they were each five years old, which likely helped shape their interest in gaming. In fact, my younger daughter, Emily, is going to Kublacon with me […]

Pandemic Legacy: Boardgame as RPG

If you play board games at all, you may have heard of Pandemic Legacy. Based on the co-op game engine from the original Pandemic, Pandemic Legacy offers a new take on board games: the board game as story. (Note: you may find very light spoilers about the game, but nothing substantial is revealed). The game itself has generated considerable controversy in the hobby game community. It’s one of the new generation of “consumable” games. Once you play through 12-24 times […]