One of the things I love about games is that there are so many evolving and new mechanics and elements every time you look at what game designers are creating. In this article I pulled together a few highlights from some of the games that are doing something new and unique in the design, mechanic or game play arena. I hope this inspires the game designer that lives in each one of us!
Chronicles of Crime’s Use of Technology
If you ever wanted to experience an episode of CSI as the lead investigator, this is your playground!
Because of how the game utilizes technology, the game world is massive and the options for how you want to play are nearly limitless.
In this cooperative crime solver, players are given a scenario, with just a crime scene or perhaps a missing person to start with. One player explores the crime scene on their device (with or without the 3D viewer) and looks for clues while the other(s) pick up the clue cards mentioned. Scan your clues to see what you have that may be useful. You can go to locations, question people, question people about clues, and call up your colleagues to learn more about clues or people’s motivations.
Each world is quite large with plenty of red herrings and events that happen during your investigation.
What game designers can take away from this game is how technology can truly augment and make a game’s world scaleable in a way that physical components make unfeasible. If you were to try to create this game completely physically, it would be very cumbersome to play. Likewise, an application-only game would lie flat without the ability to cooperate with your fellow detectives to solve the crime. The application and VR make this a true hybrid board and application game.
I hope we see more games that fully utilize the possibility of technology to create immersive worlds for board games.
Get your copy of Chronicles of Crime.
Maiden’s Quest’s Play Anywhere, Anytime
I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of designer Ken Shannon at Gen Con and he was super excited to share Maiden’s Quest.
What’s unique about Maiden’s Quest is that it is a card game played entirely in your hand. No table, specific location or specific set of time is needed to play this game. Create your deck, shuffle and then play anywhere, popping it into your pocket or purse to play while you wait in a line. While very much structured as a solo game, there are rules for cooperative play, and each box can create 2 decks (for two players).
In Maiden’s Quest, you are a maiden trying to escape a tower and captor. You build your deck, including items such as your powerful dress, characteristics such as charisma, cunning and strength, and random item cards such as bunny slippers, swords, and fairy dust. You also include your captor (the boss you must defeat to win), other adversaries, treasure boxes and potential allies. As you encounter your adversaries, you’ll be able to use the next five cards in your deck to help you escape or defeat it. As you vanquish enemies, your items and stats grow more powerful, just as you climb the levels o the tower to face more difficult adversaries, and eventually your captor.
Game designers can take a lot away from this game. Just the fact that you can pause this game and play again at any time and any place is pretty neat. While mainly a solo game, the option of cooperative play and the legacy elements are nice additions – I like how the legacy items are completely optional. Also, just how you use the cards to upgrade and downgrade and move through levels is pretty awesome.
While there are some challenges I discuss in my video review of Maiden’s Quest, I think future designers can devise improvements and really take the unique mechanics in Maiden’s Quest to the next level.
In addition, the theme is very empowering for women; while this type of theme shouldn’t stand on it’s own, the theme matches the game mechanics, which is a big attraction to me. Big thanks for Ken Shannon for devising this game!
Interested in trying it out? Go here to purchase Maiden’s Quest.
Ultimate Werewolf Legacy’s Keepsake
Ultimate Werewolf is a classic in our household. What Ultimate Werewolf Legacy does is combine those classic elements with a unique story experience that is sure to make even more memories with your (large) gaming group.
In Ultimate Werewolf Legacy, players are given a House (or family) in addition to their secret identity card. While your identity (villager or werewolf) changes from game to game (or year to year in the story), your name and house remain the same. It adds a different element to a well-known game. At one point we choose as a group not to open a box, and now it will forever remain a mystery! (Until we purchase another and play again!).
What can game designers take away from the success of this game?
One-time play (legacy) games are gaining in popularity, but often players don’t know what to do with the game after it is complete. Ultimate Werewolf Legacy solves this problem by containing the game in a nice book, where you can track everything that happened and create a nice keepsake of the game that can adorn your shelf or coffee table long after you’re done. Some of our group’s most intense memories and stories are from playing werewolf, and the final keepsake is a big plus!
Learn more and get Ultimate Werewolf Legacy.
Sagrada’s Match of Theme, Mechanics and Art
Sagrada is a turn-based strategy game where you are building your stained glass mosaic using colored dice. However, you must follow certain rules for building (for each adjacent piece, the color and number must be different than those surrounding it) in addition to following the pattern on your individual window building plans.
It’s also a great game to build productive struggle and learning from mistakes, because you get much better the more you play. Although competitive, you can also just play to beat your personal score each game.
I think game designers can take away from Sagrada how perfectly the theme complements the game mechanics. And the art and components add even more. I love how the dice fit perfectly into the player board (no sliding or jostling around here).
When the different elements of a game fit together so perfectly, it creates something special that players notice. No surprise, Sagrada has won a ton of awards these past two years since it was published.
A recent addition, the expansion, adds up to two additional players, as well as more objective cards and more tools. Additionally, you can add individual dice pools to draw from, which can negate some of the competitiveness I mentioned in my original review of the base game.
Check out more about Sagrada.
I hope these highlights inspire you, from an avid game player to a game designer!
Did I miss any recent innovations that should be on this list? Let me know in the comments below!
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