Dissecting a Mechanic

Last week I played in my first Magic: The Gathering prerelease in close to a year. I was attracted to the theme of the set “Ixalan” which includes Merfolk and Vampires along with Pirates and Dinosaurs. For those who don’t know, Magic: The Gathering also known as just “Magic” is a collectible card game that…

Narrative, Fun, and my complicated relationship with Tumbleseed

“Is it fun?” my podcast co-host asks me via slack about my recent purchase of Tumbleseed. The short answer is “no”, the medium answer is “Yes, definitely” and the long answer is “maybe?”.  I’m going to try to unpack them all here.  Ultimately I understand why the game “flopped” but I still believe it does…

Alto’s Journey, Infinite Runners, and Free to Play

The prevailing argument when free to play first came out was that it created an egalitarian player decision to continue playing and purchasing the game at every point during the game, instead of the previous dynamic which was *massive marketing blitz* to try to get you to spend $60 up front and then experience the…

Sports v. Games (part 1): When a sport is not a game

The basis of this article was inspired by comparative reviews of competitive games like Magic, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and League of Legends along with articles from Polygon like Competition will drive success of Nintendo Switch more than Zelda or Mario, along with reviews from noted designers like David Sirlin on the importance of…

Randomness in Card Games (Magic + Hearthstone)

The inspiration I had for this article was comparing and contrasting early format reviews from content creators in both game. One of the other interesting points I noted (though ultimately backed away from) was that recently Magic had the tendency to be “solved” much more quickly.  High powered cards would come out that would create…

Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep is a board game based on the world of Dungeons and Dragons. Waterdeep is the mythical town, known as the staring place for adventurers to go on their quests. Players can play the iOS game asynchronously against online opponents, locally (via pass and play), or against AI. But why review the iOS…

Guild of Dungeoneering 

Guild of Dungeoneering feels to me like the Pokemon RPG, honing the battle mechanic to a sharp point. For reference, in the Pokemon RPG, you collect Pokemon with different moves (along with strengths and weaknesses) that you use to battle opponents and progress in the game. In Dungeoneering, you build a guild hall which attracts…

The Trouble with Reviewing Games

One of my resolutions for 2017 is to write and play 52 “new” games, in an effort to dig into what makes games tick in order to become a better game designer myself. It was inspired by Design Explosions.  The goal is not to rate or review games but to understand how they work, what…