23 Mar

Too Random = Not Enough Meaningful Decisions

Advanced Squad Leader counter pile

Advanced Squad Leader counter pileWhat does too random mean?

I hear it all the time, I even say it. This game is too random, that action is too random. There’s too much random going on. But hold on, what does too random really mean?

I remember a session of Advanced Squad Leader Amazon where there was a Heavy Machine Gun firing down a street and whole platoon ran across the street and nothing. Not a single hit. They were probably jumping and waving and throwing their berets in the air while they were doing it too. Then a commissar walks by and shouts “boo” and the HMG picks up and runs. My opponent was laughing his ears off.

So ASL is very random, right? There’s loads and loads of dice and markers and stuff. But I’ve never heard anyone call ASL random (OK, I have but I’m not going to admit it).

So there’s something more to randomness than die rolls. And that something is decisions. Read More

06 Oct

Creating Tension Through Decision-Resolution Cycles

Ticket to Ride is excellent at generating tension

Ticket to Ride is excellent at generating tensionImagine this: you’re in the middle of a game of Ticket to Ride. You’ve got four red cars in your hand; you need six in order to build that link from Miami to New Orleans and complete your ticket. Your opponent takes an orange and a white from the card row and reveals – a red and a red! Exactly what you need! Except it’s not your turn yet…

Ticket to Ride is great at creating tension. You see what you want but you’re blocked from doing it.

There’s a name for this type of tension creation: a Decision-Resolution cycle. Actually it’s a discovery-decision-resolution cycle but Decision-Resolution sounds better. Here’s how it works: Read More