Thursday, July 02, 2009

Simple Framework, Special Abilities

Many of my favorite games follow this pattern: simple framework, special abilities. After the first few rounds, each player has a few simple unique choices from unequal forces on each turn. This format readily adapts to game expandability.


Framework: Essentially, one action per round. The number of different actions is large, but only a handful are typically appropriate each round.

Special: Each character has a set of special abilities based on stats, class, race, or equipment. This structure directly leads to an infinite amount of classes and class abilities, races, spells, weapons, feats, and skills. And you can pick or choose which to play with, without breaking the core structure of the framework.

Magic: the Gathering

Framework: Untap, Upkeep, Pick, Play, Attack, Play, End (plus Respond)

Special: Special abilities are written on the cards. You can choose to play with or without any of these abilities by including or excluding cards with these abilities. The number of cards continues to grow, of course.

Puerto Rico

Framework: Settle, Build, Mayor, Craft, Trade, Ship, Prospect

Special: The buildings, each of which grants special abilities during a particular role. Change the game by changing the buildings.

Cosmic Encounter

Framework: Flip, Point, Place, Invite, Play, Reveal, Settle

Special: Special cards (edicts, flares, etc) and special powers allow you to break the rules. It's easy to add more powers or special cards to the game.


Framework: Action, Buy

Special: Each card grants special abilities or additional actions or buys. Expansions are already coming out fast and furious.

War Games

Framework: A series of steps each round

Special: Each piece usually has unique abilities, such as range, movement, damage, etc. Actually, I don't like playing war games very much, because I'm terrible at them. But I really do admire them.

So naturally, I'm looking to design something that fits this format.

1 comment:

Chris said...

I like this game format and have used it often - have fun experimenting with it!

Oh, and a small piece of pointless nit-pickery, but since Cosmic Encounter was the inspiration for Magic: The Gathering, wouldn't it have been nice to list it above Magic? (I suppose the chronology of these games should be: RPG, Cosmic Encounter, Magic: The Gathering, Puerto Rico, Dominion).

Since D&D got it's basics from tabletop wargames, I feel there's another step backwards that could be taken, but I don't know what it would be! :)

Best wishes!