Reading notes #3

I can’t think of any games that feel “perfectly balanced”. I don’t tend to play games that have a strict mathematical equilibrium or that would claim a perfect balance. Imperfection and imbalance, when it is subtle or complex is far more engaging than equilibrium.


I’m playing a lot of Lords of Waterdeep on the iPhone currently, and there are imbalances in the characters you can play. Some of the characters have bonus points awarded around game mechanisms that are mostly random, such as cards drawn. Other characters receive bonuses for strategic play that is fairly obvious. I enjoy discovering and exploiting these “imbalances” and assume many other game players feel the same.


I enjoy asymmetrical games and find they have very high replay value because challenges can vary so greatly. I’ve been interested in designing a quick asymmetrical board game that might be attractive to friends who don’t play games. Asymmetry can create very compelling narrative experience.


agon- Samurai by Reiner Knizia, Kensington

alea-  the dice game Can’t Stop

mimicry- Call of Cthulhu RPG

ilinx- house of mirrors carnival attraction


Flow is the state of being engaged in an optimally challenging and rewarding system that avoids crippling difficulty on one hand and boredom on the other. When people are in a state of flow they are less self conscious and aware of time. Clear goals and a sense of agency and control, with the player getting expected feedback is critical to achieving and maintaining a flow state. Flow is a great goal for game designers of many games but not all. It is especially helpful to think about flow when designing the pacing and introduction of new mechanics into a game.