I’ve been thinking about game mechanics and tactics-heavy game design. In this, I’ve consulted boardgamegeek.com which happens to have a page that sorts games by mechanics. I disagree with them on some calls of what counts as a ‘mechanic,’ but its interesting to look at.
Here’s a link:
Some seem useless except in the most map-driven, war-game style play, which is something I’d like to get away from and enter a more streamlined, yet intense form of resolution. So things like “Area-Movement,” and “Hex-Rails” are right out. On the other hand, a lot of things on the list are taken for granted: “Acting,” “Role-playing,” and even “Variable Player Powers.”
Unfortunatley every thing else is so vague and wide open that it’s of little use. ‘Dice-Rolling’ is one mechanic.
So, I have to turn to my own imagination. What makes a good mechanic in a board game? How can I turn this into a good rpg mechanic?
Abstract strategy is right out. Chess and anything like it, including more modern games like Torres take too long, and there’s too much of a disconnect. I can handle something like rock paper sissors or a d6 roll ‘simulating’ something, but a 5 minute or more game of moving peices around is too darn much.
Card play, especially with simultaneous picking and revealing, is perhaps my favorite board game mechanic, although readers of this blog will know some of the difficulties I’ve run into. The design hurdle here is huge: one has to come up with all the cards for everything.
Trick Taking, a subset of the above, offers opportunities for intuition and limited control, but lends itself more to a ‘parlor narration sytle game’ than anything else, and requires more than two participants for satisfactory results.
Wargames are horribly horribly overdone; D&D is a classic example of the modernized, streamlined, squad-level wargame presented as RPG.
Auctions and Bidding have potential, but auctions between two people are difficult, and I believe many current auction games suffer from lack of currency options. What do you get for saving your currency? The current incarnation of Shattered Vistas has this problem: the question is not ‘do I spend my points,’ but ‘how fast do I spend them?’
Action Point management has some potential. It’s present in its most basic form: in D&D (and many other games) you basically get 2 action points, and anything costs one or two points to do. Wushu’s at the other extreme: you have lots of actions, but only two options. The trick here is to up the AP number, and allow for more complicated choices. HOWEVER- I’m not sure how this can be used as a unified resoltuion mechanic. Its definetly part of a larger conflict method.
Resource Management: All RPGs have this. The question is how to maximize it and bring it to the foreground, and make it an active player hard choice.
Just some random, random thoughts.