Home Forums General Game Design How do you feel about new game mechanics? Reply To: How do you feel about new game mechanics?


If the game works, the mechanics are coherent and capture dynamics that I haven’t seen before, then I will like them… and I don’t do well with complex games…

I think there are two measures of if a game “works”. The first is if it functions. The second is if it meets your desires as a player. Function can be determined pretty easily but number two is entirely subjective because players are diverse, fickle and choosy – I know that I am.

In my opinion most designers set out to create a game that captures dynamics they haven’t found in existing sets they’ve played, they want to make something that is somehow unique because otherwise they’d just play an existing set and not design anything at all.

My ultimate goal with ESR was to design a game that brought facets typically only seen in complex rules to a system that was simple and straight forward. While I don’t like the term “fast play” and I don’t think the label “simulation” is a good way to describe complex rules, I suppose you could say I wanted to create a “fast play simulation”.

I’m looking forward to your wargame too.

If the rules are simple, easy to grasp, then the ‘new’ will be easier to accept. If the new offers things that gamers want more of or haven’t been offered before, then there will be more reasons to ‘take a risk’ and spend good money on an ‘unknown.’

Thanks, I’m excited that it is finally becoming “a real thing.” While Bob and I don’t seem to get along, and while we seem to think of a lot of things completely differently, I will say his criteria and mine for “success” in designing rules are very similar. For the last couple years as ESR has moved towards release I’ve been telling my friends that I have no expectation of making any money, rather ultimate success would be seeing that some random stranger is running a game at a store or convention or whatever using the thing I made – that would be a real thrill.

While I would have been fairly satisfied playing a “simulation” type of game, in my neck of the woods I would have no one to play with. So I set out to create a game that would satisfy my “simulation” style tastes while being approachable by the “fast play, beer & pretzels” wargamers that I generally play with. I think this has resulted in some unique combinations where there are battalions represented on the tabletop but there is no micromanagement of them. Where divisions must transition from a ployed column to a deployed line of battle but do so with a simplistic mechanic: roll 2D6, maybe apply a couple modifiers and the result tells you how many battalions transition out of the column into the battle line. This results in larger divisions deploying slower than smaller divisions among other things. And it means that players have to deal with divisions that march onto the battlefield not being ready immediately – a real problem, once Morand arrived at Eylau it was still a good hour or more before he was deployed for battle and able to attack.

In most games players don’t like messing with things like divisional deployment because games that include it often have complex mechanics. Having to deploy is kinda painful, it takes time, you’re vulnerable, there’s a lot of downsides. I think players are OK with all that because it represents a real aspect of the battlefield that’s important to include but if the mechanic is also difficult or complex then the player is really disincentivized. My hope is that I made deployment so straight forward and easy that players find it comfortable and approachable.

I can tell you how I feel about playing or worse purchasing a game that claims to be something revolutionary or offering new experiences only to find that they use ‘pips’ instead of command points or ‘elan’ instead of combat strength points and the rest is very familiar.  I hate it. I feel suckered and certainly don’t enjoy playing ‘same old, same old’ when I already have that game with different names for the mechanics.  But I am ever hopeful.

I hear ya there. I think anything ESR offers that is “new” is really evolutionary. New takes on and implementations of familiar ideas. On the website I’ve got quotes from players and some of them have expressed views like “ESR is new and revolutionary” because that’s what they’ve said so I think it is fair to repeat. My own opinion as the designer is that ESR is pretty unique but nothing since fire is truly new. I tried to keep the procedures pretty familiar so in my opinion whatever might be revolutionary about it is the combination of “advanced mechanics” with “simple procedures”. Hopefully people find it easy to play and like the inclusion of aspects that are normally left out of easy-to-play games.

Something I tried very hard to avoid was not to either 1) use a common term for something different or 2) introduce a new term for a common concept. That is pretty subjective so who knows if I succeeded, but it was my intent not to further muddy the waters. My local group ends up hacking over how one game calls opportunity fire pass-through fire but a different game uses the term pass-through fire for bounce-through… “oh wait which game are we playing and what does the term mean in this one?” So I tried to avoid that as best I could. I think it contributes to players finding ESR easy to approach and learn since they’ll hear a term and hopefully have a pretty good idea what it means.

Anyways, it is late, I’m rambling, and this post is longer than I’d intended.


The Bandit