January 25, 2013

Searching the Depths: Strategy, Tactics, and the Deception of Complexity

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Ah, this was a fun - but tricky - post!  The thinking I developed here has carried with me well on my design endeavors as I try to accentuate and emphasize the strategic depth of a design without adding unjustified complexity.  It also clarifies, for me at least, some of the key distinctions between strategy and tactics and how those relate to goals and shaping the decision space of a game.  Enjoy! (July 3, 2014)

Gamers often discuss the concept of depth - and along with it strategy, tactics, and complexity - with a great deal of fervor. I am guilty as charged. For a while now, have been ruminating on the nature of depth and I how I have come to understand it. I’m driven by an interest in putting my thumb on what qualities in games tend to relate to depth; how our understanding of depth applies differentially to the concepts of strategy and tactics; and how the idea of uncertainty and complexity plays into the greater discourse on depth.

Earlier in my investigation of depth, I asked a few questions in this thread, and received many insightful replies. I will be quoting and referencing a number of the responses in the course of this blog post. But, I believe I’ve arrived at a point where I can put forth some basic hypotheses that summarize my thinking on the matter. And as with all my blog posts, this is merely the start of a new thread of inquiry - I’m interested to hear your reactions and how you may have been, or continue to be, searching for depth yourself.

January 8, 2013

My Collection After the End-of-the-World Didn’t Happen

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I’ve done a bit more speculation over the nature and make-up of my collection, following from my prior blog post (Collection Recollection). In particular, I was interested in sorting out all of my games into more-or-less discrete buckets building off the gestalt method described in the prior post. That is, to think about how different games can be classified in a way that’s easily understood from the context of “choosing what to play” based on what the gaming group “is in the mood for.”

Here’s the breakdown with descriptions in some arbitrarily logical order. Note that the categories also consider the importance of weight, as a function of rule complexity, strategic depth, time, or any combination thereof. I was also curious to split up my collection between what might be considered more mainstream (i.e. can you find it on the shelf of a big box store?) versus what is more in the “hobby” side of the line.