Friday, December 02, 2005

I am working toward the elusive "one hour wargame", and Euro/wargame crosses in general. My games tend to be longer than an hour, however (they are usually multiplayer), so I've made a list of techniques to reduce the length of a game. There is not much exposition here, but I thought you might be interested, and might think of additional methods:

Limit to two players

"Time" limit
Actual Time
Turns/hands (is a natural for some historical games)
Expenditure of something (such as a deck of cards)
Play to a certain number of points

Simultaneous action. (reduce the time it takes to do something)
Simultaneous plays (or nearly so)
Real-time (anyone acts anytime)
(The "norm" is turns)

Reduce the number of pieces the player must manipulate/keep track of/plan for
In some race games, each player has only one piece
In most card games players have few "pieces" (the cards)
Traditional games often have few pieces (12 each in checkers, max 5 in Tic-Tac-Toe)

Multiple victory conditions--if you can win more than one way, the victory may come more quickly

Avoid the need to write anything down or calculate anything

Avoid the need for any record-keeping outside of the pieces/board/cards themselves

Resolve any conflict quickly (no interminable dice rolling, for example)(no calculations required)

Limit the time spent managing resources (economy--way to acquire new pieces)--which may mean, have no economy

Information: either make much of the information available so that players won't have to wonder/ponder what's going on, or make almost no information available so the player cannot profitably use information to make an analysis
In many card games, little information is available
The same can be said for many role-playing games

How to reduce "analysis paralysis? Even games with fairly simple rules (chess) can profitably be analyzed for long periods. I'm not sure what you can do about this, nor am I certain that you need to--"analysis paralysis" is practically a personality trait that tends to show up regardless of the game, unless it is dominated by chance.

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