I'm looking for some good books/resources on board game design
January 9, 2013 12:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking more involved, euro style board games. I'm curious to read more about designing mechanics, balancing, etc. Are there any good books (or manifestos online) on this?
posted by wooh to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
If you haven't looked at Art of game design yet I'd recommend you take a look. Haven't gone through the whole thing, but with the accompanying "lenses cards" it seems a productive approach — actual game makers here might give more informed opinion…
posted by monocultured at 1:41 AM on January 9, 2013

I don't know where you're located, but if you're in Europe, the place to be next month is the Spielwarenmesse in Neurenberg. This is the place where all new board games are presented to potential manufacturers. I've been there some years ago and it is a great place to meet board game designers, buyers and aficionados. It's all very informal and easy to get in touch with all parties.

(and good God, if you go, make sure you get an invitation for the Carrera Slot Racing Booth. Girls in bikinis hand you drink after drink while they show you how to win the race on the biggest toy race track you've ever seen)
posted by ouke at 2:32 AM on January 9, 2013

The geek has a wonderful series called Designer Diaries, wherein game designers outline the process of game development from conception to construction. It may not be as technical as you are looking for regarding balance and mechanics, but I'm sure it would still be a good resource for you.
posted by Think_Long at 6:04 AM on January 9, 2013

Oooo! Ooooo! (raises hand and waves it frantically) Pick me!


Flames Rising has a review here. Chock full of board game design instruction from the likes of Richard Garfield (Magic: the Gathering, Robo Rally), Steve Jackson (Ogre, Revolution, Munchkin, and the awesomeness that is Steve Jackson Games), Mike Selinker (Betrayal at the House on the Hill), Dale Yu (he was part of the Dominion development team), Andrew Looney (Fluxx), and James Ernest (Cheap-Ass Games, Kill Dr. Lucky), among others.

The reason I bought the book was to get my hands on the chapter written by Dave Howell (co-writer for The Primal Order and former production manager for M:tG). Dave has an unpublished manuscript "The Golden Guidelines of Game Design" which is the most brilliant and profound piece I've ever seen on the subject. He's condensed part of his manuscript into the chapter "Stealing the Fun" in this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the topic.

You want this. TRUST ME. You WANT this!
posted by magstheaxe at 6:27 AM on January 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

Have you tried joining a play test group? It's where designers test out games and can give you good insight into the iterative process. Monsieur_lamb is a designer and he playtests with a couple of local groups that include pros and amateurs - there is much analysis and discussion of mechanics etc.

Some might expect you to bring a game of your own but often you can just turn up. Check out Meetup (or the geek) for any in your area, but failing that you could ask around at regular gaming nights.
posted by freya_lamb at 6:27 AM on January 9, 2013

Seconding The Art of Game Design: A book of lenses. I read it based on a recommendation from a friend of mine whose field is game design, and it was wonderful.
posted by 168 at 6:34 AM on January 9, 2013

Response by poster: Wow. Was not expecting all of these phenomenal responses. Checking it all out. Yesss

I am actually moving to Europe, but Spielwarenmesse sounds intimidating. I'd rather have a little more of an intellectual base. Next year!

And I just found out that my new game store in Stockholm will have playtesting nights, which rules.

Thanks for the amazing responses. I welcome any more or any +1's. thus far haven't seen a dud.
posted by wooh at 9:10 AM on January 9, 2013

Stockholm?! Hello :) Please to come and play with us.
Drop me a mefimail if you would like to get your game on.
posted by Iteki at 9:58 AM on January 9, 2013

with the accompanying "lenses cards" it seems a productive approach

Just to be clear, the lens cards are sold separately.
posted by alms at 7:48 AM on January 10, 2013

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