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Tinkering With Mechanics

When intellectuals get hold of anything, they break it apart to see what makes it work and then proceed to spend an excruciating amount of time trying to figure out how to put it back together again. This rule applies to computers, engines, the universe, and games!

Magic: The Gathering

This may seem like a tangent, but Magic: The Gathering are about to release the new Zendikar block. The Zendikari and Eldrazi are warring factions that are well known for building decks that review the rules of the game, put them through a woodchipper and then start designing mechanics based on the resultant confetti. The Zendikar turn land into monsters because they seem to think it’s funny, and when they run out of land they’ll get more of it out and trigger a cascade of weird effects. Eldrazi look at the colour system and destroy it along with your dreams, your deck, and any thoughts you’d had about a fun game.

Magic is a great game to play around with. There are some amazingly varied play styles and means of building decks: Five point star, Commander, Arch Enemy, Pauper, Draft. On top of the battery of mechanics and deck types the game has such versatility that it seems impossible to create anything new for it, right?

Unless of course you change the very basics of the colour wheel system. That’d shake things up. Maybe someone like Magic Set Editor could set that up so we could start bouncing ideas around.


On the subject of Wizards of the Coast, I’ve been looking at the Dungeon Master’s Guide for 5th edition again lately and I’m thinking of some new ideas. There is an entire section in the book dedicated to making up rules, including taking it to a different genre altogether! It slipped my notice initially, but last month they released a mini-ruleset for urban wizards, clerics and warlocks.

In an upcoming game, I plan to use the classic family game Kerplunk as a means of measuring individual and party sanity (as marbles are lost… well they lose their marbles… it’s an idiom, shut up!). It’ll work, but you’d be surprised at how much time one can commit to thoughts like:

  • What should trigger the pulling of a pin?
  • How does the loss of marbles influence the characters numerically?
  • If one player has particularly bad fortune, do I take control of their character?
  • How many marbles in relation to how many players?
  • What happens when they’re all gone?

What seems like a simple idea can rapidly spiral out of control. While it’s more than possible to over-think these things into oblivion, more often than not you may find that you’ve planned yourself into a deep hole, and the best solution was much further up.

Computer Game Engines

We’ve discussed modding before so I shall only mention it briefly.

Skyrim Thomas the Tank

When you play with gaming engines fun things can happen. While I enjoy playing computer games “as intended” I love watching the modding community flocking to games and ripping them apart like a new present. Typical really, you give a geek a present and he/she spends hours turning into what he/she wanted in the first place…

Of late I’ve been back to bouncing ideas around about a game I could make (with a great deal of help of course) that could blend elements of story and mechanics, how one translates into the other and vice versa, and how narratives can be woven together in terms of flowing storyline and gameplay that is both continuous, and different.

Anyway, enough!

I’m tired, I’m rambling, and I’m the only one in here who can stop me.

So tell me, what have you pulled apart recently, only to rebuild it stronger, better? And how would you implement Kerplunk based sanity at the tabletop? Join the discussion in the comments down below, or on our Facebook page.


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