Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

Under the Chestnut Tree: CLWG Aphorisms

Aphorism: "a pithy observation which contains a general truth"
Chestnut Tree

Aphorisms heard under the Chestnut Tree.

During the discussions CLWG members have about game design I hear some very wise comments. So I thought I would write them down.

I intend to come back and add to this post as it is a work in progress, and add newly minted aphorisms. In fact, I would like to invite other signed up editors to add new material.

Downsizing Game Rules

If you’re ignoring a rule, scrap it.

Playtesting Megagame

The first running of a megagame is the play test.

Playtesting the game engine

I just want to play test the game engine here. After that – when it is working and balances well – I can add different layers.

Generic Megagames

If published a megagame – rules, components etc. – and ran it twice, each time with a different set of players, each game would be different; because of the player, not because of the rules.

In Megagames Humans are the Components

[Megagames] “lift up a game from the table. Rather than spend the whole thing looking down at things you look up at all the different players…. the humans become the components…”

Shut Up & Sit Down Podcast #97: Meeting Your Shadow Self and Other Excitements – Discussion starts @ 43:00 minutes

Should you include sub-games?

If the main game team didn’t turn up, does the sub-game have enough to be a playable game on its own?

Single crisis games

If the crisis falls flat, doesn’t happen, or is solved early on in the game, what happens for the rest of the game? Is there enough of a game besides the crisis?

Steady state prior to your crisis state game start

What was happening in the years prior to the date your game starts? Is there enough of interest in those – non-crisis years.

The “So What Test”

So what do I actually do in the game? What is my role? The designer should be able to answer that for each and every player and be satisfied that the player can contribute to the main game narrative.

Preparing for peripheral players

A good designer often has extra player roles just in case extra players turn up.  Their roles should be meaningful in terms of being able to participate in the game narrative.

A good sub-game

Sub-games should place a premium on building outward looking teams, whose goals and resources should be spent outside their sub-game. For example in a historical game, if you have city states, these cities should be designed so that the players time and effort is spent thinking about the game outside their city.


Game Design Articles

VASEY, Charles. (1990?) Downsizing In Game Design Sumo []

WALLMAN, Jim. (2007) “It’s Only A Game”: Game Design Methodology”  []

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