Chestnut Lodge Wargames Group

Under the Chestnut Tree: CLWG Aphorisms

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

I often hear CLWG members make very wise comments about game design. I thought it would be a good idea to write these aphorisms down.

I will update this post as new ones are heard. Please send me any suggestions.

Online Games Cannot be Winged

The unfortunate admission that often times experienced Controls have been known to “wing it” when running games, sometimes even Megagames. But you cannot expect to get away with it for online multiplayer games.

Write it on a card

“But you can write that on a card” – As a response to a detailed suggestion about how to have a mechanism for a cultural / political / military event.

Chestnut 101: Obscure battles

A typcial Chestnut thing, a CLWG 101 is doing games on obscure battles no one has heard of that quite significant really.

Downsizing Game Rules

If you’re ignoring a rule, scrap it.

It’s not a real CLWG game if you haven’t made-up a rule whilst playing

Does exactly what it says on the tin. Rules are made up as required, it’s the norm.

Playtesting Megagame

The first run 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 – I can add the different layers.

Generic Megagames

If you 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 players, 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?

Chestnut Tree

Aphorisms heard under the Chestnut Tree.

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.

You’re Still Muted

Very much the sound of 2020 and the club’s first effort and managing to play online.

Game Design Articles

Hunicke, Robin., Leblanc, Marc., and Zubek, Robert. (2000) MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research [Hunicke-LeBlanc-Zubek-2000-MDA]

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

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

Written by
Posts: 31

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.