Building Moonflight

Talking to a game design colleague it became clear that the idea behind Moonflight was a good solid one, there needed to be a good, interesting background. My first instinct was to lean towards a slightly dark, mysterious, fantasy theme. There are several backgrounds that would fit this mechanic of building and then dismantling. A good choice would have been a modern heist theme where the deck represents a planning stage, which must be cleaned up before the authorities raid the location. However, a heist planning theme that denied players the chance to execute the heist would just come over as frustrating. I pictured some form of gypsy settlement needing to create itself from scratch repeate

Idea to Concept: Moonflight

I admire the simplicity of an elegant design idea, hopefully most games designers and developers do. The concept of a deck builder is extremely elegant. The act of building a deck is satisfying and includes action, engine and scoring in a single simple act. So it goes on the quite short list of ideas I wish I had been able to come up with. However, there are a few gaps in this very elegant design. One of the biggest is that just as players get their deck built the game tends to end, which can be quite unsatisfying. This is usually compounded by the scoring of deck builders which is based on counting through the built up deck in slightly fiddly fashion. Sadly most games which seek to remedy t

Urban Nights

Urban Nights is designed to allow multiple players to engage in a small playing area in relatively short time. It requires each player to have only three miniatures and to place a series of objectives. Game play then revolves around a largely non-directly confrontational interaction with the placed objectives. Player teams consist of a free runner, a graffiti artist and a vandal, which score points by variously jumping over, tagging or destroying objectives. 22/07/18 This game is now available to download for free as a PDF file from our Free Content page. Download here.

Pitch and Yaw

Pitch and Yaw is designed to simulate one simple fact, that ships at sea are a constantly shifting environment and unsecured debris or the sea itself are often more deadly than intentional combat. Pitch and Yaw simulates a boarding action combat between two sides in a quick enough match up to allow it to be replayed with both sides taking the role of defender and boarder. Aside from the deck and debris constantly shifting miniatures may lose their footing, especially if unbalanced by others, and combats near the edge of the deck may be decided more effectively by tripping an opponent than attacking with musket and cutlass.


Moonflight is based on a basic deck builder pattern but extended by the secondary concept of a "deck unbuilder". By valuing a player's hand rather than their deck during final scoring it opens up a secondary layer of play and speeds up final scoring.

Collecting SDJ: Part 2

Next I found Enchanted Forest (1982) which is an awful game, and paid £18 for it and two other games, Ghost Party and Spy Ring. Enchanted Forest is easily the worst of the three. Ironically, Spy Ring is actually pretty ok. It does mean that for £6 at best Enchanted Forest is one of my more expensive SDJ buys, for almost certainly the worst game. And I saw it a week later in another charity shop for £1. On the subject of charity shop pricing, this over pay for Enchanted Forest was my own fault, since I saw it in the stock room rather than a shelf and asked for a price. Most charity shops are fair and sensible but certain shops have started over pricing their games. I saw Scotland Yard in a ch

Pulsating Easter Eggs

SSO has a number of semi-hidden references throughout its artwork and flavour text. The whole feel is entrenched in film futurism from the '70s and '80s and retro futurism from the '90s onward, almost any film or TV show you care to think of is referenced. However there are several very specific references. I won't say the exact references since the fun is to find them but will state the source in each section (this does not contain spoilers, but those who wish to spot the references entirely unaided should stop reading now): Locations - Alien, Silent Running, 2001: A Space Odyssey (twice), Star Trek. Movement: Cowboy Bebop, the works of Philip K. Dick, Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Star Trek.

Collecting SDJ: One man's decent

Early in 2017 I decided to engage in the slightly fool quest of collecting the entire Spiel De Jahres based on the fact that I noticed I already had six. I've decided on two entirely arbitrary rules, one I will neither look up what the actually SDJ winners are nor buy them online (purely since otherwise the whole project could be over in a day). Two, I won't pay full price for anything more than five years old, for no specific reason. The six I already had were: Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective (1985) - which despite its flaws of pace and presentation I've always admired for its ambition and out of the box thinking. The somewhat related 221b Baker Street The Master Detective game was on

Chasing May

Language in games design regularly requires a specificity and accuracy alien to casual speech, made all the more onerous by the necessity of brevity to aid memorable retention. Also not aided by the tendency of some people to use words like onerous. Probably the worst ever word for games designers to use is 'may', may essentially means nothing, of course I may do that, but do I have to or can I choose to not? Knowing that, I've still chosen to make 'may' a central game term. I need statements on cards in SSO to be approached in four ways. 1) As things you just have to do and there are no other options; 2) as totally free options you can select to do partially or to any degree; 3) as somethin


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