May 2015

Mechanics Focus: Dexterity Games



The BoardGameGeek Glossary defines Dexterity Game this way: n. A game where the major skill needed is a physical action, such as flicking (Crokinole), balance (Topple), or deft manipulation (Jenga).

General Appeal

Many people of all ages enjoy dexterity games and since they generally require skills that are not necessarily acquired with age, people of all ages can usually enjoy them together. Usually the “smarter” adults can’t stomp on the younger players just because they have more gaming experience. In fact, young players often have the dexterity necessary that can deteriorate with age, so in a dexterity game they may have the upper hand, as it were.

A Nickel’s Worth of Game Play


Over the last few weeks I have come to the conclusion that playing a game 5 or more times has disproportionate significance in my distorted little world. First some background, though, before I can explain why.

Since I track my game plays on BoardGameGeek, it is easy and interesting for me to see which games meet those common gamer geek thresholds of nickels, dimes, and quarters (5, 10, and 25 plays). Of course, to do this, I also track my game collection. You can see what my game plays in 2014 were in my 2014 Review: Playin’ Games article.

All this tracking provides the, maybe regrettable, ability to see what games I have acquired and not played; what some call “The List” or “The Stack.” I might just be looking for excuses, but I think that “The List” for me is not horribly embarrassing – 11 games (excluding expansions – see, I am already looking for ways to make this look better), compared to my collection, 121 games (again excluding expansions) – right at 10%. Further justifying, I have had only 3 of those games in my collection since before Christmas 2014 (a notable benchmark since I received more games than I could play that day).

Game Makeover: Nines – Further Exploration

Design Workbench


With the Picky Packrats game essentially design-complete, I do not intend to dedicate much more time on the Nines game framework – at least for now. However, through the design process several other alternate uses of the framework came to mind that might be explored. Some of these mechanics seemed like great ideas, but were left out of the design for various reasons: They didn’t fit the original game of Nines and its target player, they added unnecessary complexity to a game that was intended to be dirt simple, or they didn’t fit the feel or theme of the game. I describe them here with a minimal amount of detail in part for posterity, but also in case one of them insists on my attention. Game design pieces conceived in the process of one game’s design process tend to find their way into other games. In fact, I describe a different game at the end that incorporates some of these lost ideas.

Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Round 7

Design Workbench

Design Objective

In the last round, I proposed some rules changes to address a couple issues that had come up in testing that, though rare in occurrence, were frustrating problems when they did occur. In this round I will discuss how I have addressed those issues and what appear to be some final refinements. We are nearing the end of this game’s design phase and are at a level of refinement that can only progress through hundreds of playtests by dozens of people.

Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Final Round

Design Workbench

Design Objective

A theme and a name.

As discussed in the early entries of doing these makeovers, I prefer to start a game design from a theme, but by their nature, these makeovers start with one or more mechanics. Finally, though, I am theming this game as the last improvement for this first stage of development.

Picky Packrats

In Picky Packrats you are packrats arranging the treasures you have collected in your middens (nests); adding treasures that you find by raiding the house or other packrat middens. You are very particular and want everything "just so." Unfortunately, packrats are forgetful, so you need to remind yourself of what treasures you have already packed away, while you try to arrange them in your midden to near perfection. When you really like where the treasures are, you can cement them into your midden. Once you or another packrat has cemented everything in your midden, you compare middens. The pickiest packrat; the one with the most organized midden, wins!