In today's designer journal I want to talk about my thoughts on board game organizers, and how I have tried to work around the need for such things in Rogue Angels, despite the game being an epic campaign crawler type of experience.
This is not going to be a rant against organizers or those who fancy them. When I pushed Rogue Angels further into development, it became clear for me that I wanted to create a game that could be easily handled without the support of third-party applications. This goal inspired several design choices, which I will try to unwrap here.
I hope you will enjoy the read :)
Pros And Cons
Like so many others, I have some mild OCD, meaning I like to break things down to the lowest denominator, I like to create lines in my layout, avoid pixel mistakes, use even numbers, walk among lines etc. so I feel prone to organizing in general. Organizers can undoubtedly improve a game experience and there are many reasons for that.
I cannot deny the satisfaction of using organizers, but I will try to address the rest of the pros via my design choices.
A Simple Flow
There are many more reasons for wanting a simple flow in your game. The simpler your game is to operate, the more time and mental energy gamers have in surplus to enjoy your game with.
For Rogue Angels I decided to let the game space, components, and rules revolve around the cooldown mechanic (which I dive into in detail here). With your character sheet in front of you, you are all set as the layout tells you were to put the elements.
While you do get more cards (like weapons/equipment) during the campaign, you are only allowed to bring a limited number of cards to each mission, avoiding a large play/storage area.
Another point worth noting, is that the game play is not interrupted by having to look through a lot of categorized cards, other booklets, or tile sets. The flow of the game is solely between the campaign book and the manifestation on the maps (see my previous post about game overview here).
As a gamer and designer, I understand the urge to put more stuff in your campaign game. However, there is certainly also something to be said about simplicity in large game experiences. Just because a game is epic or long, does not mean it should be littered with pieces. For Rogue Angels I try to keep component count and utility consistent.
- In practice this means that whenever you are looting a crate, you get access to 4 cards. You might not be allowed to take them all, but they come in packs of 4. The enemies come in packs of 4, tiles in packs of 4 etc.
I also try to reuse all components in different settings, to reduce the overall number of components needed. By mixing behaviors and context, enemies can be utilized several times and still feel different/new. The hacking system of Rogue Angels also works for other RPG and play elements like searching, communication, and gambling.
By providing cleaner rules on different effects, like when you get damaged, and simpler ways of tracking enemy health, players avoid having to put "effect tokens" or "markers" everywhere.
I am in general not a fan of long upkeep phases in games. I therefore designed Rogue Angels to have no upkeep between missions, making it much easier to put down between plays, and completely negate the need for an organizer to keep anything in place while taking a break from the adventures.
- In practice the only "permanence" to carry over between missions are stickers placed on action cards, and whiteboard marks put on personalities, relationships, and legacy dots (all resettable from the get-go). All of these components are placed in the character's own envelope.
Even a table bump during play is most likely not going to cause a headache.
Setup and Takedown
The last thing I want to touch upon in this post is the setup and takedown of Rogue Angels. Having a wife, two kids, plenty of career dreams, family, and friends to share my time with, I, like many board gamers, have little spare time for actually playing games.
I always writhe a bit in discomfort when it is stated that a game "only takes 45 minutes to set up the first time, after that it can be done in 20." I mean, really? 20 minutes, only if you have practiced? Or if a game "only shines if you can leave it for a few days on the table". If my enjoyment of a game is significantly higher after spending $50 on organizers to lower the administration of it, I personally feel the game is somewhat lacking.
With that and other parents in mind, I wanted to provide a quick save and load solution for Rogue Angels. Something that would in general make it easier to bring the game to the table.
- In practice this means that I have created a ship box within the game box for easy storage of the players' individual and shared components. This allows everything to be stored and retrieved quickly in between plays. And with nothing to worry about in terms of upkeep.
I have nothing against organizers, but if you feel inclined to buy one after having played Rogue Angels, I have failed ;)
A big thank you for reading my thoughts :)
Now I would like to hear what you think about my approach to organizers and/or game upkeep. What have other games done in this regard? What do you think works and why?
If you want to try Rogue Angels - check out the TTS here.
Thank you for your continued interest :)
Best regards Emil