What makes a good game?

What makes a great game? Or makes a game great?

For me;

  • It’s fun. There are enjoyable aspects to it in playing, learning, the challenges, the interactions with the other players.
  • It doesn’t outstay its fun. There may be peaks and troughs but it’s fun through out, there is always something to see do, think about and not too much down time. A few older games suffer from playing till there is one person left.. Most modern games have a count down to the end, deck of cards, number of turns.
  • There are decisions. This is the failing of early games where there only decision was to roll the dice with your left or right hand. πŸ™‚ The right amount of decisions leading to tactics / strategy is going to be a personal thing and also vary on mood etc but there should always be a moment where you genuinely have to stop and pick between 2 or 3 good or even 2 or 3 bad options.
  • It gets played, there are many lovely games but they don’t hit the table, length, theme, player count or teaching time. They are many good games which don’t get played.
  • It’s intriguing. You want to play it again, you want to talk about.
  • It brings something new or does something better. I love learning new games, decoding them finding the thing which not only makes you do well but also what is is about the game which makes it clever make it difference, makes it stand out. There is normally something in the games thats is the magic sauce.

    Dune imperium linking the locations you play to the cards (Also letting you buy multiple cards.)

    Eminent domain splitting the main role cards from the tech, carrying cards over, and letting you follow or not on other peoples turns.

    I’ve done two deck building examples as I have a love hate relationship with them.

    There is also something magical about OK Play, it is so so simple. You want to play again.
  • Downtime. Is there a lot of waiting, this is similar to out staying its fun.

These are my extra requirements? Not all of them need to apply but all my great games have most of them

  • Its an experience /s memorable, You want to talk about, you recall the great betrayal in Game of Thrones or Twilight Imperium, The time some grabbed Rex on Turn one. The ridiculous last stand of the lone soldier.
  • It tells a story. I love thematic games where there is an emergent story, (Some of the best ones are app based and that is where apps shine for example Forgotten waters. Some of these are dark and depressing for example This war of Mine.
  • It’s beautiful. I am sucker for good art, it adds to the theme, you can look for the little details.
    Scythe is full of easter eggs.
  • It thematically makes sense. I tend to perfer games with a logical theme where you can imagine yourself doing it and you can even pick actions thematically rather than doing the perfect maths.
    I also adore nature themes and doubley so games which recreate an eco system (Meadow, Evolution etc)
  • How easy is to play / set up / learn? Plastic insert and organiser up the cost either before or after but can make a game alot less daunting to get out set up and play and teach.
  • Personally a game has to be the right type, the right about confrontational, bluffing, attacking, amount of luck, randomness player interactions, but I don’t think I have a hard rule on this.


    There is not one answer it’s a magic mix of all of the above i think.

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