All of them bad.
Long ago, completely cracked open the problems I was having with the first draft of Don't Rest Your Head by telling me, "take away all the narrative bits here and show me an interesting dice game." The narrative bits came back in after I'd solved that part of the puzzle, and the game ended up a lot better for it.
I feel like there's a bit of that in the economy that drives some of the games you think are being a bit handwavey, tho; the flow of fate points in Fate, for example, informs a certain tempo to the story that arises from the tension of that mechanic, etc.
So that's where I did the squintyfrown bit here and there while reading the post — but the main thrust is very much on point. I'd encourage folks to look especially to cooperative (and semicooperative) board/card games — Pandemic, Shadows Over Camelot, Forbidden Island etc — as places where board games most closely resemble the RPG ensemble/party dynamic, and thus likely a fruitful place for studying the sorts of mechanics that work to support that dynamic.
There's also an element where no matter the type of games, games exist (from on perspective) to provoke emotional reactions. As a game designer, any time you get an emotional reaction from playing a board game, slow down a moment and examine how the mechanics of the game triggered that emotion. Looking at how Shadows Over Camelot kept things feeling tense, right on that edge of winning or losing, for so much of the game, was a pretty big influence on me as I was thinking about how to make sure that Don't Rest Your Head felt plenty tense, too.
- Evil Hat ProductionsCo-President, 2004 - present
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