I need your wisdom, great gaming guru.

My goal with this game has always been to create an experience that people can’t help but swoon over. Over the past year, I’ve done a brain-shattering amount of research on what players love and hate about games. I’ve watched hundreds of video reviews and walkthroughs from folks like Rahdo Runs Through, The Dice Tower, Undead Viking, and Board Game Brawl, for starters. I’ve hopped into forums on Reddit and of course, the all-powerful Board Game Geek. From this data and a lifetime of gaming, I made this dream list of things I hope to bring to the gaming table with Epoch : The Travelers’ Age.

By no means can I promise that all of these things will be perfect, but I’ve spent countless hours iterating, changing, removing, crying, and adding mechanics and elements to make sure that in the end, the game is more than beautiful — it’s exciting and creates a sense of wonder. “Mechanics” might not be the right word based on your description, but these are ten mechanics / concepts / elements that I think have the potential to make it worthy of your game shelf:

  1.  Dynamic Game Board (Map)
    1. The game board uses 20 randomized map tiles, so it’s completely different every single time it’s played
    2. The map tiles start face-down, and players “discover” and use them independently, allowing areas of the map to remain hidden until revealed by player actions
  2. Unlocked Abilities
    1. Players get to “unlock” each action before it’s used, so they’re constantly gaining abilities that other players can’t use yet
  3. Independent Player Actions
    1. Players don’t choose from a static list of actions–they position themselves to take actions based on where they are, and players cannot occupy the same location
  4. Player-Controlled Movement
    1. No dice are used to move — players start with a base speed, and can increase it manually by taking actions that do so
    2. Apart from base speed, players in Epoch can charge and make use of a magical stone to teleport
  5. No Play Phases
    1. Players can choose to perform movements and actions freely on their turn — they don’t have to follow rigid order or structure
    2. All of the decisions in Epoch are freeform and organic, allowing players to change how their character story progresses and do things in the order that makes the most sense to them
  6. Fast-Moving Tempo
    1. Gah! I can’t promise that your group won’t have AP-prone players (analysis paralysis), but generally speaking, this game is designed to move quickly from player to player
    2. Having too many choices creates delays for players who must always weigh every option; Epoch is designed to work against this by giving players a limited but balanced grouping of choices that have short-term and long-term payoffs
  7.  Combinations
    1. Epoch uses a variety of action concepts to gain advantages, many of which can be used in combination to yield greater honor, faster results, more resources, and other things that make players giddy
    2. Combinations are optional — they’re there for players who enjoy setting them up and then setting them off — booooom!
  8. Minimal Luck, High Strategy & Tactics
    1. At every point in this game, players choose to put themselves in position for the benefits and consequences that follow
    2. There are no luck rolls in Epoch with one exception — rolling for loot — and the results are either awesome, or awesomer!
  9. No Wasted Turns
    1. No promises here because I can’t possibly play-test every possible situation, but the game is designed in such a way that every turn has an obvious and easy-to-recognize way to be immediately productive
    2. Of course, some turns will be *more* useful than others, but I hate it when I have nothing to do on my turn in a game, and that shouldn’t happen in Epoch
  10. Adaptive Game Play
    1. Although Epoch is almost entirely independent play, I’ve introduced a game concept called “Treachery” which allows players to directly influence other players’ actions, forcing them to adapt; players can also change community resources, foiling the plans of others!
    2. Unlike some games, in Epoch, a player cannot completely ruin another player’s experience — they can merely be that annoying pest that disrupts timing and forces them to be agile and adaptive to what they never saw coming!

So with all of that said, are there any here that make your top 3 list? Are there any things *not* on this list that are really important to you? Please take a second to share them. I’m not the fastest but I promise to read your comments and reply to them. Thanks in advance.


Marc Neidlinger

Marc loves killing monsters and chasing his two faerie princess daughters. He’s the creator and graphic designer of Epoch: The Travelers’ Age tabletop board game. At his day job, Marc is creative director at Blue Blazes, a brand-focused design house in Vancouver, WA. He lives to create memorable experiences for clients, building more compelling brands that will stir the hearts of those who get to watch it unfold.

One comment on “10 Game Mechanics Worthy of Your Awesomeness

  1. Hey Marc,

    This is a healthy list of game mechanics, of which most appeal to me. The ones that really jump out are “Dynamic Game Board (Map)”, “Unlocked Abilities” and “Fast-Moving Tempo” and I’ll tell you why. Replayability aside, I love the idea of exploration and a board/map that generates this kind of mystery from the start. The unlocking of abilities and fast-moving tempo I like as they allow players to get started asap, build up their strengths over time and keep the players from focusing on developing/utilising their characters abilities as the other players take turns.

    This latter is important to me as I’ve played games in the past that were so heavy in AP-inducing options, that I did nothing but focus on my own tableau thus missing a lot of what was going on in other players’ turns. In the worst case the game becomes simply a collective of individuals, each minding their own business. That seriously detracts from the interpersonal game fun, I think.

    The introduction of Treachery is a nice touch in keeping players connected as well.

    Things that I would have also put on my list are a logical “marriage” of theme and mechanics – a balance that is often overlooked and intuitively speaks to players when it is part of the game. Also – from a storytelling perspective – I find that a balanced trifecta of ‘plot’, ‘actors’ and ‘world’ (or event, character and location) can be useful, whether or not the game contains a narrative. And three final gems of game mechanics that will win me over every time are: choose-your-own-adventure story blurbs (little bits of narrative and game effects that result from a deliberate choice the player has to make), learn-as-you-go-rules (start with 1 or 2 rules and learn more during the evolution of the game) and “Legacy” formats (the boards, cards, tokens are modified permanently for future games).

    Anyhoo, my 2 cents (or tokens).

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