Pace Yourself

 

In any lesson, pace is one of the biggest issues for early teachers. Starting with high engagement, allowing time for deep thinking, changing things up when students are flagging, keeping a sense of progression going- it takes a good few years to get a natural sense of what your pace should be to enable these things. However, this isn’t a blog about teaching (although how we teach games is intrinsically important), this is a blog about boardgames and boardgame design. So what has pace got to do with boardgames?

Answer: everything.

Ironically faster than certain Euros

At a simplistic level I feel these three questions reveal the pace of a game:

  1. Does the game induce massive amounts of downtime?
  2. Is a player’s turn clearly structured?
  3. Is there a natural sense of build up and progression toward the end game?

There are more things which affect the pace of the game (any amount of negotiation or bidding), and clearly the people we play with will have a huge impact, along with they style of the game, but any designer needs to consider their game’s pace and what they’d like it to be. When playtesting games it’s usually clear when players are flagging, or repeating actions. We’ve all played and playtested games where it becomes clear the ’10 minute first round’ has no sense of when it should have shuffled off to make room for the second round; or the final round is identical to the second round; or every new card revealed needs a 10 minute break to decipher what it’s trying to tell us. Or the game suddenly ends oh well. Whilst I don’t think anybody can say exactly what makes a game fun, we can say a poor pace stops it being fun. My next few posts will be on what I’ve done to consider each of those when designing games, but if anybody has any thoughts or comments let me know! Especially if my three questions are ridiculously oversimplified.

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