Ed “Duke of BAzlandia”

It is that time for the weekly blog. This week we have some exciting news. We are adding one new member to the B.A. Games family (both literally and figuratively). We are being joined by Dave Stockton. For those of you who don’t know, Sam and I have 3 other brothers. Dave is one of them. This week we decided it would be good to just do something a little simple for the blog, and discuss a favorite mechanic or game and what that brings to the table.

My all time favorite mechanic is anything in a game that allows you to bargain or to negotiate. As a child this involved many wargames, with the making and breaking of alliances. It was probably why I loved wargames as a child (and I still do). A game that specifically has those elements, I thoroughly enjoy.

What negotiation brings to the table is possibilities and the possible. It opens the game to trade for in game goods or actions. It allows the player to assign value to each good or action. I may really need an action to be available, a certain good available on my turn, or want the board state to be set up a certain way. What is that worth to me? What is it worth to another player?

This mechanic can go too far. I think everyone has played that game of Monopoly with family where deals run rampant and the game plays for hours and hours. So it must be implemented within certain bounds, but when done right, it allows for freedom in a game that no other mechanic brings.

Dave “Fancy Name Here”

Hello everyone; I’m Dave, the newest member on the B.A. Games Team. I’d like to take a moment to introduce myself and talk about one of my favorite game mechanics: Drafting and Bidding! 

Board games and tabletop games have been a very consistent thing in my life. Whether it was watching my older brothers taping off a 4×4 square in the living room to play Warhammer before I could even read or as I began to play my first board games like Catan, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, and Kingsburg. I played “kitchen table” Magic: The Gathering (MtG) at the lunch table in high school and even got a job at a comic book/game store selling everything from D&D, comics, video games, MtG, Warhammer, and, most importantly, board games (I even met my wife as a co-worker at that store). Other than everything table-top, I spend my days building extravagant dynasties in the Crusader Kings series or burning the midnight oil toiling away in Path of Exile on my PC. I am a lover of ancient history, all kinds of music and watch enough anime to know not to count the number of series I’ve watched. I share a life with my anime loving, Animal Crossing-playing, cosmetology student, and wife Jessica, and 5 very odd, but exceptionally simple Blue Death Feigning Beetles.

Well now that’s out of the way, it’s time to get down to brass tacks! I love games that use drafting mechanics. I will play anything at least once if it has drafting. To clarify, I would consider bidding a more aggressive and direct form of drafting. I want to talk about a game that I bought at GenCon this year, that features drafting as a core mechanic, Furnace.

Many of you may recognize Furnace as it exploded on the scene at GenCon and for good reason. It has a striking art style, on the smaller end of board games (in terms of size), and who doesn’t love imagining their little factory humming along, as a beacon of Industrial power and the pinnacle of efficiency. Now in my opinion, the best element of Furnace is its ability to allow players to be competitive with bidding, but not necessarily outright bully each other. Furnace works by giving every player tokens labeled 1-4 with two rules to follow: two numbers of the same value may not be placed on the same factory and you may only have one token of your color on a factory. Players bid on factories on the trade row and after everyone has placed their tokens, winners will put that factory card in their engine and losers will get compensated for the amount stated on the card multiplied by the token value.

Furnace‘s system, although simple, solves a few problems that drafting/bidding systems have.The fact that players do not “purchase” or “buy” factories, really allows players that may be behind in score to not be penalized for being less than “optimal”. This, coupled with the fact that players receive compensation for just bidding on a factory, really makes the drafting process rewarding and encourages players to keep playing. Drafting can have the issue where the player that’s behind, stays behind. The player ahead, stays ahead. In the game Power Grid, this is very apparent. I love a good game of Power Grid but spending too much money on a power plant can hamstring you turn 1, that can make you lose out on more resources, power plants, and infrastructure in the subsequent turns. By using tokens that are NOT victory points, and where the highest value is 4, you never really feel like you “spent” too much or completely face planted. On a somewhat related note, the bidding in Furnace is straightforward and almost plays itself to an extent. If you need a specific factory, simply place the biggest number on it and it’s yours. The drafting is fairly quick, painless, and allows for a fair bit of competition without being tedious or frustrating. This fusion of bidding and drafting brings a lot of depth to the mind games between players but allows players to feel good about all the choices in front of them. All in all, I seriously enjoy what Furnace brings to the table and you should give it a try if you can.

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