CONTEXTThis game was made as part of a graduate research project in the Design Media Arts department. 2009.
CREDITSDavid Elliott : Game Designer
Players can use their turn to build up their own territory or to take over one of their opponent’s territory. If you take over another players tower you take over their points, but if you knock over a tower you lose the game even if it’s not your turn. Tall towers become a liability to everyone. Two players competing for a tower are subject to the scrutiny of the other players. Aggression towards another player is subject to the scrutiny of the other players. A piece is horizontally next to another piece only from a top down perspective. If a piece looks like it’s next to another from above it doesn’t matter if there is a great difference in height.
The core mechanic of the game is very simple. There are two shapes of blocks that come in a different color for each player. To take part in the game you only need to concentrate on the act of stacking blocks and building structures from them. It’s pleasing to stack blocks in any form that you want and players often find themselves anxious to make a move before it’s their turn. The deeper pleasure in the game only comes in towards the middle of the game play. When two or more players construction plans reach a point of intersection. Once the board gets a little more crowded the game transforms from personal expression to social interaction. Interestingly, once players are forced into conflict and reconciliation with one another, personalities become as much of a deciding factor as building strategies do.
There is a tendency for each player to either engage with one other player or to try to avoid all other players for the entire game. This has a result that many four player games are actually two separate duels being played on the same board. After the dominant player attacks one of his nearest neighbors, the other two players decide to either engage with each other or to avoid all other players or keep to them selves. Again this is not always, but often the case.
Other times there is an equal engagement with all players. This results in a very uneven distribution of the pieces on the board, because as soon as each player reaches an intersection of the group structure, every successive move is dedicated to topping the group structure. The symptom of this dynamic is a single tower somewhere near the center of the board with all four players placing their pieces somewhere near the top of the tower every turn. This is the shortest possible game because the tower becomes unstable so quickly. There is an inverse relationship between the level of engagement between all the players and the distribution of pieces on the board, which suggests that an ideal strategy would be horizontal expansion with minimal engagement with the other players.