"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tactics & Strategy in Game Design

I couldn't have said it better myself so I won't even bother.

Here is an essay on Tactics & Strategy in Game Design that does an excellent job of explaining some of the things I love about the way B/X is designed.

I have said a bunch of times on this blog that as one goes farther back towards the origins of the game the closer it resembles and plays like a wargame. It is many of these tactical and strategic elements that make me love B/X. And it is these elements that I discussed in my post Feedback From Some Former Northern Marches Players

Tactical Elements of B/X:
1. Resource Management - "One of the bedrock concepts of tactical play is to make the most gain with the least expenditure." This is key with the low power level of B/X characters.

2. Dissimilar Assets - "Combining Dissimilar Assets into a functional and dangerous whole takes skill and knowledge." Fighters are different from Magic-users and different from Clerics.

3. Maneuver - "Maneuver is getting the right resources into the right position at the right time in order to maximize your chance of success." Amen! Ask questions and investigate!

I found this essay through the interesting Whitehall ParaIndustries blog.


  1. I'm not sure I'd agree that the B/X or BECMI editions have strong wargaming elements left in them.

    The Mentzer edition includes this text on the cover:

    "This game requires no gameboard because the action takes place in the player's imagination with dungeon adventures that include monsters, treasures and magic. Ideal for 3 or more beginning to intermediate players, ages 10 and up."

    While OD&D was (partly) based on rules for miniature wargames, the game seems to have been cross-polinated with a non-minis style that coincides with the popularity of other types of Adventure Game books, like Choose Your Own Adventures. In fact the Mentzer edition Basic rules actually include a choose your own adventure style solo adventure to introduce new players to the game.

    Many people who got into D&D with the basic sets didn't include minis or a wargaming type approach to their games. :)

  2. B/X is 99% the same as OD&D. And while minis were not required (and I never used them) the philosophies and sensibilities of B/X have a lot in common with wargames.