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Everybody All at Once

by Darrell Hardy, 2013-07-01 22:45

Photo by Trupastilla

As a game designer, I am totally digging Steel Dragons' linked-screen technology. By using a central tablet as the board, and letting the players use their own phones (or tablets, or laptops, or whatever) as their own personal play-spaces, you can do things that don't always work so well with physical board games -- like simultaneous turns.

The idea of simultaneous turns is fantastic: Players don't take their turns in order, but all go at the same time! In other words, they don't take turns when taking their turns.

The downside of simultaneous turns in traditional board games is that it can feel like playing Twister, as the players reach around each other's arms to draw cards from the same deck or move their pieces on the board. It gets even crazier if, while you're doing your own turn, you have to keep an eye on your opponents to see what they're doing with their turns.

That's where the advantage of being a digital board game comes in. The players can all grab cards, shove tokens, roll dice, and do whatever they need to do without getting tangled up.

But the real benefit of simultaneous turns is the way it minimizes downtime. Think about it: If a game turn takes two minutes for each player, and you've got four opponents at the table, it can be up to eight minutes between each of your turns. That's time enough to go make a sandwich!

Now imagine the same game, but with simultaneous turns. While you're taking two minutes on your turn, so is everyone else. By the time you're done, so are the rest of the players, and the next round can begin. What's more, less downtime between turns means shorter games over all. A game that used to take two hours could be done in 30 minutes!

And that leaves you with plenty more time for making sandwiches!

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