A true masterpiece is never done.
You´ve thought up a theme, created a rules section to explain and comment on the mechanics and basically done everything to "make a game" so to speak. But there are, of course, as always, still things missing.
You see, for our example game, C.O., we aren´t simply done because we have created rules. The next step, which is an important one toget to the prototyping-stage, is when we create the different materials making up our game. That is, counters, cards, game boards and play-aids.
This gives us 4 steps we have to go through. Which you start with depends very much on the way you work best but, and this is a big BUT, they are all connected and as such you should put a lot of thought into what you put and what you don´t put into your game mechanics by way of additional materials.
You see, let´s say I establish a certain type of event that can happen while creating the event cards that players are to draw and I notice the fact that I have now created something which has neither representation in the rules nor as a counter on the board.
Never forget rule Nr.6!
If it´s not in the rules, it doesn´t exist!
So we suddenly have to rewrite our rules to accomodate for this new thing, while also making additional counters. This increases the general number of counters and therefore makes our game both more complex and less attractive to the mass market, because sthere is a big difference in increased complexity and making a game more complicated.
The latter is bad, while the former, if done right, can make a game truly brilliant. You see, Chess is a very simple game, but it´s complexity in the way of playing against others is very big, but due to it´s simplistic nature, it, as a game, is also not a very complicated one.
On the other hand, Axis & Allies is both complex, because of the very nature of these games no two games will ever go the same way, while still being rather complicated for many.
And it goes further with games, like the eponymous Down with the Empire I spoke on this blog about. A game of incredible complexity, but also of mind-numbing and often incredibad mechanisms leading to complications in the game which lead to further rules studying and questions about the game itself.
And usually, unless your gaming group has exactly this thing to look forward to, we count this as bad, for it breaks the immersion of the game and the concentration of flow, as the game has to grind to a halt as players need to research the problem and find a soluton that won´t break open the game, and all that only because of one lazy designer.
As you can see, a small decision can leave a huge trail of consequences behind and as such each and every piece is of importance, whether we want them to or not.
How this looks, what kind of game aids we might need and what cards we could build is something I´ll talk about next time, on Building a Game...