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Limited Components - Board Games Doing More with Less
I have previously written about small box games in my article "Compressed Collections" which can create a lot of gameplay with only a few components. However, even larger box, or big box, games are sometimes very inventive when it comes to using components in a clever way to create more gameplay and possibilities than would otherwise be possible. After all, board games have it much harder when you compare them to computer games. They have a limited number of components that come in a box, even in a large box. So I want to look at how the same components can be used in many different ways.
Best use of a game box was some random zombie game where you dropped dice onto a picture of a snarling zombie to see if you hit it.
Conservation and consolidation of components also contributes to concise and quick game set up and often conveys considerable rules depth cleanly and conceptually without confusion.
I.e. You don't need to be told that cards represent life if you just know that no cards equals game over.
Sometimes though it leads to too much nuance or clutter if one component has a lot of contextual meanings or information so it can be taken too far sometimes.
Gentlemen Thieves uses the game box as a fold out play area. Appealing art design as well.
When it comes to multifunction tokens, one is unlikely to find many better examples than Horrified. The item tokens that seed the map have a numeric value, a color, and a location, and each of those pieces of info is used in clever ways when fighting the six monsters you might face.
I like how both Summoner Wars and Race for the Galaxy use the cards in your hand as currency. Both games have few other pieces.
They also convey metagame information by virtue of being multicolored, with different probabilities for range, damage and number of surges based on their color. Once you're familiar with the dice you can just look at the number and colors of them listed on a weapon or monster card to instantly get an idea of its abilities.