060 – Set Collection in Board Games

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Hello fellow adventurers and welcome to the Nerdlab – Where we transform our gaming passion into incredible game designs and learn how to nerd like a boss. 
My name is Marvin and I am an ambitious game designer on my quest to develop a co-operative fantasy card game.
For this podcast, my vision is to take you with me on this exciting journey. Together we will explore the secrets of different game mechanics and reach the next level as a game designer.

Do you like collecting things? I love, love love it!!!! It’s so satisfying to complete a set of something you were looking for by finding that last rare missing piece. I mean there must be a reason so many people are collecting coins or stamps, or whatsoever. 

I thought about why I like collecting things and where my fable for it comes from. First I thought about WoW and Diablo, games where you try to find special items from a set and unlock strong and special effects for your character. Then I thought about collecting Magic cards until you have a complete playset of a certain card (4 of a kind) or even a complete set, that means each card of an expansion edition. But then I realized that I’d been in touch with Set Collection much earlier. Back in elementary school I already collected wrestling cards for example. But even that was not my first contact with the topic. There is a card game that I played with my whole family when I was a really small child. And this game really is set collection at its core. And I still consider it to be one of the best games ever developed. And that is Canasta.

A definition of Set Collection as a Mechanism in Board Games

A set can be understood as a group of things that belong together. A Collection is the result of the process of collecting something. If you out those two together Set Collection is nothing more than the process of collecting things that belong together. Players trying to get a lot of the same things (or a lot of different things) that pair well together.

Every set collection mechanism has the following components:

  • Component & Set Definitions (The WHAT to collect)
  • Actions (The HOW to collect)
  • Results (The WHY to collect)

Other aspects covered in this episode:

  • How set collection fosters player interaction
  • How hidden information can add an interesting twist to set collection
  • How randomness can improve replayability

Games mentioned in this episode:

  • Canasta
  • World of Warcraft
  • Diablo
  • Magic the Gathering
  • Underlords
  • Sushi Go
  • Point Salad

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