Write the Docs PDX 2020 Read the Rules: What Technical Writers Can Learn from Board Game Design
Hello, and thank you for listening to my Write the Docs talk and/or stumbling across this page accidentally!
Addiitonal thanks to Write the Docs Portland for hosting my presention, Microsoft for sponsoring the conference (and employing me for 15 years), and Mike Selinker, from whom I stole the "squares are hexigons" example (it originally appeared in his essay Writing precise rules, from The Kobold Guide to Board Game Design).
The slide deck is here. Below is every game from my presentation, in order of appearance. I recomend them all, with those denoted by a ✭ especially good for those new to the tabletop gaming hobby.
✭Wingspan (family strategy, 2-4 players): Attract a beautiful and diverse collection of birds to your wildlife reserve. The rulebooks are available here.
✭Marvel Champions (card, cooperative, 2-4 players): Gather Marvel heroes to fight against an evil villain to save the day.
✭Mystery Rummy (card, 2-4 players): Make the best case, with evidence and other cards, for who is Jack the Ripper.
Gloomhaven (advanced strategy, cooperative, 1-4 players): Immerse yourself in a fantasy campaign of creatures and puzzly card-driven gameplay.
Terraforming Mars (strategy, 2-4 players): Corporations compete against each other to undertake mankind's biggest project.
✭Pandemic (family strategy, cooperative, 2-4 players): Your team of experts must prevent the world from succumbing to a viral pandemic. Topical!
✭Splendor (family strategy, 2-4 players): Renaissance merchants race to grab gems, acquire property, and please nobility.
Battlestar Galactica (advanced strategy, semi-cooperative, 2-4 players): How can the human race survive when you don't know who is actually human?
✭Clank! And Clank! Legacy (family strategy, 2-4 players): Claim your treasures but don't attract the dragon in these deck-building dungeon race games.
Alea games (family strategy, 2-4 players): Especially (esp. ✭Castles of Burgundy ("plan, trade, and build your Loire Valley estate to prosperity and prominence") and ✭Puerto Rico ("Ship goods, construct buildings, and choose roles that benefit you more than others").
Twilight Struggle (advanced strategy, war, 2-4 players): Relive the Cold War and rewrite history in an epic clash between the USA and USSR.
Tapestry (strategy, 2-4 players): Lead your unique fictional civilization to greatness through defining events.
While I got ya, here are ten more recommendations.
Quest for El Dorado (family strategy, 2-4 players): This, along with Splendor above, has been by defauly "family game" recommendation for the last few years.
Codenames (party / word, 4-8 players): A game of coming up with the perfect word for a situation -- great for writers! The two-player version, Codenames: Duet, might even be better.
Lost Cities (Card, 2 players): A clever rummy variant that is perfect for couples.
Ticket to Ride (Family strategy, 2-5 players): Collect cards, build trains, and foil the plans of your opponents - what's not to love?
7 Wonders (family strategy, 3-7 players): A game that accomidates up to 7 players, but still has a play time of 45 minutes or less.
7 Wonders: Duel (Family strategy, 2 players): A two-player version of the classic above, that maintains the feel of the original
Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters (Children's cooperative, 2-4 players): A great game for families, where everyone works as a team to loot a haunted house of gems.
Rhino Hero (Young children, 2-4 players): A light stratgey game that children as young as 6 will enjoy.
Welcome To ... (Family strategy, 1-10+ players): The best of the new breed of "Roll and Write" games, where any number of people can play and everyone takes their turns simultanously.
Spirit Island (Advanced strategy / cooperative, 1-4 players): The heaviest game on this list, but one that works well for solo play -- perfect when you are quarentined at home with no other games. (Marvel Champions, mentioned above, is another good game for one.)
And you can find 12 years of additional recommendations here. Thanks again!