michael brough is one of my favorite contemporary designers. his digital game-making draws from board and card game design in a big way, but he takes them to places that are only possible with a computer referee. his new release, kompendium, is an album of nine two-player games, which all provide each player the same four buttons. every one of them can essentially be considered a solution to the problem of how to permit a two-player struggle without an explicit “shoot” button.
glitch tank you might have heard of before – the game works better on a touch screen. my favorite game in this collection is chang chang, the obviously chess-inspired game. it’s not chess-inspired just because the names of the pieces are similar, but because it’s about the same type of area control: a piece isn’t just the piece itself, but the turf its range of movement allows it to control. play is managing the give-and-take of that turf until you’re able to pin your opponent.
we ran kompendium at harpy diem in march. for that event i asked michael to make a “shuffle” mode, which picks games at random. watching people try and figure out the rules and strategy for each game was a lot of fun. shuffle mode is included in the release of the game.