"Work" is where a player must do non-entertaining physical or mental tasks, in order for the game to function.

Work is bad

Keep it to a minimum.

Work that's a regular part of the game turn, is a huge negative. You should consider changing your game significantly, to remove such work. It is not a minor factor.

It's also very easy to forget to do the work, and have to fix up the game.

Physical work

This includes things like restocking spaces with resources, restocking and advancing a card row, and shuffling/dealing cards.

Some pre and post-game work (like sorting cards/components) is inevitable, but should be kept to a minimum.

I've seen numerous positive mentions of Radlands having almost no setup. You just shuffle and begin.

Some games are adjusted for different player counts, by forcing the players to go through each deck, and remove certain cards. This is common, and should be avoided wherever possible.

When you play Bärenpark with less than four players, it tells you to remove some combination of tiles from each of the piles of tiles numbered 1-7. Do I really have to do that? Would the game be terrible if there were just too many of those tiles?

If you must have work, try very hard to push it out of the turn, and to the round. Laying out one card per turn is much more onerous and distracting, and easy to forget, than laying out ten cards every ten turns.

Ideally, just change the game, so the work isn't necessary.

Isn't it nice to get out a game you can just play


Yes, it's nice to find an exact mathematical equation that matches your design objectives, but players don't want to do mathematics.

Keep numbers as small as possible. Not everyone is good at mathematics. I can total five dice, or add 16 and 27 instantly. Many people can't, and I would still rather not have to do it.

Halve all the numbers in your game. Does it still work properly? Good. Keep going. You might like the exact ratio of the buildings worth two and seven points, but just make them one and three points, please.

Something in your game should be worth one point. If that's not the case, your point values are too high.


A player must be observant, to make sure a condition is or isn't being met, or must constantly evaluate known information, such as how much money each opponent has.

The game Dead of Winter contains "crossroad" cards. The player who draws it keeps it secret, and when the secret condition on the card is met, the player reveals the card, and something happens. People like these, but they generate an ongoing and distracting observation task for the players, and a high potential for mistakes.


Try not to make exact high numbers matter.

In Race for the Galaxy, players must discard down to ten cards in hand at the end of each of their turns. That means every large hand of cards needs to be constantly counted.

Magic's Odyssey expansion introduced the "threshold" mechanic. While seven or more cards are in your discard pile, some bonus effect occurs. This requires that players constantly tally the number of cards in their discard piles.

A better way to do this is to make the number only be counted at certain points, or when certain things happen.

In Catan, whenever any player rolls a 7, all players with more than seven cards discard half their cards. This is much less work than forcing players to discard down to seven cards at the end of every turn.

Memory issues

Memory issues are where a player must remember something. This might be in order to make the game function properly, but is usually just advantageous information that the player should keep a mental note of.

"Look at a player's hand. They discard a card of your choice." That's a decent ability, but the player really should take note of all their opponent's other cards, and keep them in mind. That's not fun, but you're a bad player if you don't.

In Splendor, players can reserve cards from the table, to buy later. However, when they do, they turn the card face down. Players should take note of this likely-important card, but that's mentally taxing, so they don't. Later, the player plays the card, and wins.

I don't like to have to keep something in mind. I just want to think about my strategy. If there's something that people have to be forced to remember, get rid of it. Alternatively, make it something good, that they'll want to remember. Or, make it something big, that they'd notice if they forgot. Or, use a physical component or cue to remind you.

Some games are about memory. That's fine, but most people don't really like memory games.

Once information has been made public, try to keep it public, or throw it away.


Don't make the players look up data. Everything in the game should be memorisable. This includes game setup.

Cards with text should be self-explanatory. If a normal person will read the card, and need to check the FAQ, the card needs to be rewritten.

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