A Change of Seasons

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September is here! And while it may still feel like summer down here in Central Texas, the seasons are changing and fall is on the way. Which leads me to wonder: why don’t games do more with slow changes like seasons?

Some wargames do have rules for seasons, of course. More accurately, they usually have rules for winter.

Take the classic Avalon Hill game 1776, for instance. Winter sucked for the Continental Army, and and 1776 reflects this with restrictions on attacks, slowed movement, and “winter reduction” rules that simulate American deserters slinking off home in the snow. It’s a brutal little system, but it doesn’t do much to reflect spring, summer, or fall.

Other games take a much more abstract approach. Dungeon Lords has a pretty timeline depicting the seasons, but there’s no difference between spring and fall. It’s just a clock to mark off four turns before the adventurers attack on New Year’s Day. (And why do they only attack on New Year’s Day, anyway? Do they have something against staying home to watch the Rose Bowl or something?)

There is at least one game that tries to create a seasonal feel, however. It’s even named Seasons, and it’s a dice and card game where you use different dice for each season. There are different resources to collect in each set of dice, so you can stockpile WHAT in spring to spend on spells that you cast in summer.

The changing of the dice in Seasons is a clever system that produces a real feeling of ebb and flow in the game. The focus is on elemental resources, though, and the whole thing feels like Magic: the Gathering with a calendar. There’s no sense of lazy summer afternoons or crisp fall mornings.

Maybe it’s impossible to bring that out in the game, but it seems like a worthy goal to try for. Do you know of any games that bring a feeling of time passing and seasonal change to the table?

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