We are committed to design and produce Euro games
based on no-dice game mechanisms, balance between cooperation and competition and interesting themes.
Although each game is unique, the Nova Suecia games do have
in common game mechanisms that eliminate luck and promote a high degree of player interaction.
The aim of each Nova Suecia game is to invoke the following feelings in the players:
"I quickly understand the game objective and how to accomplish it"
"The game tells a story and I'm part of it"
"The gameplay is new and inventive"
"I need to cooperate directly or indirectly with the other players"
"I need to pay attention not only to my own play but also to the other players' play"
"I am master of my own destiny and don't rely on luck"
"The game keeps me veering between hope and despair"
The article Building Game-Defining Concepts
by Alex Harkey discusses innovative game mechanisms. Although each Nova Suecia Game is unique, there
are some innovative mechanisms that are frequently used to fulfill our vision.
Interdependence ("No player is an island")
No player is an island and this is true in several Nova Suecia Games. The very first game,
Nova Suecia, started with the idea that players have to trade with each other to
refine a good through different levels. A simplified version of this mechanism was used in
Tre Kronor Infernum, where each player that participate in a
human chain linking wells with burning rooms may take actions in that room, while
Knights & Damosels let the players fight wars and quests together.
Mare Balticum encompasses several dimensions of interdependence where
the players not only fight the wars together but also build ships, armies and forts together and
link them in chains where a ship is required for an army and an army is required for a fort.
Nevertheless, the players are still competitors and they must always find ways to get more out of the
cooperation than the other players.
Hidden decisions ("I know that you know that I know...")
Rock-paper-scissors is an old mechanism but it's creatively used in several Nova Suecia Games.
Find the Treasure! uses this mechanism in its simplest form to settle disputes
between the pirates.
Bellum se ipsum alet lets the players gamble how much strength to put at stake
in battles. The more, the greater the chance of winning the battle but also the greater the losses.
Knights & Damosels uses several variants; including the asymmetric joust
(where the challenger can only draw in the first turn), the independent guessing of wars and quests
(where the players independently of each other must play unique cards to win together) and the multi-card
final Battle of Camlann (where several players engage in one big rock-paper-scissors fight).
But perhaps the most interesting application of this mechanism is found in Christina Regina.
Here, the players must guess each others' colors based on their actions. "Does player A pick B because
she has an interest in it or because she is bluffing?" "What does player C know that made her guess the
color of player D?" Here, the ability to read the other players' minds is the key to victory.
Prisoner's dilemma ("Is that a dagger you have in your pocket...?")
Prisoner's dilemma is another old mechanism that is seldom used in games in spite of its
intriguing potential. Mare Balticum uses it in its cleanest form
by giving a player the option to stay out of battles and abandon the other players in the same battle.
A more elaborated application is seen in Nova Suecia, where the
players want the total tax to the colony to be high but their own share low, with the risk that the entire colony falls.
Vasa Regalis and Tre Kronor Infernum also
has this potential "self-destruction" end if the players are too greedy. In the first case, the ship sinks if the
players spend too little on it, and in the second case, the castle burns down if the players steal too much from it
and neglect putting out the fire.
Asymmetric scoring ("Who benefitted from that action?")
A key mechanism of Christina Regina is the asymmetric scoring,
whereby a color picked up by the Queen has different value to different players. In combination with the
hidden scoring, this creates high tension in the game as the player try to guess who benefits from what.
It's also used in Tre Kronor Infernum, where the score from saving or
stealing possessions from a room depends on whether the room is rescued or burns down.
Knights & Damosels also has a kind of asymmetric scoring in the
relation between a knight and a damosel. A knight usually gains from taking a card but he ends up
with too many cards from the same damosel, the gain is all the damosel's.
Ambiguous scoring ("What does it take to win?")
Several victory conditions are not uncommon in games and often works well, such as in
Knights & Damosels, where both knight and damosel victories are
possible, creating a tension between the two. However, Nova Suecia Games goes one step further by
letting the victory condition be determined by the game outcome. In Vasa Regalis,
the score for playing a good to the ship is dependent on the total amount that the players played to the ship.
Another variant is found in Bake the Cake!, where it's not revealed until the end
which cake that will be used to count the players' points. This creates games that call for deep
strategies and remain open throughout the session.
Hidden game board ("Where is it and who knows where it is?")
Game boards with content unknown to the players is a good source of uncertainty. Although tactical games
like Iconoclasm and Turn of Time,
deliberately refrains from this (the tactics come from all players having the same view), it's a key
mechanism in Find the Bug! and Find the Treasure!.
The games are actually very similar (the main difference being that Find the Treasure! is aimed at a
younger audience) as they not only have a hidden content (bugs or treasures) but also allow the players
to derive the location of these by analyzing the coordinates and assess the probabilities.
Circular relations ("I like someone who likes someone who likes me")
The circular relations are what defines the games Iconoclasm
and Turn the Time. In the former, each color has a supporting color and a
color that it supports in conflicts, while the latter has an order in which colors defeat each other.
The challenge is to plan so that the right colors are in the right place at the right time.
Circular relations also appear in Nova Suecia, where a tax paid has both
positive and negative secondary effects on other tax areas.
Shared colors ("Hey, that's my color!")
Traditionally, a player has one color to play with in a game. However, some of Nova Suecia Games
allow the players to play with other colors. In Bake the Cake!, the
players may use any other players' ingredients or parts to their own cakes, causing a lot of
uncertainty in the game as you never know where your effort ends up. Iconoclam
takes this one step further as the players starts with all colors and thus must play them all. The
challenge here is to play the different colors so that they benefit your only color.
Artificial intelligence ("The Spirit in the Glass")
Artificial intelligence is often used to simulate external events.
Knights & Damosels uses this in its simplest form through event cards while
Bellum se ipsum alet has the concept of cities revolting after a certain (known)
number of turns. However, other games add an extra dimension by simulating the artificial intelligence
through the aggregated decisions by the players.
In Tre Kronor Infernum, the spread of the fire is determined by the
combinations of the fire spread cards played by the players, and similarly in
Mare Balticum, the enemy actions are determined by the combination of
the enemy cards played. In this way, not only are external events simulated but the players are also
given tools to steer them in the wanted direction. This is most clear in Christina Regina,
where it's the players' themselves that take turns to move the Queen towards the colors that in the
end will determine the winner of the game.
All the Nova Suecia Games can be characterized as
German-style board games or euro games. The rules are simple, the playing time
short, the player interaction subtle and the components abstract. Luck plays little
part, all players participate to the end and the victory is awarded to the player who
best optimizes his or her resources and take the most advantage of the other players'
When I designed the Nova Suecia series, I incorporated several of the elements that
make Euro games such a pleasure to play. Using Lewis Pulsipher's article
The Essence of Euro-style Games, the Nova Suecia games satisfy the following requirements:
Short Playing Time: All games are played in 30-90 minutes.
Simple Rules: All games can be learnt in 5-10 minutes.
Few Choices: The possible actions each turn are limited.
Uncertainty: All games contain hidden information.
No Player Elimination: All players participate to the end.