Mechanically Sound #3

Mechanically Sound is a recurring column in which I quickly bring to light some interesting game mechanics I've recently encountered. As always, suggest your own in comments.

Post by: Grant Rodiek

In this third rendition of Mechanically Sound I have three new mechanics to discuss. This week, I'm quite excited to discuss the Build Magic mechanic in Summoner Wars, the Color Mixing mechanic in Walls of Light, and the tile laying in Princes of Florence.

The Magic of Summoner Wars

When you want to place Unit cards from your hand onto the game board in Summoner Wars, you must spend a certain amount of Magic. In the card above, it's the number 3 just under the large 2 (which is the attack value). Magic is obtained in 2 simple ways:

  • If you defeat a Unit, the card is placed in your magic pile as 1 Magic.
  • At the end of your turn, you may discard cards from your hand for 1 Magic apiece.

This does a lot of great things for the game. For one, it ties the game's core resource beautifully into its battle system. If you fight well, you can summon more Units. It also has a nice risk versus reward with the discard. If you discard, you'll get to draw more cards and potentially summon stronger units. However, when your deck runs out, it's out.

I also like that Event cards do not require Magic to use, which means Magic is solely used for summoning additional units. If you're curious about Summoner Wars, the game is free to play on iOS platforms.

The Pretty Colors of Walls of Light

Walls of Light is a free PNP game from Jesse Catron. You can also buy a version for $9.99 from The Game Crafter. The premise of the game is that you're rebuilding the stained glass windows in a cathedral. It's a neat abstract.

The game uses transparent wink tokens with primary colors from the RYB spectrum (Red, Yellow, Blue). If you place them atop each other, they form new colors. For example:

Red + Blue = Purple and Yellow + Blue = Green

This allows for player expression, creativity, and great strategy. It's also very innovative and viscerally satisfying. Give it a look!


Fun Side Note: When I read Indie Boards and Cards' prompt for a dice only game on BGG I set about creating a dice game. At first I thought about converting elements of my war game into a dice only thing (just for fun) and had some other equally poor ideas. Then I started thinking about wizards, magic, and alchemy. I started thinking of potions and colors and how you could mix them to create other things. Jesse sent me a copy of Walls of Light months ago, and though I've read the rules, I've never had a chance to play it. I came about this color idea on my own, but I'm also fairly certain Walls of Light was in my subconscious mind. The idea has since evolved past dice and I've been working with Jesse for advice and his input. Stay tuned for future info on this.

Building a Garden in Princes of Florence

Princes is fairly brilliant in so many ways. It has a fantastic bidding mechanic, a great long-term engine building mechanic, and it has this Tetris-like tile placement mechanic. The game features several pieces, like a University, fountain, lake, and other things you might see in Renaissance era Florence. When you obtain one of these pieces, most of which are oddly shaped, you must place them within a simple rule set on a very small grid.

I would happily play a game that was exclusively about placing these oddly shaped tiles on the grid. But, the fact that Princes incorporates it so meaningfully into a greater whole is all the more excellent.

What have you encountered lately that stood out to you? Mention it in the comments below. 


I haven't had a chance to play Summoner Wars yet, though it is one I have an interest in.

The mechanic to pick up the dead opponents card as a resource reminds me of an idea I had for a turn based strategy computer game (using an M:tG type mana system) where dead units would stay on the battlefield, decomposing and players who landed on that space before it decomposed would capture any remaining mana that was used in creation of that creature. I never did much with the idea (being that I'm not really a good programmer, as I eventually found out), but it's fascinating to see something similar adapted to board games, and now I'm definitely intrigued :)

I love the idea of an environment of resources that get recycled back into the game instead of just to "the graveyard" or whatever.

And Walls of Light looks interesting... May have to check that out a bit more.