The Game Mechanic - Discs

    Playing discs come in all shapes and sizes and have different effects in board games. I want to discuss the tactile feel and use of discs and how they can add a different level of experience in a board game. How can this small game piece add importance to a players decision? What games have utilised this to allow players to feel engaged?

"Touch has a memory." - John Keats


    One of the most popular games in the 1990s was Pogs, a game of smacking one Slammer into a stack of Pogs. I remember playing this game as a kid with my cousin and friends. We all loved it. Everyone had their favourite Slammer that they used and cherished. Most of the Pogs were different, each one containing colourful images of popular characters or a funny little brown hairy creature. This game became more than plastic discs. It became an obsession.

    Pogs could also be played for keeps. This meant whenever you played you risked losing some of your Pogs to gain some of your opponents. Players had to gamble with their prized Pogs to gain the ones they wanted from their opponent. This caused outrage from parents and schools, which merely added to the fun and enjoyment for kids.


    The oldest game still being played is Go. It's earliest reference is the 4th century BC. It's a two player game where you play black and white discs on a board to control as much space as possible. The fact that it is still played today just shows how popular it has been with people. Placing a disc in the correct place is the key to winning. The tangible feel of placing the disc, the reaction of the opponent, the fear of not knowing if it was the correct decision - this is what makes the game.


    Splendor is a very popular board game that was a published in 2014. Players collect sets of colourful discs in order to trade for points and cards. These discs feel like real poker chips. To anyone who has played poker before this will immediately evoke a sensation of gambling. It's the quality of these components that make everyone want to keep playing this game. It has a real sense of value.


    In all these cases, it's this awareness of the disc in the players hand that adds importance to every decision. Once the player realises this, they are involved in the game. They are completely focused and determined. Try adding discs to the games you play to see if they add value, e.g., Monopoly, King of Tokyo, Coup, Stone Age, Machi Koro.