This is a continuation of my last post where I was endeavoring to create a board game that allows players to simulate the trade-offs with dealing (or not) with impediments.
This time around I wanted to add a new element to the gameplay: risk
So how do risks work? Well, a risk is something that you can decide to address at any time, so you can pull one from the deck at any turn. After all, risk is always there, right? If you pull a risk from the deck, you will find it has a cost to mitigate the risk. That cost is expressed in the number of spaces you give up in order to “buy” or mitigate the risk. What is the benefit of mitigating a risk you ask? Well, if you have a risk that you have paid to mitigate, then you can avoid the next impediment that comes along. In effect, you are taking out insurance against a future impediment. My view is that there is a risk lifecycle where:
An unmitigated risk can become an impediment which can (perhaps) become a lesson learned
It is a progression of sorts that I believe takes place in the project management world. Fail to deal with the risk, and you are more likely to encounter an impediment. Fail to deal with an impediment, and you now have an opportunity to suffer (and hopefully learn).
I also thought that aside from the role of the dice, there ought to be an additional level of uncertainty. Everybody knows that bad things can happen on projects, right? Major setbacks can come out of nowhere. So I borrowed a notion from the game, “Chutes and Ladders” and created “slides” where a team could slide backwards on the project and lose ground if they just happen to land on the wrong space.
The “slides” are the black bars on the board that connect two spaces (OK, I stole some hair ribbons from my daughter).
OK, so how does this actually play out in practice? Well, once again I started with my two players: this time it was Green and Red. Red would take a strategy of addressing risk, and Green would take the strategy of ignoring risk and simply dealing with impediments. Here’s how each turn of play worked:
- Roll the dice to see how far you advance
- Roll the dice again to see if you encounter an impediment (you found an impediment if you roll 1-3 otherwise you dodge the bullet) Take an impediment card if the roll dictates
- Optionally, take a risk card
On the next roll for advancement you get to do one of three things:
- If you have an impediment card you must subtract the impediment from the roll in order to “pay the impediment tax” and move on. This can take more than one roll (causing you to lose multiple turns).
- If you have a risk card, you can pay for the risk card before moving on. Again, you subtract the value on the card from your roll. The practical cost is that you lose turns while you address the risk.
- If you don’t have an impediment to deal with (Lucky you!) or a risk to mitigate (eat your veggies!) then you are free to advance further on the board.
- If you have a previous risk card that you have purchased, you can use it to skip paying for an impediment you have discovered.
So how did this all play out? Well, the player (Red) that took the strategy of paying for risk up front. Sure enough, they started off slow, but then they raced around the board, and even with a few unfortunate slips on my “slides” they still managed to easily outpaced the Green player and won the game. Lesson? Address your risks early and you will avoid future impediments, but are still subject to the vagaries of project circumstance.
OK, so I’m feeling a lot better about the game now. This second iteration was pretty interesting. It’s not quite so trivial and seems to allow (me) to explore some interesting trade-offs in risk and impediment management. Now, I’ll know I have something great on my hands if one of my kids walks by and offers to play. Who wants to play? I’ve got a few more ideas, but I’ll save those for iteration 3.