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Retention Layers in Board Games

By on May 21, 2019
Beasts of Balance

I’ve focused on the Retention Layer in video games, but we are also seeing it emerge in board games. Beasts of Balance is a hybrid digital/ physical game. The physical game is a “balance things on top of other things” game, a variant of Jenga with odd-shaped animal objects. Each object contains a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip that is scanned before you place it. This enables the physical Base Layer to interface with an iPad app, unlocking a digital Retention Layer. Players can unlock new animal hybrids, explore their bestiary and earn Achievements.

Pandemic Legacy

Board game designer Matt Leacock has added a Retention Layer to his board game, Pandemic. In Pandemic Legacy, players open a one-use card each time they play the game. This permanently changes the ruleset for the game. This can involve writing on cards, ripping them up or marking a character as eliminated from the game. The game can now be played as a “season” which can involve as many as 24 separate play-throughs of the main game.

This is an extract from Nicholas’s new book, The Pyramid of Game Design – get your copy here!

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: