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My first inclination was that it would decrease its depth since the movement space is less with less option.

But then I thought "no, wait, it might increase the strategic space (depth)" because it may open up previous weaker strategies or remove a previously dominant strategy.

Theres also the chance it'll have no effect. For example, removing one of the checkers pieces at the start of the game would still keep the strategic sphere mostly the same. For chess, I am less certain but I think, for example, having one less starting pawn or minor piece wouldnt change TOO much of the strategy. Ex the main strategic principles (control center, develop pieces) would still be in play and it would have a negligible effect on its depth.

I chose chess and checkers as popular examples but think it would be correct applied to euro or designer games. Is my analysis correct, or is it flawed somewhere? Ive never thought this way in terms of game design and would prefer feedback. Thanks.

Edit of course, these are all about removing "pieces", which may be easier to analyze. How about a minor mechanic though? I think it depends but it may be similar. For example, in Ticket to Ride, what if the mechanic of "if there are three rainbows, reset the available row of cards to choose" wasn't there? I think much of the main strategy in the game would still be present with the same depth. It would just lead to some slower games, thats all. Thoughts on this? I assume it becomes a greater burden on gameplay depth the more prominent a mechanic is changed/remmoved from a game?

(On one hand, you gain simplicity and streamlinedness and on the other hand, you lose depth on average, depending on the game mechanics affected)
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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You could construct hypothetical examples where it would have basically any effect you can imagine, but if you remove a random thing from a random game, the typical result is that it will weaken the design and make the game less interesting.

That's because games are engineered to be interesting by deliberate effort, and so by the time a game reaches the public it's typically in some kind of local maximum where it's hard to find a simple change that improves the game. (If it wasn't, the designer would likely have discovered and made that change before releasing the game.)
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Antistone wrote:
You could construct hypothetical examples where it would have basically any effect you can imagine, but if you remove a random thing from a random game, the typical result is that it will weaken the design and make the game less interesting.

That's because games are engineered to be interesting by deliberate effort, and so by the time a game reaches the public it's typically in some kind of local maximum where it's hard to find a simple change that improves the game. (If it wasn't, the designer would likely have discovered and made that change before releasing the game.)

Agreed but thats only the local maxima. A lot of second/third editions show much more iterative refinement and improvement is still indeed possible.
 
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roger miller
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A lot of later editions also show negative choices as well. I would say its almost random if a later edition is better then the original.
 
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The vast majority of games are overcomplicated, and could stand to have quite a bit of stuff removed in order to focus on core gameplay.

The exception being minimalist games like Checkers and Go, where there is very little excess left in the game.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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Even if you start with a game that could benefit from simplification, that doesn't imply you can simply delete a random rule and expect the resulting game to be better.

Beneficial simplification generally requires that you choose very carefully what rules you remove, think about the implications of removing them, and then maybe add some new (simpler) replacement rules or other compensating tweaks.

For instance, some people might think Spirit Island would be better without "slow" powers. That is perhaps arguable. But it definitely would not be better if you simply declared all slow powers to be fast and made no other changes. You'd need to rebalance a bunch of stuff and possibly rework certain game concepts in order to produce an equally-polished game with no slow powers.
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