Modularity to the point of not having an actual design is a terrible idea for a game. For instance, here’s the description of an upcoming boardgame called 504, announced today by publisher Stronghold Games.
504 offers the game enthusiast 504 different games in a single box, achieving this via the use of nine game modules, which can be merged together to form 504 unique play experiences. The nine modules are Pick-up & Deliver, Race, Privileges, Military, Exploring, Roads, Majorities, Production, and Shares. Players use the spiral bound “Book of 504 Worlds”, selecting three different modules in any order from the nine available, and thereby creating a unique “World”. For example, the selection of three modules for a World may create a game that is:
A racing game that expands through exploration with technology improving the racing or exploration (World “253”).
An 18XX-style stock game with network building for income and production sites to provide workers for the road building (World “968”).
A wargame with a pick-up and deliver economy and bonus scoring from majorities (“World 417”).
Okay, maybe it’s an intriguing idea, assuming worlds 253, 968, and 417 are enough flavor for you. The fiction is something about scientists creating alternate worlds to study for something something something. The designer of 504 is Friedemann Friese, known for the classic Power Grid. I don’t like Power Grid because it locks my brain up with too much math, but I certainly respect the design. Friese knows what he’s doing. And Stronghold Games has published a few intriguing games in the last year, including Kanban, a soup-to-nuts abstraction of all elements of an automotive company, and Panamax, about managing the actual Panama Canal.
504 is slated for release November of this year.