Elegant and Complex Games (and My Top 10)

  • 🎬 Video
  • ℹ️ Description
Jamey discusses several ways designers create elegant, streamlined core games that have incredible depth and complexity.

Games discussed in this video include: Inis, Wingspan, Terraforming Mars, Concordia, Dominion, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Lords of Waterdeep, Isle of Skye, Cosmic Encounter, Root, Dice Throne, Risk Legacy, Pandemic Legacy, Mechs vs. Minions, Fog of Love, Mansions of Madness, TIME Stories, my civilization game

00:00 - Introduction and Discussion
16:52 - Top 10

💬 Comments on the video

Yokohama, is the game that is one of the most elegant complex games I have ever played. It has a lot of choices and actions you can take but the core mechanism can be explained in 2 minutes, even though the game looks very intimidating at first.

Author — jdcnl


For me, Small World is a prime example of asymmetric abilities. Extremely simple core mechanisms with nearly all the complexity in the game arising from the hundreds of possible combinations of race and power tiles and the considerations surrounding which combination to draft and when to abandon an old one for a new one.

Author — Jesse Lefkowitz


Lisboa scares people at first but a couple turns in you realize, this is one elegant, smooth experience. Complex, with so much going on but easy with few action types. The theme is so embedded and it's a work of art.
You get a feeling that you are learning as you play and strategic choices grow with every game. I can't think of better example.

Author — Joel Stout


I'm totally missing Orléans here. So intuitive and elegant yet so many strategic options!

Author — Klaas Groen


Inis is a great example indeed. It's basically a "17 cards" game. However, the scope of possibilities players get is so vast and rich... core actions are really simple(and you get to learn them quickly), but the interconnections between them are something else. It's a genius design in my opinion and it's streamlined to the point where there's no single thing that's unnecessary. The expansion will probably mess around with some things, but I'm certain that it won't harm the simplicity and elegance of the base game.

Another games which fit in the same category: Neuroshima Hex!(and therefore, Monolith Arena as well, as it's basically a reimplementation), Castles of Burgundy, Sun Tzu(although it may fall in the same category as Azul/Hanamikoji, eg. not complex enough, it's very deep however)

Author — Damian Żejmo


These are my favorite "genre". Loads of depth + low rules. Knizia is king in this realm.

Author — Justin Rizzo


You should add short time lapses of the games in your videos, so your viewers know which game you are talking about

Author — Hamza Najeeb


Fog of love is a great example!, I'm trying to find a game to get for Christmas and want something heavy and complex

Author — Chris Goff


The Game Crafter has just announced a game design contest based on simple elegance, thanks for the explanation!

Author — Rodney1210


Lol... you’re so funny Jamey. Just drops casually in a top ten video that you’re developing a Civ-game... 😂😂😂
Great subject tho... very glad to hear that this Is how your Civ-game Is going to play out, easy to start and learn but with depth and complexity gradually developing! Can’t wait! 🤗

Author — RazBaz07


Tiny Towns did this for me over the weekend. If anyone has a chance to play it they should.

Author — Red Djinn


more than happy to get these videos without taking things out of the box :)

Author — lee corby


This civilization game sounds very good!

Author — Eine Ente


If I'd think of elegant and complex games, games like Tigris & Euphrates, Brass series, Concordia and Age of Steam come to my mind, maybe throw in Ingenious/Genial from Knizia aswell. Reiner Knizia nails these types of games really well.

Author — Willbeplayin


I like the idea you mentioned at the beginning “these are the 5 things you need to know and I’ll teach you the rest as we go”. Have you ever thought about adding some type of text into the rulebook like a quick “how I would teach the game” section? This is the part I always have trouble with unless I pre-plan.

Author — Jim Leigh


Excellent video, especially the nice shout out to Inis as an elegant card drafter! Very curious to hear your thoughts about the upcoming expansion whenever you end up trying it :)

Author — Derek Harvey


Thanks a lot Jamey.. this was very illuminating (and definitely not your only video to be so)..

Author — TKM 1


Century: Spice Road is another one which start s out really simple, with just 2 cards you can play in your hand and 4 actions to choose from. It has also only 2 pages of rules. It might not be complex enough though to really fit the bill.

Author — Marco Dingjan


Most games on my pile of shame probably don't fall in this category. I hesitate to wade through their rulebooks, because they look like being a lot of work.

Author — Philipp Neumann


I bet you were thinking of Star Realms/Hero Realms as the head to head deck builder.

Author — Joseph Prozinski