Designer Notes 1: Bluffing and Research

Welcome to the first entry of Designer Notes!

In this series we will talk about the design of State of Wonder and will discuss new features we want to add to the game, as well as discuss problems with our current design.

This week we will talk about bluffing and research, but since this is the first of these notes I will also present myself and talk about the overall game.

So who am I writing this blog update? I’m Van, Lead designer on State of Wonder. I’m 22 years old and I am currently doing my Bachelor year in Game Design and Graphics at Uppsala University. My earlier experiences in the field has been primarily with design, as I’ve built countless roleplaying modules and roleplaying games as well as board games, card games, and some strategy games on the computer.

What is State of Wonder? State of Wonder is a Strategy game, where players utilize their skills in tactics, bluffs, calculations and staying one move ahead to seize victory in two different ways: either through aggression and destroying the enemy city state, or by constructing and defending a Wonder throughout the game.

So with that explained, State of Wonder is not in any state a finished product yet, and we want to be able to build the best experience to you in this game.

Without further ado, let us talk about bluffing. In State of Wonder, players have hidden information that is not revealed to their opponent, in most cases this is the hand zone. In the hand zone the player has their entire hand of cards (15 cards).

With this hidden information, players can choose to reveal cards by playing them. This allows players to bluff each other in the early game, as none of the players know what they are facing or can expect, but has to react to whatever their opponent does. This is where bluffing comes in.

If a player plays an aggressive card on their first turn, their opponent has to react to said aggressive card, This can be done in several different ways, playing an aggressive card of their own to go counter aggression, play a defensive card to try to build up for the later game, decide to go for economics to get the best late game, but being in the danger zone of taking damage.

In many cases playing a economic card in a aggressive deck can yield amazing early game result as your opponent might also decide to go an economic route. If they do, they are binding up resources in their economics, waiting to get the pay out, while you can start going on the
(Concept art of the Market, a Cheap Economic Card that could be used for bluffing)

We want to build out this mechanic to include more chances for players, even in a late game, to make clever bluffs as right now, when a player as revealed their entire hand through playing it. Nothing new will show up after that point in the game right now.

This is where research comes in. Research is a mechanic that we have wanted to try out since the start of production, and are about to begin testing.

Each player dedicates a research deck consisting of a number of cards. These cards are hidden and players can pay resources to put a card from their research deck into your hand.

This opens up more possibilities for bluffing. Research a card after your opponent builds a big unit and they might hesitate to attack you, as you might have researched a fortification which will counter their big unit and maybe even put them in a bad position.  But maybe  you actually just researched another economic card, to buy another turn and get in position to get a finisher in.

Other uses of research are dedicated counter cards, such as assassin, which is a unit that destroys another unit or Ballista upon entering play. A Ballista is a powerful card that deals heavy damage to fortifications.ballista
(Concept Art of the Ballista)

Well! That’s our food for thought for the day. We’re looking for more ways to implement bluffing in our game, as right now it is one of the dynamics of State of Wonder that has taken a bit of a design backseat. But no longer! 🙂

Have a nice Day and I hope you enjoyed this Designer Notes entry!


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