I'm looking for help figuring out what exactly makes a game a microgame. Some considerations I have for what might make a game count as microgame include:

  1. How many 'pieces' (chits, dice, cards) are too many?
  2. If a board is included, what size limitations are acceptable? Is folding allowed?
  3. Is there an agreed on size for Microgames (within an Altoids tin, etc.)
  4. Are there any gameplay or other considerations I should be thinking about in terms of this definition?
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    Where are you getting the term “microgame” from? Is some game you’ve seen labeled as such? I’ve never heard of it before. – Thunderforge Feb 7 '18 at 20:52
  • @Thunderforge - here's a popular Geeklist about microgames. – The Chaz 2.0 Feb 7 '18 at 20:58

The original Microgames from Metagaming had a rule booklet no larger than 32 small pages (A5 size, approximately), and a counter sheet the same dimensions, plus a map that folded to that size to fit in the plastic envelope. Counters have to be large enough to read, so there's a limit to the number of counters that will fit on that size sheet.

Another design criterion was that they should take no more than an hour to play, ideally half an hour for experienced players.

Worth noting that within this definition fell the original Car Wars, the original Ogre, the original Melee and Wizard (that eventually evolved into GURPS), and a space combat game called Warp War, among others.

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  • This is a great answer. Do you know if there is an different term I should be aware of for very small games with limited components? Everyone I know who is interested in creating games refers to them as Microgames. – Atavism Feb 7 '18 at 15:31
  • I don't know anything else you'd call them, other than microgames. For myself, I'd be inclined to think of anything smaller than an original Microgame as being in that class. – Zeiss Ikon Feb 7 '18 at 17:03

Is there an agreed on size for Microgames?

This is the crux of the question. There isn't a standard. People unaware of the history of Metagaming and Steve Jackson Games (from another answer to this question) might only consider games like **Love Letter* - with 20 cards and 13 small cubes - to be microgames.

Then Coin Age, with just one card and a few coins, came out (and won a Golden Geek award), further shrinking the component count.

I've been party to "microgame design" competitions where the organizers specify component count (e.g. the 18 card microgame contests on BGG) or a box size (e.g. in-person competitions at conventions, usually sponsored by a publisher with standard box sizes for their games).

So there is no answer. "microgame" isn't a well-defined term. I would suggest that you research the meaning of the term from the context where you found it... since obviously you saw it somewhere and it means enough to you to ask!

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