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A review copy of Nudge was provided by Nudge Games in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I didn’t feel like the game of Nudge had enough development in the design to really make the most of an interesting mechanism. Lacking the tools that are necessary for exerting control on a game state, it’s mostly an exercise of mirroring an opponent until one of you make a mistake. It got two stars in our review. That was probably generous but some of that comes from the credible case it makes for environmentalism as a game design outcome. Ethical and ecological consumption under Capitalism may not be possible, and we’re probably long past the point where ‘every little helps’. Nonetheless, it’s a game that doesn’t do active harm in the way a lot of board games do and I wanted to acknowledge that.
Games that don’t shine in our reviews get a second chance here on Meeple Like Us. They get a chance to wow us with accessibility. Does Nudge excel in that capacity? Well, let’s find out.
Absolutely perfect here. The colours chosen for the pieces and the board exhibit no problems for anyone with the standard categories of colour blindness we consider.
But more than this, the discs that you use are double sided – one side is smooth and the other one has the ‘nudge’ logo embossed upon its surface. That means that even if a player has fully monochromatic vision the game remains completely accessible because you can mix and match icon versus smooth surface.
Very strongly recommended. I’m not sure it could have done better.
We’ve got another sterling performance here. The embossing of the logo on a single side of the pieces means that you can determine ownership of disc by touch provided they’re all flipped consistently. That kind of tactile indicator is present in a number of games but where Nudge goes the extra mile is in providing physical grooves between spaces on the board. That means a totally blind player can tell everything they need to know by touch alone. They can tell where a disc is, who owns it, and what configuration all discs on the board are in. There are only six moving parts in the game and a tightly constrained board that limits just how much a player needs to hold in mind to play effectively.
For players with less severe visual impairments there’s nothing to complain about. The pieces are well contrasted against the board. There’s no hidden state. No iconography. It’s a stripped down, simple board with well designed components and thus is fully accessible.
We very strongly recommend Nudge in this category.
The game rules are very simple – make a line using your allocation of two moves, and then shove pieces off the edge. Those rules are unlikely to be a problem except in the severest cases of cognitive impairment.
Nudge is an odd game in that it plays like an abstract but doesn’t have much of a skill gap between skilful and unskilful play. There are some mistakes that you can make that allow an opponent to score but they’re mostly dealt with by a single guiding heuristic – ‘don’t leave a piece where it can be nudged next round’. The lag in movement means that an opponent rarely has the ability to move and nudge in a single turn. If you don’t leave a disc in the line of sight of an opponent there’s little risk of them being able to reconfigure their pieces in time to perform a coup de grace. The only real strategy I could find was gradually cornering a piece at the edges and that’s preventable under most circumstances. The cognitive ceiling on play is thus reasonably low but might still pose a problem in some circumstances. I might venture though the game is more fun when players make mistakes since it yields more scoring opportunities than skilful play might permit.
For those with memory impairments there is nothing that needs to be remembered about game state save for how many moves have been taken in a turn, and that’s something that can easily be supported with external tokens. In any case, individual moves are so quick and straightforward that they don’t easily get miscounted.
We’ll recommend Nudge for those with fluid intelligence impairments and strongly recommend it for those with memory impairments only.
There’s an extent to which Nudge, like all perfect information games, removes all the usual psychological hiding places associated with loss. When you are knocked off the side by another player you can’t blame it on dice, or bad luck, or anything that gives emotional cover. Specifically in Nudge it feels like you can’t lose without making a mistake, and thus there’s a danger that a bad winner can sour the experience.
Games can either be over in a matter of a minute or drag out in a frustrating way depending on skill levels. If you get knocked out very quickly it’s easy to laugh it off, but less easy to do the longer the game goes on without anyone getting purchase on the other.
We’ll still recommend Nudge in this category.
Fine motor control is not really needed to play Nudge – all you ever do is move plastic pieces around a frictive board, sometimes in chains. Provided a player is capable of moving a light disc around it’s fully physically accessible.
If that’s not possible, verbalisation is an option but not explicitly supported. Kind of. Realistically given the minimalism of the design you could write board co-ordinates right on the cardboard and instantly have a modded board that permits unambiguous referencing. In any case, instructions are relatively easy to articulate. ‘Move my discs at the 3rd row and 3rd column and the 3rd row and 4th column by one to the left’.
We’ll recommend Nudge in this category.
There is no representational art in the game. No art at all, really. The instructions on the back of the box do not default to masculinity, using second and third perspective throughout.
Cost-wise, Nudge is available directly from the website at a cost of £10. Core to the economic message here though is that you are buying a product that is pitched as environmentally sustainable. Bio-degradable starch is used to make the plastic components, the box is made from fluted kraft-board and the game board itself is from ‘fully recycled grey-board’. It’s a game that does little harm to your wallet and little harm to the planet.
If you’re not convinced by the environmental aspects, it’s difficult to justify at this price-point given the game itself and its maximum player count of two. Schotten-Totten, adorned with beautiful art and compelling gameplay, is available for £13. You can get Shadows in Kyoto for £10. Those environmental goals, laudable as they are, are only somewhat convincing when considered in the frame of board-games. A lot of the components that goes into a board game have a long shelf-life save for the obviously disposable plastics to be found in terrible inserts and shrink-wrap. In that respect, Nudge may serve more as an exemplar than a game that is actively worth its asking price. In that frame I’d like to recommend people pick it up as a market signal. That’s an intensely privileged argument to make though for those where finances are tight enough to warrant checking out this section of the teardowns.
It’s a tough one to grade. We’ve landed on a recommendation but I would certainly understand those that were more critical of what you get, the impact of such endeavours, and the value proposition in comparison to other games.
The rules are simple, there’s need for literacy in play, and no formal requirement for communication.
We’ll strongly recommend Nudge in this category.
We’re often in the position here of having to say ‘We don’t recommend a game in so many categories that we can’t recommend it in any that intersect’ but that’s not true of Nudge. Perhaps the only intersection that is seriously impactful is that play for those with total blindness may be difficult if that intersects with a physical accessibility issue such as nerve damage. If nerve damage in the peripheries interfere with the ability to determine the logo by touch then an important channel of information is lost from the game. However, even that could be modded away. There’s no secret information that is compromised by providing more obvious tactile indicators.
Nudge plays very quickly, takes up very little table space, and can have an overall play-time that moulds itself to the preferences of the table.
You might not believe it from this site, but there’s nothing I like more than being able to write a largely uncritical teardown. For one thing, they’re quick to do. For another, they’re a ray of hope in a landscape often bereft of good news. Nudge gets recommendations across the board here and will certainly end up on our Accessible Game Library on a Budget feature when it is next updated.
It’s also likely to end up in the next list of ‘Games with Great Accessible Design Lessons’ for at least three of its design elements. The indented board is wonderful. The flippable discs are tremendous for easy accessibility for the blind. The environmentalism is something to be lauded and emulated. It’s just good news wall to wall here.
We might not have liked Nudge much as a game, but we can be largely uncritically positive here. We gave it two stars in our review, but it shines so much brighter in the teardown. Some of that is down to the sparseness of the components and the simplicity of the ruleset, but far from all of it. It excels in circumstances where Hive and Onitama are too inaccessible. It works well in scenarios where Kamisado would never function. It’s just great from an accessibility perspective and that might be reason enough for you to pick it up.
A review copy of Nudge was provided by Nudge Games in exchange for a fair and honest review.
A Disclaimer About Teardowns
Meeple Like Us is engaged in mapping out the accessibility landscape of tabletop games. Teardowns like this are data points. Games are not necessarily bad if they are scored poorly in any given section. They are not necessarily good if they score highly. The rating of a game in terms of its accessibility is not an indication as to its quality as a recreational product. These teardowns though however allow those with physical, cognitive and visual accessibility impairments to make an informed decision as to their ability to play.
Not all sections of this document will be relevant to every person. We consider matters of diversity, representation and inclusion to be important accessibility issues. If this offends you, then this will not be the blog for you. We will not debate with anyone whether these issues are worthy of discussion. You can check out our common response to common objections.
Teardowns are provided under a CC-BY 4.0 license. However, recommendation grades in teardowns are usually subjective and based primarily on heuristic analysis rather than embodied experience. No guarantee is made as to their correctness. Bear that in mind if adopting them.