one fun thing to do to sharpen your game design skills is to design an Express/In a Tin version of a game. where you take a much loved and well played large game (often with a sprawling set of components) and squeeze it down to basically the size of a deck of cards, usually with a lot of dice.
the reasoning behind this is one of taking part an existing game to see how it works and then putting it back together in a smaller form, distilling it down to a bare bones essence
in this case 7 hours of intensive game design last weekend led me to create an express version of the game 7 Wonders. mine is called Space Marvels 6 Express and has a science fiction theme with a number of nods to some of my favorite authors and their books
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