Recently it was my birthday and so I spent some of the birthday money (thank you!) on a key investment in my game design, this phenomenal and detailed book, Building Blocks of Tabletop Game Design, by Engelstein and Shalev. It’s pricey, but part of designing is developing and growing in skills. Looking forward to receiving it, and who knows what ideas will jump into my head because of it.
Often I will start a game board design with a theme in mind, but even then, often very early in the process, I will think of a particular game mechanic around which the game revolves. Not all games need a unique mechanic, but it often helps!