Friday, November 19, 2010

The joy of gaming

Hello everyone! Once again I must rant about something I find annoying among gamers:

Lack of variety.

So, as you may or may not know, gaming is pretty much my life. I have worked as a game designer, a GW red shirt, I work at a board game store AND a video game store, and I also do commission work for painting models. Playing games is my life, my revenue and that one thing that keeps me from shaving my head, growing a lumberjack beard and living in the mountains eating squirrels.

That being said, I find it disturbing that my fellow gamers shun the idea of sitting down to play a board game, card game or even D&D. I want to focus on board games specifically because that seems to be the biggest rift. Board game players DO NOT play Table Top Wargames, calling them "dice-fests" and lacking in planning and strategy, which is obviously false. However, wargamers look at boardgames and say things like "Boring, non-competitive and lacking variation in each game." While this is true about some games such as Sorry or Scooby Doo! Haunted House, most of the higher shelf games will provide you with a very entertaining 2-6 hours of game play. That's right, some games DO take 6 hours.

Let's investigate a few board games that are enjoyable even for the most avid, dice loving wargamer:


Settlers of Catan:

This competitive game about expansion and resource management has many opportunities for complex strategy, back-stabbing and over all enjoyment. Clocking in at around 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, Catan will offer something for everyone at your table. It's range is 3-6 players (with the extension), allowing most families and game nights to play with out leaving someone out. Have 12 people? Bring 2 copies, or, better yet, 2 different games. If you have never played Settlers, the goal of the game is simple: Be the first to earn 10 victory points by building roads and cities, earning settlement cards and having the largest army. The turn's break down to rolling for resources using a 2d6 dice odds system, then purchasing upgrades, settlements or cards, and then passing your turn. It's a quick moving game, but you can sit there and thing without too much pressure. Over-all, for wargamers, I would give it a 3/5 simply because you will not be actively killing each other.

Carcassone:

Carcassone is about tile placement and selection strategy. How many pieces of terrain can you claim to earn the most points? The game is sort-of like Dominoes meets a jigsaw puzzle. You pull random tiles and place them on an ever expanding kingdom. Each player also has a limited number of little men they can use to claim terrain features such as cities, farms, monastery's and roads. Once you claim a feature no one else can attempt to claim it, however, anyone can play tiles on it. You have to juggle using the resource of your men versus the probability of finishing the feature to earn the points and get your man back. For wargamers, I would give it a 3/5 due to lack of dice-rolling and no killing.

Talisman:

This Games Workshop, now Fantasy Flight Games, classic is one of the best back-stabbing world adventures available to gamers world wide. With 5 expansions allowing you to change up the rules and the way you play, it has intense re-playability. The goal of the game is to build up your character's strength or magic to be strong enough to claim the illusive Crown of Command. Once you claim the crown you will begin to slowly kill everyone else on the board until you are the last one standing. Other players can contest for the thrown, and as you are leveling you can even fight each other. It has classic role-play elements, but it's roots are firmly tied to the 1980's style of fantasy game with beautiful artwork and some nasty fun combos to devastate your foes. 4/5 for wargamers, this game rocks!

Chaos in the Old World:

Another Games Workshop/Fantasy Flight Games production, this game features the 4 gods of Chaos duking it out over the humans of the old world. You play as Khorne, Slaanesh, Tzeentch and Nurgle, using their unique abilities to torture and corrupt the inhabitants and rulers of the Empire. You move minions around, war amongst each other and eventually win! This 3-4 player game can really spice up your game-life by seeing who gravitates to which god. I give it a 4/5 because of it's war-like nature, setting and dice-rolling!

Space Hulk: Death Angel:

Lastly, we have ANOTHER GW/FFG game. Holy cow! It's almost like Wargame companies know what wargamers might like in a boardgame...
This 1-6 player game (yes, you can play with yourself, mark) really encapsulates the feel of a squad of marines working their way through a Space Hulk fighting waves upon waves of genestealers. It's a cooperative game, so you have to learn to work together, but if you survive you will earn back your artefacts and wipe the aliens off the face of the ship! It features beautiful artwork, a slightly complicated rule set which needs a reading through before you attempt to play, and a pretty solid and balanced system. I give it a 4/5 because of it's difficulty and it's solitare-like game play with single player.

I hope I have garnered some interest in boardgames from my readers and I really hope you give other games a shot! Boardgames are a great way to look at situations in a different way, allowing you to come up with strategies that other wargamers might not think of, as well as a way to rest your mind from list building and power gaming for a night.

If anyone is interested in trying some of these games out, let me know.

7 comments:

  1. Personally, I love Catan, and all the GW games sound very intriguing.

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  2. Puffin, as you know I'm not the BIGGEST fan of board games (Space Hulk/Incursion not withstanding), but I'm willing to give pretty much anything a shot. Admittedly ever since people in our group discovered Warmachine/Hordes play has been pretty monocultural, I'm sure the more time we have with more players, the greater the variety in play will be. You...me...DUST...tomorrow?

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  3. I love board games. There's a large group of people in town I know who play board games. There's also a subset of those people who play counter-style wargames: Here I Stand, Napoleonic Wars, etc. That's not something I've ever gotten into (the game lengths are a little long for me) but I'd be willing to try it some day. Here's a quick rundown on some games I do love:

    Battlestar Galactica (owned): An excellent game where the players have to work together, but some players are secretly working against the rest. Very well balanced with a high replay value.

    Vinci (owned): You control a series of civilizations, judging how many turns you can push them to expand before abandoning them to go into decline. Each civilization has different special rules.

    Twilight Struggle: A two-player game covering pretty much the entire cold war. Try to spread US or Soviet influence and respond to historical events. Balance the need to appear strong on the world stage with the need to avoid kicking off a nuclear exchange.

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  4. I also forgot to post: I was recently given (by my parents) my old copy of Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel in pretty good shape. Anybody wishing to play, it looks very similar to Space Incursion Hulk, but the dice really remind me of DUST from last night.

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  5. I was pretty wiped out mentally by the end of the day on Saturday, but Dust did look pretty cool to my sleep deprived mind.

    In general, I'm a fan of games in just about any form and would be more than happy to get in some boardgames or role playing games. Some of my favorites (that I haven't played in a really long time) are Axis and Allies, Scotland Yard, Space Hulk, Paranoia, the Star Wars RPG, Rifts, Recon and Advanced Recon and even D&D.

    I'm pretty much down to try whatever. I'll just make sure that I'm well-rested and sober next time. :)

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