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TOPIC: What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing?

What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 19 Feb 2018 15:41 #263950

Dune & Rising Sun are so very different. I certainly enjoy Rising Sun more, but I own both and appreciate both. From a designer perspective, Dune is outstanding. To have made a game that features six factions that play so differently, but features a shared ruleset that makes them thematic and distinct is remarkable. Despite its merits, the combat is very severe and particularly unforgiving to new players. I enjoy that in Dune, because the setting is severe and unforgiving, which is fine, but I find it tiresome after three hours. I wouldn’t call the conflict a lose-lose. Gaining strongholds and spice are vital and once your forces are on the map, not initiating combat means free/cheap revivals are wasted.

For Rising Sun, the combat does make it a more forgiving game, but win-win is an overstatement. Without territory tiles, you will not win. Limping into losing battles just to gain reparations can be beneficial, but some factions have a much tougher time maintaining board presence than others. Losing six battles as Fox Clan pales to losing only half and giving yourself an option to harvest early the following season. The victors in Rising Sun pay reparations to the losers, which is great for keeping them engaged and involved in other battles. No player can really win everywhere.

The difference in theme and execution is night and day. Dune is about treachery. Rising Sun is about honor. Dune isn’t about inhabiting a map. Your figures ship on (or off) and aside from five strongholds, everything else is waste, waiting to be ravaged by storms and worms. That severity is why nearly every game ends in an alliance victory. In Rising Sun, the alliances are made and broken every season, but you must win alone. If you enter Autumn with a large lead, your rivals will not ally with you.


These are both great games, but the stories they tell are quite different. I’ve played both only about 6 times each, but they both occupy a space that are only superficially similar to other games.
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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 19 Feb 2018 15:42 #263951

Erik really should have put his post on the front page. Also, I would never never ever give a new player Fremen in Dune.
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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 19 Feb 2018 16:10 #263955

Haven't been getting that many plays in (my euro-friendly Tuesday group have been doing repeat plays of Terraforming Mars and Scythe, neither I would want to sit down for three hours of, so it's just been Sunday meets but i have been getting the quality instead of quantity (a bit of recognize the box cover for everyone) although wasn't that impressed with Star Trek: Frontiers:


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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 19 Feb 2018 16:41 #263959

Oh wow, somebody played Middle-Earth Quest in 2018. It was practically game of the year here at F:AT in 2009, which of course means nobody was playing it any more by 2011.
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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 19 Feb 2018 17:52 #263965

Erik Twice wrote:
I think the current gaming zeitgeist demands games that aren't more interesting nor better, but simply that require less effort to appreciate. In other words: We are not making games more fun. We are reducing the effort required to have it.

Think about this. What requires more effort to enjoy? Dune's blind auction or Rising Sun's miniatures? The strategic bluffing of Netrunner or trying out five new games? Let's go beyond that, what requires more effort on part of the player? Playing a game that challenges your preconceptions or a game that tells you are the biggest badass for doing nothing at all? I think that if you make a list, you'll find that it's not challenge nor age nor complexity that is behind this divide, but effort and how much it costs you to get to the fun.

And by effort I don't mean skill, but a more diffuse, more general requirement that applies to all facets of life. The same requirement that separates watching a movie you are interested on from aimlessly watching what is on TV, or the same requirement that separates a fulfilling hobby from browsing online memes to pass the time. I fear that often in life we don't pursue what we truly want not so much because we can't but simply because "barely enough" is easier than "better, but with some effort required". And I include myself in this, mind.

I think the word you're looking for here is *attention* actually. Basically, knowledge of the psychology of humans has deepened extensively and now people/designers/marketers etc. know so much more about how long individuals like to give attention to things and when that attention starts to become "hard" for the subject. I think that all plays out here---entertainment has responded by honing itself to be just long enough to keep most individuals attention, and similarly keep people feeling good enough that their attention is kept (even if they are losing!)

I'll push back a little. With respect to your point about tricks to make players have a better time, you're getting a core question that goes way deeper than this site's discussion. What is play? Why do we do it? Is there a right or virtuous way to play? Is it actually making something "worse" play if it simply exists to make you have a better time? Making a game unfair on your behalf, especially in a one player game... it's "unfair" but is that actually a big problem? I do agree with you that it is a distinct point of difference with older games (board and video)---they tended to be scrupulously "fair" and not do behind the scenes things to make you win and feel good... something I think reading between the lines you feel like is a form of manipulation. But then, games of that era being so hard but not too hard until you get a little ways in are just a flipside legacy of trying to get players to waste quarters!

I like Luftrausers better than Galaga. ;)

Edit: and gradius, whoops
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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 19 Feb 2018 17:59 #263966

Shellhead wrote:
Oh wow, somebody played Middle-Earth Quest in 2018.

We've played MEQ 1-2 times per year since its release. More when it initially came out, of course. Most folks hate on the final battle, but we're OK with it. And if you're good enough there's no final battle anyway. (I think?)

MEQ is one of the few one-versus-many games that I still enjoy playing. The genre as a whole really grates on me, as the ability of the "dungeon keeper" to make perfect creature moves and attacks often throws the game in favor of the keeper. That's one reason why I enjoy Gloomhaven, actually - its unpredictable monster activations.

I'm also sick of being the guy who owns the game and knows the rules, and so is always stuck being the keeper. These games are often the best when the keeper has no idea what s/he is doing, but people tend to shy away under those circumstances.

Other one-versus-many games that I still enjoy: Catacombs and the LOTR board game w/ Sauron expanison (though I haven't played in a while). I might also play Mansions of Madness 1st edition with a keeper handicap (e.g., one fewer threat per turn). And I still haven't tried Doom 2.0, which sounds promising.

P.S. Friedrich is a great game, except for when people treat it like a one-versus-many game - since when that occurs Prussia invariably gets crushed.
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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 19 Feb 2018 18:34 #263967

Erik Twice wrote:
Yeah, I just think there's a reason why 30 years later people still love Gradius while nobody remembers Luftrausers :p

Luftrausers is actually pretty rad, and I'd take it over Gradius any day. The soundtrack!
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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 20 Feb 2018 03:55 #263982

Shellhead wrote:
Oh wow, somebody played Middle-Earth Quest in 2018. It was practically game of the year here at F:AT in 2009, which of course means nobody was playing it any more by 2011.

Looking at my BGG records I've played it 14 times since Dec 2012 (probably when I got it). I think it's a very good adventure game and a 'go to' game for when we're just three players, unfortunately I have a lot of 'go to' games for three players so it doesn't get out too often but at least twice a year. The use of your cards for travel, battle and life is a fantastically clever mechanic that works fantastically well, you'd have to say it is balanced between the two sides in that respect, I just wish they could have made the finale a bit better and had a few more quests and objectives. And we have people wanting to play Sauron ... but then that's just our group.
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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 20 Feb 2018 03:59 #263983

wkover wrote:
Shellhead wrote:
Oh wow, somebody played Middle-Earth Quest in 2018.

We've played MEQ 1-2 times per year since its release. More when it initially came out, of course. Most folks hate on the final battle, but we're OK with it. And if you're good enough there's no final battle anyway. (I think?)

MEQ is one of the few one-versus-many games that I still enjoy playing. The genre as a whole really grates on me, as the ability of the "dungeon keeper" to make perfect creature moves and attacks often throws the game in favor of the keeper. That's one reason why I enjoy Gloomhaven, actually - its unpredictable monster activations.

I'm also sick of being the guy who owns the game and knows the rules, and so is always stuck being the keeper. These games are often the best when the keeper has no idea what s/he is doing, but people tend to shy away under those circumstances.

Other one-versus-many games that I still enjoy: Catacombs and the LOTR board game w/ Sauron expanison (though I haven't played in a while). I might also play Mansions of Madness 1st edition with a keeper handicap (e.g., one fewer threat per turn). And I still haven't tried Doom 2.0, which sounds promising.

P.S. Friedrich is a great game, except for when people treat it like a one-versus-many game - since when that occurs Prussia invariably gets crushed.

I'm another lover of LotR + Sauron, unfortunately my main group is so small that we never get five or more to be able to use the Sauron expansion and the larger euro-esque group I join in with mostly refuse to play a co-op themed game (they're into their competitive, multi-VP path mechanics). A much ignored game.
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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 20 Feb 2018 08:57 #263987

Erik Twice wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:
Time to write an article. Front page material.
Woha, thanks. I didn't expect anyone to find that interesting, now I regret not going back and adding the other bits.

What did you find interesting? I'm trying to write again so I might try to write something about it once I'm done with the half-finished articles I have.

Gary Sax wrote:
Man, that win-win, lose-lose framework. I feel like you're tapping something that separates virtually all new design attempts in genres vs. old. The zeitgeist *hates* lose-lose designs. I get it, it's more welcoming because you can lose a game and still feel good, but there's definitely a fundamental experience missing...
I think there's something there too, though I'm not sure if I can describe what it is in a goodway. Let me try.

I think the current gaming zeitgeist demands games that aren't more interesting nor better, but simply that require less effort to appreciate. In other words: We are not making games more fun. We are reducing the effort required to have it.

Think about this. What requires more effort to enjoy? Dune's blind auction or Rising Sun's miniatures? The strategic bluffing of Netrunner or trying out five new games? Let's go beyond that, what requires more effort on part of the player? Playing a game that challenges your preconceptions or a game that tells you are the biggest badass for doing nothing at all? I think that if you make a list, you'll find that it's not challenge nor age nor complexity that is behind this divide, but effort and how much it costs you to get to the fun.

And by effort I don't mean skill, but a more diffuse, more general requirement that applies to all facets of life. The same requirement that separates watching a movie you are interested on from aimlessly watching what is on TV, or the same requirement that separates a fulfilling hobby from browsing online memes to pass the time. I fear that often in life we don't pursue what we truly want not so much because we can't but simply because "barely enough" is easier than "better, but with some effort required". And I include myself in this, mind.

--

Anyways, I think that, lose-lose is much more interesting than win-win or just plain winning. If you look at the list of best games you'll notice that lose-lose games are disproportionately represented amongst the best games of each genre and it tends to produce better gameplay.

For example, in Dune the lose-lose combat holds several benefits:

- It gives players a difficult choice. If you were assured to get spice, it wouldn't be a choice to go chase it. If you were assured to win by sitting back, there wouldn't be any point in the game. Balancing these two aspects is interesting. Compare to Rising Sun, in Rising Sun fighting is not a real choice because you always come out ahead if you do it than if you don't.
- It keeps the game's economy stable. Every turn spice enters the game. If it doesn't go out, the power level of the game starts to grow and you get a snowball. Snowballs aren't interesting nor fun.
- It keeps more players in the game. Not everyone can get the spice, nor win. If gains are small, there's more time to recover and to grind each other down.
- It gives the game ebb and flow. Much of the flow of Dune is defined by the lose-lose of the combat system. A player who grows strong will get weaker when he tries to win and viceversa: Players that aren't attemping to win have it easier to recover than players than do.
- It makes long-term and conservative play more viable. In Dune you have a mixture of short term (get spice) and long-term (conserve troops, get weapons, bid your time) goals. Rising Sun, like Blood Rage is much more tactical.
- It allows weaker players to threaten stronger players.


Shellhead wrote:
Thematically, it was nonsense that was clearly designed to protect fragile egos.
I once argued with a game designer (Jenniffer Scheurle) on Twitter about this.

She posted a thread on Twitter about "hidden game tricks" or "hidden mechanics" that game designers use in their games (twitter.com/gaohmee/status/903510060197744640?lang=es). And it was an interesting read but I couldn't help but notice that many of these tricks were not so much good game design as they were attempts to coddle the player and cheat so he could "win" or otherwise undeservedly feel better about himself. For example:

"First few LUFTRAUSERS enemies deliberately miss you to give you the feeling of being really good at dodging."
"In Bioshock if you would have taken your last pt of dmg you instead were invuln for abt 1-2 sec so you get more "barely survived" moments."
"In Gears of War, new players get massive bonuses in multiplayer games so they win their first games"
"In Paladins you play vs AI until you are lvl 5. Most people don't realize it since they have "real" names and behaviors."

She argued that this wasgood design because otherwise players would get frustrated and quit. I argued that the game should not be responsible for the player's immature behaviour. If you get pissy because you lost a game, well, that's a problem with you as a person, not with the game.

It was actually a bit frustrating because she kept telling me I didn't understand that if games didn't do this, they would be unplayable or frustrating. Or that the games I play already do this, only I didn't notice. Yeah, I just think there's a reason why 30 years later people still love Gradius while nobody remembers Luftrausers :p

Again, time to write an article. Front page material. Open Word, start typing.

For Christ's sake people, this is the best conversation on the site and it's buried on page 333 of a vanilla thread. Get this out where it can get the attention it deserves. There's two or three of you knocking shit out of the park right now.

Regarding the bottom half of your post -- those games generate revenue based on the reviews (both formal on the web and via word of mouth) of people that have only played for 30 minutes or an hour. It's about coddling players yes, but it's about sales as well. The game publishers have a second agenda though she may not even realize it (or care to admit it clearly for all to read).
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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 20 Feb 2018 09:17 #263990

xthexlo wrote:
Sagrilarus wrote:
Every game designer should play Dune at least once.

I feel appropriately chastised.

Not intended that way. And I'm not saying that you need to play 500 different games in order to design good games. What I AM saying is that there's a few games that I think designers should play, even if only once, to expand their horizons into directions that aren't immediately apparent.

A couple of years back I was playtesting a wargame(ish) beta with the designer across the table from me. He's a guy that's designed a lot of games. My buddy comes in from the far room and asks if I want to get in on Acquire after dinner, I said yes and asked the designer if he wanted in. He had never played. I talked him into it, telling him he really needed to see how it worked. He played and he agreed with me afterwards. It was a kind of mechanical action he had not experienced before.

There's just a handful of games I'd put on that list, and Diplomacy is another one of them, even if you only play for half a dozen turns. Acquire, Dune, Heroscape . . . a pretty short list of best-of-breed games that bring something unique to the table. I think Dune is one of those in spite of being ancient and dated and physically unattractive. There's a thing going on in Dune that is happening above all of that other stuff.
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What BOARD GAME(s) have you been playing? 20 Feb 2018 10:54 #264000

Luftrausers looks like (and sounds like) Defender
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