28 February 2015

Co-operative Board Games

A couple of years ago, someone published an article over at cracked.com entitled '6 Board Games That Ruined It For Everyone.' The article describes six of the most well-known board games that suck (I don't necessarily agree with the author that they all suck; I still have a soft spot for Risk, although I will agree that that's better played as a solitaire game on the computer for the same reasons that the author lists for why it sucks). For each, it offers an alternative that does what the listed game tries to do, only better.

Three of the alternatives, I hadn't heard of. The other three are excellent choices. Even the three that are new to me sound like excellent choices. But there's something I think they should have mentioned in this article: co-operative board games.

In most board games, there's a single winner and the rest of the players lose. Some board games use teams, like Pictionary or The Resistance. But in co-operative board games, all the players win or lose together.

21 February 2015

Tabletop Role Playing Games

In 1971, Gary Gygax's game Chainmail (which he adapted from a rules system created by his friend Jeff Perren) was first published. This was a miniatures wargame, along the same lines as Warhammer 40,000 and Bolt Action. It had rules for mass combat, jousting, and single combat, and also contained a supplement that allowed you to include fantasy elements (magic, wizards, etc) in your war game.

Dave Arneson later took those rules and merged them with his own ideas for controlling a single warrior instead of an entire platoon. He showed this adaptation to Gygax, and the two of them created Dungeons and Dragons from it. Thus, the first roleplaying game was born.

The idea took off, and Gygax released another RPG two years later, Boot Hill. Variations on the original D&D soon sprang up, such as The Complete Warlock, by Robert Cowan, Dave Clark, Kenneth M. Dahl, and Nick Smith, and Tunnels and Trolls by Ken St. Andre. Bunnies and Burrows was an early attempt to push the boundaries of what was possible in an RPG, and as early as 1977, gamers had already started to adapt existing franchises with the introduction of the game Flash Gordon and the Warriors of Mongo.

14 February 2015

Board Game Review: Puerto Rico

Last week, I mentioned some of the great games to which I've been introduced as a result of joining the local game club. One of them was Puerto Rico, which I would describe as sort of a cross between Citadels and Settlers of Catan. I think I'd like to do a review of that particular game. So here we go! First, the ratings:
Strategy and Randomness are rated from 0 to 6. A 0 means the rated aspect plays no part in determining the game's outcome; and a 6 means that it is the only factor that determines the game's outcome. Complexity is also rated from 0 to 6; a 0 means that it's so simple a six-year-old can play it, a 3 means any adult should have no trouble playing, and a 6 means that you'll need to refer to the rulebook frequently. Humour can be rated as 'None,' meaning the game is not meant to be funny, or it may have one or more of the following: Derivative (meaning the humour is based on an outside source, such as a game based on a comedy film), Implicit (meaning that the game's components are funny, such as humourous card text), or Inherent (meaning that the actions the players take are funny). Attractiveness has nine possible ratings. Ideal: the game is beautiful and makes game play easier. Pretty: The design is beautiful and neither eases nor impedes game play. Nice: The design is beautiful but makes game play harder than necessary. Useful: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but eases gameplay. Average: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Useless: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Utilitarian: The design is ugly, but eases gameplay. Ugly: The design is ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Worthless: The design is ugly, andmakes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Average Length of Game Play describes how long an average game will probably last, give or take.
Strategy: 4
Randomness: 1
Complexity: 3
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Average
Expected Length of Game Play: 1 hour

07 February 2015

Game Clubs

So, you have a problem. You love to play games, but you don't have many people with whom to play. Maybe all your friends are too busy, or their schedules conflict with yours. Perhaps the people with whom you used to play have moved away, or no longer have a lot of interest in playing games. Maybe you've just arrived in a new city and don't know anyone yet. But whatever the reason, you're stuck at home wishing you could play games, but not having anyone to sit down at the table with you.

What do you do?

Well, your friendly neighbourhood Game Dork is here with a solution for you. The answer to your dilemma is simple: join a game club.

There are ridiculous numbers of game clubs. They're all over the place. I've learned of many in places I wouldn't have ever expected to find one. But I think you'll find that once you've joined a club, you'll make new friends, discover new games, and have the opportunity to scratch that gaming itch that's been bothering you for so long.