Saturday, October 8, 2016

Board Game Week at Geeks Are Sexy

The fine folks over at Geeks Are Sexy decided to spend a week looking at board games. If you don't regularly follow that site, first off, why the heck not? And secondly, here's a list of the five articles they posted as part of that theme:
I thought that these articles were fairly well written, for the most part. I especially liked days 1 through 3.

I kind of disagreed with Day 4, though. Perhaps it's just my personal preferences, but I wasn't impressed with their picks. The first suggestion, Pick-omino, I had never heard of. But even after watching a video tutorial, I'm still not super impressed. The second one, Zombie Dice, runs into my dislike of zombie themes. I've played it once, and wasn't too keen on it anyway. Their final suggestion is Fluxx (or some variant thereof). I've played a few different iterations of this game, and they are all basically the same. And my problem with them is the same as well: they have very little player agency. Sure, players get to decide which card they want to play on their turn, but the winner is basically chosen at random by whoever happens to draw the needed cards when the correct Goal card is in play.
Here's a few games I would suggest instead:
  • Bananagrams — Sure, players can't jump in in the middle of a round, but the rounds are so short that it only takes a couple of minutes before someone else can join in. The rules are so simple that spectators can easily learn them just by watching a game.
    Plus: word games!
  • Scattergories — Technically, this game occurs over three rounds. But there's no reason to play a series of unconnected rounds letting people join in after each new one. Rounds are pretty short (and can be made shorter by setting the timer for a lower time), and the scoring phase at the end is quite quick. Again, spectators can usually get the idea of how a game works by watching.
  • Superfight — No matter how many players there are, only two of them are active at any given time. Thus, it doesn't matter who joins in between each round. Again, the game can be learned by watching. And since there isn't really a score (the winner of the current round competes in the next round; otherwise, there isn't really a 'winner'), new players won't be at a disadvantage for joining in late.
  • Tell Me a Story — I just reviewed this game last week over at PinkFae. But the important thing is this: 1 player gets a point each round. However, this game isn't fun because of who wins, but because of players telling amazing stories together. So there's no reason you couldn't just dispense with scorekeeping and simply play round after round until everyone is ready for something different. By dispensing with the scores, new players can quickly and easily jump in at any time with no penalty.
Day 5 was a little bit of a disappointment for me as well. Most games, I don't care overly much for expansions. If I like the base game, I usually don't see a need to add to it. There are exceptions, of course; I'm very glad I got the Friends and Foes expansion for Reiner Knizia's The Lord of the Rings game. Some card games need expansions to keep things fresh (Cards Against Humanity and Superfight! being two classic examples). Expansions that allow additional players (like for Catan, Firefly: the Game, or Gloom) are also very useful. But otherwise, I just don't have a lot of interest in expansions.

The thing that disappointed me is that they chose expansions for one game I've never played and two games of which I'm not a big fan. Minor disappointment, I know. But still, I would have had Friends and Foes for The Lord of the Rings on my list. In most of the scenarios in the base game, event tiles are almost always Bad Things. But in the Bree scenario from Friends and Foes, the first couple of events are actually desireable. This lets players take it a little easier at first, not panicking at the prospect of an event tile being drawn. 

I'd also have included the Pirates and Bounty Hunters expansion for Firefly: The Game. That expansion not only adds up to two new players, but also allows for some inter-player conflict that was lacking from the base game.

Anyway, that's my take on their articles. But don't take my word for it! Head on over and read them for yourselves! Until next week,

Game on!

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