Saturday, September 17, 2005

Weekend Gaming

St Pete ... ah St Pete. Notice that I keep talking about St Pete. That is because when I find a game, I like it or I don't. If I don't like it, I will play it one or two times to see if I missed something, and then get rid of it. If I do like it, I will play several times to see if it holds up and if there is room to get better at it. If there isn't, I get rid of it.

This is part of a long post, which I will save for some other time.

Anyhoo, I played with Rachel and Saarya. Like Gili in the last game, Rachel had trouble securing adequate income and was then totally out of it for the rest of the game. This is a surprise, as she has won a few of the last games. This "no way to catch up" is both a flaw and a benefit to a game, in my opinion.

A "flaw": who really wants to sit through a whole game where they don't have a chance? When I am out of it, I usually set a personal goal such as "get 60 points" and then I don't worry about winning. But I understand the frustration that others may feel in this situation. Rachel was very unhappy, and left the game on a sour note. I really should have let her quit, and I certainly would have if we had been playing two players. I should have, anyway.

A "benefit": this usually implies that experienced players will do better than inexperienced players. This is a good thing, indicating that the game has a strategy curve and depth.

Oh look, we're back at that post that I was saving for some other time. Let's keep on saving it.

The twin ideas, that players are not automatically eliminated early on and that players do better as their experience increases, are not incogruant, but finding that balance is tough. Name a few games that work this way. T&E? Settlers? Traumfabrik?

Other games played:

Three games of my game prototype #1 with Tal. Unbelievably, I discovered new strategy elements in the game. I am very happy with it.

Five games of Go with Tal on a 9x9. She has settled at a 6 stone handicap, but she doesn't really get the game, yet. Too bad.

Dinner Friday night at friends. I tried to show them how to play Zendo with cards without much success. And Tal insisted on trying to beat me at Spit again, at which she has never succeeded.

In other news, I have been working on a game that has gone through five incarnations now without getting to prototype status, since I still don't like some of the central mechanisms. It is a full weight game, something like T&E weight. It is based on my tri-colors mechanism idea (red/blue/yellow combining to make green/orange/purple).

Since I still couldn't get it to work the way I wanted, I decided to try something else to take a break from it. I came up almost immediately with a card game based on the idea. In fact, at first I added some complications but then I removed them. It's pretty simple, actually. Now I have an interesting looking game that takes about 3 minutes to teach and holds a lot of potential. Of course, it could still fall apart, but when I made a mockup and did some solo testing it seemed to hold up ok. It needs a bit more player interaction and a bit more player control. If I'm lucky, I'll have another game to show off at BGG.con .

Meanwhile, Saarya took Settlers and a copy of my game #1 to his sleepaway school with him. Apparently Settlers players are falling out of the woodwork to play with him. Where did they all come from and how come he has the only copy? He has also taught at least one person my game, which was well received.

He is working on getting a board game club going along with the school proposed chess club, or perhaps trying to merge the two. I am ready to step in once a week to run it, if he succeeds in arousing any interest. Probably I should call myself and talk to the administration. We shall see.


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