Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Would You Like to Play a Game?
What do you do when no one wants or has time to play a game with you? Head for the Internet, of course. There are quite a few games out there, of which I've only tried a few.
My first online experience was when Jody Ludwick invited me to try Cartagena at youplayit.com. Imagine the meeting of minds of the #1 Mom in Indiana and the #1 Mom in South Dakota over a virtual game board. We played and chatted about husbands, kids, food, chores, pets--just 2 friends sitting around with a cup of coffee and our respective four-legged company. Of course, we talked about games, too, and I have Jody to thank for several games in my collection including El Grande. We then tried Lost Cities at flexgames.com, which also has a nice presentation of Schotten-Totten. Both of these sites have very nice interfaces and I recommend them for someone looking to pass some time in light gaming.
I was shown around Brettspielwelt by Gerald Cameron, who offered to teach me Princes of Florence. BSW is a scary place when you first arrive mainly because it's so big, it's in German and you don't know anyone. A quote from a Gene Wilder movie, The Frisco Kid, comes to mind: "Find thyself a teacher" and I had found an excellent one. Gerald showed me how to get BSW to talk to me in English, some shortcut keys, and introduced me to some people with whom he plays regularly. If you ask around on BGG, I'm sure you'll find someone more than willing to introduce you to the wonders of BSW.
When I showed interest in playing Tigris and Euphrates, Richard Fawkes volunteered. He enlisted two other Geeks, Chester Ogborn and my BSW friend, Gerald, and started a game on BGG to teach me the intricacies of T & E--we've been playing together ever since. The interface for T & E is excellent and you can even set it up to play by yourself if you just want to practice or get the feel for it. As a warning, I must tell you that there is one small omission in the rules--you can not remove a Leader from the board. Don't let that stop you from giving it a try. If you've never played, all you need do is mention that you'd like to learn and teachers will answer.
I've played a couple of games of Puerto Rico at puertoricogame.net and while the interface is a good one, I did have one minor problem with it, though it may have been my browser: the mouse-over for buildings which explains their benefits would only show part of the explanation such as "gives you an extra VP for..." If you're unfamiliar with the game, keep a list handy.
Ludagora.net has several popular games of which I've played Through the Desert, Vinci and Medina. The first two are very nicely done with great graphics and useful mouse-overs everywhere in English. My first, and only, game of Medina is still ongoing and has been a pain in the (insert body part of your choice). The problem comes when you can no longer place a castle piece since it doesn't automatically discard them. There is a pop-up that you activate (mind you, this game is all in French) which gives you a place to vote to discard that type of piece. But ALL the players must vote and if you're playing with strangers who don't speak very good English and are unfamiliar with the game and/or who don't show up unless it's their turn, the game is stuck.
Lately, I've been playing a lot of Torres at boiteajeux.net. A great interface though the numbers can be hard to read on the pieces and blocks, especially the 5 and 6. When setting up the game, you can choose between the three variations for the Action Cards: draw one from a single pile, draw 3-choose 1 from your own set, or all cards in hand. The site, for now, is all in French so put Babel Fish on another tab and give it a shot. Boiteajeux.net offers several other games as well including Alhambra, DVONN and GIPF.
And lastly, for now anyway, is Wallenstein which can be found at spielbyweb.com. This is a complicated game with a lot of information to display and I think they've managed it very well. Alas, the virtual dice tower is just as arbitrary as the real thing but that's part of its charm. Hoity Toity and Bus can also be found on this site.
These sites, except for BSW and flexgames, are Play By E-Mail so you can take your time to decide a move, fit a move into your lunch hour or during a commercial break, or in the middle of the night when you have insomnia. How great is that?
Now stop complaining and get out there and play a game.
Until next time, play with your mouse.