Wednesday, March 22, 2006
No Easy Answer
I saw a question recently on the Geek: If I like Ingenious, will I like Through the Desert? This kind of question comes up occasionally and isn’t always easy to answer, especially if it isn’t accompanied by other information like what kind of other games you like and how many players you usually have.
Sometimes the games are so alike that it’s almost a given like Gemblo and Blokus which are, at their core, the same game. Other times there’s a superficial similarity in the play or feel of games, like Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence. These games both have a fairly complex interplay of components, offer different strategies and patterns of play to explore, and if the Geek ratings are to be trusted, the answer is a fairly confident “yes”. (I know some of you will want to complain and debate my comparison of these two games so go ahead; at least I’ll know someone out there is reading this!)
When games have almost nothing in common, it’s not so easy to give a useful answer. “I’m looking for a train game. Which one should I get?” I’m sorry, but without a lot more information to go on, there’s no way to answer that question with any confidence. Train games aren’t really about trains most of the time. They’re about collecting stock, point-to-point connection, moving goods, set collection or not going broke. They range from light, family fun to heavier, strategic brain exercise.
Even when games seem to have an important common element, the answer may be harder to answer correctly. I’m not a fan of auction/bidding games but I’ve enjoyed my online games of Amun-Re. If I were new to board gaming and was looking for suggestions with Amun-Re as my only tidbit of information, you might immediately think of Goa as a likely match. You would be wrong. Goa has my most-dreaded auction, the once-around.
There’s no way to compare Ingenious to Through the Desert except they both have neat pieces and the rules are pretty easily explained. The only answer that might be of help is, “I like them both so maybe you will, too.” In fact, I like Through the Desert much more than Ingenious.
There is no magic formula to answer the question If I Like X, Will I Like Y? But you’ll get much better opinions and more suggestions if you include as much information about your tastes and needs as you can when asking this question. After that, it’s a crap shoot, isn’t it? Hey, if I like Craps, will I like Roulette?
Until next time, keep your cardboard dry.