Wednesday, March 08, 2006
One Is The Loneliest Number
So you’re sitting around the house all alone or at least you feel alone since no one wants to play a game with you. What can you do to pass the time? You could read a book or watch the boob tube but you really need a gaming fix.
Do you dig into that pile of downloaded rules? I know this is a favorite pastime for may board game addicts. There’s nothing like a good set of rules to make you yearn to get your hands on the game, one way or the other.
Do you visit the Geek? This can be a dangerous choice as it may tempt you with an appetizing new game which then leads you to an online store to see if anyone has it in stock. Choose this option at your own risk. The reverse is also true: dropping by an online store to see what’s new, then checking the Geek only to find this is an Excellent game for you which you simply MUST have.
Do you game online? There are many gamers who rely on BrettSpielWelt for their game fix. There’s a large selection of games from which to choose, from the old, familiar and comfortable to the new and exciting unknown.
Do you pull out a game to play by yourself? This is a very good choice if you have a brand new game that you haven’t played yet. New games need that initial imprinting just like a newborn; touch the pieces, understand the rules and talk yourself through any questionable areas. There are a few games that actually play pretty well solo. For me, Memoir ’44 works since my memory skills are so poor that I forget which cards my “opponent” is holding. If you want some more suggestions, here’s one of my favorite GeekLists that I wrote almost a year ago.
Do you turn on the game console of choice? Oh, come on, I know some of you have Xboxes, Game Cubes and PS2s. You can admit it, I won’t tell anyone. I have a PS2 and wouldn’t part with it any more than I’d part with my favorite board games. My all-time favorites are Ratchet and Clank, Katamari Damacy and Half-life. They may not be as stimulating to the brain but they’re excellent for improving your hand-eye coordination.
Do you stand in front of your collection reliving past glories and envisioning future ones? Or deciding the ONE game you absolutely MUST play the next time you get a chance? Or do you only see that gaping whole in your Alea big box collection and dream of filling it in? Which leads you to the next choice.
Do you search eBay with wild hope in your heart yearning to grasp and hold an elusive Holy Grail? Oh, look! Chinatown in “excellent” condition! All you need to do is sell your year-old car and replace it with a beat up Rambler, and you can win this bid.
Do you tell yourself now is a good time to start that print-and-play project you’ve been putting off? I know how you hate to do all that cutting but keep your eye on the prize: a brand new game to play and it didn’t cost you a thing. Well… all that ink and the other various supplies… Maybe later.
Do you blog? Head to the net and check out what’s new on the gaming blogs. With a wide variety of opinions and ideas, there should be something new to read which will satisfy the gaming centers of your brain. Maybe you have your own blog so you decide to add your thoughts about the game you finally got to try, or you just feel like bitching because nobody wants to play a game.
So tell me what you do to assuage your gaming demon when he raises his head and screams to be fed.
I recently got Bolide, a racing game from Italy, and after a couple of 2-player, a 3-player and a 4-player game, I’m very happy with it. You can read my initial thoughts and a quick summary of the play on the game at my blog, Meeple Monologues, since I’m too lazy to reproduce it here.
Mark Johnson, on his Boardgames To Go podcast (Episode 51), had a totally different view of it after his initial playing and I can understand that. To him, it was something-old-made-new-again; it’s a physics lesson that someone made into a game. To me, my husband and 2 gaming friends, it was something new and unique that was both fun and thought-provoking. Maybe when we've played it enough that the mechanics become formulaic, it'll cease to be fun.
Mark did admit that he may have been in the wrong frame of mind when he played it and I think he’s probably right. You can’t picture this as a physics homework project that has a solvable, absolute move. One of the 4 players I played with took way too long on some of his moves, staring at the board and picturing his next moves 3 or 4 turns into the future. This slowed the game down to teeth-grinding speed and left the fun part back on the starting line. At some point, you just have to say, “This does what I want it to do, puts me where I want to be for the next move and after that, we’ll just have to see.” A game should be fun to play which may mean leaving something to chance or, in this case, intuition.
Until next time, may your Alhambra have many Towers and Gardens.