Monday, May 07, 2007

Current trends

I spent half of last night playing the 1830's PA map of age of steam. I solidered on to the end, but some early decisions left me clinging valiently to solvency, only to drop negative in the final turn. A crushing defeat, but the map was interesting enough to pique my interest in another go1. But certainly not right away.

This is in stark contrast to another recent game, Rutger Dorn's Arkadia, which we finished after a little over an hour and immediately jumped back in for a second game. This brings me around to what I wanted to point out - The current trend towards shorter heavy games. 2007 domestic2 releases have highlighted a number of strong 60 minuteish games that pack a fair amount of weight into their shorter game length. Compared directly to the heavier releases of the past couple of years, there are more options for heavy 60 minute games than there were last year at this time.

I'm not one to shy away from game length. I like 2-3 hour games. Caylus was only too long the first time played3. Age of steam remains a favorite, with a plethora of map options, most weighing in under 3 hours. But the fact remains that the majority of games that allow for strong development and long-term planning are 90+ minutes.

Arkadia, tasting somewhat reminiscent of Acquire, excited me because of the quick decision to "play it again". That hasn't happened for quite awhile in any of my gaming circles4, so it's nice to see a game that not only inspires immediate interest, but also *allows* for immediate replay without overstaying its welcome. Taluva and Ur are two other recent releases that have a similar time/strategy feel. Ticket to Ride5 can also sometimes muster up the challenge and enjoyment for "just one more game"...

I like the mighty awe that epic games6 inspire, but the fevered desire to try a game again - immediately - is also inspiring. Here's hoping that these games continue to crop up...



1 Something that isn't as true for the other side of the map, Northern California, which is also a harsh tight map, which left me panting and not actually wanting to play the map again for a long long time. I appreciated it, especially since it represents my home environs, but it wasn't inspiring.

2 By domestic, I mean the US, in my very US-centric fashion. Sorry Australia.

3 Though Caylus quickly went from a 2-4 hour game to a 1-2 hour game, which makes a big difference.

4 Ah, years of gaming bring on the jaded gamers. We all remember early on, when we first found a game we really loved - be it Settlers, or Tigris, or Acquire, or Talisman, or Cosmic, or... and you just had to play it again, and again. It's been a reoccurring theme for me over the past 12 months - the lack of group drive to really dive deeply into a complex game, play it repeatedly, and make it give up all its secrets.

5 Which certainly doesn't qualify as an old game in my book. It's barely three years old. A newbie! But it established itself so completely and so strongly, that now it qualifies as a classic. But it's really still a youngster. Barely into it's twenties. er. fours.

6Whatever your definition of Epic. Choose one that fits.


Anonymous said...

Your footnote 4 rings a chord. I remember in the mid-90's while travelling, I hooked up with a group of gamers. So one Friday, I showed up with four or five games. We played Ra first and everyone liked it so much, we only played Ra (five or six games) for the rest of the night. Nowadays, once in a while, we'll play a game twice in a row. This usually occurs when a good part of the group (or all of it) are learning the game. There are just too many good releases out there to get tired of any of them.

Anonymous said...

But what about playing epic games back to back?

Played Wellington twice over 10 hours this weekend.

Fraser said...

2 By domestic, I mean the US, in my very US-centric fashion. Sorry Australia.
Apologies accepted :-)

Phil said...

The repeat playing of Arkadia is definitely an encouraging sign. The pedigree and limited information I had on the game were almost enough to sell me on it without playing, but I held back due to the impending move. At the very least, I'll have to try it in the upcoming weeks.