Friday, August 12, 2005

The Candamir / Tower of Babel Conundrum

Or Why We Buy the Games We Buy

Saw Candamir: The First Settlers in my local game store the other day, it was setting next to Tower of Babel. I hadn't bought a game in some time and was intent on buying one. I was torn.

On one hand, I've played Candamir and was underwhelmed with it. However, Candamir is a game that will get played simply because it has "Settlers" in the title and was designed by Herr Teuber. My wife will like it, so will another female friend of ours. My wargaming buddies will play it, simply because they love all things Catan. My friend with 5 kids will like it, but he likes everything, more importantly his kids will like it.

On the other hand, I would be taking my chances with "Tower of Babel". I doubt I would be able to play it for at least three months if I were to buy it today. I doubt I would get to play it more than 3 or 4 times, ever. I doubt my wife would like it. I doubt my wargaming buddies would like it. But I am sure I would like it.

My Geekbuddies rate Tower of Babel a respectable 7.71. Candamir is a 6.86. That is a significant difference.

Candamir costs $20 more, and let me reiterate that I have played it and really didn't care for it.

So what did I buy?

Candamir, of course, and Tichu.

Tichu? How did that get into the mix? Tichu is another card game in a long line of card games that I own and hope to play one day. Mu and More, For Sale, Medieval, Battle Line and Mystery Rummy are some of the more notable titles I own and have never played. There are others.

Not a bad day. One expensive game that will get played, even though I find it to be subpar, and one inexpensive cardgame that will probably never get played.

Coming soon: The Tower of Babel/Ticket to Ride: Europe Conundrum (with a Guillotine kicker).


How did this happen?

I used to write two or three times each week in my blog, and I always had something to say. If I didn't write it was because of time constraints. There were even times that I held an entry back because two in one day, or three in three days was a bit excessive. Now that I am responsible for Fridays on "Gone Gaming" I'm having problems thinking of stuff to write. When I do think of something to write I don't know if I should wait and post it on "Gone Gaming", or post it on my blog and hope I can come up with something else for this blog.

I read an interview with "Bloom County" creator Berkeley Breathed years ago. He thrived on deadlines. He attributed Bloom County's cutting edge nature to deadlines. He would do much of his "cartooning" (my word) on the day the strip was due, even while sitting in the waiting room of his syndicator's office minutes before the deadline.

Nothing dries up my creative juices quite like a deadline, even if it is 7 days away.


Behind the scenes at Gone Gaming.

I made an error on my introduction, apart from the whole "Manly Man" thing. I said that 5 of the 7 people who said they could contribute also said they could contribute every week. That wasn't quite right.

Shannon said he was very busy and could probably only contribute once each week. I replied with something to the effect that if he was so busy he could just contribute every other week, opposite of Joe. He agreed to that.

Twelve days into the project Shannon has his next six entries stacked up and ready to go, and they look pretty good.

I wonder if a twice-a-day blog would have an audience?

Good Gaming,


Tragic said...


Great work by everyone involved so far. I have a tendency to buy the games I want even if I think they will probably not see the light of day (I just ordered an AoS expansion despite AoS going over like a sack of ... the first time we played it, in place of Boomtown, which probably would've been played to my chagrin). I think your decision is a good one, though, as it ensures that you will continue playing games.

In response to your final query, I will read this blog every time it is updated. If it went to a twice-daily format, you could certainly count me in. Regardless, I have enjoyed everything thus far.


Patrik S said...

I just wanna agree. I always read the blogs at Gamewire, and I really do appreciate what you're doing here. I also read german and swedish forums, but regard the american blogs to be more well written.
Thanks also for showing me that that I am perfectly normal, just because I love to play games.

/Strömer, from Sweden

DWTripp said...

It's good you mentioned the Manly Man thing again, there is always a slight chance Joe Steadman would come visit me just to sort out once and for all who has the biggest girth. Maybe he'll read this blog again and cool off a bit.

As for your Candamir thoughts, I have at least 20 games I feel the same way about. I resisted buying Candamir (despite it's pedigree) because, like you, I figured it wouldn't "get me".

Alex Rockwell said...

Regarding Candamir and Tower of Babel: Candamir at least has some interesting and different mechanics going for it. Tower of Babel just feels like any other average german game, with no theme and the same old mechanics...

Coldfoot said...

I know the feeling, too, Brian. No one will play Dvonn or Yinsh with me, so why do I have an over-powering urge to buy Trax!?? Because it's so Freakin' cool. And maybe some day....

Shannon Appelcline said...

Twelve days into the project Shannon has his next six entries stacked up and ready to go, and they look pretty good.

Coldfoot exaggerates.

I just have two stacked up, but then I'm resisting writing any more because they'd clog the Gone Gaming dashboard and make it harder for everyone else to see their articles. ;)

However, I've been writing 'net articles since 2000. You can find 170+ of my computer game design articles at , let alone my 200+ reviews at RPGnet. I've also edited Skotos' article section for that time period. The one thing that I've learned is that it's *very* hard to maintain a weekly, or even a biweekly schedule. I may have a couple backed up now, but wait till next January or February and we'll see if I'm not writing past midnight on Friday evening, cursing the computer and the blog.

Anyway, my first post goes out tomorrow.

Chris Farrell said...

re: Candamir ...

I finally had a chance to play with the updated, corrected Mayfair tile set, as they sent me some replacements. Not only are all the 4 tiles one unit richer, all the 3 tiles are richer also.

This made a huge difference IMHO. For me, it took Candamir from being just on the wrong side of fun (interesting, clever ideas, but not quite hanging together) to being a very fine game - the pace has been accelerated, there is more stuff happening, the game is more subtle than it appears, and there is much more trading action.

Tower of Babel is a great game too, best of the year for me personally, and probably from a purely analytical perspective better than Candamir on most counts. But Candamir is certainly the more obviously unusual, more flavorful, and in a genre that basically has never been done well before this. And apparently it works well with 2.

gamesgrandpa said...

I will enjoy daily updates, twice-daily updates, or whatever works best for you. And, thanks for starting this blog. I check it several times a day, just to see what comments have been added. The writing is excellent, and the comments are usually interesting. Fortunately, it's not as overwhelming as BGG, although I am on there many times each day. I like the feeling of a different pace here, with controlled and well-thought-out additions. Keep up the good work!

Rick said...

But Koldie, shouldn't the correct answer be "So which one did I buy? Both of them. Plus Tichu, Louis XIV and Palazzo because they were there."

I've also been looking hard at two games: Tower of Babel and In the Shadow of the Emperor. Both score decently with my Geekbuddies, but both feel like they'll be in the "good not great" section. I don't know if that means buy.

Anyway, this was definitely a good idea. Make sure to crack the whip on that lazy Joe Gola. :)