Friday, January 20, 2006

It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you spin the session report.

There has been some discussion on this website lately on winning. I've been giving the subject some thought, and I've had some insights about myself. For starters I get much more enjoyment from learning a new game than I do from winning.

I don't think I can make a blanket statement about playing to win. I tend to play as the situation and my mood dictates. For example:

When playing a two player game, I always play to win (assuming I'm playing with adults). When playing as a team, in pinochle or Doom: The Boardgame for example, I always, always play to win. And my wife will tell you I usually win. (Look for her smart aleck comment to be posted later today.)

Assuming I'm playing with adults in a standard multi-player boardgame I start every game playing to win. If it becomes apparent that I am out of the running I like to think that I play to better my position, but I don't always play that way. Sometimes I work to bring down the person who was talking trash. Sometimes I play to help the newbie win. Sometimes I make a goal to regain something lost to another player. Sometimes I hang on to the fantasy that I can win and play as if I can win. Once in a great while I hate a game so much that I just push my pieces around in an effort to take no more time than I have to, and place my pieces in such a position that another player can win and end the agony (Fluxx and Monopoly come to mind. "I'll sell you Tennessee to complete your monopoly for $1. No. Wait. I'll pay you $500 to take Tennessee off my hands.")

I have played with people who always play to win, and I've noticed that they get really annoyed when you don't make what they consider to be your optimal move. Of course when they do get annoyed they are usually laying in ambush for you to make the aforementioned move. They tend to assume that you don't anticipate their ambush. This always leads to charges of king-making and the game is usually finished with flaring tempers.

I frequently play with a person who is happy to play a wargame and not attack anybody. She simply declares jihad on the first person to attack her. Destroying that person becomes her goal, not winning. We tolerate it because she is always eager and willing to play games, even wargames. How many women do you know that will play Struggle of Empires, Napoleonic Wars and Sword of Rome? Not many, I'm sure.


I've had a very good stretch of gaming. Since returning from vacation two and a half weeks ago I've probably gamed for 30 hours. For one thing it's been too cold to do much else. Among other games I've learned a few new ones; Descent: Journeys in the Dark, Mesopotamia, Railroad Tycoon and Star Wars Miniatures.

Mesopotamia struck my fancy as a very good optimization game. I liked it much more than I had anticipated, and I had anticipated a pretty good game. Don't know if there is enough to keep me interested for more than a half dozen plays, there might not be.

Star Wars Miniatures was a very good game. I enjoyed it immensely. Since it is a collectible game, there should be enough new figures available to keep the game interesting for a long time to come for those of you who are interested in such games. Since it is a collectible game I won't be acquiring it any time soon. I'll just play with someone else's miniatures. I figure the money spent on a collectible game could be better spent on a dozen other games. Wouldn't hesitate to invest in a case of pieces if I was a trust fund baby, though. I learned my lesson concerning collectible games when I got sucked into Magic: The Gathering.

I struggled through my first game of Descent: Journeys into the Dark. Even though I am familiar with Doom: The Boardgame, which is a predecessor of Descent, it took several hours to travel a short distance in the scenario we were playing. I thought I was familiar with the rule book prior to playing, but we spent most of our time looking up rules. The rule book is not well organized, just try to find the rules to "off hand attacks" if you don't believe me. The rule book could really, really, really use an index. I think Doom has an index, doesn't it? Apart from struggling through the rules Descent seemed like a good game, at least in the same league as Doom: The Boardgame and likely better. It is still a game I will only be playing with kids, though. Don't know many adults who will like it. That pretty much makes me the perpetual Overlord.

Railroad Tycoon. Looks like I'm in the minority on this one. It might be better with more players. So far I've only played with 3. I'll wait to give an official opinion, but right now it's not looking good.

Good Gaming

(Currently reading the rules to Descent for the umpteenth time)


Anonymous said...

Railroad Tycoon _is_ better with more players. There's a lot more intereaction and stealing of each other's goods.

But I like it with three players aa well.

gamesgrandpa said...

When we play Carcassonne (5 family members), I have to carefully weigh my options about stealing a city or road that my wife is holding. If I share the points with her, I'll have an ally (or non-enemy), at least for a while; if I steal it, I'll have an enemy for the rest of the game. I don't believe she has ever initiated the stealing, but she is very good at exacting revenge. In our last game, I took a chance and stole a huge city from my wife and three other players. Although I won the game (largely because of those points and the trade goods I acquired), I had to keep looking over my shoulder for the rest of the game, knowing the boom would be unceremoniously lowered at every opportunity! :)

Dame Koldfoot said...

My smart aleck remark:

I play to win every time. That's why I detest learning new games-if I don't know the game, I can't win. I'll play Puerto Rico ad nauseum if it means I will win, which I will admit I have yet to do.

The revenge/retaliation factor is also appealing.

Does that give you any insight, Darling Hubby?