Friday, February 03, 2006

A Good Excuse to Play More Games/Finally Came Up With a Tag Line

Alternate Title: Minus 40 Degrees of Collaboration

I like to play games that are new to me. Some people like to play the hell out of a few games and rarely, if ever, experience new games. I suppose most people fall in the middle somewhere.

In my circle of gaming friends there a couple others who I consider to be as enthusiastic as I am to discover new games. There are a couple others who strongly prefer to play games they are familiar with. As you might imagine this leads to some tension on game night. Should we play a tried and true game like Puerto Rico for the umpteenth time or try a new game that we can expect to make some mistakes and spend time looking up and arguing rules?

Don't get me wrong. I like Puerto Rico. It's a good game to break out regularly. I even like to play bad games a few times just to make sure I'm not missing something, but more importantly for me I have a strong desire to expand my horizons.

My owned-but-unplayed-list includes Taj Mahal, Settlers of Nurnberg, Die Macher, Reef Encounter, Keythedral, La Citta, Revolution: The Dutch Revolt, Citadels, Lowenherz, Conquest of Empire, 7 Ages, Tichu, Mu and Mehr, Ricochet Robots, Indonesia, Borderlands, Attack (and Expansion), Mystic Wood, A House Divided, Chariot Lords, Polarity, Junta, Samarkand, 2038, Sienna, Anno 1503 among many lesser ranked games*. Many of these games have been sitting unplayed for several years. For every game that sits unplayed I must have 2 games that have only hit the table once and are begging to be played again.

After one contentious game night I awoke from a deep sleep with an epiphany. True story by the way. We need an evening dedicated to learning new games. It doesn't need to be a long night. Just a couple hours would do, so it could even be during the week. We don't need to have a large group, just a few people who are willing and are expecting to learn a new game. We have no shortage of unplayed games, and not just mine. Having a night dedicated to learning new games would allow us to pick and choose which games to introduce to the main group on our regular game night. I think much of the reluctance to play new games could be mitigated if we could cull the stinkers before introducing them to the others.

A couple of us agreed to gather on Monday evenings with the goal of learning new games. So far it has worked pretty well. Everyone involved knows that it is new-game night, so no one can complain if we don't play Settlers of Catan or Traders of Genoa. No one even suggests it.

The games we play don't even have to be new to everyone involved. We have played several games that were new to most of the group.

So far this approach has worked well. Those of us who like it get to learn new games, and the others don't feel obligated to play games they don't want to play. I've found that new-game-night has the added benefit of giving us a better idea of strategy and pitfalls that can occur in the game. We can then share that information with the regular group on Friday should we determine that a certain game will go over on regular game night.

I've found that people who like to stick to a few familiar games do so for a reason. They are often frustrated when they make a move that they thought was good but turns out to be a mistake. There are usually charges thrown about of changing the rules, or you didn't tell me that was a bad move. I (like to think I) take such mistakes in stride, count it as a lesson learned and apply that knowledge in the next game. Others let it ruin their game experience. Fleshing out games first helps greatly in this aspect, but most importantly it is a great excuse to play more often.

On a completely unrelated note;

Woooo-Hooooo. It's February!!! Only 3 more months 'til spring!!!!!!

Boardgamers do it for hours

* Doge, Oh Pharaoh, Freedom in the Galaxy, Mall World, Dragon Hunt, Terra, A Line In the Sand, Medici, Medieval, Tyrus, Tongiaki, Panzer Leader, Origins, Clash of Gladiators, Divine Right, Silverton, Bobby Lee, Victory, Pacific Victory, Ur: 1830 B.C., Oriente, Alexander, Beowulf, Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper, Kings and Things, The Motley Fool, Africa, Quest for the Dragonlords, GemQuest, numerous game expansions... and others.


Anonymous said...

My wife absolutely refuses to play a game, if I haven't play it first to work out the bugs. She simply has no tolerance for looking up and debating rules. I really like the idea of dedicating a game night to trying new ones, that's a twist that had not occurred to me...

Joe Gola said...

Holy moly, all of the sudden I feel a lot less bad about my own unplayed list. Make Taj Mahal a priority!

Here's my list: Unplayed!

ekted said...

Yikes, man! Get those puppies on the table before they end up on an island with a lion and Rudolf.

ekted said...

You geeklist is not available Joe. Is it private?

Jeff Coon said...

Tichu! Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu Tichu!

You have to get them to try Tichu. And Taj Mahal, as Joe said.

Joe Gola said...

Oh, I guess it was. I fixed it.

You used to be able to see people's private lists, they just wouldn't show on the front page. They must have changed the code.

Dame Koldfoot said...

OK, Bri--just come out and say it: "My wife hates to play new games because she never takes the time to read the rules, review session reports and read stategy articles, therefore, she gets frustrated and accuses me of changing the rules or neglecting to specify with minute detail certain aspects of play." Or you can be brutally honest and just say, "my wife sucks at gaming and is a BAD looser." It's the difference between a casual gamer (me) and a can't-play-without-spending-hours-of-research-time hard core gamer (you). At least you're not a sports junkie. Or does Tichu qualify as a sport?

Shannon Appelcline said...

That's exactly what my Thursday night review gamers do: every Thursday night, a new game. They're usually review games, but if I don't have any of those, I pull out a game that I know the group hasn't played.

So last night it was LotR's _Sauron_ and before that LotR's _Friends & Foes_ and next week we should be getting back into actual review copies with _Ostia_ or _Hunting Party_.

I will occasionally do a "rerun" night on the first Thursday of the month, but only if the flow of new games has slowed.

Mario said...

My favorite game nights are with my sharp-witted, non-gamer friends. Of the lot, there are a couple that *really* don't want to learn new games and would rather focus on the few well-loved ones. Most of my other friends are much more open to new games, but they don't want to learn a new game every time we meet. They'd like to be able to play a game about 5 times (if the game is good) over the course of several game nights before moving on.

All this in mind, I am choosy about introducing games to my close friends. I introduce most game to my club where they are less choosy and very interested in learning new games. Like you, I use this as my stomping ground to cull stinkers.

And by the way... you must play La Citta! Love that game. It's a brain-burner at first, so pick the right group. :)

Fraser said...

We too have a large list (40+ I would guess) of unplayed games. We are making a concerted effort to plow through a lot of them this year.

I like to play new games, however if a game doesn't suck I also like to play it again and again. To try and correct previous mistaks, to try new strategies and/or tactics or just because I like playing it.

I have certainly used Gamers@Dockers sessions to play previously unplayed games by taking them along and asking "Can someone teach me this?". It is mainly laziness, but I do find it easier to learn if someone has played it before.

gamesgrandpa said...

This certainly rings a bell with me. Of our family group, my son-in-law, my grandson, and I constantly want to try new games; my son is fine with trying new games now and then; my daughter and my wife would be happy if we learned maybe one new game per year. Since this IS my gaming group (my only gaming group), it can be difficult introducing new games. It is especially challenging right now, because I acquired 10 new games in December, and I want to play them all, immediately.

So, I've tried to restrain myself to introducing one or two new games per week, or sometimes none. The group has been very accommodating. Since the beginning of the year, we have learned (and liked) For Sale, Boomtown, Hare & Tortoise, and Through the Desert. Modify that statement -- my daughter did not enjoy Hare & Tortoise, so it will be a long time before that one sees daylight again. We also learned Mu and Around the World in 80 Days in December.

I plan to introduce Tongiaki tomorrow, which leaves Cartagena, Alhambra, Australia, Station Master, and Hacienda. I'm shooting to have them all tried out by summer, and might actually do so within the next couple of months.

Now, my son almost refuses to let a game day pass without playing Settlers of Catan, and my wife always wants to play Carcassonne and Bohnanza. I'll play any game in our collection at any time, but I really, really look forward to learning new ones.