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.



Ava Jarvis said...

One is a lonely number, and unfortunately, cannot be avoided even by gamers with the most gregarious groups.

Let's see...

I read up on things on the various gaming sites I'm interested in, or have RSS feeds on. BGN, BoredGameGeeks, other little blogs that may or may not get updated regularly, BGG if I get an update on a game I'm interested in, browsing the recent articles and reviews and geeklists and so on.

I update my Funagain wishlists. I take a good look at games and ask myself, do I really, really want that? And rearrange their priorities. Or perhaps I have read about a new game on BGG, and now I need to determine when it claims it will be published and stick it in the right year/quarter wishlist...

I look at my collection and wonder if I can fit the expansions in the same box (this can involve mild creativity) and get rid of some other games. The latter is usually hard and occupies me for a bit. I have the Ludoviel game, and took some time once to tag each of my games with one of the card categories (119 in all), with an eye to keeping the games so tagged and selling/trading/giving away the rest, no matter how painful.

(I have T&E the boardgame; should I cheat and keep T&E the card game, even though I couldn't tag it, or treat it as a separate entity and give it away?)

I would play more games online, except that I don't. I really should.

In the meanwhile I think about the games I have played, from the respective angles, and... well, just think a lot about them. I might take notated games (invariably the by-email games) and replay them in person, to think about how I might have played differently, and what the heck my opponent was trying to do. (Sometimes you just have one-sided notation, if the game involves cards or some other hidden/bluffing feature.)

I often set up a game and play two sides (rarely more) and think about particular themes (of late, how you turn three-player games into two-players, what rules work best, when it doesn't work and why, and why do some bidding games work and some don't...).

I think about game comparisons, too, and while I don't seem to get around to writing reviews, I just think a lot about games in general. Even if they aren't in front of me. Of course I dream about games. Last night I played a particularly surreal game of Chicken Foot (a dominoes game. Recently I have been looking for decent dominoes games to learn, and so far they consist of Mexican Train, Chicken Foot, Streets and Allies, and Simon Hunt's game, which I forget the name of).

One thing about running through games alone... you don't annoy people because you take too long while you're writing notes. Email games are like that, too. Any live game is less so, but live games are much more fun.

I have started writing a private little wiki on games, to better start drawing comparisons and outline thoughts and suchlike.

I suppose I tend to have fun with games even if no one is around. I suppose that's either a sign of deep thought or a sign of great mania.

Unknown said...

I game 3, 4 nights a week, so when I'm alone, it's laundry time!

I do print off rules to read on the bus.

Melissa said...

I've been gaming online, at BSW and also at mabiweb.

And with many of my BGG friends now using IM software, I virtually always have someone to chat to, even if it's not playing an actual game.

And, you know, there's always housework...

Friendless said...

I prefer to play a solo game if I can. I've got Ingenious, Runebound 2e, and recently Arkham Horror. You get used to it when you're


Coldfoot said...

Oh, that is *so* sad. (sniff, sniff)

Anonymous said...

If I have time and am alone which place is better than the BrettspielWelt. I love to meet people, play the games and stop feeling alone. Some good sologames can be played there too, like BlackBox.

GrillTech said...

This is why you need to expand into other gaming options. If you try RPGs then alone time can be used to write up new adventures and prep for upcoming game sessions. If you try Miniature gaming then alone time is otherwise known as "Paint Time".