Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Nothing Much to Report

I know you all tune in each day looking for something interesting to read but I’ve had a couple of very slow weeks. No games bought (sigh), no games played (double sigh). Oh, wait, I did play a couple games of Taluva. Yeah, o.k., now I’ve got something to work with!

I played this with 2, 3 and 4 players and enjoyed it every time and the reason is that it has the 2 things that keep me coming back to a game: meaningful choices on my turn, and ways to manipulate my standing in the game. It doesn’t hurt that it has, in my opinion, beautiful components. That leads me to think about a podcast that I listened to yesterday.

Now I should probably keep my mouth shut but since I don’t have anything else to write, I’ll persevere. I’ve listened to 3 episodes of Steve Weeks’ The Ultimate Podcast including the latest one where Masterpiece (a Parker Brothers game) is compared to Knizia’s Modern Art. I have to admit that I don’t remember every playing Masterpiece and it’s been a long time since I played Modern Art but I'm not convinced it was a fair comparison.

The box art was compared and I agree that the Modern Art is pretty ugly, though the pictures of the Masterpiece box on BGG aren’t that hot, either. The rules were compared for simplicity. Hmmm, well, that doesn’t tell me an awful lot since I’m pretty sure the rules to Snakes and Ladders are probably short and simple, too, but that doesn’t mean I want to play it. The games were also rated for accessibility and there I’m a little at a loss. Sure, Masterpiece is going to be easy for everyone to grasp since it’s target audience is 8-10 year olds and their families but Modern Art is made for adults to enjoy and it probably wouldn’t be your first choice if you’re introducing someone to Eurogames. Is Modern Art accessible to someone familiar with more complex games? Absolutely.

What Steve doesn’t mention is whether these games give you have any meaningful choices on your turn. Is there anything you can choose to do that will most likely improve your game situation? These are the questions that I need answered for me to decide if a game is good or not.

A beautiful picture on the box, and on the board/cards/tiles/whatever is nice. Just look at the beautiful work done by Mike Doyle; beautiful, artistic and contemporary. But I’m neither sold nor put off by the look of a game.

The length of the rules shouldn’t be in question so much as how well they’re organized. Well-written rules are essential as the games become more complex and give you more choices, but a short set of rules can give you either a Candy Land or a YINSH.

Steve also mentioned that both games have luck. A little luck doesn’t bother me but when that luck totally determines my action for that turn, I feel deprived. I want to be able to make my own decision as to what I choose to do on my turn. I want to feel I have some control over my fate. And I want to put my brain to good use. Otherwise, why not just sit in front of the television and veg?

So if you’re looking for a neat little game with some meaningful choices, take a look at Taluva. Nice box art, too. In fact, my husband accused me of liking the game solely because of the artful use of skulls.



Unknown said...

I wanted to comment on the unfair comparison as well, but didn't bother since I'd just be ridiculed anyway.

I could compare a Ford truck to a Lexus sedan and make the Ford come out on top as long as I carefully chose my criteria. That podcast is a joke and I'm embarrassed to be a member of this hobby because of it.

SodakLady said...

I think that's a bit harsh, Ryan. But it *is* sad since he has a good radio voice and an engaging personality. Unfortunately, I think he does gaming and his listeners an injustice by widely categorizing all games and telling people why they shouldn't like one of them. He would better serve his cause by picking a game he likes and telling people about it; why it grabs him, any flaws, a session report.

huzonfirst said...

From what little I've seen of Mr. Weeks' postings, Mary, he's a man with an agenda, and that's always dangerous. His initial stuff was so bizarre that even those who might have supported his opinions seemed to shun him a bit. I've been deliberately avoiding his writings for a while, but judging by what you say of this podcast, it doesn't sound as if he's changed his ways. There's no reason why someone wouldn't enjoy Masterpiece, just as there's no reason why people wouldn't enjoy Modern Art. But outside of theme, they have very little in common. I suspect Ryan is correct in that he chooses his arguments to support his overriding theme. I welcome debate on issues like this, but not posturing.

Unknown said...

I agree that he has a great voice and the production on his podcast is second-to-none. But his schtick consists of insulting Eurogamers, taunting industry personalities and pushing his own record.

Steve said...

Who's forcing you to listen?

SodakLady said...

I don't know who your question was aimed at wargamer, but I'll answer. No one forced me to listen; I listened because I'm a fair-minded person who likes to give people a chance. I listened 3 times in the hopes that he could also be a fair-minded person. But he's not, so I won't bother to listen again.