When I was first introduced to the albums of the Beatles, my favorite album was The White Album. Since I had only known their hits, my first exposure to the Fab Four’s albums was overwhelming and kind of wonderful. Every song took me to a different place, and those places were always surprising. As I listened to their other albums, I found that pretty much all of their stuff was terrific. Rubber Soul and Revolver were tighter than The White Album. Abbey Road was more polished. Sgt. Pepper was more revolutionary, and A Hard Day’s Night was just punchier and more fun. But after all these years with The Beatles, I keep coming back to the White Album, even though it’s something of a mess. Continue reading
I never played Dungeons & Dragons growing up, but I see the appeal. There’s an allure to pretending to be a group of adventurers, delving deep under the ground to defeat the forces of evil. It resonates, and if I was the “MA in Literature” type, I could probably write a paper about the archetypes at work there. D&D was smart to tap into that. But geez, have you ever read a D&D sourcebook? For that matter, have you ever read any RPG book? They are insanely complex to the uninitiated, and even to some old pros. Barrier to entry is the biggest issue with RPGs, and Wizards of the Coast knows this. That’s why they created the D&D Adventure system. It’s a way to get that “into the dark places” feeling without needing to commit to reading three hardcover books to play. Continue reading
Wooo! Back again after a slow gaming week. But it didn’t hurt me too bad, since The Rumpus Room grabbed a mention by W. Eric Martin in BGG News. You can read the article and ensuing discussion here. I don’t normally follow BGG threads very closely, but feel free to join in if you like.
We tend to become very good at classifying stuff. It’s the easiest way to filter out things we assume we won’t like. Gamers are no different from everyone else. We all have some kind of mechanic or theme that we normally remove from our field of vision. Maybe you had a bad experience with it at some point, or maybe you just have a fundamental problem with it. For me, I’m not really a fan of stock games. It’s not so much that I don’t like them. (I consider Acquire to be one of the best games ever designed.) No, my real problem with stock games is that I’m terrible at them. Something about learning to manipulate investment eludes me, which is an unfortunate handicap to have in life. Continue reading
Hey, last week’s entry “Horrible Freedom” now has it’s counterpart from my fellow blogger and gaming buddy Adam Barney.
As I wrote last week, it was Adam’s idea in the first place to write on the topic of freedom in games and some of the downsides. I recommend you check out his blog, specifically his entry, “The Good, The Bad, and the Wonderful In-Between.” Fine writing on an fascinating topic!
Kind of a quiet week from me, and that’s my fault. I got a little behind, since I didn’t have a chance to write something over the weekend. At the risk of disappointing my legions of readers, my intent is to try and get in one review and one non-review article, aside from Friday Fallout. I was able to pull it off last week, but a review didn’t make it out this week. I’ll try to correct that next week. Now onward!
In my never-ending quest to write articles that only a couple hundred people will ever read, I recently asked the advice of a fellow gamer for inspiration. He pointed me to a video from TED, that fount of ideas that makes everyone think they are an expert. In it, author Dan Gilbert poses the question of what makes us happy. You can watch his very interesting presentation here, but let me give you the condensed version. Humans seek happiness, but many of us don’t realize that we are actually capable of synthesizing it. We know that we are happy when we get something that we want. That’s what we call “natural” happiness. But suppose we don’t get what we want, or something bad happens. According to Gilbert, the human mind is capable of “synthesizing” happiness, accepting the circumstance and embracing its result. Have you ever looked back ten years later at a job you didn’t get, and realized that you are much happier for not getting it? That’s sythesized happiness. Continue reading
Don’t step on any cracks or anything. It’s Friday the 13th, and that can only be a bad thing. To whit, you’re stuck reading the newest installment of Friday Fallout. Following a moderately fallow period of gaming, I’ve actually been able to get a lot of stuff played recently. And some other things have happened too. Continue reading
You know those last moments of a convention? You’ve stayed up til the wee hours for three nights in a row, and you’re just killing time before the last door prizes are awarded. Might as well learn a new game, but for the love of heaven, not something heavy. You’ve spent the whole convention learning 3-4 hour games. This is the situation I found myself in when I first played King of Tokyo earlier this year. Since none of us know how to play, we learn from the rules, which is usually a no-no. But in this case, it’s not bad at all. We’re up and running in about fifteen minutes. After one game, we’ve gotten a feel for the rules, for the different dynamics and interactions. So hey, might as well play a second game. That’s a good move, because by now the rules are totally internalized, and we can focus on trying to push each other around. But the third game? That is the coup de grace. Because after two previous games, we now have some grudges. We all have someone we want to take down. And it was at that point that my experience with King of Tokyo became something special. It’s a good thing the game wasn’t available at the con, because otherwise you couldn’t have stopped me from buying it. Continue reading
It’s rare that a game makes an amazing impression from the very beginning, so when it happens, you remember it. I’ve only had a few games reveal how impressive they are right away. The Settlers of Catan was one. Power Grid was another that immediately appealed to me. And in the fall of 2008, Dominion did it again. A lot of other gamers were discovering the biggest recent event in boardgaming at the same time. It was easy to be caught up in the hoopla, and if you ask me a lot of that hoopla was justified. Dominion is a rare game that essentially invented its own genre. It borrowed liberally from collectible card games, but the final result was really unlike anything I had seen before in board gaming. After that first game, we immediately set up and played again. And so began my 2-year affair with Dominion. Continue reading