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Bits of Boardgames

Mix of reviews, critiques on the classic games, and my random musings about board games.

Archive for David Montgomery

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Quitting a Game - How to React

David Montgomery
United States
Modesto
California
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Original Post - http://bitsofboardgames.blogspot.com/2012/07/quitting-game-h...

I came across this article http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/827159/have-you-experien... talking about how to handle someone who sporadically quit games when he had no chance of winning. I've never had to deal with this specifically, but I have had the whiners and complainers, which drive people to think about quitting.

I talked about this tangentially in my All About People http://bitsofboardgames.blogspot.com/2012/02/its-all-about-p... article from February, but that was more about appreciating the people we play games with.

So, what's my take on quitting a game?
Well, it's two-fold. In a 2-player game, I have no problem with a resignation. This probably has a fair amount to do with early Chess training, and tipping your King when there is no hope. I see it a lot in Dominion when one player is clearly ahead, but the game is going to take several more long turns to come to a conclusion. Even so, part of me is torn because in a lot of games, anything can happen. Chess is a different animal, because if both players know what they're doing, there isn't going to be a mistake. Most of the games I play involve some form of luck. There are dice, random cards, cube bags, etc. that allow for momentum swings. I've had several games of Small World where I thought I was clearly winning or clearly losing; yet when final scoring came, the results had gone the other way. Sometimes you just don't know where you're at, and what might happen in the end.

2-player games, it's ok to resign, but if the end is near, try to play it out and see what happens.

Multiplayer games are a completely different story. It is poor sportsmanship to quit a multi-player game. You aren't surrendering to the other side, you're walking out on a group of people, and fundamentally changing the way they're playing the game. Many games play differently with various numbers of players. By quitting, you've changed the interactions, and quite possibly handed one player an easy victory that they would not have otherwise had.

I can see not bothering to count your final score at the end, but even that creates some problems. I had another game of Small World (5 player game) where one person thought they had lost miserably. We counted their score and they came in 2nd, and lost by I believe 5 points. I'll use Ticket to Ride as another example. There are times where you've completed none of your destination tickets. At that point, it's reasonable to not bother scoring your points, and just ending it, but that's a matter of a minute to score versus quitting a game.

The idea that's driving this whole thing is sportsmanship. We play games with the pursuit of winning, and the notion of always having fun. It is the pursuit of winning that many find enjoyable, but not the actual win. I enjoy winning games, but I have great fun in losing them too. I just wrapped up a forum game of Cosmic Encounter, which has been going on for 6 weeks. I had horrible luck, but I still had a chance to win the game at the end, only to be cleverly sent home before I could win. Now, I wasn't exactly happy at being played that way, but it was a very Cosmic move, and I appreciated it for that. That game was a long haul at times, and I really thought I had no chance, but quitting was never a serious thought in my mind.

The other notion here is this, don't let your bad time ruin everyone else's good time. If you're not winning, try to play to improve your position by 1 spot. Don't just quit and spoil the game for everyone else. Plus, most people don't want to play with a quitter, and you'll probably find that most people won't play with you. Be a courteous person, congratulate the winner, help clean up, or set-up for the next game. If all else fails, remember the old adage "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

How would I handle the situation of a repeated multi-player game quitter? Very simply, they're not welcome to play with me. They can play with other people, but I won't play with them. I'll play 2 player games, but not group games. If you're ruining my ability to have fun, I have other people I can play with.
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Sat Jul 14, 2012 4:06 am
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Tabletop - Gaming, Pop Culture and WHEATON, Oh My!

David Montgomery
United States
Modesto
California
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Orignal post at http://bitsofboardgames.blogspot.com/2012/07/tabletop-gaming...

I wanted to take a little bit of time to talk about Tabletop. No this isn't miniatures gaming, it's Wil Wheaton and 3 celebrities playing various board games and having a good time doing it. It's on Youtube every other Friday, with the next episode airing on 7/13. You can find it [url]http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL4F80C7D2DC8D9B6C&feat...], or just search on Youtube for Tabletop.

So that's where to find the show, but what exactly is it? Well, that's a good question. Essentially, the show is Wil and 3 celebrities getting together and playing a game. They explain the rules, show highlights of game play, and most importantly, they show people having a good time with the game. Most of the time the players have never played the game, or only played a couple of times, so they are by no means experts. This isn't a show for great strategy, but you get to see people learn a game and talk about it.

The next thing you're probably wondering is, what games do they play? Well, they're most introductory games or gateway games. So far they've played Small World, Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Get Bit, Zombie Dice, Tsuro, Munchkin, Castle Panic, and Gloom. Most of these are good games, and they are all good for conversation and good moments. They aren't all gamer's games, but this show is directed to the masses.

That brings us to the audience. The show is on the Geek and Sundry channel, which is Felicia Day's Youtube network. As such, you're targeting a lot of people that already have "geeky" inclinations, such as WoW players, D&D players, and other people in those areas. Figure you typical person who hangs out in the local Comic Book shop. I think there's a built in appeal for people to get together and play something based on this, so it's a great target audience. Plus, since it's on youtube, the person searching for random videos might come across an episode and enjoy it, then go pick up the game.

Tabletop presents every game they play in a positive light. They try to talk about who might enjoy it, and most importantly, they have fun playing it. I think that attitude goes a long way. It doesn't really matter what you're playing, so long as you're having fun. I've played most of the games on Tabletop. The ones I haven't played, I'm interested in. I went out and bought Tsuro after seeing them play 1 game. I want to acquire Get Bit soon. I have Zombie Dice on my phone, so no need to buy the cardboard version. Castle Panic looks fun, I'd certainly play it, I just don't think I need to own it. Gloom has me on the fence. I think the theme is fun, it appeals to my dark side, but I don't know who else I could get to play it.

In the future, I'd love to see Tabletop play some of the following games

Dixit (great party game, great story telling game, should be in Wil's wheelhouse)
Pandemic/Forbidden Island (Another good co-op, easy to play, fun to watch what happens)
7 Wonders (Civ building in 30-50 minutes, not the easiest game to teach, but fun to see it progress)
Incan Gold (Push your luck adventuring into a temple and trying to get treasure)
For Sale (Probably good in another short game episode like Get Bit/Zombie Dice/Tsuro)
Star Fluxx (Wil can parody himself parodying himself)
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Mon Jul 9, 2012 4:36 am
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Expansions - Milking the Cash Cow, or Content Enhancers?

David Montgomery
United States
Modesto
California
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Originally posted at http://bitsofboardgames.blogspot.com/2012/06/expansions-milk...

In short, the answer is both, neither, and "it depends."

Yes, really helpful I know, but allow me to expound what I mean.

Many expansions to games are meant to enhance the game, to give it greater variety, basically to get players to come back to the same game. Unfortunately, what often happens is that an expansion so drastically alters the game, that it requires players to essentially learn an entirely new game. Now, that's not a horrible thing, but if it takes a fast game and makes it extremely long, then there's a problem.

I think that the best thing I can do is talk about specific expansions.

Let me start with Pandemic: On the Brink. In Pandemic, there are 5 roles for the players. With OtB, I believe the total is up to 12-14, I'm not sure but it's a lot more. This gives players great variety, and most importantly, doesn't change the way the game is played. Now, OtB also comes with modular expansions, which can be used or not at the discretion of the players. This gives experienced players something new to explore, while still keeping the game friendly to new players. This is the best expansion to a game I own.

Another example is Settlers of Catan. The base game was fairly simple, but offers some choice, and a short playtime. The Seafarers expansion added exploration, boats, and scenarios to the game. This gave some variety, but also added to play time. I like Seafarers, I don't think that it's a required expansion, but it does give some extra options. The big change to Catan is Cities and Knights. This is basically the new game. There's a lot more depth to choices, and a lot more that players have to balance. Because of this, the game does take longer. You're looking at a 2-4 hour game depending on player count, and at times, that's just too much for Catan.

I'd be remiss to not mention Cosmic Encounter here. There have been 3 expansions so far, with more planned. These expansions have added 20 new powers, which drastically increases the permutations of different games you can play. Each expansion also added 1 new thing you can play with, Rewards cards, Hazards, large group cards. The players have choice with what to put in or not, and those are great.

Those 3 games fall into the Content Enhancer category. Catan maybe the least so, it really depends on your bent.

2 big games fall into the category of Milking the Cash Cow. I think they both started as content enhancers, but now they border on absurdum. Those games are,

Dominion and Carcassonne.
I love Dominion, and I think Carcassonne is a lot of fun, but when is enough enough? Does anyone really need 600 unique Carcassonne tiles? Does anyone need 250 different Dominion cards? Well, the answer is if you play it enough, sure. I mostly play Dominion online these days, and on there, the card variety is great. In real life, it's a pain to store, to set-up, to randomize, and thus it doesn't get played much. I was happy with 2, maybe 3 expansions. That gave me around 100 cards to play with, which is a lot of variety. As for Carcassonne, the base game was not enough. But I think the only necessary expansion is Inns and Cathedrals, and depending on the day I might argue that the River is necessary. Beyond that, I like Traders and Builders for variety, throw in the River 2, and I'm satisfied with Carcassonne.

Overall, I think some expansions are good. I like playing new games but I also like playing the same old favorites. Sometimes the favorites get dull, but a new expansion can breathe new life into the game. I think what I want to see in an expansion is something that changes the game slightly, like say a new map in Ticket to Ride, or new races and powers in Small World, while preserving the basic mechanics of the game. Expansions can add a bit of complexity, since you are targeting people who already know the game, but an expansion should not fundamentally alter the game. Give me variety, make the game experience better, but don't double the playtime, or even add more than about 30 minutes to the game. It's just too hard to keep people interested.
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Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:03 am
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BoBG: Top 7 Games to take on Vacation

David Montgomery
United States
Modesto
California
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http://bitsofboardgames.blogspot.com/2012/06/top-7-games-to-...
It's summertime, and this typically means some kind of vacation for most people. Of course since this is a blog about boardgames, I'm going to promote the idea of taking some games with you. Now, a lot of what you can take depends on how you travel. Airplanes leave very little spare space, trains give you a bit more, but car travel has its limitations as well. Two factors play into this list - size of the box and game footprint.


#7 A Standard Deck of Cards.
Yes, I am going here. Vacations don't have to be all about games. A deck of cards gives people a lot of options, many games to play, and common ground for all ages.

#6 Forbidden Island
Here's a fun family activity. Working together is a good thing to have in a vacation game. The theme of treasure hunting is fun for all ages.

#5 Tiki Topple
I've talked a lot about Tiki Topple. I know the box is a little big, but if you really want to slim it down, put the tikis and pawns in a bag, then grab the board and cards. You could even play without the board if you want to save more space. Also, you can play with 2-4 players, which is a good mix.

#4 No Thanks
The only reason this isn't #1, is because there are cards and chips, and the chips could get lost. Besides that, No Thanks is good fun. It's maybe a little mathy for some people, but it's playable in about 10-15 minutes.

#3 Mafia/Werewolf
If you're in a big group of any kind, I'm thinking large family gathering with 10+ people, this is the game for you. The best thing, you can play it with a standard deck of cards.

#2 For Sale
2 decks of cards and a bag of tokens. Can't get much simpler than that. It plays 3-6 players, in around 20 minutes. The best part, it's incredibly easy to teach non-gamers.


#1 Coloretto
Here's a fun card game that doesn't take tons of space. The box fits in your hand, plus with only cards, it's hard to lose any pieces. It plays 3-5 players which is great for those family trips. The game is short and simple, which makes for an ideal quick game on vacation.


There are a lot of games you can take on vacation. Try to pack a game on your next vacation. Don't go overboard and pack 10 games. Ultimately a vacation is about spending time with people and exploring a different area than home.
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Thu Jun 14, 2012 9:20 am
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Skip-Bo, Dominoes, and things from Redondo Beach

David Montgomery
United States
Modesto
California
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Original post at http://bitsofboardgames.blogspot.com/2012/06/skip-bo-dominoe...
This past weekend, May 31- June 3rd, I visited Redondo Beach in the greater Los Angeles area. I was fortunate enough to stay with a friend's family, and that led to a lot of games. We were also lucky enough to have some friends from college visit us, and that led to even more games. Overall, a good time spending time with friends, getting to know people better, have a lot of laughs and play games.

I took the train down to LA on Thursday, arriving late in the afternoon. That evening we broke out No Thanks, Scary Tales, Tiki Topple, and Mexican Train Dominoes. It had been years since I had played Dominoes, so it was nice to get an old classic to the table.

Friday wasn't much of a game day, even though it was my birthday. I did get a chance to go mini-golfing and arcade game playing(ski-ball and the like) with my friend. I know it's not a boardgame, but hey, it's a game, an activity, and mostly fun. I think of mini golf as a fun dexterity game with more space to play. After dinner, a family friend stopped by, so that gave us 6 for Skip-Bo. We played one game alone, and then 2 games with partners. I was able to win one of the partnership games. It's actually a really fun game. I wouldn't have chosen skip-bo, but now it's moved up on my list of fun games for the not as serious crowd.

Saturday was a bright and early start since games began at 10am with the aforementioned couple. We started the morning off with Ticket to Ride Europe, including the 1912 expansion. We didn't play depots, just the extra tickets. Early on, I got blocked off from Budapest by both of the 1 length routes. Needless to say the workaround was extensive. Sure I could have burned a station, but I kinda needed to go other places too, and didn't want to get caught without enough stations too early. That basically cost me the game though. One player was able to go from Petrograd to Madrid, in a straight shot. This allowed her to draw a lot of tickets, and make small branches to make things work. She ended with over 100 points in Tickets alone, and something like 194 as a final score. I managed 2nd with 121, but that was a very, very, distant 2nd.
After Ticket, we moved on to something a lot lighter, Scary Tales. Everyone had fun with that, since the game is not overly serious in nature, and feels very light. The dice really do help maintain a quick pace and everyone tends to have fun with it.
One player had to depart, so we moved to Coloretto. Yes, that's right, I finally got it played. I really like the game. I think there's a lot of thought that goes into your choices and there's enough interactions with different players, and ways to make the game hard on them without the screwage factor.

The most important part of Saturday was talking to a good friend about Star Runner. He had a lot of good ideas to add more secrecy to the game play, and while that will add a little bit of time, I think it enhances the feel of the game, makes it feel more like you are moving things in secret, and gives the patrols a better reason to exist.

Overall I had a good time. Some of the social aspects were not as good as they could have been, but I wouldn't change a thing. I got a lot of games played, I think I'm completely back on track for the goal of 300, plus, Star Runner will be worth the extra work.
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Mon Jun 4, 2012 11:28 pm
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Importance of Mechanics

David Montgomery
United States
Modesto
California
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http://bitsofboardgames.blogspot.com/2012/05/importance-of-m...

Awhile back I talked about the importance of Theme. In it I said I would talk about Mechanics, so here's that discussion.

If theme is what draws someone to a game, mechanics are what keeps someone coming back. Let me take a step back here and define game mechanics. Game mechanics are what makes a game work. They are the things that players do on their turn, and the things they must do in order to win. In a very simplistic take, they are the rules of the game. Some general mechanics in games are dice rolling, worker placement, set collection, auctions, trading, and resource management.

So that's what mechanics are, but I still haven't addressed why they're important. Mechanics are what make a game tick. If there isn't much there, you have Candyland, or any of the mindless dribble that fills your local box box store with the release of some big movie.

Let's look at some well known games. I'll start with Ticket to Ride. The mechanics are rather simple, either draw cards, play cards, or take more tickets. Even though they're simple, there are options. Do you use that wild card to take a route now, or do you chance it one more time? Can you afford to risk more tickets? Those choices keep the game interesting, and give it a lot of replayability. It's an excellent example of a game that doesn't have deep mechanics still using some simple concepts to be great.

Another popular game to look at is Dominion. In Dominion players create a deck of actions money and victory cards. At the end of the game, you want to have the most victory points. However, you can't accomplish this by only buying victory cards, you have to use action and money cards to build an engine that allows you to buy more expensive cards. The basics of Dominion are rather simple thought. Play cards, buy a card, discard everything, draw 5 new cards, next player goes. All the mechanics come from the cards themselves. Each action card does something different, and with close to 200 cards currently, and only 10 in each game, there is a lot of replayability.

Simple mechanics can create a great game system. They allow for the game to add complexity in different forms. Sometimes it's with modules or different expansions. Other times the depth is created by the players. Regardless of how things are accomplished, a game without good mechanics is doomed to the bargain bin and dust collection.

Great mechanics alone do not make a game, but they sure go a long way in people coming back for more. Theme is great too, but mechanics are the great necessity.

What do you think? Theme or mechanics, which is more important?
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Wed May 30, 2012 10:26 am
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Magic: Cost, Fun, and Balance

David Montgomery
United States
Modesto
California
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http://bitsofboardgames.blogspot.com/2012/05/magic-cost-fun-...
Back in the April Update I offered that anyone could take some time and talk about something related to gaming. One of my friends, Chris, took me up on the offer. Chris and I played games in college, but he has a fairly different gaming history than I do. I won't spoil too much, just know that his words are well thought out, and unedited.
A couple of weeks ago, David and I were talking about games and other stuff when I suggested to him that it might be fun to hear from people who play tabletop-style games other than boardgames. To my surprise, he remembered that I have played Magic: The Gathering for some years now and invited me to write a guest post on trading/collectible card games (TCG/CCGs). Since Magic is pretty much the only TCG I’ve played I’ll write about that, but I’ll try to make general comments about the genre and relate the discussion back to the theme of BoBG, namely boardgames.
For those unfamiliar with Magic, it is a collectible/trading card game published by Wizards of the Coast. The premise is that two (or more) players take on the role of dueling “Planeswalkers,” drawing on the land to cast spells represented by the cards in their decks. The last Planeswalker to avoid exhausting either lifepoints or cards in their deck wins. So far, except for the mention of decks this could describe any boardgame just as well as a TCG. The obvious difference in the two genres comes from the fact that boardgames are typically completely encapsulated in one package, whereas TCGs are purchased in packs containing quasi-randomly distributed cards. The consequence of this game model is that, relative to the boardgames I have played, Magic (and I suspect most all TCGs) features far more dynamic gameplay.
What I mean is that since the game designers don’t know what elements will be present in any given game, the cards in the game establish many of the rules. Some readers may be thinking of Cosmic Encounter at this point, and for good reason; Cosmic was one of the major inspirations for Magic. However, Magic goes further than Cosmic in that the entire setup of the battlefield will change over the course of a game of Magic, whereas the landscape is essentially set at the beginning of a game of Cosmic. To prevent a game of Magic from changing uncontrollably quickly, players are given a lot of freedom to interrupt each other and a player’s turn is therefore far less sacrosanct than in a boardgame, which tends to induce a lot more player interaction. Control of the way the game changes and hampering opponents’ actions (two sides of the same coin) are therefore really the heart of the mechanics of Magic.
Now, while this setup makes for some of the most enjoyable gameplay I’ve experienced, it has some rather deep pitfalls. The first is that, to be quite honest, Magic is an expensive hobby. Coming in at about $4 per 15-card pack, it takes a moderate amount of money to build up a collection of decent cards. Singles can be purchased, but they are typically more expensive for the good cards. To make matters worse, about once every two years all the cards currently on the market cease to be tournament-legal. That means that a player is either reduced to playing informally with friends or must start over and build a new collection (one reason, I suspect, that people sometimes refer to the publishers as “Wizards of the Cost”). I personally never play in tournaments for this reason and because I like to play with many of the old cards, but this cuts me off from a lot of the Magic-playing community. This also explains why I have only ever played Magic among all the TCGs out there: it is simply too expensive to purchase the cards needed to play multiple systems.
The other major downside to Magic is that it is pretty complicated. There are quite literally hundreds (if not thousands) of rulings to pore over if a player wants to learn the nuances of the game, and every expansion adds more to the mix. This means that a new player must invest a substantial amount of time in achieving fluency in the game mechanics in order to construct a superior deck. Achieving a sufficiently wide knowledge of cards is also necessary to understand what is possible. These are significant barriers to TCGs in general and I suspect commonly prevent people from playing these games.
What may surprise some people is that I actually like almost everything I’ve written here about Magic (except for the price). I like learning complicated systems, and I like that the strategy of Magic relies on both constructing a good deck and having a deep knowledge of the rules. Many times I have seen a bleak situation turned into a win and vice versa by knowing (or not knowing) the details of a specific rule. That strategy and knowledge goes into building a deck before ever playing, and the creativity it allows is incredibly satisfying.
For better or for worse, this becomes the standard against which I often judge other games I play, including boardgames. Often when I find myself consistently unable to meddle with my opponents’ plans my enthusiasm for a game begins to cool. Similarly, when I begin to perceive that a game doesn’t allow for innovative ways to achieve my ends, I find my interest waning. David once quipped that I never win at Cosmic, and he’s right, but that’s because at some point I start to grow disinterested in merely winning: I want to find out just how many ways it is possible to win. Often enough my strategies fail, but if I get to try something new then it’s enough for me. Are there other mechanics that make it fun to play games? Certainly; finding traitors in one’s midst (a la Mafia/Werewolf) is a good example, but even without these mechanics I will happily keep coming back for more as long as a game continues to let me innovate.
I think this is a good point to wrap things up since this post has already become longer than I had intended it to be. Clearly I cannot convey the actual experience of playing Magic here, but I hope that anyone reading this has at least found some interest in seeing boardgames through the eyes of someone who primarily has played TCGs. Big thanks to David for letting me ramble on his blog, and happy gaming.

Thank-you Chris for taking the time to write thoughtfully about an often debated topic in the gaming world.
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Mon May 14, 2012 8:39 am
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Importance of Theme

David Montgomery
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Modesto
California
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This is in no way meant to minimize the importance of game mechanics, their day will come soon, but I find myself drawn in by a theme before the mechanics, so that's why theme gets the first post.

Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Games like Candyland, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Chutes and Ladders, Hi-Ho-Cherryo, Mousetrap, etc., all have fun themes for young kids. They box covers are vibrant and engaging, and the game continues the motif. I doubt many of us would call those games with great themes, but they do engage the target audience.

Let's look at my top 20 games. Games with high theme are Cosmic, Battlestar Galactica, Eminent Domain, Star Trek Fleet Captains, Shadows over Camelot, Rattus, Forbidden Island, Pandemic, Catacombs, RTtA, Space Hulk, Small World, and 1960. That's 13/20. All the other games do have a theme, but they aren't as crucial to the game as the theme in the prior games.

Before I go any further, let's look at what theme does for a game. A great theme draws people in. You don't often hear someone say "come over and play that great roll and move game!" You hear "let's play that new space game, or that new civilization building game." The best of themes tell a story. They lead to stories you can tell days, months, even years later. You rarely hear a story about say Agricola that goes, "yeah, it was this awesome game, I won by 2 points because I got 1 more sheep than the other guy." You want grand tales to tell, like that one time in Shadows Over Camelot where everyone thought the traitor was going to win, and the knights pulled it out right at the end.

Now, theme caries a vast risk. If a game is built around a theme, several things can happen. First, the theme can fall flat for a group. I tried played the Game of Thrones game with my group last year, and it just didn't work for a couple reasons, but the theme was part of it. Being able to play the game at a high level was helped if one knew the source material. Second, if there are no mechanics to make the game interesting, you end up wanting a real game, regardless of the theme. For proof, look at the countless movie and tv tie-in games that exist with no real game behind them. Yes, there are some that shine, but the vast number of them end up on Goodwill shelves.

Theme isn't everything in a board game. If it were, the whole abstract genre wouldn't exist. Theme isn't even the most important thing in all games, but it is a nice bonus. Ideally, I like my games to have a mix of theme and mechanics. Basically, let there be a theme, let it not turn me off the game, and then have a solid game structure.
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Wed May 9, 2012 10:09 am
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April 2012 Update

David Montgomery
United States
Modesto
California
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Originally posted to bitsofboardgames.blogspot.com

Welcome to May! Wow, a third of the year over already.
April was a slow month for games, mostly because I was working on Star Runner (my game). If you're interested in providing feedback on the rules, send me a Geek Mail and we can talk about things.

The biggest news of the month was the first test of Star Runner, which was fun, but revealed several problems. I've been messing with things and plan on testing again shortly. I did get a couple of game days in with the gaming family, so that brought up the play total to 11. Sad that it's a lower total than February, but happy days are soon to come. My sister returns from school in a week, and that should lead to the return of weekend games with my family once in awhile.
The running total is now 93 which puts the projected year total at 279, which would be 21 plays short of my goal of 300. (Looking at 2011, my highest set of 4 months of plays was April-July, so plays pick up with summer)

I acquired two new game, Star Trek Expeditions, which I got in a trade for Star Trek CCG cards, and Lemonade Stand from Kickstarter.

My unplayed game count is now at 15 due to gaining ST: Expeditions, and selling Descent.

Tales of the Arabian Nights (soon)
RoboRally (soon)
ST: Expeditions
Zooloretto
Coloretto (Soon)
Elder Sign
Scrabble Slam
Monopoly Express
Clue Express
Battleship Express
Crappy Birthday
S'quarrels
Risk 2210 AD (Risk Legacy takes precedent)
Settlers of Canaan (no rush since I have other means of playing Catan)
High Bid
April saw the 4,000th page view for this blog which is incredible in under 6 months, thank-you all so much for that.
I didn't get as many reviews as I would have liked done. (This is kinda a running story)

From the March Update
"April should hold a full review for the following
7 Wonders - DONE, see the videos
Star Trek Fleet Captains - Not Done
Cosmic Alliance (Cosmic Encounter Expansion) - DONE.

I'm going to try to get a few done in May
Star Trek Fleet Captains
Lemonade Stand
Pizza Theory

State of the 2012 Resolutions
Play every game I own that I've yet to play at least once (Current count is 10 15)
Finish Risk Legacy (15 plays total, meaning 11 to go)
Log 300 game plays (not counting expansions. This was originally 250, but I realized that last year my count was 292, so I aim to go higher) 93/300
Trade/give away the games I won't ever play (Looking at you Android) (Sold Descent)
Introduce at least one new person to Cosmic Encounter - DONE
Organize a micro tournament of Dominion with my friends, most likely online. DONE
Finish design work on my own board game design and start playtesting by June. SOMEWHAT DONE
I will also predict that Eminent Domain will be my most played game of the year. - VERY WRONG
Game plays in 2012 are
Scary Tales - 12
Pizza Theory -10
Cosmic Encounter - 9
Eminent Domain - 4

The final item of note.
I'd like to start a new segment with some guests. Now, no one famous at first, but that gives you, yes YOU, person reading this blog a chance to come on and talk about games.
We can do a review of a game we've both played, see the Battlestar Galactica review I did with my friend Josh.
We can talk about a type of game (dice, word, puzzle, co-op, etc.)
We can talk about gaming in general.
So, what should you do?
Send me an e-mail (bitsofboardgames@gmail.com) or a Geek Mail with what you'd like to do for an article, and I'll do my best to make that happen. It may take a little while to get it together, but I think getting some reader input makes things more fun.

Thank-you all for reading and comments. You keep me energized to post articles, and continue talking about games.
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Tue May 1, 2012 8:05 am
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My Top 7 games to play with 3 players

David Montgomery
United States
Modesto
California
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Original post at http://bitsofboardgames.blogspot.com/2012/04/top-7-games-to-...
3 is perhaps the most awkward number in gaming and life in general. Two people can usually agree on something, but once a third is in the mix, things get clouded. Plus the major problem with most 3 player games is that person A goes after person B. Then person B retaliates to person A, leaving person C in a better position.

This is not a comprehensive list, as other good games work well with 3 aren't here. Some that I know are Small World, Quarriors, Citadels, and Acquire.

#7 Tiki Topple
Yes, I am going here. Tiki Topple is best as a 3 in my opinion. Everyone gets to use their toast cards, and the round can't end until everyone has done so. Unlike a 4 player game where 1 player could use neither of their toast cards and have the round end. 2 is ok for Tiki, but there are too many leftovers and not enough dynamics. 3 is a good balance of control and making the best of what happens.

#6 Pandemic
2 player Pandemic can be a little too easy sometimes since cards are more concentrated. 4 can be a little hard since everything is spread out. But 3 is a good balance of the two. Pandemic is a good challenge at any player level, but a 3 player game gives you the right mix of voices to contribute but not too many cooks in the kitchen.

#5 Settlers of Catan
Now, I learned Catan with 5 and 6, played a lot of games at school with 4, and all of those were good, but there's a nice elegance to 3 player Catan. Trading is straightforward, you have a pretty good idea of what your opponents can and will do, and the biggest advantage, you get your turn frequently. Now, 3 player Catan does lose some of the dynamics, I'm thinking of resource variety, special building with 5 and 6,,, but the map is fairly open, and everyone will have good places.

#4 Pizza Theory
Here's a new game to me, I just got it in mid March, but the first time I broke it out, I played it 7 times. The game is specifically designed for 3 players, and it does a great job at giving players strategies to pursue that depend on others, but there are no means of direct retaliation. For kicks, it's also a game all about pizza, which is an unusual theme.

#3 Ticket to Ride (Ideally Nordic or Switzerland)
Ticket to Ride is a classic game with any player count really. It works well as a 3, since blocking isn't too horrible, but to eliminate blocking as a huge play, go for a map where 3 is an extended route set, like Nordic or Switzerland, rather than one where 2 and 3 have the same options like US, Europe, Marklin.
3 players keeps the game moving, there's very little down time, and a lot easier to go where you want than in a 5 player game.

#2 Eminent Domain
Em-Do doesn't suffer from the A v B so C wins, which moves it up the list. The 3 player game feels long enough to be fun without being so long. The 4 player game feels short, and the 2 feels long, so 3 with either one or two piles works well. I personally like 2 piles just to get tech moving a little bit, but one less player taking cards does prolong the game. I suppose it depends on the strategies at play, since running out the victory tokens seems to happen more often than two piles in my extended 3 player games.

#1 Dominion
3 player Dominion has a few advantages over 2 player Dominion. There are 12 of each victory card instead of 8, yet still 4 per player. Some attack cards become more useful, Pirate Ship, Thief. Other cards become more intriguing. The choices are a little deeper, and the strategies aren't as straight forward as 2 player, specifically in the endgame. Best of all, Dominion has very little of the A v B so C wins dynamic.

The main point of this list, don't be afraid of games with 3. Sure, not everything works, but some games can be fun, or even their best at 3 players. If you have a group of 3, try pulling these games out, and see where they get you.
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Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:27 am
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