So in order to add some context to my furture posts, I am going to go over the sorts of things I like to see in games. Note, I don’t necessarily expect to see each of these items in any given game, however most of the games that I truly enjoy have one or more of these components.
Non-zero sum decisions
While I like games where all of your decisions reduce the number of decisions your opponent's have available to them, I prefer games where many of the decisions you make can also help opponents and you have to work on either mitigating the likelihood that they are going to benefit your opponent or make sure they benefit you more than your opponent. Shareholding games such as Imperial 2030, and the 18XX series are good examples of this, but even games like Dominant Species, Hansa Teutonica, and Race For the Galaxy have this present to some extent.
Generally, I am not a big fan of "nice", pleasant games that you can just relax and play. I tend to prefer games that are brutal on the players or where you have the potential to be brutal to your opponents, destroying their positions to your benefit. Both Age of Steam and Agricola are examples of games with a great deal of brutality. Age of Steam has both the fact that you are struggling to overcome the constant pressure the system and the attempts by other players to cut off your build options or steal your cubes, Agricola has the constant, climbing struggle for food and the harsh consequences that come if you can’t manage it. The fact that the major sources of food production are limited adds to the tension, particularly in games with more players.
High information content/Combo building/Hand Management
These three generally go together. Agricola, Race For the Galaxy, Innovation, and pretty much all war game CDGs fall into this category as they all tend to be based on being able to digest and process large amounts of information which are then used to build combos, or whatever else the game does with the cards. I tend to particularly enjoy games where cards have multiple uses, so you are left with tense decisions about whether you want to use a card for a) or for b). This is why Washington's War ultimately failed for me. The single use cards were a lot less interesting then having the ops/event decisions that you have with Hannibal, Twilight Struggle, or Hellenes.
I try to (and generally succeed at) gaming a lot, so a game needs to have a pretty wide decision space to explore if it is going to be worth my time. While a game that has about 10 interesting games in it might be a perfectly fine purchase for someone who tends to only play a given game once or twice per year, It is significantly less useful for me. Thus games tend to be better for me if they are either complex and thus have a lot of interesting nuances to explore or are deep, and have increasing levels of game play to investigate. This ties a little bit back to 1), as many games with non-zero sum decisions tend towards deeper game play as the cost/benefit ratios involved in them tend to be a lot more complex and thus interesting. This also makes me a bit of a fan of expansions as good ones are able to add a whole new level of replay value to my favorite games.
Wherein I Discuss Those Games Described As Gamer's Games
Archive for About Me
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Hello and welcome to On Gamer’s Games!
My name is Jesse, and this will be my blog. I’ve been into board games since the beginning of 2008. Before that I played collectible miniatures games competitively (Dungeons & Dragons minis and Dreamblade) and CCGs non-competitively (Magic, Star Wars) for years and years before that. In 2007 I decided I wanted to try board gaming more, since I had heard there were some good games out there and had liked Settlers of Catan so I took the plunge. I started with Carcassonne, Tigris & Euphrates, and Puerto Rico but have rapidly accelerated in prefered complexity since then. Most games I play are longer with quite a bit of depth, but I also quite like some of the more complex shorter card games.
You may have seen some of my contributions around BGG. In the past I mostly focused on session reports and geeklists, but these days I enjoy writing reviews the most. If you are interested in checking them out, here are a few of my more popular items:
Gamer's Games of Essen 2011
Gamer's Games of Essen 2010
Vote For The Best Year Of The 00s
The Economic Eight
Two Years, 200 Games Rated, and 1600 Plays: My 2nd Geekversary
Top of the Food Chain
GMT's Foray Into Space 4X Games
7 Wonders at Gen Con
The Ultimate Dice As Resources Game
The Next Level In Political Card-Driven Games
A Tale of Two Strongholds
Doubtofbuddha and Missmeeple's Deluxe Agricola Session Guide
I Think Three Player Indonesia Is My Favorite
Wargames (Minerva’s First Win)
I intend to use this to post a variety of things here, mostly a mixture of ruminations on older games as I come to realize new (to me) things about them, mini-reviews of new games as I play them, and mirrors/links to other content I produce for this webs item. I am not quite sure the rate at which I will be posting items but I suspect that it will be at least two or three times a week. Enjoy!
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