Years ago, when I first discovered BSW and was delighted to be able to expand my gaming opportunities, a friend of mine explained that he really didn’t care for BSW very much because it was so much harder to find people who wanted to play multi-player games. Part of the prevalent culture at BSW at time favored playing two player, at least as far as either of us could see.
Obviously, this wasn’t a big deal if you wanted to play Lost Cities but he got tired of two-player Carcassonne and Dominion and the like.
Unfortunately, there are some very legitimate and practical reasons to prefer only having one other person involved in an online game and most of those reasons come down to time.
Let’s face it, one of the virtues of playing games online is that they are easy on time management than playing face to face. You get to skip scheduling and travel, along with the house keeping of setting up a game and putting it away. One can, very reasonably, argue that removing all those elements of a game removes a lot of the reasons someone might be gaming in the first place.
Reasonable argument. However, if you are playing games online, then you have obviously come to terms with your inner demons about that.
Now that we’ve settled that, why is playing with just one other person preferable, particularly from a time management standpoint?
Well, okay, it’s really not rocket science. It’s easier to get a game going if you only need to find one other person and a game will often go by smoother and faster if there are only two people dividing up the turns.
Are those things really a big deal? Well, they can be. Part of that depends on how tight your time restraints are. If your window of play time is tight, then anything that starts to crunch your playtime down can become an issue. In particular, if you are on a system that uses real time, like BSW, spending a lot of time waiting for a game to start is boring at best and may prevent you from playing at all at worst.
That said, once a real time game is going, they tend to move along nicely. The other issue, long player turns, crops up more with turn-based systems.
Just like playing games online in general, if you have decided to play using a turn-based system, getting e-mailed when it’s your turn, you really should have made peace with the fact that it might take a while. And the time management argument doesn’t stand all that convincingly since you are unlikely to be playing the entire game in one sitting.
That said, there is a difference between a game taking a week and a game taking months. I try to be patient and understanding but several days in between moves tends to annoy me. A number of sites use a hard-time system, where a game can be ended if a player has stalled out for too long. I’m actually amazed and enthused as how fast many of the people I have played on Yucata have gone.
Still, in the end, I have to admit that I am one of the folks my friend can’t stand. I really do prefer playing games two-player online. It simply gets me the most return for my time investment and it is the most convenient.