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Subject: Gaming salvation is neither Eurosnoot or Ameritrash! rss

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Richard Hutnik
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The said war of Eurosnoot vs Ameritrash is supposed to be brewing. But, let me propose a third way that is neither. Let's look at the reality of things:
1. Euros are a bit played out. There is NO EXCUSE for some clever mechanics without a decent theme and gameplay not dependent on the chrome.
2. American design has been revitalized some. It has learned. Old American style games are gone.
3. Wood has its place, but plastic, if it fits the theming is real good. And, let's be honest, a plastic molded tank that fits the theme looks better than a wooden symbol ones. Warcraft the boardgame suffers due to its usage of wooden pieces. One may argue that Game of Thrones may also.
4. There is no excuse for poorly written rules that were the trademark of American design.
5. There is no reason why a game can't have a set of rules that are both epic, going all day, and also playable in under 3 hours (or 2).
6. Elimination is a perfectly fine game element in certain contexts.
7. Outright aggression is something that is fine for games.
8. Themeless abstraction can have a place to, as far as a game goes, in certain doses, as GIPF has been seen.
9. There is a time and place for a light filler, as No Thanks and 6 Nimmt have show. Even Fluxx fits in here.
10. There is no one perfect game, due to what people want.
11. Luck can add to the flavor of a game.
12. Dice are not the enemy.
13. Fresh gameplay matters, no matter where it comes from.
14. Can we lighten up a bit on the Carcassone expansions please?
15. I would rather have the Next Civ that is the Next Civ or a Martin Wallace design that is good, than the latest Knizia designs.

Just some observations. Let's just have fun games, whatever people want.
 
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Paul Imboden
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Hear, hear.
 
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J C Lawrence
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docreason wrote:
1. Euros are a bit played out. There is NO EXCUSE for some clever mechanics without a decent theme and gameplay not dependent on the chrome.


I have plenty of excuse for games without chrome, enough excuse to largely never play games with more than trivial chrome.

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3. Wood has its place, but plastic, if it fits the theming is real good.


No thanks.

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And, let's be honest, a plastic molded tank that fits the theme looks better than a wooden symbol ones.


I'll take a coloured wooden cube over a molded plastic tank in a game any day.

Quote:
5. There is no reason why a game can't have a set of rules that are both epic, going all day, and also playable in under 3 hours (or 2).


Actually there is a reason: game duration is a primary factor in game design. Balancing a game design across widely variant play lengths is non-trivial.

Quote:
11. Luck can add to the flavor of a game.


True, but like habeneros the key is highly selective and discriminating use, not lack of moderation

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12. Dice are not the enemy.


Certainly. They make fine replacements for coloured wooden cubes lost from other games. They're also quite useful for games which need to track smalll integers (just turn the die so that the currently tracked value is face-up).

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15. I would rather have the Next Civ that is the Next Civ or a Martin Wallace design that is good, than the latest Knizia designs.


I keep hoping that Wallace will eschew all that thematic crap and get back to the good clean severity of Age of Steam in his designs.

Quote:
Let's just have fun games, whatever people want.


Hehn.
 
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Richard Hutnik
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docreason wrote:
1. Euros are a bit played out. There is NO EXCUSE for some clever mechanics without a decent theme and gameplay not dependent on the chrome.


clearclaw wrote:

I have plenty of excuse for games without chrome, enough excuse to largely never play games with more than trivial chrome.


Yes, you do, and I have over 100 games with some fake chrome thrown on top with novel play mechanics. There is NO REASON now why theming can't be interwoven in the rules and the game TELL A STORY.


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3. Wood has its place, but plastic, if it fits the theming is real good.

No thanks.


Sorry, but the game Bootleggers wouldn't be the same with Meeple. The wooden cubes represent what they are supposed to, crates of booze. And good luck doing a dungeon crawl game using Meeples.


Quote:
And, let's be honest, a plastic molded tank that fits the theme looks better than a wooden symbol ones.

I'll take a coloured wooden cube over a molded plastic tank in a game any day.


Unless they have stats on them, no way. Not for a WWII game. Go ahead and tell people how Memoir 44 would be better with Meeples!


Quote:
5. There is no reason why a game can't have a set of rules that are both epic, going all day, and also playable in under 3 hours (or 2).

Actually there is a reason: game duration is a primary factor in game design. Balancing a game design across widely variant play lengths is non-trivial.


Non-trivial, but the bar has been raised. You can play games that have scenario to them for shorter time length. Anyhow, there is NO REASON why a person's game library or the market can't support BOTH.


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11. Luck can add to the flavor of a game.

True, but like habeneros the key is highly selective and discriminating use, not lack of moderation


Luck has a place in a game. Key is not to repeat over and over the same luck driving mechanic.


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12. Dice are not the enemy.

Certainly. They make fine replacements for coloured wooden cubes lost from other games. They're also quite useful for games which need to track smalll integers (just turn the die so that the currently tracked value is face-up).



BOO! I assume you think Can't Stop! is the enemy.


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15. I would rather have the Next Civ that is the Next Civ or a Martin Wallace design that is good, than the latest Knizia designs.

I keep hoping that Wallace will eschew all that thematic crap and get back to the good clean severity of Age of Steam in his designs.



No way. Wallace needs to Eurofy American style design so it has theme AND also good play mechanics. Eurosnoots feel that there isn't a need for theme. The feel that El Grande is just fine and dandy to represent Spain during the crusades.


 
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Kris J
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clearclaw wrote:

I'll take a coloured wooden cube over a molded plastic tank in a game any day.


Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...................

Maybe if you're playing "Reef Encounter" I'd agree with that statment.

Would you take a finely-carved wooden tank over a wood cube?

Is it a material thing for you, or do you seriously despise nice-looking pieces?

Because, it's obvious, you know. . . I mean, ever since the Lewis chessmen people have been perferring featureless, uninteresting bits to well-crafted artful ones.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_chessmen
 
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david funch
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It's best to just let clearclaw come in, have his say about how Age of Steam is the greatest, and watch him go on his way. Now you're just inviting him back for more.
 
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J C Lawrence
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docreason wrote:
There is NO REASON now why theming can't be interwoven in the rules and the game TELL A STORY.


Surely, except that I don't particularly care if the games I play tell a story or not, and if they do tell a story (assuming that story isn't the point of the game ala Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game) then I want the story to get out of the way of the game. The game comes first. The story is a pleasant but unnecessary accoutrement.

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3. Wood has its place, but plastic, if it fits the theming is real good.


No thanks.


Sorry, but the game Bootleggers wouldn't be the same with Meeple. The wooden cubes represent what they are supposed to, crates of booze.


Shrug. All games are abstract. What the bits represent is rather beside the point; they're just tokens.

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And good luck doing a dungeon crawl game using Meeples.


Would it help if I said that I don't play dungeon crawl games? (If you wish, not "fun" per my definition of "fun".)

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And, let's be honest, a plastic molded tank that fits the theme looks better than a wooden symbol ones.


I'll take a coloured wooden cube over a molded plastic tank in a game any day.


Unless they have stats on them, no way. Not for a WWII game. Go ahead and tell people how Memoir 44 would be better with Meeples!


Somehow I'm still managing to successfully avoid playing Memoir '44. But yeah, plain wood bits would be preferable as they'd be less distracting from the actual game. I also happen to like the organic quality of wood bits, even painted wood bits. They're...earthy in ways that plastic isn't. I like that.

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Actually there is a reason: game duration is a primary factor in game design. Balancing a game design across widely variant play lengths is non-trivial.


Non-trivial, but the bar has been raised. You can play games that have scenario to them for shorter time length.


Perhaps those that say the bar should be raised should also demonstrate how the new bar may be satisfied?

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Anyhow, there is NO REASON why a person's game library or the market can't support BOTH.


Surely, were they available and to that person's interest. Both of which by the way, are fair reasons not to.

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11. Luck can add to the flavor of a game.


True, but like habeneros the key is highly selective and discriminating use, not lack of moderation


Luck has a place in a game. Key is not to repeat over and over the same luck driving mechanic.


Sure. Luck is not a problem in and of itself. It is particular uses of luck in game design that is the problem. If we define the interesting aspect of games as being the interesting decisions they contain, then luck should be used in a way that best accentuates those interesting decisions. What you call an interesting decision of course may vary.

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12. Dice are not the enemy.


Certainly. They make fine replacements for coloured wooden cubes lost from other games. They're also quite useful for games which need to track smalll integers (just turn the die so that the currently tracked value is face-up).


BOO! I assume you think Can't Stop! is the enemy.


No, it is merely an example of a game I don't play. And yes, I've played it more than once; something I'd rather not happen again.

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15. I would rather have the Next Civ that is the Next Civ or a Martin Wallace design that is good, than the latest Knizia designs.


I keep hoping that Wallace will eschew all that thematic crap and get back to the good clean severity of Age of Steam in his designs.


No way.


Shrug. We have different tastes.

Quote:
Wallace needs to Eurofy American style design so it has theme AND also good play mechanics. Eurosnoots feel that there isn't a need for theme. The feel that El Grande is just fine and dandy to represent Spain during the crusades.


I feel that El Grande is a decent game which happens to also have a pleasant description set in pre-colonial Spain. Happily the theme is easily removed and ignored during play, while being enjoyed if wished the rest of the time. It also has nice art.
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J C Lawrence
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Rompcat wrote:
Would you take a finely-carved wooden tank over a wood cube?


For a game? Almost certainly. The finely carved wooden tank would likely be either rather fragile or cumbersome for game play and I'd rather not be distracted by that.

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Is it a material thing for you, or do you seriously despise nice-looking pieces?


No, I don't despise them, I just don't want them to distract from the game. I don't want the pieces to try and create some sort of meta-game, some irrelevant value system which isn't actually part of the game. I'm there to play the game, not to idle in the warm glow of the game bit's ambiance.

In the case of plain wood they have pleasant tactiles and aesthetics while also being minimally distractive. They provide a pleasant organic and relatively unfeatured ambiance for the game play. Plastic generally does rather the reverse.

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Because, it's obvious, you know. . . I mean, ever since the Lewis chessmen people have been perferring featureless, uninteresting bits to well-crafted artful ones.


For what use? The Lewis chessmen are great pieces of early art, but they're far from my first choice of what to play a game of chess with. Something simpler, plainer, less fragile, less valuable etc would feature first.
 
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J C Lawrence
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pothocket wrote:
It's best to just let clearclaw come in, have his say about how Age of Steam is the greatest, and watch him go on his way. Now you're just inviting him back for more.


Hehn. Amusingly enough Age of Steam isn't even close to being my top-rated game. Hurm. Genoa, 1856: Railroading in Upper Canada from 1856, Blokus and 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight all score higher. Of the lot, two player Blokus is quite possibly my hands-down all-time favourite game. Plastic bits too!
 
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clearclaw wrote:
If we define the interesting aspect of games as being the interesting decisions they contain


For some, I guess a game is foremost an intellectual exercise. You keep talking about the pieces being distracting, though for many people they are an important part of the experience -- ie, of the game.

I played the new edition of Warrior Knights for the first time the other evening, and the artwork and little plastic knights were a big part of what made it an enjoyable experience for me.

On the other hand, the rules (being from FFG) weren't the best written, and we had a couple of debates on how to rule edge cases. No doubt that would subtract from the experience for you. I actually enjoyed it.

Why? Because gaming for me is about having a memorable evening with my mates. Doesn't matter if I win, often doesn't matter if the game is crap, the game is just the vehicle in which the shared experience of fun is carried along. It's the excuse to get together with people I like and pretend we're somewhere else for a while. Could be medieval Europe or ancient Egypt. We could be pioneering the Victorian space age or trying to water our crops, but anything in the game that adds to the sense of immersion and provokes comment or laughter is, pretty much by definition, a good thing.

What I'm saying that decision-making in a game is only one part of what makes it interesting for me. That's probably why I find Blokus rather dull.

But that's just me. Clearclaw, you are obviously a very different beast.

There's a whole world of space for all of us, and discussions such as this usually come down to the repeated exchange of a sentence something like, "You like that, but I like this".
 
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David Seddon
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The said war of Eurosnoot vs Ameritrash is supposed to be brewing


What happens if you want to be an Amerisnoot or a Eurotrasher?
 
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Kris J
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Well, I think Clearclaw has said enough for us to know exactly where he's coming from. And enough for me to believe that he's either playing devil's advocate or a pretty sterile abstract gamer.

I'd rather have something with wooden blocks than something with so much chrome it's unwieldy, though.
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Admiral Fisher wrote:
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The said war of Eurosnoot vs Ameritrash is supposed to be brewing


What happens if you want to be an Amerisnoot or a Eurotrasher?


Yeah! I love me some Eurogames but I'm not snooty about it.
For shame boardgamers, FOR SHAAAAAME!
 
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pothocket wrote:
You know what I haven't had in awhile? Big League Chew.


Big league chew still rocks!

I think we need a BLC fan badge!

-M
 
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Michael Barnes
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True gaming salvation would be if everyone shut the hell up already about Ameritrash/Eurosnoot/whatever. Barnes and Martin have had their 15 minutes of fame, so let's let it go and get back to, like, playing games.


I dunno pal...you seem to have spent a lot of your precious gaming time posting your own snarky retorts...
 
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Naked Mole Rat -

The Ameritrash lists have garnered more recommendations in the past month than you've managed to put together in your entire time on this website. Apparently there are more than a few people who are interested in having this conversation. Rather than nipping at everyone's heels with your feeble sarcasm and pathetic attempts at humor, why don't you either contribute something to the conversation or tune it out?
 
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clearclaw wrote:
pothocket wrote:
It's best to just let clearclaw come in, have his say about how Age of Steam is the greatest, and watch him go on his way. Now you're just inviting him back for more.


Hehn. Amusingly enough Age of Steam isn't even close to being my top-rated game. Hurm. Genoa, 1856: Railroading in Upper Canada from 1856, Blokus and 1860: Railways on the Isle of Wight all score higher. Of the lot, two player Blokus is quite possibly my hands-down all-time favourite game. Plastic bits too!


I'm so so sorry. You are more than welcome to come over for some
Runebound, Grave Robbers from Outter Space, Snorta, History of the World, or simply anything that has, at least, some, entertainment value.
 
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One geek's experience over the last 5 years or so...


clearclaw wrote:
If we define the interesting aspect of games as being the interesting decisions they contain


I was re-vitalized into boardgaming by the modern games (which I hastily labeled "Eurogames" in my head - see microbadge) and their interesting decisions. I loved them. I loved them for their interesting decisions.

As I exposed these games to a wide array of family and friends some really liked having to make interesting decisions and some really didn't. In the end only my son and one or two of my (grown) nephews really wanted to to play these kind of games.

It was hard to get a game to the table in that kind of environment.

docreason wrote:
There is NO REASON now why theming can't be interwoven in the rules and the game TELL A STORY.


Then, within the last year I discovered there were games out there that TOLD STORIES. Not only could they include interesting decisions but part of the experience of playing the game was developing an overall story arc along the way.

I discovered that I LOVED this as well (hoping to compliment meeple badge with AT badge someday). The interesting thing was that this kind of game was something that everyone wanted to play and now our gaming group is 20 strong and it isn't difficult to get games to the table.

Even the "hardcore" amongst our group (myself, my son, and my nephew) enjoy these "story-telling" games and much prefer those to ones which do not facilitate the crafting of a story. So, I have recently refined my selection criteria for what games I am interested in acquiring/playing, and not unlike the original poster's point I DEMAND BOTH interesting decisions AND story facilitation in my games.

I don't endeavor to reach the 100 games-owned plateau so I'm looking for the very best (for me) 20-40 games. My current, and ever-evolving, criteria is a HIGH LEVEL of interesting decisions and a HIGH LEVEL of story facilitation. This may be the reason why I couldn't be classified very easily by Matt Gray's "geek classification" heuristic he published in geeklist format a couple of weeks ago.

I guess my view on this topic/debate/discussion is less about labels (I'm trying very hard not to use the 'E' word nor the 'A' word nor to include any game titles as examples) and more about the sliding demand scales of:

Interesting Decisions
Story-telling Facilitation

For me - I DEMAND BOTH. It seems I agree with the OP on this. Why not demand both from today's designers and publishers? However, I also understand if others' demands with regard to these two scales can be different from my own.

 
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Jorge Montero
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The problem is that most of the time chrome typically ends up generating some uninteresting decisions, that make a game weaker for the Euro camp. If you try to increase the number of interesting decisions per unit of time, you'll end up removing most of the mechanics that were there to make a game more thematic.

That said, you can make game without interesting decisions and with a theme that is only conveyed by pictures. And then there's those that have a theme that goes against the mechanics. But a game that is highly thematic, the American way, and with a lot of decisions per game? those can only happen with very specific themes, most of which are not attractive for most people. Like playing a political strategist during German elections.
 
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Islay wrote:
Then, within the last year I discovered there were games out there that TOLD STORIES. Not only could they include interesting decisions but part of the experience of playing the game was developing an overall story arc along the way.

I discovered that I LOVED this as well (hoping to compliment meeple badge with AT badge someday). The interesting thing was that this kind of game was something that everyone wanted to play and now our gaming group is 20 strong and it isn't difficult to get games to the table.


The following quote from Frank Branham's BoardGameNews comments on Fleet 1715 is delightfully apt:

Fleet 1715:...There is a great and glorious oddity on the tiny card box that speaks volumes about the perceived differences between German and English-speaking gamers. The game is from a German company, with English text on the cards, but German rules in the box. The back of box flavor text is in both languages. The English describes in florid text the sinking of the Spanish fleet, a hurricane, gold bars, millions of dollars of treasure, a great battle. It runs a full paragraph.

The German text is a single line which roughly says "A deduction game about the sinking of the Spanish fleet in 1715."
 
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clearclaw wrote:
Islay wrote:
Then, within the last year I discovered there were games out there that TOLD STORIES. Not only could they include interesting decisions but part of the experience of playing the game was developing an overall story arc along the way.

I discovered that I LOVED this as well (hoping to compliment meeple badge with AT badge someday). The interesting thing was that this kind of game was something that everyone wanted to play and now our gaming group is 20 strong and it isn't difficult to get games to the table.


The following quote from Frank Branham's BoardGameNews comments on Fleet 1715 is delightfully apt:

Fleet 1715:...There is a great and glorious oddity on the tiny card box that speaks volumes about the perceived differences between German and English-speaking gamers. The game is from a German company, with English text on the cards, but German rules in the box. The back of box flavor text is in both languages. The English describes in florid text the sinking of the Spanish fleet, a hurricane, gold bars, millions of dollars of treasure, a great battle. It runs a full paragraph.

The German text is a single line which roughly says "A deduction game about the sinking of the Spanish fleet in 1715."


WoW! I need to remember this for when I tell people the difference in styles of games. That's great!
 
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clearclaw wrote:
The German text is a single line which roughly says "A deduction game about the sinking of the Spanish fleet in 1715."[/i]


... and that about sums in up. At the extremes, one group wants to do analysis in their head, the other wants to have an experience presented. Just about every difference between the groups can be understood by evaluating the difference between analysis and experience based on what they require and what is irrelevant.
 
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Rompcat wrote:
Well, I think Clearclaw has said enough for us to know exactly where he's coming from. And enough for me to believe that he's either playing devil's advocate or a pretty sterile abstract gamer.


No devil's advocate. I like theme, I enjoy theme, I just consider it a spice that while enjoyable is not the main part of the meal and as such is not what I'm there for. I'm there for the game and all games are by definition, abstract. As such I play all games, themed games or whatever, as if they were abstracts. I enjoy themes surely, and I enjoy good themes, but they're not actually necessary. The game is what is necessary.

Examples of good themes? Reef Encounter is particularly well themed, KaiVai is brilliantly well themed, so is Neuland, Kunst Stucke, Imperial, Ra, the 18XX, Hive, Sticheln (yeah, it has a theme tho its really a verb), Ebbe & Flutt, Die Dolmengotter, etc.

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I'd rather have something with wooden blocks than something with so much chrome it's unwieldy, though.


I'd rather play a game than play chrome.
 
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Godeke wrote:
At the extremes, one group wants to do analysis in their head, the other wants to have an experience presented.


I think this is fairly insightful. Deliberately exagerating, on the one side appears to be a group that wishes to be entertained, almost in a guided tour fashion, to be conducted through a game in which they don't necessarily need to do very much (tho they may be presented with seeming decisions which are actually almsot entirely rote ala Fury of Dracula), but which presents them with an interesting and amusing series of contexts and dramas. On the other side is a group that wishes to (typically competitively) construct something from first principles such that they deliberately and iteratively assemble and operate something, a context, a mental idea, a personal fabrication which they find interesting and profitable. Both may involve stories, but they're very different stories (we discussed this in another thread). For instance I could tell you of the last game of Through the Desert I played, of how I carefully attempted to manipulate the other player's perceptions of the game, of how I setup opportunities for the other player such that they'd be more tempted to interfere with each other rather than me, of how I attempted to exploit the turn order to distract players from my opportunities by creating crisies for them on other fronts away from me. I could tell of slow builds, of risks constructed and assuaged, of challenges fought and battles won. There was a story there, a plot even, a protracted struggle followed by an eventual and slim victory, a story (and game) I greatly enjoyed, but a story that happened almost entirely internally to me and not by mutual consensus or perception among the players. A story that made no external cultural references...
 
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