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Subject: Abstract gamers: Why? rss

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RingelTree wrote:
TheBoxmaker wrote:
For me, I find a really intrinsic appeal in the visuals and conceptual soul of many abstract strategy games.
I love your post. I have to admit that with care in design an abstract strategy game is a thing of beauty with no parallel in the gaming world.

I still don't enjoy playing these games though. But I love looking at and even touching them.
Thank you, I appreciate that!
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Pete
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dennisthebadger wrote:
It still really bugs me how the word "theme" is used so casually in board gaming to mean everything from setting, flavour, story, plot to whatnot...


(edited because i can neither spell nor type)
What word would you prefer people use to describe setting, flavor, story and plot?

Pete (wonders)
 
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plezercruz wrote:
dennisthebadger wrote:
It still really bugs me how the word "theme" is used so casually in board gaming to mean everything from setting, flavour, story, plot to whatnot...


(edited because i can neither spell nor type)
What word would you prefer people use to describe setting, flavor, story and plot?

Pete (wonders)
For "setting" i would recommend the word "setting", for flavour perhaps something like "flavour". I'm not sure about "story" or "plot"... i'm sure there are words though that describe those concepts somehow...
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dennisthebadger wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
dennisthebadger wrote:
It still really bugs me how the word "theme" is used so casually in board gaming to mean everything from setting, flavour, story, plot to whatnot...


(edited because i can neither spell nor type)
What word would you prefer people use to describe setting, flavor, story and plot?

Pete (wonders)
For "setting" i would recommend the word "setting", for flavour perhaps something like "flavour". I'm not sure about "story" or "plot"... i'm sure there are words though that describe those concepts somehow...
I sense a theme here.
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While Euros have themes, as Thunkd says they also do not have the serious depth found in abstracts. Once a game is pared down to its mechanical core and its frilly illustrations and flavor text excised, it is reduced to its pure essence: a battle of the minds. There is no room for mistake. That's because abstracts are generally luckless bouts -- and that's where they lose their charm for me.

While I am mesmerized by the elegance of Chess, I would never want to devote the time necessary to compete with good players. A friend of mine who played competitively in his childhood used to regularly trounce me. I couldn't see overcoming my deficit without a regimen and I'm not committed enough to pursue that.

I like being able to play a game a couple times, ramp up my skill, and play competitively against seasoned individuals. I couldn't hope to do that with Go and Chess. I understand there is a richness to exploring that depth and I can see how some will be smitten by that. I, however, want to explore the colorful landscapes and experiences offered by variety. Once I've explored the rooms and taken the various corridors a game offers, I'm looking for other dungeons to explore.

Take Magic: Serious Magic geeks study the cards to construct engines that crush average players. Average players can't compete with that devotion. However, if you hand them preconstructed decks you remove an element -- knowing how to construct a winning deck -- and that helps level the field. I like that.

It may sound shallow that I prefer to play games where disparate players can come together and in short order be competing against each other. Euros eliminate gulfs in skill and are more inclusive allowing even casual gamers to compete against geeks. They're less committal. They're flings whereas abstracts are commitments.

That Euro games offer a healthy dose of luck is key. Mind you it's not enough to wildly skew outcomes in favor of incompetence; but they do offer enough luck so that a seasoned gamer might lose to a casual one. That's huge in my book, both for me and the friend I invite over. I have a chance of losing so I remain interested. My friend has a chance of winning so he's interested too.

There's a continuum of skill and luck and abstracts are almost exclusively on the far left. Euros lean leftward but to a less absolute degree. Ultimately, the difference is: How much luck do you want?
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mlanza wrote:
I like being able to play a game a couple times, ramp up my skill, and play competitively against seasoned individuals. I couldn't hope to do that with Go and Chess.
The handicapping system in Go is quite elegant actually. If both players know their rank, you can pick a handicap that will give them a competitive game. Or if neither knows their rank, it only takes a game or two to determine what a good handicap would be.

I'm able to play competitive games against new players, players that are a few steps below me, a few steps above me and far far better than me, all just by picking an appropriate number of starting stones as a handicap (usually somewhere between 1 - 9 stones).
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dennisthebadger wrote:
plezercruz wrote:
dennisthebadger wrote:
It still really bugs me how the word "theme" is used so casually in board gaming to mean everything from setting, flavour, story, plot to whatnot...


(edited because i can neither spell nor type)
What word would you prefer people use to describe setting, flavor, story and plot?

Pete (wonders)
For "setting" i would recommend the word "setting", for flavour perhaps something like "flavour". I'm not sure about "story" or "plot"... i'm sure there are words though that describe those concepts somehow...
I far prefer people just use "theme" for all of that.

Pete (hasn't got all day)
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mlanza wrote:
Take Magic: Serious Magic geeks study the cards to construct engines that crush average players. Average players can't compete with that devotion. However, if you hand them preconstructed decks you remove an element -- knowing how to construct a winning deck -- and that helps level the field. I like that.
This is a really interesting example, in that I think you’re spot on regarding the depth of most abstract games, and that Magic trends towards that same depth despite being about as far from “abstract” as games get. I’ve played Magic for a long time — hell, I’ve worked on Magic as a set designer — and I know for a fact I can’t even begin to scratch the surface of that game compared to the seasoned and studied pros. The plateaus for the learning curve of that game are so easily compared to those of Chess and Go that they virtually merit Magic honorary abstract status.
 
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TheBoxmaker wrote:
The plateaus for the learning curve of that game are so easily compared to those of Chess and Go that they virtually merit Magic honorary abstract status.
Except a pro can still lose to a novice on the merit of draw alone (mainly due to mana screw and mana flood, but not just). The same cannot be said for Chess and Go.
 
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kroen wrote:
TheBoxmaker wrote:
The plateaus for the learning curve of that game are so easily compared to those of Chess and Go that they virtually merit Magic honorary abstract status.
Except a pro can still lose to a novice on the merit of draw alone (mainly due to mana screw and mana flood, but not just). The same cannot be said for Chess and Go.
Fair point, that is very true. Still, I think that Mianza’s point was that one of the key identifiers of abstract strategy was the curve for mastery of the game. Compared to the vast majority of themed games, Magic is one where

A) The mastery curve is incredibly even until it’s not, and then it’s almost unfathomably steep, and
B) The amount of collective man-hours that have gone into studying the game, writing about the game, and discussion and playing of the game exceed those put into other themed games.

Both of those jive with the notes Mianza was connecting to abstract games.

Regardless of the element of luck, Magic has some very key “genetic markers” that are more common in abstract strategy games than in themed games. It doesn’t make it an abstract strategy game, just a fairly close relative.
 
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