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Subject: Game or simulation? rss

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This is probably a stupid question, but I'll pose it anyways...
...how much of a "game" is this design by Phil Eklund?

See, I know that Phil designs beautiful and fantastic games such as Bios: Megafauna or Bios: Genesis, or High Frontier, but quite a big part of those games I'd consider to be more "simulation" than actual competitive game (if competitive is the mode you play in). This is not a bad thing - quite the opposite! But regarding such games, their subject needs to fascinate me enough to want to learn more, and to want to "see how it all plays out" in different plays, rather than to "play for the win", as I usually do in competitive games. So far, I only own (and am very fascinated by) Bios: Genesis, and I look forward to the new future edition of Bios: Megafauna.

However, I usually look for interesting gameplay and well-balanced chances of success in competitive games. So, while the subject of this game is of interest to me, I would not want to play it as "merely" a simulation where players are more "along for the ride" than "playing a game of interesting decisions, tough choices and balanced chances of success".

Could you maybe tell me how you see it? I am not familiar with the Pax game series, which might be why I ask this question, and before taking the plunge (I have been considering purchase for the past few days, now), I'd love to hear from you, how you see the game...
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Mick Mickelsen
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This is hardly a simulation! It is a card game with a lot of theme. It's one of those card games where there's a lot going on, many paths to victory and defeat, yet the randomness of the card draws may in the end determine the winner. I love it but I wouldn't recommend it for tournament play.
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Mark von Minden
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The Pax games tend to fall much more on the game side of the fence. While all the Pax games are unique and distinct from each other, they all are essentially tableau-building card games with high player interaction (some would say "take that") and multiple victory conditions.
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Roel van der Hoorn
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Some of my gaming friends were a little wary on the Pax games, since they played the Bios: Megafauna and High Frontier and indeed found them to be more simulations than games. Since they've played them, though, they're quite fond of them.

Personally, I don't find the Pax games simulations at all. They're games where players have to balance each other. The influence of luck (cards that come out on the market) is relatively low and/or manageable.
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Rebus Carnival
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I would paraphrase some other wise poster and say that these games are cheap, small, go out of print and tend to increase in value. Except for the expense, there is no reason not to grab a copy.
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Sold!

...or rather, bought!
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Aaron Yoder
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Dumon wrote:
Sold!

...or rather, bought!


You won't regret it.
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Rex Stites
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mrkvm wrote:
The Pax games tend to fall much more on the game side of the fence. While all the Pax games are unique and distinct from each other, they all are essentially tableau-building card games with high player interaction (some would say "take that") and multiple victory conditions.


It depends on what one means by "simulation." For board gaming purposes, I think that a decent working definition is a game that is greatly constrained by the external considerations of the subject being modeled. In that sense, all of Phil Eklund's games are very much "simulations." Compare something like Agricoala. Gameplay is of paramount importance and no consideration is given to the realities of medieval[?] farming. The game will teach you nothing about its theme. It stands or falls on gameplay alone. Phil Eklund's games are thoroughly researched and present his views on the subject at hand. From purely a gameplay perspective, the games he designs may be lacking for many players.

That being said, to the extent that we judge a game as a game--i.e., play balance, interesting player decisions, etc.--"game" and "simulation" are not mutually exclusive, and really putting them on a spectrum is misleading. If I were going to use a spectrum, I'd frame it in terms of design intent rather than in terms of end result.

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I think it is possible to put "game" and "simulation" on two ends of a spectrum, but not without additional definition, of course. So I would say a spectrum where one end values gameplay so highly that any kind of simulated reality is disregarded for "better" playability, and the other values simulation of reality so highly that interesting gameplay (or gameplay that is not simply randomization) is completely forgone - that spectrum would work.

But you are right, both a simulation of reality and interesting gameplay are not necessarily mutually exclusive! However, as I said above, there are those games were you, as a player, are "simply along for the ride", making a few decisions, developing strategies, but ultimately chance will determine what actually happens. Bios: Genesis is one such game. That makes it interesting in its own right, but the approach is completely different...
 
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Tolga CORAPCI
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In your initial post you seem to mistake "scripted game play" with "simulation". These are two very different concepts.

Additionally simulation of "natural science based phenomenon" (such as Bios Genesis) and "social science based phenomenon" (such as "Pax Renaissance") are two different animals. The "truth" in the latter is not as "identifiable" as the former and while we should not lower the value of "social sciences" with an injection of obscurentism, the social truths have a higher potential to harbour "many facets".

What simulation value PR possess is open to debate.

However, if Bankers of Renaissance Age, when the "monetary economy" represented a very limited part of "global economy" has a high simulation value in assuming that Bankers "ran the Show"... (funding campaigns, crusades, peasant revolts, expeditions, science and art and the rest)...

... THEN the repurcussion of this view with respect to 21st century when "the power of monetary economy is at its historical top" ... would be very very interesting!

There is a "politically incorrect heresy" in all ages! ninja

 
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Sir Turquine wrote:
In your initial post you seem to mistake "scripted game play" with "simulation". These are two very different concepts.


You are right, I should have worded or explained it better. However, it is my opinion that the more realistic a simulation is, the less interesting or strategical the choices of the players are, which (in my opinion) also translates to "less game".
Whether this means "scripted gameplay" or "huge amount of randomization" or, in addition, "huge amount of detail", is not important for me, in this case...


 
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