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Subject: Solo Board Game vs. Video Game? rss

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Daily Grind
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Lanabound wrote:
Hey there's lots of interest in being able to play board games by yourself, but I just wonder what's the appeal. I've tried a few, but I just can't see the advantage over a single-player video game.
- VG setup/takedown time is shorter (10sec vs 10min).
- VG AI is usually smarter.
- VG never gets rules wrong.
- And most importantly, if you're trying to learn tactics/strategy, VG has way more variables to manage so it tests you more (e.g. tactical RPGs like Fire Emblem/FFTactics/XCOM or strat games like Civ).

It's difficult to articulate but they scratch different itches.

I also play tactical VGs (like X-COM) but when I turn to solo board games I look for either more puzzle type games or more immersive experiences.

Sure, you can have puzzle VGs as well, but I would argue the puzzle-style VGs offer no advantages over physical and with a table-top puzzle, there's a tactile element that is pleasant.

For immersive games like Arkham Horror when comparing to an RPG VG, (and forgive this less than perfect analogy) but its like comparing movies to books. Sure the VG has nice moving pictures, but the story is told 'to' me and I'm more of a participant within the confines of the mechanisms of the game. With an immersive board game, the imagination is required to fill in the aspects not visually supplied to you on screen.

Also, just because you play a solo board game doesn't necessarily mean you're alone. I like to play solo in the dining room while the spouse it messing around in the kitchen. With a VG, you're isolated to where the gaming-rig is and you usually have headphones on. I enjoy being present even if we're doing our own things.

Lanabound wrote:
Against humans I get the appeal of board games, or with humans for the social factor, but not sure I understand the appeal of solo BG. To be blunt, I feel if I play a solo BG I'm not testing my brain or learning as much as I could with a VG.

For testing the brain, I'd argue you just haven;t played the right solo board game yet
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Thom0909
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This issue has come up before.

1. A lot of people get tired of sitting at a computer screen all day.
2. Some of us prefer to play with "real" board game components.
3. Different games are available. Many Wargamers, for example, aren't happy with the choice of video wargames.
4. More space. Yeah, I know you can scroll, but I like seeing everything laid out on a full table.

I'm sure there are other reasons.
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Alistair Stafford
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For me it's the toy factor and tactile nature. That said some solo games are just way too fiddly and don't work as well because you forget rules etc.

Also if I'm playing video games that's the lounge out of action for everyone else as they are noisy (and I don't want to isolate myself with head phones) and heavily visually present with the TV.
If I'm playing a board game my wife can do something in the same room too without distraction.

Quote:
To be blunt, I feel if I play a solo BG I'm not testing my brain or learning as much as I could with a VG.

Funny I feel the same way in the opposite. I'm not interacting with a screen as much as a physical thing.

(As an aside about 'glowing regtangles'
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTcl5I0Wbzk )

The main reason for me though is the tactile nature of playing with the pieces.
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Mark B
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In addition to the previous comments - you can play solo board games during a power cut.
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Michael Roberts
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I think the earlier post saying it's like comparing books and movies is spot on.

Room for both to exist.
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Nick Smith
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I play both and find them both very different, but potentially equally fun experiences.

Yes, video games don't get the rules wrong, but they do often do a poor job of making the rules clear.

They will typically have a better AI (theoretically, at least - I've seen pretty terrible VG AIs, too), but they don't always give you the same opportunities to really consider your strategy, and they don't allow for the kind of player who might like to rewind their move and see what could happen with a different choice.

They offer more potential possibilities but less opportunity for a satisfyingly complete game experience.

There's also the fairly obvious difference in the experience of staring at an electronic screen for hours listening to repetitive theme music versus sitting quietly at the table for an hour.

Also - a 10 min. setup time is a relatively extreme example. And I've played video games which take upwards of several minutes to load, even after the system is turned on.

Outside of the turn based strategy genre, video games are also typically designed to be tense experiences, which isn't always conducive to relaxation.

Video games have plenty of advantages, obviously, but so do Board games, and ultimately they are far too different of an experience to even truly compare.
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mortego
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For me, solo board gaming wins every time.
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Rob Williams
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Sometimes I can't get onto the xbox or PC for some gaming due to the kids taking them over. So a solo game and the kitchen table beckonds.

I think it really depends on the game. Would Implay Scythe solo? Probably not, but Arkham LCG is scratching that itch at the moment. Games like this as VG's I struggle with. I like to feel the cards and flick through them putting combos together. I dont get this with a VG.

Rob
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Pete
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As a father of two small ones, solo time is almost nonexistent. However, when I get a chance, a video game is far preferred.

Pete (does not solo game)
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Darth Heisenberg
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If you can't see the appeal, stick to video games I guess.
As for me, I grew tired of video games for the most part.
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John Prewitt
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Far as I can tell there's no video games that are Mage Knight or Kingdom Death, so I'll keep playing those. There's also no board games that are Rocket League or Paragon, so I'll keep playing those as well. I enjoy video games more than board games, but I mean I've played them for ~22 years. Board games I've played for about 2. I don't discriminate against either form of gaming. The huge differences are: the tactile sensation of playing a game (cards in hand, rolling dice, moving pieces around, etc.) and the brain burning aspect. Video games are almost strictly reflex driven, whilst solo board games more exercise your "brain muscles". Video games are much more relaxing IMO, as most solo board games I play take almost your whole day to finish. I love Mage Knight but I always have a migraine by the end of it from sheer calculation and brain power.
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John Burt
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For me it's an easy choice because I don't like video games: I don't own any and I don't play any. I spend much of my work day in front of monitors and when I want to have fun, I don't want to be near them. Solo gaming is probably my favorite mode of gaming: I love to sit down with a complex, long deeply puzzly game and tackle it at my own pace.
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Markus Lundin
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I really like to set the pace of the game myself. In a video game you have to follow the pace set by the game. When playing a board game it's up to you. I like that a lot.
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Mark Watson
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A lot of the arguments would also apply to multiplayer - why play a four player boardgame when you could play four player Civ?

Generally speaking I find the boardgame to be a different experience to a PC game. Not that it's a preference as such; I much prefer the videogame version of Pathfinder for solo play than the board for example, but not every game translates across quite so well.

As far as the intellectual side of things I suspect you're just not playing the right games For some games, most co-ops for instance, most of the challenge is derived from randomness to begin with so it makes little difference whether you're shuffling a card deck or having a machine spit random numbers out. Games with actual AI though, like say COIN, I prefer as a boardgame because the whole system is open - you can try and work out why whatever it's programmed to do is an effective strategy and potentially adapt the lessons learned to your own play style (I'm not sure at that point though that a videogame AI is necessarily a better opponent - the only real difference is who is doing the number crunching and how visible it is to the human player. Certainly it's quite possible to exploit the way Civ's AI is programmed to behave in much the same manner you can do with a pre-written boardgame opponent, it's just a question of how quickly you can predict how it's designed to behave).
 
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Lydia Fritz
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In my case, I really love playing board games but live too far away from my friends to get to game regularly. Playing a solo board game helps scratch that itch for me to hold me over until I can get together with my friends for a game night again.

Also, think of playing a solo board game like solving a puzzle. I guess I'm fortunate enough to have a room dedicated to gaming so i can do this, but lately I've been starting a game of Star Trek: Frontiers and completing it over the course of a week or so.

I've actually been bouncing back and forth between Skyrim and ST:Frontiers this past week. It's all a matter of preference.
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Kuhns, party of four!
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I solo game for most of the reasons mentioned above. But if you want to go further down the rabbit hole and find the best of the best solo games...join us! 1 Player guild
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Pierre C
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ArcaneArchery wrote:
In addition to the previous comments - you can play solo board games during a power cut.


You might want to move to a neighbourhood with a better power grid, if this is a common occurrence.

I jest.
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patrick mullen
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Here's one simple answer. The games that are available for each medium are themselves different. I don't feel the same playing Descent Road to Legend as I do playing Diablo. It's slower. More tactical. Even in a turn based game in a digital format, there is more pressure to take your turn and move to the next one.

Also, when I game digitally, I tend to play action games rather than strategy ones. It may be my own fault for not getting into some of the great strategy games that are out there, but for whatever reason I haven't scratched that itch in that format.
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Only turn-based strategy video games would compare, and there just aren't that many of them — certainly not enough to substitute for every board game one might play solo.

If somebody made a rule-enforcing video game version* for each solo board game out there, then I probably wouldn't play the board game versions because I'm more annoyed by setup procedures than staring at a screen. That, however, is not the world we live in.

It's like asking, "Why do you live on Earth when a space station has so many clear advantages?
• no earthquakes
• no hurricanes
• no mosquitoes
&c."


* for Linux, because booting up my old secondary PC with Windows would counteract the benefit of instantaneous setup
 
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Alex Norris
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Not much can beat a solo game of Sid Meyer's Civilization
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Let's talk about Sid Meier's Civilization. It's a fun game series, but it doesn't offer a strategy experience comparable to a board game. Consider the following situation: you know the location of an enemy civ. but you haven't explored the tiles between your civ and theirs, so you don't know whether or not you can you can attack with a cavalry rush. What is the probability that you occupy the same land mass? Should you build horsemen? The rules details necessary to give an answer are not exposed by the game, even in the documentation. When there are gaps in rule understanding like this, it's not possible to truly strategize about them. By contrast, since board games rely on humans to execute the rules, almost all of them are fully available to strategic analysis. There is a difference in rigor and analytic tractability.
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zofia
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Solo board gaming session gives me complete, structured type of experience which is limited in time. Video games create kind of timelesness feel because of save/loads and generally less structured nature. You cannot lose, basically, in videogames, or you are encouraged to always restart, so you don't got a meaningful discrete and at the same time full experience in one sitting. Maybe, there is some kind of weariness from it and board gaming is like getting yourself a chunk of good old irreversible time.
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Mark B
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This might reinforce and shed some light on the previous comments:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/05/books/revenge-of-analog-da...
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Bryan
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At a certain point I became sick of technology. I'm surrounded by people with their head buried in their phones. I sit at a desk surrounded by computer screens, monitors, and security cameras all day. Facebook, twitter, snap chat, the stupidity of fake news articles, everyone rising against vaccinations, gluten, etc. because of things they read on the internet. Honestly, I just want to sit by myself with a tangible object, using my own brain and not a computer to process it all. It's meditative to me.
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Mark T
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Prop Joe wrote:
This issue has come up before.

1. A lot of people get tired of sitting at a computer screen all day.
2. Some of us prefer to play with "real" board game components.
3. Different games are available. Many Wargamers, for example, aren't happy with the choice of video wargames.
4. More space. Yeah, I know you can scroll, but I like seeing everything laid out on a full table.

I'm sure there are other reasons.


This pretty much sums it up for me. Especially 1, 3.

Also, there are some types of games that I prefer to play in one venue vs. the other. Lately I've been gravitating toward MechWarrior Online. Sure I could play Battletech as a solo affair and sometimes I do, but most of the time I don't have 3-5 hours to lay it all out and do it right (hoping that the imminent arrival of a new gaming table will help me be able to leave stuff set up between sessions so games like Battletech might get played more often over multiple sessions).

Anyway, sometimes I like the quick setup and minimal rule tracking of a computer or video game and sometimes I want the more tactile and often more cerebral exercise or a physical board game.
 
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