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Subject: Playing LCG by webcam and Skype, Hangout etc rss

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Doug Poskitt
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Hello everyone

I am trusting this is the correct place to post this.

Having been in the gaming hobby since the early 1980's I have had all manner of amazing gaming experiences through the years. Initially, all my gaming was done face-to-face with two or more players.

As I got older and the demands of work (I was a teacher) saw me with less people and less time to play games, I did a lot of my gaming via Vassal and was fortunate to encounter some great gamers here on BGG.

Now, having taken early retirtement, I find myself much more isolated geographically than in my younger days and the opportunity to play with face-to-face opponents is much, much reduced.

Being retired, I have had the time to investigate the gaming hobby in a much broader manner than was the case in my younger years. Until the first decade of this century, I played mostly wargames, but since then I have come to appreciate the vast range of games that have been published over the last 10-12 years and am having a blast playing many of them (well, those that can be played solo).

Relatively recently, I tried out "The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game" and I absolutely love it! Granted, I am still a "newbie" but it has been fun learning and playing it. Intrigued, I looked into "Star Wars: The Card Game" and "Android: Netrunner" which from what I can see are extremely interesting also.

While it is possible to play SW:LCG using the excellent solo rules developed by Jay K (JK777) here on BGG, it also looks a lot of fun to play face-to-face. Moreover, from what I can see so far, it is not really feasible to play A:NR solo. (There may be good solo variants for this game, but I haven't found any).

Looking around, there seems to be OCTGN and jinteki.net as options for online play using a web-browser, though I must admit to feeling a tad intimidated by the technical side of that route.

Anyways, my waffling aside, I got to wondering. Given the state of technology today, what about the possibility of connecting up via programs like Skype with a webcam (that can be directed to show the cards) and a microphone/headset?

I have looked around on the net for this, but what posts I have uncovered all seem to be several years old. I would have thought this an ideal way to circumvent having a lack of accessible face-to-face opponents. Further, I am sure I am not alone in not having the opportunity to play these PvP LCG's with the people I do know.

Given that there seems to be a significant silence as regards this possibility, what is it that I am not aware of? Is this way of playing these games fraught with problems I have not considered?

If anybody can shed any light - be it positive or negative - on this method of playing LCG's such as mentioned above, I would be greatly interested to read other people's thoughts/experiences.

That said, if there are any among you who are interested in learning and playing LCG's like SW:TCG and/or A:NR if they had the chance to do so with an opponent, but are feeling daunted by the online web browser option, I would love to hear from you.

 
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Paul K.
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Fairly relevant: I am a frequent player of Dice Masters, which isn't an LCG but a CDGs (Collectible Dice Games). There used to be a VASSAL module for it, but it was hit with a C&D due to legal issues from IP holders.

Currently the most popular way of playing online (that I'm aware of) is using Google Hangouts/Skype in much the way you envision. Have a webcam pointed at your play area and you can see your opponent's play area on your screen.

The challenges mostly lie in being able to see the text on the cards (if you're unfamiliar with them) and, in this game, being able to see the stats on the dice themselves. You have to semi-frequently ask your opponent what side their die is on and what the stats are.

Depending on how cut-throat you are, there could be concern about cheating - you can't easily see if they are looking into their bag when drawing their dice, or in the case of a card-based LCG, if they stacked their deck before playing (or are modifying it during the game). Hopefully whoever you would play with would be more casual than this, but it's something to be aware of.
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Doug Poskitt
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Thank you for your comments Paul.

I must consider myself niave, as it did not occur to me that people might do things like stack their deck or modify it during a game. I have enjoyed many a year of playing games on Vassal with fellow BGGers and the behaviour of those guys was impeccable.

I love to play games for fun, and while I try to win, it is the game experience first and foremost that does it for me. There would be no fun in winning a game by cheating.

However, I do see the validioty of your comment on this.

The fact that card text may not be easily discernable via a webcam is also a valid point. I will have to consider in what ways it may be possible to circumvent that.
 
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