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Subject: What does "fiddly" mean? rss

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Victor Ferreira
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I see it so much in negative game reviews, and I just can't ever figure out what exactly it's supposed to mean in context. Is it actually even substantive? Or is it just a generic dislike?
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James O'Grady
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"complicated or detailed and awkward to do or use."

In board game terms, I'd use it for games when you have stacks of counters next to other stacks of counters, and you have to check one or the other stacks which is fiddly to do without knocking them over. Unless you use specialist board game tweezers, which I keep saying I will get for my regular opponent.

Or maybe when you get lots of modifiers and stuff to add up.

I don't mind a bit of stacking, but one game I have has 25 Light Cavalry markers in Ctesiphon... which is more than a bit fiddly. You need to inspect the stack for supply reasons, among other things (Light Cavalry and Light Infantry count as a half unit for supply, I believe), so just counting the units doesn't help. I think I created off-board boxes to reduce the fiddliness.
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Matt Curtis
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For me it's something that's not straightforward. I'd apply it especially to games where the rules were complicated or not intuitive, for example a game that had lots of phases and steps that were easy to miss I'd be tempted to call fiddly.

Also things that are physically fiddly, like slotting the markers in that slanted board in Agra!

I'm guessing it's not commonly used in US English? Someone in our US office at work called me out for using it a lot the other day

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Phil C
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Generally it would refer to something being awkward and/or complicated.
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Peter BOSCO'S
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It can mean either or both of "The physical bits need to be adjusted too often to be convenient given their size and construction" or "This game includes details which slow play and do not add enough to the play experience to justify it."

These are both subjective criteria.

For instance I find games where the cards must be shuffled frequently to be physically fiddly because I am clumsy and poor at shuffling cards. YMMV.



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Reuben Cronje
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Honestly, I mostly see it used as a generic dislike when someone doesn't have a substantive critique of a game.

But I guess it does have some meaning. For example, I love Star Wars: Armada but adjusting the health trackers on squadrons is incredibly awkward physically and often results in bumping things out of place etc. I'd call that fiddly.
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Derry Salewski
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It's a word where the context matters. Like sketchy.

And if you can't figure out what they mean, they're probably a mediocre reviewer.

And it's pretty subjective in the first place. I read someone the other day call something fiddly that was basically the most simple example of moving a few pieces around every couple turns.
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James O'Grady
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Another example of "fiddly" I'd give is the game Chainsaw Warrior and ammunition markers.

You have these counters marked 1 to 12 uses.

Each time you take a shot, you have to remove the marker and replace it with another marker. That's fiddly and annoying.

Moving a marker down a scale would be easier... or just have it written on the back of an envelope.

Counters that are too big for the spaces they fit on.

Arsuf, the excellent game in "Knights at War" has a thing where pieces that are wounded are laid on their side. This is nice and easy to do and clearly visible.

Where it gets fiddly is that the pieces all usually end up in a huge melee, and then you have to lay pieces down and they don't fit. A bit less fiddly than flipping them, but still fiddly.
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f s
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Something that distracts from the actual game by being hard to use / hard to adjust right / hard not to knock over.

Fiddly is often synonymous to "too small", "badly constructed", "hard to see", and sometimes "micro-management" (if it is used to describe mechanics instead of components, which also happens).
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Play Arkham Horror with all expansions. Then you will know. whistle
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Olli Juhala
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Twilight_Sonata wrote:
I see it so much in negative game reviews, and I just can't ever figure out what exactly it's supposed to mean in context. Is it actually even substantive? Or is it just a generic dislike?


"Fiddly" is a feeling you get from combination component number, size, trackability and repetition of interaction. A game feels fiddly when it has a lot of components, that are small and/or hard to keep track of, and you interact with them in a repetitive way. So a fiddly mechanic would be tracking resources with small cubes on a track, where you constantly have to adjust said cubes. You have a number of small things to keep track of, and you only ever interact with them in a repetitive manner, moving them up and down the track.

But like all feelings, it's not a universal experience and number of play and experience can have a lot of impact on whether or not a game is fiddly. But a game is more likely to feel fiddly if it fills some or all of the above conditions.
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Pasi Ojala
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A game is "fiddly" when you spend an unusually large portion of time to manipulate and track things (including upkeep) rather than playing (making decisions).
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Pasi Ojala
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Get the Imperial Assault Campaign module for Vassal from http://www.vassalengine.org/wiki/Module:Star_Wars:_Imperial_Assault
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Mondkalb123 wrote:
Play Arkham Horror with all expansions. Then you will know. whistle

You're thinking about the term bloated, right?
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Olli Juhala
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a1bert wrote:
Mondkalb123 wrote:
Play Arkham Horror with all expansions. Then you will know. whistle

You're thinking about the term bloated, right?


Yeah. Just base Arkham is fiddly in itself.
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Jason
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mattcurtis89 wrote:
I'm guessing it's not commonly used in US English? Someone in our US office at work called me out for using it a lot the other day


I hadn't heard the term until I started watching board game reviews. But, it was pretty easy to pick up what it meant since the reviewer substantiated why they thought it was fiddly.
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Eric Nolan
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People who like games that are excessively fiddly often seem to think the term 'fiddly' is meaningless, subjective, indicative of a bad reviewer.

I find the term to be very descriptive and I know what to expect when someone tells me a game is fiddly. Other replies have already explained what this is very well.

Complaining that the term is subjective is utterly pointless. The majority of information in a review is subjective. I don't see people complaining that 'engrossing', 'beautiful', 'elegant', etc are merely subjective. Certain people just don't like a negative term being applied to games, or a type of game, that they like so they try to argue that it's a meaningless term. It isn't.
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Shader10 wrote:
a1bert wrote:
Mondkalb123 wrote:
Play Arkham Horror with all expansions. Then you will know. whistle

You're thinking about the term bloated, right?


Yeah. Just base Arkham is fiddly in itself.


Of course it is, like most games with a certain degree of complexity.
Even Mage Knight is fiddly (think of end of round clean-up with dummy player), despite having not nearly as many components as Arkham Horror has.
 
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Oliver MacFarlane
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Fiddly has two meanings to me. Neither of which mean they are bad games neccesirily. One meaning though generally means I won't play again.

1) The mechanics don't flow nicely, you are always checking the rules and they are so many stages to go through in each round. Example to mean recently is Dinosaur Island where there are several stages to go through each round with each being very different. You have to talk people through how each stage goes with new players the first time or two.

2) The bits are so small and numerous that they are annoying to pick up and place. A good example if Antquity, a great game but I am unlikely to play again because I cannot pick the little parts up and place on top of each other without wrecking the board half the time. I admit I am terrible at anything related to dexterity but this was silly.

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James Clarke
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I cannot think of any circumstance or context, where "fiddly" might be used in a complimentary way.

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Trevor Taylor
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For me it's mostly too much maintenance required in game. Like all the modifier tokens in Sentinels of the Multiverse. Some also us it to mean mechanisms which are convoluted.
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Steve B
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If something is fiddly it just means it's very footery.
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Adrian Hague
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The term generally refers to games that have an overwrought string section.
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Bryan Thunkd
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a1bert wrote:
A game is "fiddly" when you spend an unusually large portion of time to manipulate and track things (including upkeep) rather than playing (making decisions).
This... but especially so when it requires lots of physical bits to be adjusted. As in you spend a lot of time fiddling with things rather than playing the game.
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Gianluca Casu
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a classic example of "fiddly" to me is an information which is marked using a counter ( a cube, a chit, whatevs) that is conveniently set on a board that is regularly moved, making the tracking of said info a daunting task.
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Roland Hackler

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AdrianPHague wrote:
The term generally refers to games that have an overwrought string section.


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