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Subject: Victory Points - Ep 604 (Suzanne & Mandi) - Abstract Games rss

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Suzanne
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Issaquah
Washington
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Hi Everyone!
Fell a bit behind so hoping y'all will jump in quickly on this one!

Please share your thoughts on Abstract Games! We're defining "abstract" as themeless games... so not "that's a pasted on theme" kind of abstract. More like... Go, Quarto, Tintas, etc.

Poll: Victory Points Poll - Abstract Games
How do you feel about abstract games?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
Love them! Buy and play them frequently.
13.1% 18
Like them and make an effort to play them
30.7% 42
They're ok. I rarely play them
51.1% 70
Not for me
5.1% 7
Voters 137
This poll is now closed.   137 answers
Poll created by gibbous
Closes: Sat Apr 27, 2019 6:00 am


Vote in the poll and then drop your thoughts on abstract games below! What do you like? Dislike? Are they easy or difficult to get to the table?

Looking forward to reading everyone's thoughts!

-Suzanne
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Tim Bueschel
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Huntley
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While I enjoy playing them for some reason they do not really pop out when I look at my game shelf. I really enjoy the GIPH series of games and Quirkle but I think it is the lack of theme that keeps me away

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Baker Odom
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Bluffton
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I love the IDEA of abstract games and usually enjoy them when I do end up playing. But in practice they very rarely end up hitting the table.
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Dan Letzring

Rochester
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I find theme really draws me in so it is hard for me to connect with themeless games. I will play them but even lightly themed abstracts (like hive or even santorini) just dont do it for me. Remove the theme and I am almost certainly not interested! But I'll keep trying and playing them, maybe eventually I will find one I like!

Ok I do like Blokus. But that is it!
 
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John H
Germany
Rottenburg
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Good abstract games have a perfect balance between minimal rules overhead, quick setup/teardown, and intellectual satisfaction. I normally only play with my partner, so the fact that most abstracts are 2p is no disadvantage. We play everything from traditional abstracts like chess to more modern hobby abstract games. We're a pretty competitive couple and abstracts go down well as the winner can lord it over with their pure intellectual superiority!
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Jason DeYoung
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New Boston
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I am a huge fan of theme. Some of the best parts about gaming is getting involved in a world that you normally wouldn't. Abstracts are harder to get to play because the lack of theme.
 
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Rand Lemley
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Brookline
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Where does a game like Sleepers or 11 fall? They're clearly inspired by a theme that carries through in the vocabulary used in playing, yet I'd call them abstract.

Curious to see what y'all have to say.
 
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C&H Schmidt
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Heidelberg
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I have nothing against them overall, but my partner doesn't like abstract games, so we rarely play them.

Personally, I usually don't want to play pure no-luck, open-information, can-in-principle-calculate-20-moves-in-advance abstracts, because that feels too much like work to me.
If I want to do hardcore logical thinking, I'll get out my notebook and do some maths research (that's what I do as a job).
I am aware that many mathematicians really enjoy such games; I mostly prefer games with some hidden information and more of a tactical element.

Charlotte
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Reiji Kobayashi
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I like abstract games, but these days I rarely have the chance to play anything but solitaires. On the other hand, there's a ton of themeless solos using a standard deck of cards that I never play, so maybe I don't like them as much as I think I do.
 
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Alex Pierce
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Sunnyvale
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Most abstracts being two player works very well with my partner and I. We have even gone so far as to compete in the Duke tournament at Gencon a couple of years back, and I have done Tak online tournaments. Most abstracts are also perfect information games, and we both love the completely strategic element there. And not having a theme means there is nothing objectionable for the publisher to change later or ruin a game with!
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Marco Schaub
Switzerland
Thun
Bern
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I think it might be more useful to go with a more standard definition of "abstract" if you want to discuss what most people generally consider to be abstract games (or "abstract startegy games") because if you define it as "themeless game", Chess would not fall into that category, but Poker and many other trick taking games would.

Here's a good working definition: "A game in which there is no hidden information, no non-deterministic elements, and (usually) two players taking a finite number of alternating turns." (Slightly altered from here.)

Notice that the presence or absence of theme is not part of the definition.
 
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mortego
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New Kensington
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Not my favorite but I will play them.
 
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Steve Wrenn
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Bushkill
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What? You thought I'd have some interesting overtext?
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I'll play them if someone wants to, but I won't choose one myself, and I don't see one ever entering my collection. I just prefer the theme and to have done an activity, like won a battle, found a treasure, or built the best city.
 
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Joel Wolski
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Pleasanton
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Abstracts are fine, as long as they're quick and can be played more as a filler. I find "thinky" abstracts end up making at least one person feel stupid and not only do I not want to be that guy, I don't even want to be the guy that makes the other person feel stupid. What fun is that?

If I'm going to spend an extended amount of time and thought playing a game, it needs to be "about" something; I need a "reason" to be doing what I'm doing, even if that reason is just "pasted on".

That said, for me abstracts of any kind are going to have VERY limited replayability. There are a couple that I like, mainly out of nostalgia.
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N Jones
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Richardson
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Love, love, love abstracts!

Low rules overhead, challenging decisions, and race victory conditions are my kind of abstract.

Pente, Onitama, Taluva, Quarto, Automata NOIR, and most all of Reiner Knizia fare are examples of games I have a hard time saying no to.

It is really nice to have a game where the rules get out of the way and one can iterate on the subtle elements within the system.
 
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Steve S
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Roscoe
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Abstracts are great when you're looking for something to challenge your brain with and you don't care about the theme. They would NEVER find their way to the table with my game group, as they will get beat out by something with shiny box art every time, but I like to fire up games online now and then.
 
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Eric Bettan
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Cote St Luc
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These days there are so many great games that have mechanisms that link up so nicely to the theme, that it is hard to convince players to jump into an abstract game.

I think people are more willing to take a chance on an abstract though, if it is quick to play. For me, two player abstracts seem to work the best, with Hive being my top choice.
 
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Therese Monahan
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I had to "check my work" on BGG. I only own five of the top 100 abstract games - and, I play Qwirkle whenever I'm offered the chance. However, while I don't play many abstract games, I do enjoy them. And, given that Azul is the #1 abstract game, there must be MANY people that LOVE abstract games.

I do love Azul, but currently my favorite abstract strategy is Sagrada.
 
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Erik Jordheim
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Stavanger
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I enjoy abstract games occasionally but I never bring them to game group meet ups.

I find that abstract games tend to favor the more experienced player and when someone else is bringing in the game and has a working strategy it kind of takes away the fun of exploring the game on an equal playing field (I am talking about you Fresh Fish).

However, I do find myself pulling out abstract games with none gamers frequently. When there are just two of us.

They are normally simple to explain and teach and are often familiar enough that people grasp the idea quickly. Hive, Onitama, Pentago and Blokus have all been great success as is the wonderful, but under appreciated, Longhorn or the lightly themed Mr. Jack Pocket
 
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Hampus Ram
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I can enjoy an abstract, but they are often without much randomness and reward repeated play and thus the skill gap quickly becomes a problem. Playing such games with new players becomes boring for all pretty soon.

Hive is the one abstract that sees a lot of play here.
 
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Emspace
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I like abstracts; I think that’s how my brain works.

However, I’m not interested in spending the time it takes to understand and get good at something as complex as chess.

With the simpler ones, it comes down to having to play with people who are at your speed. If they’re too fast, I feel stupid, and if they’re too slow, I feel badly for constantly squashing them, even when I take it easy.

E.g. I really like Santorini a lot. But I’m having trouble finding someone I can play competitively with.
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Brian Loggins
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I absolutely love abstracts, because you get right to the meat of the matter. Typically they have only a handful of rules, and I love the "baldness" of it. They stand on strategy and gameplay alone and are still very compelling. While themes often buoy up a game by pairing with rules and mechanics to make a game more interesting or easier to understand, sometimes they can stand in the way if handled poorly.
Personal faves: Qwixx, Qwirkle, Quarto, Shuttles, Chess, Hive ("bugs" is not a theme - haha).
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Eric Burns
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Cary
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Personally, I really prefer to have a theme. It can be wafer thin and pasted on, but it's difficult to get into the game otherwise. But some of my favorite games like Santorini are of the pasted on theme variety.
 
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Crystal Pisano
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I'm in the same camp as many people that there are abstract games I enjoy, but I rarely seek them out or pull them off the shelf unless there is a more dynamic theme attached (even if the theme is "pasted on").

Interestingly, I think abstract games helped lay the foundation for my love for the gaming hobby overall. When I was in middle school in the '90s, I was part of a strategy game club that traveled around and competed against other middle schools in our district. It was called "Strategizers" and games we played included chess, mancala, nine men's morris, go, hex, backgammon, and maybe a couple others I am forgetting.

I got to experience the thrill of winning, learning how to lose gracefully, and use parts of my brain that weren't used in many of my normal classes. And it was a lot of fun too!
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Ruel Gaviola
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My favorite abstract is backgammon and I'm always willing to play it, but it rarely hits the table with my groups. My wife and I occasionally play Qwirkle, which is another of my favorites.

Two abstracts-with-pasted-on-themes that I enjoy but don't play enough are Santorini and Taluva.

And I love Ubongo and Dimension, but they're probably more in the puzzle genre of games.
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