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Subject: How long do you give a game? rss

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Scott Roberts
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How long (how many plays or whatever) do you give a game before deciding it is not for you?
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p55carroll
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Depends. Sometimes it's hate at first sight, and I don't give the game a chance at all. At the other extreme, there's SL/ASL, which I played for about fifteen years before concluding it wasn't for me.

Most games fall somewhere in between.

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Wulf Corbett
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Depends how far off it is from my 'comfort zone'... some games I don't even get to the end of the first read through the rules. Others I play for years before I go off them (hi there, ASL )...

Generally, there are few games I ever play more than once (check my owned vs. played list...), so my average trial period is one game. Anything I play twice or more, I like.
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Wulf Corbett
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Depends. Sometimes it's hate at first sight, and I don't give the game a chance at all. At the other extreme, there's SL/ASL, which I played for about fifteen years before concluding it wasn't for me.

We were separated at birth
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Tim Korchnoi
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I usually go with 2-3 plays. The first play is usually clunky since you're learning the rules and you have that "Oh, I forgot about that rule. Whoops!" syndrome. The second play is usually smoother and you can begin to formulate a general strategy. By the third play I can usually tell if I'll want to pull the game off the shelf again or not. Third play also is indicative of trying to refine strategy and that refinement process gives me a good idea of the richness of the game.
Those are my thoughts at any rate.
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Dan Owsen
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Two to three plays is usually enough for me to judge if a game is for me.

Like Twilight Struggle. The first time I played a card that helped my opponent, I thought, well, that sucked, but it will get better. But, the next few times (I think I played it 3-4 times) the feeling didn't get any better so now I choose not to play it.

Similar with Commands & Colors: Ancients. I initially thought, this is a simple game, but it's about ancient war so it should be fun. So what if there isn't room for any maneuver, ancient armies didn't maneuver much anyway, did they? Well, after a few plays (I think I gave this one 2-3 tries) it felt too much like a knight fight in a phone booth so I don't play that any more either.

Some games I have judged more quickly.

On the negative side, Battlestations was a let-down after one play. Actions like pumping the engines are just too tedious.

On the plus side, there's Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648. I totally didn't understand it the first time I played, but thought that is had potential. I really started digging it the second time, and totally loved it the third time.

Back in the day I can remember discovering Magic the Gathering. It seems like a brilliant concept from my first play, even though I totally got destroyed.

So I guess it depends a bit, but I feel like now that I've played a lot of different games I can judge if they are for me in just a few plays.
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Guy Riessen
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1 game with caveat. Caveat being after any play I read up on the game on BGG to make sure we weren't missing or misplaying some rules. If we did miss something, a game I dislike will get one more chance, played correctly. If there were no errors on our part, there is rarely a second chance. Sometimes if a game is particularly highly rated, and if it plays in an hour or less, a game will get another two or three playings on the same night, figuring we must be missing something, or there was an unusual luck streak. That's not common though, and even so, I cannot think of a time when the second or third playing redeemed the game. More typically it would be more like, "wow this is rated pretty high on BGG it can't really be that bad can it?" Followed by another game and, "apparently yes, it can be that bad."
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Scott Roberts
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Depends. Sometimes it's hate at first sight, and I don't give the game a chance at all. At the other extreme, there's SL/ASL, which I played for about fifteen years before concluding it wasn't for me.

Ok, but you were testing out ASL for those years, right? Did you enjoy your time and just get burned out?
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Scott Roberts
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Thanks, guys. I have had a couple of games recently that I invested a fair amount of time learning the rules (straight from the book and unfortunately not with an experienced player) and the games have been duds for me, one after 4-5 plays and the other after a couple of plays. I hate to give up the investment in time but I am just not jazzed about the games (CC: Europe and LNL: Band of Heroes).
 
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Mark Luta
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If the subject matter of a game is of interest to me, and it is reasonabally historical, I will probably like it. However, I have found that even if a game does get put aside, if you get a chance to play it with someone who really knows it well and likes it, then it is probably worth playing at least once with that person. I find this particularly true with fairly abstract games such as Friedrich or Asia Engulfed which are more about creating the feel of the conflict and giving the players the options the commanders historically had to pursue, than about historical detail. They are both much better with people who know the game well.
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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I usually know right away. The real variance is with games I like; some fall a bit out of favor and others get more respect with time, but the stinkers remain stinkers.
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I love Days of Wonder and I love Pirate themed games. I gave Pirates Cove about 3 plays before I traded it.
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It depends on how I'm learning the rules. If I am teaching myself and my opponents via the rule book the first time, then it will take at least three games. If I am being taught by someone who already knows the game, then it will only take me one or two plays to decide.
 
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scottandkimr wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
At the other extreme, there's SL/ASL, which I played for about fifteen years before concluding it wasn't for me.

Ok, but you were testing out ASL for those years, right? Did you enjoy your time and just get burned out?

You weren't asking me, but I had the same comment, so I'll reply.

I think all of us are always testing any game we play, however long we've played it. I was never happy with the complexity, the denseness of rules, and the 'lawyer-ese' style of the ASL rules. I just wanted to play a game, not study for a Honours Degree! But for many years I struggled on, agreeing with all those who said, and still say, that it was and is the king of all tactical-level wargames, and therefore was a worthy game I should play. There just weren't that many really good alternatives I liked more.

Now there are alternatives, and anyway I don't care as much what's 'good' as what I enjoy.
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p55carroll
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scottandkimr wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
Depends. Sometimes it's hate at first sight, and I don't give the game a chance at all. At the other extreme, there's SL/ASL, which I played for about fifteen years before concluding it wasn't for me.

Ok, but you were testing out ASL for those years, right? Did you enjoy your time and just get burned out?


Well, uh . . .

Y'know, I'm not sure I've ever actually sat down and played a wargame (or any other game) without thinking of it as an experiment of sorts.

No, actually, there have been a few games that I might call non-experimental. A number of years ago, I played in an online backgammon tournament and an online cribbage tournament. While playing those games, I felt like I knew what I was doing and was just playing the game, not experimenting with it in some way.

But in just about every other instance I can think of, I've always been wondering, "Does this game suit me?" or "Does this game seem to be working well for the people the table? Are they enjoying themselves, and are we likely to ever play again?"

In the case of wargames, I started out with just one wargaming friend in town, and what mattered was whether we both liked a game. After a few years, we started a wargaming club, and the question became, "How popular is this game among those who attend our get-togethers?" Then I fell out of touch with everybody and got into solo wargaming--so I only had to consider whether a game suited me.

That's where I was with SL/ASL. I never played a non-solitaire game of it. So, the main question was whether it suited me. But at the same time, I was always imagining that I'd someday teach the game to someone else or find someone else to play it with. After all, it's a two-player game. Thus, all the time I was playing it solitaire, I figured I was preparing for the two-player game I'd play someday.

And I was always learning more rules. Every time I felt I'd gotten the basic rules drilled into my head via practice, I'd open the rulebook to another set of rules. Sometimes even basic rules had to be unlearned and new ones learned in their place. When ASL came out, I practically had to start all over with learning the game. So, I don't feel I ever got to the point where I had completely learned the game and could confidently just sit down and play a scenario. Every time I played, I was practicing and having to look up rules. IOW, I was still working on getting to know the game, even after years of play.

Maybe the moment I felt I'd gotten to really know the game is the the moment I gave it up. I remember playing a small scenario as usual, then suddenly seeing the game before me in a whole new light. I said to myself, "This is not a study of war; it's an elaborate chess variant!" For years, I felt I'd been studying WWII warfare via the game; it was a fun and informal kind of study, but study nevertheless. Now I suddenly saw all the game's shortcomings at a glance, and it hit me that it was not a very good study of WWII warfare at all. It was just a game--the same as chess or dominoes or any other, only much more complex and dressed up in military garb.

When I realized that (and it seemed to happen all of a sudden for me), I immediately said to myself, "Well, if it's just a game, no way is it worth all the time and effort I've been putting into it." I could have been brushing up on my chess all that time, and maybe I'd have become a decent player instead of a perpetual novice.

I tried to continue the scenario I was playing. And I think I left it set up for a few days. But every time I got back into it, I was bored. Every ounce of enthusiasm was gone. Clearly ASL was not a game I'd ever play again.

I think I'm probably misremembering a bit or exaggerating the disillusionment, though. Because I also remember being annoyed with those who complained about ASL not being realistic enough, and I had written a letter to the Avalon Hill "General" arguing that ASL is a great simulation of Hollywood-style WWII scenes and is a really fun game anyway, even if it's not hardcore history. So, I must've known that at least a couple years before I gave up on the game.

Another factor was probably the home computer. By 1994, when I played my last game of ASL, I had some pretty good games on the PC. And it was so much easier to play one of those than to wrestle with that ASL rulebook. A game like Sid Meier's "Civilization" is chock full of cool stuff (just like ASL) and yet is very easy to get into and play. So, I was probably spoiled by computer games.

Around that time, I made a philosophical decision: if a game takes more than thirty minutes to set up and start playing (including time to refresh oneself on the rules), it's not worth it. Life's too short. So, I tested all the games in my closet, seeing how long each one took to set up and start playing. If I was still working on it when thirty minutes had passed, I'd reject that game. Most of my wargames ended up in the reject pile.

The worst of it was that the remaining games weren't very good. Most of them were Avalon Hill's "Smithsonian" games--intro-level games that had some really distorted features IMO. If I wasn't going to play a fun game like ASL (and it really can be a fun game), I sure wasn't going to play one of those simplistic "Smithsonian" games.

So, my whole wargame collection sat in the closet until 1999 or so, when I was getting ready to move and ended up selling everything.

Since then, I've made only a few abortive efforts to get back into wargaming. In the past few weeks I've tried four small, simple wargames, hoping to discover something wonderful about one of them. Not too much luck yet. So now I'm thinking that I may have to break down and try a more complex, rules-heavy game again. Not ASL, but maybe something halfway there in terms of complexity.

Or--maybe I'm just not a wargamer anymore. We'll see.
 
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p55carroll
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I should mention my experience with Up Front.

I bought it when it was brand-new. I'd become immensely frustrated with Squad Leader and all its expansions, and I thought a good change of pace might be in order. UF was billed as "the Squad Leader card game," so I thought maybe it'd become part of my SL collection.

The first time I played it, I thought it really sucked. The second and third times, I was still shaking my head and feeling like I'd been seriously scammed. What a poor excuse for a game! There was nothing to like about it.

Then, when I made myself play it again anyway (maybe just to get my money's worth or something), I finally got it. I started to see that this game was doing something no other game ever had. What at first seemed weird and arbitrary to me now began to make good sense. It all fit together.

After the fifth playing or so, I was hooked. Clearly UF was one of the best games I'd ever played.

So, I think sometimes you have to give a game more of a chance. Especially if it has a system you're not familiar with.

Btw, a similar thing happened with the game of Go. I must've played ten or twenty games before I was able to finally catch on and get what was happening. Then I finally saw the beauty of that game.

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Eric Jome
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scottandkimr wrote:
How long (how many plays or whatever) do you give a game before deciding it is not for you?


When I understand the basic strategy of the game. Usually, after a few plays, maybe as many as a dozen plays, but it rarely takes more than 4.

Some games I am prejudiced against as after many repeated tries, I've not found one that I like among all the similar games... for example, I am unlikely to give any abstract game a fair shake as I've already decided I don't like Chess and Go very much. The same is true for party games and dexterity games; should someone ask me to play them, I will, but I almost never find them worthwhile.

I do rethink my opinions and retry things after time has passed. I was wrong on my initial impression of Formula De, for example, and over time saw the error of my ways. I try to avoid snap decisions and revisit things that others find good that I may have too abruptly decided against.
 
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Joao Lima
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scottandkimr wrote:
How long (how many plays or whatever) do you give a game before deciding it is not for you?


It depends on the game. Like 2 other in this thread, it took me some years to realize that the effort I was putting in ASL was not returned in enjoyment. But some games I can see even by reading the description that I will not even remotely enjoy them.

Having said that, if I buy a game, after reading the rules, if there are a lot of things that I find confusing / easy to misunderstand, and after reading on the net , things do not become any clear , I won't even give it a play.

Some games take more time than that, but if by the third time it is still not going, well, then... shake
 
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Robert Wilson
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Playing ASL solitaire ( unless you were playing the actual solitaire module) does NOT give a fair indication of how good the game is .

Saying that , I think that playing the ASL Starter Kits gives you about 85% of the fun with less than half of the rules (and expense!)
 
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dude163 wrote:
Playing ASL solitaire ( unless you were playing the actual solitaire module) does NOT give a fair indication of how good the game is.


Then by your standard, I guess I'll never know how good ASL is, despite all that play time I put in.

My standards, however are very different (and kinda weird, I must admit). I've loved games all my life, but I've always hated competition.

Thus, I've found that having a human opponent often makes a game worse for me, not better.

I intentionally skipped buying Solitaire ASL because I don't like competing against AI opponents either (and because, by the time that module came out, I'd already had it with ASL anyway).

Some people would want to argue this means I don't like games. But I do. As I said, I've loved games all my life. I have a real passion for them.

 
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Dan Owsen
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I'd tend to agree with Robert. I think ASL is a horrible solitaire game. One of the main reasons I play games is to interact with a human opponent. Half the fun of ASL is having a hidden plan and watching it come to fruition, something that is rather hard to do to yourself, unless you have a special personality.

Even Solitaire ASL isn't that great. I played around with it for a while, but finally asked myself why I was playing solitaire when there are so many people who play.

I can understand the place of solitaire if you don't have opponents handy. Though I have a harder time understanding why you just choose not to play human opponents (no offense). Different strokes for different folks I guess.
 
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Jean-Pierre Maurais
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According to me, 1 or 2 play is enough to know if we are made for a game or not. Too many games on the market to overtest one of them.
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Linda Baldwin
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Sometimes it depends, not just on the game, but on the players (and the circumstances of play.)

I remember playing my first game of Venedig (online at BSW), getting totally trashed, having no idea why, and having no interest in trying again. When I DID try again, with a bunch of people who were also learning, I found I liked it.

Arkham Horror, with the wrong group, would be torture, yet it's one of my favorites. I wasn't keen on some forms of poker because of the people I was playing with at the time; now it's my number one game.

I've gone back to Power Grid, Notre Dame, and Citadels several times -- I don't care for them myself, but I'm curious to see what other people see in them. And sometimes it takes me a long time for a game to "click".

Only you can know when to make that call. I will echo the bit about checking on the 'Geek to make sure the game you played was the ACTUAL game, though. I've been taught many games by people who taught me what THEY were taught, without really learning the rules for themselves, only to find out the game I played was well off the original.
 
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mummykitty wrote:
I think ASL is a horrible solitaire game.


Yes, but you only think that because:

Quote:
One of the main reasons I play games is to interact with a human opponent. Half the fun of ASL is having a hidden plan and watching it come to fruition. . . .


If those were my main pleasures in gaming, I'd never play solitaire either. But as it happens, those are probably the two things that are most likely to spoil a game for me.

1. I love people, and I'll gladly sit around and shoot the breeze with someone all evening or whatever. But to "interact with a human opponent" means competition; and that goes against my grain. I'm pretty conflict avoidant, and it's almost impossible for me to not take things personally. I want to shoot myself when I blunder in front of others--or when I make some brilliant move that beats somebody else. I hate losing, and I don't like the feeling of winning either. Yet I love teaching people how to play games, and I'd probably enjoy being a game master if I were into RPGs. I might even like cooperative games (we'll find out when Pandemic arrives in the mail).

2. Although I'm reluctant to compete, as noted above, I can manage as long as it's an open-information game--something like backgammon. There I can just do my best, and for the sake of getting along, everybody gives Lady Luck credit for most of the wins and losses. But if there's "a hidden plan"--or any hidden information (e.g., Hidden Initial Placement in ASL)--it immediately feels like something sneaky and deceptive and underhanded and despicable to me. More than I hate losing, I hate being fooled. More than I dislike winning (and having to see the look of defeat on my opponent's face), I hate deceiving anyone.

When I was a kid, I learned a few magic tricks. I thought it'd be fun to entertain the family with them. But when, to my surprise, others really were fooled, I was overcome with shame. I had to show everybody how the trick worked and apologize for having tricked them. I realized very quickly that I wasn't cut out to be an illusionist.

In the last online wargame I played, I managed to sneak some Confederate units through the woods and ambush Union forces on the other side. The surprise attack caught my opponent off guard and won the game for me. Afterward, I sent my opponent a message saying it was just lucky for me that he hadn't spotted the move, because it wasn't sound and he could've wiped me out. He wrote back and said I ought to take credit for my good generalship. But I couldn't. I still think it was just a stupid sneaky little trick. If there hadn't been any hidden movement in that game, it would've been obvious how risky and unsound my move was.

In short, I don't like psyching out an opponent or "tricking" my way to victory in any game.

So, what did I like about playing ASL solitaire?

It was the most satisfyingly immersive wargame I'd ever played. In the midst of an ASL turn, I could vividly picture all the cool stuff happening on the battlefield. Furthermore, I had lots of intricate little problems to solve all the time--plenty to keep my mind busy. And on top of all that, there were all the dice rolls which generated no end of surprises. All of that adds up to a wonderful little escape. Like curling up with a really good book, except that ASL is participatory; you're not just reading, but you get to make things happen.

Didn't bother me a bit that I was just "choreographing" a battle scene. I was happy to do my best with the German forces, then turn around and do my best with the Russian forces. Double the pleasure, double the fun.

The only time I've really enjoyed playing a two-player or multiplayer game is when the other players had the same noncompetitive attitude as I generally have: a fascination with the game events, a make-believe struggle for victory, but not any serious "war between two minds."

 
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Hmm. I'm trying to remember the last game I played that I didn't like....

I suppose that's TSR's The Hunt for Red October. I basically got to try it for free, wasn't impressed by the box, wasn't impressed by the pieces, and of course post-WWII combat generally doesn't do much for me. (Whether the fact that I was still years away from reading Tom Clancy was a good or bad thing is hard to say.) So, one try, and never went back to it.

I rated 'fair'. I think there were possibilities in it for a good game, but with two people only moderately interested in a game, they weren't going to shine forth.

Which, I suppose, is what it's about for me. If the idea of the game fires you up, and it either does the same for your opponent or your enthusiasm can get him going, it's going to be a good game. The two of you will (often subconsciously) make it work). There are some truly broken games that aren't worth the effort, but it's pretty easy to find out about them ahead of time.
 
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