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Subject: Game to Relax with and Get Lost In? rss

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p55carroll
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I've been trying new games lately, but I've run into a lot more disappointment than satisfaction. And I think the problem is that I don't know what I'm really looking for--or whether it can even be found in a game.

Years ago, I was a pretty avid wargamer. And I could immerse myself in a good game, just playing at it and watching the spectacle unfold. If it was a complicated game, I could delight in just working with one subsystem at a time, learning how various parts of the game work. Or if it was a big game, I enjoyed focusing on just one part of the board at a time, only occasionally stepping back to view the big picture.

Lately, though, there's too much pressure to compete--even if I'm playing solo! I feel I have to think things through and try to optimize my moves. And when I'm relaxing with a game, the last thing I want to have to do is work hard at it.

Today (after rushing through a game of Race for the Galaxy: The Gathering Storm to get it off the table) I set up a brand-new game: A House Divided. I hoped it'd be fun and relaxing to just fool around with the game, learning the system and re-creating the Civil War. But right from the get-go, I realized it's a tense and almost chesslike affair. I was having to agonize over my moves, looking ahead to how my opponent might counter them. Soon I was saying to myself, "I might as well be playing chess!"

I hate getting to where I end up saying that to myself.

Actually, I like chess. I do a couple chess exercises every morning, and I play against the computer when I'm in the mood for a challenge. But usually I'm not in the mood for a challenge, but I still want to play a game. Not just a no-brainer dicefest, but a game I can get imaginatively involved in--a game that holds my attention by making me think a little, but which also wows me with something like a rich theme or a lot of cool stuff going on. Preferably something simulational. Something that sends me back to childhood and allows me to enjoy pushing toys around in the sandbox and making up stories about them--and believing those stories are somehow real and important.

Not literally a game with toys, though! I'm speaking figuratively here. I don't like miniatures, and I can't stand to even play board games with toy soldiers and such (even meeples go a little against my grain).

Not literally a game with stories, either. I bought Runebound (Second Edition), hoping it'd be something I could immerse myself in. It's not. I found it very boring and couldn't have cared less about the fragmented story on the cards. To me, it's just an aimless dicefest. If I want a story, I'll read a book or watch a movie.

Maybe what I want is a game where I can just make a few high-level decisions and then watch the game play itself. That way I've got some influence and some vested interest in what happens, but whatever develops is likely to happen no matter what I do, so I may as well sit back and enjoy the show.

Is there such a game in the world? A holodeck-like game, where I can vicariously experience something without having to get any more involved than I want to--but can get involved and change things when I do want to?

Or am I looking for something other than a game?

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eryn roston
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Patrick Carroll wrote:


Maybe what I want is a game where I can just make a few high-level decisions and then watch the game play itself. That way I've got some influence and some vested interest in what happens, but whatever develops is likely to happen no matter what I do, so I may as well sit back and enjoy the show.




Sounds like Arkham Horror to me. Not MY favorite game but a lot of people go ga-ga for it for a lot of the same things that you seem to be looking for.

-E
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Patrick Carroll wrote:

Maybe what I want is a game where I can just make a few high-level decisions and then watch the game play itself. That way I've got some influence and some vested interest in what happens, but whatever develops is likely to happen no matter what I do, so I may as well sit back and enjoy the show.

Is there such a game in the world? A holodeck-like game, where I can vicariously experience something without having to get any more involved than I want to--but can get involved and change things when I do want to?


Second recommendation for American Megafauna: the game pretty much does play itself, except for a few (very important) high-level decisions.

You might also like Hornet Leader II, where your real decisions are in managing your pilots and planning missions; the tactical portion all but plays itself.
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Rick Mathews
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A game that immediately came to mind when reading your post is Avalon Hill's old Magic Realm. It is complex, has a strong solitaire capability, and is very immersive. There is also an excellent freeware computerized implementation available. I'd advise checking out the Magic Realm page here on BGG.

If you're a wargamer, an involved solitaire game like Tokyo Express or Patton's Best might fill the bill. Both out of print, but probably available.

You might also look into Splotter's Roads and Boats. It can get very involved and immersive. The "&Cetera" add-on greatly increases the options and ways to approach the game (if you can find a copy) . There are solitaire "puzzles" specifically designed for Roads & Boats, or I find that I enjoy just exploring different approaches on any board configuration, with no particular point goal or time limit.

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p55carroll
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baditude wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:


Maybe what I want is a game where I can just make a few high-level decisions and then watch the game play itself. That way I've got some influence and some vested interest in what happens, but whatever develops is likely to happen no matter what I do, so I may as well sit back and enjoy the show.




Sounds like Arkham Horror to me. Not MY favorite game but a lot of people go ga-ga for it for a lot of the same things that you seem to be looking for.

-E


I keep getting that recommendation. Might be just the game if it were a theme that appealed to me at all. Since I can't stand the theme, though, it's a no-go.

 
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p55carroll
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Rick Mathews wrote:
A game that immediately came to mind when reading your post is Avalon Hill's old Magic Realm.


I used to own the game--twice. Thought it had great potential, and I was working on using it as background for a skirmish game I was devising. Couldn't follow through on the project, though. I'm no game designer.


Quote:
If you're a wargamer, an involved solitaire game like Tokyo Express or Patton's Best might fill the bill. Both out of print, but probably available.


Or maybe Silent War. I keep looking at that. Already have Mosby's Raiders in my closet, but haven't been able to make myself play it.


Quote:
You might also look into Splotter's Roads and Boats.


That's another recommendation I often get. If it was available, I might get a copy. Don't like the idea of drawing roads on a plexiglas overlay, but . . .

 
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sean johnson
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Maybe a lighter game like Memoir '44would be good? I am sure solo variants exist and once you set the board you could play both sides.

When I read your post the first thing I thought of that fits with games to relax with and get lost in are actually board game live video games. I was specifically thinking of turn based games like Civilization III or IV (or if you want less micromanagement Civilization Revolution). Advance Wars and Age of Empires on Nintendo DS are also good turn based strategy games. I know you were looking for board games, but I can get lost in those particular video games like nothing else.
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Erik Boyko
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Take a look at Polarity:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/380

The components and gameplay are simple and the strategies are intuitive and incredibly satisfying because they are based on physical laws rather than written rules.
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Don Weed
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Outdoor Survival. You pick an initial direction, wander off and the game kills you.

Seriously though, have you tried solo Pandemic?
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M Hellyer
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Hungadunga wrote:


Comments like this are a detriment to good games dialogue.
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Patrick Hanley
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PlayMe1 wrote:
Hungadunga wrote:


Comments like this are a detriment to good games dialogue.


Awww c'mon... lighten up a little!
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Michael Barlow
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I've been playing Age of Exploration lately. I traded away a wargame I couldn't get into for it.

The turns are quick and dangerous, but the game unfolds easily. You're the captain of a sailing ship in 1492 to 15something something and you're off to discover the New World. Draw a card, move if you're allowed to, make discoveries if you're allowed to, repeat until a card tells you can go home or you die of scurvy or get shipwrecked or killed by natives.
 
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Perhaps you should try to track down a copy of HeroQuest. The game is played out via a campaign. It's fun, each scenario has a unique little twist and watching your party grow stronger is great. Dice is rolled for combat, but as you gain better gear luck is minimized. You get excellent components and you really feel like you're exploring a dank dungeon. You really need someone who is willing to be great dungeon master though...it certainly helps spice things up.

If out of print games aren't to your liking you might find Descent: Journeys in the Dark to scratch the dungeon crawlin' itch. The base game doesn't have a campaign, but the "Us against Evil" nature is well implemented. It's a tad expensive though.

Another game that came to mind was Betrayal at House on the Hill. If you are ok with a flawed game that you need to download errata for...go for it. There are tons of different outcomes and each game someone turns into the evil bad guy. You did mention that the theme of Arkham Horror wasn't your cup of tea...so this might not be either.

Fury of Dracula (second edition) is a fantastic game. You could easily get lost in the vampire lore while playing this game. When it plays well, this is an excellent game of cat n' mouse. Trying to outguess opponents as Dracula is tense fun. However your comments about planning out whats going to happen several turns ahead makes me a little scared to recommend to it to you.

Kingsburg might be a game that works for you. It features dice rolling, but rather than a combat mechanic its used for influencing the king's advisors. The goal of the game is to use that influence to become the best governor for the king. You will need to carefully choose your resources (gold, wood, stone, armies or victory points). You must spend your influence points wisely to succeed. While luck is involved it doesn't ruin the game. Plus its fun to see everyone's different strategies when it comes time to construct buildings.

Citadels lets you lose yourself in a variety of character roles. Each turn everybody gets a character/ability in an attempt to build the best kingdom in all the land. The game has plenty of choices and out-bluffing opponents is extremely fun. Works well in big groups just as well as it does with two players. Simple, but fun.


Hope this helps out a little...
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Shane Is Board
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7 Ages

This is exactly what you want, I think...there is strategy to it, and a little bit of planning, but really it's just an utter joy to watch things play out, to see how the different civilizations are developing, to see one get trashed and another survive...you can stop the game at any time, or play till the end; people can join mid-game if you want, it doesn't matter.

It's an absolute blast and a joy to see in action, and not really all that complicated though a bit fiddly. I always play to win, sure, but never care if I win or not, it is the one game I can always count on that when I'm into it, winning is almost the farthest thing from my mind, whether it's the goal or not. Solo play would be very difficult with how trading and some hidden info works out, so that is the one detriment.

You want this game.
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statman8 wrote:
Outdoor Survival. You pick an initial direction, wander off and the game kills you.

Seriously though, have you tried solo Pandemic?


Yes, I have. Played Outdoor Survival too--many years ago.

Pandemic was just so-so for me. Guess it goes to show I was wrong at the end of my OP. I don't want a game where stuff just happens on its own.

One of my best gaming experiences was when I first bought Squad Leader (in January 1980). I really wasn't up for a complicated game, but SL had a "programmed instruction" method: you could read a few pages of the rules, then play a scenario a few times till you got the hang of those rules; then read a few more pages of rules when you were ready; and so on. I knew I couldn't comprehend the whole game at once, so I just relaxed into focusing on one subset of rules and one scenario at a time--knowing there was always much more in store for me. That kept me enthralled for some fifteen years, until I finally abandoned ASL.

Why did I abandon it? Good question. I think it's because by then I'd reached a point where I couldn't long retain all the rules I'd learned. I was having to refer to the rulebook much too often during a game, and the whole process seemed futile. At the same time, I realized it wasn't the realistic simulation I'd imagined it to be; so all the effort didn't seem worth it anymore.

After ASL, though, everything else is just a game.

Worse, ASL is just a game too--a complicated one that I'll never go back to.

I guess the thing is, I'm always on the lookout for what some people call a "lifestyle" game. But of course it has to be the right lifestyle game for me. It has always bothered me that no lifestyle game has ever popped up for me. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. And it really irks me to be a dabbler--or a magpie, collecting shiny new games that soon lose their luster.

I really admire people who say, "ASL is everything!" or "Go is my game; I'll be happily delving into its depths all my life." Or even, "I'm a huge fan of Die Macher, and I'm sure I'll be devotedly playing it all my life--though I do enjoy other games as well."

If variety is the spice of life, I find I've got way too much spice and not enough substance on my plate.

 
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Memoir '44 was the first game that came to mind too when reading your post.

Lord of the Rings is another game where it feels like you are going on an adventure but can feel a little mechanical once in a while. Fun though in small doses.

I've really enjoyed The Battle for Hill 218 lately in solo mode playing both sides to the best of their ability.

Have you ever tried a dexterity game like Micro Mutants: Evolution or a racing game like Winner's Circle or PitchCar?

I too was a wargamer a long time ago and have been watching Fields of Fire closely hoping someone can crack the rules. The game seems like it has huge potential.

Good luck and great post.


SeanXor wrote:
Maybe a lighter game like Memoir '44would be good? I am sure solo variants exist and once you set the board you could play both sides.

When I read your post the first thing I thought of that fits with games to relax with and get lost in are actually board game live video games. I was specifically thinking of turn based games like Civilization III or IV (or if you want less micromanagement Civilization Revolution). Advance Wars and Age of Empires on Nintendo DS are also good turn based strategy games. I know you were looking for board games, but I can get lost in those particular video games like nothing else.
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You know, I use Combat Commander to fill a function much like you are looking for. I think I recall that you don't care for CC, but if I am mistaken, it might be a reasonable thing to try.

For myself, it fills that Squad Leader itch with vastly less complexity and generally more memorable games. The CDG nature means that there usually aren't all *that* many options to evaluate any one turn. Typical games are won or lost on strategic decisions and a tiny number of key plays, and something interesting happens most games.


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Patrick Carroll wrote:

Maybe what I want is a game where I can just make a few high-level decisions and then watch the game play itself. That way I've got some influence and some vested interest in what happens, but whatever develops is likely to happen no matter what I do, so I may as well sit back and enjoy the show.


Hmmmmmm.
Sounds like you need Zoloft. Failing that I'd try something light and strategic, where the consequences are almost always certain death or destruction. Something where it's impossible to predict the outcome which would take much of the pressure off your choices.

I'm talking about Galaxy Trucker
I haven't even played it, but it's been on my wish list for months.
Immersive? CHECK
Unlike Chess? CHECK
Fun? CHECK CHECK and Double CHECK.

Playing a game like this is like taking a vacation from your problems!
Who knows what movie that line came from?

Spoiler (click to reveal)
Nope, I'm not gonna tell you! Maybe someone below will post the answer



Edits--
BTW-I've been dying to try Galaxy Trucker for just the same reasons you outlined. Galaxy Trucker is a game where everyone spends the first few minutes drawing tiles and constructing their spaceship. There are weapons, shields, engines and stuff and you have a time limit in which to construct it. You're competing against others who are also drawing parts (tiles). After your ship is constructed, a series of cards are drawn in a random order and you only have limited reactions, essentially you have to watch your ship, and your opponents' ships get torn asunder. I understand it's a lot of fun, especially when your ship is in the thick of it.

Please post another geeklist and let us know which game did the trick.
Good luck finding your Mojo! (Damn, another movie line)
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I'm going to recommend a flash game, here. Why? It seems like it suits your needs more, once you can get over it not being physical. It's free, too!

This is Bloons Tower Defense 3 - tower defense games are simple games where you have a path that enemies follow, and you place towers either directly in the path, making a maze of towers, or alongside it. The Bloons one gets away from the usual "50 hit points" paradigm in a very elegant manner.

On easy, it's pretty easy. On the harder levels, it's a pretty significant challenge - you need to optimize your mix of placement and towers very well.

There are few quick reactions needed. The only quick thing in the game is that you can upgrade towers in the middle of waves, and place them, and use a couple of items. That's it.

Why am I recommending a tower defense game?

You want something that you can set up and then watch? I think this is ideal - it's what tower defense games are all about. There's also little to no randomness in the majority of these, so strategies are repeatable.

There are hundreds of these games online, here are some of the better ones:

Onslaught - Make special towers by placing certain tower types next to each other and upgrading the towers. Particularly interesting because the game goes on forever, so you can try some tremendously different strategies and see how well they work.

http://www.towerdefence.net/games-24-Onslaught.php



Gem tower defense - A somewhat more random game where you need to make a maze, each round you place five gems, but can only keep one. Combinations of gems can make special towers.

http://www.towerdefence.net/games-70-Gem_Tower_Defence.php



Desktop tower defence - This is a more straightforward maze style defense game. It is a favorite of many.

http://www.towerdefence.net/games-19-Desktop_TD.php



Yeah, they aren't board games, but they have moderate interaction, difficulty that ramps up reasonably, and allow you to try different strategies to see what works best, set up your defense, and then let it run and see how it does.
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Wow! I used to be completely addicted to this game. It is a lot of fun. Great reco!

jforbes wrote:
I'm going to recommend a flash game, here. Why? It seems like it suits your needs more, once you can get over it not being physical. It's free, too!

This is Bloons Tower Defense 3 - tower defense games are simple games where you have a path that enemies follow, and you place towers either directly in the path, making a maze of towers, or alongside it. The Bloons one gets away from the usual "50 hit points" paradigm in a very elegant manner.

On easy, it's pretty easy. On the harder levels, it's a pretty significant challenge - you need to optimize your mix of placement and towers very well.

There are few quick reactions needed. The only quick thing in the game is that you can upgrade towers in the middle of waves, and place them, and use a couple of items. That's it.

Why am I recommending a tower defense game?

You want something that you can set up and then watch? I think this is ideal - it's what tower defense games are all about. There's also little to no randomness in the majority of these, so strategies are repeatable.

There are hundreds of these games online, here are some of the better ones:

Onslaught - Make special towers by placing certain tower types next to each other and upgrading the towers. Particularly interesting because the game goes on forever, so you can try some tremendously different strategies and see how well they work.

http://www.towerdefence.net/games-24-Onslaught.php



Gem tower defense - A somewhat more random game where you need to make a maze, each round you place five gems, but can only keep one. Combinations of gems can make special towers.

http://www.towerdefence.net/games-70-Gem_Tower_Defence.php



Desktop tower defence - This is a more straightforward maze style defense game. It is a favorite of many.

http://www.towerdefence.net/games-19-Desktop_TD.php



Yeah, they aren't board games, but they have moderate interaction, difficulty that ramps up reasonably, and allow you to try different strategies to see what works best, set up your defense, and then let it run and see how it does.
 
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Olvenskol wrote:
You know, I use Combat Commander to fill a function much like you are looking for. I think I recall that you don't care for CC, but if I am mistaken, it might be a reasonable thing to try.

For myself, it fills that Squad Leader itch with vastly less complexity and generally more memorable games. The CDG nature means that there usually aren't all *that* many options to evaluate any one turn. Typical games are won or lost on strategic decisions and a tiny number of key plays, and something interesting happens most games.


If all my wargaming weren't solitaire, I'd probably give CC a try.

 
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I never cease to amaze myself. I'll start one of these threads, sure that I'm describing exactly what I'm looking for in excruciating detail; and then the recommendations always take me by surprise. I have to reread my OP and find out what I wrote.

This time even the thread title turns out to have been misleading. shake

What I meant to ask about is a solo-friendly lifestyle game that's great when I want to just immerse myself imaginatively in the theme, but also great when I want more challenge or mental exercise. (But I'll probably regret wording it that way too.)

Sorry for writing so much and still not managing to say what I meant.

 
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Olvenskol wrote:
You know, I use Combat Commander to fill a function much like you are looking for. I think I recall that you don't care for CC, but if I am mistaken, it might be a reasonable thing to try.

For myself, it fills that Squad Leader itch with vastly less complexity and generally more memorable games. The CDG nature means that there usually aren't all *that* many options to evaluate any one turn. Typical games are won or lost on strategic decisions and a tiny number of key plays, and something interesting happens most games.


If all my wargaming weren't solitaire, I'd probably give CC a try.



90% of my CC plays are solo. Works fine. It's not ideal, but it isn't bad in my opinion.

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