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Subject: Does online play of board games spoil the unplugged original? rss

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T. Nomad
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Just today, two geeklists mention this phenomenon:

Joelbear wrote:
I hate that its online and one of my friends has played it a bajillion times online and so its impossible to beat him.
here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/44644/item/999371#item...

and

Lowengrin wrote:
San Juan is a fun game but I've played it to death against the computer. It just wouldn't be fair to S. if I brought it to the table. Would it?
here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/listitem/999669?commentid=11670...

This leads me to ask the titular question, as well as:
Do you own any games that you don't play because you've played them 'too much' online?
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Rishi A.
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tommynomad wrote:
Just today, two geeklists mention this phenomenon:

Joelbear wrote:
I hate that its online and one of my friends has played it a bajillion times online and so its impossible to beat him.
here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/44644/item/999371#item...

and

Lowengrin wrote:
San Juan is a fun game but I've played it to death against the computer. It just wouldn't be fair to S. if I brought it to the table. Would it?
here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/listitem/999669?commentid=11670...

This leads me to ask the titular question, as well as:
Do you own any games that you don't play because you've played them 'too much' online?


Both of the links you post mention the same phenomenon - it's not that the people no longer like the original game, but that it is no longer competitive in a face-to-face environment, since the person who has played online a great deal is much better than those who haven't.

It's still a valid question, but I think it's slightly different than the one you asked.
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Michael J
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I posted a thread on this exact same topic about a year ago. At the time, I overdosed on Carcassonne at ASOBRAIN. And every time my wife saw me playing it online, she accused me of cheating.

I concluded that the answer is "YES", online versions of our favorite board games hurt the game player more than they help them. There are, of course, exceptions.

I DO think online games are a great way to get exposure to a game you are thinking of buying. From this perspective, I think online games help game sales.

But I play board games to savor the experience. I like moving the pieces. I like the chat with my friends. I like the discovery of new strategies. I like "living" the story as I play the game.

Video game versions of board games hurt these qualities for me. I'm not suggesting they hurt them for everyone. But they definitely do for me. I learn strategic depth much quicker. I don't chat with anyone. I get used to the fast paced version of the game and have no patience with over the table folks who are still calculating their moves when I already know what they should do.

And lastly, I might enjoy playing a board game 50 times, which will take me years in most cases. With an online game, I can play 50 times in a week.

That's my 2 cents.

Mike
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Steven Metzger
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I've been playing a lot of Catan on AsoBrain recently, and my friends are currently in Europe. Unless they learned some new tricks while in Germany, I will be killing them when they return.
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Justin Nordstrom
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This is a slightly different focus, but I generally prefer to play some games online because the electronic version streamlines some of the tedious parts of playing. A great example is 1960, which I generally play at Game Table Online. The computerized version isn't perfect, but it makes the final scoring automatic. There's no set up time, no clean up time...basically I can play 2-3 games in the time it takes to play 1 face to face.

Of course, these same features--face to face interaction, the tactile feel of cards and bits, personal conversation--are often listed as reasons why BGG users enjoy boardgames alongside (or instead of) electronic gaming. So, obviously, the trick is to balance the convenience of online gaming against these benefits and find what works best for you and your group.

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I played the computer (java) version of Kingsburg a few times and after that it seemed like the game wasn't 'substantial' enough to warrant playing anymore. I have yet to play it face-to-face, but I haven't had the desire, either.
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J C Lawrence
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So which is the problem? That players are able to become more skilled than each other, or that online game implementations provide a way for players to gain skill through play-iteration? The same skill gains are of course also possible through simple repetitive face-to-face play, as well as appropriate analysis, perhaps with pencil and paper and an appropriate mathematical model. Hurm. Perhaps education in logical analysis is also a game-breaker?
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I like online play mostly because you don't have to deal with setup/teardown times, and the fact that I can easily play games with friends in different timezones.

Disparate skill levels based on practice is not a downside.

Not being able to fondle the bits is kind of a downside, but I think it's an acceptable price to pay to be able to game with good friends in, e.g., England, New Jersey, and Florida all at the same time.
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there are some games that I would only play online (Tigris being one if it was easier to find players at Game Table).

Most other games I have played online I've played to death in a short period of time.

Overall I've almost completely cut out online game play, its just not as rewarding as in person and with limited time I would rather concetrate the time I have to in person games.
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Eric Jome
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I don't mind people playing online at all.

I believe games are better when people are good at them. Online play is good practice. Playing more means more to talk about, more to think about, more to see in the games.

And I never play board games online.
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Jonathan Morton
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tommynomad wrote:
Do you own any games that you don't play because you've played them 'too much' online?


Yes and no. Like others have said, it's not a matter of not enjoying the games anymore, it's that I've become 'too good' at them for face-to-face play. I still play them online.

The games in question for me are Carcassonne and San Juan. In the case of Carc, I believe I'm getting close to bumping into the skill ceiling, getting to the point where luck is all that determines the outcome between myself and other similarly experienced players. But I still enjoy it.

In the case of San Juan, I'm continually amazed with every further hundred plays logged that I still am consistently beat by some players. It's so much deeper than most give it credit for. I laugh when people talk about Race for the Galaxy being better than SJ because it's not so simple. These people are SJ amateurs. (And Race is a bore).
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One of the things, playing against the AI, they don't do anything spiteful, cheeky, or outright strange.

Most of the good games that I like to play against folks, you really can't get too good at.
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Jason Leveille
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It makes me think about the "imminent demise" of the printed book. So many people still like to stare at actual pages, write in the margins, and smell the paper it is printed on.

Boardgames are like that too... all these fun wooden bits to move and cards to play and money to shuffle. It's wonderful to have an activity that actually encourages the gathering of people face-to-face in a world that seems to be moving further and further away from anything live (and into purely electronic). Online play takes all of that away and just leaves the naked strategy out there.

Online play also enables large skill differential. I dislike that differential in general, because you know up front that one player is going to crush everyone else and has already discovered so many more things than the other gamers know. Games are more fun when they are more competitive and closer than with one player blowing out the others. I will avoid games with certain players in our group that have accumulated so much online play because it simply is no longer fun to play with them.

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ejcarter wrote:
I played the computer (java) version of Kingsburg a few times and after that it seemed like the game wasn't 'substantial' enough to warrant playing anymore. I have yet to play it face-to-face, but I haven't had the desire, either.

I have a similar experience with the same game. I played it and thought it was interesting, but I was concerned that the mechanics were too luck driven. I played the Java game and confirmed my intuition. However, in most cases I've used online or AI play to confirm it's a good game or to get up to minimum competency.

However, my strong tendency is reserve board games for play in person. This is despite invitations to play on BSW. I don't have a problem with people becoming more skilled by online or AI play. I play the game for a challenge and that makes them a better challenge.

But, I'm also an avid player of computer games. I see no reason to play hideously complex and long games in person. I much prefer playing them with computer support, the ability to stop and save at will, and minimal fiddliness.

A recent example, perhaps, is Kraków 1325 AD. Interesting game, but it just doesn't work well in terms of information availability: you are constantly shuffling through your cards trying to access the information spread out all over them. The physical limits of hand held cards are really a problem for the game.

I don't think any good games have been spoiled by computer play. Maybe some bad games have been judged wanting faster, though.
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Brian Wickey
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Personally, while the experience of playing the board game with a good group of friends will always win out over the computer versions, if it comes down to either playing a computer version of a good game or not playing anything at all, computer version always wins,

However, I do believe that certain games have suffered due to bad computer translations, Catan on Xbox is guilty of this (IMHO).
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Michael Edwards
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I don't think I've had this happen to me yet, as I mostly play solo, and computer opponents tend to not measure up to human ones.

There have been games in the past that I haven't played, due to certain friends who want to play them being so good at them (due to frequent play). It made them un-fun for me - I like to feel like I have a chance, at least. This was before the advent of computer versions of board games, however. (I think it was the 18xx games and Stellar Conquest).

I've been kind of wrestling with my desire get more plays / find more opponents (and therefore play various board games online), vs. my desire to not remove the face to face social element (which I enjoy). So far, the latter is winning.
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J C Lawrence
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Chanfan wrote:
There have been games in the past that I haven't played, due to certain friends who want to play them being so good at them (due to frequent play). It made them un-fun for me - I like to feel like I have a chance, at least. This was before the advent of computer versions of board games, however. (I think it was the 18xx games and Stellar Conquest).


Rather than complaining, why not build your skills enough to compete?
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David C
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clearclaw wrote:

Rather than complaining, why not build your skills enough to compete?


He's out meeting women.


Ok, sorry.


EDIT: Ok, that said, there are ways to handicap yourself and make the field fair, which is something good to do anyway if you want to build yourself more worthy opponents from the ground-up.
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Linda Baldwin
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To answer the original question, yes, I've burned out on some games from playing too much online, except ... well, the primary culprit was Puerto Rico. I played it gajillions of times, and still got creamed online. OTOH, I could fairly easily handle most FTF opponents. But it just killed the fun, really.

Now I'm more sensible about online play, I think. I'm rather slow to pick up strategies, and would never get enough FTF play to become competitive (not dominant, just competitive) in the games I really like, so online gives me a chance to practice. If it starts to get to me, I back off that game.

But mostly I play online because I so rarely see live opponents any more, due to my work schedule, but I can have turn-based games going all the time, and throw in a live online game when I get a break. I'll still play FTF by preference, but the chances just don't come often enough.
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The only game I really played online was Dominion, and I did feel after a few weeks of that I probably shouldn't have as it did accelerate the learning curve against the people I like to play face-to-face with.

Also, the people on BSW only liked 2 player, and always had something snarky to say if you actually tried playing the "interactive" cards like spy. After a close game, I lost by one point. I said gg, and he said "too aggressive". Too aggressive, in Dominion? Really???

Robert
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Michael Edwards
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clearclaw wrote:
Chanfan wrote:
There have been games in the past that I haven't played, due to certain friends who want to play them being so good at them (due to frequent play). It made them un-fun for me - I like to feel like I have a chance, at least. This was before the advent of computer versions of board games, however. (I think it was the 18xx games and Stellar Conquest).


Rather than complaining, why not build your skills enough to compete?


Possibly I should have done that with Stellar Conquest. My opportunities to play were infrequent enough that it didn't seem worth it, at the time. One of the problems is that it's both a long game, and features player elimination - neither are things I'm opposed to, but I do find them frustrating in conjunction with learning curves.

Stellar Conquest shares much (in my opinion, anyway) with various RTS computer games. I love playing those against the computer, or co-op with other players. However, vs. other humans, they seem to come down to how speedy and optimized you can be in your growth. That's fine, I just find I don't enjoy it that much. I don't want to spend the time in RTS games memorizing keyboard shortcuts and optimal unit purchases to be competitive.

18xx just isn't my cup of tea in general.

Oh, and I don't feel I was complaining. Just that after trying 'em out, I felt they weren't enjoyable for me with that level of skill to compete with, and that investing the time to ramp up wasn't worth it for me. Likewise, while I find a casual game of chess OK, I didn't enjoy playing my brother the state champion much.
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tommynomad wrote:
Do you own any games that you don't play because you've played them 'too much' online?

For me it's Reef Encounter. Although the problem isn't that I've burned out (I love the game), it's that not many of my f2f group want to play it. Face 2 face, it tends to be slow and fiddly, with a lot of thinking time. This isn't a problem on www.spielbyweb.com because of the play-by-email nature of the implementation. You can spend as long as you like thinking about your move, and the computer will move all the bits about.
On the rare occasion that it does come out, I tend to win, because of the number of online plays I've logged. This in turn means it's less likely to get played for a while again.
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SanktDavid
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Example of a yes and a no here.

Started playing the Kingsburg java, and after 20+ games, got rather burnt out and lost the desire to play.

On the other hand, recently started playing Sankt Peterburg (not on BSW, the PC download), and after 10+ games, it has started to revive my heretofore waning interest in the game.

Maybe the main reason was that the Kingsburg AI was very beatable, and so I felt there wasn't much of a challenge, whereas with Sankt Peterburg, I have yet to beat it (not even close).
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Gary Heidenreich
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I think it really depends on a few things...

Playing real time versus play by email are two different beasts. Playing by email moves alot slower than playing in person. With our group, we are regular players on a few sites with play by email. It has helped us learn different games and discover games that we like (and dislike).

Also, the games do have a different feel in person (for better or worse, mostly better). Like cosine said above, it does allow more plays of a game and then when we play in person, we have a great game as everyone knows it and has gotten better at the game without having to play it every week on game day.

I have done some realtime games but for me it takes something out of it. Less time to chat, quicker to play, less fiddly. I did not find the game as satisfying, though. Different mileage for others.
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Matt Thrower
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Ironically I discussed my thoughts on this in a recent gaming column:

http://fortressat.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view...
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