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Subject: Where do board games end and card games begin? rss

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Alec Chapman
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As an academic discussion, I don't think it's a huge earth shattering issue, but I was thinking how I'd like to have both a board game list and a card game list (on the latter of which Dominion would incidentally be Number two and number three) as well as the overall list of game rankings here on BGG.

It's a little selfish since I am less fond of card games and more fond of board games on the whole, so when I see that the top ten games includes not only three card games, but also that two of these are variations on the same system it makes me hanker after a list of games with a nice bit of cardboard to move pawns or tokens on,

So I got to wondering why this wasn't the case now, and I guess the logic is the boundary between the two is just too fuzzy.

Take for example the ones where you have a card game with a board? I can sort of see the issue here - I mean, Ticket To ride could be viewed as Rummy with a weird scoring system if you're in the fighting mood.

But in the cases where a board (or paper surface, i guess) is integral to the gameplay, like Ticket To Ride has for reference, if nothing else, it's probably safe to call it a board game - but something like Lost Cities it is not - as with a CCG where all a board does is track current power as shorthand... though then that raises the issue of something like Twilight Struggle where the cards drive the board, but then I'd counter that by saying the board is still integral to the gameplay.

So then I thought the difference is that a board game is that the board cannot be taken away without making the game unworkable on, say, a piece of paper.

Ah, but then you have Through The Ages, which cards are even more the focus of the game than Twilight Struggle, but you still couldn't do away with the board without making book-keeping very difficult, though not impossible.

I'd probably class TTA as a Card Game since you could run it on tokens only with cards replacing the boards, but it's a case in point of the leaky boundary here.

Where does everyone else think lies the fuzzy borderline between a board game and a card game? And if this is issue is simple, how can I get my desired separate list of game with boards without having to type it all out myself?

A
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Pete Belli
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Quote:
Where does everyone else think lies the fuzzy borderline between a board game and a card game?


That fuzzy borderline is adjacent to the vague boundary between art and pornography.
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John Gorski
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Twilight Struggle, Paths of Glory, Combat Commander, etc. use the cards as a randomizer. In TS and PG the randomizer is constructed to allow for specific events to occur in certain windows of gametime to provide historical content. However, an argument could be made that you could play these types of games without the cards if you could determine alternative randomizers (e.g. many sided die with a chart). War of the Ring is the same. So I would clearly place these types of games in the boardgame catagory.

You could not play, say, Race for the Galaxy or Blue Moon without cards.

I wonder where you would place Modern Art? Cards play a major role in the game but I would not describe it as a card game.

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For instance, the 10 Days in the USA series. Some describe them as just "rack-o", but they all have a board, which is just a color coded map. Board or Card game?

A board game can have cards, but a card game can't have a board?
I think "board game" means "table top gaming" more so then "has to include a board".

It seems to be an extremely fuzzy line, and probably it should be a scale:
1-Pure board game
5-Board/Card game
10-Pure card game

But how many board games don't have cards in some form or another?
I would bet most games would fall into "5".

Also, what about "tile" games?
Carcassonne - Do the tiles make up the board? Or are the tiles "small cards" that you play to make up a map?

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Jonathan Morton
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For me, there's no need to draw a line between board games and card games, because to me they offer exactly the same kind of entertainment. Great bits do not a great game make, and lack of bits do not a lousy game make. Other factors are much more important.

What's your plan if you are successful in generating a list of strictly-board-games? Will you use it as a guide to save you from ever again playing a card game?
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Simon Lundström
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I'm interested by the issue, but mostly on an academic level… meaning that I like definitions. I don't see the need to separate them, but I can see one use… like the OP I am less fond of purely card games than I am of board game.

I'd say that games where the non-card things make up for a physical function in the game is a board game. Where the board is purely and only for score keeping purposes, it's still a card game.

Street Illegal, for example, I regard as a card game, as the board is simply there to keep track of the relative positions of the cars. You could aswell just have the cars represented by cards placed on the table.
Top Race, on the other hand, I would not regard as a card game, although it's driven by cards. There, the board represents a real function and is not there for pure positioning.

There are probably games where the border is much more blurry.
 
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Chris Taylor
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Well, since boardgames aren't academic by any means then an academic discussion falls apart rapidly.

Board game or card game? What is the difference? I mean really, this boils down very quickly. Each one is a "pass-time". Board games tend to pass more time than card games, however, either way time is passed. We all opinions on how to pass time. If the time passes by and we have fun, then the game, regardless of classification, servers the purpose.
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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How's this?

If a game's board isn't necessary, it's not a boardgame. (Example: Lost Cities).

If a game's board shows the positions of things, and the relative positions are important to the game, then the board is necessary, so it's a boardgame.

If a game doesn't come with a board, but bits are put on the table and their relative positions are important, it's a boardgame (Examples: Hive, Meuterer, Gnostica, Carcassonne)

One exception: "relative positions are important" doesn't include stacking. I guess when I say relative positions, I mean any of the following: the pieces are a certain distance apart, or they in specific locations that may be reached in a certain way (i.e. Space A is one unit north of Space B, or Piece A may reach Space B by moving twice in a straight line on a diagonal, or Piece A may reach Space B by moving twice along a main road).
 
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'Bernard Wingrave'
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ALGO wrote:
...how can I get my desired separate list of game with boards without having to type it all out myself?

You could start by doing an Advanced Search and checking the + or - next to Card Game in the Category section. As I said, this is a start. Not everything is going to come out according to any one definition of "Card Game".
 
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J C Lawrence
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Board game tend to have strong 2D or 3D spatial elements with the physical placement and location of components relative to others being central to the game. Conversely, card games tend to carry all their meta-information in the relationships of cards played, cards not played, and deductions about hand-contents.
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Ray
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Where is the line between left handed baseball players and baseball players with blonde hair?

There are many games that are both. Their are many games that are neither. There are some that are one or the other. You can only draw a line between the two if they are aspects of the same dimension which they are not. but we like to categorize everything -- even unlike dimensions.
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bwingrave wrote:
How's this?

If a game's board isn't necessary, it's not a boardgame. (Example: Lost Cities).

If a game's board shows the positions of things, and the relative positions are important to the game, then the board is necessary, so it's a boardgame.

If a game doesn't come with a board, but bits are put on the table and their relative positions are important, it's a boardgame (Examples: Hive, Meuterer, Gnostica, Carcassonne)

One exception: "relative positions are important" doesn't include stacking. I guess when I say relative positions, I mean any of the following: the pieces are a certain distance apart, or they in specific locations that may be reached in a certain way (i.e. Space A is one unit north of Space B, or Piece A may reach Space B by moving twice in a straight line on a diagonal, or Piece A may reach Space B by moving twice along a main road).


A board isn't necessary for Race for the Galaxy, but I'd consider that a board game.

I mean, it could be re-tooled so there's a board with stuff you put on it and there's money and such.
 
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Murray Lewis
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Why do we need to make a clear cut division between the two at all?

There are plenty of board games that don't use a 'board' as such, but we still call them board games.
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Jim Scheiderich
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I tend to agree with the assessment that if the game can be played sans "board" then it isn't a board game. That might spawn the question of what is a board...

The player mats and score track don't make TTA a board game per se; it could have easily have been placed in Space dealing with advanced civilizations. You may attack someone but there are no territorial or spatial considerations. No borders.

Th OP's comment was about T2R (TtR), which to me definitely has spatial requirements as you are connecting diverse points using scarce routes to do so therefore: Boardgame.

The spatial relation comment is right on. At a simple level, Risk or Sorry. More complex games may not have a bright line. Puerto Rico simply has organizing spaces (your plantations and buildings) - which are important but not absolutely necessary. If there was a single city over which players competed to place Warehouses etc. then it would qualify as a board game. Carcassone is a is an odd niche where the board - which unveils though play - and the game are inseparable.

Le Havre is another good example of a card game with a board that is simply a means of organizing things.

Of course, the boards may add to the sense of or the theme of the game.

So we have:

Card games (Dominion; Race for the Galaxy - I have not seen the most recent exp.)
Board games that are card games using board(s) - more often player aids - for organizing purposes.
Board games with necessary spatial consideration (most war games). (Whether hex, area or point-to-point making no difference)
Board games that develop the board during the course of the game (tile laying).

Like the OP said: an academic question. Hmmmm: what are Fits and Caylus?
 
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Gorski wrote:
Twilight Struggle, Paths of Glory, Combat Commander, etc. use the cards as a randomizer. In TS and PG the randomizer is constructed to allow for specific events to occur in certain windows of gametime to provide historical content. However, an argument could be made that you could play these types of games without the cards if you could determine alternative randomizers (e.g. many sided die with a chart).

Sure, and an argument could also be made that Squad Leader could be played without a map and counters... Whether such arguments would be convincing is another issue...

The cards are a fundamental part of TS etc and not feasibly substituted by dice and chart lookups. Dice rolls allow the same result to occur more than once; card deals do not allow the same card to occur more than once. It is integral to TS, for instance, that each card occurs only once in the deck, not to mention that many cards are removed from the game after being played, so rolling on a chart to generate cards via dice would require marking off "used" and "discarded" cards and a lot of rerolling. Not to mention that your hand is secret, so how do you avoid coincidentally rolling the same card for both players?

Quote:
You could not play, say, Race for the Galaxy or Blue Moon without cards.

You could play such games without cards just as well as you could play TS without cards.
 
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Simon Lundström
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I don't understand why some people don't understand the wish to make a difference between board game and card games.

I have no real NEED to make a difference, but I do have a wish. I tend to like board games more than I like games that I just play with cards. I don't know why, it's some of the feel of a board, the spatiality. I am a little sad that Dungeoneer, a game that I like a lot, isn't more board-gamey. It would be a lot better with big, thick cardboard things for the map instead of standard cards. It would be, really.

This, of course, isn't inherently married to the game per se. If Dungeoneer had cardboard whatever that you laid out and some minis or cardboard standees, it would be a board game instead of a card game, but it would still be exactly the same game. If Dungeon Quest had no board but just cards you laid out, it would be a card game. And Race for the Galaxy is by all means a card game, as cards is the only thing you use. A board-game version is perfectly plausible and doable, but as it is, the game is a card game.

And I can really see the wish to make a difference. If not for categorization, so at least for preference.
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Well, even Le Havre can be considered as a card game and a really good one too. The board is not used for actual play except to place goods around it. The game revolves around cards. But I'm not complaining...

Boardgames. Cardgames. They're still games. And as long as designers keep making good games, who cares if they are board or card based games. Cheers.
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Race For The Galaxy is indeed a card game, but don't be too quick to dismiss other features of the game. In building your tableau you are in effect creating something of a board of cards, much like a game such as Carcassonne does with tiles. Unlike say, Dominion, these cards generally remain down on the table and alter the rest of game. So on a board-card game continuum, it's on the card side, but not all the way over.
 
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Well, here're some somewhat arbitrary properties of boardgames and cards (and dice) that are academically "nice to think about":

Boardgames track public information: Maps tell you where the units are, numerically and spacially. Victory point paths tell you how many points each player has. Without the board, knowing this information becomes cumbersome.

Cards track private information: In most card games, you don't tell your opponent what cards you have.

This blurs because there's no steadfast rule that a property of boardgames can't apply to cards and vice-versa. An example is a card game where the cards are place on the table to create a board of sorts (eg. Dungeoneer). Tiles can have both properties of a boardgame and cards (eg. Drakkon).

Of course, boards and cards have other properties as well, but it's important to not mix them with the public and private properties:

Boards sometimes organize components: Player CCG mats, for example, can tell new players how to place their cards. A game board may have a space to place the discard pile. However, this organization of the components on the maps do not provide public information used in gameplay (ie. if you move the discard pile to the left instead of the right of the play area, the game does not change).

Cards drawn from a deck and dice are randomized: You also expect a card drawn from a deck or a roll of the dice to be random. Not terribly important, except to mention many modular boardgames (eg. Settlers) can be made randomly.

But many games are a mixture of public and private information (eg. boardgames with cards held by the players), so, yes, classifying a game as a boardgame or a card game can easily become murky.
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Put me in the 'waving my hands in the air... because I just don't care' category.

What's the point of having a discussion about something you admit doesn't matter anyway? So someone can point out that someone else's opinion is stupid? That's all that'll be accomplished.
 
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ejcarter wrote:
Put me in the 'waving my hands in the air... because I just don't care' category.

What's the point of having a discussion about something you admit doesn't matter anyway? So someone can point out that someone else's opinion is stupid? That's all that'll be accomplished.

What's the point of commenting in a discussion about something you admit you don't care about anyway, just so you can tell the other people that their discussion is stupid?

Like you, it doesn't matter to me if a game is a card game or a board game (but it does to some people, as some have said in this thread). Nonetheless, I've enjoyed some of the interesting comments which shed light on the differences, and on different people's ideas of what a card or board game is. Some people actually enjoy brainstorming about theoretical stuff that may not matter much in practice.
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friedricetheman wrote:

Boardgames. Cardgames. They're still games. And as long as designers keep making good games, who cares if they are board or card based games. Cheers.
Jonny5 wrote:
For me, there's no need to draw a line between board games and card games, because to me they offer exactly the same kind of entertainment. Great bits do not a great game make, and lack of bits do not a lousy game make. Other factors are much more important.

What's your plan if you are successful in generating a list of strictly-board-games? Will you use it as a guide to save you from ever again playing a card game?


WE care. Folks like you may not, and that's fine, but for the rest of us, there will always be people who do care. It's as arbitrary as information/meta-data such what mechanics the game has, what ranking it is here on BGG, who the artist(s) are, what edition of the game is, etc. Everything is useful to someone.

I too am like that to a degree. If I like a game, then that's great. However, getting more info about a game helps me find more like like. For example, when I played Settlers Of Catan and Samurai, I came to understand that people consider these games as "eurogames" or "german style board games". Again, others may not care, but I did. I went out and seeked other types of these games, and ended up enjoying such a genre. When I go to boardgaming groups, if there's going to eurogames, I'm definitely in.
 
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