Saturday, May 23, 2015

Story versus Action

I was unable to post an entry last week. I apologise. It has been a crazy spring season. Although it's not technically summer yet, my 'summer season' began today, so I expect fewer obstacles for a while.

Today, I want to talk about an exchange I had on Tuesday. I was at the weekly meeting of the local board game club, when two young men walked into the building and said that they were hoping to get to attend, but would need to ensure that they had a ride home. I offered my services. So they stayed, and games were played by everyone present, and at the end of the night, I ferryed them to their residence.

As we were driving, we the conversation turned to role-playing games. They asked me if I had ever played Dungeons and Dragons. I informed them that yes, I had, but that I was not a fan of the game, because it emphasised hack-and-slash over storytelling. They attempted to defend their beloved game, saying the usual things like 'It's not the game that determines the story's structure, it's the GM,' and 'We've played in games that have great stories.'

Which is true, to an extent, but what they don't seem to notice is that the game's mechanics have a distinct effect on the types of stories being told. I've talked about this before, but only in passing.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Board Game Review: Eclipse

Before I start the actual post, I wanted to mention that this is not a review of the interstellar conquest game by Asmodee. Instead, this is about the two-player abstract strategy game from Gigamic Games.

That said, this post would normally not be a board game review. But this past week has been so ruddy busy and stressful, I simply don't have the time or the energy to think of anything more in depth right now. So I'm going to take the easy route and review another board game.

There's a booth at Scarborough Faire in Waxahachie Texas that sells board games and card games. I spent some time looking at their wares, and decided to pick up a simple little wooden game called Eclipse. Now I will review it for you. Starting with the numbers:
Strategy and Randomness are rated from 0 to 6. A 0 means the rated aspect plays no part in determining the game's outcome; and a 6 means that it is the only factor that determines the game's outcome. Complexity is also rated from 0 to 6; a 0 means that it's so simple a six-year-old can play it, a 3 means any adult should have no trouble playing, and a 6 means that you'll need to refer to the rulebook frequently. Humour can be rated as 'None,' meaning the game is not meant to be funny, or it may have one or more of the following: Derivative (meaning the humour is based on an outside source, such as a game based on a comedy film), Implicit (meaning that the game's components are funny, such as humourous card text), or Inherent (meaning that the actions the players take are funny). Attractiveness has nine possible ratings. Ideal: the game is beautiful and makes game play easier. Pretty: The design is beautiful and neither eases nor impedes game play. Nice: The design is beautiful but makes game play harder than necessary. Useful: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but eases gameplay. Average: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Useless: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Utilitarian: The design is ugly, but eases gameplay. Ugly: The design is ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Worthless: The design is ugly, andmakes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Average Length of Game Play describes how long an average game will probably last, give or take.
Strategy: 6
Randomness: 0
Complexity: 0
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Pretty
Expected Length of Gameplay: 20 minutes

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Board Game Review: Asphodel

Remember last week when I promised I would post a review of the game my friend has created and is playtesting? No? Well, I did. So now I will.

Asphodel is a strategic game of ghostly skirmishes. At the mouth of the river of the dead sits the spectral city of Asphodel, made up of the ghostly echoes of locations from the realm of the living. Places that may be many miles apart in the world of the Quick are jumbled together in the necropolis where we lay our scene. It is here that the various factions of the dead battle for the resources they need to move on and leave the afterlands for their eternal reward. You control one of these factions, and must manoeuvre your ghosts to strengthen your own position whilst undermining the efforts of the rival factions.

Welcome to the afterlife.

Although this game is still in prototype format, it works as well as any fully-produced game, so I will review it in the same manner. For starters, the ratings:
Strategy and Randomness are rated from 0 to 6. A 0 means the rated aspect plays no part in determining the game's outcome; and a 6 means that it is the only factor that determines the game's outcome. Complexity is also rated from 0 to 6; a 0 means that it's so simple a six-year-old can play it, a 3 means any adult should have no trouble playing, and a 6 means that you'll need to refer to the rulebook frequently. Humour can be rated as 'None,' meaning the game is not meant to be funny, or it may have one or more of the following: Derivative (meaning the humour is based on an outside source, such as a game based on a comedy film), Implicit (meaning that the game's components are funny, such as humourous card text), or Inherent (meaning that the actions the players take are funny). Attractiveness has nine possible ratings. Ideal: the game is beautiful and makes game play easier. Pretty: The design is beautiful and neither eases nor impedes game play. Nice: The design is beautiful but makes game play harder than necessary. Useful: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but eases gameplay. Average: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Useless: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Utilitarian: The design is ugly, but eases gameplay. Ugly: The design is ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Worthless: The design is ugly, andmakes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Average Length of Game Play describes how long an average game will probably last, give or take.
Strategy: 4
Randomness: 2
Complexity: 2
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Pretty (keep in mind this is a prototype I'm using; there's a very good chance that once the game is produced, this rating may increase to Ideal)
Expected Length of Gameplay: 45 minutes