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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Monday, December 05, 2005

Missing Inaction

Chris asks: "What are some games that you wish you owned, but do not own? Why do you not own them today?" At this point, I am pretty much satisfied with the collection I have, and am more eager to dispose of some of my unplayed games than to accumulate additional games. Given that I have a fairly small condo and a toddler, I do not plan to host sessions again for probably another five years or so (and, by that time, there may be no one left in the group living in the Hillsboro area!). Thus, I am content to have others invest their money and storage space in new games, and most of my current purchases are games that I know will play well in a family setting for 2-3 players. I also do a lot of 2-player gaming these days. Most of the titles below fall into one of these two categories.

Two games of whichI am waiting for Mayfair to provide us with English versions are Settlers of Catan Barbaren & Handelsherren expansion and Elasund: The First City of Catan. The former was supposed to be released earlier this year. I’ve played Settlers of Catan Card Game more than any other game in my collection (not counting CCGs), and, although I prefer using the original set, I like mixing in an expansion on occasion for variety. Elasund is due any day now. I enjoyed Teuber’s Anno 1503 and Candamir a lot; I can understand why others would not, but they are perfect for a 3-player non-confrontational environment, and I suspect Elasund will be along the same lines.

I started collecting Magic: the Gathering Pre-constructed Theme Decks with the Mirrodin block, and I now have 28 decks total (12 from Mirrodin, 12 from Kamigawa, and the first 4 from Ravnica). I do not know when Wizards of the Coast started releasing Precons, but I estimate that there are on the order of 100 such decks, and I wouldn't mind having the whole set. This is the only way I play Magic, and I like looking at decks from various blocks just to see what different ideas the designers came up with. I think Magic is an inferior CCG when it comes to actual playing, but it is most impressive from a design standpoint; the base rules are quite simple, but easily support the addition of an astonishing number of different concepts. Given the nature of CCG release turnover, these decks are hard to find (and, when available, priced expensively) within a couple years of being released.

I am willing and able to pay MSRP for board games at my local game store, and I always say that a game that is worth $35 is worth $50 (and I support the contrapositive even more passionately). However, I only buy CCGs from online discounters (although I do buy starter and theme decks from my local game store). The money savings is huge considering how many cards I buy, and I do not feel that the local game store provides me a service by ordering boxes of boosters for me. The new Heroes of Might and Magic IV Collective Card & Tile Game is not available from the usual online discounters. I know that Thoughthammer carries it, but not at the price I usually pay for CCGs. It looks like I will let this one pass by.

I was (unfortunately) able to buy a bunch of RangeWars at a clearance price, as my wife regularly played Doomtown CCG at the time. However, as I was not expecting to be a parent, I passed on the more accessible Diskwars. Diskwars is in abundance on eBay, but I get frustrated and stressed by the extended tension of online auctions (not unlike my experience with play-by-web boardgames). Similarly, I would like to own Warlord CCG to play with my daughter years from now, but I am taking the change that it will get deep-discounted between now and then.

Speaking of the eBay experience, I love the sloppily-designed, heavily-themed old Avalon Hill exploration games. Unfortunately, Source of the Nile disappeared before I developed this interest. I imagine it pops up on eBay every now and then, but given how old it is, it’s probably only available used, and I really don’t like to buy used games (or used anything for that matter).

I would have purchased the Drakon Expansion, except that it was released after the second edition, and the tile backs are incompatible with those of the first edition. Not much time lapsed between the two editions (maybe a year or so), and I felt this was a crappy way for Fantasy Flight Games to treat those who supported the original release. Of course, I failed to learn from this experience, and bought the first edition of Runebound largely based on the promise of expansions; after just one mini-expansion, FFG released a second edition. I appreciate the now-expired upgrade offer, but I refused to pay out of principle. So, I will never own the upcoming Runebound expansions (The Isle of Dread; several mini-expansions).

I wouldn’t mind owning a copy of Splotter’s Antiquity, if only to keep its cousin Roads & Boats company as they collect dust. However, I’m not willing to pay a premium price for it, especially after making a similar investment on Roads & Boats prior to its being republished – twice.

For the most part, I’ve been able to avoid the collector bug, abandoning several series such as the Alea big-box and Kosmos 2-player series. However, I feel rather compelled to obtain those GIPF titles that I do not currently own – GIPF, TAMSK, and PÜNCT – as the games are quite handsome and I suspect I will be playing a lot of 2-player abstracts with my daughter. I still balk because, in the back of my mind, I strongly suspect that I already own the two games in the series that will be by far the most-played (DVONN & YINSH).

I prefer solving puzzles at a leisurely pace rather than under intense time pressures; in Ricochet Robot, once you quickly assure yourself that no cheap solution exists for a given puzzle, you can settle back and methodically look for a convoluted solution. In contrast, the classic pentomino-ish puzzles in Ubongo are simple enough – plus there’s that dang sand timer – that the pressure never lets up. However, I think I can probably come up with a more relaxed version of this to play with the family, and the beautiful presentation makes this a great way for me to share my love of this puzzle type with my daughter. I just recently played it for the first time, and my local game doesn’t carry imports, so I will likely include it in my next online order.

Some games I want are free for the taking, but my severe laziness gets in the way. Klaus Teuber has released several free scenarios for Starship Catan for download, but I have yet to make the effort to print them onto good cardstock. Fans have released several unofficial Settlers Card Game expansions, also for download; I even bought an extra copy of the game, but never got around to printing the cards onto labels. Similarly, I will have to rely on another’s benefaction if I am ever to own a homemade copy of the out-of-print Code 777.

Two new releases I enjoyed a lot at BGG.CON are Carcassone: the Discovery and Techno Witches. Since the former is only available via Funagain, I will have to wait until I need to do a larger order to absorb the shipping costs. For the latter, I am waiting for Rio Grande to release the English version... wait, checking Rainy-Day-Games.com online catalogue, I see that it is now in-stock! Time to run out and get one title removed from this list...


  • At 8:58 PM, Blogger Mike said…

    You can get the German language Carc: Discovery from B&B. The components are language independent and I have a very smart double sided, color copy of the rules if you want. Just a thought.

  • At 9:14 PM, Blogger Matthew Gagan said…

    My opinion on M:tG: Magic: the Gathering Pre-constructed Theme Decks may be inferior when it comes to playing, but cutthroat Type 2 tournament play with sideboard, Rochester draft, and other forms of draft play are really great. I don't think I've ever had much fun with a pre-con, but it's cool that you enjoy them.

    I haven't played some of the CCGs you have, Dave, (Deadlands looks really fun, and I enjoyed my one play of it), but I've bought and played about 15 CCGs (yikes!), and certain forms of M:tG are still my favorite. Netrunner, L5R, and Shadowfist are three other favorites.

  • At 10:54 PM, Blogger dave said…


    My uninformed opinion of Magic is that I'm guessing that pure constructed is better because you can deal with the main problems in the game by adding cards that give you mana rush and/or card draw. If that is the case, then (1) it kinda bugs me that the core design forces this, and (2) I'm surprised that Draft format is as popular as it is!

  • At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Tim said…

    I just got a copy of Code 777 (traded a copy of AH's Air Baron for it) - I'll try and bring it next time I know you'll be around for gaming. I like it a lot for a relatively light deduction game.

    I also agree with you that Dvonn and Yinsh seem to be the most played of the Gipf games - I haven't yet played Punct, so I don't know how that one will be yet. I can't play Tamsk (the one with the timers) - I appreciate the design, recognize it as good, but the time pressure just throws me off on that one!


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