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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Worlds within worlds

When someone says, “I’m a gamer,” I immediately have some sort of kinship with them. But gamers come in so many different flavors! As we roll up on time for Gamestorm, I’ve been reflecting on how wide the hobby really is.

So here’s a list for different styles and types of games, along with some comments on my interests or shortfalls. And just to be clear, I’m avoiding the other meanings of games (head games, etc) lest I stray too far from the path.

Board Games. My favorite group since I could probably just play games in this category forever and be happy enough. It’s the Euros, like Settlers of Catan which started it for me, through Ticket to Ride and the big involved games like Roads and Boats. In this general group are also the Americans, Sid Sackson games like Acquire and Can’t Stop, and the Phil Orbanes’ masterpiece Cartel.

But the guy at the next table thinks board games means Monopoly and Clue. While great as iconic American culture, they’re not so much on my list of interest. There’s a huge group of these ho-hum games at Toys R Us ad nauseum, but rarely does one rise above the surface of tedium.

Card Games. There are the traditional partnership games like Bridge which I don’t like, Pinochle and Euchre which I do. But Euro twists on these, like Tichu (a current favorite) and Mu und Mehr are as good or better for keeping my interest. And there are more trick-taking games that aren’t partner based. My favorites here are die Sieben Siegel (now Zing! From SimplyFun) and Sticheln. We just played David and Goliath this week for the first time, and it was wild.

Other card games like our Havoc are also fun with varying number of players and strategies. We pulled out Sackson’s Venture (Die Bosse) at the beach a few weeks and it was challenging. My starter for “lots of game in tiny box” is Meuterer, which feels like a boardgame but is all cards.

Collectible Card Games. CCG’s gain a whole separate following at Gamestorm. I like the original, Magic :the Gathering. Still fun after all these years. We also play Guardians, Doomtown and Wyvern, but fair chance you’d never see those at a public game con. New tile games like Vortex and Chizo Rising also fit in this category.

Roleplaying. There’s a lot of this at Gamestorm, but I haven’t participated at all. My friend Lorna Wong is in a lot of these, so I’ll need to ask her advice. Chris also has a roleplay game about cats which would be fun to try. I played Dungeons and Dragons in the 80’s, but haven’t caught up with this genre at all since then.

Miniatures. Here’s one I also need to learn more about from Eric in our group, although I know Gamestorm has a whole area set aside for this. I admire the painting skills and the detail in the models, but don’t know much about the games themselves. Well, except for the offshoots like Heroscape and earlier StarWars: the Queen’s Gambit which feature pre-made miniatures. I’m guessing this sort of game is shunned by true miniatures players, since it’s so plastic.

War Games/Simulations. We played a great Generals version of Memoir ’44 over New Years, which was fun and cool, even though I’m guessing it’s on the “light” side compared to “real” war games. I’ve played the Columbia Block Games Hammer of the Scots which I like a lot, but other than those two I’m pretty much totally out of this loop.

Party Games. These don’t show up too much at Gamestorm except late nights, unless you’re in the Munchkin crowd which I gather counts as a party game of sorts. We play Attribute and Apples to Apples, and Electronic Catch Phrase was very popular over New Years’. I guess games like the Great Dalmuti also count in this group, and SimplyFun has a ton of games in this area that are fun.

Gambling. This is the group of games that historically has not been at Gamestorm, but I’m wondering whether we’ll see a Texas Hold ’Em tournament there this year. Other games like my favorite Craps and regular Poker are also what some folks mean by “gamer.” The popularity of Texas Hold ’Em has done a lot to put poker chips in many American households though. And since we usually replace paper money in games with those same poker chips, I guess the regular board gamers benefit as well!

I may have missed some big categories – if so just let me know. I had 2-Player games on the first draft, but they come in a variety of sub-groups as well.


  • At 1:06 PM, Blogger Matthew Gagan said…

    within worlds, within worlds...

    RPGs have changed significantly in the last 15 years, and even more so in the last few years. As with many hobbies, there's futher subsets of types within the now almost meaningless big-box category of "RPG". A lot of the newer games bear little resemblance to the wargame rooted D&D and its progeny. Too much to go into here, though, I expect.

    That cat RPG, (if it's the one I've read about recently), is supposed to be a blast.

    Nice post, KC.


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