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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Shiny New Things

Do you prefer learning new games frequently - but only playing each game once or twice - or playing a smaller set of games several times each?

My first reaction to this is “lately, I would just prefer playing games period – new,old, good, bad, whatever!”  Spring is always a tough time for playing games, especially now that I’m coaching baseball.  Still, the question is valid and pretty straightforward for me to answer.

I’d like to be able to say that I’m a focused person and like to delve deep into the intricacies of a small set of games, exploring nuances to strategy and honing my skills.  It ain’t me, babe – I’m much more likely to gravitate to the shiny new game that just arrived.

Deep down inside, I think I know why I lean towards the new stuff:

  • Enjoying the new thing is part of my nature.  I like hearing new bands, trying new foods, traveling to new countries, and of course trying out the next new game.
  • I’m a strong intuitive first-game player.  I have a pretty good track record of winning games where everyone is playing for the first time.  I don’t have nearly the same track record playing established games where others have honed their strategies.  I don’t prepare myself well for games like this, and I don’t play individual games enough to become adept.  Possibly the only exception is Wallenstein where I have a pretty good track record online at spielbyweb.

Perhaps this is a self-perpetuating cycle?  Because I play the shiny new games, I don’t improve my skills at established games, and because I know I’ll get beat re-playing games I move onto the new games.  Interesting theory, but in truth I don’t care very much about winning.

There are some games I’ve played recently that I’ve been very interested in exploring more deeply.  Twilight Struggle was a blast, and I’ve lost so quickly in both my games as the Americans that I’m dying to find a strategy that can’t get me safely through the middle game.  War of the Ring continues to beckon, especially with the new expansion coming.  I played a prototype this weekend while down in southern Oregon with the Funagain team that I’m anxious to try out with the family – I think Julie would really enjoy it.

Odds are, though, that I’ll continue my quantity over quality streak this year and keep playing single games to burn down my list.  I dreamed up a crazy idea this weekend with KC and Rita – hold a weekend gaming marathon where participants earn points/credits by helping me knock games off my burn-down list.  KC suggested that I could tag-team by having two groups working with me – with the off-group always preparing the next game for play.  I’d have to offer some serious incentives / bribes to torture my gaming friends with such a death march, but it could be fun.


  • At 10:16 AM, Blogger Tim said…

    Your point about the skill involved - ability to intuitively pick up new games as opposed to develop skill with a game over several plays - is an interseting one.

    I'm pretty sure I'm not as intuitive as many folks at picking up new games (still pretty good, probably, but it's not my strong point) - that may well explain MY preferences as well!

    Interesting thought - thanks!

  • At 9:43 AM, Blogger Jack said…

    I mostly replay games simply due to the fact that I have a limited collection a lot of which I'm not that interested in replaying, so some old favourites often hit the table.

    However, in my quest to be a better designer I'm trying to play as many new games as possible at my local games club where the options aren't limited to my collection.


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