UK Games Expo was a draining weekend for me, followed by an unfortunate cold, so I’m a bit late in getting this up for you – but hopefully it’ll be interesting.
This month we’re concentrating on looking at various experiences and inspiration we each have with tabletop gaming – and I’m going to be talking largely about the most recent experiences at UKGE itself.
We met a lot of new people, but I’m not really going to talk about that today because social interactions are complicated and not really something I excel at – even if Board Games do make that much easier for me.
Instead I’m going to talk about the elements of Boardgames that speak to me more than the rest of our team:
Loz likes learning new games – and may well talk about that on his week of this subject – but he tends to only go one-step deep with most games. He’ll play them until he fully understands the rules, and then move on. That early stage appeals to me, but I tend to be more of a deep-diver: once I understand a games rules I need to learn its metarules. 1)For an example, a simple metarule of Sudoku is that if you have two numbers that each have only the same two spots in a row/column/box they can be in, then every other number is impossible for that pair of boxes, even though they haven’t been filled. I then need to prove my understanding of the game by beating other players – but the winning isn’t the goal, that’s easy if I can choose my opponents, it’s the understanding that matters to me.
At something like UKGE I don’t have the opportunity to grok games without buying them. So, of course, I buy some of them. This time around I bought a discounted dice-crafting game called The Masters’ Trial and a simple munchkin-esque game called Champion of Earth. Both seem flawed, to some extent, but they also each have a level of fun.
The Masters’ Trial is quite a deep game, so I don’t know it after a few hours of play, but it lacks somewhat in the theming arena, and in the way the boxes contents are arranged when first unpacked – a lot of effort got put into some things, while others just missed the mark. Specifically – the cards are organised by card name, but have to immediately be reorganised by which deck they go in 2)yes, cards of the same name go in different decks. It makes sense in context and despite the fact that each monster is tied to one of the four elements they are all lava beasts…
Champion of Earth is a bit too easy to grok for me, so it’s not likely to get much play during my “serious gaming” time – but it’s a less cruel, and more pop-culture, version of Munchkin so it’ll probably see some play with my many friends who aren’t as deep into gaming. It also seems to lack the one player mode mentioned on the box – we’ll be asking the designers about that, given as we were chatting with them at the Con.
Talking about player numbers, we encountered Game of Thrones Catan at the con, but were unable to properly try it as it needs a minimum of three players (like all Catan games) – which inspired us to start discussing rules changes that would make it work for just me and Amy.
Modifying games is one of my favourite long-term hobbies. It started with computer games, but my programming skills are sub-par so I could never actually implement things like the four extra balanced teams I designed for Starcraft, so I eventually moved onto things like custom M:TG cards and houseruling board games, where I could actually implement my thoughts.
Modify something enough and you make something new. For instance we did some more playtesting of Clash of Blades – our Swordfighting Card Game – at UKGE; it’s a game that started off as a concept of “How would magic look with a completely different resource system” and now looks basically nothing like M:TG.
Making something more purely innovative is where our story-telling memory game Adventurer’s Backpack comes in. We created it whole cloth, because we understand enough other games (including storytelling and roleplaying ones) that we were only taking a single thread from each – making the game as a whole new from its very beginning.
Of course no matter how you get to making the game, you then have to go right back round to the top – grok it, then mod it, rinse and repeat – because it’s never going to start out perfect.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||For an example, a simple metarule of Sudoku is that if you have two numbers that each have only the same two spots in a row/column/box they can be in, then every other number is impossible for that pair of boxes, even though they haven’t been filled.|
|2.||↑||yes, cards of the same name go in different decks. It makes sense in context|