Thursday, July 11, 2013

Board Games

Monopoly doesn't suck as much as I remember it sucking. My new view on it might just have been because of good company and a Pokemon theme though. That, and chess is another game I've played recently after not having played it for a long time. I think chess is a good game, but a buddy of mine doesn't agree. I find it weird to challenge the quality of a game of that caliber, but I've done just that with Monopoly for the past fifteen years or so. He says that chess sucks because it's about memorization, and that after the first move the winner has been decided (at least at high level, or if the perfect game was played [as far as I understood the argument]).

I feel like there's validity to that opinion, but as I try to type it out I find that I can't. I want to say that I wouldn't want to play a game where I'm simply employing strategies developed by others, but that's not true. I would say that I don't want to play a game where the point of it is basically to play perfectly, without messing up even a single move, but that's not entirely true either. I still think his opinion of the game is one that makes sense, but I can't make sense of it. I don't think chess sucks.

I don't know how I would define what would make up a good competitive game. Magic: The Gathering was a ton of fun when I played that, but I'm not sure how I feel about the randomness of it, even if it's semi-controlled. Sure, chance is important because it forces adaptation, but in strategy games it disjoints skill. Chess doesn't have that element, but that's what makes computers practically unbeatable.

I think that I'm not a fan of the randomness of things, but I thoroughly enjoy card games, and chance is basically the name of the game when it comes to those red and black numbers. I think my problem with chance comes when balancing things is important. When it's possible for one person to have the upper hand just because of the cards he was dealt, the dice he rolled, or the numbers he guessed. When the balance becomes controlled, chance is fine.

Maybe something like Stratego is what I'm looking for. There's a certain level of unknown, but both players have the same opportunities. I feel like this keeps the game from being too repetitive. Stratego isn't my favorite game though, it's missing something. Simplicity?

I look for simplicity when I look for games to play against others. I'm a huge fan of grasping the basic concept of a game and running with it (and potentially winning). I want the time it takes to learn how to play the game to be minimal, but I want the game to retain it's enjoyment, which means that there needs to be a way to improve. Usually a layer of complexity hiding just beneath the simplicity is enough to provide the feel of improvement. Stagnation is not a friend of enjoyment. Rock, Paper, Scissors is the game I feel like demonstrates the concept of simplicity well.

So, I guess what I'm saying is that I want a game that is complex and simple, fresh but not imbalanced. 

A lot of sports are good examples of good games. The strategy that gets employed is important, and the basic skill of the players is also important. There's chance (your players not preforming as expected), but sports are generally team oriented, and team games are a different beast entirely.

Anyway, I could probably (certainly) go on talking about games for a while, but I need to sleep. Maybe I'll make another post as a continuation. If you guys have any suggestions for what makes a competitive game good (or any games) let me know.