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Subject: What is so good about euros anyhow? [somewhat related poll included] rss

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Samo Gosaric
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alex352 wrote:
Anyway, as the OP now made clear, the discussion should not be taken too seriuos so I will not pursue this any longer.

Do stay with us. kiss

I still think that discussing serious stuff is on this thread's agenda, but maybe just not in the serious manner. I have put a bit more effort in the previous reply, so I can just summarize here: I wonder where do eurogamers come from? (...and where do they go). What's the motivation behind?
 
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Andrew
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sgosaric wrote:

I could also ask questions like this - how can you still love and play:
- games with(out) themes(,) dry as sand


Forget Euros, why play abstracts at all? My personal view is that dryness is really about emotional detachment, and theme is just one tool that tries to emotionally involve the player, not the only means. Weakly-themed Euros and abstracts have players invest intellectual effort into creating plans about the game, and there's drama when these plans are disrupted or put into jeopardy.

When I blocked all three of my friend's Ticket to Ride routes, I made a ticket he assumed would be 21 points turn into -21 points - he was seriously annoyed. Neither of us cared that the game was supposed to be about trains.

sgosaric wrote:

- games with no talking and on board interaction (blocking)


As has been mentioned, you don't have to be negotiating in-game to chat with your friends. Aside from non-game talk, there's still plenty of room for making "helpful suggestions" devil (my colleagues turn Race for the Galaxy into a diplomatic game) or just discussing game strategy.

As I argued before, help and harm in Euros can be indirect, but they still occur. The only game I can think of that lacks blocking is Race for the Galaxy (and Catan Dice Game, but that really is multiplayer solitaire), and while you can't stop them making a move, you can turn it into a really bad move.

sgosaric wrote:

- games where you play against the game not other people (optimizing your engine), yet these people sit next to you.


Any decent Euro-player will try to screw you over while they are helping themselves; just watch people buy up fuel they don't really need in Power Grid just to make you pay more, or people timing auctions in Ra to force you to overpay. If the system is screwing you over in a Euro, beware that someone else might be nudging the system to do just that.

sgosaric wrote:

- games that make your head hurt and feel like work, only you don't get paid.


Same thing could be said about games that make you feel bullied, betrayed, swindled, etc.

sgosaric wrote:

- games that forbid you to do more stuff than they let you do (Yes Shascht, I'm looking at your designs).

I like Coloretto!
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Andrew
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sgosaric wrote:

My feel is it's male population of people gaming in clubs.
...

if I traslate:
- not gaming with friends, but more in a sport-like, competitive manner in clubs
- not extroverted population or again gaming with people you don't know well.

Am I on to something or stumbling in the dark?


I think there are some polls somewhere about the demographics of the site, but given that it's a site dedicated to board games, I think you will find more "serious" gamers interested in playing against other serious gamers posting and voting here.

sgosaric wrote:

But what is the joy of learning new strategies in so-called deep games?


Personally, I like to screw people over without them knowing until it's too late. devil

But there's also joy of discovery or understanding, and the sense that you're making progress and getting better at something.

Actually, to say that you "learn a strategy" is a bit of a simplification; usually can't just whip out something you have read, you have to adapt the strategic concept to the current situation. Being able to do that well requires some experimentation.

sgosaric wrote:

Another thing I've noticed is when empire building game (of euro genre) has "take that" elements (like Settlers of Catan card game) the effect is more painful than in territory taking aggressive game. In games that are outright about aggression I have no problem in dealing with conflict, however in these games it feels that maybe the sole fact of each player hiving it's own board creates much more tension when somebody interferes as their ruining "your creation" not collective creation.


I've noticed this too - it's pretty interesting.
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Alex H.
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Philip Thomas wrote:
Oops, 7 Wonders is indeed a euro and not 7 Ages, sorry about that.

Euro is not a synonym for Strategy game. Relatively short length is one characterstic of euros but not necesarily of Strategy games: mechanisms for indirect conflict is another.


Though I said I would not pick up the topic again I can't hold back. I am not convinced by the indirect-conflict argument. Dominant Species is not a Euro, then? T&E? What is "relatively short"? A few years ago 2 hours seemed to be the sweet spot. Not 3-4 hours is not ecceptional in the field. For me "Euro game" provides a very broad notion, usually more as a contrast to Wargames (and possibly Ameritrash also), and that's about as useful as it gets.
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Philip Thomas
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alex352 wrote:
Philip Thomas wrote:
Oops, 7 Wonders is indeed a euro and not 7 Ages, sorry about that.

Euro is not a synonym for Strategy game. Relatively short length is one characterstic of euros but not necesarily of Strategy games: mechanisms for indirect conflict is another.


Though I said I would not pick up the topic again I can't hold back. I am not convinced by the indirect-conflict argument. Dominant Species is not a Euro, then? T&E? What is "relatively short"? A few years ago 2 hours seemed to be the sweet spot. Not 3-4 hours is not ecceptional in the field. For me "Euro game" provides a very broad notion, usually more as a contrast to Wargames (and possibly Ameritrash also), and that's about as useful as it gets.


I haven't played Dominant species, but I believe there are elements of indirect conflict in that players choose actions, which are then not available to other players. Tigris and Euphrates has elements of indirect conflict (you can cause two opponents to fight each other, also the catastrophe tiles in some circumstances)
Euro is indeed a broad notion.
 
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Alex H.
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My point was that both games have very much direct conflict. Generally, Euros will have more indirect than direct conflict. But it fails to be a defining distinction. Heck, almost every game has some sort of direct or indirect conflict unless it is entirely coop. That's how interaction is created.
 
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Alex H.
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Anyway, to get back to the OP's question:
why do people here on BGG like Euros (I'll stick with this term though I attacked it before).
I can't speak for the rest of the community (or the "BGG mainstream") but sometimes the challenges a specific Euro poses is exactly what I want on the table. I like direct conflict and wargames. Sometimes I really enjoy playing ameritrash dice-orgies. But sometimes I am looking for something like Agricola where I can focus on building something up, interact with my opponents in a not overly aggresive manner and try to build up my own little farm.
You see, in the end I just end up describing the content of the game and stating "I sometimes like exactly that". So as puzzling as it may appear, that's just it. Other people's taste is different and there is no point in asking why that is so.
Ok, there's one more thing to it: I don't easily see a game as a spreadsheet or a puzzle though this might well be what is hidden behind the covering theme. When I play Goa, I happily accept the idea that I am colonizing and trading. In Agricola, I like to see my farm prosper (or not). Theme intergation and how well it works varies considerably.
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Dieroll Honker wrote:
Gave up after two questions.



me too. clicked on results but couldn't even be bothered to take a good look. sorry

 
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Steven Backues
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Thank you for the thorough response. Sometimes even half-tongue-in-cheek posts can generate good conversations.

Some elaborations of my own:
Quote:
I'll check your collection.


Please do; I write thorough comments with most of my ratings, so hopefully it will be informative. However, I don't know to what extent my taste in games is actually like yours. I think we clearly have some overlap, but in other regards distinctly not (e.g. I am not really a social gamer, and have relatively little interest in theme.)

Quote:

Yes I have low budget, games in english language are more expensive here than in states, I have no way of trying games before I buy as there is no boardgaming community here


That's too bad. I also have a low budget, but am fortunate to have gaming groups. Have you considered trying some out via online play? It's not the same experience (I do not myself play online except rarely), but it could give you at least a feel for whether or not the mechanics suit you.

Quote:
Interesting as I have no idea where eurogamers come from in terms of their background as the so-called gateway games are family oriented and aren't really meant for intellectual challenge


I think the first half of this statement is a good point. Although Eurogames derived from German family games, that doesn't mean that most Eurogamers followed the same route. I myself also have MtG (a lot) and roleplaying (a little) in my background. Even more formative for me was a few years in middle school playing scholastic chess tournaments, and a childhood playing various abstracts and some card games with my Dad.

The second half of your statement I don't agree with as much; while family oriented games don't have as much intellectual challenge as more "serious" games, it still remains an important element, particularly when compared to mass market childrens' games.

Quote:

Maybe the key word here is "social", not "interactive".

I think that is a very useful distinction; however, I don't think you could count on it being understood without the need for explanation. See for example: Is puerto rico "social"?
I think that the appeal of German-style family games is that they provide both a (moderate) social aspect as well as a (moderate) intellectual challenge aspect. So they are good for casual gatherings of smart people.

Quote:
I've listened to some podcast about history of board games where the historian claimed 2 player games are what gaming is all about, and multiplayers are "perversions".

I could half go with that. Certainly in terms of my core, strict definition of games, which is "battles of wit", multiplayer is an aberration. Some multiplayer games do a decent job of managing to provude this, but even the best don't do it perfectly.

However, I think that one thing that multiplayer games do uniquely well is politics/negotiation. This is where the whole idea of gathering multiple people around a gameboard really shines, and could almost be a raison d'etere of the whole genera. On the other hand, it can be pretty intense and unpleasant and a lot of people don't really like it. I myself have only a limited tolerance for it. So, multiplayer negotiation games are great, and unconflicted in their design, but they certainly aren't for everyone.

And of course there is that whole social thing, as you mentioned. Here things are a little bit complicated, because most BGGers would say that games are primarily a social activity (e.g. doing them solo would be boring; even online doesn't really satisfy), but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are looking for a game that involves social interaction. Instead, it is the shared intellectual engagement that creates the particular sort of social experience that is strategy gaming. So, particularly for the strategy games genera (and also some of the others), games are judged primarily by their strategic depth - their intellectual merit.

But talking about "strategic depth" and "intellectual merit" takes us back to the "battle of wits" and the problem that that doesn't really work that well with more than two players. Or else the politics that works so well but most people don't like. So some games take a third option for providing intellectual engagement: the exploration, analysis and optimization of a gaming system. This is certainly strategy: planning and analysis. To me, it is less of a game and more like working a puzzle: a complicated logic problem complicated by a little bit of luck and some ability for the other players to mess with your options.

Solving this sort of organizational puzzle is inherently enjoyable for many people. Well, okay, maybe not many people, but at least many gamers, and in fact this enjoyment of planning and analysis is a big part of what sets apart your typical gamer from the rest of the population. It's also why most gamers work in STEM fields. I think that trying to ask someone why they enjoy doing this is kind of like asking an athlete why they enjoy running (which, I will admit, has always mystified me). There is no further answer; it is just a fundamentally fun activity that we (some of us more than others) are wired to enjoy. It also crosstalks with the enjoyment of building something - e.g. the empire building that I mentioned, which again is something that certain people just like doing. Personally, I do enjoy these things, although they are in and of themselves enough for me to really like a game. What a game must have for me to like it is intellectual competition.

There are of course other ways to spice up multiplayer games; one of the main ones is theme. Again, though, if something is primarily thematic I wouldn't really call it a game - it is more like a shared experience. So, for example, I enjoy roleplaying (specifically, GMing), but my enjoyment of it is almost entirely unrelated to my enjoyment of strategy gaming.

Quote:
In games that are outright about aggression I have no problem in dealing with conflict, however in these games it feels that maybe the sole fact of each player hiving it's own board creates much more tension when somebody interferes as their ruining "your creation" not collective creation.


I've come to exactly the same conclusion in the last year or two. In particular the game that did it for me was Agricola, when contrasted with Caylus. Caylus is very tight and confrontational and all about eeking out an advantage over the other player as you build on the common gameboard. Agricola has the same basic worker-placement mechanic, but it is about building up your own farm. In Caylus I love the conflict; in Agricola, I hate it, even though there is in fact less of it. This ties into my comments about wanting to play against the players and not against the game. If I am playing against you, then bring it on. But if I'm playing against the game, then what do you think you are doing getting in my way? 2-player Carcasonne raises similar feelings for me. (My wife, by the way, is not as sensitive to this. Her preference for Euros has nothing to do with avoiding conflict; it's mostly the empire building aspect she likes).

*****
One final comment as I have been thinking about this: it seems to me that maybe what Eurogames are, more than anything else, is a balanced blend of a lot of different sorts of appeal. They have a little bit of competition, a little bit luck, a little bit of elegance, a little bit of complexity, a little bit of negotiation (at least as I play them), a little bit of building stuff, a little bit of optimization (well, maybe more than a little bit), a little bit of social interaction, and a little bit of theme: all wrapped up in a well designed package with flexible play numbers and reasonable play time. This might be part of why they seem so hard to define... because there are about doing a little bit of everything, and of course different ones have more or less of each of these categories. I think it also means that if there are some of these categories that you value much more than others, Eurogames generally aren't going to feel as satisfying as something that more directly addresses your likes (although there might be some Eurogames that are moderately up your alley, if they happen to focus on the right bits). On the other hand, if you like a little bit of everything, or have a wide audience (of gamers) to please, then they can't be beat. Personally, I like abstracts best, because of the "purity of the struggle" (they best capture the battle of wits). But I also appreciate the richness that Euros gain by mixing in a little bit of all these other things, and so there are some of those that I also like very much.




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J T
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Fwing wrote:
I think the players who dislike randomness lack courage :)


Hey! I didn't play Dungeons & Dragons all those years without learning something about courage.



As for the OPs original question it all sounds like so much rehashing of the same tired arguments all over again. Which I guess is what it was supposed to me. :shrug:
 
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I like games that stimulate my intellect, that offer me meaningful decisions, and that reward good decision making.

Randomness is not a total turn off for me, many games I enjoy have random elements, the dinner plates in Hansa Teutonica, the goods in Steam, the cards in Agricola, the plantations in Puerto Rico to name a few. But the randomness is not so game altering that a poor player is going to win against someone who plays well. I don't want to spend one to two hours invested in a game, and have someone who is barely paying attention, or playing poorly beat me because of some random outcome.

Themes that people decry who care about theme such as economic engines, and agriculture don't bother me a bit. As such I have come to the conclusion that either theme is unimportant to me, or I have a broader realm of themes I can enjoy than most of those who bring up the subject.

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John Farrell
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Hey, I thought your poll was funny even though I'm one of the people you were poking fun at. I'm secure in my Eurolinity.

People at BGG like Euro games BECAUSE THIS IS A SITE FOR THOSE PEOPLE. In the old days it was pretty hard to get information about German games if you didn't speak German, so people found each other on-line and shared what they knew. The BGG database came from the information people had collected about those games. That's why the first game entry is for Die Macher, not Monopoly.

In the 6 years or so that I've been here I have noticed the following:
* Ameritrash elements creeping into Euro designs, e.g. dice in Kingsburg
* Euro elements creeping into American designs, e.g. roles in TI3
* the site tending towards heavier Euros - Agricola is much more complex than Settlers, for example.
* the site becoming more Ameritrash-centric, e.g. Twilight Struggle is #1. Barnes was unnecessarily militant about Ameritrash, as the site was tending that way anyway.

I think the excellence of the BGG database has attracted more and more people, who were previously serviced by other sites, and as the readership changes so does the perceived focus of the site. When the Scrabble and Bridge players arrive we'll see some changes around here, for sure.

Phew, that's enough objectivity. 7 Wonders really is crap, St Petersburg and Vikings are great games whose interest is probably not visible from the outside. Any game that involves screaming is definitely of no interest to me!
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Samo Gosaric
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Friendless wrote:
Hey, I thought your poll was funny even though I'm one of the people you were poking fun at. I'm secure in my Eurolinity.

thumbsup
Thanks. Well I did try to poke at everybody.

Friendless wrote:
People at BGG like Euro games BECAUSE THIS IS A SITE FOR THOSE PEOPLE. In the old days it was pretty hard to get information about German games if you didn't speak German, so people found each other on-line and shared what they knew. The BGG database came from the information people had collected about those games. That's why the first game entry is for Die Macher, not Monopoly.

That's quite a crucial piece of info. I honestly didn't know that. I knew that the ameritrash conflict started when former CCGers and RPGers joined the site, but I didn't know where those who were already there came from. Knowing that the started when the german games still came in german and info washard to come by, makes sense in the retrospective and explains a lot.

This should really be the first line in BGG FAQ: BGG short histroy - the home of american eurogamers.

However it is clearly not a site for only those people anymore, as it wants to be the site for all boardgaming in the known universe. That I think is Aldie's agenda anyhow.

Friendless wrote:
In the 6 years or so that I've been here I have noticed the following:
* Ameritrash elements creeping into Euro designs, e.g. dice in Kingsburg
* Euro elements creeping into American designs, e.g. roles in TI3
* the site tending towards heavier Euros - Agricola is much more complex than Settlers, for example.
* the site becoming more Ameritrash-centric, e.g. Twilight Struggle is #1. Barnes was unnecessarily militant about Ameritrash, as the site was tending that way anyway.


Well I think Barnes and Robartin were "evangelical" because the site was (even) more euro-centric those days than it is now. And Barnes is Barnes, tough guy chic gives you enormous street cred in ameritrash circles.

I'm here 2 years and I already noticed there's a trend toward hybdid games at the moment and rise of thematic games in general (Oh and deck builders, but I ignore those as much as I can). Hybrids in particular are my kind of fun, so I'm happy and optimistic.

Statement that the site is more ameritrash centric because of TS being no.1 it's like saying America is more black-american centric since Obama is president. (Well maybe it is, I'm not American). Top 100 is still quite dominated by euros, so are recommendation threads. However the subdomaines (family, thematic, strategic, wargame) do make lives easier for the rest of us.

What I think is going on is rather boardgaming maturing and more and more distinct audiences, gaming styles and genres are coming on their own and are more and more visible. Also people are coming from different background into gaming - party games, RPGs, CCGs, traditional card games, computer games, chess, go, etc. So it seems more of diversification than "ameritrash taking over" which seems far away from the truth.

Friendless wrote:
I think the excellence of the BGG database has attracted more and more people, who were previously serviced by other sites, and as the readership changes so does the perceived focus of the site.

Hm, it's also a bit of monopolization on BGG side to be fair. I miss BGN, but there are some new sites so it's fine. Basically BBG is a data base so it should have a diverse crowd. For reviews I use other resources as well.

Friendless wrote:
When the Scrabble and Bridge players arrive we'll see some changes around here, for sure.

Nice thought, though I doubt it. Here you come if you're looking for informations on more than just one or two games. Honestly it is kinda weird being in boardgaming hobby with huge collections. People who play chess only own chess, same with go, same with traditional card deck. I owned Catan for many years before I bought more games. I do question what's going on and if I can rub it in the euros do some a bit more dispensable than other genres and have a stronger "let's play it once and then something completely different" vibe. Maybe hobby gamers were used to spend a lot of money on their games (RPGs, CCGs). For me I guess it's a question of versatility or niches - I can't play all games with everybody I play with. But having around 40 games (some unplayed, some don't want to play again) seems a lot to me and yet I'm accused I haven't played enough?

sorry, off topic, this would need another thread.

Friendless wrote:
Phew, that's enough objectivity. 7 Wonders really is crap, St Petersburg and Vikings are great games whose interest is probably not visible from the outside.

Really, for me they all seem to lack any "meaningful" interaction. What's the difference?

Friendless wrote:
Any game that involves screaming is definitely of no interest to me!
It's exercise. Very healthy. Oh and women tend to win... (Like free for all trading games like Bonanza/Chinatown/Genoa where I have a feeling I'm in some oriental bazaar trying to sell my worhtless stuff better than everybody else.)
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Samo Gosaric
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frumpish wrote:
I like games that stimulate my intellect, that offer me meaningful decisions, and that reward good decision making.

Randomness is not a total turn off for me, many games I enjoy have random elements, the dinner plates in Hansa Teutonica, the goods in Steam, the cards in Agricola, the plantations in Puerto Rico to name a few. But the randomness is not so game altering that a poor player is going to win against someone who plays well. I don't want to spend one to two hours invested in a game, and have someone who is barely paying attention, or playing poorly beat me because of some random outcome.


Clearly in favour brain to brain competition genre.

Thinking where I come from, I would actually agree about wanting to reward a player who is involved. And nothing else, really. I'm bothered by the preference of those skills which require levels of previously obtained knowledge. If you compare this with games that have random set up or other random element, you're much more into situation which is again new and the most important thing is adapting to the situation and improvisation. So the ability of a player to make advantage of a certain situation in just the right time, would interest me more. I think it comes from the idea of understandingly gaming primarily as a social event - I want a place where people meet on equal terms, not a test, where you show how much you studied and practiced.

frumpish wrote:
Themes that people decry who care about theme such as economic engines, and agriculture don't bother me a bit. As such I have come to the conclusion that either theme is unimportant to me, or I have a broader realm of themes I can enjoy than most of those who bring up the subject.

For me economic games make sense - if I feel like I'm running a company, somebody did something right. If I feel I'm just changing produce A into B and mixing them up with C to get D, I feel like I'm solving a task at a workplace and start to wonder when I'll get a pay check.

*lightbulb moment* :
- if I feel like I'm CEO of a company it's an economic game with immersive theme
- if I feel like I'm just another accountant in a cubicle (performing tasks that are an end in themselves ), I want to get paid for this.

Maybe when I'll get to be a CEO, I'll think differently.
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It seems to me that the OP is really referring to "heavy" euros - the type that take multiple hours to play and are as complex as many wargames.
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sgosaric wrote:
Friendless wrote:
Phew, that's enough objectivity. 7 Wonders really is crap, St Petersburg and Vikings are great games whose interest is probably not visible from the outside.

Really, for me they all seem to lack any "meaningful" interaction. What's the difference?


Well, what do you mean by meaningful interaction? Stealing stuff, attacking, arguments? I personally find those aspects of games way too stressful - if I wanted to deal with assholes I'd go to work. I'm a brain to brain competition guy.

When I'm playing St Pete or Vikings I'm thinking "what's he planning, why's he doing that, is he an idiot or a genius?" Of course I don't tell you I'm doing that, I want you to think I'm an idiot who doesn't see your plan. But if I can see what you're doing, and I know I can break your plan, I'll do so. And I'll silently smirk and you'll silently curse me and the game will go on, and we'll readjust our plans. It's much more Cold War than Battle of the Somme. An onlooker might think that we're each doing our own thing, but we're really very much engaged - did anyone ever think Karpov and Kasparov were not interacting when they sat silently at a table for hours?
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Fwing wrote:
I think the players who dislike randomness lack courage


Spoken like a Trueborn Clan Mechwarrior!
 
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Quote:
But having around 40 games (some unplayed, some don't want to play again) seems a lot to me and yet I'm accused I haven't played enough?


To clarify (since I was one such accuser): I didn't say you didn't own enough games; actually your collection is marginally bigger than mine is. I didn't even mean to imply that you hadn't played enough games in some objective sense (as in, everyone should have played at least...) I don't believe that at all - I am actually a big proponent of repeated plays, and digging deep into a chosen game. I was only stating that you were passing judgement on a lot of games without having ever played them.
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jeffcuetis wrote:
Fwing wrote:
I think the players who dislike randomness lack courage


Hey! I didn't play Dungeons & Dragons all those years without learning something about courage.



As for the OPs original question it all sounds like so much rehashing of the same tired arguments all over again. Which I guess is what it was supposed to me. :shrug:


I would not presume to know the weight of a man's courage without a test outside the pristine confines of gaming at a table.

Random elements or their absence is no measure of mettle - it is simply a reflection of a person's tastes in his recreational challenges.
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Samo Gosaric
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joedogboy wrote:
It seems to me that the OP is really referring to "heavy" euros - the type that take multiuple hours to play and are as complex as many wargames.

I think this is the lowest common denominator, but not the only one.

Listening to the last few of Ludology podcasts I've realised it's much more than only that I don't get. The whole obsession on the game being made such that the brainy competition is "fair" is lost on me. I'd just put in option for players to block other players and you can have a design as asymmetrical as you want.

Maybe I can continue this by answering Elendil's detailed reply.

Elendil wrote:
Please do; I write thorough comments with most of my ratings, so hopefully it will be informative. However, I don't know to what extent my taste in games is actually like yours. I think we clearly have some overlap, but in other regards distinctly not (e.g. I am not really a social gamer, and have relatively little interest in theme.)


You have a nice priorities list of preferred qualities of games you like, so this might be a good starting point.

1.- Interaction.
There are couple of level of interaction. I guess for me the key would be "social aspect". However nice one Elendil emphasised is: I don't want to play puzzles. So this would put the focus of palyers competing against other players via the game "interphase" as opposed to players each playing against the game on their own and occasionally hampering each other as it's usually the case in the games where you race your victory point engines.

Friendless wrote:
Well, what do you mean by meaningful interaction? Stealing stuff, attacking, arguments? I personally find those aspects of games way too stressful - if I wanted to deal with assholes I'd go to work. I'm a brain to brain competition guy.

I guess this one really depends who you play with and who you hang out with. If I remember my days of MtG tournaments, jeez, I wouldn't even want to play a non-interactive games with most of the people there. All the people I game with are friends and people I'm (still) friends with tend to be nice people who's company I enjoy. So interactive game for us means a social game, a social experience. And we're all a nice bunch of people, so we don't have arguments over games and nobody's overly competitive, we're all gaming just for the fun. There were exceptions. There's a couple with competitive girl(friend) who can't take the loosing very well, but she's not overly competitive or anything and she's fine with co-ops and thematic games. But yeah we once had a friend of a friend for a game of Genoa and he didn't have a mature relationships towards women and my girlfriend was playing as she always is. The guy decided that he doesn't want to trade stuff with her, supposedly because of some in-game incident, but in reality he just picked on her as she's a girl. We didn't invite him since. So if I draw a bottom line here it's: I'm far more picky about who I game with than what I games I play. So that's the moral of the story. I understand you don't want to play games where people can be assholes, however I'd rather not any game with people who can be assholes.

And for realisation that even we can be assholes, well, we can learn not to be. I'm playing online Diplomacy for the last 4 months and I feel emotionality stable when I play, yes there are still dramatic moments, but after the first couple of stabs I can take them gracefully. It takes some effort - as you can learn to be a better strategist in a certain game, you can learn to be less emotionality involved and just enjoy the ride that a game can provide you with. Like in Diplomacy, it's not true that it's a game where you have to backstab and be an asshole - if you are it's on your own choosing, the game has nothing to do with it. I'm playing with kinda chivalric attitude and works better in the long run as people who screw their allies over, forget they might need to get allies in the first place. I'm not sure how such a game would go over with my friends, frankly we don't have the time and the player count required and it would probably take about 6-10 games for everybody to be comfy with the game's drama. Which is okay for a 2 hour game.

Anyhow I'm digressing. Back to Elendil's list.

2- Open Information / anti luck (Elendil's entry was only Open information, but it was in a context of being an anti luck element)
This is the one I have strong bias against.

Basically it's a question of too much brain effort than I care for in gaming and maybe it's connected to my avoidance of deep games. I don't care for games which you can study and study and study and discover new and new strategies. I do this for a living (critic/theorist in theatre/dance). Also it means you can play games only with people who devoted as much effort as you do in a specific game (well we all do that, we just are not devoted). Now I actually don't mind games with extensive rules, I've played MtG and D&D, but the rules are so extensive in these games because they cover a lot of territory and give you a lot of stuff to do, however doing stuff as such is not that much complicated. I think opposition of open-information and luck/huge variety games is a question of player's control. Open information games with no luck allow players to be completely in control of their "destiny", however each step requires study, evaluation, calculation and comparison of all the possible strategies against your. The opposite would be throwing a player in a situation beyond his/her control: this can be dice, cards, group dynamic or random set up. Giving player a lot of options would then depend on the system - in open information system this would mean more variables to calculate (like Le Havre, even of the set up is somewhat random) with possible cases of analysis paralysis. In hidden information game all informations are situational - so even though you have 12 options, only 3 or 4 would be viable in one situation so the game would produce different outcomes on the similar level of "deepness". And the latter are the games I enjoy - deepness is for me only a part of learning curve (knowing the possible strategies) and the game is about knowing when to implement certain strategies. In this I favour the moment of improvisation and risk taking.

A new question to add to discussion: Why do you love/hate open information games? Elendil opened a new thread about games which feel like work, and I feel it's a related question.

Interaction and "beyond control" game (anybody has an idea of how to call this?) don't allways go together. RFTG might be an example that has the latter but not the former. And Gosu, the game we played last week, although interactive, everyone was looking at their own plateau. Hm. I'll skip to:

6 - On-board play
Here I particularly like that Elendil brings this to our attention.
Elendil wrote:
a place where different player's pieces interact spatially, as opposed to just a mat to help keep the pieces neat.

I do enjoy the games that have this element. I think a lot of multiplayer solitaire complaints comes down to the problem of people playing on their own boards and not even looking at what other people are doing. That does bother me a bit even with RFTG and Gosu, games I tend to like (they're still fine 2 player games).

Here I'd just like to underline the conclusion we came to, that games with separate player boards that have take-that elements added (never looks they're the integral part!) feel much more "violent".
"Keep away from my property!". arrrh

Other version of the same problem is when each player controls a pawn/character, and even while they use the same board, no interaction is needed or possible - the board despite usually being a map is not in a function of player interaction. (Hence the solitary feel of some dungeoncrawlers like Runebound. Thebes has the same problem). Only dungeoncrawler of this type I like are Tales of Arabian Nights as they're primarily a social event with "game" part taking a back seat.

Even in negotiation games I love the board aspect - if you compare Diplomacy with Cosmic encounter, the latter is much more pure negotiation while Diplomacy has both elements and even players distinguish themselves as more diplomats and tacticians(bullshitters are only a sub category of the former) .

3 - Long term planning
That's clearly a matter of taste (can be found in ameritrash and euros). Heavy interaction games do tend to be more tactical and even (not culminating towards the end), where individual moves don't have to be a part of overall strategy (like in Genoa). I do like multiple paths to victory, but not sure if this is the same thing. (anyone?). So even though I like adapting to a given situation, I have no problem and actually quite like picking up a strategy during the game and sticking with it (like in RFTG or Gosu (to some degree - choosing which clans to use)).

4. - Empire Building
Elendil wrote:
I like games where you have your own stuff that you can build and develop, and feel a sense of ownership of. I like economic snowball games for this reason, too.

I'm on the edge with this one. Building YOUR economic engine seems very closely related to having your own board. It does give you a feeling of accomplishment and narrative (yay!), but it's actually different joy to winning the game and competing with other players. I play RFTG this way.

Maybe Elendil can explain how does this fit with liking a common board and interaction. Oh, he loves the civ. genre, which explains a lot. But still Elendil, your comment would be welcome ).

Actually I think we could all discuss this point a bit more: How do engine building and comepting go with each other, do you feel like I do that they are seprate goals? (Imagine you've lost such a game and you'll get a better perspective).

5. - elegance
Elendil wrote:
It's not a must, but I really admire a simple rule-set. If I feel like the challenge in a game lies solely in figuring out how to efficiently manipulate a complicated set of rules, I am disappointed.

I don't think elegance and well written rules are the same thing. Power Grid for instance is intuitive game (easy to grasp concepts), but the rule sheet is a nightmare for trying to find out how power plants market shifts. There's a reason you can find rewritten rules here on BGG. Or Twilight Struggle, my first struggle with wargame type rules written in paragraphs. I fall asleep reading it on several occasions, before I've found beginners guide that explains how the game works on 2 pages! (I do love this aspect of BGG). The problem I think is that a lot of designers and publishers forget that the rules have two functions: explaining the game concept to new players and gradually explaining the game to them; be used as a reference point for players during the game. But I digress again.

I like a certain kind of complex rules. In ameritrash complex rules and not really complex as they would be in a heavy euro game. There's just a lot of them, or to be more clear: there are the base rules, and then they are explanation of several options or moves. These can be often just put on the cards, which is quite common. (Like Cosmic Encounter where the book has only the frame and the powers being printed on the cards). The rules are complex to create a complex "world", and not a complex game. (if that makes sense). Most ameritrash is simple to play once you know how. It's not deep, it's wide (?). (maybe we need another word here also).

Elendil wrote:
Deep strategy comes from interaction between the players - the rules just provide the environment for that to happen. The best rules are simple and intuitive enough that you don't even have to think about them, and can just focus on outsmarting the other player.

This passage confuses me. I do love the designs where the game just provides protocols (environment) for interplayer interaction the most and these are the games where you play against the opponents, not the system. For me these are mostly trading and negotiating games, but I wouldn't call them deep (as in: finding new and new strategies the more you know the game). Elendil, care to comment? (or anybody else?)

Another question: What is so great about deep games? (maybe with explanation what is a deep game).

Back to elegance. Some of the simpler euros I hate the most are Schachts and Knizia's designs (Lost Cities, Blue Moon City (this one I would play again, though), Aquaretto). all of them as elegant as they come. The thing that bothers me about them is the idiot proof approach they have (so called defensive design). They only allow you one to three options and that's it, hte thing with Knizia's games in particular is that these 3 options tend to be really tense. Now I know some people enjoy this a lot and Knizia seems to know what he's doing (simple to teach, tense games), but this annoys the crap out of me. It's like coming to store which is 70% empty and salesman pointing the gun at your head forcing you to choose between 3 very similar ties.

Which would mean elegance is not and should not be seen as a characteristic of the game itself, but rather the way that game was developed (a skill of a designer). You can make elegant game where the game just creates an environment for interaction to happen (like in Bohnanza or Turn the tide) or you can make an elegant cage around the player's head. It's the question if the game is meant to provide an opportunity to compete with other players or to compete against the game (not sure what Lost Cities are in this regard).

Added: In terms of elegance the question is whether it's in the function of restricting player's choices or merely giving a frame to player to player interaction.
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ldsdbomber wrote:
I would need to know specifically which games the OP means before thinking about this. I am certainly finding it a bit difficult to understand why it is hard in turn to understand why games like Agricola, Le Havre, Puerto Rico, Caylus and the like are fun. Its such a huge curveball for me personally to get my head round, I think I need a better platform to start a reasonable discussion


Because you don't get to kill any monsters in those games. :-)
 
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Wow, that stuff I wrote in my profile is actually turning out to be useful! I always kind of wondered if anybody bothered to read it.

Okay, there's a lot of stuff to say here. Digging right in:

Interaction
We probably agree most on this point. Except that I do find multiplayer-politics stressful. I'm not saying I don't like it - in fact, I find it very interesting - but just that I don't like too much of it too often, because it tires me out. I think I have less social energy than you, as I said over in the other thread.

Quote:
Like in Diplomacy, it's not true that it's a game where you have to backstab and be an asshole - if you are it's on your own choosing, the game has nothing to do with it. I'm playing with kinda chivalric attitude and works better in the long run as people who screw their allies over, forget they might need to get allies in the first place.


It's "your own choosing" only if you aren't playing to win (in which case, I might argue, you are no longer really playing a game). I've played Diplomacy 5 or 6 times, and it is my experience that you do have to backstab to win. It is true that those who betray too readily are the first to loose, because they loose their allies. Those who trust too much (that's usually me) do better, but they do not win. The winners are the ones who keep their word most of the time, but who at one or two few critical junctures execute stunning betrayals. (If you experience playing chivalrously convinces you otherwise, I would like to hear about it).

This dynamic isn't limited to diplomatic wargames, though, although its perhaps most painfully obvious there. In any game (except pure cooperatives), playing to win requires you to be a jerk - at least sometimes. . In a 2-player game you are always out to do maximum damage to your opponent; in a multiplayer it is more complicated. You want to be nice, but not too nice; mean, but not too mean: whatever the situation calls for. Some people (particularly F’s) find this sort of flexibility very disconcerting, and I see their point. But it’s also very interesting, and a game is a useful theatre in which to explore it.

Open Information
To be brief: Yes, my dislike of hidden information and luck is all about control. It also relates to the purpose of games as an escape from some of the more annoying parts of reality. I have to deal with uncertainty and luck all day long at work. Gaming is an opportunity to enter a perfect (information) world where the battle is to the strong and the race is to the swift and time and chance have no part.

Are you familiar with the Meyrs-Briggs personality classification system, by the way? I am an INTJ, whereas you are probably an ENTP (not sure about the T, but pretty sure about the others). J is basically about planning and being in control of your environment, whereas P is more hang-out and go-with-the flow. J's hate luck. P's find it interesting, and it plays to their strengths (flexibility).

Empire Building
Quote:
Maybe Elendil can explain how does this fit with liking a common board and interaction


Oh, that one's easy. It doesn't. As I said in my profile, "The things I like seem to be somewhat contradictory, or at least I have never found a game that satisfies all of them." Empire Building and common board/interaction are two such things. Not to say that they can never be made to work together, but there is an inherent tension between them. Fortunately, there is an easy solution, which is just to play different types of games.

Elegance
I probably have the most to say about this.

First of all, I agree, elegance has nothing to do with how well written the rules are. Did the wording in my profile imply that to you? If so I ought to rewrite it. Instead, elegance is how efficient the rules are at creating strategic depth. If you take the number of rules and divide it by the depth of the game, you would get a rough measure of elegance. Truly elegant games are of the "moment to learn, lifetime to master" variety. Truly inelegant games are at their heart very simple, but chock full of specialized little rules and exceptions - like the Ameritrash games you mentioned with a deck full of cards. I think that "width" vs "depth" is a fine terminology (I have before used "surface complexity" vs "deep complexity," but I like "width"). There are also, of course, games that are just simple: simple rules and not very deep - think mass market children's games. And of course there are games that have lots of width and lots of depth. MtG falls into this category, as I suspect do many wargames.

The most elegant games are of course all abstracts, although even there there is variation; e.g. Go is much more elegant than chess, which is cluttered by specialized powers for every piece. The rules for Go can be described in just a few sentences. There is one specialized rule to avoid draws. That's it - but people spend their whole lives studying the gameplay. That's elegance.

Eurogames I generally do not consider to be terribly elegant - but I am comparing them to abstracts. Some do do okay. As for the ones you mentioned: Lost Cities I would just characterize as "simple," not elegant. Blue Moon City I don't remember striking me as particularly elegant; I just remember hating it because the hidden information meant I couldn't effectively plan ahead. (I played each only once, though, and I haven't played Aquaretto.) In general I do think Knizia's designs are reasonably elegant, and I certainly admire how smooth and balanced they all are. But many of them I dislike for various other reasons. On the other hand, one of my favorites by him is Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation, which is essentially just a less elegant version of Stratego. I do think it is more interesting than Stratego, though, and I also enjoy the theme. Theme, by the way, is very much in tension with elegance, as it is all those little detailed rules that make a convincing theme.

But, how about some examples of non-abstract elegant games. Well, I think Settlers of Catan is reasonably elegant. It does a lot with not too much. Santiago is pretty elegant. Acquire is elegant. I've only played Chicago Express once, but it struck me as rather elegant - particularly as compared to some other train games. It is also very much about playing the other players. Oh, and of course Diplomacy: very elegant. The rules for combat are only the very minimum they need to be to make a functioning system. You don't have a ton of different units to build with different capabilities, or terrain effects, or cards to play, etc. You just have a minimal ruleset to provide a tense tactical background to the real game, which is the diplomacy.

Diplomacy is a good example of what I mean about the rules not getting in the way of the interaction. (Le Havre would be a counter-example of one where I felt that all I was doing was exploring the rules, and the other players were just sitting there exploring them with me). Many abstracts also do very well here - right from the get-go it is all about "I'm going to try this. Oh no, you're trying that! Oh, what do I do now?". Are trading and negotiation games deep? I'm not sure; I'd need to consider specific examples, and then they would need to be ones that I had played a lot. I guess the question for you is: do you keep getting better at these games the more you play them? If so, then maybe they are deep, and then they probably are elegant.

Another issue that people care about that is very tied up with all of this is re-playability. Pretend for a second that you wouldn't play a game again and again just because it made for an enjoyable social experience, but instead that you would only play repeatedly if you were learning something new every play. A puzzle has fundamentally very little replayability: once you have figured it out, you're done. A game can have much more. One way is by adding "width" complexity, along with perhaps a bit of randomness - now the game becomes not one but many related puzzles that you can work again and again. The other way is by adding competitive interaction. Now as soon as you have found a strategy that works, you opponent finds some way to undo it, and you have to try something else. This, by the way, is why balance is so important, especially in 2-player games. Otherwise this iterative learning process is over rather quickly, as soon as someone finds the best way.

Personally I find adding "width" to be kind of a shallow way to increase replayability, and it doesn't hold my interest for all that long. An example is Agricola. People were crowing about how "replayable" it was because it had all those cards. Granted, that probably got me to play it a few more times than I otherwise would have, but not nearly as much as Caylus, which had no cards, but where my wife and I were constantly challenging each other to come up with better ways to play. Or look at Diplomacy - no random setup, and no complicated rule set to explore, but is it ever replayable!

Granted, I wouldn't call Caylus elegant, not with all the specialized spaces. And as I said, elegance isn't a must for me, although I respect it. I don't mind if a game has "width" complexity, as long as it also has "depth" complexity and interaction.
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Elendil wrote:

Are you familiar with the Meyrs-Briggs personality classification system, by the way? I am an INTJ, whereas you are probably an ENTP (not sure about the T, but pretty sure about the others). J is basically about planning and being in control of your environment, whereas P is more hang-out and go-with-the flow. J's hate luck. P's find it interesting, and it plays to their strengths (flexibility).



Online test: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

I'm a INTP, as I thought. Looked at the suggested careers and they match what I've studied and done for the past 20 years. Teaching, Music, Literature, & Writing.
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Great post and interesting thread!

Elendil wrote:
Granted, I wouldn't call Caylus elegant, not with all the specialized spaces.

While I agree some parts of Caylus are inelegant, the majority of the game is. While in a sense every building is an exception, you pay the upper left icons to build it, get the upper right VPs for doing so, and get the benefits at the bottom when it's activated. That's a lot of the game.

But, that aside, let me talk about three heavily themed games.


Quote:
A CHALLENGING GAME OF GODS,
MEN, AND THEIR MONUMENTS

The game spans 1500 years of Egyptian history
You seek to expand your power and fame
There are many ways to accomplish this:
Influencing Pharaohs • Building monuments
Farming on the Nile • Paying homage to the Gods
Advancing the technology and culture of the people
And all this for the glory of the Sun God Ra!

Ra. Ra? Yes. You have Ra, the sun god of the ancient Egyptians, whom you have to invoke to get anything. You've got eight of the minor gods (Anubis, Bastet, Chnum, Horus, Seth, Sobek, Thoth, and Ut). You have the flooding of the Nile needed to make the crops around the Nile productive. You've got technological development (art, agriculture, religion, astronomy, writing). You have pharaohs. You've got the creation of all the different kinds of monuments the ancient Egyptians created (fortresses, palaces, and temples; step pyramids and smoothly clad pyramids; sphinxes; statues and obelisks). You have droughts, the death of pharaohs, civil unrest, and earthquakes. You've got the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom, and the New Kingdom. You've got ancient Egyptian numerals on the money tablets. Theme, theme, theme.

But Knizia is a professional game designer. One of the very few. He doesn't tell the publisher how to implement his design. The publisher took a card game and made it into a tile game with a board. Another publisher might have used minis. Knizia doesn't control that.

"It doesn't have minis and dice and plastic, so it's not themed!" Give me a break.


Arkham Horror. The danger of theme is, if you don't like the theme, you don't like the game. Horror bores me. Really. I get the yawns in horror movies. Cthulhu? Cthul who? I. Don't. Care. But, maybe there's a decent game underneath all the art, over-complex rules (chrome), and bad mechanics. The only horror I felt was pawing through the Deck of Stuff yet again to find the thing I just found or bought. The game is essentially Whack-a-Mole. For those of you not familiar with Whack-a-Mole, it's an arcade game with about a meter by half-meter surface, where moles pop up from their holes and you whack (hit) them with a big rubber hammer. Fun as a dexterity game. Not so fun as a board game--I should say bored game. AH has nothing of the least intellectual, artistic, or thematic interest to me.


This is not a link. I'm not going to mention this game by name, but I think my comments about it apply to a lot of "thematic" games, as we're calling them. I love the theme of the game. Good art. Beautiful plastic minis. I really wanted to like this game. I would have bought it in an instant if I had. If it had Euro mechanics, it would have been perfect. As it was, the fussy rules we couldn't remember had us replaying things. "Oh, stop! We forgot this rule." "Oh, stop! We forgot that rule." Re-do. Re-do. Re-do. Too many thematic cards with random rules: Am I in this situation? Am I in that situation? Down time was horrible. Finally, we get a chance for combat. Roll to see if we actually get combat. Roll to see who has initiative. Roll to see what happens. Next round. Again. Again. Again. New phase of combat (the same combat) so the rules change. We hardly ever get to this phase so check the rules again. Roll, one hit. Roll, nothing. Roll, nothing. Roll, at last it's over! Really, after all that, I'm more happy the combat is over than that I won it. And all the down time and rules checking and roll after roll? I can't appreciate the theme with that going on.

If I played the above game ten times, I'm sure I'd get all the rules down. It's just not worth it. I couldn't stand playing it with new players, because I'd be back in rule-question, down-time hell. Arkham Horror at least has the virtue of having relatively simple rules, once you get past the awful way the cards are laid out.


Don't think I don't like long AT games. I'm pretty much through with Diplomacy, but I liked it while I was playing it, and I admire the design greatly. Next to Tichu (which isn't a short game), I most often play one of the Empire Builder Games: the rules and implementation could definitely be improved to reduce down time, but it's a favorite game--the rules and fiddliness don't overwhelm the game.


"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
-- Antoine de Saint-Exupery
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Note the designer's name. He says, "The latest example [of a gamer's game] is the Star Trek game, which is about to come out from WizKids, and that is really a gamer’s game, with its complexity and challenges in the game." Interview link.
 
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