On Gamer's Games

Wherein I Discuss Those Games Described As Gamer's Games
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The Long View, Mage Knight, and The Voice of Experience

Jesse Dean
United States
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Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
Microbadge: I have more previously owned games than owned gamesMicrobadge: Out for blood - I play without mercyMicrobadge: My Favorite Contribution to BGG
As promised, the first of what will hopefully be many “the Long View” spots where I am a guest has been posted over at www.2d6.org. It is a three person episode on Mage Knight the Board Game with the main host, Geof Gambill, and CGE friend Paul Grogan. There is also a little bit of a scoop about the Mage Knight the Board Game expansion, which was fun and that I found to be quite promising. I am quite looking forward to seeing what Vlaada and the rest of the team have waiting for us. It was also interesting to hear my recorded voice for the first time, as I am used to only really hearing it emerge from my mouth, where it is too easy for me to ignore “how” I actually say things. We should be recording an episode on Brass next week, and I will be sure to let everyone know when that one is up as well.

Talking about Mage Knight got me into the mood to play again so Wednesday before the others showed up for Hegemonic, Mike and I played a two player game of Mage Knight. It did not disappoint, and this continued play of it has done nothing but further my esteem for the game. Most of my plays of it end up being two player these days; it is my most frequent two player game when we have to wait a couple of hours for everyone else to arrive, but I am okay with that. It provides far more fulfilling of an experience than playing a bunch of shorter games would, and I think I actually prefer it as a two-player game to some of the card-driven war games I enjoy, though I admit that preference is not overwhelming.

With 36 current plays, it is on a fairly varied list of longer games that I have played extensively, joining Agricola (107 plays), Arkham Horror (62 plays), Twilight Struggle (46 plays), Age of Steam (44 plays), Brass (41 plays), Le Havre (41 plays), Tigris & Euphrates (34 plays), Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization (33 plays), Ora et Labora (28 plays), Caylus (25 plays), Puerto Rico (25 plays), Troyes (24 plays), Dominant Species (23 plays), Indonesia (21 plays), and Merchant of Venus (20 plays).

Mage Knight and Ora et Labora have both been played extensively during the last year, but they have only been out during this time period, so my concentration of plays is understandable. Beyond this, Troyes has received the most plays in the last year (with 10). Caylus (8 plays), Agricola (7 plays), Merchant of Venus (6 plays), Dominant Species (5 plays), and Indonesia (4 plays) have both received a reasonable amount of play, but Arkham Horror, Twilight Struggle, Age of Steam, Brass, Le Havre, Tigris & Euphrates, Through the Ages, Puerto Rico, have all received much less. Why is that?

Some of these games were no longer played due to my girlfriend losing interest in board games. Even with all of its expansions I did not feel that I had that much more to learn or explore with Arkham Horror, and with Minerva’s declining interest in board games (this had been her favorite game at various points), I was just not that interested in playing it anymore. Twilight Struggle suffered a similar fate, due to Minerva having been my most frequent opponent previously, but I ended up keeping it because I had not reached the point where I felt where I was “done” with the game, so it has remained. We will see if it ends up surviving the arrival of 1989, however, as these two games have a definite level of similarity.

Others suffered due to me reaching the point where I felt I no longer had much left to explore. Brass, Tigris & Euphrates, Through the Ages, and Puerto Rico all reached this point. Brass, T&E, and Puerto Rico were all aided in this finality due to digital versions of the game; I played a lot of on-line games of Brass and T&E, and I played the Excel version of Puerto Rico at least a hundred times. My experience with these games is one of the main reasons I am no longer interested in on-line board gaming. I do not want to wear out interest in a board game before the locals do, and similarly I do not want to get so far ahead on the learning curve that it is no longer enjoyable for any of those involved to play the game.

Le Havre passed out of my collection for two reasons. The first was simply that nobody beyond me really liked the game all that much. I had one final hope that that would change in the Fall with some new players in my group, but their dislike of the game, and the emergence of Ora et Labora as a superior alternative, was enough to seal its fate.

Age of Steam remains a favorite and yet also remains infrequently played. I don’t have a good reason why this is the case. It may partially be simply due to my shifting tastes. My interest in train games has declined, after a period of intense interest, and I think it may also be partially be an organizational issue. I do not have a strong interest in playing on the regular Age of Steam map anymore, but it is such a pain to bring the game with me to the weekly game night at Coolstuff Games, that I frequently end up leaving it at home. It may also be simply due to changes in group composition. Only one of the people that I frequently played Age of Steam with still comes to games nights, so we tend to play games that are more familiar to the newer people.

I hope that there will not be a similar decline will happen with Mage Knight the Boardgame, but I admit that there is a strong potential. The learning curve for this game, while quite delicious, is also steep, and I would not be surprised if new regulars or semi-regulars are disinterested in climbing the hill. Similarly, experience differentials may be a problem. I am lucky in that most of the other players are fine with playing the game with me even though I win the vast majority of the time (though recently games have been getting tighter, and thus a lot more fun), but that is not necessarily going to be true forever or with everybody. I do think its success in that area has been in part due to how enjoyable the game can be even if you are not able to win. The challenges available are quite entertaining even if you lose.

The Voice of Experience Contest
The Voice of Experience contest is over and for the sake of disclosure, and the fact that I want to encourage you to check them out, I put together a list of what I personally rated as my Top 10 reviews:

1. archivists – [Voice of Experience] Uwe Rosenberg's Agricola: A game of strife and violence?
2. Alex Brown – [Voice of Experience] Yomi
3. leroy43 – [Roger's Reviews] 1989: Looking for Freedom
4. ludovicomartinengo – [Voice of Experience] Here I Strategize
5. sgosaric - [Voice of Experience] Performative Co-op VS. Immersive Co-op, Comparison review of Pandemic and Arkham Horror
6. MrShep – [Voice of Experience] You always remember your first time...
7. huber – [Voice of Experience] 5538 Words About 1846
8. thepackrat – Age of Steam: what, where from, and why you should try it!
9. MisterG - MisterG's Review of Judge Dredd
10. touchstonethefool – [Voice of Experience] Sufficiently Different: Musings on Eminent Domain

I would also like to note my #11:
[Voice of Experience] Space Hulk: The Game, The Legend, The Legacy
I do not consider it to be an extremely strong review of the game, more of an overview, but it is such a comprehensive overview of a genre that I think that people who are looking for an excellent article, even if you are only a little bit interested in said genre, should check it out. I definitely felt that it was extremely informative, and learned quite a bit from it.

In hindsight I should have given better ratings to reviews in the US, in order to reduce the shipping costs for the prizes I am distributing.
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