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Subject: The Rising Trend of "Games" with Player Counts starting with 1. rss

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Eric Brosius
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I have the same basic reaction to these games as you do. Of the four you mention, I've only played Terraforming Mars, and rated it a _5_. The other three I didn't think I'd enjoy, so I haven't tried them yet.

My three favorite games are Medici, Taj Mahal, and El Grande. It's hard to imagine any of these working well as a solo game.
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Chris Willett
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As someone who has Scythe, Lisboa, and Terraforming Mars, they are really great examples of games that have smart single player games built into them. I have actually played all of them solo, and while the game feels different that way, it also does accomplish its goal. I'm glad they are included, but I wouldn't say that it really makes me more or less likely to buy a game.

Terraforming Mars is much the same as the original game but with a timer for your accomplishments.

Lisboa and Scythe, however, have crafted much more creative versions for the single player game. Scythe even has different credits for the solo game, as they had another team craft it separate. I consider these to be bonus options and variants, especially since you can't really see where/if they changed the multiplayer game because of the solo game.
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Andrew Young
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cferejohn wrote:
medievalbanquet wrote:
Iridium192 wrote:
Any new games I buy HAVE to be able to play with 1 player. This is how I guarantee that I'll always be able to play that game whenever I want. If it's 2+ game I have no control over it ever getting played.


Don't take this the wrong way.... but, are you really playing a game? Are you really playing THE game if it plays with other players? I guess I find that insanely boring.

devil


Don't take this the wrong way, but it is pretty rude to say "hey that thing you enjoy? That thing is boring." Like what purpose does that serve? If you don't like solo games, don't play them.

Yes, there are more co-op and solo games around now than there were 5 years ago. You know what else there's more of than 5 years ago? *Everything*

-Chris "Doesn't really care for the Grateful dead but will happily rip off Pete's .sig flair"


Rude? LOL. We are such a culture of people ready to be offended. If you look up at my original post it was inquisitive. Many came right out and attacked me. I'm not crying, Chris. Why are you?

Grow up.

Andy
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fuzzydice82 wrote:
If you were playing from 2004 to 18 months ago, there were plenty of highly rated and well-regarded "plays 1 - x" games, including, but not limited to:

Agricola (2007)
Le Havre (2008)
Pandemic (2008)
Troyes (2010)
Mage Knight Board Game (2011)
Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island (2012)
Eldritch Horror (2013)
Caverna: The Cave Farmers (2013)
Fields of Arle (2014)

The fact that games like these did so well helped lead to newer games including solo play. The more types of play a game can include, the more possible sales.



I do agree that it is a Revenue thing in many ways. Its easier to sell a game that plays with 1. Its just not a reason for me to play it.

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Eric Brosius
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medievalbanquet wrote:
Its easier to sell a game that plays with 1. Its just not a reason for me to play it.

It sounds to me as though it's a reason for you to be skeptical about it. I am also somewhat more skeptical about a game that claims to work for 1.
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Desiderata wrote:
emodiu5 wrote:
Ah, right, solo games aren't actually games. That's right. Thanks for the heads up.

What's with all the thin skin? It's okay for others to not like our hobby, and they can even generate a discussion about it. Instead of being offended and lashing out, just hit back:
I don't think golf is a sport. It's more like a pasttime. Any game where you can have a conversation or conduct a business meeting concurrently cannot be a sport, by my definition.



I know where you live.

Golf is one of the greatest sports out there. Takes cerebral and physical endurance if played right. And when you think about it, its the only sport where the pros only get paid (outside of endorsements) IF they produce... they must get on the leader board or they starve. This takes an incredicble amount of skill and balls.

What does Chris/Mr. T think? I can't wait to hear!!

goosaurongoo
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Andrew Young
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Eric Brosius wrote:
medievalbanquet wrote:
Its easier to sell a game that plays with 1. Its just not a reason for me to play it.

It sounds to me as though it's a reason for you to be skeptical about it. I am also somewhat more skeptical about a game that claims to work for 1.


I agree. I just think that to make it for one you must make it so that it is wider open. More options. You don't want to make a game for 1 and then have a very narrow pathway to the end. It wouldn't work. So, because of that wider swath of options/places to get VPs you've just reduced (IMHO) what would make it a great experience for me- a tighter/tenser gaming experience with others in that same architecture trying to get to the end game. THAT is playing a game, which at their core are competitive endeavors. Some of these newer MPSolos don't feel much like games to me.

Are you ok, Chris/Mr. T? Was that mean of me to state?

Andy
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Guillaume Pages
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Exactly. If you are a publisher, you can publish a game for 2-4 that will sell, let say 15,000 copies, or you could ask your designer to come up with AI rules as well, to make the game playable at 1-4 players, and you might be able to sell 16,000 copies instead.

The profit you make for the additional 1,000 copies will more than cover the cost of the designer coming up with an AI. (note that I have absolutely no data to back this out.)

The question now is:

Does changing a 2-4 players highly interactive game into a 1-4 players game, make the original interactive game less interactive because of design changes?

That is the question that we need designers to answer.
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stevepop wrote:
You left out A Feast for Odin. You can play that and Scythe with other people sitting at the table. While they don't matter in any kind of gameplay sense they're nice to have if you want to take a break and have a little chat. After all, those games take a while.

Really depends how you play Scythe. If you're not getting in peoples' way, that's more on you than on the game. I play Togawa mostly and absolutely love putting traps where I know people will want to go later. And I recently had a game where my neighbor took a space with 4 of my unprotected workers REALLY early on, stole 4 wood in that action, and derailed my whole plan. He was already at 1 popularity so the hit of... 1 popularity... really didn't deter him. I never saw it coming and probably should have.

guigtexas wrote:

Does changing a 2-4 players highly interactive game into a 1-4 players game, make the original interactive game less interactive because of design changes?

The interesting thing about games that play, say, 1-6, is that I find I like them both at "1" and "4-5". Scythe is the perfect example, especially since it has come up a lot. I like it at 1, and I like it at 4-5. 1 is a fun game of fighting the AI, which is even better because it has all those difficulties to choose from! Then, at 4-5 the game hits a nice balance between interactivity (assuming you don't play against 4 turtles) and not being insanely overcrowded (play at 7 players once and you'll understand).
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Larry L
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guigtexas wrote:


The question now is:

Does changing a 2-4 players highly interactive game into a 1-4 players game, make the original interactive game less interactive because of design changes?

That is the question that we need designers to answer.


I remain skeptical that this is the case. I doubt that designers alter their 2-4 player game in order to accommodate the addition of single player play.
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Désirée Greverud
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medievalbanquet wrote:
Desiderata wrote:
emodiu5 wrote:
Ah, right, solo games aren't actually games. That's right. Thanks for the heads up.

What's with all the thin skin? It's okay for others to not like our hobby, and they can even generate a discussion about it. Instead of being offended and lashing out, just hit back:
I don't think golf is a sport. It's more like a pasttime. Any game where you can have a conversation or conduct a business meeting concurrently cannot be a sport, by my definition.



I know where you live.

Golf is one of the greatest sports out there. Takes cerebral and physical endurance if played right. And when you think about it, its the only sport where the pros only get paid (outside of endorsements) IF they produce... they must get on the leader board or they starve. This takes an incredicble amount of skill and balls.

What does Chris/Mr. T think? I can't wait to hear!!

goosaurongoo

stupid so-called "sport" I'm with George Carlin on this one: you hit a ball with a stick then walk after it hoping to find it and when you do, you hit it again. I say, pick it up and go home, you're lucky you found it in the first place
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Michael Dillenbeck
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medievalbanquet wrote:
. . .I play all sorts of games but prefer deeper, more complex experiences.
. . .The top games on BGG are quite simply ones I'd hate to play. There are many new trends. . .

. . . trendy 1-X player count games are less games to me and more like multiplayer puzzles.

The need of the designer to make it playable at 1 player does a lot towards making it less of a game and quite simply, more of an elaborate puzzle it seems. With low player interaction and wide open point salads at game end. . .

. . .What do people think?. . .

. . . (The rise of coop games makes me crazy too, how boring!!)


Lets tackle this from my point of view.

Deeper, more complex experiences and the top games

You are calling Pandemic Legacy Season 1, Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization, Gloomhaven, Twilight Struggle, Star Wars Rebellion, Terraforming Mars, Terra Mystica, Scythe, and Castles of Burgundy shallow simple experiences? Really? (Note, I excluded 7 Wonders Duel, #8, from this list of the top 10, as it is a fairly light experience.)

How about the next top 10. Caverna, Great Western Trail, War of the Ring 2E, Puerto Rico, Agricola, Mage Knight, Blood Rage, Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization, Arkham Horror: The Card Game, and Mansions of Madness 2E are not deeper and more complex games?

I'd say you need to define what deep and complex means. Chess can be deep and complex, and so can Puerto Rico; but deep and complex can also mean the narrative, the complexity of rules, or the complexity of decisions made during play.

I will say, I am a heavy solo gamer and like deep and complex games: most Sierra Madre Games titles (many of which can be played solo) and GMTs COIN series, Men of Iron, and Great Battles of Histories series games are all wonderful to play solo and often quite deep/complex in their own ways. Of course, narrative games like Mansions of Madness have deepness provided through narrative, and I enjoy those also (though I prefer 1E with the 1-vs-the-rest play and interesting ways to keep the Keeper involved in the game).

Of course, light games are enjoyable and serve their purpose. For me San Juan is fairly light, but I can see how someone could find the strategy in Splendor "deeper" despite the game seeming so light - but without defining depth and complexity, they really are meaningless terms to bandy about.

The 1-X Trend

I, too, am concerned about the 1-X player trend - but, as a person who plays a fair amount solo, my concern is the solo and 2 player games are often very different from the 3+ player games. I wish game designers and publishers just were honest and labelled the games 3-X players. Of course, the X has issues also; games like Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror aren't really 1-8 players, but more like 3-5 player games. 1-2 and 6-8 don't really work out that well (and one can argue there are issues with 3 and 5, so it is really meant to be a 4 player only game based on how it is balanced).

However, we must remember the golden rule of consumerism: Caveat Emptor! In other words, it is up to the consumer to put in their due diligence and research what they are buying. Marketing has one purpose, and that is to get you to buy the game. Game companies exist for one purpose, to make money. Thus, as a shopper, we have to be on our toes about the marketing.

The "just a puzzle" argument

You, like many others before you, have taken the derisive attitude of calling certain games "puzzles" - but, like all of them before you, have failed to define your terms. You cannot merely take the Potter Steward way of defining things. Define your terms so we can understand why, and if you can't define it clearly then it is a hollow accusation.

...oh, and on cooperative games

Yeah, this is a common statement. You aren't alone, but I love them. The problem is they are a social mechanic game like Diplomacy - you know, where the main play of a game is human interaction and not a game mechanism. (Example: Chess or Go is all about the rules and how you play using those rules, Diplomacy is about how you can manipulate others via alliances that are more beneficial to you than the other party and less to do with the rules of how pieces are played via the rules).

I have often said I hated social based games. I hate trading and negotiation and diplomacy because they all focus on the negative aspects of human interaction - lying and conning people into unfavorable situations. Then I had an 'A-ha' moment about cooperative games when I realized they were also social interaction games, but they are focused on positive forms of trading and negotiation and diplomacy.

The thing I see most cooperative game detractors do wrong is understanding the nature of the game win condition. It isn't about winning in the most optimal way, its about winning in a manner that makes everyone feel like they contributed to the victory. Sometimes this means sacrificing your desire to have it your way, because you believe your way was the best and most optimal way to solve the problem. Maybe it was, but it if makes everyone else feel like they're your sidekicks or helpers and you are the only player of the game... well, then you just lost the game despite winning. Teamwork is what matters, like when you are in the office and you do it the way others want because you don't want to be "that guy" - you know, the asshole who has to have it done his way. We've all worked with them, and we all dislike them for their behavior.

Of course, my wife will always prefer a cooperative game over any competitive game - and it made her a gamer. I love these games, and dislike it when they are traitor games or cooperative-competitive hybrids (you all lose together but there can be one winner). I look at it this way: do I want to learn harmful, negative interactions that will temporarily benefit me in the real world, or would I rather learn helpful, positive interactions that will benefit me and those around me.

So for me, cooperative games are great and they gave me my lifetime gaming partner. Sorry you don't like them, which brings me to...

The Conclusion: The Golden Rule of Gaming

The Golden Rule of Gaming: We don't all have to like the same types of games, but remember that just because you don't like a style of gaming doesn't make it bad.

You seem to think just because there is an option to play solo it is bad. Agricola, Caverna, and so many other games don't work the same in solo as they do competitively. Passive aggressive play is also still interaction, just not a type you enjoy. They are at the top of the list for a reason. I don't like Legacy games, but I understand they are at the top for a reason. The best thing to do is agree to disagree, and realize there are so many great games out there to play that you don't every need to worry about there never being any great 3+ competitive player games to choose from. I don't have to worry about 3+ player games taking over the market because there will always be so many great 1-X player games out there. There will be competitive games and cooperative games, there will be light easy to learn games and games that come in 3 ring binders and take a lifetime to master, and there is enough choice in this niche hobby that we can all find something that suits our play style. We don't all have to play the same game, and its okay that we'll never meet at the table. Now, I have to go back to my game room remodel so I can pull out some of my wargames and get my solo plays done... and finish up the This War of Mine cooperative play with my wife so we can get to Pandemic Legacy Season 2. I hope you can get enough people to the table soon to play Diplomacy[i] or Pax Pamir[i] (now there's a game I'd meet you at the table for, and my wife would even join on that one), and happy gaming!
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Eric Brosius
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Quote:
You [...] have taken the derisive attitude of calling certain games "puzzles"

Someone told me long ago that, when you write an editorial, you should set forth your opinion forthrightly and without excessive qualifying statements. Everyone can see that it's an editorial; they know it's your opinion.

To me, Andy's OP sounds like an editorial. I don't see anywhere that he proposed forcing other people to agree with him.
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Eric Brosius wrote:
Quote:
You [...] have taken the derisive attitude of calling certain games "puzzles"

Someone told me long ago that, when you write an editorial, you should set forth your opinion forthrightly and without excessive qualifying statements. Everyone can see that it's an editorial; they know it's your opinion.

To me, Andy's OP sounds like an editorial. I don't see anywhere that he proposed forcing other people to agree with him.


And I don't see anyone saying that anywhere at all. What I do see is people disagreeing with him - you know, expressing their own opinion of how wrong he is?
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medievalbanquet wrote:
motoyugota wrote:
medievalbanquet wrote:
broken clock wrote:
You just listed four great games.


I'm not finding them great. That's the difference.

devil


But you chose some pretty poor examples if you are trying to claim that these games are becoming "multiplayer puzzles".


To me they are great examples as they are point salads and wide open designs with LOW player interaction.

cool


Wait a minute - Gloomhaven is a "point salad"?

And you can continue to say it all you want, but you are still going to be wrong - Terraforming Mars and Scythe DO NOT have "low player interaction".
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motoyugota wrote:
I don't see anyone saying that anywhere at all. What I do see is people disagreeing with him - you know, expressing their own opinion of how wrong he is?

I don't think the word "derisive" is apt. I'd buy "opinionated".
 
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Andy, if you've been away from BGG for a few months, you probably missed this thread. It's an interesting one and I suspect you'll find some agreement with some of that discussion.

I think it may cause a bit of confusion in your OP when you state that you like complex games, but part of the rise of 'Eurogames' vis a vis 'German games' is the ascendancy of complex rules; one of the posts in the thread I mention refers to 'complexity creep'.

Perhaps you could expand on this a bit.

What I wonder is whether you might be talking about a complexity that is qualitatively different from the games that currently reside in the top 10, for instance. When you think of classic games like Dune or Civ or Outpost, these games all have a lot of rules and would be considered 'complex'. Despite this, these games have reasonably simple systems, and don't necessarily have a ton of them. The point is to have a shared context, an 'arena' in which we're all going to compete. The fiddly rules lay out the boundaries of that arena, sometimes in considerable detail, but the ways we compete in the arena are often pretty simple. Whereas, games that are more 'solitaire' in feel seem to also have lots of rules but also lots of systems. I would refer to this as 'lock-and-key' sort of stuff -- you have to do this to be able to do that to be able to do this other thing, and you want to find the most efficient way of doing it. Yes, the winning player will be the one who is most efficient, but the struggle as a player really is more against the obstacles that the designer has put in place to being able to be efficient. So, such games definitely can seem more like a puzzle than a game.

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medievalbanquet wrote:
Golf is one of the greatest sports out there. Takes cerebral and physical endurance if played right. And when you think about it, its the only sport where the pros only get paid (outside of endorsements) IF they produce...

Tennis.

OK, this is not quite true, as first round losers in pro tour events do get a small payment. Whereas golfers who miss the cut get nothing. Still, tennis pros do have to qualify for tour events either by their ranking or in qualifying events, both of which require winning.

About the actual thread topic: I think it is mostly a consequence of mechanical design. A gamed built around heavy conflict between players will be difficult to adapt to solo play. Whereas more peaceful games would, it seems, be more accommodating. Do these lower-conflict games represent a greater portion of new titles now than in the (even recent) past? I'm not so sure. There are more in total now, but also more of everything else. Admittedly though it does seem that more games are co-ops these days.

And specifically about Terraforming Mars: lots of people say there isn't enough interaction, then mention only the handful of attack cards or maybe, occasionally, the map. Usually they ignore the biggest source of interaction which is competition for the milestones and awards. I think a lot of people are playing just once or twice and not appreciating how much tension is there.

The solo mode drops the M&As entirely. It's a very different game without them.
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I like playing games by myself modest

I'll leave this... and go...

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Eric Brosius wrote:
motoyugota wrote:
I don't see anyone saying that anywhere at all. What I do see is people disagreeing with him - you know, expressing their own opinion of how wrong he is?

I don't think the word "derisive" is apt. I'd buy "opinionated".


His original statement may have been just "opinionated", but he definitely moved into "derisive" territory with his subsequent posts.
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There's nothing in Scythe or Lisboa at two player that to me feels compromised in order to allow one player. Ditto At the Gates of Loyang, The Gallerist and Viticulture. These are all supberb games in my book.

I mostly don't play Euros solo, yet, more because my wife is not keen on wargames, so I solo them when playing alone.

But the ability to solo could come in handy down the line. I csn only see it as a plus. My wife has enjoyed a few of the Euro games solo.
 
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motoyugota wrote:
And you can continue to say it all you want, but you are still going to be wrong - Terraforming Mars and Scythe DO NOT have "low player interaction".


I think along with people playing more parallel puzzle like you games you see a shift of what qualifies as player interaction. Or at least for some that prefer certain games they view interaction quite differently.

I would say he is correct in saying Scythe and TM are low in player interaction. Yes, there are places and cards where gaining points for yourself requires you to do something to the another player. But interacting with other players is hardly a focus in either game. Your main focus is still building your own position.

For me and I think many others, changing the state of the game is not the same as interacting with other players. It feels the same as playing an AI in a computer game. Where if I have to trade with another player for us both the gain better position or if I can directly effect that players position beyond the state of the overall game then I and the other players have an actual interaction.
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WetRock wrote:
motoyugota wrote:
And you can continue to say it all you want, but you are still going to be wrong - Terraforming Mars and Scythe DO NOT have "low player interaction".


I think along with people playing more parallel puzzle like you games you see a shift of what qualifies as player interaction. Or at least for some that prefer certain games they view interaction quite differently.

I would say he is correct in saying Scythe and TM are low in player interaction. Yes, there are places and cards where gaining points for yourself requires you to do something to the another player. But interacting with other players is hardly a focus in either game. Your main focus is still building your own position.

For me and I think many others, changing the state of the game is not the same as interacting with other players. It feels the same as playing an AI in a computer game. Where if I have to trade with another player for us both the gain better position or if I can directly effect that players position beyond the state of the overall game then I and the other players have an actual interaction.


I'm going to go back to El Grande, since that's an example both the OP and at least one other person here used as "highly interactive". Exactly how is the interaction in that different than in Scythe or in Terraforming Mars? Almost everything in that game is about changing the state of the game, not directly affecting other players. There are a few actions that do this, yes, but not really that many. And removing a few of their cubes from the board is no different than stealing their resources in Scythe or doing the same in Terraforming Mars. El Grande's primary interaction between players is almost the same as the interaction between players in Terraforming Mars - you are trying to do your best to prevent the other players from taking the actions they want to take and going to the places the other players want to go.
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I'll speak just for myself. When I play El Grande, the main thing I'm thinking about is "how will my fellow players react to what I'm about to do?" In particular, if I have a fairly early power card selection, what will happen if I pick card A vs. if I pick card B? Sometimes I get that exactly right, and sometimes I get it dead wrong. And sometimes when I'm wrong, I think the person who didn't behave as I expected made a poor move, but mostly I realize that I didn't think it through carefully enough.

When I play a modern Euro (which I'll admit I don't do nearly as often as many gamers do,) the main thing I'm thinking about is "how will I operate my engine for peak effectiveness?"

Perhaps making a distinction based on what I'm thinking about when I play a game is subjective, but after all, my enjoyment is subjective.
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motoyugota wrote:
WetRock wrote:
motoyugota wrote:
And you can continue to say it all you want, but you are still going to be wrong - Terraforming Mars and Scythe DO NOT have "low player interaction".


I think along with people playing more parallel puzzle like you games you see a shift of what qualifies as player interaction. Or at least for some that prefer certain games they view interaction quite differently.

I would say he is correct in saying Scythe and TM are low in player interaction. Yes, there are places and cards where gaining points for yourself requires you to do something to the another player. But interacting with other players is hardly a focus in either game. Your main focus is still building your own position.

For me and I think many others, changing the state of the game is not the same as interacting with other players. It feels the same as playing an AI in a computer game. Where if I have to trade with another player for us both the gain better position or if I can directly effect that players position beyond the state of the overall game then I and the other players have an actual interaction.


I'm going to go back to El Grande, since that's an example both the OP and at least one other person here used as "highly interactive". Exactly how is the interaction in that different than in Scythe or in Terraforming Mars? Almost everything in that game is about changing the state of the game, not directly affecting other players. There are a few actions that do this, yes, but not really that many. And removing a few of their cubes from the board is no different than stealing their resources in Scythe or doing the same in Terraforming Mars. El Grande's primary interaction between players is almost the same as the interaction between players in Terraforming Mars - you are trying to do your best to prevent the other players from taking the actions they want to take and going to the places the other players want to go.


Good example. In El Grande those cubes you are moving are the direct path to the victory conditions. They are my game position. You have directly effected my standing by moving them.

You've done much more than blocking me from getting enough of resource 'x' to complete requirements for a card. You've done more than completely a checkbox on your race victory conditions.

You are changing our relationship in the standings for victory not only to each other but likely to the other players. The only thing that matters in El Grande is how many cubes are in each region. They represent me in the game. By moving them, you've interacted with me. You've done a lot more than change one variable in my equation for producing victory points.
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