Right, after a much too long hiatus involving multiple apartments, an insurance company, and a workload that made brains melt, it is now time for a great return to this creature called No Ratings.
Kicking it off with an entirely new, hopefully weekly article series, about board games. Slight bit of setup for you all; I decided that as a part of getting the social environment amongst my friends up in these northern reaches of the planet into better shape, Wednesday will turn into Game Day. What that essentially means is, every Wednesday my friends know to meet up at my place knowing that there will be an opportunity to play board games and be social with others. You, dear reader, will benefit from reviews/hints/rants/general information about board games on a weekly schedule.
Board games still has the hang on of dirty word to it for anyone who imagines that they have a social life. You know the type, the ones who play football (any version) or get to the club every weekend, and who might by now think that calling yourself a gamer is kinda cool. Where the word Gamer really means; “I’m smart enough to be a nerd, but I’m not a fat neckbeard with horrible personal hygiene”.
Unfortunately, board games still have the neckbeard stigma attached to it, especially if you go beyond Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly and start playing games that are in fact properly designed to give a fun, not frustrating, experience.
Yet board games should find themselves in with video games, at the very least, on the social scale. They are not really any different, but since they are incapable of providing a “cinematic” experience which caters for every single piece and part of AI and rules without anyone else needing to actually think, they will never be “so real and totally rad, dude”.
I guess that is really where board games get to their first hurdle this whole thing with requiring reading, and understanding, and thinking, probably very good reasons why so many strategy fans take so easily to board games, and so many board games take so easily to strategy. I guess some of this stuff is really daunting though, just look up a video trying to explain the rules of Mage Knight, a game I actually own but it only arrived a couple of days ago and I have not had time to sit down and learn properly.
However, I did say that board games should find themselves on the social scale with video games and possibly way above. Why is that? Simple, it is the most social thing you could possibly ever do. You are forcing people to sit in a circle and interact with one another, making deals about defensive and offensive help, negotiating over planets, backstabbing, gloating, smack talking, and ultimately simply talking.
No, a party will not do that, a party usually has loud music, plenty of alcohol, and people sitting in smaller groups discussing. A board game will have everyone talking at the same time about the same subject, there is no problem hearing what is being said either due to the sounds around you or your personal level of intoxication. In fact the only thing I can think of that is potentially more social is festival camping, and that requires a lot of planning, a board game you simple set up out of the blue.
It does require a slight bit of knowledge to do this properly though, and hopefully I will help you gain some of that knowledge throughout this little series of articles. If you have already looked at the pictures provided you will have noticed my own little selection of board games. You may also have noticed that it includes very few games that you played with your cousins over at your aunts house all those summers ago.
Gone are the Trivial Pursuits and Snakes and Ladders, in are the better themed, better designed, simply better games like Ticket to Ride and Cosmic Encounter. Both of these games are incredibly easy to play, and more fun that any of the ones usually found in a persons home. I do have Risk, but it is the 2210AD version that adds a whole new slew of rules and locations to take over, more on it later….perhaps.
Monopoly is the other one that is of the common to find variety, but it is a Nintendo version of Monopoly, and I simply could not not buy that when I saw it. Since we are on the subject of Monopoly I should probably go into the reasons why you are playing it wrong. Remember, Monopoly is a bad game, the only virtues it has is being simple enough to explain to an eight year old, and yet looks like it is really complex.
In reality it is a game about waiting for things to happen, you wait till you land on a location you can buy, wait till someone lands on the same location, claim your money, wait till you have enough money to buy houses and hotels, rinse and repeat. Simply poor game design, it is not fun and will never be fun. You can, however, make it a little bit more interesting.
First off you get yourself a themed edition. Seriously, there are so many varieties of this, I even heard about a version in Klingon….bloody KLINGON! Problem is that these versions are often a bit shoddy and cuts corners worse than your average “Star in a Reasonably Priced Car”. Take the Nintendo version as an example, the houses and hotels have been renamed power-ups and invincibilities, but they are still the same plastic houses and hotels. Instead of needing to renew your drivers license, you need to renew your kart license. Still, at least it is somewhat more interesting than looking at the regular version of Monopoly.
Second is reading the actual rules. Yeah, you probably already claim to know them, but did you know that any location you land on has to be sold? My guess is no, because you learned the game when you were eight and your parents wanted some peace and quiet around the house. The rules state that any location landed on not yet sold, which the person landing on it is not interested in buying, goes to an auction round. Your parents neglected this part because an auction is simply too complex and ruthless for an eight year old….or so they at least thought.
What it means in game terms is that locations are sold much, much, quicker. Making the game not take 6-7 hours to complete because everyone just lands on the same damn places all the time. Another way to shorten game time, and in fact something you should always remember, is to learn that when Parker Brothers write that the game is for 2-6 players, they are lying. Monopoly is for 3-6 players.
Playing the game with only two players is more boring than watching a 56kbps modem download the Lord of the Rings special edition…for Blu-Ray. (Here at No Ratings we do not endorse the pirating of copyrighted material, but we reserve the right to say whatever we want to get the point across in the funniest manner possible.) I recommend stopping after eliminating the first couple of players and then just counting up who has more wealth.
Time to end this article. There will hopefully be plenty more where that came from, dissecting the games we play, the way we play, ranting about how idiotically badly someone can explain a complex ruleset, and much more. In the end I just want people to realize that playing board games is soooooo much fun if you just have the right game for the right people, and help you find the right game for the right people.
One Wonderful Response to “Game Wednesday: The First Foray into the Final Frontier”
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