Over the years, I have played a wide variety of board games and have a lot in my collection. I have pure Euro games and bit dice chucking Amerithrash games. This got me thinking about the different types of gamers that people are and which …
Tag: Euro Games
Fun board game thought I had yesterday, surrounding board game nights. Last board game night, the theme was new to you games or new to the group games. We got to play Just One, One Night Ultimate Vampire, and Lord of the Rings Dice Game, so the games were to new to some people, and two of the games were new to everyone playing them. This upcoming month, I’m thinking that the theme will be doing old favorites. What are some games that you’ve loved for a long time.
So what I wanted to think about, is there a better way to play games or is there a time for both things?
I think that the simple answer is that there is a time for both old favorites and trying new board games.
There, the article is done. But not really, because I think there are traps that we can fall into as board gamers that we should be aware of with old and new games.
With new games, I feel like it’s pretty simple. As they have put it on the Dice Tower and other places, it’s the cult of the new. The idea for that is that whatever is new is clearly a lot better and everything that came before it is bad. Obviously there can be several issues with this. The first being that you buy games faster than you can play them. I think that is inherently an issue, depending on the type of game that you like to play. If you just play euro games, you can probably keep the games on the “shelf of shame” to a minimum, because playing the game once is a separate experience. There are a lot of games now that have a campaign in them, and with that, now you need to play through several games to either get the idea of the story or to complete the game. So you can end up with a big shelf of unplayed games. The cult of the new can also lead to buying games faster than you can play them, not just because of length, but in general, and in that case, you’re never going to get to them all, and I think for some people that’s fine, but for others, it can be an issue. It goes back to hobby versus collection. Finally, the issue with cult of the new is cost. One groups like The Dice Tower and Rolling Solo Facebook groups, people are always talking about new games. So there are so many games that seem interesting out there, and that is spendy.
Now, I talked about that as a negative, but I think sometimes people push back on it too much. This can be one of the issues with the old favorite. There’s nothing wrong with Dominion, a game that I’m not a fan of anymore, but if you are excluding playing other deck builders because you like Dominion so why bother, that’s a bad attitude as well. There are a couple of issues with this mindset. The first being that it’s possible you’ll be alienating yourself from your play group. They are probably going to put up with playing Dominion for a while, but if that’s all you’ll play or if you only have a handful of favorites, they might want to branch out and that will mean branching away from inviting you to game nights. Also, it’s going to keep you from finding other good games. I can, again, understand not wanting to have to learn new games all the time, but doing that to the exclusion of other games is an issue.
Tied into that, but another issue can be treating the game like something more than it is. The idea is that because something like Dominion was the first big deck builder and now is liked less, you feel better because you still like the original. This comes with not being willing to try new games and keeping you from finding new good games because it might be a deck builder and Dominion is a deck builder so why do you need more. However, there are many deck builders out there that do a whole lot more than Dominion, so the elitist attitude that there is no reason to try more keeps you from being able to branch out into more interesting games. Let me quickly clarify my last sentence, while personally think there are deck builders that provide more interesting choices and themes than Dominion, what I meant there was additional interesting games.
Finally, I think that people often stick with old favorites because of the amount of board games in the market. If you got into Dominion, Catan, or Ticket to Ride when they first came out, the board game market was much smaller. So some people keep from jumping in further, because they don’t know where to jump in. Instead, they just defend the old favorite and only want to play that. That can be because of the number of games or a bad experience with the wrong new game. If someone liked the idea of Legacy games after playing Pandemic Legacy and then played Seafall, they might not want to play another legacy game after that, but don’t let that color all future legacy games. I think, now, we have enough resources to keep the overwhelming number of games or a bad experience to keep you from trying new games. I feel like that is more of an excuse than a reason. With top 10 lists on different types of games from The Dice Tower or The Brothers Murph, and tons of other locations, you can see what games other people like. Also, there is Board Game Geek that has all games listed there, and you can search either by an mechanic that you like, or by a name and you find out information on a game. So yeah, you are still going to find a dud, but between those things, you’re going to be able to find games that are more likely you’ll like. Board Game Geek even has a nice resource now that recommends games if you like one game, so that helps you find more games as well.
Right now, we live in a world where some people hang onto old things too much and other people are too happy to rush forward and never look back. This is a trend in board games as well. For board games, and for my collection, I feel like I need to walk that line, being discerning about adding new things, and being willing to try new things, but at the same, coming back to the old games again from time to time. And again, this depends on whether you want it to be a collection or a hobby. So for that reason, I want to go back to old games, because I want to walk that line, where I have a hobby, but also a large number of board games.
Where do you fall with this on board games? Are you into the new board games? Do you only want to play old favorites? What are some new games that look cool, that you want to try? What are your old favorites?
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Recently, Peder and I have started a new tradition that we’re having a great time with so far — every other Wednesday, we’ve taken to visiting Insight, one of our favorite breweries, and settling in for an evening of gaming. We choose a game we haven’t played in a while, or one we want to play together in order to get more familiar with the rules, and just generally have a great time nerding out and drinking tasty craft brews.
For our most recent game night out, we took it back to a classic and went with Carcassonne as our game of choice. Peder’s played this one quite a bit, but I had only played it once, over two years ago, and was due for a refresher course.
In addition to being a real live (and extremely old — we’re talking pre-Middle Ages) city in France, Carcassonne was one of the first European-style games to be released. Many, many others have followed in Carcassonne’s footsteps since its release in 2000, and the style is in large part responsible for the board game renaissance we’re happily experiencing these days. In spite of its many descendants, though, Carcassonne is still one of the best-loved and well-known Euro-style games out there.
The beauty of Carcassonne is in its simplicity. The gameplay style reminds me a lot of Tsuro, just with several more elements involved. Using tiles that represent areas of land, the players (numbering from two to five) build a map around a central river, piece by piece. There are several different types of tiles — the principal river pieces, monasteries, sections of towns, and road pieces being the main ones. And just like in a lot of other Euro-style games, Carcassonne players use meeples (small, wooden, vaguely people-shaped markers) to claim tiles, and thus rack up victory points.
Points can be won in a few ways. You can put a meeple on a monastery tile to act as a monk, and you get points when the monastery is completely surrounded by other tiles. You can put a knight meeple in a partially completed city, and when the city is walled in from all sides, you take the knight out and score some points. You can place a thief meeple on a road, and remove them for points when their section of road is intersected at both ends. Or you can set a farmer meeple in an area of empty land between roads and cities and such, and then score points based on how many completed cities are connected to your meeple’s land area.
In true Euro fashion, you can kind of tell who’s winning based on who’s ahead points-wise, but it ain’t really over ’til it’s over because some types of points aren’t scored until the end of the game. This is my favorite Euro-style game mechanic — it means you have to employ at least some strategy, but regardless of what strategy you choose or how well it works out for you, it’s basically anybody’s game until the very end.
Carcassonne is a great game for those new to Euro-style games and who want to try them out. It’s also an excellent choice for evenings when you want a game that’s fun and fast-paced but that isn’t too involved or strategy heavy. It was certainly a great game for a relaxing evening at a favorite brewery!
Have you played Carcassonne? What do you like about it? What other Euro-style games are you a fan of? Let us know in comments!
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