Saturday, September 23, 2006

Random Thoughts


I have achieved a certain level of gaming nirvana: I am satisfied with my game collection. I look at new games, even highly rated games, and think "Oh, that reminds me that I need to play X" where X is a game that either I own, or some one in the SABG owns and is anxious to play.

No doubt this state will pass soon, but for the time being I'm enjoying our collective games.


I've been wondering about what gives rise to replay value. The knee-jerk reaction is that variations in the set-up and/or pieces gives replay value. No doubt there's a lot truth, but the greatest abstract board games are go and chess, and they always start with exactly the same board position.

I guess replay value has something to do with "game space," although I am not sure how to quantify that. I conjecture that games with a small game space will grow stale no matter how much variability is available.

Morning Gamer

I'm a morning person. My normal bed time is 9:30-10, and by 11 I'm definitely degraded.

I finally put this together w/ gaming in the last week. Last Sat I played Crusader Rex w/ Rob starting at 9a on Sat, then I played PV w/ Mark Mon night starting at 7p. I was happy and sharp during the whole CR game, but by the end of the PV game (@ 11) I was sort of generally annoyed. Mark can attest to my negativity at the end of the game. By the next morning my mood was much better.

With the realities of a job, yardwork, kids (someday) etc, morning gaming will be hard. Maybe when I retire.


At 2:04 PM, September 23, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Ted: "I guess replay value has something to do with "game space," although I am not sure how to quantify that. I conjecture that games with a small game space will grow stale no matter how much variability is available."

Lord of the Rings: Confrontation

At 4:08 PM, September 23, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Ted: "Oh, that reminds me that I need to play X"

...where X=Lord of the Rings:Confrontation

I'll bring it on Monday just in case.

At 6:25 PM, September 23, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

I agree with buying less and less games as time goes by. Still, my problem is I have strong "collector" tendencies..... or OCD (obsessive compulsive) if you want to call it that.

I have a shot glass collection (about 20 from all over the world), I have a bunch of DVD's, almost all the DUNE novels, HAD a huge collection of D&D novels, etc etc. So I'm prone to buying games for their collectability value. For example, even if I never play For the Poeple or Barbarossa to berlin, I feel satified because I own 2 wargaming classics. This is part of the reason why I preordered the complete Eurofront series. Couldn't deal with the fact that I only owned part of the whole set.

This is probably why it was good for me to leave CCG's (although I'm spending a lot more on these boardgames than I ever did on CCG's.....).

BTW, anyone interested in trying out Vampire TCG? Chad? Michael? The third edition just came out......

At 6:47 PM, September 23, 2006, Blogger Brian said...

Silly silly Ted. You acheive gaming Nirvana when other people's collections fulfill your needs.

I'll admit I'm tempted by V:TES 3rd. I played when it came out, and enjoyed it (although games are too long). I tried to play a few years ago, but the amount of errata was so laughable.

At 7:25 PM, September 23, 2006, Blogger Ben said...

Ted: Just call in sick one day during 4-13 Oct 2006, and we'll start wargaming nice and early, buddy!

I'm getting to the point too where I now feel like I have a good solid game collection. I tend to stay active in 2-4 unrelated hobbies at any one time to keep from getting burned out or bored, and now I feel I have enough games again where board gaming is a solid member of my hobby rotation.

I have to admit, until I starting playing with SABG I didn't have much drive to buy board games. I was as hard core about the hobby as I am now, but it was just depressing to get a cool game and have to play it solo. Now that the game is frequent, challenging, and fun, buying, learning, and playing new games is a blast!

Rob: We are definitely going to have to play BtB, perhaps during the holidays....? Perhaps we should start planning now. I don't think the system is drastically different from Shifting Sands.

At 8:34 PM, September 23, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...


I don't get your comment. Game space is only loosely related to board size. I consider LotR: Confrontation to have a decently big game space, and I think it has pretty good replay value.

I'm getting kind of abstract here, but maybe something like "configuration space" would be more accurate.

The real point of my conjecture is that some kinds of variety are irrelevant to replay value. For example, being able to generate random boards (as in Combat Commander) may or may not actually add to the replay value. If the rules themselves don't create a big "configuration space", mix'n'match maps may not help much. Conversely, the single "scenario" of chess has generated thousands of books of analysis.

Perhaps the key is whether or not the rules are rich enough to allow for the creation of interesting structures...

An example might be Duel of Ages, a game I'm on-the-fence about. If you get the whole set it has massive variability, but does it have replay value? If game play is no more interesting than two random groups running about willy-nilly, then replay value is low.

However, I've read that once you play a bit you start to understand how the individuals coalesce into a team: he's a blocker, she's a killer, this one is a point-getter etc. Forming teams from the fragments amounts to creating a structure, and in that case the base game alone would provide massive replay value with expansions only providing icing on the cake.

Of course this all only a conjecture, so I could be way off base. I think I'm onto something, though.

At 9:10 PM, September 23, 2006, Blogger Simon said...

Ted, I understood perfectly what you said originally about game space.

I'm not referring to board space in LotR:C although that also happens to be small as well. I just think the game has little replay value regardless of all the character abilities and asymmetrical victory conditions. The cardplay reduces the importance of the actual pieces by a substantial amount and the victory conditions obsolete most strategies and powers as well. Every game is near the same and most of the game is resolution. There is next to no “game space.”

And this is coming from a huge Stratego fan.

At 11:36 PM, September 23, 2006, Blogger Rob said...

Brian, I am pleasantly surprised. Then again, I shouldn't be knowing you actively play Shadowfist. For some reason, i've always been drawn to White Wolf's vampire world. RPG's may not be the thing for me anymore, but maybe a ccg based on it is a good alternative. I read the instructions once for the second edition and was really intriged. Just thought I would never find an opponent so I forgot about it....that is until 3rd ed came out.

I'll probably pick a starter at some point to read the instructions, see the cards, etc.

At 1:09 AM, September 24, 2006, Blogger Mark said...

I think replay value has to do with players having a large number of equally viable choices throughout the game. I guess this is what you mean by "game space".

When you talk about game space being somewhat unrelated to board size, the game that comes to mind is the original Axis & Allies.
There you have a big board but very little game space. This is because each round, every player has one move that is overwhelmingly superior to the alternatives. No matter what the dice do, you have to follow the script.

At 8:32 AM, September 24, 2006, Blogger Ted Kostek said...

Simon, I haven't played LotR:C much, so I'll take your word for it. My 3 or so games have been fairly interesting, but the phenomenon you describe is definitely a small game space hidden under meaningless variety.

Mark, That's a great example. I haven't played A&A for 12+ years so I don't recall being on rails, but that's the core of the idea.

I think wargames can be deceptive in this regard. Sure there's zillions of units and lots of locations, but many moves are so nearly identical as to not matter. Maybe I need some kind of "distance" idea. Are these two choices / configurations / strategies far enough apart that they are distinct, or are they so close together they really merge?

Very interesting discussion. Thanks for chiming in. It's helped me clarify things in my mind a lot.


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