Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Board games that look sweet, but I'll probably never play

I have done lots of research on BGG and elsewhere since I got into the board gaming hobby a few years ago. I think what drives me is the belief that maybe, some day, I'll find the perfect game for me. Perhaps there is some game I would deem worthy of a 10. I have yet to find the perfect game, but that doesn't matter because I just love gaming. There are some really crummy games out there, but the experience of sitting with other people - typically acquaintances of some type - is the real beauty of tabletop gaming. And so, I continue on my search for interesting and unique games, always hoping to find something unlike anything else in my collection, something new to stimulate the brains of those I share the game with. I desire to maintain a diverse collection of really enjoyable games for all different moods and player types.

In my searching and listening, I have discovered many very interesting games, and have played many of them. But there are some that, despite how fun they sound, or how cool they look, I know I will probably never play. That is the point of this list.

You'll find as this list goes on, that time is usually the biggest deciding factor for me. In my current state of life, I have a wife and little children. I find that chunks of time for gaming are few and far between. My wife and I typically have to work to plan 1-hour slots for gaming. In my gaming group at work, we play during the lunch hour. Between work and home, I find that I am really limited to buying and playing 1-hour games. We often have to cut games short during the lunch hour at work because some of our games would take us over the hour. In addition, I find that I actually prefer shorter games. When a game hits the 1.5 to 2 hour mark, I find that it feels too long. This is partly what eventually turned me sour toward The Settlers of Catan. Every game was going for about 2 hours, for any number of reasons, often because of players with AP. In light of the little I was getting out of the experience, this reality became less and less worth it for me. So I have consistently ordered games with a listed time of 60 minutes or less ever since I became more serious about collecting games.

I also find that most of my relatives, friends, and people in my gaming group at work, are somewhat casual players. There are probably a total of 2 people I can think of who would like sitting down for a full game of Tigris and Euphrates or other heavy eurogames. This is another limiter in my game selections - I have to make sure people will play with me. Since the most popular games in my collection are lighter fare - such as Ticket to Ride and Bohnanza - I need to keep game weight in mind. I tend to choose light to medium weight games. I was pleasantly surprised to discover how short Mykerinos was for the weight of the game. If only more games with heavier weight could be that short.

Now, whether or not I would try the games in this list is not important. I'm sure, given the right opportunity, I'd give any game a whirl. I'm trying to think here of games that I am not likely to ever play, regardless of whether or not I'd want to.

Twilight Imperium 3E

I recently went to Stephen B. Wessels' site because it was mentioned on the Dice Tower as the website of the month. The fellow who did this site is amazing. He put up an image-heavy full-game demonstration for people to read through. I hadn't taken much time to look at TI3 before, but I can tell you, these components look nice. The coolest feature, to me, was the art of the races. There were some large-looking cards which each included an image of one of the races in the game. This art was very good. I also thought the planets on the hex tiles looked sweet. Each one was unique and colorful. Then, there were lots of cool-looking spaceship bits - I'm assuming they're plastic. It looks like the theme of this game could really pull players in.

But I have heard a lot about this game and decided long ago that I would never play it. The reason: game length. Even if the game is awesome, I would never have a chunk of time to finish a game of TI3. And I'm not a very big fan of space / sci-fi, outside of the Star Wars movies. To top it off, the game looks very complicated. I know that I - or anyone in my gaming groups - wouldn't want to be the one to learn and teach it.

Descent: Journey in the Dark
Return of the Heroes

These three games fit in the category of "sweet-looking fantasy games that take way too long to play". The components look great, and I really like the fantasy genre. I still have Heroquest and have a great time whenever I get a chance to play it. But this type of game takes so long that it's hard to find a chance to play it.

Blue Moon City / Blue Moon

This is a case where I can't play the game on principle. Being a follower of Christ, I have a real concern for modesty and honor in regard to females. In my research, I discovered that these games contain disrespectful art depicting women with scant clothing and unrealistically proportioned bodies - the imaginings from the desires of a man's mind. I am discouraged to see how common this is in today's fantasy art, in general. This was one of the main reasons I got rid of the game Castle - it had inappropriate art and themes, IMO. I just can't support what I consider to be morally wrong. So, despite glowing reviews, I can't bring myself to play the Blue Moon games.

Shadows Over Camelot
Pirate's Cove
Mystery of the Abbey

These 3 games fit in the category of "Why did Days of Wonder shoot themselves in the foot?" or "Why limit your audience?" I am not saying that these games aren't fun. I am saying, I wish I could play them, but certain features keep me from playing. In the case of every game but Colosseum -
they just take too long to play. I wish they would have found a way to cut each one by at least 30 minutes. I even borrowed BattleLore from a friend once. But my wife and I never played. Reading the rules took me forever, and then, there was just never a time slot to set up the whole thing and learn to play a single battle. In the case of every game but BattleLore, the minimum number of players is 3. That seriously limits the amount of play this game can get in the average home where the kids aren't grown up. Since I play primarily with my wife, I need games to handle 2 players. I wish Days of Wonder would have found ways to build in 2-player play.

The components of these games look awesome. I love deduction, but 120 minutes for Mystery of the Abbey? I like the pirate theme, but 90 minutes and a BGG ranking of 6.8 don't make Pirate's Cove worth it.

The Traders of Genoa
Elasund: The First City of Catan

These 3 games fit in the category of "fun-sounding eurogames that are too heavy and too long to get much play". I'm certain these games would be fun if my wife and I had time to learn them, and complete them. But when you have little kids running around like wild animals while gaming, the play time gets drawn out. I have a feeling we'd never finish a game once we sat down. "Well - that was fun getting through half of a game. Oh well. Time to clear off the table and set up for dinner."


This game looks and sounds fun, and my wife and I both really like card games. But the player limit is 3-4. That reminds me of why it was so hard to find chances to play Settlers. 3-4? Couldn't they have found a way to accommodate more? I suppose not, but still....


Another piratey game that looks like it would be fun to try at least once. Short play time, nice components - but it suffers the curse of the player number. 3-5 players means no play in my house.


This looks fun. I like puzzles quite a bit. My fear is that for the cost, the replay value would quickly diminish. I had wanted to purchase this game for a while, but reading enough comments and reviews, I decided this didn't sound like the kind of game we'd be pulling out again and again for years to come. From the look of it, I can't see how you would exhaust the game's options before long.

There are probably other games that would fit this list for me. And I may have the odd chance to play one of those in this list someday. But for now, this is the list of those games that were easy to nail down.


Yehuda said...

Shadows Over Camelot is not that long, and has the advantage of playing equally well for a small or large group. It can even accommodate players joining or leaving in the middle.

Personally, I think the mechanics are only so so, but my group loves it.


Anonymous said...

battlelore is two players one hour game