Joy (cithra) wrote,
Joy
cithra

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gaming geek

I got to help play-test a board game this weekend past. It was fun, but the combat system needs work.

I realize that's a bit disingenuous - if there's a problem with a game that has a combat system, 90% of the time that's where the problem will lie. It's very hard to strike a balance between something workable, easy to execute, and yet accurately reflective of the relative strengths/weaknesses of those involved. Unless you're willing to accept something arbitrarily binary, the complexities can very rapidly mushroom until you suddenly find the game-play grinding to a halt while you spend 20 minutes looking things up on tables and charts. Or going through all sorts of mental gymnastics to calculate numbers of dice to be rolled. It's bad enough when the execution is time-intensive, but the more complicated things get the harder it is to strategize. I like to be able to at least pretend I have a chance of winning when I play, but that illusion quickly disappears when I can't decide who best to attack for not being able to make an accurate mental comparison of my chances.

We spent seven hours playing without managing to hit any of the victory conditions, too. We came close enough that I'm willing to hazard someone would have actually won if more people there had been familiar with the rules, and if the combat were more streamlined. (Those factors are related, of course - an improved combat system would likely be more rapidly grasped by people learning it.) It was entertaining enough that it really didn't seem like we were at it that long - though enough of us were fading near the end that we decided to call an arbitrary moratorium at 2 a.m.

(Random thought - I wonder how "I am a geek" or "I'm geeky" would be constructed in French, by havingness or by doingness? or by some other way altogether? Hey, I said it was random...)

One of the cool things about the experience was the amount of care and work the designer had put into the game set. The counters and the board and the cards were all really nicely put together - laser printed and laminated, quite professional looking. I think that helped, on some level - perhaps it made it easier to take the process seriously? In any case, it was interesting and fun enough that I'd definitely play it again, even with the clunky combat.
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