It’s impossible for Joe and I, no matter how much we try (and we do try, honestly) to be objective about the games on GNG.
What we’ve tried to do is keep the write-ups generally positive (or at least neutral) whilst reserving our dislike or unabashed enthusiasm for the Joe Says/Sam Says sections. But we are conscious that a game we love may bore the pants off someone else (or a group of someone elses) who like different things in a game to us. And of course, the reverse is true as well. I find Smash Up boring, but I have friends who love the anarchy of it. I love Tinner’s Trail, but my wife – for some curious reason – finds scrabbling for tin in soggy, Industrial age Cornwall less enticing. Weird, eh?
All of which is to say, it might be worth just clarifying exactly what we like in a game. Here’s my preferences:
A game that isn’t just taking turns to shoot each other/mess with each other in a direct way. A game that has luck, but in moderation: manageable luck, along with room for strategy and/or tactics. A game that doesn’t go on forever (90 mins maximum, ideally, though there are games I’ll play that go longer and there are many, many games I’ll play that are much shorter) – and a game that isn’t replete with pauses while somebody takes an age to figure out their move. Down-time is boring!
Finally I’m not crazy about a game where people get knocked out – a la Monopoly. Games are supposed to be social, so a ‘player’ not being involved anymore doesn’t make sense to me – though it’s forgivable in a short (i.e. 20 mins or less) game.
Joe – he’ll come in and correct me if I get this wrong – has similar tastes; but he is more patient than me with long and intricate games (such as High Frontier) and more sanguine than me about games that screw you over! Neither of us are big on campaign games (such as Star Wars: Imperial Assault) that demand a huge amount of time and commitment. Joe’s also probably keener on abstract games than I am.
Overall though, no matter what we opine in the Joe Says/Sam Says, if you’re intrigued by the write-up feel free to disregard us. Opinions are like armpits – everyone’s got one. Or two.
look at all that lovely tin!
Interesting. I’m not sure if I dislike particular game mechanics, but I definitely respond to theme. I love heavy games like High Frontier, Brass and Twilight Struggle which have real-world historical or scientific themes, and I’m very uninterested in fantasy themes; orcs, goblins and zombies don’t do it for me. Sci-fi I can get behind, particularly if it’s taking itself seriously (Race for the Galaxy) or being deliberately stupid (Galaxy Trucker).
Just picking up on what you said Sam, my patience with long games is really dependent on knowing the game – if it’s something I’ve already read the rules to and got excited about, I’m fully prepared for what’s in store. If I come along to games and someone produces a long, heavy game I’m unfamiliar with, I most definitely struggle to have fun. I think this often comes down to a tendency I’m not entirely proud of – I think I’m predisposed to prefer games that are my choice. But this probably applies to some degree to all of us who collect games rather than just playing other people’s; and thankfully we have both sorts of gamers in our group.
Mood comes in to it too – I may spend weeks wanting to play shorter games, and then get a real hankering to play something seriously involved. And not to be underestimated is the group we’re playing with – I’m not crazy about games with lots of screwage, but if everyone who’s playing is in the mood and not taking it too seriously, I can have a lot of fun. I’m not convinced I’d like Diplomacy though, no matter who I played with – I don’t enjoy properly nasty back-stabby games.
My most favourite games are those that seem to effortlessly combine theme and mechanics – games that just seem to make sense. It’s possibly a slightly vague concept, but I would put Railways of the World up there, along with Manoeuvre and Lord of Vegas.