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A Report From the Heart of the Board Games Industry

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the knowing-german-helps-a-lot dept.

Games 81

Ward Batty, writing for Gamasutra, attended the recent Essen International Game Days event in Germany. The beating heart of German board games culture, it's equivalent to Origins or Gen Con here in the US. Batty got to see firsthand what the future will bring for tabletop gaming - and how that might impact the videogames of tomorrow. He also offers up a few words looking back at the history of boardgames in the EU: "What distinguishes a Eurogame from a typical American board game? Unlike many American games which are net sum (you gain by taking directly from other players) in Eurogames players are generally competing against the game itself. They may compete for limited resources or the best action, but rarely do the spoils come directly from an opponent, but instead from the game itself -- usually in the form of victory points. German games are generally shorter to play, ranging from 20-90 minutes. There is usually a good social aspect to the game as well. Players are almost never eliminated from the game, for example."

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Go Go Gadget Capitalism (3, Funny)

kornkid606 (1076023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279405)

Unlike many American games which are net sum (you gain by taking directly from other players)...


Is there anything better than taking from the your fellow man?

I submit that there is not.

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21279435)

Why, of course! Taking things from the environment is better because it won't get mad at you and refuse to play again.

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (1)

Bobartig (61456) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283155)

well this doesn't work in the case of some games, like settlers of catan, where the resource distribution can be so skewed that it matters more to the outcome than the sum of all my decision making, at which point you,re no longer playing a game, just watchng events unfold.

After a few games that progressed this way, I just decided to stop playing because it was basically candyland (also not a game).

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (1)

deleveld (607488) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279461)

This is exactly why I wont play games with you.

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (1)

kornkid606 (1076023) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279509)

Awww, man! And I had the Risk 2210 board all set up =(

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21279493)

It's probably better to not take a steaming, smelly turd on your face from your fellow man's asshole.*

*Fecal fetishists need not apply!

Go Go BT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21279559)

"Is there anything better than taking from the your fellow man? "

You tell me? [thepiratebay.org]

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (4, Funny)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279957)

Is there anything better than taking from the your fellow man?
To hear the lamentations of their women?

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (1, Funny)

inviolet (797804) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281495)

Is there anything better than taking from the your fellow man?
To hear the lamentations of their women?

Funny... when *I* ravish the women of my foes, I don't ever hear lamentations. You must be doing it wrong.

Troll? (1)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283203)

Ah come on mods, that was pretty funny. Yeah, a bit of a sick path the thread is taking here, but funny.

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (1)

StarvingSE (875139) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281365)

I know you jest, but I actually enjoy the eurogame type of board game setup. I have weekly Lord of the Rings [boardgamegeek.com] sessions with friends, and it's great since we are competing against the game.

Settlers of Catan is also another great example of this format.

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (1)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | more than 6 years ago | (#21282217)

Unlike many American games which are net sum (you gain by taking directly from other players)... Is there anything better than taking from the your fellow man?

I know you meant to be funny... but it's rather ironic. Capitalism (or a free market system) is based on mutually beneficial transactions, in other words it's not a zero sum game. But Socialism by definition takes from some players to give to others.

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21282669)

Money is still zero sum unless one entity pays others by printing more money. The material that is traded is not necessarily zero sum since it is produced and consumed. Obviously "socialism" doesn't change either fact, it just changes the operations done with these while they are in the system.

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (1)

DeepHurtn! (773713) | more than 6 years ago | (#21285161)

If by "based on" you mean "rationalized by" you might have something.

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (4, Insightful)

mcvos (645701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283321)

Unlike many American games which are net sum (you gain by taking directly from other players)...

This is a lousy way to describe the difference between American games and Eurogames. It's true that American games are often more aggressive, and more aimed at taking the other guy out, whereas German games are more constructive, aimed at building the biggest and/or best, but IMO a far more fundamental difference is that US games tend to be more simulationist; the game designer takes a certain theme or situation, and comes up with game mechanics that best try to simulate that situation. Eurogames, on the other hand, work more from the game mechanics than the simulation. They often do have some theme or situation that the game revolves around, but it's not sacred, and it's mostly an excuse to make use of these funky new game mechanics.

The end result is that American-style games tend to be more realistic and more detailed, but also take more time, whereas Eurogames tend to be easier, faster, and more balanced, but a bit more abstract.

On average, ofcourse. There are some really good simulation games made in Europe, and there are many American games that are more about mechanics than simulation. You might argue that many games from Cheapass Games, for example, are closer to Eurogames.

Re:Go Go Gadget Capitalism (1)

Translation Error (1176675) | more than 6 years ago | (#21286329)

Is there anything better than taking from the your fellow man?

Yes. Giving to him. Fear Cosmic Encounter's mighty Philanthropist! [google.com]

We win! (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279453)

I'm pretty sure that we invented THE GREATEST BOARD GAME EVER! [wikipedia.org] So we win.

Re:We win! (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 6 years ago | (#21280909)

I still have a copy of that game, the kids just love it.

Re:We win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21282633)

God, I love that game. I need to go dig it out of my parents' house.

For extra nerd points, we used to use the gameboard as a quest path for D&D adventures (miniatures and all).

Re:We win! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21283273)

Yes! I have that in my basement!

Example (4, Interesting)

Misanthrope (49269) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279469)

For an excellent example of what the article is talking about, go buy a copy of Settlers of Catan. It's incredibly simple to play, very fast, and there is no time at which you aren't involved.

Re:Example (2, Interesting)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279573)

Personally, I like Puerto Rico more, but Settlers of Satan is good, too. You're completely right about being involved at all times - this applies to Puerto Rico as well.

Of course, I also like Advanced Civilization, where you can take a pretty good nap waiting for your chance to move. And when you spend 14 hours playing one game, a nap isn't a bad idea ;)

Freudian slip? (2, Funny)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279841)

but Settlers of Satan is good, too.
Freudian slip anyone? Or did someone make an expansion or parody of Settlers of Catan set in hell?

Re:Freudian slip? (1)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21280137)

I played a parody called "Vice Lords of Catizzle" at Gen Con this year. They just changed the names of everything to be drug/gang references; it wasn't very exciting.

Re:Freudian slip? (1)

sammy baby (14909) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281491)

"I'll trade two Souls for a Good Intention."

"No way. You're trying to snag that Longest Road in Hell bonus from me."

Re:Freudian slip? (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283395)

but Settlers of Satan is good, too.
Freudian slip anyone? Or did someone make an expansion or parody of Settlers of Catan set in hell?

Might make a nice counterpoint to The Settlers of Canaan [boardgamegeek.com] (which does exist).

Re:Example (1)

Specter (11099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281271)

San Juan [wikipedia.org] , the card game version, is actually more playable than Puerto Rico but it still keeps the same flavor/feel.

Also fun in the card game category is the two-player Catan Card [wikipedia.org] game version of Settlers. It's a different experience than the board game but still a lot of fun.

Also try Blokus [wikipedia.org] . It's a family friendly board game that scales well for all ages.

I'd not recommend Catan for new boardgamers. (1)

Draconix (653959) | more than 6 years ago | (#21289253)

Catan is okay, but it's extremely dicey, and it's very possible for your initial setup to screw you over for the rest of the game through no fault of your own, which is, IMO, even _worse_ than elimination, as you're stuck playing a game for the next 30+ minutes you know you have no chance of winning. I found it was fun the first time I played it, but it got progressively less and less fun each time I played it afterwards, until I eventually just gave my copy to someone else. (And to note, I won more often than not, I didn't get rid of it because I "sucked" at it.)

Personally, I'd be more inclined to recommend stuff like Santiago, Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, or Reiner Knizia's "Samurai" to start someone off in board gaming, especially Santiago or Ticket to Ride, as they're pretty well designed to keep huge disparities from existing between player skill levels.

Catan (5, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279987)

Indeed yes, we play it in the pub regularly.

But there are many reasons why this game is so good, some of them quite subtle.

1. It is self levelling. In the fact that the simple penalty structure, robbers, 7 rolls are all biased to pick on the leader by simple social engineering. This means the losers get a chance to catch up and the leader finds it harder to win.
2. As a consequence of 1, most games all ends with everybody all "about to finish" - in this respect its commanding social game as nobody is left out and its normally a rush for the end.
3. There is a strong element of trading and persuasion in the game - this further enhances to social element of play
4. Statistics. It has been wonderfully designed - from the probabilities of the cards, the probabilities of the game to present a darn good game with numerous tactics you can use to win.
5. Simple. Its a game anybody can learn in their first game and be competent on their second.

If you have not played it there are stand alone player vs. PC versions around (a fantastic DOS version which puts up a fierce challange) and multiuser 'net versions notably Sea3D.

But best of all buy a real board version and play with some friends and a few good drinks, you'll be hooked.

Re:Catan (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21280227)

Probably the most notable internet version is the one on XBox Live Arcade. It's certainly through being able to play that one for a mere £6 or whatever that has got me hooked enough to spend £25 on the 'real thing' for tactile niceness and local multiplayer (the 360 game is one per machine, to avoid the whole issue of hiding each others' cards).

Re:Catan (1)

JNighthawk (769575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21280523)

Settlers is really an intro to "real" board gaming. Eventually, you move on to, in my opinion, funner games like Puerto Rico.

Re:Catan (1)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281213)

I like Eurogames, but I'd rather shoot myself in the foot that go through a game of Puerto Rico. It's not half as deep as it seems to be, each player has very limited control of their own destiny, and the most important decision in the game is to make sure you have a weak player to your right.

Re:Catan (1)

Specter (11099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281327)

I would argue that you're not talking about "real" board gaming unless you've got to start by punching out hundreds of tiny card board counters and your rulebook [wikipedia.org] , in it's most basic version, is a two inch think ring binder.

Yeah, I've got to get the Starter Kit (1)

georgeha (43752) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281731)

to move on from SL/COI. I do like ATS though, it's a bit easier than SL.

Do you ever head over to consimworld?

Re:Catan (1)

hibiki_r (649814) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281263)

Unfortunately, significant comebacks are almost impossible, and early die distribution dictates the rest of the game, since the game has an economic engine at heart where rich get richer. The robber allows the players to slow down the leader, but without house rules, getting only a couple of resources in the first 8 rolls pretty much guarantees you're out of contention.

The game is relatively well balanced, but we've all seen games where someone is just playing king maker most of the time, through no fault of his own. When there's groups that can take up to two hours to play the game, that's not a good thing.

Re:Catan (1)

Specter (11099) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281391)

I agree with apodyopsis, you're never really out of the game until it's over. Nearly every single one of our games goes down to the wire, even for someone who gets jacked with an early set back. The trick is that you've got to be flexible in your strategies. You've got multiple avenues to build up points: growing out, growing up, longest road, biggest army, and development cards. You've got to keep working the avenues that are available and not the ones you wished you had.

I'm assuming your playing the basic game though. If we're talking about the expansions, then yes, I'd agree it's very easy to get shutout early in the game. The Knights expansion, for example, is not really very well balanced.

Re:Catan (1)

JonathanBoyd (644397) | more than 6 years ago | (#21282861)

I'm assuming your playing the basic game though. If we're talking about the expansions, then yes, I'd agree it's very easy to get shutout early in the game. The Knights expansion, for example, is not really very well balanced.

I'd be inclined to agree, however I've had my most spectacular comeback in a knights game. 12 turns at the start with no resources rolled, only started acquiring any when everyone else had already acquired at least 3 extra VPs. Went on to win.

The good thing about the game is that there are more strategies, but once a strong player gets his green city upgrades (technology, science something like that) and is therefore guaranteed resource income on any roll, they're very hard to stop.

Re:Catan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21285791)

Wow. You sound impossible to please.

Re:Catan (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#21291633)

This has pretty much been my experience with the game as well.

It's rare that one player is so dominant that they can't lose, but usually about two people (rarely three) are in the running within the first handful of turns, and while everyone else has a lot of influence in which of the leaders will win, it won't be them. What's worse, since a few people could win, no one wants to 'call' the game and start over, even though half the players are basically out of it. I mean, in some situations the rolls late in the game could theoretically start to favor the guy sitting on 3 points over the person a point away from the win enough to make a difference, but I've never actually seen it happen. The Settlers "big comeback win" stories I've heard occupy a place of urban legend.

I grant you, I've probably only played about 50-60 games and I'm sure there are people posting here that have played thousands, but it's enough for me to decide I'd rather play other games unless the crowd of the day insists.

Re:Catan (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21292559)

When there's groups that can take up to two hours to play the game

Two hours to play the basic game? How the hell do you do that? Although I don't expect our 15 minute record to be broken anytime soon, a game of Settlers really shouldn't take much more than 60 minutes. It's easy to play a couple of games in an evening.

By the way, in that 15 minute game, one player started with both 5-8-10 points, and the first 6 rolls were all 5, 8 or 10. It was a quick win from there. Settlers is most balanced when every player makes sure he starts with a wide spread of production numbers and production fields. If you start with less than 6 different numbers, you're too vulnerable to bad luck. One exception: it's great to produce wood and clay at the same number, since you always need them together anyway. To a lesser extend, this is also true for ore and grain, especially in a 4-player game.

Re:Catan (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281571)

Another important point; there is no single way of winning. The game ends with the first player reaching a set number of points and the game provides multiple ways of obtaining points. If one player is extremely good at playing one particular way, it's still possible for others to win simply by playing a different way.

Re:Catan (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283019)

But on the other hand there are ways that are very easy to play, and others which need more planning skills.

I find it the easiest to first try to upgrade the two starting villages to towns, thus on average doubling your income. It only takes 5 cards of 2 types (ore and crops) for one additional point, and it's more easy to get than the 6 cards (one road, one village) you need at least to get a new source of income. Further more it's more easy to get good spots at the beginning. Upgrading them pays more than settling at lesser spots later in the game. Concentrating on ore and crops just speeds up your development.
Usually wool tends to be easy to get later by exchanging cards, and with ore and crops you can buy development cards and get control of the robber and the largest army.

Online better than board game (1)

xarien (1073084) | more than 6 years ago | (#21287719)

I actually find that the online versions are better than the real game because the anonymity really lends itself to allow optimized strategies. When you don't have to worry feeling guilty for picking on a friend too much or feeling sad for the friend who is losing, you can truly optimize your strategy and in the end, I believe this really takes the game to the next level.
A good example of this is the old monopoly trick. Trade a few of your resources for some other resource and immediately call monopoly on the resource you just traded away. You not only gain all the cards from the monopoly, but pick up a few extra from the trades as well. If you've ever tried this in real life, you know that it's fairly taboo.

Re:Catan (1)

GeneJoker (549689) | more than 6 years ago | (#21295117)

I have always had two (main) issue with Settlers of Catan:

1) It is so easy to kill someone off near the start of the game. A well placed road or building and it's effectively down to three players. And there's no "bow out" option, either you keep playing, or the game ends. It is rarely fun playing a game you've already lost.

2) Other people. Seriously, that game seems to bring out the idiot more than any other game I've played. Rob from the leader, why is that so hard to understand? Someone's on 8 visible points and has two hidden cards, TAKE HIS GODDAMN RESOURCES. He offers you fifty rock for a brick? That brick is all he needs to win, DO NOT GIVE IT TO HIM. And don't get me started on "I can't rob from him/her, she's my boyfriend/girlfriend/significant other". If your relationship can't stand you robbering his grain, go fight it out in private, stop ruining my game.

Re:Example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21281889)

Setelers of Catan has the "problem" of requiring three players... that is the only reason i haven't gotten it yet.

I'm a big fan of Thurn und Taxis, however. getting the "all provinces" bonus is huge, so stockpile lodz if you can!

Re:Example (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21282821)

There's a card game of SoC, it's somewat different in the way it plays but is meant for 2 players.

Like special ed (0)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279723)

There is usually a good social aspect to the game as well. Players are almost never eliminated from the game, for example.

"Yay, everyone's a winner!" </Simpsons>

Re:Like special ed (1)

Luminus (34868) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279781)

The simpson's board game is, ironically, called "Loser Takes All."

The rest you can probably figure out.

Re:Like special ed (3, Insightful)

iainl (136759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279815)

That's not what it's saying at all, though. There's a world of difference between being found the loser at the end of the game, and spending the last hour of it twiddling your thumbs while the rest of the players continue to duke it out.

But then, some people prefer to play Counter-Strike than Team Fortress, so go figure.

Losing might be preferable (1)

bateleur (814657) | more than 6 years ago | (#21280209)

There's a world of difference between being found the loser at the end of the game, and spending the last hour of it twiddling your thumbs while the rest of the players continue to duke it out.

Although it's a matter of opinion which is worse. Personally I don't like having to play another half hour of a game I have already effectively lost. I'd rather go and make a coffee, browse the web a bit or read a book.

Worse still, defeated players remaining in a game often get to be kingmakers. Fine if there's some valid reason to pick one winner over another (such as hurting the player who ruined your chances earlier) but otherwise the exact opposite of social fun.

Re:Like special ed (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 6 years ago | (#21280513)

Dude, thats what drinking is for!

Re:Like special ed (4, Insightful)

petaflop (682818) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279817)

The lack of player elimination doesn't mean that that is no competition - just that everyone gets to play to the end. Even if you are out of the race to win, you can still play to acheive the best result you can.

Good examples include:

  • Chinatown: We play this instead of Monopoly. Unlike Monopoly, the game is fixed length (6 turns), and everyone plays to the end. The person who makes the smartest trades usually wins, although lucky deals sometimes affect the result. However, you often don't know who that is until you count the money at the end.
  • Vinci: We play this instead of Risk - and unusually for a Eurogame it does involve direct conflict. However, instead of playing a single civilization, you play several in succession - part of the strategy involves deciding when to let your current civilization decline and bring on a new one. You also get to pick the special abilities of the new civilization from a limited menu - making the right choice depends on the board.
Chinatown and Vinci give much of the feel of Monopoly and Risk, but they play in 90 minutes and end before anyone gets bored. I find them both more thought provoking.

Having said that, a strong case can be made that the Eurogames genre was founded by an American designer: Sid Sackson [wikipedia.org] , whose games include classics like Acquire and Can't Stop.

Whats a long, in depth board game? (1)

CodyRazor (1108681) | more than 6 years ago | (#21279767)

I used to play board games as a kid, but i found growing up they couldnt compete with teh depth, strategy and fun computer games offered. Iv gone into stores a couple of times to find some kind of a board game where you can -play against someone over a long term period of time that has a lot of strategy and depth, but all i find are games that say ana average game lasts for a couple of hours. I think it owuld be cool to have a game that you could play over the course of several days or even weeks, whenever you feel the urge. The most likely thing would be a war game of some sort with shifting front lines etc. Kind of like generals do on their map tables with little figurines.

Does anyone know of a game like this?

Is this similar to warhammer? iv never tried warhammer because painting little figures and buying extra parts doesnt really appeal to me, seems kind of childish and the people i have seen playing in games workshop seem a little too geeky... and im a geek. or nerd, or whatever. Id prefer something where buying new parts doesnt give you an advantage.

Re:Whats a long, in depth board game? (1)

peterxyz (315132) | more than 6 years ago | (#21280205)

Its called Diplomacy.
Just don't could on having any friends at the end

Re:Whats a long, in depth board game? (1)

JNighthawk (769575) | more than 6 years ago | (#21280543)

On the tactical scale, Tide of Iron is a great war game.

On the strategic scale, I don't know. I'm not a fan of chit-based games, which means no straight up war games. However, Twilight Imperium is a 4X board game and is fantastic.

Re:Whats a long, in depth board game? (1)

Trenchbroom (1080559) | more than 6 years ago | (#21280873)

A few options come to mind:

Twilight Imperium with the optional rules: good for 8-10 hours or so:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twilight_Imperium [wikipedia.org]

Civilization with Advanced Civilization: unfortunately both are out of print so expensive on Ebay, but with six players you could easily spend 10-12 hours on it. Worth every moment while playing it and worth every penny to buy it:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilization_(board_game) [wikipedia.org]

Now there's an 18 player modded Civilization: should take a whole week to complete!
http://www.civproject.net/ [civproject.net]

Re:Whats a long, in depth board game? (1)

ageoffri (723674) | more than 6 years ago | (#21282161)

There are several of what I call classic games that are more in-depth then any board game and can take hours and hours to days to play.

Civilization (not Sid's, the classic Avalon Hill).

Star Fleet Battles has more depth then any game I've ever played. The single biggest problem is finding people willing to learn the game.

Re:Whats a long, in depth board game? (1)

Webcommando (755831) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283803)

Loved Star Fleet Battles when we could find players.

The main rules with expansions(once you put them in sheet protectors...everyone does that right?) took up two 2" D-ring binders.

A single turn could take 4 hours with a reasonable number of ships. We had 8' x 6' table with 1 inch hex maps setup for months at a time to get a single large scale battle complete.

I actually have a hardbound rule book that Stephen Cole allowed an avid fan to produce.

Re:Whats a long, in depth board game? (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 6 years ago | (#21282747)

I used to play board games as a kid, but i found growing up they couldnt compete with teh depth, strategy and fun computer games offered. Iv gone into stores a couple of times to find some kind of a board game where you can -play against someone over a long term period of time that has a lot of strategy and depth, but all i find are games that say ana average game lasts for a couple of hours. I think it owuld be cool to have a game that you could play over the course of several days or even weeks, whenever you feel the urge.

You want a game that lasts longer? That's easy. Plenty of games last for ages. Advanced Civilization is easily over 12 hours, for example, but the king is Empires in Arms, the grand campaign of which is reputed to last 200 hours. Pick an evening in the week, and play that evening every week for a year. One of my goals in life is to play that game some time. I just need 6 friends who are equally crazy.

The most likely thing would be a war game of some sort with shifting front lines etc. Kind of like generals do on their map tables with little figurines. [...] Is this similar to warhammer?

Yes, but there are also many other, more mature, more historical tabletop miniature games. Find a historic wargaming group and ask what they play. If you want to play without miniatures, there are also plenty of historical strategy wargames that you play with cardboard counters on a hex board.

There's a whole, rich, unexplored world of boardgaming waiting for you out there!

Re:Whats a long, in depth board game? (1)

timftbf (48204) | more than 6 years ago | (#21288505)

but the king is Empires in Arms, the grand campaign of which is reputed to last 200 hours
Not even close. Campaign for North Africa (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/4815 [boardgamegeek.com] ) has a listed playing time of 1000 hours :)

On the long, but not insane, front, I'd recommend both Here I Stand and Pax Romana from GMT Games (http://www.gmtgames.com/ [gmtgames.com] ) as multi-player diplomacy / wargame / empire-building combos that play in a day to a couple of days flat out, or a lot of evenings. (I've been playing both by email over a number of weeks).

Re:Whats a long, in depth board game? (1)

SethraLavode (910814) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283481)

Warhammer isn't really a long-term sort of game. You tend to have scenarios that resolve themselves in at most three hours (depending how how weasely/blitz-happy your opponent is).

There's a number of historical military games that would serve the purpose. Advanced Squad Leader pops to mind most prominantly, mostly because I'm not a huge fan of the military game genre and am not up-to-date on what's new and popular. It's still in print and actively supported (and the company is owned by Curt Schilling).

Unfortunately, most of the really good, deep strategy games are out of print, gone with SPI and Avalon Hill. (Yes, Avalon Hill is still around, but it's just a shell.) Previous posters have mentioned some good options, like Civilization/Advanced Civilization. Other games in that vein would be Age of Renaissance or History of the World.

My personal favorite of the Avalon Hill games is Dune (without any expansions), but that's also a bit hard to find. You might be able to import a translated copy of the French edition, which I think is still in print.

As for games in print, I'll put in a recommendation for Warrior Knights (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrior_Knights [wikipedia.org] ) .

The box claims a playing time of a couple hours, but according to the designer's website, the publisher changed the printed rules so they could get a less-intimidating, shorter play time on the box. The recommended variant rules on the designer's page stretches the game out to a much more interesting four to six hours (or more).

Re:Whats a long, in depth board game? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21286987)

Check out Arkham Horror, and Descent by Fantasy Flight games. Pretty good cooperative games, that tend to tend a very long time. There are expansion packs, but the core game is pretty deep as it is.

load (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21279895)

biggest pretentious load of shit I've ever heard at 8:00 in the morning.

The biggest difference is strategy (2, Interesting)

dgym (584252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21280289)

The board games I played as a child all suffered from the same problem, the choices to be made were important, but not as important as good luck. Obviously the worst example of this is snakes and ladders, where there are no choices at all, but Monopoly is pretty terrible on this front too as you have almost no control over where you land.

It was a refreshing change to be introduced to German style games where there is often much less random in a game (if any at all after the initial setup) so it really is down to strategy. Some of the people I play with are more interested in playing the players rather than the game directly, and with a lot of these games relying on trading or creating alliances or peace pacts this can be a vital element. My partner prefers games where other people can't mess with what you are trying to do too badly, and there are plenty of games where the players can help, not hinder, each other.

The Settlers of Catan is mentioned in the article and it is a very popular game but I think that it too suffers from too much random. There is an expansion pack that replaces the dice (worst game mechanic ever) with a set of cards in all the right ratios. I can't recommend this variant enough as it really helps promote the power of your choices over the power of the dice.

Re:The biggest difference is strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21281531)

Obviously the worst example of this is snakes and ladders, where there are no choices at all, but Monopoly is pretty terrible on this front too as you have almost no control over where you land.
Yeah - it's just like Poker. It's all down to luck, because you can't control the cards you get.

Note to poker fanatics: before you flame me, please ensure your sarcasm detectors are working properly.

Re:The biggest difference is strategy (1)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 6 years ago | (#21282215)

If you don't like randomness in your games, then Go or chess are where you should be looking. The best games which have a random element, in my mind, are the ones that you can win by developing a strategy resistant to randomness. In Monopoly, for instance, you have no control over where you land, but you have strong control over what you _do_ on the square. Just the other day, I saw a statistical analysis of Monopoly properties, and how to develop your properties to win the game.
Scrabble is another example--the tiles are acquired randomly, but knowing your language, statistical distribution of the letters, values, and strategies means that good players win. What the random factors do is force the strategy to be evolutionary, rather than static.

All of this, of course, doesn't take away from the fact that there are some very good new board games out there.

Re:The biggest difference is strategy (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#21282973)

Reduced effect of the randomness does not mean he wants zero randomness but some games have more and some have less randomness affecting the play.

A little random can be a lot of fun (1)

dgym (584252) | more than 6 years ago | (#21288201)

Go is certainly an excellent game that I am very fond of, as are "Through the Desert" and "Hey! That's my fish!" which only have random boards, and everyone sees them before game play begins. I do enjoy randomness if it is done well and have seen some really good mechanisms for tempering it to a sweet spot for a game. For example in Power Grid the shuffled deck of power plants is fairly crucial but 8 of them are on display, and you can only buy one of the four worst ones so although there is an exciting chance of getting something seriously good, it isn't enough to throw the game out of balance.

Any good game should require an adaptive strategy, you are trying to outwit your opponents and vica versa, if they can't throw you a few surprises then the game is going to be pretty boring. An AC mentioned poker, saying that by my reasoning it too must be a bad game because you have no control of what cards you get. This misses several important points of poker, in most variations you get to decide if you want to continue before accepting another card so you do get some say, but above all in poker there is very strong player interaction and it is the other players you play, not your hand.

I think that mostly I just can't stand dice. Shuffled cards have some reliable properties, dice have none. Just the fact that it is possible to be out of a game of Monopoly without ever landing on a property you can buy puts me right off. If you are suffering from the ultimate unlucky streak you can literally have no choices to make for your entire game (other than deciding to throw the board on the floor of course).

One thing I see in the some of the games I have enjoyed the most is negative feedback - the better you do the harder it is to keep on doing well, and the worse you do the easier it is to catch up. It means that the players doing well have to be just as careful as anyone else, and even someone who has been having a mostly rotten game (might even have been out of their hands if the other players have been mean) can still be in with a chance if they can just pull off their highly rewarding move of pure genius. Close races are more exciting, so this is definitely something I would be looking at if I ever get around to designing my own game.

Sometimes randomness is the point (1)

LargeWu (766266) | more than 6 years ago | (#21290471)

Backgammon is definitely one of the deepest strategy games, and it uses dice as the primary game mechanic. It's how you manage that randomness that is the challenge. Add in the doubling cube, and you've got an extremely nuanced game with very simple gameplay. It also makes for a great gambling game.

Carcassonne (1)

Seek_1 (639070) | more than 6 years ago | (#21280547)

I picked up Carcassonne [boardgamegeek.com] recently, and it's extremely fun to play. My regular gaming group and I find Settlers to be a little too random for our tastes, but we definitely like Carcassonne.
I've also found that Carcassonne works well at parties as it's very quick to pick up and since the games are short, it's easy to get new people to play.

Re:Carcassonne (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281135)

The problem I have as a 360 owner with both games on there is that there are obvious reasons to go spend money on the 'real' version of Catan - the computer one won't let you play multiplayer with a single machine. But Carcassonne runs just fine gathered around the telly, and totting up the scores is rather tedious thanks to farms and the like so getting the XBox to do it for you is handy. So I'm not sure I can be bothered to spend three times the money on the board version as well.

Re:Carcassonne (1)

Bohnanza (523456) | more than 6 years ago | (#21282675)

Carcassonne costs about $20 retail, and less at online retailers.

Re:Carcassonne (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 6 years ago | (#21292049)

Here in the UK, it's £15, rather than £6 for the 360 version. Which is only 2.5 times. Oops.

Still, my main point is that I've spent the points for both 360 games already, so that's gone. When deciding which of the two games to get in physical versions, Catan is definitely the more sensible option - Carcassonne is improved by getting the console to deal with all the rule-following stuff, while Catan is hindered by the lack of local multiplayer.

Still, I'm sure I'll end up with Carcassonne at some point.

Re:Carcassonne + Snakes and Ladders (1)

juletre (739996) | more than 6 years ago | (#21282021)

For a different version of Carcassonne, try using a snakes and ladders game as the score board. This way, you can really be mean to your fellow players by giving them a point or two, or finishing their city/road/whatever at the right time. Very fun. It changes the game a great deal.

As the points at the end of the game are collected in random order, don't use any snakes/ladders while counting them.

A very interesting variant (1)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 6 years ago | (#21287173)

The snakes/ladders one below sounds awesome as well. One variant we play is that you have a 1 tile "hand", and when you pick up a tile you do so secretly, then choose between your hand and the new tile as to which to place. Gives a little more reward for foresight.

BoardGameGeek's BGG.CON 2007 (1)

zsazsa (141679) | more than 6 years ago | (#21281367)

There actually is a meeting like this in the US: next week will be BoardGameGeek's BGG.CON [boardgamegeek.com] . I'm sure the fact that it follows closely after the Essen conference is no coincidence.

Two rules. One bean. Five hundred ways to win. (1)

aberkvam (109205) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283233)

This t-shirt [cafepress.com] from the Cheapass Games folks pretty much sums up German games. (Zoom in on the image of the back.)

Uhhh, yeah (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 6 years ago | (#21283465)

> Players are almost never eliminated from the [German board] game[s], for example.

Unless they're...

oh, don't go there, girl!

Some Favorites (1)

Bohnanza (523456) | more than 6 years ago | (#21284019)

In addition to Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne, I like:

Power Grid
Tigris and Euphrates
Intrigue
Coloretto
For Sale
Modern Art
That's Life

and of course...

Bohnanza!

Re:Some Favorites (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21285903)

Caylus is probably my favorite game currently out. That being said there are many excellent board games out.

If you really are interested in boardgames, boardgamegeek.com is excellent place start. Although there is a bias towards with lots of long term strategy, opposed to luck. These games are great for people who have strategy and know how to play, not so great for introducing it to your friends who will continually get crushed, until they learn a better strategy than their teacher (presumably you). If you want good intro games (probably more luck, a little less strategy) look at the "Spiel De Jahres" (German (family) game of the year). Games that win this award are appropriate for families, learn able in one sitting, take less then 2 hours to complete, have strategy but there is usually the ability for some one with less strategy (your 10 year old daughter perhaps) to win (or come very close to winning).

Have fun, playing board games with friends is one of my favorite activities.

German gaming culture mostly sucked before the 80s (1)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 6 years ago | (#21285817)

It's only since about 25 years that German boardgames have come to be the reference of quality they are. Before that it was just Checkers, Halma and Mikado plus some flashy stuff from Milton Bradley and Parker that came across the pond.

The German game publisher Ravensburger was iirc the first to regularly put a little more time and quality into their boardgames. Their first steps were sort of academic, one of the first German Boardgames of the year ("Spiel des Jahres") being 'Sagaland' ('Enchanted Forest'), a quite simple, non-innovative variant of Memory+Ludo but with a distinct quality of the artwork and game-parts. A year later came 'Scotland Yard', also from Ravensburger. It more or less went uphill from there.

The Game Fair in Essen is a very good place to go if you are a gamer. I live 20km away and while I haven't been there in the last few years a friend of mine always goes there all four days and stays at my place. He always comes back with a stack of prime-quality boardgames one better than the next. It's also nice to see how, after all these years, the Pen&Paper RPG scene is still fairly alive and kicking in Germany. DSA [wikipedia.org] is one of the best RPGs available, quality-wise. It the only RPG I know of in which the quality of official maps rivals that of Harnworld.
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