Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Post, New Games, New Year

Happy New Yea-

Yeah enough of that. If there is one thing I've learned is that the new year will be just as good or bad as the old year. Who gives a fuck. I'm not bitter. Not really. But there are so many people out there who think that they can just sit back in their easy chairs, legs spread, with the mistaken assumption that even though they have exerted zero effort their lives will get better because it is a new year and everything is going to be different. When I want to change my life I don't wait for calandar dates I just do it and move on.

...on that note I've done a TERRIBLE job coming up with Eclipse Phase characters. It isn't even that I am blocked up or anything. I am in the middle of this movie watching frenzy which is pretty awesome. Currently I am plowing through lots of Samurai movies from the 50's and 60's. I swear the damnedest things will catch my interests. I am thinking of using this escapade to take the time to rexamine the Last Samurai with Tom Cruise and maybe send a little while picking apart a lot of the anti colonialism rhetoric around it. Then I will more than likely rebuild that rhetoric but mine will be better.

So games! This year for reasons unknown I've decided to focus a considerable amount of resources to two player gaming. I am doing this for a variety of reasons.

1) There is just something a little bit more intense about 2 player games. It is the fact that it is just you and the other person and you are either against a neutral 3rd party or the game board. Either way it has a different sort of intensitiy.

2) There is a different stradegy involved. Saying there is no stradegey in multiplayer games makes you look stupid. You live in a world with Diplomacy, Twilight Imperium, Axis and Allies, and several others. But it is different. You don't have to worry about the person next to you, or make deals, or any of that other stuff. It allows for a more focused sort of game play.

3) The variety. I got myself an abstract chess like where you aren't allowed to know how your peices move, a card based miniature war game, and a game simulating the battle at Segikahara or however the hell you spell it. Next up is one of the most complex WW2 simulations out there in the form of Advanced Squad Leader, a tacticle card based game called summoner wars, and Twilight Struggle which depicts the struggle of the world's two super powers during the cold war.

I am excited. Though I think I might take a break and pick up two upcoming scable games, Wiz-War and Fortress America.

Of everything I've bought the thing I am most impressed with is sekigahara and the Hinterlands Dominion expansion. Sekigahara is apparently a block war game. I didn't know there were such things as block war games before I bought it but there it is. After I finnished the rules I was skimming the design notes and the author talked about striving for elegance and usability over endless amounts of fiddly complexity. Holy shit was he ever right. After a few awkward first turns Cory and I were playing the game like we'd been slinging blocks around our whole lives. Everything fit together magnificently and there wasn't a single choice that wasn't hard to make. As the game unfolded the depth of it all became clearer, everything from hand management to army composition to the importance of knowing the game board and controlling the highways all started clicking in place for us more and more. While the game essentially ended in a stalemate we both had learned much and I know I am eager to play it again. I wish that guy would go work for fantasy flight games. Thous people need some serious lessions in rulebook layout and clarity. Yet despite everything being clear and laid out pulling it all together in a coherent stradegy is awesome. Not only that but the two sides play very differently from each other which is neat and there is just enough randomness in the set up to keep the game fresh.

I only have ten minutes left so I am going to save hinterlands for another day. The only problem I really have with Sekigahara is that it is a little hard to teach. It has not one but two hidden elements and both of them are absolulely vital to game play. You don't know what's in the other person's armies and you don't know what is in their hand. As a result both players need a pretty firm grasp of how the game works before play begins or else you are just going to spend three hours pushing blocks around until the game ends. The two hidden elements work amazingly but because they work so well and because they are so interagal it makes it a little hard to teach because people will want to show you things and ask questions. Like I had forgotten to explain loyalty challanges to corey so when he asked about them I made damn sure to keep units in reserve for that shit. Where otherwise he could of seriously punked me. Most people learn games as they play and while I found running a sample combat wasn't the fix all I hoped it would be.

Still the game went great and after the first game a whole world of tactical possiblities opened to us. And I am greatly looking foward to playing it again. Maybe tonight, but prolly not though cause tonight I am thinking we are gonna rock out with either cosmic encounters or super dungeon explore... depending on how I feel after work.

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