Monthly Archives: June 2015

In Defense of 1

A recent post on the Board Game Geek Facebook group got me thinking about this, and I thought I would share a few thoughts on it.

The post was from a board game designer who balked at a 1 out of 10 rating on Boardgamegeek.com.  It turned out that the person who had posted the low rating was basing it more on the fact that the game was on Kickstarter rather than how the game itself played.  In spite of the fact that the rater was more than likely a troll than an actual reviewer, the comments about the post, and the reaction of the game creator got me thinking about the whole idea of the “1” rating.

Now, this is not a defense of people who use poor ratings to more or less mess with people.  Or worse, people who use poor ratings to make some sort of personal political statement.  I have seen someone on Amazon review a G.I. Joe figure poorly because they felt G.I. Joe was promoting war and blah blah blah.  Political statements should not be made in toy reviews.  Well, most times they shouldn’t be.

When it comes to games, I have yet to rate something a 1 out of 10.  The lowest I have come has been a “3” rating on three games.  That is not to say that I would not consider giving a game a “1” rating.  When it comes to books, there are a few that I have given the dreaded “1 out of 5 stars” rating.  Actually, quite a few… well, thirteen.  And, if you ask me about any of them, I would defend my choice, backing each one up with reasons why I gave them that rating.

Still, for the most part, I tend not to fall onto giving that dreaded “1” unless I feel it necessary.  A rating that low is a nuclear option.  Something has to be so disastrously bad for me to even consider giving it a rating that low.  It’s probably why I have given bad ratings to books more than I have come close to giving them to games.

As amateur reviewers (which, let’s face it, most of us who post on websites like Boardgamegeek and Goodreads), we do need to think carefully about how we rate games.  It is very easy to simply rate good games as 10’s or bad games as 1’s.  But, ratings like that deserve, no, demand an explanation as to why they got that low or high rating.  And you need to be able to back up.  If you ask me why I have the book One Second After a 1 star, I will tell you.  You may regret getting me started as to why I hate that book (yes, I used the word “hate”), but you will know why I gave it that rating.  Vengeance ratings (“I hate Kickstarter so I give this game a 1”) are never acceptable.

And game creators, you do need to realize that your game will not jibe with every player.  You may have created the best deck building game in the universe, but someone who does not like deck builders will most likely not like your game, no matter how good it is.  If you get a bad rating that is backed up by legitimate reasons, you just need to accept that and move on.  Dwelling on two bad reviews among a hundred good reviews is not going to help your game.  If your game is really that good, the law of averages will take over and the handful of bad reviews will be more than balanced out by the good ones.

And, if a bad review is just a troll in disguise, your supporters will make sure that those who need to know will know.  At least, that’s what happened when someone used a product review for a toy as a soapbox for his own political view.

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On Kids and Gaming

Recently I read a post on Boardgame Geek’s Facebook group that got me thinking.  The poster had gone to a local game shop with his two young kids (11 and 12) and felt left out because no other players made any real attempt to include them in any of the games being played.  The post ended with the poster telling people to be mindful of others and to be less “cliquey.”

Which, naturally got me thinking.

Now, I have to admit that my personal experience with children and game groups is very limited.  When I was more into X-Wing, we had two kids come in with their father who were probably a little bit other than the ones in the original post.  Both were okay for the usual 100 point dog fights.  But, when we tried to tackle something a bit larger (on one occasion it was a 300 point huge ship battle, and another it was a second Death Star run scenario), their interest in the games fell off to the point where the remaining adults ended up planning and playing all of their ships in addition to their own.  Based on what I read in the original post, this happened to the two kids there as well (though I can’t be sure if it was from not being included or just being kids).  It is slightly aggravating when a grown up mind starts to wander from the game, and it was a bit annoying when it happened in the games I’ve played as well.

Again, I like kids, but I can understand why some gamer groups might not want to start a game where one of the participants a pre-teen.  For some, this may be their night out away from their own kids.  They managed to get a sitter, or their wives are watching the young’uns, and they are looking to have a little bit of fun.  Probably the last thing they would want is to, well, deal with a kid after taking steps so they don’t have to.  For others, it is their time to just be themselves, something they might feel they can’t do if there is a child around.  And there are a few people who might feel a little bad if they do play a game and the kid lost, even if the kid does handle it will.

Now, I don’t want this to be just a bunch of excuses for excluding children from games or anything like that.  Children introduced to games will be the next generation to carry on gaming.  They will be the ones as adults who will say, “Hey, remember that game Smash Up?  That was a cool game,” just as many of us fondly remember games like Dark Tower or Fireball Island.  So, how do we fix this problem?

First, parents need to realize that there are going to be some gamers who do not want to play with children.  It’s not about being “cliquey” or anything, they just want to play games with people closer to their own age.  Your child may be a prodigy and know the rules of Catan inside and out, but there will be some people who do not feel comfortable playing games with an eleven year old.

Gamers need to realize that there are some people who probably won’t make the first move when it comes to games.  Hell, I often have that problem with new people and I’m actually in a Meetup group for games.  Some people, no matter what age they are, just really need that one person to say to them, “Hey, we’re just getting started, want in?”

And back to the parents.  There are a lot of FLGS’s out there who do try to be kid-friendly.  I know a couple of the stores near me will try to maintain that by warning players if they get too loud or too inappropriate (one even has a “swear jar”).  The original post mentioned it was a game night, and from the sound of it, his two kids were the only ones there.  It seems to be quite logical that he could have approached the store owner and asked if there was a child friendly game day scheduled, possibly even offer to help set one up if there was not one.  Again, I know there are a whole ton of safety things that may come into play.

If setting up a child game day doesn’t work, there is always Meetup and other sites that allow people to find other like-minded people.  Start a “Gamers with Children” group.  I would even suggest a cute gaming title like “Meeples with Mini-Meeples” or something to that effect (if you want to use that, be my guest, I don’t mind).  Members can set up “events” where the children can play games together and the grown ups can join in if they want, or possibly set up their own game while the kids have fun.

On Comic Collecting

Lately, I’ve been wondering if I can really consider myself a comic collector anymore.  It isn’t something new, but something that’s been lingering for a while now.  But I have been noticing a growing shift in my interests away from comics to other interests, like board games.  In thinking about this, I realize there are a number of reasons why I might not consider myself a collector anymore.

  1. Expense – Granted, the costs of comics has been relatively stable lately (as opposed to the massive inflation in the 1980s and 1990s).  But, comics are still running roughly three to four dollars a book, and that doesn’t include annuals, mini-series, and special expanded issues which generally run much higher than the usual fare.
  2. Quality – I will admit this is strictly subjective, but the comics that have been coming out just have not been thrilling me.  There are fewer and fewer books that just have me eager to read the next issue… consistently.  Over the course of the previous year, I have seen the number of books I pick up each month drop more and more to the point that I now pick up one Marvel title (Silver Surfer, which knowing my luck will be cancelled sometime in the next year).  I will still check out newer titles, but usually do not stay with them past the second or third issue.
  3. Event Fatigue – I’m just getting tired of all the event books that the publishers have been putting out.  I was not entirely thrilled with Convergence, especially since it was coming off Multiversity, which was coming off Forever Evil, which was… well you get the point.  And I’m not trying to single out DC Comics here, because I’ve been event fatigued from Marvel much longer.  Secret Wars is the only Marvel event in the last two years that I have picked up more than the first issue.  And, to be completely honest, I get the feeling that because I’m not reading all the spawned titles for Secret Wars, I am completely lost.  Sadly, that’s been par for the course for me with the Marvel events, which is probably why the Marvel titles have been the ones that have gone by the wayside first.
  4. Lack of Rereadability – This ties into quality, but there are not a lot of titles that I want to reread once, let alone multiple times.  I look at it this way:  why should I buy a bunch of comics that I will read once and say, “Meh,” when I could pick up one board or card game and get a ton of replay out of it.  There is also the social aspect that board games provide, something which I admit I need help with.

So, is this just me growing out of the hobby?  Or has this happened to other people?  Please leave your comments below.

Quest To Play Them All

As you may have seen in previous posts, I have been on a quest to play the games I have in my collection that I have not yet played.  And, I have to admit, I have made great progress on this.  Currently, I have 58 games in my collection that I have not yet played and still want to play.  I add that caveat because there are a few games I have that I am pretty sure I will never play for one reason or another.  I’ve also made a conscious attempt to not add too many more games to my list of owned and unplayed, which is difficult since there are a lot of cool looking games out there that I do want to try.

As usual, there are a few games that I’m looking to try and get to the table sooner than others.  Some of these just look pretty cool.  Others are just easier to explain to other people, which makes it easier for me to get to the table as well.

Thus, there are five that I am looking to fast track to the game table and tick them off my list.

1) Kahuna – A two player area control game.  Two players compete against each other, playing cards to build bridges between the islands of a South Pacific archipelago.  Control the most bridges to the island, and control the island.  But, players can play cards to take away bridges.

2) Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Wrath of the Righteous – The newest of the Pathfinder adventure card games, and the newest game in my collection.  This one I have a better chance to get to the table since it can be played solo.

3) Sail To India – A small card game for three to four players.  The goal is to find the way to India while scoring gold and victory points along the way.

4) Carcassonne South Seas – This one looked more interesting to be than the original Carcassonne game (also unplayed in my collection, but not listed because of a missing tile).  This version adds in a trade feature that makes the game look more active than the original.  I want to bring this to the table once I read through the rules enough to feel comfortable teaching it.

5) We Didn’t Playtest This Either – It is hard to believe that there is a card game out there that is more chaotic than Fluxx, but there is the We Didn’t Playtest This series.  Games can literally be won or lost with the turn of one card.  So far, I have played the original and the themes version of this game, which leaves two left.  We Didn’t Playtest This Either is the easier to bring to the table since the other version takes on the Legacy aspects that are featured in Risk Legacy and the upcoming Pandemic Legacy.

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