Thursday, 8 July 2010

Why Can't We All Just Be Students Again?

While I'll play pretty much any game, when somebody goes to the effort of getting enough people together for a gaming session I prefer the long strategy type games. I think it's because sitting around playing these games on a table is a lot better than playing turn based strategy games on the computer. Also it's just fun to push around those little military units and stack up piles of oddly shaped tokens.

The problem is that these games tend to be very fragile when it comes to different numbers of players, and when a game takes most of the day to play you're going to struggle to find the people. Card games (I'm thinking of Munchkin, Chez Geek, etc) are normally more robust about how many players are involved and are lot simper to get into. As a result it's easy to find anywhere up to seven or eight people willing to sit down and play some Munchkin, and if two or three people don't show up you can still play.

If you want to play a round of Game of Thrones, on the other hand, you need five people. You can try to play with four, but House Stark is going to slap the other three players around like the German soccer team playing Australia (yeah, I went there). Worse, what if someone asks if they can invite someone else? You always need to add to your little black, if nerdy, book of game playing friends but in this case there's no room at the inn. And while I enjoy watching people play games sometimes, I think I draw the line well before watching six hours of Civilization.

Getting people into a room in the first place is only a part of the problem. As we grow older and people get things like spouses and children and other things that can crop up unexpectedly in an emergency fashion, the odds of keeping everyone in the room for the full period of a game drop away to near zero. While I don't begrudge people having lives per se, someone dropping out of a game early is the surest way to ruin it.

The solution: a big strategy board game that has genuine support for a wider number of players and maybe drop in and out support too because having the perfect number of players for long enough to finish a game is a fragile thing. Shouldn't be too hard. If there is one already then somebody should tell me what it's called. And buy me a copy.