Thursday, 6 October 2011

Preference for repeated plays?

We’ve not been very adventurous of late. Unusually for the club there has been a lot of repeat plays with a few games getting played on consecutive weeks. I always remember Tom mentioning that he’d been coming to the club for six months and had yet to play a game twice. This was back in 2007 and there certainly seemed to be a new game on the table every week. Of course there have always been old favourites; Power Grid has regularly been hauled out of someone’s bag at 7.30 on a Tuesday. It benefits from being owned by quite a few attendees so there is a good chance someone will have it. It’s one of those rare six-player games (along with Cosmic Encounter) so is the obvious choice when we have six players - usually preferable to splitting into two groups of three, as good three player games seem to be a rarity. Re-playability is boosted by the plethora of expansion maps. And finally it’s a great game – OK, so that’s rather subjective, but I can safely say that the majority of the club regard it very highly and the remaining few are willing to endure it. So, if Power Grid is the old stalwart, who are the new pretenders?

Chaos in the Old World

This game had a spate of plays at the beginning of 2010 when it was introduced by Richard Harding. It got played five times in the space of two months as Punk Rich also bought it. It’s seen a resurgence this summer as the Horned Rat expansion was released and Phil added it to his collection increasing the likelihood that it’ll be available to play (also Phil’s other games are uniformly awful or ridiculous – so it’s the only game he has that we’ll play). It perhaps shouldn’t see as much table time as it should as it absolutely needs to be played five (or four without the expansion). However, it has a nice mix of styles - the core mechanisms are clearly from the Euro mould, which are then jazzed up with kickass dice rolling, funky miniatures, and the chance to shout ”BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!”. This appeals to my taste in games as I gradually shun the ‘mechanisms for mechanisms sake’ of a lot of games out there. Punk Rich, Phil and Pete clearly feel the same and one of us will suggest it almost every week.


This has displaced Age of Steam since it came out a few years ago and although has regularly hit the table it’s seen more play over the summer months than most. The old Age of Steam split opinion and there were certain gamers that wouldn’t touch it with the proverbial bargepole. Like Power Grid it benefits from having a number of expansion maps, which keeps it fresh. Good with four or five, there is now a core group of players down the club that know how to play Steam and the game only improves with more plays. As another one of my favourites and also one of Jimmy’s there is a good chance it will make the journey to the Ribs on a regular basis.

Hansa Teutonica

This has been played on four separate evenings at the Ribs; twice in a night on a couple of occasions. This is definitely a pure Euro with a theme so wafer thin you could feed it to Mr Creosote all night long. This cube shuffler is eminently playable, with a raft of choices and a feeling that you’re not just playing the game, but actually playing your opponents, which is often lacking in this type of optimisation game. Crocker waxed lyrical about it a few weeks back. He’s the only one of us that owns it and with Luke coming to the club less frequently this could easily see more play if others decide to buy it, especially as it looks like it will scale well between three and five players.

Popularity and player numbers are obviously the biggest deciding factors with regards to which games get played on a given night and this has always been the case. Perhaps the change isn’t the games, but NoBoG itself. With the most stable group of regulars we’ve had for a long time we are now able to explore games we all know rather than teach or learn new games. One thing the three games I’ve mentioned have in common is that they all get better as players become more experienced. With strategies to explore, and blocking and countering being a big part in all three, everyone is improving at the game and everyone’s experience is getting better each time – leading to the game being requested again the following week.

Or maybe there just aren’t as many good new games coming out?

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