Friday, July 8, 2011

Game Night II

Our second formal game night took place yesterday evening. Turnout was lower than the first go round as a number of people had to cancel last minute for various (nefarious?) reasons. The six of us have been crazy about Shadows Over Camelot of late so that was our clear first choice of game. I've been very high on Shadows thus far, but this session struck me as rather flat. This may, of course, been partially due to my lack of effectiveness as traitor, leading to my almost embarrassing defeat.

Is Shadows Over Camelot getting too easy?

I'll admit, my enthusiasm for the game has been dampened slightly after last night's session. As the traitor I felt I never had a great opportunity to crash the knights' party--largely because they were completely kicking evil ass the entire time! Not sure if our group is getting better at the game, it is altogether too easy with six players, or if the loyalists simply had an unfortunately (for me!) uninspiring mix of black cards during the game. Of course, it's altogether possible that I do simply suck as the traitor, but even if that wasn't the case I don't think I had a realistic shot of victory.

Quote from the game:

"I don't think there is a traitor. If there is, they really suck!"


Perhaps we need to ratchet up the difficulty by using squire rules (each player needs to win a quest before activating their special power) when we have 6 or 7 players. Or, we may still be communicating too directly and need to restrict strategy talk much more than we have thus far.

A Sliver of Hope?

There was one point late in the game where the siege engine total reached nine, only three away from an evil win. Looking back, this was clearly the best opportunity for me to reveal myself and make a play for the victory. I considered this move at the time but I felt it was a long shot at best as the knights were not being pressed anywhere on the board and had at their disposal almost limitless resources for fighting siege engines. As it turns out this long shot was probably my best chance to turn the tide during the game but I am almost certain it would not have been successful, and at the time it seemed a better strategy to bide my time and hope that a better opportunity would present itself.

Probably revealing myself immediately upon starting the session and placing a siege engine every turn would have focused more pressure on the loyal knights, but that strategy seems much less interesting than keeping hidden waiting to pounce at a moment of weakness. Ah well, perhaps I'll try that next time--it would make for an interesting and vastly different game experience to have that traitor vs. loyalist direct confrontation over the course of an entire play.

Anyway, our tendency to make Shadows into a three hour game meant that it was our only play of the night, so some smaller strategy games will have to wait until next time.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Introducing Game Night

Recently I've begun implementing a new organization strategy for board game sessions. In the past the process went something like this:

  1. Decide what variety of game I'd like to play. Type will determine the number and type of players I'll invite to participate. Heavy Strategy vs. Light Strategy will often involve a different set of people, and if Party Games are the thing a larger group will need to be summoned.
  2. Invite friends and await response. Actual turnout is critical to implementation of the Gaming Plan. If the appropriate type and number of players can attend, The Plan goes as intended. If condolences are extended, however, the session will either have to be postponed or the content adjusted to those that do show.

This is clearly the top-down approach to game session planning, and though it does often lead to an enjoyable time, there are many instances where guest lists have to be adjusted or different games need to be selected to fit the group.

My new strategy is to plan a game night to which I invite essentially everyone I know that 1) has shown any interest in board games and 2) lives within reasonable proximity of my house, and then commence to play whichever games happen to fit the needs and desires of those that can attend. Advantages to this method are legion:

  • I don't have to limit those invited due to particular gaming plans. The plans are made after people show up and we can determine exactly which titles will be best. 3-4 players probably means a strategy game, 5-8 may mean a party game or splitting up for a couple of strategy games, 9-12 could entail a big game or two of something that handles large numbers of people, like werewolf, followed by some smaller groups playing smaller games.
  • It doesn't put pressure on anyone in particular to attend to have a successful outing. If I invite 3 people to a game night and 2 can't make it, obviously this will derail plans. The basically limitless invite list means that for any given game night a number of people may be busy or out of town and the event itself goes on without missing a beat.
  • It is virtually impossible for me to involve everyone I know who may be interested to regular micro gaming sessions. Game night allows me to invite people who are not in 'the inner circle' (wait...there is no inner circle!) and keep them involved and interested in the hobby. One of my gaming goals is to meet and develop a local group that has a life of its own--ultimately other people independently interested in games, with their own collections, and hosting their own game sessions. I'm still a long way from that Utopian dream, however!
  • Finally, (though I'm sure there are many other nuances that I cannot, or will not, fully enumerate here) game night will hopefully become a regular occurrence that anchors my gaming life. Good company, lots of games hitting the table, and new players being introduced to the joys of board games will hopefully be a hallmark of game nights far into the future.

The Mrs. still doesn't fully understand why I like the concept of a big meet up for board games, but perhaps this brief discussion can better illuminate my motivations. Well, that's all for this time out--happy gaming!