MidSouth Con 2016

Time flies! So, in March we had the distinct honor of showing off Shogunate at MidSouth Con 2016 in Memphis, TN. What an amazing group of gamers!

Not only did I get to participate in two thoughtful and well-run panels, but we also were allowed to host a tournament and three demos of Shogunate. We had the game in the play-to-win section as well and one of our tournament players won the P2W copy!

The game was well received and we had a blast, even participating in three tournaments and two late nights of gaming ourselves.  5/5, would attend again! Below are just a few of the games we enjoyed with friends old and new!

What you can learn from Monopoly

“Wha? Monopoly? Eww, gross.” You’re saying… but wait! It’s true.  First I will say that you can learn something about game design from every game you play.  Personally, I learn more from games that I did not enjoy more so than ones I did.

Monopoly is the target of much vitriol in the designer games community, but why?

I think the backlash stems from what I call “Indy Kid Syndrome” a bit of the, “No, no. I like games you’ve never even heard of” type sentiment.  Below are a few reasons that I believe should grant a reprieve from your ire.

Foremost, the game was designed to be BAD. No, seriously. It was and education tool created by Elizabeth J. Phillips to explain the single tax theory of Henry George and sought to demonstrate that monopolies damage the economy and fewer business constraints for companies at the turn of the last century would make it bad for everyone.

On to the game itself: roll, move, buy property or don’t – which triggers an auction, next player does the same, pay “rent” for landing on the properties of other real estate moguls.  Did you catch the auction part?  Yep. There are auction mechanics in the game, seldom used but they are there. No one plays the game correctly.  Ever. I know I never have. The game is moderately complex for what it is.

There actually IS strategy. Capture monopolies, buy properties 7ish spaces apart, etc. True, the pure luck cards add nothing to the game, however they do act a bit like random bonuses (the most purple things!) in more complex euros if you think of the cash like VP. (There is no pile of money on “Free Parking”, that is simply a free space to land on – so that negates the “luck” from a common-non-rule-revered-as-fact.)

The point of the game is to bankrupt the other players with your clever strategy. Aside from paying rent, there is little player interaction. Players can’t actually lend other players money… only the bank can via a mortgage. So the banker has more interaction with other players but otherwise the only interaction is a “gotcha” mechanic. Current game design theory is to let players play the game. Learn from this in your game. If you are not a fan of monopoly, make sure you don’t have the equivalent “Go directly to Jail” and “Free Parking” in YOUR game.

Takeaways: So you don’t like Monopoly? Make a BETTER GAME!

If you aren’t a fan of roll, then move, ad nauseam– use a different movement mechanic in your game.

Salvage things like great tokens and clear auction mechanics and make them your own. Build and grow the pieces you do like and learn from the pieces you don’t.

Unless you’re creating a war based game, maybe avoid the “destroy all other players” goal.

Keep your game from meandering for countless hours. Like those last %*@& troops holed up in Australia, when the game is a foregone conclusion have rules for it to END, preferably before.

The next time someone says “Oh, like Monopoly?” when you say you play board games respond with “You know, not for a long time.  But if you like Monopoly, let me show you [insert game here].”

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Bluffing Mechanics: Your Friends ARE the game

Coup, The Resistance, Sheriff of Nottingham, Spyfall, Two Rooms and a Boom, and to some extent, Love Letter… bluffing games are where it’s at!

I’m so delighted to see a new crop of bluffing games released in the past year or so. They are the peak of collaborative play for game night.  The flavor of the game doesn’t even really matter because the people you are playing with ARE the game.

Bluffing games bring out the qualities in your friends that you rarely get to see.  Their reactions and responses are the heart of the enjoyment of these games.

We were playing the first round of Spyfall a week or so ago at our FLGS with folks we knew well.  When it got to the spy’s turn to be asked a question, flabbergasted and red as a beet he didn’t even let the other player finish the question, he covered his face with one hand and pushed his card to the center of the table with the other – begging us to relieve him of this heavy burden: “I can’t take this!  I’m the spy!” he cried.  The table erupted in laughter.  “I’m an accountant, I can’t lie!” he proclaimed.  Again, much laughter.  We played another location and three after that and he STILL enjoyed the game, and so did the rest of us.  Comedy gold! GOLD!

Spyfall

Sheriff of Nottingham has a bit more structure to the bullshitting, but is no less enjoyable and for the same reasons. The inanity of calling your friend out on his three chickens (THIS silk doesn’t look like a chicken to ME!) makes for a raucous table dynamic that is hard to beat.  SoN even prolongs the fun with three rounds of subterfuge; everyone gets three turns to be master of table (sheriff) and try their hand at sniffing out the dirty, dirty lies.

I play with a diverse group of people, some are good at lying and some are really, really not. That’s ok, because they all use that to their advantage to “double deceive” so that they get called on lying when they are actually being truthful. This is a powerful tool, one that just about all games can relate to (Netrunner anyone?).

I’ve seen some pretty harsh criticisms of the games I call out above.  Granted, no one’s opinion can be inherently wrong, but I do beseech those vehemently against bluffing games to try them again and with new folks. Maybe these games aren’t for everyone, or maybe they just aren’t for the people they’ve had the (dis)pleasure of playing them with.

So there you have it. I like bluffing games because my friends are AWESOME.

~Adrienne “Penny” Ezell

Writers Note: Adrienne, nor Dreadful Games, receive any compensation for any blog content. (I just actually like these games, fancy that!)

Who is a Gamer?

There has been a lot of talk lately, and always really, about what “gamer” encompasses and who should be called a “gamer”.   A “real” gamer is easy to identify, they love games. Period.  They may not love the games I love, but they are still a gamer. They may not love the games I love the way that I love them, but they are still a gamer. They may not love games on the same platform that I love them on, but they are still a gamer. They may not be from the same state, country, have the same gender identity, same orientation, socio-economic background, or speak the same language as me, but they are still a gamer.

A world filled with hate is still a world full of love too. Love > Hate.  Let’s not spend another minute dissecting “gamer”, and just game. Just love. Love the things you love. Love unabashedly. Spread the love. Seek out others who love the same things.

Celebrate your community.  When you meet someone who loves a game or genre outside your realm of knowledge, don’t disparage them– they are saying “Hey, we are the same. We are gamers. I want to be a part of this community.” Welcome them. The ios indie developer you overlook and classify as “not a REAL gamer” is making a version of your favorite table top game. The girl at your last meetup you called “not a REAL gamer” has an epic MtG elf deck that can cream any you can put together. Yes, welcome them with open arms. Look around; these are your people. You are HOME.

 

“We come from all around the world to find people that love the things we love the way that we love them.” Wil Wheaton

 

In the video below, a new mother asked Wil Wheaton to tell her daughter why it’s OK and even awesome to be a nerd.  She recorded this video to show her daughter when she’s old enough to understand.  It’s worth a watch.  Love > Hate