Monday, January 26, 2009

1/25/09

So most people who know me probably realize what my favorite website is: www.boardgamegeek.com. I love checking things out there for several reasons. It is a great example of how a website can be informative, interesting and dynamic while still being focused on a narrow, niche topic. The community has managed to remain civil and the few flame wars I've skimmed through have been a pale shadow of the ear-burningly unpleasant back and forth of things like video game sites. Contributors generally write well and you can usually find answers to questions and a good sense of if a game fits well with your play style. The ability to manage and review your own collection through the site is a plus. The main reason I like BGG is that board games form a defining obsession for me.

I remember playing a few boardgames with my family. Mastermind with my dad (with certain pieces removed to compensate for his color blindness), Othello with my sister, I think some chess and so on. The usual range of family games. However my sister began to bring other, stranger games into the house which I loved. Cosmic Encounter, 221B Baker Street, Quirks, Darkover, and Sorceror's Cave. By the late 1970's I was pretty well hooked on rpgs and I also began to pick up various board and war games, mostly SPI, Metagaming, Task Force Games, and some Avalon Hill. I got to play some of them with my friends, but generally my parents avoided these. My sister played a couple with me, but by that age we'd reached the point where siblings go their own ways. I always had a lot of games that I wanted to play, but never got the chance to. In later years I'd do some serious miniatures gaming, pick up some WW2 games, try my hand at Star Fleet Battles, but I generally didn't have the real focus to be a wargamer. So I was off and on for board games for a long time.

Part of the problem, beyond finding people who wanted to play, is that I'm just not a very good gamer. Some games I can get a handle on-- Illuminati, for example. During the CCG early craze I tried a bunch of games, but again, I wasn't very good; except for maybe, Jyhad (now Vampire: the Eternal Struggle). The common thread there is a real social dynamic to the games I was any good at. I just really like playing games. I mean I like to win, but I'm OK if I don't. I've tried to train myself to be both a good winner and a good loser-- having seen bad versions of those things in my many years working in gaming retail. I also like rules. I like systems and mechanics and seeing how things play together. When I say that, I don't mean in the sense of figuring out optimizations. I means more in the sense of seeing how the cogs and mechanisms of a game fit together-- what are the feedback systems? what happens if I do this? how is the game managing to balance decisions?

Of late, I avoided buying new boardgames, but instead I've been trading games through BGG which has a fairly robust trade matching system, a nice mechanism for feedback on trades, and the ability to quickly set up what you want and what you're willing to give up from your collection.

So far, by trading I've managed to get the following games: Scotland Yard (a junky copy but it was a game I wanted to see), Pirate's Cove, Arkham Horror, Pillars of the Earth, the Euphrates & Tigris card game, Fighting Sail (and old wargame I owned once), Perikles, Fairy Tale, Age of Mythology: the Boardgame, Phoenix, Succession, the Bridges of Shangri-La, Rhienlander, Transamerica, Blue Moon, Blue Moon City, Descent (with most of the expansions which I really wanted for the figures), Oasis, Arkadia, and some figures and scenics and tabletop games. I'm probably going to hold off on trading for a while, especially until I get a chance to play through more of the games I got. I've got two last trades coming to me-- one for Race for the Galaxy and the expansion, another for the Starcraft board game and the last Descent expansion I don't have. It has been nice to get ride of games and minis I don't want for games I'm interested in.

Anyway, that brings me to my real point. Supposedly the people running BGG will be (within the next couple of months) finally opening up rpggeek.com-- which will do the same thing as BGG, but for role-playing games. I think it very likely that my head will explode if that comes to pass.