The Importance of Friends in Gaming…

This may sound like the most obvious thing in the world, but I cannot stress the importance of a patient friend when you are a gamer. This astounding realisation came to me during my first game of Power Grid.

As some of you may know most of my gaming is against my parents and siblings. However, there are some games, like Power Grid and Battlestar Galactica, that haven’t hit the table with them purely because I don’t know how to play the game either.

Sure, this is true of most games, as a general rule you don’t know how to play a new game before you actually play it, but some you actually need that first game you play to be a learning experience for you, so that you can teach the game to others.

That’s where the patient friend comes in. Sure, some games you can lay out all the pieces and play a few solo rounds to teach yourself how to play, that’s how I taught myself Red November, but what about games that don’t lend themselves to solo play or that have mechanics that change depending on how long you’ve been playing the game.

As most of you know a bad experience, especially the first experience of a game can turn you off to that game entirely, Even worse, it could turn a new gamer off gaming forever! So, if you are planning on teaching a game it is important to know the rules before you play. You don’t need to know everything but knowing all the basics is essential.

For example, knowing the exact resources needed to build a settlement in Settlers of Catan is not essential as it’s easily referenced, but knowing that trading with the bank is 4:1 or that you can’t play a Development Card the turn you buy it is.

So, having a patient and understanding friend is a great boon. Roleplayers will know this to be true. I am lucky to have such a friend (several really) and tonight I was able to break out Power Grid and really learn the game. We did so many things wrong that the result was not important (I lost) but now I know how to play the rulebook makes sense, those little rules I forgot or didn’t understand before are now clear.

Had I played this with a full five player compliment and tried to learn and teach the game the result would have been a disaster and the game would have ended its life on ebay.

So, that’s my lesson. If you have a new game you are itching to try out, trying finding a friend who wont shout or get annoyed if you have to look up the rules, or even read them out at the start of the game. Someone who doesn’t mind if you do something wrong or have to take your time over a section of the game and play the game through with them, more than once if necessary.

If you have someone in your gaming group who likes to learn new games, especially someone who buys a lot themselves, they are generally a good candidate for this learn by trail process.

Once you have the basics locked down in your head, then you can try teaching the game. Tips on doing that? Well, that’s a whole different ramble.

For those who are dying to know what we did wrong? I didn’t discard any Power Plants at the start of the game so the game ran for 4 to 8 turns too long. We started step 2 at 7 houses instead of 10 and we limited ourselves to 3 power plants instead of 4. That said I still had fun and found the game really interesting from a mechanics point of view.   

The Poll – How Many is Too Many

The results of the poll are in:

How to tell when you have too many games…

When your shelf is full   1 (5%)

... and your floor   0 (0%)

... and your loft   0 (0%)

... and your Garage   0 (0%)

When your Wife says so!   5 (26%)

When you have 1 game in each Genre   0 (0%)

When you have so many games you have to start a blog   3 (15%)

When you have more games than Tom Vasel   4 (21%)

You can never have enough games   6 (31%)

I think I’m in agreement with the majority here, for the price you pay for a game vs. the amount of fun you can have I don’t think that there is a magic number for too many. There are some games you’ll only play once or twice or that only hit the table with a specific player, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the game is surplus to requirements.

In fact it’s always worth having a good variety of games in your staple to satisfy many different types of gamers, otherwise how will you introduce the hobby to new people!

For some people space may be an issue. My room is less 10ft in any direction, so I manage my collection by always packing expansions into the main box. Others may find that their significant other simply doesn’t understand their obsession with “toys”. But there again, we don’t understand their obsession with shoes, so its all just swings and roundabouts. (p.s. don’t try that excuse on actual wives")

And finally…

The Glossary

I’ve been very busy this week working on a flash-based D&D aid, which means that blog maintenance has fallen by the way side. However I have started work on a glossary (which meant learning about HTML anchor points!), hopefully over the next few weeks I’ll have time to implement it properly. If anyone has any suggestions for items to include in the glossary or revisions to the material already there please let me know. Thanks in advance guys.