So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

“There are no rules here -- we're trying to accomplish something.” - Thomas A. Edison

I had two opportunities for gaming this weekend.  My family and I went down to my brother’s Saturday night for a family gathering.  Since this was a noteworthy occasion, my nieces and nephews were in town, including my less-than-a-year old grandniece.  While the baby decided that sleep was more important than gaming, the rest of us broke out a few games and played.

The second opportunity was the monthly session of out gaming group yesterday.  We were glad to have four new people shanghaied initiated into the group and proceeded to introduce them to a few of our games.

My brother’s family is pretty experienced, and my gaming group was almost fifty percent newbies.  Yet, there was a strong common thread between the two sessions: knowing the rules.  Actually, not knowing the rules.

My brother’s family had been playing a lot of Forbidden Island, which I described a bit in an earlier post.  Suffice it to say Forbidden Island is a cooperative game about explorers trying to get four treasures off an island before it sinks into the sea.  My nephews talked about not being able to figure out why it was so tough, since they were winning handily at the hardest level.  They wanted to play with me, so they could see how I was playing wrong strategically.  However, when they told me to take the first turn, it became obvious; the problem was theirs!  When I pointed out the fact that the island was supposed to be 25% flooded at the beginning of the game, I received a resounding “What!

That game had actually followed a game of Settlers of Catan in which they missed another rule: another setup rule.  I tried to blame that miscue for my dead-last position at the end of the game, but it really didn’t make that much difference.  (The dice conspiring against me is the real cause of my loss!)

Yesterday there was another situation, caused by simple mistake.  My wife volunteered to lead a game of Ticket to Ride: Europe.  I thought she had played it before, but she had only played the original Ticket to Ride (a great family game I reviewed in March).  The additional rules are just enough to confuse things, and it caught her off guard.  It’s my fault; I didn’t think about it when I pulled the game off the shelf.  Not only is the original a little less complex but I really think that Americans relate more to the US map in the original game.  The result was a game that took at least a half hour longer than it should have – probably closer to an hour – and there was still a mistake in the end game scoring.

My point is that everyone, no matter how expert they are at playing any one game, should still take the time to thoroughly and carefully re-read the rules every once in  a while.  That’s particularly true after early plays of the game, but even after the 20th play it’s a good idea to occasionally revisit the rules.  After all, no one wants to see an asterisk in the record book denoting a misplay.  Not that I keep records or anything!

And in case you are wondering, my nephews are still getting off the island with all the treasures on a regular basis.  That’s why I prefer Forbidden Island’s older brother, Pandemic.

It’s Your Move!

1 comment:

  1. So true, so true.
    We've played so many new games over the past year that when we take a game we haven't played in a while off the shelf, I'll always do a quick visual down the rules before setting up to pick up anything I might have forgotten.