Monday, May 15, 2017

A Challenge to Play Games, or A Challenge FOR Games?

I've earnestly tried to focus my board gaming towards completing my solo challenges before the year's end. Sure, there are other games I play that are not on my list, but overall I want to steer towards the plays that will count. But as I get the plays in, I'd sometimes throw in a couple more on the same night, just for quantity's sake. And the reception's been...lukewarm?

A Grinding Halt

Take for example yesterday. I figured I'm getting a little light on my Firefly: Shiny Dice plays, so I go ahead and run 3 games that night, one after another. By the third game, I had the rules down and made it the fastest of the 3, but it felt a little processed, almost mechanical. While there was always that push-your-luck feel, the action felt a bit binary and not so very edge-of-your-seat exciting. Sure, most of that is probably because of the game itself, but playing it in repetition made it feel less like a game and more just me...grinding my stats.

That's it! That's what it felt like! It's like I was playing an RPG where I wasn't quite at the level where I want to be, but if I just power through the mediocre tasks, I can finally power up and go to the next level. I had to grind through the same "battles" over and over, until I reach a set goal and continue.

Just like that...all of a sudden these challenges now have a different meaning.

A Countdown of 10 Plays

I had chosen the games I chose for mostly the same reason: that they haven't gotten to the table as often as I'd like. But I'm starting to see the reason why. Maybe the goal has not been to get them to the table more often, but to challenge them and see if they're WORTHY of being at the table more often; does the game have the staying power that, if I shelve the game and return to it 5 months from now, will I have that same itch to take it down and spend all that setup time just to return to a game I haven't played in a while?

I've already started to see the effects of it with Firefly: Shiny Dice. I had purchased it with good intentions (I was heavily into getting more solo dice games in my collection then), and convinced myself that the game had what it took to stay with me. Sure, the money and cargo cards didn't REALLY need to exist (they were just for points), the neoprene mats were just nifty fluff, and the rules were unkempt...but I still found a game to play under all that. But solo play after play left me yearning, wondering if that's all the game had to wring out for solo. Even while searching BGG for rules clarifications, every other thread I saw was other people's variants for solo. Glad to see I wasn't the only one thinking there could be more.

But in truth, after I get my 10 plays in of Firefly: Shiny Dice, I may just sell it. Knowing that, I wonder how the rest of my games in these lists will fair. While Saint Malo is a great roll & write game, I'm starting to see a familiar pattern or goal to attain in all games to earn a consistent number of points. One Deck Dungeon's difficulty is tainting the fun of the game, making me wonder when I'll actually be excited towards a possible win. VivaJava Dice has a nice challenge, but long hiatuses between games has me constantly reviewing and re-reviewing rules to endless frustration.

A Double-Edge Sword

Which brings me back to the kernel of truth behind these challenges, at least for me - that these games listed are "knocking on death's door" unless they impress me enough to stay in my collection. In knowing that, I worry about continuing on, fearful that I'll finally realize the materialism of my past self; that I merely hoarded board games to feel like I'm connected to others in some weird, twisted way.

On the other hand, it may just be the wake-up call I need to snap me back into a more sustainable situation where I truly have a core collection of ageless games I will return to time and time again without fail. While I tell myself I weed out games from my collection that are just OK, it's not a practice I've done enough lately (In fact, only once, and selling to a good friend). That possibility may arise once more after this challenge is over, and I'm sure to probably write about my thoughts afterwards, too.

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