Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Pleasure Of The Shaft.

Surely the title of this entry will get us some more hits from Google!

But alas, it refers not to that which the depraved Google searcher searches for, but rather to screwing over another player when one does not stand to gain from that action. A pure shafting! Last week we played Monsters Menace America and Bohnanza, and more than one player experienced the Pleasure of the Shaft. In this case, 'tis better to give than to receive.

We've played both of theses games before, and have already recapped the basic rules of both Monsters Menace America and Bohnanaza. I won't rehash that here.

I will say that I LURVED MMA to pieces. The only way it could be better is if it was named Monster Menace: America! instead of Monsters Menace America. I love giant monsters, and the sillier the better. In this game, the monsters are very, very, giant; they are also very, very silly.

Our session this time was marred by a rules error - we failed to draw a "military enhancement" card whenever our army units defeated a monster in battle. If we had done this, I think that the game may have been prolonged, due to the increased incentive to attack and increased armed force effictiveness resulting in Stomps happening more slowly. I don't, however, think this really affected the fairness of the game, since we all were playing under the same rules, and it's unclear if a longer game would have helped any particular player.

As it was, Luch pulled off a spectacular come from behind victory, as his strategy of accquiring infamy over hit point increases paid off. His Giant Praying Mantis defeated the Giant Tentacled Eyeball, The Giant Toxic Pile, and The Giant Lizard That Isn't At All Like Godzilla in succession for the victory.

Afterwards I was discussing MMA with Easy, and he suggested that he thought the game would be improved with greater control over the military units. Between the raging Ukranian Festival and vomiting children I didn't get the chance to ask him to expand on that thought, but hopefully he will in the comments. I'd welcome any improvement, but MMA is damn fine as is!

Secondly, we played Bohnanza, with Bharmer being a first time player. This time we actually followed the rules, and removed the numerous Coffee Beans from the deck, as there were four players. I think things played a bit more smoothly as a result, and things were very close, with final scores of 19, 17, 16, and 15. I was able to pull out a victory due to the fact I was the only one willing to lower myself to planting Wax Beans, repeatedly. In fact, I was the only player to plant a low-value Wax Bean at all in the first round, gaining two consecutive four coin harvests. The strategy worked wonderfully this time, but I think that it was a singular occurance. Likely this gaming group will remember, and prevent giving anyone easy monopolies in the future.

Since both games played last week are a little bit fluffy, and a little bit light on strategy, several time actions were taken to harm other players which might not have been taken in a more rigourously designed game. I would sound a slight warning about playing these with a group of thin-skinned gamers - both (particularly MMA) lend themselves to a little bit of a "What the Hell, why not" approach, which often leads to a playering giving in to the Pleasure of the Shaft.

Which is not always something you want to see, no matter how much the shafter is enjoying themselves.

So to speak.

(I'm so glad this will only be the top entry briefly. So, so glad.)


  1. I enjoyed MMA more this time around; not exactly sure why. I think that since we had missed the "smash" rule of extra damage on natural sixes in the previous game, it made the popcorns... er... military units in this game a little more dangerous.

    We also took to heart the games advice to attack with no fewer than four units, generally, leading to many more army victories this time around.

    The added incentive of Army cards as victory prize will improve the game further.

    It's random, silly and dicefesty, but it's got a killer theme and quick gameplay.

    I'm afraid my enjoyment of Bohnanza is decreasing with subsequent plays. I acknowledge that it is a well designed, tight and challenging game - I just don't like it much. I can't really say why, exactly. Poor theme, partially, but there's something else to it...

    I'll have to think further on why.

    Boy, am I non-commital today.

  2. Aha - found someone else who expresses it better:


    I find the trading to be a bit mechanical as well. Perhaps next time we play I'll make an effort to be more imaginative.

  3. Glad you guys had a good time. MMA was fun enough when we played it, and if I'm reading correctly, my main beef with the game (the wimpy army) was the result of some rules errors. It seemed that the army was a lot of work for very little impact... not a big problem, just seemed odd is all.

    I feel similarly to Kozure regarding Bohnanza. I like it well enough, but something just doesn't feel right...

  4. Interesting -- I think that some of the commenters on your linked thread have a worthwhile perspective, Koz.

    We may have been missing the pleasure of the shaft in Bohnanza~ I don't think anyone was forced to plant anything they didn't want in our game.

    We aren't evil enough to make it interesting for you!! I vow to be more evil in the future.