Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We Hates it, My Precious... We HATES it.

In the blog entry below this one, Agent Easy mentions some games which he indicates that I dislike. I should clarify that I don't really dislike Carcassonne; I just don't feel it offers much challenge, strategically or tactically, once you've played it often enough. I started this post as a comment in response to that post, but I realized it could be of more value as an actual entry.

Since challenge is part of the fun for me in boardgaming, I don't specifically choose Carcassonne when picking for WAGS; however, I will definitely hold onto it for playing with my kids as they grow up. Once they're past... I dunno... eight or so, I'll probably trade it or give it to a relative's family with school-age children.

I can't really think of any games that I hate off-hand.

What I can do is list games which I don't look forward to playing, but often enjoy while actually playing (I'll call them "Daunting Games"), and then games which I neither look forward to and don't particularly enjoy ("Onerous Games").

I should be very clear that just because I list a game as "Daunting", doesn't mean that I hate it, just that I tend not to want to pick it personally, especially for WAGS. Sometimes they are actually games that I feel I should play (because they are good games or because they would improve my strategic abilities) but just don't feel like playing.

Daunting Games (Don't Look Forward to, Do enjoy playing - generally)
  • El Grande
  • Tigris and Euphrates
  • Age of Steam
  • Paths of Glory
  • Advanced Squad Leader
  • Dungeon Twister
  • OCS-series wargames (eg. Burma)
  • Diplomacy
  • Empire of the Sun
Onerous Games (Don't Look Forward To, Don't Enjoy Playing - generally)
  • Yinsh (... and Dvonn, and other abstracts in this line) - too abstract
  • Maharajah - can't seem to win against Bharmer. (I kid... but I don't like this game)
  • Bohnanza - random, tedious, negotiation-heavy
  • Atlantic Star - dry, theme is badly suited and counter-intuitive
  • Phoenicia - major run-away leader issues
  • Kill Doctor Lucky - kill the leader, almost exclusively
  • Naval Battles - kill the leader, almost exclusively
  • 1856 - complex, fiddly, overlong
  • Aladdin's Dragons - random, some cards overpowered to the point of game-breaking
  • Blue Moon City - ugly, strange theme. actually a decent game, but theme and appearance kill it for me.
  • Mille Bornes - random, overlong, kill the leader issues.
  • Fluxx - generally, not enough game, not enough challenge, kill the leader issues
  • Air War - way too fiddly/complex for the sort of action it purports to try to evoke.
  • EastFront - strategically too much to consider
  • Space Alert - random, too easily foiled, crew feel like moronic automatons
Note to Agent Easy: I know you don't take it personally that I dislike a number of games that you own - the only real contributing factor is that you own a lot of games and I'm bound to dislike some of them.

Looking through the worst ranked games at BGG, I can't really find too many I would refuse to play with their age group (for example, though I wouldn't play Candyland or Hungry Hungry Hippos with adults, I wouldn't mind playing it with kids)

Some games I just won't play willingly for one reason or another:

Doctor Who: CCG, which I don't really hate... more just feel sorry for. It's just baaaad. Bad art, bad mechanics, bad gameplay.

Lone Wolf and Cub: This game is random, too tough at times and too easy at others, and downright broken in combat. I dislike it additionally because its theme is one I particularly like and they went and made a crappy game of it.

Dante's Inferno: Overlong, fiddly and boring.

Zombies!!!: Overlong and wastes the theme.

Chainsaw Warrior: Overlong, virtually no significant decisions, too difficult. Feels futile.

Mastermind: I have no interest in playing this game. For some reason, the logic of it (simple as I understand it to be) goes off like a bomb in my head and leaves me with frustration headache. One day I will sit down and figure out why I have so much trouble with it... bad mental wiring for that sort of thinking, I guess.

Finally, there is one special "dislike" category that is pretty specific, games which I enjoy playing but really dislike the artwork. For lack of a more precise term, I call them "Ugly but Lovable Games".

Ugly but Lovable Games
  • Glory to Rome
  • Galaxy Trucker
  • Ideology
I like playing these games but every time I do, I find myself wincing at the artwork or components. Glory to Rome is especially, especially painful to me as it is a really fun game otherwise.

Then there are games which are just... plain... ugly. Neither enjoyable (to me) nor attractive.

Just Plain Ugly Games

  • Blue Moon City
Anyhow... there are movies (Pearl Harbour, Space Buddies) and TV shows (almost any reality show) which I hate, but I haven't actually played a board game that I hate. Probably because I've avoided playing games which I anticipated hating (most TV-themed board games).

We now return you to your regularly scheduled smiles-and-sunshine-filled WAGS postings.


  1. bharmer3:30 PM

    I'm surprised Die Macher didn't make it onto the list of "Daunting" games.

  2. Curiously, I don't really find Die Macher daunting. As long as everyone's ready for it, I'd actually probably rather play Die Macher than El Grande... mostly because I've played El Grande enough that although I know I'm not a master (far from it), it's not a game that I feel I really need to get better at.

    Die Macher is interesting for its simulative qualities, to me.

  3. Great post.

    First of all, I actually laughed out loud when I read your note that I shouldn't be offended that you dislike a number of my games. Everyone's tastes are different, and that's just the way it is. My only regret is that it's more difficult to get games played that are disliked by one or more members of the group.

    Anyway, I'll definitely be thinking about this post and returning to it. For now, I'll just say that I think I tend to like games a little less primarily when they have a major mechanic that rubs me the wrong way, feel overlong or overfinicky, or are relying to heavily on theme to bring the "fun".

    Another aspect which is a little more subtle, but has come up a few times in the past, is when a game's system appears to want a lot of thought and input, but then have mechanics which erase much of that decision making. I can never be sure, because we don't play most games often enough for these suspicions to be confirmed, but the suspicion is there regardless and it can often bug me. Maharaja, Die Macher, Through the Ages and Shogun all land in this category, and not just because they are all owned by Bharmer (though it is curious, isn't it?).

    That said, I am aware of a number of games I like that break those rules, so there you go.

  4. On further reflection, Die Macher probably does fall into the category of "Daunting".

    Easy, never count out a game because I dislike it. Sometimes even the games which I list as onerous I actually come around to enjoy once we're into it.

    I do agree with you with the idea that mechanics where critical decisions can be reversed or reduced to insignificance randomly or without any real reason is very annoying. I can't think of such a game at the moment, but I definitely know they exist.