Challenge & Complexity

I love strategy games.  I also love other sorts of games too, but I seem to always come back towards somewhat over-complicated games that promise deep strategy.  I know some folks devote themselves to a single deep game (Go, Chess, Bridge, Poker), but I don’t have that sort of endurance.  I want a variety of games to choose from, and a few new unknown games to explore.

This year I have played several new games (see previous post), and many of them offer significant strategy.  After losing 5 times at Hansa Teutonica, I am beginning to accept the fact that I am not figuring it out.  Similarly, although I have not played anyone title frequently, I am coming to the same realization about 18xx games.  Other players seem more adept at gaining the proper insight about how to add to their position.  I routinely end up in the pack at these games.

Does this make them less fun?  Oh, I admit I would like to win occasionally.  My primary driver in strategy games is to play well.  Winning is fun, but not the break point on whether I have fun.  But I do want to be in the hunt, and be considered a worthy opponent. 

A new friend of mine got thrashed at Brass the other night.  He told me he doesn’t get the game, and I suspect he’d prefer not to play it again.  I respect that, but for me, when I get smashed I find myself impelled to have another go.  I have now been playing 18xx games somewhat actively for a couple of years, and I have a very poor winning percentage.  I don’t really track this, but my memory tells me I haven’t won in a long time.

Complicated games like 18xx, Brass, or Hansa Teutonica are demanding.  After these sorts of games, I find myself wondering what I could have done differently?  How did my opponents see the moves that allowed them to out perform me?  What can I do to become a better player?

This pursuit for better performance can be fatiguing, and certainly I want breaks from it.  A nice game of Bohnanza or The Three Musketeers is a welcome break.  But if gaming were solely those less strategic games, I wouldn’t be the game fan that I am.  I’ve noticed over on BGG, that many people espouse the idea that you need “gateway” games to “hook” newbies.  They may even be right.  But I think there is something to be said for throwing people in at the deep end of the pool.  Back in the early 60’s, Avalon Hill started selling games to the general public that were relatively demanding – requiring real thought, record keeping, etc.  It worked!

I’m really glad there are so many challenging and complex games to pick from.

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