Friday, 14 March 2008

playing older games, Elasund

On the weekend Michelle and I played an older game, Elasund, which I bought more than 2 years ago, and have played 11 times according to my records. Elasund is designed by Klaus Teuber, designer of The Settlers of Catan, and the background story of Elasund is related to The Settlers of Catan too. The Settlers of Catan was so popular that someone wrote a novel about it, and in the novel, Elasund was the first city established in Catan. So, this was boardgame-inspire-novel and then novel-inspire-boardgame.

I enjoyed our play of Elasund a lot. It was a quick game, since both Michelle and I already knew the rules, and some details which we didn't remember were easily looked up in the rules and in the reference cards. We played the game in maybe 45 minutes, and the pace was quick and exciting. Not that Elasund is a type of game usually described as quick and exciting, but rather it was how we played that made the game feel exciting. We played very efficiently. We were focused. We didn't waste time looking up rules or thinking long about strategy. We made decisions quickly when decisions were needed. The game felt more like a race than a city building game. In a way, I guess you can consider Elasund a race game, because you are indeed racing to reach 10 victory points.

After the game, I felt very fulfilled and satisfied, the kind of feeling you get after participating in a close race. I think I should play more older games. You can play fast, if all the players are already familiar with the rules. You don't need to spend time reading rules / teaching the game. You are not learning the game now, you can focus on strategy, utilising all you have to try to win. Rules become second nature, like gravity, like the air that you breathe, and you are now focusing on what matters most. You know your opponents are good, so you don't have to pull your punches. You are all playing at full capacity. You can feel free to explore all strategies, sneaky or otherwise, because you don't need to worry about your opponents being unfamiliar with the rules, and thus thinking you unsportsmanlike by exploiting obscure rules. In fact, you expect the same from your opponents, and this makes things exciting because you know your opponents are capable of all kinds of tricks and tactics.

For most games, familiarity brings out the best in the game. One tragedy for boardgame hobbyists (at least this does apply to me somewhat) is that you know of and play and own so many games, you end up only playing each once, or very few times. Just enough to start appreciating it, but not yet to be good at it. Boardgame hobbyists tend to be very up-to-date about new game releases, and there is always a lot of interesting new games to try, so older, already played, games tend to get lower priority.

Playing an older game gives a comfortable, cosy feeling, like catching up with an old friend. You reminisce on the last time you played, or funny experiences in the past. You know it so well, and it knows you very well too (okay... this may be taking the old friend analogy a bit too far).

Bottom line. I really should be playing more of some of my older games.

Princes of Florence is supposed to be one of my favourite games, and I haven't played it since 25 Sep 2005.

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