Sunday, 1 December 2013

miscellaneous: Robinson Crusoe, buying games, format for gamenight, etc

Robinson Crusoe volcano scenario (#4)

I recently taught Han Robinson Crusoe. We beat the first scenario quite easily, both still in good health and with the bonfire all ready even before Round 10 when the ship sailed by. I have played the second scenario, so we decided to be adventurous and went straight to Scenario 4. This scenario only has 8 rounds, and from the 4th round onwards some spaces will be covered by lava from the erupting volcano, forcing you to keep moving camp (or die). To win, you need to discover a number of temples (represented by the totem poles on some of the terrain tiles) and do Exploration on them, drawing a certain number of Mystery cards (which can be treasures, traps or beasts). The damning thing is in this scenario where you desperately need to Explore (so that you can keep moving camp to avoid the lava as well as to find temples and explore them), the Explore action costs an extra pawn.

Han and I should have died in Round 5. We had forgotten about the lava, and our camp was overrun. We decided to cheat. We undid half a round to the end of Round 4 where we should have remembered to move camp, and continued from there. We eventually won, but it was quite close. We were both sick and badly wounded. We had barely enough actions to complete all the required Exploration. We were lucky with the final temple exploration. We only had one beast card. The other four were all treasures.

I find that for each scenario in Robinson Crusoe you really need to go in with a plan, knowing clearly how you should prioritise your actions. Some characters seem to be better suited for some scenarios. I can't say for sure yet, but it's my gut feel. I still feel the Carpenter is the overall best character, because it is important to build tools and shelter. The Explorer is useful in Scenario 4 because of the amount of exploring you need to do. The characters are important not only for their special abilities, but also for their unique invention. Having certain inventions available in a game can be quite useful.

Milsims in Melbourne

I didn't visit them. I was in Melbourne for a short holiday (all holidays are too short). Han, who had worked in Geelong (near Melbourne) for a year, recommended visiting the local game store Milsims. I visited their website, and found some very good deals in the sales section, e.g. Axis and Allies 1941, the simpler version of global Axis & Allies. If I were a completist, buying this would be a no-brainer. But I don't really need this game. If I feel like playing global Axis & Allies I'd prefer to play the Anniversary edition. So I congratulate myself - I didn't buy just because there was a discount, and I didn't buy just because it was convenient. Well done in controlling the impulse buy.

I'm sure I would have enjoyed visiting the shop. They do seem to have a huge catalogue. Just visiting and browsing and seeing so many games on the shelves would have given me a natural high, even if I don't buy anything. I checked my (quite modest) watchlist against their catalogue, in particular for games that I can't easily find in Malaysia. Their Second World War at Sea: Coral Sea was temporarily out of stock. If it were in stock, my determination would be a little shaky. I tell myself I don't need more games now, because currently there are many games in my collection that I am keen to play but am not playing enough. I shouldn't worsen this situation. This is probably why none of the recent Essen games rang the "must buy" bell for me.

The quota

I'm not going to hit the 18 games quota in 2013. I'm at 14 now (and three of them are Android: Netrunner expansions). Should I reduce this quota to 12 new games, i.e. one per month? I have been thinking about getting Cavum if I have quota left, but now that Allen has bought it, maybe I don't need to. Now I'm eyeing Clash of Cultures, which I have played once and quite like.

Monthly focus

This is one viable way to enjoy the boardgaming hobby:

  • Limit yourself to buying (or opening) one new game per month. Make that your game of the month. Play it more. Explore it in depth. Play other games too, but allocate enough time to fully appreciate that new game.
  • Sell games that you are not keen to revisit or are unlikely to revisit.
  • Keep the collection to a size where you expect to play every game at least once a year.

I know I won't be able to do this, but no harm theorising right? I know I probably won't be able to maintain any rigid discipline about one game per month, but at the moment I do have a handful of games on my hotlist that I hope to play more of and to learn the intricacies of. So it's not something I have to try hard to do, it's just that I won't be precisely keeping count. Selling games will be more challenging. Some games I keep for the nostalgia. Some I keep for "insurance" - maybe I will find time to play it one day, or it will be handy when I have a party at home (and I haven't organised any for at least two years). The hardest bit (close to impossible) is ensuring every game gets played at least once a year. I wrote a simple Excel macro which lists down for me games in my collection rated 8 or above which I have not played for more than a year. I, um... don't use it very often nowadays. It's too embarrassing.

A series of medium-weight games

I find that when I plan for a game session, the default mode is almost always to plan around one heavy main course, and maybe one more optional medium or short game, depending on how much time is left. I wonder whether it is because (a) nowadays many games tend to be more complex? or (b) the games I tend to like now are more complex? Why not plan 3 or 4 medium-weight games, each around 45min to 1hr long? I realise I have developed a blind spot for these medium-weight games, which are mostly Eurogames. They tend to get lumped into the category of "games you don't schedule game night around", a.k.a. "not a main course game". Or "filler". I should plan to play Metropolys again.

2 Nov 2013. Chen Rui wanted to play a game. I think she wanted to play Monopoly, but I wasn't keen on it at all, so I tried to persuade her to play something else. Eventually she picked Keltis, which I had not expected at all. She has never been particularly interested in it. I don't know why she picked it. I'm just glad I don't have to play Monopoly. Her hands are still small so she always struggles when there are many cards to hold.

She actually did quite well in this game! In the end she only lost by four points. Once she saw the final score, she quickly put her score marker (brown) on ahead of mine and declared that she had won.


miorahmadshah said...

Hello sir, do you plan to sell any games that you have? looking for memoir '44 here if you have the game. Thanx.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

I'm not selling games at the moment. I don't own Memoir 44.