Thursday, 7 July 2016

introducing boardgames

Wed 22 Jun 2016 was a public holiday right in the middle of the week. It was difficult to plan anything elaborate for such an odd off day in the week, so I invited some colleagues over to play boardgames. Most of them have played some boardgames, but none are hobbyists like me. There are still many games they have not tried, so there are plenty of new-to-them games I can bring out. I have not been doing such a thing for quite a while - introducing boardgames to new (or relatively new) players. In recent years I mainly play with fellow boardgame hobbyists. It was only since starting a new job last year that I began playing games with non-gamers again - my colleagues. It is nice to play the role of experienced guide again, because I get to teach and play lighter games which I have not played for some time.

Escape: Curse of the Temple was probably the noisiest game we played that day. We made three attempts and failed at all three (it's a cooperative game). I wonder whether it was because we had five players, and the game is harder with five. I didn't join the first two games and only played the third because my friends wanted to see "how the expert did it". We still lost, but I'd argue at least we were closer to winning. We did get to the exit, but we didn't roll enough key symbols to allow everyone to leave safely. The real reason of the loss was not so much that we couldn't roll enough keys at that critical moment. In fact we shouldn't have put ourselves in such a situation in the first place. Earlier in the game we should have removed more gems from the gem pile so that we wouldn't need to roll that many key symbols to exit. It was frantic and fun, and we hadn't even started using any of the advanced rules or expansions.

Bohnanza was Uwe Rosenberg's magnus opus before he came up with the unusual idea called Agricola. It was a game I bought in the early days of entering the hobby. Bohnanza is a game of trading and negotiations.

When I taught the game, I told my friends the most important rule was you are never allowed to rearrange your hand. At the start of your turn, you must plant (i.e. play) the first card in your hand. Often doing this will disrupt your plans because that card is not the right card you want to play at that time. The whole idea of this game is trading away cards that will disrupt your flow, and getting cards that you want.

There are many types of beans. If you happen to be the only player planting a particular type of bean, it will be easier for you to collect that bean type because nobody else wants it. Normally your opponents won't allow you such a profitable monopoly for long though. In this game you can even donate cards that you don't want, provided the recipient is willing to accept them (he may choose not). "Donation" jokes abounded when we played (you'll need to know Malaysian politics to appreciate them).

Bohnanza works well with large groups. I think it plays best with 5 to 7 players.

I didn't join Funny Friends since it only supported six players. This is an adult-only game of life. I introduced the game by saying it was a game of promiscuity. In this game you are going in and out of relationships with the other players and also NPC's (non-player characters). To win, you must achieve 5 life goals. Each life goal is defined by a set of personal characteristics, e.g. to be enlightened you need to achieve Level 3 in religiousness and Level 2 in intelligence. You have a player board which tracks all your characteristics, e.g. how much you drink, how fat you are, how much drugs you take, how depressed you are. To adjust your characteristics you compete with other players in bidding for life style cards. E.g. if you win the chain smoking life style card, your smoking stat will hit the roof and so will your sickliness stat.

The player board also keeps track of who your friends are, your current and past partners, and your children. Your one night stands are recorded here too.

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