Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Michelle's blacklist and goodlist

I am lucky to have a wife who enjoys boardgames (and card games) and plays with me. Michelle is not crazy like I am about games. She doesn't surf boardgame websites or research games or buy games or organise boardgame sessions. She just plays. Since she is not really a boardgame geek like I am, she is at a disadvantage when playing games with me. I am the one who reads the rules, reads about the games (although I don't really read many strategy articles), and of course I play more than she does. Naturally, my win rate is higher than hers, especially when it's her first time playing a game. She blacklists some games, and refuses to play them. Some because the initial few losses were too painful experiences, and some for other reasons.

I think the first game ever that earned a place on her blacklist is Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation. She actually played a number of games of this with me, and I remember she won most of the early games. However later she found it just too stressful, even if she played the dark side (supposedly easier). Well, maybe I can consider Samurai Swords as an even earlier entry. This game gave her nightmares about ashigaru spearmen chasing her. I played this with her before I discovered Eurogames. She played with me because she knew I liked the game and rarely had the opportunity to play it. Now that I have so many other games, she probably wouldn't want to play this anymore. In the Year of the Dragon and Blue Moon are two other games in her blacklist. She says she is jinxed with games with dragons. Blue Moon City used to be on the list too but is now off the list. In the Year of the Dragon is a brutal game. Bad things happen to you, and you are more trying to survive than trying to score points. No wonder it left a bitter taste in her mouth. Many gamers don't like it because of the same reason, although I quite like it. Blue Moon was a painful experience for her because the rules were not very clear to her, in particular the end game conditions and some small rules for special situations. In hindsight, I probably taught the game rather hurriedly, thinking that the basic rules were actually quite simple, and the complexity lay in the cards themselves, which you'd have to appreciate by actually playing. She kept losing at Blue Moon, and often because of some rule that wasn't clear to her. So now Blue Moon is on her blacklist. I had hoped she would like it, because it is a card game, which she normally prefers because of the shorter length, and I was hoping to play with her all the different combinations with the 6 different Blue Moon decks that I had bought. Looks like now they will idle for quite some time.

Michelle decided to give Blue Moon City another chance, trying to learn the tricks that I have used to beat her in the past. She still lost, but she is doing much better now.

Cards from Blue Moon City. The character artwork is taken from the earlier Blue Moon game, which is a card game.

The half built city (completed buildings are the colourful ones), and all dragons are in town.

This is like Hong Kong. Not enough space.

Unfamiliarity with the rules is a big disadvantage for Michelle when playing against me. Since she is taught the rules and does not read them herself, there will bound to be some intricacies that are lost in translation, or strategies / ideas not so visible to her. Also she does not play as often as I do, so sometimes even when we play a game that she has played before, she would have forgetten some of the rules, or strategies. E.g. we recently played China, and although she has played this before, she had forgetten the rule about the limit for emissaries in a region, and the rule for scoring emissaries. It may be some time before we bring out China again. By then, she may have forgetten some rule again. So, her disadvantage is she sometimes never get around to remembering the rules well, because she doesn't play the games that often.

A recent 3-player game of China with Han and Michelle. Han's well connected emissaries won him the game splendidly.

Michelle has a blacklist, but she also has a list of games that she tends to do better than me at. These are mysteries. There just seems to be something about these games that she gets and I don't. Maybe it is her accountant / auditor training. Maybe there is just some crucial strategy that I don't get. Maybe the card god doesn't like me. The games are, in order of severity, Ticket To Ride: Switzerland (which I recently wrote about), Mystery Rummy: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld, and San Juan. And I have a feeling that the next game that will enter this list is Race for the Galaxy.

I don't mind playing with Michelle games that I know I will more often than not lose. At least I get to play a game. Now the question is, what should I do to entice her to get back into Blue Moon?

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