Board games

I have a friend who organizes board game night every few weeks (thanks LCH), and I try to attend whenever I can. Most of the time I find that game instructions often sound intractable but are in fact not all that difficult to get comfortable with if you forge ahead and just go through the motions.

Unlike computer games, there is nothing thatĀ guaranteesĀ that you are in fact playing a board game correctly. People learn to apply a set of correctness checks to the game – it can’t be that the first mover always wins, it can’t be that certain pieces are always ignored, and it can’t be that losing a small part of the game means you would never catch up. Whenever a game seems bad, the first thing that occurs is always that you’ve read the manual wrongly, and the response to that is to figure out some way to play differently so that the problem does not occur.

I’ve always found good social games to contain an equalizing dynamic, where those who are behind are provided with certain advantages that help them to catch up, whereas those that are ahead have to be wary of defending their lead. This is related to the fact that games differ greatly in the shape of their learning curves – in games like Go, with very steep learning curves, the chances of a novice beating an expert are pretty much zero, and there is pretty much no equalizer built in.

One Response to “Board games”

  1. Arthur B. says:

    Note that a game like Starcraft has the same positive attributes. The collected statistics allow Blizzard to continuously balance the game and to match you with player of similar strength.