I wanted to write my New Year resolutions at first, but none of my Facebook friends have done anything remotely like it, and I don’t want to be the first one. I haven’t really thought of what resolutions I have anyway, since I’m not in the habit of making resolutions. And so today’s entry shall be devoted to something I do while mulling over my resolutions. Playing games!
My wonderful birthday celebrations, that I look forward to every year, have since concluded. I have had my fair share of playing, from LAN games to the terrific world of mini-golfing. Just as how I’ve learnt in Cognitive Psychology, the idea of “games” is a broad classification, where almost anything can count as a game if you look at it from the right perspective. Sports are games, but so are sedentary activities like board games, or games that require no accessories, such as the game of Contact which I also learned during the course of my birthday. I’m not much of a gamer, meaning that I tend to lose terribly in most games I play save for those needing only luck. However, I do have some games that I love to play and don’t mind losing most of the time.
1. Board Games
Board games tend to be great ways to spend a lazy evening. They are easy to learn and can finish in less than an hour most of the time. Things like Monopoly and Scrabble are not my preferred choices when it comes to board games, though. Monopoly takes up a lot of time and usually everyone just buys whatever property they land on and it bores me. Scrabble is a word game, which I am terrible at. And when one is terrible at Scrabble, the game holds no charm.
That said, I don’t mind watching a Scrabble match if the players are good and can come up with ingenious words rather than the three-letter nonsense people normally put down for want of better ideas.
The Mind Cafe, which has branches in Singapore (and one in New Delhi, India, for some random reason) has a vast selection of board games you would never find elsewhere. The memorable ones that I have played tend to be strategy games where some amount of deception and strategising is required to get ahead. For example…
Shadows over Camelot is a game where everyone takes the role of one of the knights of the round table and they have to work together to complete a series of quests in order to win the game. However, one of the knights is actually a traitor. This game is fun in that each knight has its own abilities. However, as with most traitor games, it’s quite unbalanced. The traitor, when unmasked, actually becomes even more powerful in wrecking your plots, and so it will need a whole lot of co-operation and wits on the good guys’ part to win. Most of the time I expect utter defeat, because there are simply too many ways to lose.
Revolution! is a game I particularly enjoy. Your aim is to have the most points in the end, and you can do this in a number of ways, such as by either capturing enough territories or just gaining points by other means. At every turn, you have certain tools with which to bid — force, blackmail and gold. You can secretly place your tools on any number of 12 people available for bidding — such as mercenaries, bartenders, pastors etcetera. You compare your bids with the other players and the one with the highest bid gets the advantage of the person. For instance, a spy allows you to swap another player’s token on the board with one of your own. It’s hard to explain the concept here, but this game is interesting to play and doesn’t require as much deception as Shadows over Camelot. It’s just a very capitalist game.
Citadels is more of a card game than a board game, rather like Saboteur — which has suddenly become one of the more popular card games around now that Monopoly Deal has become less trendy. Citadels is a more complex game than Saboteur or Monopoly Deal though, so I don’t expect it to become very popular. Everyone has a role and an ability as well, like Shadows over Camelot, but this is temporary and changes every turn. Because of the game’s turn-based nature, many of your strategies have to be resolved in the same turn. Because of its complexity, I find it hard to learn and less likable.
2. Card Games
Technically, Citadels is already a card game, but when I talk about card games here I mean trading card games, the games where you can collect cards and build superior decks. Such as Magic: The Gathering. Magic has an excellent game system on, where deck building actually becomes fun and enjoyable and the storyline is rather good too. I hold a sentimental regard for Duel Masters, which is a lot easier to learn and play than Magic but is perhaps diluted by the number of fake imitation cards out there.
Magic is great, though, and there aren’t any imitations from what I can see.
3. Role-playing Games
Role-playing games is as vast a category as games itself. The three board games above, especially Shadows over Camelot and Citadels, can be seen as role-playing games in that you play a role. LAN games are all role-playing games. But the kind of role-playing games I really love is the pen-and-paper tabletop kind, like World of Darkness and Dungeons & Dragons. These games truly encourage you to play a role for the fun of it, to put things like merits and benefits aside, and to engage in a meaningful story. I like creating worlds and characters with lives parallel to our own, with their own personal secrets and worries, trying to make sense of their world as we’re doing. Maybe this is why I love roleplaying forums.
Perhaps I shall take part in more tabletop role-playing games, because I haven’t had much experience of them save for years of fantasising. And perhaps in the distant future I may find muse and inspiration to join another roleplaying forum, which I assure you is a promising and fulfilling experience.