Thursday, July 12, 2012

Game Night: Separating the People From the Game

I had some friends over for some gaming last night. One of them brought over their copy of Star Trek: The Deckbuilding Game and suggested it to the group. I had played it before and it really doesn't rank on my list. I much prefer Thunderstone when it comes to deckbuilding. But some of the other people in the group hadn't tried it so I went along. Bad idea.

Quick Rant
I've mainly played ST: TDBG with two players, and once or twice with three. Like I said, it wasn't my favorite, but it was alright. Last night there were five players. Never again. The game lasted over three hours and just dragged on and on.

Star Trek has a couple major flaws in my opinion. First is the lack of theme and cohesion in the cards. You can build a deck with Federation, Ferengi, Romulans and Klingons all mixed together and it doesn't matter. There is no real benefit to stacking with only one race and it actually seems to hurt you as you fall behind on stats. I'm also not a fan of the giant stack of cards as opposed to individual stacks that Thunderstone has. This makes it much harder to plan ahead as cards constantly shift in and out of the play area.

My main problem is the battle system between players. When a players searched the space deck, there is a chance that he will initiate a battle between players. This completely halts the play of the game and disrupts the flow. And to make it worse, it constantly causes players to discard a great hand. It becomes more frustrating than anything and feels out of place.

On To Better Things
All that being said, I had fun. When I look back at the evening, I try to look past the bad gaming experience and focus on the jokes and laughs I had with my friends. We got to reminisce about Star Trek (although I'd prefer to do that over a game of Fleet Captains) and enjoy a beer.

Board gaming, at its core, is a social activity and thus the people you play with are a large part of your experience.  Even the right crowd can make a bad experience bearable. Unfortunately the inverse is also true and even your favorite game can crash and burn if played with the wrong people. I used to DM at my local game store for the Wednesday night D&D Encounters program. while there were many players that I had a lot of fun it, it was hard to look past the one or two that I dreaded would come play at my table.

I am quite happy and feel blessed that I have come across a group of new friends with whom I always look forward to playing with. Even if the occasional poor evening comes around, the quality of the relationships will always outweigh the games.

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