Archive for January, 2010

Gateway Games

January 24, 2010

We all want to introduce our non-gaming friends to the fun and excitement that can be found in games, and we want to find new games for the other gamers that we know.

Pick your games to target your audience.

That’s very important, it’s why it gets a paragraph to itself. Puerto Rico is probably too complex for people who’ve never played a serious boardgame, but it might be a good game to show someone who loves Settlers.

I find Ticket to Ride a good game to show people who aren’t experienced in gaming, the simple play and quick turns are good to keep them interested, and the lack of dice shows them that games don’t always mean dice rolling.

Carcassonne is a bit more difficult, but without expansions it can serve. Save the extras for people who already understand and love Carcssonne.

The genre of the game can be important to new players, to experienced gamers it’s not so vital as they will be used to it not really mattering.

I’ve not really got advice for sci-fi based introductions, sci-fi tends to the complex. If you’ve got any thoughts then share them below.

Gaming Links

January 14, 2010

I’ve just added a collection of gaming links, check them out in the right hand column, after the archive and categories sections. There are links to the websites of the publishers of the games I play most often, Settlers, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride and Puerto Rico, and also Magic: the Gathering, Warhammer and Flames of War.

I’ll try and keep these links more up-to-date in future, and I’ll happily add more to useful sites, just let me know about them.

One thing I found when checking out these links was the Settlers of Catan blog, with a thought provoking piece from Klaus Teuber about how strong AI opponents need to be in a game, take a look, it’s really interesting (his conclusion, “Not as strong as you’d first think”).

Countdown Analysis

January 6, 2010

With over 25,000 games played with my version of the Countdown numbers game, I thought it was time for a little bit of analysis on how everyone has been doing.

At the time I took the data, 25,374 games have been played, and 15,202 were won.

The chart above shows that the most common choice of large number was 1, and that this seems to be the easiest to win with. Choosing 4 or 0 will make your game a lot harder, 2 or 3 large numbers still have more wins than losses.

Looking at success of target numbers, we have this slightly confusing graph. All we can say here is that more games are won as the target gets smaller.

I’ve smoothed out the target numbers in the above graph, so each point is a block of ten possible targets, the winning trend with smaller targets is a lot clearer here.

The target numbers that are beaten most often are:

  1. 104
  2. 400
  3. 301
  4. 100
  5. 152

The targets that are failed most are:

  1. 934
  2. 854
  3. 841
  4. 849
  5. 787

So, don’t be too disheartened if you fail at a high target in the middle of a century, these are really what people are struggling with.

I’ve just started recording the date and time that games are played, so hopefully in a few months I’ll be able to come back and look for trends in games played over time, to see which days are most popular, and which days games are won most often in.

If anyone wants a copy of my dataset, drop me a line and I’ll be happy to provide it, it stores the target, the numbers selected and if the game was won or lost. The most recent games are also linked with the time they were played.

Ticket to Ride

January 4, 2010

Ticket to Ride is a game for 2-5 players. You compete to collect sets of matching coloured cards, which you use to claim routes on the board, linking up cities to score points. You score bonus points by connecting certain routes (determined by destination tickets) or by having the longest route at the end of the game.

It’s a simple game to learn, with only three possible actions in a turn it’s very quick to explain. It’s quite quick to play as well, each turn is only a few seconds long, with only the very rare turn taking a minute or more to play. As such, it’s a great introduction to gaming , and something that people who don’t think of themselves as gamers could probably be induced to play without great hassle.

It works well with only two players, something that many games fail with, but I feel the best number of players is 4-5. With only two players then it can be quite easy to complete your Destination Tickets, with more players it’s quite a lot harder.

Longer routes are worth more points, but are harder to complete. Certain routes can be claimed by sets of any colour, and some require specific colours. Locomotive cards act as jokers, making it easier to complete these long routes. You need to complete a number of the longer routes (five and six in length) to be in with a chance of winning.

In addition to claiming long routes, completing Destination Tickets is key to winning the game. If you fail to complete a ticket, it costs that many points from your final total. Some tickets are worth more than 20 points, the difference between completing on not is the same as scoring several long routes on the board.

There are a number of expansions and follow on games, Ticket to Ride: Europe is the most popular, ranking 47th on board game geek’s list of games. It adds ferries (require locomotive in the set of cards claiming the route), tunnel (harder routes to complete) and stations (allow you to count routes not yours to complete tickets). This evolution of the game appears to add some interesting new rules, which I’ll probably pick up at some point, to see how much of a difference they make.