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Triptych 18 Three Subjects in One Blog Post

• "What’s your most memorable board game experience?"

• Cheating (and diversity initiatives)

• "Intuitive" is a much smaller set than what people mean when they say a game is intuitive

What’s your most memorable board game experience?

The first time I watched my game Britannia (1986) played (2004), at PrezCon in Charlottesville VA. (I’d taken 20 years away from the industry.) I watched for a while and finally somehow identified myself. The tournament players had been playing since 1986, but the reaction to meeting the designer for the first time was interesting.

In the game, the Jutes were floating in the English Channel long after their homeland no longer existed, and I exclaimed “no way!” Not the way I’d designed it; but I discovered the game had been changed when published, owing to a misunderstanding. I fixed it in the second edition (2006).


Cheating . . .

I don't know whether I wrote the following, though it expresses exactly my point of view. Unfortunately, I haven't saved the source info, and I cannot find it via Google search. So it’s possible I did write it.

Start quote:

It's fashionable for the “politically correct" to justify whatever immoral discrimination they desire in terms of rebalancing history . . .

Let's say we play a five player game. One of the players cheats, and gains advantage, in several plays. We finally notice that player has been cheating, and prevent it from happening again. Now we play again. One of the other players wants to cheat, to make up for being cheated. Where does that leave the other players, those who never cheated, if some players are now allowed to cheat and others are not? That's where we are with "diversity initiatives", we're letting some people cheat others because of some misbegotten notion that somehow this will make it all right.

If cheating is wrong, isn't it always wrong? How can it be right for some people to cheat while others cannot?

End of quote.

I would add, of course those who favor "diversity initiatives/affirmative action" have arguments justifying the discrimination. ALL slavers, ALL immoral discriminators, have had arguments justifying their activities, many of those arguments much better than the arguments for diversity initiatives. (For example, Romans would tell you, enslaving captured enemy soldiers is much better than killing them out of hand. No one could afford to feed and house prisoners. Nor could you let them go, they’d fight you again. Slaves even had a good chance of being set free, in the long run.) Those who engage in immoral discrimination (such as diversity initiatives) always think they are right, while others who engaged in similar discrimination were wrong. Of course.



"Intuitive" is a much smaller set than what people mean when they say a game is intuitive. Usually, they actually mean "familiar" (to the target audience, of course).

Play a game with someone who doesn't normally play tabletop or video games, and what gamers think is "intuitive" is foreign and new, to them.

Play a game with people who aren't part of the target audience, even if they are gamers, and once again what you might think is "intuitive" may not be to them.

There ARE intuitive parts of games - e.g., that it's much easier to press a button with a mouse that is on the edge of a screen (you can't go past it). These derive from how all humans tend to see and do things. But that's a much smaller set of "intuitive" than most people mean when they use the word.

(I’m suddenly reminded of someone who reviewed my Dragon Rage (2011 version) quite negatively (the only negative review I know of). He was annoyed that the pieces were not hexagonal shape to fit on the hexagons . . . Of course, if he was at all familiar with wargames he wouldn’t have suggested this. Definitely not part of the target market. I can see it being very hard to manipulate hexagonal pieces when crowded together, unless they were much smaller than the hexes.)



I like to go deeper into this one.

I encourage my friends to cheat if they find a way.
Because this would make a game stronger.

The only rules to cheating are:
1. Telling us afterwards if we didn't find out.
2. Not cheating when a new guy joins the table, however we tell that guy that he is allowed if he sees a chance.

It isn't the type of cheating like hiding cards that are good or shuffling cards with an eye on what they are shuffling.
(ow, we got this one covered)

I am talking about the type of cheating.
That they find something that has a loophole or isn't balanced correctly.

"Have Fun!"

My two cents (for what it's worth)

"What’s your most memorable board game experience?"

The first time I played Incan Gold for some reason sticks in my head. Not because it was a stunning game, but it was the first time I played a Table Top "Press your Luck" game. The mechanics and theme worked so well together and to be so simple just awed me the first time I played it.


Early in my gaming (when I was a kid), I would look for ways to cheat. Sometimes to win, sometimes to see if I could get away with it, and sometimes to see if there was another way to play (in other words could I create a variant of the game). Well... my sister put a stop to my cheating ways (Ironically, during a game of Phase 10 where I was not cheating, but that's another story). To this day, she won't play a table top game with me. And to this day, I have not intentionally cheated in a game unless the rules explicitly call for it. I've accidentally cheated a few times over the years (some of the MtG cards can make for complex interactions). If I catch myself, I own up and see if there is a way to make it right in game. If I can't or we progressed too far to go back, I concede defeat (even if the accidental cheat wouldn't have changed the outcome). For me, it's become an integrity issue.


I don't know that I have anything to add to what lewpul wrote, but I have an anecdote. I was play testing my squirrel game, which requires you to move in straight lines along a hex grid (perpendicular to the face of the hex you move from, so up to 6 directions were available). It was amazing how long it took the adults to process their options and how often they screwed it up. Whereas a 9 year old picked it up after two rounds and I think only screwed up once. Being less "familiar" with linear game maps or square grid boards was a benefit. While it was also easier for the one miniatures player to pick up the concept, it was hard for him to think in a straight line because he was used to moving a limited number of spaces on a hex grid. Two highlights of how previous experiences can make a similar concept less intuitive, I guess.

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blog | by Dr. Radut