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How games with little strategy can be fun

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

Last week, I played cosmic encounter. It was my 2nd time. I realized that this game had little strategy and most of the actions you do either have meaningless results or gives the same results. So yes you have decisions but the results are the same, so you get an illusion of strategy (decisions that does nowhere).

This is where I said that I would be more excited to play Snakes and ladder. Because at least I could get excited to hope rolling a 12, while in cosmic encounter if you start with a bad hand of card, well you are screwed because that is all what you are going to get. I was surprised by this reasoning because I hate snakes and ladder due to the lack of decision.

But there are so many people who likes cosmic encounter. So I said, maybe they did not analyze the game as I did, or maybe they don't care about having strategy.

Today, I have discovered that FFG are going to make a new release of Dungeon quest. So cool. I remember that after reading the rule, I found it pretty dumb that you would go wildly in a dungeon to die with 15% chance of getting out alive. Also, this game also have little strategy and decisions like cosmic encounter. But that game is so much fun. So I concluded that I could appreciate games with little strategy.

I think one part why people like dungeon quest is the teasing between the players. The second element that I found is that cosmic encounter feels like the game is playing for you by telling you where you need to attack. While in dungeon quest you have a bit more control on your character and you feel like you are in it.

Another minimal strategy game: Stock ticker. If you read the rules, it all feel stupid since the stock moves randomly (no planning can be done), but the game is so much fun. The only strategy you have is: do you concentrate/diversify and do you take the same/different shares than your opponents. I think what makes the fun is the teasing between players and the hope and excitement of getting a die roll that is going to make you win a lot of money.

So what do you think?
Is there some guide lines to make a good non strategic game? Surprise seems to be very important.
Is there a good reason why people like or hate cosmic encounter?

Taavet's picture
Joined: 08/15/2008

I definately think there is a lot that can be brought into a game that allows and encourages players to tease/have fun with/metagame with their opponents. The better the game can get the players to get into it the better their experience will be. Different games bring out different types of interactions with players. I don't think it can be nailed down to one specific guideline because all the designs are different.

As far as Cosmic Encounters goes I would weigh it on the lighter side of strategic gaming as well. I find the fun in trying out different Aliens and figuring out how to play against different Aliens. I think the other difference is the version of Cosmic Encounters you play. I think (although haven't played myself) that the older versions of Cosmic Encounters were better then the newer Avalon Hill Cosmic Encounters. So I find fun in the variety of Aliens with unique powers and playing styles. The other fun thing it lets you do is choose to team up and choose to lose/win/negotiate an encounter. Some Alien powers can really mess with the 'normal' encounter.

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