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Designing a Legacy Game
January 7, 2014 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Risk: Legacy, released in 2011, adds an interesting twist to the classic boardgame: it introduces permanent, game-changing modifications to the board and game pieces every time it is played. Last year, the designer of the game, Rob Daviau, gave a fascinating talk on the design challenges inherent in such a game. The video of that talk is now freely available to watch.

For the uninitiated: a review of the game which discusses in some detail how the modification of the game works.

Summarized, various sealed packets are included within the game, to be opened only after certain criteria are met. Contents include permanent stickers to modify the board or the rules, new components, and even instructions to destroy components.
posted by tocts (58 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is at least the second FPP devoted to Risk Legacy. Here is the first. Note, in that thread I come down pretty hard on the idea, and I'm still not a fan, although there are interesting ideas there.
posted by JHarris at 12:46 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


This has come up a couple times in our board game group. Some are appalled at the idea of destroying game components, but I think it's a brilliant twist. I would probably buy two copies: one to keep unaltered, and one to actually play as intended. I think it adds a sort of permanence to the game and drives home the idea that war and conquest has permanent consequences.
posted by xedrik at 12:47 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


Thanks for this. Despite a basic sympathy for JHarris' position in the other thread that it seems as much a ploy to generate ongoing sales as a design feature, I have nevertheless wanted to play a series of Risk: Legacy games for a couple of years now. If any Toronto-area or Ottawa-area mefites are up for it, speak up.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:50 PM on January 7


Nice! I hadn't heard of this before!
posted by jquinby at 12:57 PM on January 7


I actually almost bought this just before Christmas to "give as a gift" to the family because I loved Risk. I passed because I knew I couldn't convince them to play marathon game sessions. But, I completely did not realize it had these major gameplay changes. I'll definitely be picking it up now.
posted by Roger Dodger at 1:03 PM on January 7


The review notes that there's an envelope hidden in the box that says "Do not open, ever." So ... anybody know what's in it?

I think this game is absolutely fascinating from a design standpoint, and brilliant marketing at the same time, because board gamers can tend to get obsessive about the condition of their collection - so you've got to buy two copies, one that you never open and one that you play.
posted by jbickers at 1:04 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I enjoy Fluxx, which features rule changes as a constant: rules can (usually do) change multiple times during one player's turn, and more than once I witnessed someone trying to empty their hand in an order that allowed a final-card game-winning florish inadvertently throw a card that changed the rules so they couldn't throw the final card/win. So great.
posted by davejay at 1:09 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of shocked that Hasbro actually has game designers. I thought they just took other people's ideas and slapped facades on them.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:11 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


The review notes that there's an envelope hidden in the box that says "Do not open, ever." So ... anybody know what's in it?

Spoiler alert

in that thread I come down pretty hard on the idea, and I'm still not a fan


Having listened to a few interviews with Rob Daviau it really does not seem like this game was designed with the intention of selling more boards. In fact it seems more like Rob tricked Hasbro into producing a game that he genuinely thought offered an interesting game experience.

One of the things I like about board games is that it is hard to be cynical about things being just about profit because there is so little of it. Even for a big company like Hasbro, a game like Risk is nothing compared to Transformers etc. money.

That said, if you are interested in this game, Rob is currently working on another game with the 'legacy' mechanism set in a completely new IP with no connection to Hasbro: Seafall
posted by Midnight Rambler at 1:19 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


I just hope nobody ever makes Jumanji: Legacy. The original was trouble enough with everything resetting at the end of the game.
posted by ckape at 1:25 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I remember when this first came out - I was and still am intrigued by the idea.

I feel like I should run off and design something like it - something quick-playing that changes rules/conditions after each game, that you can then reset when you want and start again. It allows for this "sandbox" type of experience, but also ensures you can repeatedly return.
posted by nubs at 1:28 PM on January 7


I feel like I should run off and design something like it - something quick-playing that changes rules/conditions after each game, that you can then reset when you want and start again.

Well, there's Nomic, but there's no board involved. Not when the game starts, anyway.
posted by jquinby at 1:30 PM on January 7


Having listened to a few interviews with Rob Daviau it really does not seem like this game was designed with the intention of selling more boards. In fact it seems more like Rob tricked Hasbro into producing a game that he genuinely thought offered an interesting game experience.

Yes, for sure. After listening to Rob a few times (e.g. on the excellent Three Moves Ahead Podcast) and having played Risk Legacy, I'd go so far as to say he tricked Hasbro into producing an experimental art game. It's fun and really a unique experience to play on a board that shows the scars of previous battles.

I mean, just look at the sticker you need to open to get in the box.

"Note: What's done can never be undone" Indeed. (Edit: Ironically, I had a typo and had to edit this)
posted by malphigian at 1:31 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


I think there's nothing that could be done with this system that couldn't be done non-destructively using campaign rules, an erasable marker board (Hasbro makes them for D&D adventures), and a Betrayal At The House On The Hill-style scenario book. But the old thread is long gone, and I think I said about everything I have to say about it there.

It's not that I don't, myself, think there aren't interesting things that could be done with the idea. But I don't like that exploring the full implications of the ruleset, which to me is what board gaming is about, requires the purchase of more than one set. I have very little money to spend on board games, so I feel this quite keenly, and being in this position I feel a responsibility to speak on behalf of other budget-minded gamers.
posted by JHarris at 1:33 PM on January 7


Some friends and I are about 2/3rds of the way into a Risk Legacy campaign right now, and it's really a lot of fun. We're all huge gaming geeks and we've played a whole hell of a lot of them, but I've never experienced anything quite like Risk Legacy before.

At first the fellow who purchased the game wanted to keep it pristine and reusable for future campaigns. This set us up for a pretty quixotic first game. The game requires some really complex and difficult workarounds to keep it reusable, including laminating pieces, using dry erase markers, and some creative use of stickers. We very quickly decided it just wasn't worth the trouble and started playing the game the way it was intended.

This was a very good idea. The permanent alterations players are forced to make to the game can be a lot of fun -- I renamed Brazil "Octopus Drug Slum" and renamed Japan "Party Planet". The alterations can also lead to some really high drama. I won't spoil it, but one of the envelopes you can open in the game leads to a major card being torn up in a surprising and traumatic way. So we made a big ritual of it and took the card outside to burn it.

Unlocking new aspects of the game as you go is great, and as a group we really bonded over it. We came up with theories as to what could be in the locked packets and bins. We joked that the "Do not open: EVER" packet might be full of anthrax, or an ink bomb. We schemed complex ways to fulfill the requirements needed to open those packets, and these schemes gave certain matches an added cooperative layer to what is an otherwise cutthroat game.

So yeah, I absolutely recommend the game, even though it took me until game nine (NINE!) to finally win a match.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 1:34 PM on January 7 [6 favorites]


This seems like it would be ideal for a tablet—you start with a fresh board; after 15 games, the board is complete and frozen. Then, you can play a new game, either building up a new board or using one that you've already completed. That way you get the permanence aspect but aren't actually destroying anything. Plus, people could share good completed maps with each other.
posted by Maecenas at 1:34 PM on January 7 [4 favorites]


Well, there's Nomic, but there's no board involved. Not when the game starts, anyway.

Yeah, I know about Nomic - It's perhaps a bit too free form for what I'm thinking about. I'm intrigued by the persistent world, changing conditions and rules of Risk: Legacy...but with the ability (after you've gone through as many iterations as you want and see what happens to the game) - you can wipe the board/slate clean and begin again, and see what happens on your next set of iterations.
posted by nubs at 1:35 PM on January 7


Risk: Legacy brought to the table many concepts that I had wanted to put into a Risk style turn based world domination/war game. Permanent changes that come with each subsequent playing being the biggest. The game existing in a progressive world being the other, with players stuck with the same alliance, as it were, and the manner in which your political/military structure changes as the wars continue and change the world map.

Though in my now-redundant concept, there was a similar concept to Risk: Legacy's "Do Not Open, Ever" envelope (nope, still haven't opened mine) though this was something that only came into play on something like the 12th or 13th time through the game. During that play when this new rule came into effect it would become clear that all alliances, all peoples would die off if they did not simply walk away from the game and by association, the war.

Call me a sentimental old peacenik, but I liked that idea.
posted by mediocre at 1:45 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


Do not open ever: contents survey (spoilers, naturally).
posted by Nelson at 1:49 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


My brother-in-law happens to be a programmer for a major gaming studio. He and the other guys in the office play a ridiculous amount of board games, particularly the leads, who spend more time on game mechanics than anyone else. So we're talking about a dedicated group of half a dozen guys, all of whom are huge game-heads, who play together at least once a week.

They tried Risk: Legacy when it came out. I think they abandoned it after like two or so games. I see two potential reasons for this, one of which is a negative for the game, the other of which isn't.

Starting with the negative, they all seemed to think that the time commitment was simply too great for something with the kind of payoff in view with this game. A lot of the new content doesn't really show up until you're like fifteen games in. That's one hell of a lot of Risk. Even at the rate these guys play, it'd still take several months before you would have played with all of the rule variations. I don't know of any group of gamers that's going to be that dedicated to one game for that long with the exception of RPGs. But they tend to have so much content that you can start an entirely new campaign every two or three months which is completely different from the one before. So there's a lot more variety in a lot less time. The idea of a constantly-changing Risk board is interesting, but at the end of the day, it's still basically Risk with some rule changes.

The other reason they didn't like it that I can see doesn't necessarily reflect badly on the game. The group of guys in question are to "hardcore" tabletop gamers what such gamers are to people who like to play Go Fish. A lot of them are explicitly playing to experiment with rule mechanics. As soon as they figure out how a particular game is going to work, a lot of them get bored and move on to another game. In that sense, something like Risk: Legacy is uniquely ill-suited for this particular group, as it necessarily and deliberately requires a lot of play time before you can begin to explore all of the available mechanics. With most games, you only have the opportunity to try out a few strategies in a given game, but there's no inherent reason that you wouldn't run up against most of the rules in a single game. With Risk: Legacy, you can't, and that was going to bother them more than most.

But I think the first reason is still problematic. I'm not nearly as hardcore as those guys, but the very idea of Risk: Legacy just sounds. . . exhausting. I mean, my wife and I can finish half a dozen games of Dominion--with different Kingdom cards!--in the time it takes to play one game of Risk, and Dominion has one hell of a lot more going on than Risk does.
posted by valkyryn at 1:51 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


something quick-playing that changes rules/conditions after each game, that you can then reset when you want and start again. It allows for this "sandbox" type of experience, but also ensures you can repeatedly return.

That is all fine and good, but when we are talking about a world domination game that is wholly based on military might and brute force it is a much more powerful concept to make the game progressive and permanent. It makes a much greater and more honest experience about the nature of war to NOT have a reset.
posted by mediocre at 1:58 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I see this cognitive dissonance over and over: People hear about Risk Legacy, love the idea, but can't get over the idea of destroying their precious belonging as they play it. Whereas if it came down to spending the same amount of money on an ephemeral enjoyment (a concert ticket, for instance), they wouldn't think twice. The mind, she Boggles.
posted by blue t-shirt at 2:01 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


Boggle: Legacy. If a letter isn't used at all in a round, throw away the cube.
posted by kmz at 2:05 PM on January 7 [7 favorites]


That is all fine and good, but when we are talking about a world domination game that is wholly based on military might and brute force it is a much more powerful concept to make the game progressive and permanent. It makes a much greater and more honest experience about the nature of war to NOT have a reset.

And it would likely mean a different style of game, perhaps a game about exploration or development as opposed to war. Listening to his talk, I get why he made it permanent and I don't disagree with him. I like the idea. I would like to see more board games that play with it.
posted by nubs at 2:05 PM on January 7


Just played a few games of Risk: Legacy this weekend.

It doesn't play like Risk. For real. If you've played it and you came away thinking, "meh, this is Risk", I don't know what to tell you, but for everyone else, this isn't Risk.

You aren't trying to take over the board. You're trying to earn points. You start with one or two points, and only need four to win. Games can be won in 10 minutes.

This is a variant of Risk that can be finished in 10 minutes.

I don't think I played a game that took longer that 30 minutes, including set-up. Despite how quickly the game moves, losing feels awful, because the winner is able to express a permanent authority over the games you will play later. In a sense, you are playing the game the winners have made, and every time you play a new game you can feel the aggregate fingerprints of the winners, there on the board. Losing is a powerful experience in Risk: Legacy.

There's more to be said for R:L, but the take away is that this is a fast, interesting, and impressive game made with the Risk engine, in much the same way that Adventure Pinball and Deus Ex is made with the same engine that powers Unreal Tournament.
posted by Poppa Bear at 2:06 PM on January 7 [8 favorites]


I won't spoil it, but one of the envelopes you can open in the game leads to a major card being torn up in a surprising and traumatic way.

I'm never going to play the game, though, so I'd really love to be spoiled with some details.
posted by jeather at 2:08 PM on January 7


And it would likely mean a different style of game, perhaps a game about exploration or development as opposed to war.

Huh.. I like that idea actually.. think about this, something like what I described above of my own idea. But after the 13th game when it becomes clear that war will destroy the planet, the players through some not-yet-known game mechanic have to choose whether or not they can do that. If they don't, game over. Board destroyed. If they do, new envelopes. It turns into a Euro style civ build game.
posted by mediocre at 2:15 PM on January 7


jeather: "I'm never going to play the game, though, so I'd really love to be spoiled with some details."

I haven't clicked but check Nelson's comment above
posted by exogenous at 2:17 PM on January 7


Points! posted by pokermonk at 2:28 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I love this idea. Part of it is just because I always loved Roguelikes where you could run into your old Character's ghost, and find your old stuff. So, I've already got a lot of love for the idea of legacy games.

I do have a lot of sympathy for Jharris's view, I payed my money down I should be able to use the game how I like, however many times I like. I wouldn't want every game I played ever to never reset, but oddly enough, I think the permanence adds a certain level of transience to the game. You will never be able to fully explore the possibilities of the game, so you have to be content to live in the possibilities of your turn, because once the game turn is done, it's done. You can't replay and find yourself in the same (or similar enough situation) and try another approach. It's a different sort of challenge, with a different sort of pay off.

To put it another way, you're not paying for the experience of becoming the best ever at Risk Legacy, and knowing exactly what to do with each situation. You're paying for the experience of creating a unique board. It's the difference between going to hear music live and owning a CD.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:31 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


My wife and I play a lot of Catan with another couple and that other dude, without fail, plays the Ore+Wheat "City-UP!" strategy (which, granted, is the soundest strategy game in and game out). But c'mon!

So yes, I think I'd like a Catan: Legacy game in which I can plug all the mines and salt all the wheat fields.

Forever.
posted by notyou at 2:40 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


I see this cognitive dissonance over and over: People hear about Risk Legacy, love the idea, but can't get over the idea of destroying their precious belonging as they play it. Whereas if it came down to spending the same amount of money on an ephemeral enjoyment (a concert ticket, for instance), they wouldn't think twice. The mind, she Boggles.

Absolutely: spending sixty bucks in a game and then permanently marking it up and destroying portions of it seems wrongish, but I have spent as much on a good meal or theatre/concert tickets now and again, and those were even more ephemeral.

As well, there are some boardgames that I have played so much that I have worn out more than one set -- the price of a copy of Risk: Legacy would still be a ways off what I have spent in my life on Republic of Rome or Road to the White House.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:41 PM on January 7


I don't think of Risk: Legacy as a board game, I look at it as a living world map. You play out the history of that world, and your decisions effect it forever. After the fifteenth game, you have a living testament to the battles that were waged on that world. You coud look at it and remember every moment played either as buds around a table or as powermad generals. The completed (fifteen games) Risk: Legacy board is no longer a board game, it is a time capsule.
posted by mediocre at 2:46 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Absolutely: spending sixty bucks in a game and then permanently marking it up and destroying portions of it seems wrongish, but I have spent as much on a good meal or theatre/concert tickets now and again, and those were even more ephemeral.

Not to mention that if you split that among the 5 people who are playing it's down to $12 (or $9 if you buy it from Amazon since it's apparently ~$45 right now), which for a few afternoons if it's as quick as some people say or a bunch of afternoons if it's as much a time commitment as others worry is a pretty fair price.
posted by DynamiteToast at 2:53 PM on January 7


Yeah, I'm up for a round of Scattershot Responses. (New from Hasbro!)

Whereas if it came down to spending the same amount of money on an ephemeral enjoyment (a concert ticket, for instance), they wouldn't think twice. The mind, she Boggles.

Then your mind, she must boggle easily, because a board game is not typically ephemeral, people buy them more as a long-term source of enjoyment than a single night's entertainment. (And I don't spend money on concert tickets. I don't have it to spare.) But yeah, that's not a bad thing necessarily, so long as the box is honest about the nature of the game.

I don't think I played a game that took longer that 30 minutes, including set-up

This, itself, is the most interesting thing I've heard about it, because the thing about Risk that's always annoyed me is length, which generally comes from all the die rolling and the conquer-the-world goal.

Despite how quickly the game moves, losing feels awful

This isn't something I'm looking for, because in our group at least, I find this is not a good thing. If I lose I don't want to feel awful, and if I win, I don't want the other players to feel awful. It's a serious drawback that has exiled games (Carcassonne) from our circle in the past.

My wife and I play a lot of Catan with another couple and that other dude, without fail, plays the Ore+Wheat "City-UP!" strategy (which, granted, is the soundest strategy game in and game out).

I've gotten my second city on my second turn playing that way, and won in the fastest game of Settlers of Catan we've ever played. But there is a big risk to it: you have to optimize for Ore and Wheat, which means you're not getting much of the other things, and those other things are exactly what enable you to diversify your resource income. So you're very reliant on trade with the other players, or else you're going to top out at four points and have to trade with the bank for any chance of breaking out of it.
posted by JHarris at 2:54 PM on January 7


Let me guess, you got this link from Shut Up & Sit Down? That site probably deserves its own FPP one of these days...calling dibs.
posted by Edgewise at 2:58 PM on January 7


Never thought iconoclast would apply to a board game. And to come out of Hasbro? On the other hand, I wonder if this would work as well on a game that doesn't have the cultural traditions and various personal histories of a game like Risk. I feel like part of what it does is explore that evolution of meta-rules (and house rules) that develop within a group that plays a game repeatably over a long time.

A game that asks you to burn cards wouldn't have the same affect if it was just some new kickstarter game. But destroying parts of Risk? (Or Clue, or Monopoly...) It's almost too perfect.
posted by Flaffigan at 2:59 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


Here are some more podcasts with the designer Rob Daviau appearing and discussing Risk Legacy & Seafall. I rounded them up while Christmas shopping. (Some have only a little of him.)

Plaid Hat Games #106

Ludology #70

Gamers with Jobs #366

Game Design Round Table #56

Uh, yeah that should be effect. I do speling wel.
posted by Flaffigan at 3:11 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


He was also on Game Design Round Table #2 talking about Risk: Legacy.
posted by Gary at 3:17 PM on January 7


The Cardboard Children review is really what convinced me the game was a thing to embrace. Here's his core argument:
Risk: Legacy is not about destroying a game, it is about creating one. Removal is an essential part of creation. What you take out is as important as what you put in. This board game is like a big chunk of rock. Ugly rock, too. Risk rock. And you hack at it and break parts off and end up with something that is beautiful. A game that your group made as you played. Why would you NOT want to do this? Because you’re a collector maybe? Collectors suck. Fuck those guys.

This isn't something I'm looking for, because in our group at least, I find this is not a good thing. If I lose I don't want to feel awful, and if I win, I don't want the other players to feel awful.

Okay, not to turn this in to the "Convince JHarris" show, but I actually disagree that losing feels awful. The game gives every player a choice of alterations (even the losing ones) ... the winner just gets to make the biggest alteration. So winners and losers alike are playing roles in building the game. Plus, the short(er) playtime and objective-based victory scenarios dramatically reduce eliminations — although they can still happen. This makes it a helluva lot comfier than the classic game.
posted by pokermonk at 3:31 PM on January 7 [2 favorites]


From that Cardboard Children link:
You see, the truth is that board games are different almost every time you play them. A three player game of something can disappoint, and then a four player game can totally fly. Your opinions change from session to session, a constant adjustment of your expectations and levels of satisfaction.
So true. I'm trying to get my wife and extended family back into board games, with mixed results. The best so far - playing Pandemic with my wife and brother-in-law. Our previous session, we had gone from being utterly mystified and uncertain about game tactics to pulling out our first win over the course of 3 games (first time for all of us). So we sat down with some confidence and just got utterly, utterly shredded in our first game out - cascading outbreaks, not even one cure - game over in about 7 rounds I think (whereas every other game we had lost, we had at least cured one disease and maybe been close on one or two others). So it was a dispirited group that set up for another round - and then we did a bunch of bitching about the roles we drew (I think it was dispatcher, researcher, and operations?). Anyways, we figured we were dead meat again...and then, with some clever moves and good thinking, we not only nailed a cure early - we eradicated one disease and coasted to victory with our best game yet.

It's why I love board games/rpgs - its not the game itself, its the stories and the memories that get created. Risk: Legacy and other legacy games look like a fun way to do that.
posted by nubs at 4:00 PM on January 7


I'd never heard of this game. I'm not a wargamer nor a Risk player but it is super tempting.
posted by curious nu at 4:14 PM on January 7


I have been tempted to buy this but I never have the same group of players for board games from one session to the next - it really feels like something that would be amazing with the same group of people over time, but that would lose all the fun of it if you're playing with a barely-overlapping group.
posted by xiw at 4:16 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


JHarris, if it helps you to enjoy R:L, think of all the parts of traditional games that were cut from the final version. Risk lets you choose what to cut instead. You aren't missing any more than usual, you're just knowing about some of the alternatives.
posted by michaelh at 4:21 PM on January 7 [1 favorite]


but the very idea of Risk: Legacy just sounds. . . exhausting. I mean, my wife and I can finish half a dozen games of Dominion--with different Kingdom cards!--in the time it takes to play one game of Risk, and Dominion has one hell of a lot more going on than Risk does.

I've never played it (but I think I will now). This issue strikes me as one of framing - I like the idea of a boardgame becoming an heirloom. Well, not so much something passed down from generation to generation, but for example if a game of Legacy became part of a family's annual Christmas tradition, then people are going to be returning as adults to a boardgame that they helped shape as children.

Every year I go on a trip with old friends who live far away, among other things, we bring games. I think I'll bring this one. Maybe it'll be 2030 until we know how the game plays out :)
posted by anonymisc at 4:32 PM on January 7


As a semi-serious player of not terribly serious games, I have to admit, this idea intrigues me a great deal.

The fact that I am annoyed by people who bring their games to game night with all the cards carefully sheathed in plastic protectors and freak out if you let a precious meeple hit the floor probably has something to do with it.

But I also just love the idea of having a regular gaming crew that literally alters the game as they play it. In my experience, that already happens with people who game together regularly. Little inside jokes, house rules and expectations for how a game goes can really change how a group plays a game. Some examples:

-- When teaching Identity Crisis to new people, my standard explanation of how the first round clues can translate into the second round clues is the story of how someone kept trying to describe Gwyneth Paltrow as British in the very first game I ever played. Because of that history, all of my friends describe her as a British actress when her name comes up in the game. She's become sort of a gimme card.
-- My mother is not a stab-you-in-the-back gamer. Playing Ticket to Ride with her is a completely different experience from playing it at my regular game nights, because she doesn't think it's fun when someone deliberately blocks a track they know she needs, whereas if you accidentally let slip that you need a track to my gamer friends, you can rest assured it will be gone before your next turn, just cuz.
-- The friend who taught me to play Killer Bunnies habitually pulls some of the worst cards from the deck (either for the whole game or until everyone's hand is well-established) to help avoid some balance problems that the game has, so I do the same thing when I run that game.
-- Whenever someone chooses a particular RoboRally robot at our game group, they declare themselves to be "hundreds of feet tall" in a very particular tone of voice. The person who first did that hasn't even been to our gaming group in 3-some-odd years, but it still happens as a kind of institutional memory.

I love these things about playing games. I love feeling the history in them of all the times they've been played before. This seems like something that takes inside jokes and alterations and actually codifies them in the game itself and the whole idea is appealing.

That said, I have only played Risk twice in my life and in both instances after spending close to an hour setting up, someone spilled a beer on the table and we ended up not playing. I'm not sure how you'd codify that into a ruleset, exactly.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:24 PM on January 7 [5 favorites]


The fact that I am annoyed by people who bring their games to game night with all the cards carefully sheathed in plastic protectors

I, uh, totally have my Dominion sets that way. For me, it's not about keeping the cards perfect. They're there to be used. I've never complained to anyone about how they're treating the cards, and I don't plan to start. It's about extending their life so we can play with them longer. Also, the protectors are magic when it comes to setting down perspiring beer bottles. Truth.

I've actually been able to see a control for this experiment, as my dad's set didn't have protectors until I got him some (at his request) for Christmas. The difference is pretty dramatic. Each set has been played about the same number of times. But whereas I've only had to replace a few card covers, he's actually mentioned wanting replacements for the basic cards themselves, as they get used so much that they're really started to wear.

But yeah, games are meant to be played. Play 'em. If a card protector tears, hey, better that than a card tearing. That's why I have extras.

My one real overboard geek gesture here is that I used an art supply box to make a case that contains the main set and five expansions. Beats the hell out of carrying around six game boxes. I'll admit to being inordinately proud of that.
posted by valkyryn at 6:23 PM on January 7 [3 favorites]


Okay, not to turn this in to the "Convince JHarris" show

That's the thing. It's a conversation. When someone responds to something I've said, I feel like I have to respond back, which in turn means they may well feel like they have to respond too. This has happened before, and tends to make me sound like I'm a lot more insistent than I really intend to be. Recognizing this, I've purposely let a couple of comments pass this time that I could respond to. If someone really wants to discuss it in detail, there's always MeMail.

The fact that I am annoyed by people who bring their games to game night with all the cards carefully sheathed in plastic protectors

It is good to take care of your game sets, if you can afford the means. I buy cheap tackleboxes for the parts to each of my piece-heavy games. For Dominion, I've considered getting a card file, like for index cards, for keeping them in alphabetical order.

Playing Ticket to Ride with her is a completely different experience from playing it at my regular game nights, because she doesn't think it's fun when someone deliberately blocks a track they know she needs, whereas if you accidentally let slip that you need a track to my gamer friends, you can rest assured it will be gone before your next turn, just cuz.

I've mentioned this before, but (to my eyes) it's really not a good strategy to play TtR that way. You only have 45 trains: the cars you spend blocking are trains you're not spending making tickets or getting long sections. The result is, it puts you ahead of that one player, but sets you behind everyone else.

The friend who taught me to play Killer Bunnies

Yeah, well, if you're doing that then I can't help you, winning move being not to play.
posted by JHarris at 6:36 PM on January 7


You can keep playing the game forever. It's just that it will be your game, and different from everyone else's. I don't see why this is a problem (I understand the emotional reason behind it, just think it's misguided).
posted by Sebmojo at 6:38 PM on January 7


A friend of mine was toying with getting together some people for a Risk Legacy campaign. The idea was that everyone would kick in a few bucks for the game, rather than one person owning it. I think that'd do a nice job of getting around the "omg must keep it in mint condition" thing some people have going on.

Sadly it never happened.
posted by egypturnash at 11:01 PM on January 7


It is good to take care of your game sets, if you can afford the means. I buy cheap tackleboxes for the parts to each of my piece-heavy games. For Dominion, I've considered getting a card file, like for index cards, for keeping them in alphabetical order.

I'm all for people who keep their games well organized so that finding each of the 19 kinds of tokens is easy and set-up goes faster. Those people I support whole-heartedly, because setting up a game of Agricola takes plenty of time even when it doesn't involve first sorting the sheep and the cows into separate piles.

The people I object to are the ones who would prefer you didn't actually touch anything while you played. Cards in card protectors don't shuffle worth shit, which makes them particularly annoying in games like Dominion where you're constantly shuffling your own deck.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:52 AM on January 8


The counterpoint though is that the Coppers and Estates in my Dominion set are actually sticky they've been handled so much. I've considered getting Intrigue as my next set specifically because it comes with a duplicate set of base cards. The problem must be common enough that Rio Grande now sells the base cards as their own set.
posted by JHarris at 6:58 AM on January 8


I guess that's a counterpoint, but I mean, things wear out as they are used, and sometimes have to be replaced. I don't find that to be surprising or unexpected. Covering your cards with plastic is like covering your couch with plastic -- sure, it'll last longer, but it is considerably less nice to sit on in the mean time.

I also don't feel like most of the card cover people are really all that worried that one day they might have to shell out $35 to get another copy of Dominion. They just don't want anyone messing up their pretty, pretty cards.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:10 AM on January 8


Cards in card protectors don't shuffle worth shit, which makes them particularly annoying in games like Dominion where you're constantly shuffling your own deck.

You certainly can't do a riffle shuffle, but there are alternate ways that work just as well, even if they do take a few extra seconds. Once you get used to it, it's not that big of a deal.

As a matter of fact, one member of my family has some neurological issues which have led to a loss of fine motor control in his hands. He can't do a riffle shuffle anyway. He actually finds the card protectors to be easier to deal with, as the reduced friction makes it a lot easier to handle the cards, both in general and specifically to shuffle in the way he can manage. With the set in protectors, no one can do a riffle shuffle, so nobody has to wait for him anymore. It's been kind of an unexpected little bonus.

They just don't want anyone messing up their pretty, pretty cards.

For what it's worth, I know what you're talking about. Those sorts of people don't bring their Dominion sets on vacation to play on the beach, I'd wager. I've done that.
posted by valkyryn at 7:25 AM on January 8


I guess that's a counterpoint, but I mean, things wear out as they are used, and sometimes have to be replaced

The thing is, while we've played a good amount of Dominion, it doesn't feel like we've played it excessively. I mean, my copy is less than four years old, and sometimes months go by without playing it. I do wish there were a way to protect the cards better without taking the step of sleeving them all, especially since that means they won't be able to fit in their slots in the box.

It feels like a game where the cards should be plastic-coated, like standard playing cards or Ticket To Ride's cards, although with 300+ cards in a set I can understand if that would be prohibitively expensive.
posted by JHarris at 8:05 AM on January 8


Barring the emotional value of playing with real objects and destroying real objects, this seems like the sort of thing that would do well as a computer-based board game (just as one can play Cataan, chess, etc. via computer). That would allow for even more variation on the game materials over time. (Multiple map images being easier to have than multiple physical game boards, for example.)
posted by Karmakaze at 9:33 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


I think the whole thing could also be done with a "Cheap-ass" variant of the game. Using existing pieces (from Old Risk), and regular 3 x 5 index cards, and either a white erase game board OR a board with multiple sheets attached printed with board graphics.
posted by FJT at 11:34 AM on January 8 [1 favorite]


Grease pencils &/or overhead transparency markers work well for temporary changes on laminated maps.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:14 PM on January 13


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