Monday, 8 September 2014

A question of Competitiveness...

To Collect, or not to Collect...

Most games have ways in which to give yourself the advantage to get the win.  That’s part of the fun of playing games, figuring out the most effective ways to win. With many games, it’s become a way to make money by selling the cards and pieces that offer the greatest advantage to those looking to compete.  Of course, for those that don’t compete on a regular basis, such things become an irrelevancy in short order, if they get one, they get one, if not, no concern...

But there are other games that don’t feature the collectible aspect, and while they’re just as popular on general release, they don’t tend to get the massive following on tournaments and other competitions because what you have in the set is all you have, and it’s down to the individual player to work out a strategy with exactly the same moves and options that their opponent has.  At Expo, we have a number of categories for the awards, and one of them is Abstract games, games which can be played in very little time, with very little element of chance, but still an interesting premise to them. 

Why would this be so important?

Because games that are collectible by their very nature are designed so that something in the next set will be better or more powerful than the ones in the previous set, requiring that you have to continually get the new shiny or risk being excluded from playing the game at a competitive level.  In a number of the games, you can only play if you’re using the latest versions of the cards, and in a number of games, particularly miniatures, you can only field the model if it’s appropriate to the character it represents on the field.

This has led to a good deal of disillusionment and bitterness amongst those who want to play the game but don’t want to spend a fortune on the game to be allowed to keep playing it.  I love playing games like X wing and Warhammer 40k, but when I look at the forums and see the combinations of cards and models out there, together with the amount of money that player had to spend to get those combinations, it puts me off the game in a way I previously didn’t think was possible.  It’s not like there’s much difference in the forces that are being fielded, when a new model hits the line up, it either has something that nothing before it had, or it quickly gets put to the bottom of the pile and no one pays any further attention to it.  Like so many things, when you get to the top level of it...

It’s not just a game anymore...

So what’s the answer? Is there a way to have a game that’s got enough pieces/cards/actions in the basic set to keep people interested and playing for the next ten years, or is the collectible game the only way to go to keep the game fresh and the fans interested?  I believe that the original set of Magic: The Gathering was enough to keep people entertained on a regular basis for the rest of their gaming career, but by the time I’d got to it, they’d already released Arabian Nights (and sold it out) and so the path was set. 

The Living Card games go some way towards redressing the balance of things, by providing whole sets of cards and not going the route of placing them in boosters, thereby negating the value of the cards and placing everyone on a level playing field, but they haven’t set the market alight in the same way that Magic and games like it have.  The problem is that there’s two different markets for gamers, those who play and those who play to win, and between the two camps, the ones who are out for the win won’t play the games where they can’t get the edge that they want over the opponent.

When you look at other games that have been out there for years, where people are still playing them at international levels and there’s only one set of pieces and rules, you’re across to games like Chess and Go, where it’s been going for so long that everyone knows it and while most people don’t play them anymore, everyone knows what they are.

Is there a place for games like these now, when there are new games coming out every week, and even if you bought something new every day of the year, you’d be more than a decade older before you came to the end of the lists of games that are available now.

This is the question for today, is there a game that can fill the requirements of staying competitive through the years without having to buy many boosters and upgrades, and if so, what do you think it is...

Anyone answering with Chess or Go, someone got there first J


2 comments:

  1. SFB. All you need is the basic set and the T1 module in order to take part in tournaments. While there are lots of bits for SFB, the T1 module is the official module for tournament games. Ships not in that module are not legal.

    Also, TCS used to be competitive. There were official tournament setups published in it, limiting the fleet design rules. All you needed was LBB Traveller, High Guard and TCS.

    The key concepts behind a competitive, non-collectable game are pretty simple, the most obvious one being: be flexible for casual play, but limit the competitive play.

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  2. hard to read white font mate....

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