Friday, August 23, 2002

Reviews and Descriptions of Play

I don't know why, but the practice of giveng a description of play
followed by a often extremely brief evaluation and calling that a
"game review" has been bugging me lately. I've never been especially
fond of this approach, but for some reason it's been something I've
noticed a lot lately. If I'm going to like a game because of its
mechanics, I will be able to tell that from a brief description just
as well as from an in depth description. Knowing that there are
auctions for priveleges is sufficient. Knowing there are three rounds
of 6 auctions in which a variable number of priveleges which each
player can win at most 5 of is excessive and often distracting, until
I'm actually going to play a game.

Similarly, I'm more interested in people's opinions of a game, why
they liked and why they didn't, and I don't think every detail of play
is necassary to understand that. Sure, I need to know that there's
simultaneous actions to understand that a reviewer thinks that "the
simultaneous action selection seems to make the game very random", or
something, but a one or two paragraph description is sufficient,
rather than a regurgitation of the rules. Further, I'd much rather
have opinions on how the play feels and how the various rules combine
than know what they specifically are.

For example, in Ra, the fact that different auctions are not just
worth different amounts to different people (as in most auction
games), but also may effectively cost dramatically different amounts
for different people is an important part of why I like the game. The
fact that there are 3 rounds and monuments aren't scored until the end
and some tiles go back at the end of each round doesn't matter in my
evaluation of the game.

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