Thursday, October 13, 2005

Big Games: TI3e, Battlestations and American Megafauna

I don't tend to play a lot of long games. I play a lot of games that
take an hour or less. I play several that take an hour to two hours.
I occasionaly play a two to three hour game. I play games longer than
three hours very infrequently.

Despite this trend, I've played 3 games recently that exceeded this limit though.

First, over the summer I got to play American Megafauna multi-player
for the first time. American Megafauna is a brilliantly detailed evolution simulation game. I'd played it with the solitaire rules before and
found it very interesting, but I don't tend to like solitaire, so I
hoped this would yield an even more interesting multi-player game. I
was wrong. It's not awful, but the randomness that is interesting and
challenging in solitaire is dominating and annoying in the
multi-player game. If I recall correctly, this clocked in at just
over three hours, but it's not likely to be something I'll repeat
multi-player any time soon. Maybe I'll pull it out solitaire someday
when I feel like a good evolutionary romp.

Most recently, I played Twilight Imperium, 3rd edition. This was
good, but wow was it long. Including rules explanation, all four
players having never played before, and a dinner break, it took over
six hours, and we only played to 8 VP. There's a lot going on here,
and I expect to play it again, but it's a shame it is so demanding.
Certainly, with experienced players it would go much more quickly, but
the time required to get experienced would be substantial.

Finally, in late summer, I played href=>Battlestations. This
is almost an RPG rather than a board game, but it's close enough.
It's a game of tactical space combat and boarding action. This was a
blast. Absolutely wonderful, with few qualifications. We played one
fairly elaborate scenario and it took about 5 hours, maybe a bit more
including rules. But, compared to a traditional RPG, this time
included teaching the rules, creating characters, playing the entire
"adventure" and wrap-up. It's been a while since I played a real RPG,
but a five hour session was never enough. Battlestations manages to
really successfully capture the feel of high-action space opera
science fiction. The rules are straightforward, if large. We played
where I acted as a GM, but you could clearly play in a more
traditional player-vs-player mode and have it work well. I really
look forward to trying this one again.

In summary:

  • American Megafauna: C- (works better solitaire)
  • Twilight Imperium, 3rd edition: B- (loses most of it's points for being really long)
  • Battlestations: A+ (very fun experience game)

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