Repetition and Gaming

This is the three R’s
The three R’s:
Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

The Fall, “Repetition”

Sunday Ray and I played Advanced Squad Leader. We manage to squeeze in a game every 3-4 months. Predictably, I got hammered, due only in part to my usual pathetic dice rolling. The larger problem is that I don’t play ASL often enough to gain any mastery of the rules. Each time I find myself doing stupid things because in the intervening months I’ve forgotten the rhythm of the game and how key rules interact. To really know a game, you need to spend time with it, to play it over and over, and to try out different strategies. If the game has depth, that is. Once you figure out that you should always take the center square in tic tac toe, for example, there’s not much more to master. You can play Diplomacy fifty times though and still not know all the angles though.

Some games stand up to repeat play and some don’t. Some have long term issues that are not apparent at first. And sometimes these things matter and sometimes they don’t! I have a copy of Settlers of Canaan, for example, which is a Biblical variant of Settlers of Cataan. Cataan-heads don’t care for it much because the board is fixed, whereas the original has tiles so the board is created anew each time you play. I can see the issue but it doesn’t bother me because I don’t play the game enough for it to matter. Similarly, I’ve heard fans complain the West End Star Wars RPG breaks down with very experienced characters, Jedi in particular. I never played in a game that lasted longer than a few months, so it was never an issue to me.

Still though, I like to understand games in depth and that requires replay and analysis. This is one of the reasons I wish I had more time to game, even though I usually play at least once a week. When I was in college, I didn’t own too many games, but I knew most of them very well because they were played and replayed. I was quite comfortable redesigning Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, for example, because I played the hell out of that game for years and years. Now the number of games I own has grown exponentially, but my experience with each one tends to be shallower. I’ve played things like Fantasy Flight’s War of the Ring boardgame and White Wolf’s World of Warcraft RPG once each, for example, and chances are I won’t play them again anytime soon.

One thing I do miss about working at WotC is lunchtime gaming. It was nice to be able to play a quick game of Mordheim, for example, and easy to find other players at a company WotC’s size. I was able to enjoy weekly games of Mythos, Formula De, and other games that I wouldn’t have gotten to know well if I didn’t have that opportunity. Since most of Green Ronin’s employees work remotely, that really only leaves me and Nik and I’m pretty sure she’d laugh at me if I suggested playing Legends of the Old West at lunch.

I have toyed with the idea of going to a convention or two just to play games, which may seem ridiculous on its face. Leaving aside all the industry bs for a few days to just go play some old favorites and hopefully find some new ones sounds pretty attractive though. I’d be particularly interested in attending one of the historical minis shows, like Fall In or Salute. Maybe next year.

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