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Breaking the Rules!

U Updated
There Will Be Games



Last night while playing Nefertiti, I realized that I'm good at games with a 'break the rules' mechanic. Things like variable player powers, tech trees, one time use cards. Whether it is deciding what weapon to purchase in Runebound, when to use that special card, which gene to buy in Primordial Soup, what special action, improvement or favor to use in the Euro of the week. I never thought of this as a skill, but last night I came to realize that some of the people I play with find it challenging to read all the text, absorb it, remember it, and understand it's strategic implications.


It makes sense now that I reflect upon it. "Break the Rules" powers or actions are a primary mechanic in classic AT games. Games like Cosmic Encounter and Talisman are mostly about figuring out by the seat of your pants how to leverage you special ability to it's greatest advantage against everyone else's special ability. Then there are the various tech tree games, where winning really hinges on getting the right improvements, at the right time, in the right order. Even Merchant of Venus gives you the option of pimping your space ship.
Francie hates all this kind of stuff. After playing nothing but mathy, lather, rinse, repeat games for the past few years, the handful of role choices in Turnips & Taxes were a novelty to her. She winces at any game that has cards with a bunch of text on them. I always figured this was just Francie weirdness. But last night I was playing Nefertittie and it suddenly dawns on me that the other players are finding it challenging to remember and understand the implication of special favor cards that you can purchase. No wonder they all think Agricola is so new and interesting and challenging. Once everyone gest used to the whole Agricola occupations thing, maybe Francie will stop hyperventilating when ever I show her the list of genes from Primordial Soup.
Personally, the bit I had trouble with in Nefertittie was all the arithmetic. Not because I can't do it, but because it is so friggin boring and tedious. It's like with Alhambra, where if you want to play to win, you really just need to keep a running tally in your head of what every one has and their current score. I once joked that when we played Alhambra we should use a white boards, and keep updating it with what everyone had and their current potential score so that people would stop holding up the game to lean over and squint at your stuff and ask, "How many browns do you have?" One guy got his panties all in a wad about this, and started going off about how the whole point of the game was being able to keep that stuff in your head. As if counting tiles and adding up scores was some big IQ test or something. So I told him that he clearly wasn't any good at keeping it in his head, because he spent 10 minutes recalculating everyone's score every time it was his turn, and that if we all played that way the game would take like 6 hours. Plus, he was playing with a programmer, an architect and pharmacist, so did he really think his awesome 3rd grade adding and counting skills were some kind of special variable player power.

So anyway, Nefertiti - so dry it is like eating sand. It's a game about shopping for some other guy's wife's birthday present. You don't even enjoy shopping for you own wife's birthday gift. Who comes up with this lame stuff? I give it a one on the F:AT rating scale. Avoid this game. If someone offers it to you for free, run. If you happen to have it, you should be charging the publisher storage fees.

There Will Be Games
Shellie "ubarose" Rose  (She/Her)
Managing Editor & Web Admin

Plays boardgames. Drinks bourbon. Writes code.

Articles by Shellie


Shellie "ubarose" Rose
Managing Editor & Web Admin

Articles by Shellie


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