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Expected Expectations - Unwritten Rules of Board Games
When we play board games together, each of us will have certain expectations, and it's when our expectations are met, that we feel we've had a good time. In this article, I want to talk about what these expectations can be and what we can do, as a group playing together, to enable everyone to enjoy themselves. (This topic was inspired by the always wonderful Bez.)
That being said, the games on BGA are nice since I can digest them in smaller bites (Puerto Rico). Even if I am losing, I do not feel like I've thrown away half a Sunday. Some of this is why I moved on from Blood Bowl. A game can effectively be over in the first half hour and then you are just going through the motions and gathering salt for another 90 minutes. LOL
Everybody took heed, except for one player who wandered aimlessly about town and hit a couple of those locations, finding three (!) tomes. I expressed frustration even before we got sent to Final Battle, which we lost because we had no time to gear up. After that, she refused to play Arkham Horror with me ever again. All she wanted to do was wander around and have encounters and not get stressed out about trying to win the game. I'm sure that was fun for her, at least up until the berating, but it was selfish and reduced the fun for the rest of the players.
Speaking of traitor games, there was one game of Battlestar Galactica that went very badly for the good guys. One player was hoping to be a cylon, but didn't draw a cylon identity card either at the beginning or at mid-game. So he just arbitrarily started playing like he was a cylon, sabotaging the crisis resolutions whenever possible. That left us with one too many cylons in the game, and totally unbalanced the game in favor of the cylons. He revealed his plan at the end, but one of the other cylon players informed him that he still lost because he wasn't really a cylon. He didn't mind, because he just wanted the cylons to win.
I play to win but have been on both sides of a cutthroat game. When is winning at all costs too much? Certainly with noob players it behooves the group to not exploit mistakes too much or at least offer advice if you ever want that player to touch the game again. But no one wants the other players to throw the game for them either.
I've played with couples that act like a single entity, one just supporting the other. Not cool!
Of course I've had couples basically work through a divorce session at the table as well, the rest of us just hoping not to get caught in the crossfire :PM
There are games that can be played "gentley" and still be fun, then there are games that demand brutal intensity from all players to achieve full potential. Careful game curating before a session is critical. If I'm gonna play with a bunch of folks more interested in getting stoned and chatting thrn the game needs to be one that doesn't require much focus. But if it is hard core gamers out for blood then it's time to dust off the heavy weight games!
Advice is also something that brings expectations with it. Some folks can ignore it, some folks appreciate it, and some folks absolutely don't want unsolicited advice. I myself just tell folks that are trying to help (or 'help') me out that I want to fuck up on my own, thanks. Heck, that's the fun part of learning a new game. "Well, guess that doesn't work."
I was also going to say - it's not quite so simple as playing to win or not playing to win. I can play with the aim of winning - if I really want to win though, then I could AP it up and spend 20 minutes on my turn trying to calculate all the odds and all that. That's "playing to win" but also against some people's expectations (including my own). My "playing to win" is letting the goal of winning guide my decisions, but it's not the only thing that is guiding how I'm playing. An example of this is my risk levels. I tend to really enjoy taking a high risk strategy because when it comes off it's hugely satisfying. If I was "playing to win" to the letter, maybe my odds are better with a safer strategy... but stuff that, I'll pick the interesting option. I'm still "playing to win". But that version of playing to win might not meet some players expectations, particularly if my high risk strategy opens the door for the player following me in turn order or what have you.
Jason, I have had that exact same experience with couples. Usually they play like a solid team, which can throw a non-cooperative game out of whack. And once in a while, you will have a couple that is almost gleefully antagonistic towards each other, which is can mess up an otherwise co-op game. One thing that eventually burned me out on Battlestar Galactica was that the married couple that always showed up for our games insisted on playing the same two leadership figures every game: she was President Roslin and he was Commander Adama. Every game. Fortunately, that made it easy to spot when either of them was a traitor, because their playstyle would shift and the tight teamwork went missing.
Shellhead wrote: Jason, I have had that exact same experience with couples. Usually they play like a solid team, which can throw a non-cooperative game out of whack.
Bring up old girlfriends.