Fraser and I were a bit later than we’d expected, getting to games on Saturday. We’d been shopping for Otto’s OMGBIGGERTHANBENHUR sixth birthday, this coming Wednesday.
We kicked off with a game of Dominion (I won). Then we played a quick round of Bluff, after which Frank and Paul joined us. Stupid, annoying game. Ugh.
Next was Cosmic Encounter – my first play with the FFG edition.
I have many, many happy memories of playing Cosmic – and have tried it a couple of times in the last few years. Sadly, it has tended to fall flat – I think because my memories of it are really memories of being 18 as much as they are memories of the game.
Anyway, I really really enjoyed this game. I liked the new bits, I liked the new powers, I enjoyed the possible waste of time that was the tech cards.
Last for the day was Red November. This was a reasonably fun little co-operative game, which ran around 45 minutes including explanation (not bad for a 7-player game). We all lost with about 4 days to go. It was quite fun, and reminded me for some reason of The Awful Green Things from Outer Space.
But – and there is a big ‘but’ here … I couldn’t divorce the game from what I knew of its original theme.
Now, I have mocked people for this hyper-sensitivity in the past. I realise that I lay myself open to precisely the same mockery.
There are, I have said, only a couple of themes that I find offensive enough to automatically not play. And this wasn’t – well, it wasn’t offensive to me in the same way that I find Hentacle or Pimp: The Backhanding offensive. It just made me a little uncomfortable to use it for entertainment – it didn’t feel right. I don’t mind others playing it, but I don’t think I will do so again.
We talked about this a little after the game. Frank asked whether I avoid wargames, and I honestly answered yes, I do – and I think it’s for the same reason. But then I had to realise that I do play and enjoy Britannia (and, I am sure, other games which show some sort of stylised combat).
So what is the squeamish line for me?
I think, in this case, it had to do with recency. I remember the Kursk, I remember the hope that the sailors would somehow manage to survive. This game’s retheming was so paper-thin that I can’t separate it from the feelings of horror at that time.
As for the wargames? I’m not sure what the issue is. I love Britannia. I have played and enjoyed Duel in the Dark. I have no interest whatsoever in Memoir 44, Axis & Allies, etc. At some stage, I would like to try Hammer of the Scots or another good block wargame, but that’s more so I’ve tried that genre. I do like Imperial, enjoyed Diplomacy way back when, and love me some Cosmic Encounter.
And, of course, I think Acquire would be infinitely better with tanks.