Eurogamesfest March

09 Mar

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.


Posted by on March 9, 2009 in games


3 responses to “Eurogamesfest March

  1. Larry Levy

    March 9, 2009 at 3:47 am

    It sounds like you and I are closely aligned on this one, Melissa. It’s unusual for a theme to make me want to play or avoid a particular game. One of the exceptions, where the theme is so distasteful that I’d refuse to play, is Lunch Money. It’s not that I can’t believe that children can be that cruel (they obviously can), it’s just that I have no interest in playing a game that emphasizes the fact.

    But I have next to no interest in playing wargames, mostly because I have extremely little interest in the details of war in real life. The thing is, I love history. Not the minute study of it, but the broad sweep of it and the knowledge of why things occured the way they did. And wars obviously play an important role in that. But I don’t care about which general did what, or what tactics were important, or how many soldiers died in this and that battle. It just bores me. So a wargame that treats the subject at anything but the broadest level (say Imperial, or Diplomacy) just turns my brain off. I don’t object to the theme (the fact that we’re simulating a subject responsible for so much suffering and cruelty really isn’t the issue), it just doesn’t interest me. I might be convinced to try some of the Wallace weuros (like Byzantium) or a quasi-wargame with a strong economic element, but that’s probably as far as I’ll go (and I there’s a good chance I won’t care for them).

  2. jon

    March 9, 2009 at 4:47 am

    Personally, I found Memoir 44 too disturbing to enjoy. I especially disliked the element of forcing men back onto barbed wire, to be mown down. Yet when I played Battlelore, I had no problems. In fact, it really appealed to me in a way that Memoir failed to regardless of my feelings. I think it is that sense of realism. I am so detached from knights and archers, it means nothing to me. But I’m not so far removed from modern warfare, I can’t feel the remorse. I can’t stand watching A Bridge Too Far, it’s too painful to enjoy in any way.

  3. melissainau

    March 9, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Larry and Jon: Good to know that I’m not the only one.

    So for us, the main triggers seem to be a level of abstraction from the actual war and also the recency of the events.

    I guess Fraser’s hundred or so old wargames (that he says he is saving for our retirement) are doomed to a lonely old age.


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