Wednesday, January 09, 2008

I Am a Theme Whore . . . Hey Buddy You Looking to Party?

My inspiration for this blog comes from a review I recently wrote for Board Game News. The game was Mad Scientist University (a very so-so game, don't bother seeking it out too hard but as a sweetener in a trade it might be a neat addition to your game collection) which is just a story telling game. Most of these story telling games are wide open but this one had a very cute theme. Taking over the world...Mad Scientist style! That addition of theme was my favorite part of the game and made me realize that I am a theme whore. In fact to quote myself I said that I was indeed "A full-fledged, street-walking, corner-working theme whore." I should throw out there that I'm my own whore though I don't have a pimp. Where my money at? It's in my pocket!

OK Well let's get back on track...if this entry even has a fucking track to get back on. I guess what I'm saying is design a game and give it a well rounded theme and I'm there! Design a game with great mechanics and make it abstract...I'll play it a few times then get bored with it. All games deserve a theme. It's as simple as that. Case in point, Reiner's (Yes I'm on a first name basis with him) little game Samurai. This game is certainly an abstract game. When you set out to giving this game a go you don't feel like you are doing the things that are typically associated with the bloody images generated by the word "Samurai." Still thematically the game works. There was a time when Feudal Japan was no longer a warring nation and what are honored Samurai to do when there is no war? Well they setup school, they furthered their educations, they became figures of business and in general reinforced their status with the locals of the land. Hey that kind of feels like exactly what you are doing in this game. This game is by far not a favorite of mine, and I rarely suggest it however, if there are others who want to play the game I never hesitate or try to dissuade them to another game. Someone wants to play Samurai? Alright let's get those beautiful little black resin pieces and that awesome die-cut board out and via for position across the island nation! I'm in! Call me whore for I am proud.

Contrast this to another of my pal Reiner's games that I feel has even better game mechanics than Samurai but no theme to it what-so-ever... Ingenious. Damn what a really cool game with very cool mechanics. Flavor? Totally lacking. This probably explains why I have yet to add this game to my collection. I get to play it now and again at con's and such and I get my fill. Still if I were able to think of myself as a character of some sort, attempting to fulfill some sort of goal I'm certain I'd have a copy of the game in my closet right now. (Half my games must be gay as they are in a closet. I have the other half in a cupboard...and some strewn around the house here and there as you can imagine.) No doubt about it you can feel that this game plays very similarly to some of Reiner's other designs but those have (as people like to pick on him for) a theme pasted on. ME I'm not going to pick I'm going to applaud the addition of theme to those games and fuck it I'll say flat out that I think this game would sell better over all (not just to me) to gamers, specifically American gamers who like designer board games, had it been included with a theme. I'd suggest Kingdom's as the proof to this. That game is certainly an abstract numbers game. Yet slap on a little theme and the game goes to FF's Silver Line and does pretty well, then get's reimplemented as Beowulf the Movie board game in a big box...hmmmmm wonder if that would have happened if this were themeless? Doubtful. This whore would buy the theme game.

Now I have to turn my attention to the GIPF Project games. WOW cool games. Much like Ingenious they have great mechanics. Given them theme-free abstract nature however I own..none of them and won't. I'd much rather pick up Ponte del Diavolo as there is evidence of even the slightest bit of theme slapped on with islands and bridges and neatness like that. Better yet than Ponte del Diavolo is Uberplay's much underrated game The Bridges of Shangri-La or as we have dubbed the game in our group "The War of Enlightenment." Given that we can so easily turn enlightenment into a warring aspect shows you just how loosely this theme is attached to a very abstract and number counting game. Still the game can be fun. Yes there is some down time and really be careful not to play with AP'ers as their turn can easily become 5 to 8 minutes every time. This game is not Colovini's (not on a first name basis with Leo but working on it) best game to date by far. I'm not going to try and convince you of that. Never the less it's a good game and it's got a neat little theme and let's you destroy bridges. When do I get to do that sort of thing in Zertz? Never...I AM WHORE.

I feel like I've made my point here. In addition to that I feel like there's a lot of gamers out there who will agree with me. You may not want to in your head but your heart screams "He's RIGHT, Give me theme I'm a whore too!" It's not the popular view point to get this hung up on a game having theme but fuck popularity. We play games to entertain our brains and challenge us not to be popular. I (and I believe a lot of you out there too) can derive that entertainment to a higher level with a theme. I do not think that is everyone...there are plenty of people who don't need a theme...but they freaks anyway who get off on statistics, probably watch anime porn,who's idea of a good book would never have a vampire or zombie in it and wears those extremely lame shirts sold by woot. ( ) So screw them anyway.

Stand with me, embrace your title and be a theme whore.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Why Do I Gotta Be Mr. Pink?

So it's the first day of the 2008 huh? What did I do? I created Pink microbadges for BGG. Here's what they look like:

Yep that's right they look identical to all the other "I play with X color" microbadges but I was surprised to see Pink wasn't an option. Here I am with this handy dandy microbadge coupon and the badge I want doesn't even exist. So I took care of that.

Now why on Earth would a guy like me want a "I Play With Pink!" microbadge you ask. No I'm not gay I'm actually very heterosexual if you haven't picked up on that by now. In fact one of my reasons in choosing pink whenever it's available is based around my extreme heterosexuality but that's still coming. (Pun very much intended so all you pervs get bonus points.)

The first and probably most originating reason is simply this. I'm very amicable about what color I play in a game. In our group we have one player who always plays WHITE (as his last name is White) one who always plays yellow (as he feels no one likes yellow so now it's his favorite) and one who always plays red (as...well I don't know why but he's always RED!) So in the handful of games where pink was available I found that color was the last option to be picked time and time again. I gladly picked up the color and found I've got some pretty good success with it.

You probably would never have guessed it but I kind of like violent movies. I know that comment may seem a bit "out of left field" for this topic but hang with me Cochise and you'll see where I'm going. Being a fan of ridiculously violent films Reservoir Dogs certainly reigns in some of the my favorite of the genre. Now if you are familiar with the film you will know that Steve Buscemi plays the character Mr. Pink in the movie (all the gangsters are given "colors" so no one knows each other's name when the job is done) and puts up a pretty good fight against being dubbed Mr. Pink. Still at the end of the movie who is the only character left alive? Mr. Pink. Oh wait a second and who had the diamonds last? Mr. Pink. Who stashed the diamonds before showing up to the redevous point? Mr. Pink. Who's gonna make off with ALL the diamonds all to himself? Mr. in that little game who in fact is the winner? MR. PINK! Seems like a logical enough reason to pick up the pieces and play the color. Call me Mr. Pink and it's your doom bitches!

Here we are, 2 reasons for playing pink down. One of them reasonable one of them at the very least humorous. So where is that highly heterosexual reason? I like playing with pink bits. When I make a comment like that I'm not talking about anything that has anything at all to do with gaming here boys. Throw your mind in the gutter (or at least between a womans legs) and you'll get what I'm driving at. So if I can't be out there with a woman playing with the pink bits I like the most...I'm damn well sure going to play with the only pink bits available to me!

In closing, I like to play pink now. It's become my own little monicker almost in our group. Everyone knows now to leave pink for me...but they all seem to be alright with that, except when they get beaten down like little punk assed playa's by PINK. I don't go out of my way to buy a game just for pink pieces but I have painted some pieces pink in games that didn't include that color. I even purchase a very old copy of Risk recently just so I could cannibalize the beautiful wooden cubes (and those pill shaped pieces too) that they had back in the day because...PINK was a possible color. Am I obsessed with pink? Maybe. Do I care? For shit's sake, NO! Was this a waste of a blog to write and your time to read? Of course! I've now deleted a few more minutes of your life...and it felt good.