Posts tagged ‘card games’

Luck in Board Games: How Much Should There Be?

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

–Seneca

“I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

–Thomas Jefferson

Most board games contain a combination of skill and luck, and this is no accident. Without some element of skill, some ability for players to influence the outcome of the game, there would be no need for players at all. The children’s game, Candyland, works exactly the same regardless of who is playing, because the players are irrelevant: They have absolutely no volition or ability to affect the game.

Without some luck, however, many games would lose a lot of their replayability. Even a small element of randomness can change a game from something where there is a single best strategy all the time, into a dynamic game where players must constantly adapt their strategies to the random circumstances of each particular play session.

Naturally, each person has their own sweet spot for combinations of luck and skill in a game. Some gamers dislike luck and randomness because they feel it dilutes the pure match of minds that a luckless strategy game offers. Other gamers don’t like thinking about infinite complex strategies, and enjoy games that offer something random and fun every time. Personally, I tend to feel that the longer a game is, the less randomness I want it to have.

There’s no right answer. The real question to ask is, how much luck do *you* want? Here are some games that span the full luck axis:

No Luck

Generally speaking, abstract strategy games have no luck. This makes them ideal for people who hate the idea of random chance affecting their game, and like to play the same game many times in order to master it. Chess is obviously the best example of this, and has players who have played literally thousands of games.

However, in any multi-player game, such as a four-player game of Blokus, there can be a sense of randomness based on what pieces your opponents place. There’s no real luck involved, since everything is pure strategic choice, but the seeming randomness can keep the game feeling new each time.

Slight Luck

Most eurogames have a slight degree of luck and randomness. Ideally, this should be an amount sufficient to force players to adapt their strategies to each instance of the game, but not so much luck that an obviously inferior strategy can result in victory. A great example of this is Puerto Rico, where the single random element is the stock of available plantations. This is only a tiny part of the game, but players must consider it carefully when planning their strategies.

Medium Luck

Medium luck games often seem to be high luck games, until you realize that the luck always seems to favor the same players. Re-read the quotes at the top of the article – they apply especially to medium-luck games. Kingsburg and BattleLore may both have you rolling dice every turn, but it’s the strategic use of these dice, and positioning before rolling these dice, that often carries the day. Yes, a long series of bad rolls can lose the game for even the best player, but more often than not, a superior strategy will lead to victory. In a medium-luck game, smart play often means setting yourself up so that most rolls would still benefit you.

High Luck

Generally speaking, high luck games tend to be fairly quick. Consequently, they make good fillers when people are too mentally tired to play a low-luck game that requires lots of strategic thinking. Fluxx is a good example of a high luck game, where the random draw of a new goal card can swiftly change which player is likely to win, regardless of strategic play up to that point.

Entirely Luck

No games worth playing are entirely luck. A few kids’ games like Life and Candyland fall in this category, but give your kids some credit and try a game that gives them some volition. They’ll learn more, and probably enjoy it more too.

July 21, 2009 at 2:10 am 1 comment

Factors of Gaming

Author: J. Alexander (tankexmortis@gmail.com)

Recently I’ve become aware of a sinister subculture of individuals, each one intelligent, tactically-minded, and bent on global domination.

Okay, I’m a liar. They’re not sinister, for one; and they’re not so much after global domination as global acknowledgement. I’m sure they’d take domination if they could get it, though.

I’m speaking of people who, in this modern age of cell phones, internets, and video games so advanced they have entire economies of their own, still play board games. Yes, board games are still being developed, and they’ve been advancing just the same as any other form of entertainment. These boardgamers laugh at such tripe as Monopoly or Risk; those games are ancient in their eyes. Our eyes, I should say, because I’ve fallen into the world of boardgaming as well, and fallen hard.

It started innocently, with a few luck based card games. Soon, I was standing around the local comic shop, browsing their selection of small-print games. I picked one up. Then, another. I discovered the gigantic online community. I discovered the local game groups, and started attending their meetings. I expanded my collection with the help of online stores like Best Dang Games. Then, I expanded it some more. Then, more. I set up my own game group so I could introduce my friends to the games I found myself accumulating. To put it mildly, I was hooked.

So what is it that’s so appealing about board games in a digital age? It’s hard to pin down. There’s the fantasy factor – the same thing that makes Dungeons and Dragons still sell after all these years is part of what makes dungeon-crawling games, like Descent fun. Raiding dungeons for loot and fighting terrifying monsters is escapism at its finest.

There’s also the brain factor. A lot of these games are intellectually stimulating in the extreme. Ask one of the hundreds of people who have dedicated their lives to mastering the ancient Japanese game of Go – there’s a unique joy to exercising and stretching one’s brain in new and exciting ways. Board games offer that in spades.

There’s the social factor. Board games are intrinsically social – sure, you could play against yourself, but you’d always rather have a real opponent. Someone to judge yourself against, someone to congratulate you when you do well, someone to tease you when you do poorly, and someone for you to do the same. For many people, this is the most important factor.

So what is it for me? It’s a mixture of these factors, as I suspect it is for everyone. While everyone enjoys different games for different reasons, we all play, and we all have fun. And that’s the most important factor.

July 21, 2009 at 1:55 am Leave a comment

Best Dang Games Partners with Amazon

As you may have noticed, if you visited the home page of Best Dang Games, we are in the midst of a growth change.

We had such an incredible first year that we decided it was time to make a change for the better and partner with a “best of breed” company that can deliver your products in the best, most expediant manner and offer us a way to lower your shipping costs. The search delivered us Amazon Services.

We are still the same Best Dang Games with the same Best Dang Games service (actually probably better now). It is still Barry Nadler and Gary Bacchus. We have also added another player, Shawn Wolen to the team. We will introduce him at another time.  The point is – it is all for the better.

Amazon allows us to offer you pricing that INCLUDES shipping. So you may see our prices go up a little, but remember…they will include shipping. When you compare our prices to others, make sure you include shipping in your comparison. We looked and we are still very competitve. There will be a handling fee for all orders under $25, but that is it. If you order over $25.00, shipping is part of the price you will see.

Now, the best part…you can order from us directly on Amazon. com as well. We are in the process of moving all our primary products to that site. If you shop there, you also get free shipping for orders over $25.00. You get all the benefits of shopping on Amazon, as well – including their phenomenal service and quick and professional shipping practices. It does mean that you may receive your games from us in an Amazon.com box, but oh well – it is still from us.

Please be patient with us while our pricing undergoes a slight modification process. If you are concerned about a price you see on our site and wonder if it is accurate, feel free to drop us a line and ask – better to be safe than disappointed. We understand.

We are constantly working to find better ways to serve the gaming community – both with better products, better service, better information, and more value. If there is anything you would like to see us look into, please drop us a line or leave a comment. We are always looking for input. That’s how we get better.

February 13, 2009 at 4:06 am 1 comment

Hosting a Gaming Night with Non-Gamers

Author:  Seth Brown – The Rising Pun

Board games are fun. You know this; that’s why you play them.

But many of your friends probably don’t know this. It isn’t their fault, it’s just how they were raised.

Most people who think of board games think of childhood games like Candyland or Life, or abstract games like Chess. And when you get together for a little party, most of them wouldn’t necessarily suggest board games as the evening’s activity. That’s where you come in.

Set Up an Evening

Tell a few friends that you’d like to have them over for gaming and dinner. Even if they’re not sure they like gaming, they’ll probably want to come over for the dinner, and you’ll be able to convince them to play. Don’t invite too many people at once; 3-5 people is a good number.

“Board Games? Aren’t Those for Kids?”

Explain to your friends that board games have improved a whole lot since their childhood. Just like video games, computers, and cars have evolved tremendously in the past few decades, board games have come a long way as well.

It’s worth making the point to your friends that the difference between today’s video games and Pong is similar to the difference between today’s board games and Candyland. Innovation has made games a lot more complex, and a lot more fun.

“But will it be too complicated for me?”

Assure your friends that you’ll start off with easy games that they’ll have no trouble getting the hang of. And then follow up on it; don’t promise them easy games and then drag out a complex war game. You’ll want to make sure that any games you play on your first gaming night will be easy to teach to a group of non-gamers.

Remember, a game moves at the speed of the slowest player, so set the difficulty level of your games accordingly.

Choosing The Right Games

Game selection is absolutely essential when planning a game night with non-gamers. If someone has never played board games as an adult before, and his first experience is a bad one, he’s not likely to want to play again.

When sharing games with non-gamers, you’ve got to have something that’s likely to make them appreciate the hobby, or at the very least, not scare them away.

Avoid long games. Someone who hasn’t gamed before probably won’t want to commit an entire evening to a single game, even if they understand the rules perfectly and aren’t losing. Throwing three non-gamers into a complicated four-hour game where they feel at a loss is likely to make them stay non-gamers.

Games with quick explanations are essential. Non-gamers don’t want to learn a whole book of new rules on their first night out, so stick to games with simple rules and fast play times. Most importantly, keep the personalities of your friends in mind. If your friends enjoy things that are silly and random, they might have a great time playing Fluxx. If they hate randomness and can’t stand not controlling their own destiny, they might be better off with Blokus.

On The Gaming Night

You should plan to eat dinner first if you’re cooking, otherwise you’ll have a lot of hungry people sitting around the gaming table ignoring the game while you keep running to the kitchen. Unless your friends are very, very neat, do not play a game over dinner. You’re much better off cleaning up first, clearing the table, and then setting up for some gaming.

You may want to start with a party game, like Charades or Apples to Apples. These are mostly non-competitive and unlikely to intimidate anyone. This will draw in some people, and cause others to hunger for games with a bit more meat.

That’s when you can bring out a game like Fluxx or Blokus. Try a few different games if possible, but if a friend likes a game enough to want a rematch, go for it. You may want to sit out for a game. If you have more people over than can play the chosen game, be willing to let your friends play the game while you comment on their options during their turn. If there is enough room for you to play in the game as well, don’t play a cut-throat game or attack other players too harshly. You should view your role in the first game as that of a teacher.

With any luck, they’ll want a second game, and then you can kick things into higher gear.

Games mentioned in this post:

February 1, 2009 at 2:21 am 1 comment

Dominion – A Self-contained, Backwards CCG

Written by Gary Bacchus

CCGs ARE EXPENSIVE

Collectible card games (CCGs) have been on the scene for some time now. Throughout the early 90’s, many companies vied for the top shelf in this very lucrative hobby’s market. Now, only Magic: The Gathering really stands alone as the dominator. One problem that most non-collectible card gamers have with getting into this pastime is the cost. It can cost several hundred dollars to build a competitive, tournament-grade deck with enough cards to make it versatile. It can take weeks and weeks of play to get comfortable with the deck only to have it knocked out of commission by the upcoming rulings from the tournament organizers which are often set up by the same companies that produced the cards.

Wouldn’t it be great to have the experience of a collectible card game without all the cost and pain?

A CCG for Non-CCGers

Dominion fills this gap. The game casts you as a ruler of a small kingdom in a “land grabbing” competition. The player that is able to extend their domain the most wins. However, fans of collectible card games will recognize a sub-game that is similar to the process of building that perfect competition deck.

This card game has a 30 to 60 minute playtime for two to four players.

Dominion’s Price is RIGHT!

Inside Dominion, there are 500 cards, so the entire game is self-contained. There is no need to buy booster sets or anything like that.

The best part, is the entire game can be had for right around $30.00 plus shipping online. Compare that to Magic – $10.00 for the starter deck and boosters average $5-$7 a pack for 15 cards. That averages out to about  $0.33 per card in boosters. Expect to spend a few hundred dollars to build a good deck. With Dominion, and its 500 cards that come with it, it averages out to about $0.06 per card – way less than a traditional CCG.

Your Starting Deck

The majority of the cards are Kingdom cards (interchangeably, the game also refers to these as “action cards”). These are the cards which allow you to take actions which modify the flow of play. A game is played with 10 sets of these cards. However, the players themselves do not start off with any of these actions cards in their deck.

Instead, the game starts you off with a 7 money cards and 3 victory point cards.

The money cards allows you to purchase action cards, more, higher value money cards, and victory point cards.

The victory point cards do nothing for you when you draw them into your hand. They only serve you at the end of the game. Hence, the player is interested in deck distribution from the beginning of the game.

Your Turn

A player turn consists of four actions (A, B, C, D). The first two are optional. The final one is required. A player may play 1 (A)ction card , (B)uy 1 card available on the table, and then (C)lean up his turn by discarding all their cards played, un-played, and purchased into their own discard pile. The player then (D)raws five cards (or as many as they can if there are less than five) into their hand. Play then passes to the next player.

So, throughout the game, you are continuously building and tuning their deck. This is opposite of a traditional CCG. In Dominion, throughout the game, you are building your deck, so you develop a more powerful deck as the game continues, rather than building your deck before the game and bringing your “power deck” to the table for the game.

Most of these action cards allow you to change the flow of the standard player turn by allowing you to draw more cards, play more actions, purchase of more cards, or other actions such as forcing other players to discard their own cards.

The Main Challenge With the Game

The chief challenge to teaching and learning this game is keeping track of how many actions one has taken. It is easy to get lost if one is not paying attention. With time, though, that should be easily overcome. Also, the game doesn’t have an intuitive start as the ability to combine the play of several cards is a key to the game. If you haven’t had too much experience with collectible card games, it may take a play or two to figure out the combined mechanics.

Using the Suggested Starting Play Sets

It does help to use the suggested first play sets in the rear of the manual to start out with. I would suggest progressing from that fairly soon, however, as the game quickly devolves into a game of multiplayer solitaire. The medieval, land-grabbing theme is a bit thin, but that is a common thread throughout most CCGs and Euro games alike. Players of CCGs will feel right at home here. If you’ve played games like Fluxx, this may also be a natural progression as dealing with the anarchy inherent in Fluxx will make keeping track of your actions in Dominion a snap.

Get your copy of Dominion here.

November 21, 2008 at 11:50 am 1 comment

2008 Origins Winners and Nominees – Still the Best in the World!

In case you are unaware, one of the biggest game conventions happened last week. It was the Origins Game Fair. This show ran from June 25-28.

One of the highlights of the show is the game award winners. Well, as our slogan says, we offer the best games in the WORLD. This time around, no surprise that we have some of them listed on our site.

Here is where you can learn about the Origins Game Fair.

I am not listing the full lists here. I am identifying the ones that our site, bestdanggames.com, has for sale. As we have said, we provide you only the BEST GAMES IN THE WORLD. This was proven yet again.

And the Nominees are:

Board Game or Expansion of the Year

WINNER: Starcraft The Board Game

Historical Board Game of the Year Nominees

Traditional Card Game of the Year

  • Zombie Fluxx published by Looney Labs
  • Race for the Galaxy published by Rio Grande Games – We will be carrying this game when it becomes available.

WINNER: Zombie Fluxx

So, don’t delay! If you want to play more of the best games in the world, click the links above to pick up your copies now.

July 6, 2008 at 8:02 pm Leave a comment

We Now Carry Card Games!

You don’t need to have a game board to play a great game! Some card games are really good and a lot of fun.

After a couple of tests, we have decided that www.bestdanggames.com will start to carry different card game lines.

So, jump on over to our Card Game section and check out our games we carry.

Right now, on our site you can get:

  • Catan Card Games
  • Munchkin – we carry all the expansions and stand-alone games. Just ask for them.
  • Fluxx – we carry many of the incarnations of this game – including Zombie Fluxx (Origins Card Game of the Year Winner)
  • Killer Bunnies – we carry all the colored booster sets. Again, just ask.
  • Ticket To Ride – The Card Game
  • BANG! The Bullet – Every BANG! card ever published in one set

We have access to collectable card games, but we will not be carrying games like Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, or Magic due to rules in place by Wizards of the Coast that state we have to have a physical location to sell these. We do have access to other collectable card games, so if that is your game, let us know and we can probably get them for you.

July 6, 2008 at 6:26 pm 1 comment


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  • Played Jambo for the first time on Saturday. Great fun for a 2 player Euro style game. 7 years ago
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