May 23rd, 2008


Two unrelated notes

First, a toast to Robert Asprin. I only read nearly all his books -- and met him at the GaFilk he attended (where he proved to be a -consumate- performer), but regardless of his foibles (which I've heard about, but never seen), he had a greatness, and shall be mourned. This...has been a very bad year. I'm very glad years like this are uncommon, and I wish they were moreso.

Also, I've been thinking about the complaint about lack of (direct) competition in Race for the Galaxy. It's curious; the game is clearly highly competitive -- stronger players will win far more games, and other players' choices -- and correctly predicting and taking advantage of/countering those choices -- has a huge impact on the game. On the other hand, the game doesn't have -direct- competion -- there's no way to attack a player's positition after you identify them as a threat, nor are there limited resources (like the captain slots, trade slots, plantations, limited buildings, and extra colonists of Puerto Rico) for the players to squabble over. But here's the thing: the skills involved in direct competion in a multiplayer game -- threat evaluation, defensive play, etc -- aren't the only interesting skills in multiplayer games. Moreover, in some ways, the similarities between broad classes of direct competiition makes them more similar than different -- there are many ways that all auction games are alike, Lunch Money, Shadowfist, Illuminati, Munchkin, and "kill Dr Lucky" are far more similar than they probably should be, etc (I like Shadowfist a lot more than the others...but yeah, pretty much the same game wth different cards to evaluate and rules to compass). So maybe a rise in "indirect competition" games -- where threat evaluation skills and attack/defense allocation skills are comparatively irrelevant is a -good- thing -- because not all games need to be, or should be, the same game, or even belong to the same few broad categories of game.