Thursday, September 22, 2016

When boards and pawns get replaced by dice and cards

ReAs I have grown older, card and dice adaptations of board games have become more of a focus for me. Part of this is because they've become more and more common. They are also an interesting exploration of game mechanics. How do you change and distill a game to adapt it? And, plus, they're handy when you have less gaming time and storage space :D

There are three questions I usually ask myself when I look at a card or dice adaptation.

1. Is it any good as a game?

Seriously, that's the basic question you have to ask about any game. There's plenty of criteria to apply. Is the game fun to play? Does it offer an interesting experience? Does it offer interesting decisions?

I can't tell you what makes a game good. We wouldn't have such a variety of games out there if there was a single answer. But a game has to be good for me and the folks I play with to get played more than once.

2. Does it take up less space or take less time to play?

If the card or dice version takes up less storage space, that's a plus for me. If it has a smaller footprint on the table or takes less time to set up or breakdown, that's good too. And these days, when life has me busy in a lot of other ways, a shorter playing time is also a big selling point.

Of course, as our son gets older, some of those things might not be quite so big a deal. On the other hand, having shorter, simpler versions of games to reach him will become handy.

3. Does it capture the feeling of its parent game?

Truth to tell, this isn't a deal breaker. If we enjoy playing the game and the shared name is just branding slapped over the top, I don't care. Still, it is nice when it happens. And, in some rare cases, makes me feel okay about having the card or dice version and not the board version.

A good example of a game that has stayed in my collection is Euphrates and Tigris: Clash of Kings. It is not as good a game as it's boardgame parent, Tigris and Euphrates. It also takes about as much space on the table. However, it is still a good game and it takes up a fraction of the storage space. For as often as I have ever played Tigris and Euphrates, the card version is an acceptable alternative in my collection.

Back in 2002, Hasbro put out card versions of several classic games.
These versions of Battleship and The Game of Life are still in my collection and I'd much rather play them than the originals.

In most cases, there is a tradeoff when a game or at least the theme is taken into a new medium. Sometimes, you lose more than you gain. However, at least for me, it's at least worth looking into.

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