Monday, March 18, 2013

Why I Don't [Want To] Play BSG Much Anymore

So there was a game of Battlestar Galactica at Madicon a couple weekends ago, and I realized, after a few moments, that I had no regrets that I missed it as I swooped by the game and chatted with the folks there.

Part of the reason was that it was Madicon, and I'm all about the shortish games (generally) and socializing and talking with my old friends and meeting a few new people.

But really, as I thought about it, it was the fact that while I love the concepts of the game and how it plays out for the early and mid-game, the end-game is just frustrating and drawn out, especially if the cylons are winning.

Admittedly, the Exodus expansion fixes some of this, and is why I won't generally play a BSG game without it; however, it is a band-aid to the core the problem that the cylon's best play is to drag out the game as long as possible, turning it into a grueling 3 hour+ game. And occasionally that's fun, but regularly? Not anymore, I don't have the time for not knowing how long the game is going to go.

What does the the fact that hidden cylon's win by "drawing the game out", it means that there is almost always an optimal solution, and that anyone who doesn't choose it is at risk of being a cylon, and especially if they are president (or admiral), should be removed from that role because it is a larger than average risk. For example, if your admiral does a short jump or two, then remove them, it could be that they got bad draws, but really, it is more likely that they want the group to take more jumps to suffer more crises and suffer that slow trickle. If they turn out to be human? Ah well, sorry the percentages weren't in your favor.

Except. And there's always an exception, and the one exception is that when you are playing with players relatively new to the game. They add a random variability of chance and unknown factors, because you can't assume that everyone at the table, human and cylon, are playing the optimal strategies for victory.

And playing in that grey zone of wondering whether someone's an ally or enemy, and/or just really bad at determining what the best play is? That's what makes the game fun for me, and I just can't get that when everyone knows what the best play is for their role.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Closing Out A Game

I hate ending games improperly. I love my multi-year sagas that end with some form of closure. Unfortunately, my Dresden Files game isn't going to get one of those endings.

I realized after running Exalted and then trying to run a game of Reign that I needed to swap genres. I needed to tell different stories to cleanse the palate and recharge my creative juices.

But this time it would be different, right? I ended my Changeling game just before the birth of my daughter, and then took about six months off. That should have been enough to let me go whole hog into my Dresden Files game.

Should have. Would have. Could have. Wasn't.

So today, I sent an email to my players confessing that I'd hit burn out and that after the current arc, I was going to take a break. And of the four, one had to drop shortly to up her athletic training, and another had the opinion of "if it isn't fun, why do it?"

Because it is fun, I just wasn't inspired. I had NEAT ideas on what to do next, but I couldn't find the motivation to move from the opening sequence to the neat imagery I saw as key points (subject to change to player intervention).

So what's next? A short break, maybe some board game ideas, then something different. Right now the lead contenders are Marvel Heroic Roleplaying or 13th Age for some good casual fun. Only War is definitely an appealing thought, but I'm not sure I could get the right folks for what I'd want to do for it.

But first? A break from running, or thinking about running games for a bit.