Monday, August 17, 2015

1870: The Board Game

Resource management games can be found on both computer and on the board. I prefer the board variant because there's a limit to how much time you can sink into it before the game ends. Yes, I've had a couple Civ video game binges, but I never come out of those feeling good. And while you can video game with friends, it's better in person over a board.

1870 sort of puts this to the test. Unlike other super-long board games it doesn't overly rely on randomness (Risk) or excessive politicking (Diplomacy) which I'm no good at. It however far exceeds any normal board game in duration. How far? I've no idea. We've tried to play it twice so far and after 6+ hours each time we've yet to reach the end. We've yet to even really get the end in sight. Rather than infuriate me, I'm more determined than ever to play it through (and win, damnit! I'm a winner. Things are gonna change, I can feel it.)

One of the best things about the game is the ridiculous complexity that all sort of makes sense. It seems like half the game is just learning and remembering the rules. Towards that end I whipped a cheat sheet for our second attempt this last weekend.

They're meant to be 5.5" x 4"- here's the Google Doc Cheat Sheet that has them laid out 4 a page.

Above is the "Operating" phase, below is the "Stock" phase (aka, excellently named the President and Person phases by Allison)

Why is such complexity tolerable? I'm not sure. Maybe once we finally reach the end I'll throw my hands up in disgust and come to the same conclusion that I have with Power Grid. Why play resource management games at all? There's just some sort of itch that it scratches... the idea that it can all be done correctly. Both times I've played so far I feel like I failed not due to a bad draw or poor luck or because someone was uncooperative (try as some might to be a thorn in the side), but rather because I fucked up. And if I fucked up that means maybe next time I wont fuck up and then I'll win. And then I'll have won because I'm a winner and I did it best.

But who knows... maybe next time we'll actually reach "mid-game" phase and I'll be able to get a better read on things. To give you an idea of how little progress we made, here's two pictures from our first game.

They're almost 4 hours apart. Can you see how not-covered by tiles that board is? Yeah. Next time... or maybe the one after that...

Interested in the rules? Check them out over at the publisher's site.

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