In the recent episode (108b), we talk a lot about the breadth mechanical substance of competitive video games like League of Legends and StarCraft compared with relative lack thereof in board games, especially abstract games like Chess and Go. It was a bit of a weird conversation to have, because Chess and Go are massively popular games and have been so for such a long time that they are a part of the collective consciousness about games, whereas MOBAs, competitive shooters, and RTS games are all young upstarts by comparison.
So, I wondered what could explain the difference? On the one hand, you have games so simple a child could learn them that were created hundreds (maybe thousands) of years ago and will possibly be played for hundreds (maybe thousands) more. And on the other, you have games so complicated that even the creators constantly need to rebalance their efforts, games that may in the future be replaced by even more complicated games, relegating these to a past of emulators and GOG sales. But both types of games have strong competitive scenes, and can sustain thousands of players all over the world without growing old or stale.
I don’t have much personal experience with competitive video games, mostly because the sheer breadth of possibilities is intimidating, and although I am fully capable of absorbing the details big and small, I would rather spend my time on (abstract) games. This was the source of a lot of my questions, though: why would I rather spend time on a simple game that has little to no flash (and I include almost every board game, even the ones I love, in this category)? I can see the draw of complex, competitive games like Street Fighter, DOTA 2, and Overwatch even if they aren’t my kind of game, but, despite my enjoyment of “analog” games as abstract as Onitama and Tak, I have a hard time explaining the attraction. Which brings me to the question of the week:
What is your favorite abstract board game, and what is the single biggest attraction that makes it worth playing?
We covered a lot of ground in the podcast, so I’d give it a listen. And, even better than any of the discussion, we explained how you should enter our contest so that you can win a copy of one of my favorite abstract games, Tak. Toward the end of the episode, we discuss how you can enter (you are going to need to answer the question of the week, for one) and how the contest will be run. So please, tell your friends, tell your coworkers, tell random people on the street: if you want to win a free copy of Tak from Cheapass Games, listen to Episode 108b and send us your answers!