Saturday, July 21, 2007


A co-worker pointed me to a blog on the web and we laughed as she diagnosed me with NADDs. So what? What does this have to do with games? It has everything to do with games, and its a telling indicator of the kinds of games I really like - that is to say, the games I enjoy the most are the ones where the is lots of things for me to do and little real downtime for me.

Downtime is anytime during a game when there is nothing for me to do. Some games have spaces of time where you don't do anything, but you need to watch because you may need to react, or decide what to do. To me, this isn't really downtime. Downtime is when you setup a game of Can't Stop on the side to play when its not your turn. Downtime means you are more interested in Can't Stop than the game you are "playing".

Age of Empires III has hit my table a couple times recently and I really like it. Why? because there isn't much downtime. Everyone takes and action in turn and then you repeat. Each action takes very little time and the time in between is just long enough to plot out your next action. Resolutions of your choices typically doesn't take too long, though can slow down a bit towards the end. In a similar fashion, Age of Steam is fun to me - lots to do and think about, but its broken down into smaller bite-sized chunks. I can rattle off the other games that are like this - look at some of my favorites: Power Grid, A Game of Thrones, and Antike.

We were talking about some other games last night and I there are a number of games that I think are interesting, but are boring as hell when its not your turn - Vinci, History of the World, even to some extent Tikal. Its too bad that I have NADDs, because these games are pretty fun, I just can't bring myself to play them that often.

In a lot of ways, these games would be perfect online, because I wouldn't have to sit at a board waiting for my turn, I'd just get an email (which I always have open in the second tab of my browser) letting me know when its my turn to play. Until then, I'll just keep playing games and playing with my cell phone in between turns. Remember, I'm not NOT paying attention to the game, I just can't focus when its not my turn.

1 comment:

Jaybird said...

This may get me on the wrong side, but one of the better "no downtime" games for our group here in IL is TransAmerica. Sure, it is shallow. Certainly it is sort of childish in its simplicity. But, even with 6 people it can move along at a lightning pace, with people placing track one right after the other. We like it for its quickness, its good degree of interaction, and its simplicity. Great as a filler only though, to reduce that dreaded downtime between games, when older men talk about a convention that they went to 20 years ago where they played a long-dead WW II dogfight game, of which espousing the story consumes 20 minutes of game time as other older men can't wait to tell their 20 year old con stories, as us young impetuous play now-types are getting fidgety as they are trying to either teach a game of Power Grid or learn how to play Taj Mahal. Bah. And I love those old men--they are some of my favorite people to game with. But, sometimes they can be so verbose. WE HAVE 3 HOURS EVERY TWO WEEKS TO PLAY, AND ALL YOU CAN TALK ABOUT IS FLYING YOUR ZERO OFF THE EDGE OF THE BOARD, ONLY TO RECEIVE AN UNEXPECTED VICTORY?! C'mon.