Monday, July 09, 2007

That Giant Sucking Sound at the End of the Table

For those that don't understand the title, I'd like you to meet Jerry. Jerry is a fellow that I used to game with every so often. Nothing wrong with the guy - very nice and loved to play games. But Jerry had a problem. He was slow. I don't mean slow like mentally challenged (that would be a matter of opinion I'm sure ;) ). No I mean that when he played games, he slowed them down.

Analysis Paralysis is a term often given to games that give players so many options that they just freeze up trying to decide what action to take, because they are not sure that they aren't hosing themselves. With most of the gamers I've played with, we took the information and after a reasonable amount of time, would make the best play we could (and if you were Matthew, you would decide it was the wrong one the second the next guy started his turn - if you were Noah, you declared that you had just lost the game). Some guys (SCUBA STEVE) took longer than others. I personally was not the fastest player. Then there was Jerry.

The best description of Jerry was that he couldn't eliminate the null choices. In other words, given 10 choices of things that he could do, 6 might be just dumb. So dumb that most gamers wouldn't think more than half a second about it, or wouldn't even consider it a "choice". For most gamers, the analysis would be based on 4 options. Not for Jerry. He would work through all 10. He would also ignore EVERYONE at the table, not being sure if any advice being thrown his way was advice, or gamesmanship (it was always advice so that he would hurry the hell up). So for Jerry, games where he had lots of choices caused other people pain. He once indicated that he wanted to learn to play Age of Steam. I thought I'd have to burn my AoS collection to avoid having to gut myself with a Samurai sword later. He took a game of Java and turned it into nearly a 3.5 hour game (thankfully, I only heard about that one).

The one for which Jerry might be famous for though, was Settlers of Catan. See, at one point we had a lot of people coming to our game nights. One night, a couple came in (they were both Jerrys in their own ways, the boyfriend worse than Jerry himself). Anyway, they wanted to play Settlers. Jerry and a friend of mine joined them. I got in 8 games that night. My friend got in ONE. They played a single game of Settlers and it took them most of the night - 3.5 hours.

It got to a point where people in our group would play a game they hated to avoid getting stuck in a game with Jerry. People would plan to play 4 hours games that were so complicated that Jerry would avoid them to keep from having to play with Jerry. Because not only did Jerry slow things down, he didn't spend all that time coming up with the best move - no, he typically spent a lot of time coming up with a bad move. And that bad move meant a huge advantage to whomever was lucky enough to be able to take advantage (conversely, you were just as likely to be randomly bent over by Jerry when he did something that you couldn't have possibly accounted for in your strategic planning). In short, it was not fun to play games with the guy.

Ok, to be fair, it was not fun to play any sort of strategic games with the guy. Really light games were ok, or abstracts like Blokus or Ingenious were ok. Or games that were really really random were ok. But if there was any amount of tactics or strategy to the game (even a light game), he was going to double the playing time.

Ok, so how do you know if you are a "Jerry"?
- Do your friends suggest Blokus or Ingenious instead of your selection when you ask them to play games.
- Do you hear cheers and party poppers going off when you announce that the last seat in your Cleopatra and the Society of Architects game is full?
- Do your friends pretend not to like long drawn out games, despite having A Game of Thrones, Age of Renaissance, Civilization, Conquest of the Empire, and Diplomacy on their shelf?
- Do your friends need to shave after playing a game with you?
- Do your friends frequently snort lines of white powder when its your turn to play?
- Do you wonder when your friends decided to let their hair grow out?
- Do you wonder why in the world everyone at the table needs to go to the bathroom 12-13 times a game? Can't they hold it until you are done playing this hand of Poison?
- Do you frequently wonder why your friends fall asleep playing games. I mean WTF?!? Maybe they should go to bed earlier! If they'd wake up, maybe this game wouldn't be taking so long. I mean for crying out loud! Its just a game of No Thanks!

1 comment:

caron said...

i'm on your side, charles! (wife of jason, your pal on the geek; sister-in-law of justin, your real-life game pal; and finally, winner of most games that are played in our house).


AP really ruins a good night of gaming.