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Thinking Out Loud

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Playing at the Speed of Strategy >> Games That Really Need a Timer

I just posted a new GeekList over at BoardGameGeek.com... Actually, it's my first GeekList in more than two weeks! Pretty crazy, since I had been posting about 2 GeekLists per week for a while. Anyway, here's the lead in. You can read the entire GeekList over at BGG.

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After perusing some gaming blogs, Tom Vasel's excellent Musings On posts and getting more playing time in with some long-unplayed games in my collection, I've become convinced that some games just really need to have a time limit imposed, either on the overall time you're willing to commit to playing or a timer set for players to conduct certain moves/phases.

For this list, I'm focusing on the latter -- let's list games which really need a timer to keep the game moving along. Without a timer, one overly analytical player can drag a game down to a grinding halt, or otherwise a game simply might not be able to get played in a single session. For other games, a timer helps create a frantic, frenetic pace that helps add to the chaos, excitement and theme of a game.

Some people think that playing under the pressure lessens the enjoyment of the gameplay experience, but not for me. When I've finished my move (especially in games with simultaneous phases) and I have to wait 5-10 minutes for someone else to finish their move, that's not fun, either. In fact, that's not even playing any more... Remember, you're only actually playing the game when everyone is doing stuff!!

You'll notice I don't bother to include Chess... For one, using a time clock is an accepted way to play Chess, and for two, it's not really my cup of tea.

So what do you think?
What other games desperately need to have a time limit imposed on player turns?
How much time is enough? Too much? Too little?
What are some of the repercussions to instituting time limits in your gaming group?
Has including a time limit backfired for some games?

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