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Thinking Out Loud

Friday, May 26, 2006

I'm sorry, Ra -- I didn't mean it...

When it comes to games, I tend to rely heavily on initial reactions, gut instinct and snap judgements. With so many games to choose from when playing (either from my own collection or the extended pool of available games from all my various gaming buddies) and so very little time to play, I can be pretty harsh with games that don't blow me away after the first play.

There are some games, however, that I have ended up playing more often than my initial reaction would normally warrant. This was sometimes due to easy accessibility of play/opponents via PBEM or BSW, or perhaps convincing by my gaming peers that I ought to give the game another chance. Regardless, after giving the game a few more plays, I began to reverse my position.

So in an effort to set a good example for my son, I'm going to own up here and apologize. I made a mistake.

Far and away, Ra is the poster boy of this phenomena for me. When I first played Ra, everyone I played it with hated it. It was one of the first Euro/designer games I had played, and it was so different from anything we had tried before that the strategy completely eluded us. I despised the game for a long, long time. But eventually, as I met more people who enjoy Euro/designer games, Ra was often mentioned as a game that needed another chance.

It took me a long time to come around. But the wonderful player aids from the Geek and the great online implementation over at BSW helped convince me. Once I could better see the tiles, better understand who had what, then I was able to better evaluate the different lots. I found myself playing more and more frequently. And I even found myself requesting Ra a few times with 3 or 4 players. Ra probably has the highest rating boom for any game I've played. It started out around a 3/10 when I first owned and played Ra... but now, it's a solid 8/10, and a game I enjoy with 3 or 4.

Ra, if you're out there listening - I'm sorry. I should have been more patient, and let you develop at your own pace. I'm sorry for pushing you and trying to make you fit my expectations of what sort of game you were.

Old Rating: 3/10
New Rating: 8/10

Do you tend to qualify gameplay after just one play? How many chances do you give a game before giving up on it?


  • The only game I can think of that has suffered from snap (and incredibly, harshly negative) judgement is Roborally. I've only ever played twice, both times with large groups of six or more, and both games were...excruciating. I don't believe we actually finished either one. I think I see the appeal of the game to some, but for me it's a pointless exercise in chaos. Might as well just flip a coin, be happy when it lands on "Good" and pissed when it lands on "Bad", because that's about the amount of control I felt I had.

    By Blogger Jason, at 9:58 AM  

  • I should add that I only just played my first couple of games of Ra here in the last few weeks at the St. Louis meetups, and was pleasantly surprised. I'm always a bit skeptical when trying one of the "classics" for the first time, but Ra was great. Both games were tense, interesting, and had me struggling with some really difficult decisions.

    By Blogger Jason, at 10:00 AM  

  • I'll try any game twice. I will then state why I dislike it. Others will either explain why I have it wrong, or agree that my characterization is correct (they like it for the same reasons I do not). In the former case, I try to play the game a few more times to see if I can come around. It helps to play a game like this with people who absolutely love it.

    By Blogger ekted, at 10:01 AM  

  • At last you see the light! Group hug! Oh, and don't forget to drink the Kool-Aid before you leave. ;-)

    By Blogger Seth Ben-Ezra, at 10:06 AM  

  • Oddly enough, with the exception of Settlers of Catan, Ra was the first German boardgame that I learned. It was definitely the first Knizia game that I played. So, it has a special place in my heart.

    In general, I'm willing to try most games twice, assuming that there's that little sparkle in the first play that shows me that there's an enjoyable game in there, even if I didn't see it immediately. I'll admit to having fairly omnivorous game tastes, so my expectations can be fairly low. Really, the question that I ask is, "Was I intrigued by the game?" This applies to heavier games like Dune, Java, Puerto Rico, or Tigris and Euphrates, as well as smaller, lighter games like High Society, Polarity, or Tsuro. If I was intrigued, then I'm willing to put forth the effort to dig into a game.

    Of course, by the time I buy a game, I've usually put enough research into it that I'm already confident that I will be intrigued.

    By Blogger Seth Ben-Ezra, at 10:16 AM  

  • We told you so! Trust in your Geekbuddies. ;)

    By Blogger Rick, at 7:45 PM  

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