Thursday, 2 August 2007

Cracked LCD Column Up

My egomaniacal bid for board game "credibility" continues unfettered in the lastest Cracked LCD column...this time I talk about a great round of Ca$h and Gun$ I played a couple of weeks ago and make some kind of point about how board games have a human element that isn't there in video games. Or something like that.

That being said, I'll be in my room playing this $3 copy of WARHAMMER 40K: DAWN OF WAR I found at Target.

BTW, what the hell is an Elf doing in that screenshot of Xbox Live CARCASSONNE?


Anderon said...

God, this blog sucks. From beginning, to end.

Michael Barnes said...

Now here's Anderon on...

CITIZEN KANE: "God, this movie sucks. From beginning, to end."

TWILIGHT IMPERIUM: "God, this game sucks. From beginning, to end."

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: "God, this show sucks. From beginning to end."

MILTON'S PARADISE LOST: "God, this poem sucks. From beginning, to end."

"THE WHITE ALBUM" by THE BEATLES: "God, this record sucks. From beginning, to end."

THE BUSH PRESIDENCY: "God, this administration sucks. From beginning, to end."

LIFE: "God, my life sucks. From beginning, to end."

Jack Hill said...

Yeah Michael. Your posts are pretty much lately....go read this cooler post over here.

The other post is interesting though. I noticed it playing the XBOX Settlers. I love Settlers, I love my 360. The single player AI is actually pretty good.

Multiplayer matchmaking is smooth, the trading interface is elegant.

And no one talks. We've got live voice chat over the network, but no one uses that because the trade interface handles that.

I can't tell much of a difference between playing against live players and the AI players--save that the AI players tend to be better at the game.

Rliyen said...

That being said, I'll be in my room playing this $3 copy of WARHAMMER 40K: DAWN OF WAR I found at Target.

Let me know if you want an online tussle in DOW and I'll gladly oblige you.

Great review, by the by!

jr said...

Good article.

“Granted, there are a lot of sensations, experiences, and more visceral emotions that video games can provide to a player that board games simply, by their nature, can not.”

True, to get a realistic real-time first-person experience (firing a gun, exploring a dungeon, racing a car, etc.), video games are far superior to board games. However, even a turn-based first-person boardgame (e.g. a book game like Ace of Aces) offers a couple advantages: you don’t need to be good at dexterity skills to be good at the game, and you don’t need a lot of specialized (and often expensive) hardware to play with your friends. As to 3rd person, the advantages of video games are not so clear cut.

The most obvious difference between real-time video games and turn-based board (and video) games is dexterity vs. strategy (besides other obvious things like animation and changeable environments). If you want dexterity to be the main skill, play real-time video games. Even so-called real-time “strategy” games (RTS) are mostly about how fast you can click on stuff. If you feel like using strategy and not dexterity, play board games and turn-based video games (although the latter seem to be an endangered species these days). The real-time environments offered by computer games are usually fast-paced and hectic, which doesn’t leave much time for anything but the most simple strategies/tactics (although some military FPSs let you use some good tactics).

And as you said, most board games offer a much better social experience than video games (except maybe super-analytical board games). Real-time video games so consume each person’s attention that they offer a much poorer social experience, even when everyone is in the same room on a LAN: everyone is mostly staring at their own screen and doing their own thing—you don’t even have to look at each other.

Clarissimus said...

If you want dexterity to be the main skill, play real-time video games. Even so-called real-time “strategy” games (RTS) are mostly about how fast you can click on stuff.

Yeah, I'm gonna call BS on this one. I've heard a it hundred times and all from people who lack the ability to think quickly in a stressful situation.

BTW Barnes, I think the Carcassonne elf is a player avatar.

Clarissimus said...

Looking at Barnes most recent article, it looks as though he just can't escape puberty. Most of us have given up playing with toy guns long ago.

I also have to add that it's pretty hilarious to see one group of geeks put down another group for being "childish." As if playing games with little plastic men is any less childish than playing games with little wooden men. Either way, you're still a Grade "A" dork. (And I speak as one myself.)

The only real way to play board games and not be a dork is to use Chess or Go. And maybe Checkers, but only if you're a salty old geezer who plays every week with another equally old timer.

Tom Hazlett (Southernman) said...

The Euro Overlord said...
I will agree the content on this blog is misguided and for the most part bad. I must also add that BGG is on a downward spiral too. BGG has been infested with Cat pictures and homosexual humor and I would much rather be talking boardgames. So, really at the moment there is no really good spot to discuss boardgames.

He is slowly being turned ... straightened out ... the fun starting to seep into his spreadsheet soul

Shellhead said...

I'm looking forward to playing Ca$h'n Gun$ someday. The very well-stocked game store about a mile from my home carries Mall of Horror and Dungeon Twister, so I assume they will carry the new edition of this, too. I have been pestering their staff about it for about 8 months now. Hmm, something to do on the way home from work today.

jr said...

"Even so-called real-time “strategy” games (RTS) are mostly about how fast you can click on stuff."
"Yeah, I'm gonna call BS on this one. I've heard a it hundred times and all from people who lack the ability to think quickly in a stressful situation."

Fair enough. But in RTS games I've played, a lot depends on knowing an efficient production and/or rushing "algorithm" and executing the procedure very quickly. Of course, you will have to think and react to other players who are just as quick and can counter you, but quickness in executing pre-figured counter strategies is a huge factor. Stress doesnt help thinking, so in-game strategic thinking suffers for many people in an RTS. By all means, if you can formulate new strategies super-quick on the fly and love the pressure cooker, go for it. Many people (I would guess even most people) are going to find turn based games much more strategic.

The Euro Overlord said...

"The only real way to play board games and not be a dork is to use Chess or Go. And maybe Checkers, but only if you're a salty old geezer who plays every week with another equally old timer. "

This is not true. Most of the Euros don't have the "Barnes pre-teen" stigma attached to them.

Backgammon is an example of a non geek game. Most abstracts and Euros are non geek.

Ken B. said...

I guarantee you if someone sees a group of people gathered around Niagra, their first thought will be, "What a bunch of man-children".

Geeks calling other geeks geeks is...counterproductive.

Have to face facts--when people hear "boardgame", they think Sorry!, Parchesi, Monopoly, and so on. This is all they have to compare things to, this is all they know. Their next thought is, "Shouldn't grown men have moved on from playing these things?"

We know better, but they don't. So the "pre-teen" assertions are a bit absurd.

Anonymous said...

I thought Niagra was actually intentionally designed for children. Is that the point of games in the "family" games subset?

Ken B. said...

The point being, to non-gamers, boardgames are something you play as a child and leave behind. They do not know any better than this. I have run into and helped others overcome this by showing them what 'modern' boardgames are about. Once they realize they aren't in "roll n' move" hell, they tend to take to it rather nicely.

The Euro Overlord said...

Thank you.

Niagra is a children's game

I believe we are witnessing another "Euro Awakening"!!!

Ken B. said...

You goofball. I don't hate Euros, never did. Will always choose an AT game if time permits, but I think pretty highly of more than one Euro.

Anonymous said...

At the same time, if someone sees me playing Candyland with my nephew, I don't think they think it's because I'm a man-child. I think your example is deliberately misleading. Why not use something like T&E?

The Euro Overlord said...

When Ken starts calling me names, you know he is getting frustrated!

I love it!

As more people get introduced to these new generation games, anyone with common scense will lump TI3 into the nerd arena and Puerto Rico into the adult arena.

Darilian said...

To get this topic back online, (and also to not subtly snub The DorkLord)

Michael, I really liked your article. One question that I had for you was the impact on the industry that computer versions of boardgames will have. For example, the X-box 360 Settlers and Carcassonne. When they came out, I was curious to see if they would diminish sales of the board game, complement, or would the two be totally different animals. I was curious on your take?


Ken B. said...

Yeah, man...when I'm at my most frustrated, my most angry...I bust out the "goofball".

Up next--finger wagging.

I wasn't trying to be disingenuous. Do you know why I used Niagra as an example? Because it was sitting on my shelf at work where I'd brought it to play with the lunchtime group. That's why it was the first game I thought of.

As for Tigris and Euphrates...I love that game.

I mean, I'd argue with you guys some more, but I'm not even sure what we're arguing about.

This blog is not anti-Euro. It is pro-AT. Just like, say, a website devoted to video game RPGs. That doesn't mean they don't like first-person just means they prefer RPGs.

Pat H said...

RTT 's are the best real time games - none of the base and research garbage only tactics.

Steel_Wind said...

"THE BUSH PRESIDENCY: "God, this administration sucks. From beginning, to end."

Hums: "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong..."

Michael Barnes said...

Steelwind- The point there was that NO ONE like Bush except the very wealthy, weapons manufacturers, and oil tycoons. I assumed that Anderon was none of those things.

Darilian- I think we'll see a minor spike in sales of SETTLERS and CARCASSONNE but I doubt we'll see folks diving into BGG madness...something I think we lose sight of is that most people are satisfied by having one or two good board games in their closet _and that's it_. But really, most people getting into those games via XBox live, I think, are going to be sated with the online play.

Real Time Strategy games- sure, there's something of a "dexterity" element but I think folks forget how much resource management and on-the-fly tactical thinking are in there...and I do think there's long term strategies involved in most of them. The best (TOTAL ANNIHILATION is still the all time best for me, but DAWN OF WAR is actually pretty close)have a lot to consider in terms of what to build in particular situations, where to deploy them, when to reinforce or fall back...there's a lot of real, serious thinking to do. But yeah, it's all on the fly.

I'm going to do a write-up on ARMAGEDDON EMPIRES next's a pretty interesting CCG/Board game...but on PC. I think it really demonstrates how a game that could theoretically be published as a board game is actually more successful in an electronic format due to its handling of all the administrative tasks and micromanagement it would require. It's pretty neat, check out the demo. Turn based, all the way.

Pat H said...

The guys over at Wargamer are quite happy so far with Armageddon Empires. I haven't started the demo yet but the theme and storyline are quite good. The artwork is nice too.

Dawn of War rocks. This game got a bunch of my buddies together at the local internet cafe for a few lan sessions nad that was a blast! DOW is the father of Company of Heroes.

I can't wait for DOW 2.

Turn based games for the PC are alive and well - it's just a niche market but there are new titles being released regularly and old titles being polished and re-released.

Civ 4 is quite good along with it's expansion(s).

Citadel said...

Good article. One thing though. Is DEFCON not very much like a computer game version of Ca$h and Gun$.

bill abner said...

Dawn of War is great. The add on is also worth getting. (adds the Tau and Necrons)

Still, Relic's best game, and this coming from a true Wargammer geek -- is not DoW but rather Company of Heroes. Best RTS ever made IMO.

Still..DoW has the best intro movie...ever.

Michael Barnes said...

Citadel- DEFCON! The visual design of that game is _amazing_. I haven't played it extensively, but the bit I played I thought was pretty close to fuckin' awesome.

Pat H said...

Company of Heroes is the evolution of the system designed for DOW by Relic (good Canadian co.). DOW 2 will be the evolution of this system - I believe a scaling of the product is on the horizon (bigger maps more units smaller on screen).

I bet they announce this by Christmas after "Opposing Fronts" has settled.

alan polak said...

yes good article. I end up bringing Cash n Guns to my group fairly regularly and there is VERY little of the in your face threats and bluffs. People pretty much decide to duck depending on how many foam oranage things are in their faces. Maybe its a British thing,although I was born in NJ and do tend to take it further than the rest, maybe it's cause it seems to be the mainly Euro gamers that always ask me to bring it...hmmmmmmm.

Anonymous said...

Barnes scored high with this one.

Great lead in.

Talked about people, fun, the social interaction. Got to the heart of "why would I want to play something else than a networked video game?"

Picked a great example, Cash and Guns, which plays fast and is all about reading people's body language.

Didn't drift into theological arguments over A-vs-E orthodoxy that video gamers couldn't care less about.

He's risen above his critics. One can only hope this article finds the larger audience among video gamers that it deserves.

Great job!

Continues to be loyal to his retail store origins. Refuses to mention sites like
as a way of getting around the "Where the $%@# can anyone find these games?" issue. ;-)

Michael Barnes said...

Actually Anon, I'm considering a "Where to buy" article that's going to address the retail/online conundrum. I _do_ think game retail is doomed, but only because most retailers are either too lazy, too stubborn, or too ignorant to make positive changes to get people back into stores.

Thanks for the good comments.

JMcL63 said...

I read this column after reading the more recent one, but it's still one of the best 'Cracked LCD' columns so far. All your points are nails hit right on the head. Good stuff.

And I just so want a copy of CA$H AND GUN$ now! Thanks for the tip!

John ;)