Saturday, April 26, 2008

Never Shuffle Again  

Games: Lost Cities was released on Xbox Live this past Wednesday. Described by the friend of that recommended it as a sort of two-player solitaire (which is a very good description, actually) it's a quick game to learn with just a few rules. After spending about 10 minutes on the tutorial and a match against the computer to feel it out, this friend and I were playing against each other and enjoying the friendly competition.

During the course of play, I remarked to him that Xbox Live was spoiling me for tabletop games. For example, even though Lost Cities is about as simple as card games come, the computer was still handling the shuffling and score tallying, and of course, all rules were enforced by the AI. All we really had to do was play.

Looking at another of my favorite Live offerings, Carcassonne is a highly complex game that asks players to build castles with points awarded for things like building roads, the amount of adjacent farmland, and how much area is within the castle walls that are built. (If you haven't played this game, it's a LOT more fun than it sounds... trust me.)

Anyway, it's a great way to spend a few hours but by playing it on Live first, I couldn't even begin to imagine playing it the original way -- on a table with printed cards. Trying to make sure that all moves were legal and then manually scoring something like this seems so complicated and arduous, I have no idea how people ever did it without electronic assistance, let alone did it correctly.

Doing board games better than board games do wasn't something that I would have anticipated before the advent of the 360, but I have to say that the thought of going back to having a piece of paper and pencil beside a stack of playing pieces and mixed-up piles of multicolored money seems a lot less appealing than just plugging in a headset and checking my friends list.

What next?

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2 comments: to “ Never Shuffle Again

  • Anonymous


    I don't know. For a bunch of strangers and casual online friends i'm completely onboard with tabletop gaming online, but when i'm dealing with close friends/family i'd rather be face to face with the gameboard spread out between us. Watching my brothers/nephews face light up as he draws the winning card just can't be replicated by playing online (trash talking to someones face is much more satisfying as well).


    That's actually a really good point. I didn't have the family/kids angle in mind when I wrote the post, but I'm definitely agreeing with you.

    Good call.