The Games Journal | A Magazine About Boardgames

Letters - September, 2005

Jim Pulles: I own over 1,300 games and I still do not consider myself much of a a collector. I also think that that is what sets us apart when it comes to taking care of them.

Games are meant to be played... with friends in a social setting, not in a sterile room. Shit happens! Cardboard chits and small wooden markers tend to get misplaced, shelf wear and split corners will happen, someone will eventually spill a beer... so what? Make a replacement... tape the box... clean up the spill.

I have, over the years, played with some gamers who were so anal that they didn't even allow food or drink within a metre of their games. And heaven help you if you lit a cigarette even in the same room!! While I would respect their wishes, I probably wouldn't game at their place again.

Our Club meets at the local German Society. They run a full kitchen, canteen, and bar. We always have plenty of food and drink within arms reach all night long. Accidents happen... (I can hear your cries now... "Greasy chips! Pizza! Beer! Cheezy Poofs! Six inches from my Tigris and Euphrates! The Horror!")

In the past, I have replaced a card deck that was so sticky it could no longer be shuffled; a pack of money that was so grimy that I'm sure some strange fungus was growing between the 10s and 20s; and I've even replaced a box lid where one of our cats had an 'accident.' Big deal... they're only games! What it does mean to me, though, is that these games are getting played... and that's what it's really all about, isn't it?

I've used counter trays to store wargame counters and plastic ziplocs to separate pieces for games with a lot of small parts, but I find that most of the "Euro" games produced in the past few years all have perfect inserts to hold pieces as long as the box is kept flat. Even if they do get mixed, it doesn't take long to separate pieces before starting a game anyway... and, it gives the players something to do while you are going through the rules.

Now... if I were a true 'collector' and only bought games as an investment.. that would be completely different. I would probably keep 'my preciouses' locked away until I was ready to sell them. They would be kept in the same pristine condition as the day they were manufactured. Some would probably NEVER get played.

YOU look at a thrift store game and wonder how someone could have treated a game so bad... I look at the same game and think of how many times the game must have been played to cause such wear. If I have a real close look at my 1,000+ board games, I don't think that I'd find one game (except maybe Global Survival) that doesn't have some shelf wear, a piece of tape on a corner, stains on the rule book, map, or cards, or a replacement component or two. All of my games have been played multiple times (except maybe Global Survival) and have provided me and many of my friend countless hours of enjoyment over the last 40 years.

Sorry for the rant, but this is one of my pet peeves. Games are meant to be played, not coddled. There's a fine line between keeping a game in 'good' shape and 'excellent' shape... and I find that line a bit too anal for my tastes.

GGA - Well, a sofa is meant to be sat on but I still try to avoid spilling beer, pizza or "cheezy poofs" on it.

Greg Zamira: You had asked the question in your review of Shadows Over Camelot:

"...if a game is incredible the first 20 times you play but dreadful thereafter, do you recommend it or not?"

Here's how I look at it. Shadows Over Camelot costs about $40 as do a lot of other games. If you play it 20 times that comes out to $2.00 per game. If five people are playing that comes out to $0.40 per play. Divide that by the hour and a half it takes to play the game and that comes out to $0.27 cents per hour to have a great time. Name anything else that compares. 

Michael Andersch: I like your magazine very much, and for this reason I read, printed and filed every (I hope!) article up to now.

But I was not happy about the recent changes you made to your layout. Whereas its online-readability has neither improved nor worsened, its printability has considerably gone down: It now takes an awful lot of time to print an article.

Maybe there's a chance to improve on that a little bit?

GGA - I suspect that the reason it's printing so slow is the inclusion of a background image. (The other changes we made are very minor.) Note that most browsers allow you to disable any background images when printing. Hopefully this should solve your problem.

Joe Huber: [In response to Michael Hoffman's August, 2005 letter]:

"In Mr. Huber's analysis of the final chapters, he takes the author to task over the fact that N/S was praised for bidding 4 (North's bid of 2 seemed to be the final straw), and suggests that a bid of 3 would be more appropriate. Now I haven't read the book, so I'm not sure if the authors are using different rules than I grew up with, but when I learned Spades 20 years ago, the 'minimum team bid' was the 'number of players in the game'. So in a team game, the minimum team bid was 4! ('nil' bids obviously notwithstanding)."

I would note that:

  1. There does not seem to be a minimum requirement in place, and

  2. South had already bid 4, so even if playing with a minimum team bid of 4, any bid from North would be legal.

The actual bid from North, which struck me as inherently wrong, was 2; I was suggesting that 3 was a markedly superior bid.

I received another response privately indicating a more compelling case—if bags are considered to be negative (in spite of how they appear to be scored), then the 6 bid would lead to E/W scoring 506/507 and N/S scoring 502/503 if both make, with N/S winning. If the scoring system being used did in fact work this way, then my objection to North's bid does not stand. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to check the book to verify the scoring method.

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