I was hoping to bring a couple of games to the table over the Chinese New Year holidays but as it turned out, it was tougher than expected. I thought it was interesting that Chris highlighted in a recent blog post his challenges in "converting" non-gamers. I share the same sentiments and over time, I realize that not everyone is necessarily a gamer-in-the-making, despite my earnest hopes.
My collection is rather limited in terms of fillers and party games so when I reach for a gateway game, I reach straight for something like Settlers or even the Princes of Florence with the right numbers. I put it down to impatience in desiring to suss out the potential gamers from the non-gamers from the get-go. Perhaps it's a resignation that non-gamers can never be fully "converted". These are likely the ones who find a game of Setters more stressful than intriguing, and are often overwhelmed by the rules early in the explanation process. The potential gamers on the other hand are not necessarily ones who embrace the game immediately but will nonetheless express some enjoyment of the game, coupled with an openness to try it or other similar games some time down the road.
I decided that this CNY I would pull out my sparkling new Dominion:Intrigue at any gaming opportunities. This was probably unwise, taking into consideration the wordy nature of the Intrigue cards but I was eager to experiment nonetheless. The results were mixed. The first 4-player game I attempted it was made up of half non-gamers. We successfully completed the game but it dragged due to AP by the non-gamers. I guess it's understandable as the buy phase can be particularly challenging with 10 actions cards staring you face-to-face, each with their own set of instructions. They did enjoy it however and seemed open to try it again in future.
The second attempt with a different group wasn't as positive. I opted for set with limited interaction and the multiplayer solitaire was apparent. This group was made up of one casual gamer and two non-gamers and they seemed clearly bored midway through. I suppose the appeal of building the most efficient deck in absence of interaction simply didn't cut it for them. I made a mental note then that interaction would be a key element of my choice of gateway games in future. The game was abandoned halfway due to new guests arriving and they seemed happy to try their hand instead at Band Hero rather than continuing with the game. Time's Up: Title Recall turned out to be far more successful with my friends and their significant others after dinner.
I wised up the next day when my cell group mates came over and opted for lighter fair such as Monopoly Deal Card Game and Tichu. They seemed to enjoy the former more than the latter, reaffirming yet again its charm with non-gamers.
Thankfully, I still managed to get an afternoon of heavier gaming in later in the week. Ivan, Jo and Ben came over and we started with 2 games of Dominion:Intrigue. Their familiarity with LCG play meant that they caught onto the game quickly and we were flying through our hands. In addition, we were able to pick up on the card combinations faster and the games proved to be highly enjoyable. I realized that having interactive cards in play was crucial to my own enjoyment of the game too. Jo won the first game which was set up using the recommended "Secret Schemes" set in the rulebook. I randomized for the 2nd game and it turned out arguably even more exciting, thanks to the interaction of the Torturer and Masquerade action cards. I have listed the set for those who may be interested to give it a go (using only Intrigue cards):
Bridge, Coppersmith, Courtyard, Duke, Masquerade, Mining Village, Minion, Nobles, Secret Chamber, and Torturer.
I took that game with 31 VPs, with Ben close behind at 29.
We then proceeded to the main course which was our customary A Game of Thrones LCG game. In fact we managed 2 games this time round, opting to pair up to earn 30 power tokens. I (Lanni) paired with Ivan (Stark) the first game against Ben (Bara) and Jo (Targ). Stark was weak on Intrigue and Ben and Jo duly took advantage racing to victory. We switched partners and I paired with Ben this time round. The game was closer but we were pipped to victory ultimately. In particular, Stark was devastating with Bear Island out early which enabled targeted kills of opponent characters without attachment(s). However, I got a rule wrong and assumed that Bear Island allowed an execution per opponent. As it turned out, it was only a character per turn. Perhaps the outcome would have been different if I was able to keep more of my characters on the table. Nonetheless, that location card is definitely one to be feared.
With 4 players, this is probably our favoured format as it clearly speeds things up. It's nice having to pay attention to only 2 opponents' armies rather than 3. While the titles do add an additional political element to the game, I am satisfied to leave it for the times when we play with 3. In fact with 3, more of the titles are rotated since they are only refreshed every 2 rounds.