Friday, March 02, 2007

A Gaming Session To Forget

Well, I took BattleLore over to Andy's place this evening. I decided to start with the first tutorial scenario - Agincourt. I spent about 15 minutes explaining the rules. I showed him how to play a command card, explained how to move each of his units and how to battle. I discussed some basic tactics and went through all the appropriate summary cards used in the scenario. I explained that this scenario was just to get used to the basic concepts of the game and that we would swap sides and play the same scenario again.

I gave Andy the English while I took the French. I did this because the English had 6 command cards and the French had only 4. This would give him more options for his first game. As we played, I explained the reasoning behind my moves and assisted him with options when it was his turn. When I did offer several options in a situation, Andy usually chose the most appropriate move. He did, however, start to make comments about the luck of the draw of the cards, and that I always seemed to roll better than he. I pointed out the luck should balance out over a game, but that one can increase one's chances of winning by understanding the nuances of the game, which was what I was teaching him. I won the first game 4 to 3, but he would have probably won on the next turn.

We then swapped sides. As the French, with only 4 command cards, Andy became very frustrated. He'd been mildly irritated in the first game with what he saw as the limitation of the cards. Now, in the second game, his frustration became more pronounced. Andy had a plan but he kept claiming he didn't have the cards to do what he wanted to do. Each turn he would complain about the cards he'd received and about any hits I scored on his units.

I calmly explained the core mechanism is that movement and battle is card-driven and that as a game one had to work within that limitation to achieve one's goals. I explained that historically, commanders rarely were able to do exactly what they wanted. Andy didn't accept this and appeared not to be able to get past the fact that he couldn't move his troops in the centre. I explained that the game was all about managing one's hand of cards and gave him advice on what I'd do in that situation. At that point we were tied with 3 banners each and either one of us would win if we claimed one more banner.

Andy remained fixated on the limitation of the cards. It got to a point where Andy finally conceded the game as he'd become totally frustrated with not being able to move his troops where he wanted, when he wanted. I admitted that this style of card-driven game was not for everyone. For me, I enjoyed that mechanism. Andy though, by that stage, had given up. He said he wasn't interested in any games that had cards that told him what he could or couldn't do. To him, the game wasn't historically, strategically or tactically accurate. Still, I don't think that drinking one and a half bottles of red wine during the game helped Andy to fully appreciate the subtleties of BattleLore.

It's a pity, because I'd really hoped I'd found a BattleLore opponent who lived locally. Sigh.


SodakLady said...

That's too bad. Maybe you could get him to try it again, minus the wine and with the addition of the Lore decks.

Ozvortex said...

I'm not sure if I want there to be another time, Sodaklady. I hadn't been aware how much he'd been drinking until I started to notice his bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and beligerent manner (he'd been filling up his glass in the kitchen). I was sober as I had to drive home. Andy's behaviour made me feel very uncomfortable as we didn't know each other that well and this was the first time we'd gamed together. He took ages to complete his turns and while at the time I was patient due to his unfamiliarity with the game, I now suspect it was more to do with the fact that he was drunk. I also wasn't impressed with the negative way he always viewed his position in the game and his constant grumbling about his card draws and both his and my dice rolls. And I was also shocked and annoyed he simply gave up before we'd finished the second game. I was actually worried he was going to tear the cards in half. I think one needs to have a certain temperament to be a board gamer. Andy's behaviour was a bit immature. I want to enjoy the company of the people I game with so I'm not in any hurry to game with him again. To his credit, though, he has emailed me an apology for his behaviour on that evening.

mikey said...

Perhaps the problem was not with his indulgence of alcohol, just his choice of drugs. With a CNS stimulant instead of a CNS depressant, that turn time would have come riiiiight down.

Of course, on the down side, he certainly would have ripped the cards in half and most likely punched you in the head.