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Busy Lives Prompt Speedier Board Games 153

Posted by Zonk
from the play-faster-dangit dept.
BusylikeBum writes "Michelle Hastings admits she's sometimes cheated to get through a game of Candy Land with her 5-year-old daughter, Campbell. The board game can take just too long, she said. Disney Monopoly is another big offender. 'A game like that, it could literally take you days,' said Hastings, of Holliston, Mass. 'A lot of times, you don't play games because they take so long.' Board game makers are heeding pleas of parents like Hastings and introducing games tailored to busy lives and shorter attention spans that take only about 20 minutes to play." This is especially interesting to me, given the US adoption of more serious, lengthy German board games in the last few years.
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Busy Lives Prompt Speedier Board Games

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  • by quanticle (843097) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @06:12PM (#18613571) Homepage
    Another thing that's more difficult to address is the inordinate amount of setup time that some games take. Witness Axis & Allies. Its a great game, but every time I want to play it, I realize that its going to take at least 30 to 45 minutes to set up, and the thought of that is enough to get me motivated to do something else.

    That said, I don't see a way to address the issue without ruining the game. Part of the attraction of the game is the varied unit types, and its the very presence of varied units that makes setup so difficult.
  • by Skevin (16048) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @06:14PM (#18613593) Journal
    The problem with Monopoly is that it is not a zero-sum game - every time someone passes Go, another $200 is added to the overall money in play. Sure there are cards and board spaces that take money back into the Bank, such as the Luxury Tax square, but the total probability of hitting these cards/spaces often do not significantly impact one's earnings. This problem is further exacerbated by the occasional practice of putting all that "penalty" money into Free Parking.

    I introduced a variant to Monopoly that ensures the game will not take too long: I give everyone six times the normal starting amount in cash. Every time someone passes Go, he has to *pay* $200. This ensures that the total flow of money is negative for everyone.

    On another note, did anyone else chuckle at the fact that there is a "Disney Monopoly" boardgame you can buy?

    Solomon
  • It is true! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moore.dustin (942289) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @06:18PM (#18613627) Homepage
    Everything does take to long to finish in one sitting usually.

    That is why I play chess with friends via correspondence.

    I can use a program/site or just use IM/Email using chess notation. The site offers a ton of features, but after a while you should be able to play chess games without ever having to see the board physically. Instead you just read it with notation.

    Of course, most games cannot be played via notation, but via correspondence, it is surely an option.

    Edit: Average game of ~30 moves takes about anywhere from 3 to 30 days for me. Most finish within 3-5 days.
  • by theatrecade (1080063) <theatrecade@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @06:20PM (#18613653) Homepage
    what's this world coming to when you can't even take an hour or 2 to play a board game but you'll let your kids play video games unsupervised for hour. I understand what's it like to busy and i don't have kids but i have sisters that i'll devote days to them to their enjoyment. Just because i'm a hard core brother that way. I would think parents would do more to spend as much time with kids whether it's boardgames or video games
  • by Micah (278) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @07:08PM (#18614177) Homepage Journal
    "Takes too long" is a cop-out excuse by people who don't like Monopoly. If that's what they say, forget it, they wouldn't be good game partners anyway.

    In my experience, if you play Monopoly RIGHT (by the official rules) and focus on the game instead of gabbing about other things the whole time, it can take two hours or less, sometimes as little as one hour.

    Monopoly is also a lot more brilliant a game than most people think. Most people who "like Monopoly" don't have a clue what most of the rules are, and they insist on playing with house rules that completely mess up the game's economy and add too much luck (*cough* Free Parking Jackpot *cough*). Another offense is allowing as many houses/hotels as you want. The game has a carefully chosen limit of 32 houses and 12 hotels -- there must NEVER be more than that on the board. Many don't want to play with the auction rule, where all properties landed on that aren't immediately purchased must immediately be auctioned. Not to mention other silliness like trading immunities to paying rent for trades.

    Hint: All "house rules" are bad, but the ones that run counter to the game's goal -- bankrupting every player but you ASAP -- will make the game last longer. Play it right and you'll fly through it!

  • by Dan Slotman (974474) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @07:36PM (#18614435)
    The people I play games with tend to hit on or under the "expected playtime" for board games. I think the problem, if you consider it a problem, comes from your particular group of friends. Most game estimates expect that each player will be familiar with the rules, but will not rules-lawyer. They expect that each player will play to win, but they don't expect that each player will be a mini-Machiavelli. The important thing is to have fun; if you are having fun playing, it shouldn't matter how long the game takes to finish. If you want a shorter game try playing for a predetermined number of turns, or time limit, or similar arbitrary method.
  • by Trenchbroom (1080559) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @08:13PM (#18614825)
    Funny...when I think of German board gaming I think of them being "short" games to play. When my friends get together to play a long game we often play a Gamemaster game that typically takes 4-6 hours (Axis & Allies, Shogun...Fortress America is the game of choice, naturally). If we really plan on taking the whole night we'll play some Twilight Imperium. And god help us if Advanced Civilization is taken out of the game closet... Compared to these games, German classics like Settlers of Catan, Web of Power or Tigris & Euphrates can be played multiple times in the same time span.
  • by parliboy (233658) <parliboy&gmail,com> on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @08:14PM (#18614839) Homepage
    (On the other hand, it could just be false advertising. Witness the order of the Stick game that takes ages to play, despite the packaging).

    Disclaimer: Order of the Stick playtester. Buy the expansion, coming soon to a store near you!

    Stick can be completed within the listed time, if you're playing with board gamers. However, their target audience is the RPG crowd. These are people who play one game within an eight hour session, as opposed to about four games. They're working on alternate rules to allow for a timed game. Then again, I've never seen a dungeon crawl be intellectually honest about its playtime. So I suppose it's to be expected.

    Settlers in over three hours? Never seen that happen.

    p.s. Don't own Magic Realm, though I've thought about picking up a used copy I've seen. Meantime, Return of the Heroes seems to fit the bill in that genre.

  • SOMEBODY GETS IT!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by nobodyman (90587) on Wednesday April 04, 2007 @09:28PM (#18615483) Homepage
    Can we somehow get you adopted into my family!? As a kid I used to think that Monopoly took too long. Then in high school I ran across some kids in my 3rd period class that would all play through lunch . That's 50 minutes!!! I asked them if they played using alternate rules and they looked at me like I was from mars. Nope. The problem that was my family had instituted virtually all of the loopy "house rules". Here's just a few:

    •    
    • You had to pass Go once before you can purchase a property

    •    
    • No auctions. If five people before you land on a property and don't buy it, tough luck

    •    
    • Contracts and Immunity deals so complex you might need a Notary

    •    
    • Anything that would otherwise go to the bank instead goes into that [censored] Free-Parking windfall.


    Ugh. No wonder it would take hours.
  • by iainl (136759) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @04:01AM (#18617819)
    I'll absolutely confess that I don't like Monopoly. But that's because people make poor choices over the auctioning and mortgaging of properties, and most of all get into exchanges at silly vlaues cause the endgame to last ages.

    In most games of Monopoly, it only takes two or three trips round the board for one person to be obviously in the lead, largely due to the luck of their landing. Then the next hour is just playing out that ineviatable result; usually quite some time after the first person got eliminated, too.

    What I really found interesting, however, is how this is all talked about as a brand new development. The Lord Of The Rings Monopoly altered this a good couple of years ago, by introducing the movement of the Ring round the board. That gives a defining endpoint, and a count-up of the relative profits of each player, well before most people have been sitting around bored, waiting for the luckiest loser to hit the killer hotels.

    But there you go.
  • by mcvos (645701) on Thursday April 05, 2007 @07:28AM (#18618879)

    I wholeheartedly agree that the German board game industry has done woonderful things over the last 15 years. I don't agree with the article that it's the German board games that take long. They usuallly take about an hour. A game is long if it takes 2 hours. It's always been the Anglo-saxon style games that can take an entire day.

    This is mostly due to them being more simulationist. Anglosaxon style games invent a new way to model some part of reality (often in a very primitive way) and tweak that into a playable game. German style games invent an interesting and highly playable game mechanism and make up a nice theme around it. The German approach leads to very playable and accessible games. The anglosaxon approach can lead to highly detailed that touch your imagination. Both have their attraction, but if you want speed, German is the way to go. (I personally am more leaning towards anglosaxon games at the moment.)

    Note that the designations "German" or "Anglosaxon" don't mean the game actually comes from Germany or the US/UK. Cheapass Games, for example, is a US company that leans much more to the German way of doing things (but with more humour), whereas German companies have also produced games that definitely lean more in the anglosaxon direction.

    (This difference in approach can also be seen in the 18xx [wikipedia.org] games hobby. Lots of hobbyists make excellent games in that genre, but Americans tend to start with a region, research the historic background and try to model that, whereas Europeans think of an interesting concept they want to model in the game, and then look for which region is most suitable for a game implementing that idea.)

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