New Games in the NUWC Game Library

As the NUWC game library expands, we are hoping to reach out to the nearby Naval War College to add new blood as we seem to have leveled off at 27 members, of which 7 or 8 are regularly active.

So far we have played Dominion, Pandemic, Puerto Rico, Race for the Galaxy, Dominant Species and most recently, Victory Games Cold War (which proved a big hit, despite the nearly worn out components of my nearly 30 year old edition…)

We have gotten a fair number of lessons out of playing the games, the most noteworthy being nearly all players finding an analogous decision-making situation to at least one game dilemma in their real job. Some related it to “meta-decisions” or decisions about how to deal with decisions, or when NOT to make a decision (usually “in the heat of the moment” = bad time to make a weighty decision). Others talked of self-awareness about their own decision-making pathologies – game situations where they “knew better” still resulted in excessively risky – or risk-averse decision-making – letting emotion, rather than rationality, drive decision-making. “Its only a game” is generally the immediate response, but on follow up discussions, some would admit that they had seen themselves act similarly in “real-world” situations.

I’ve talked of some of the “limitations of planning” and differences between “planning” and “Strategizing”. Some still wonder if these are “real” or artifacts of the contrived decision-making “puzzles” some games create.

With the success of Puerto Rico, I added Agricola, getting a deal on a version that came with some of the additional card decks. Based on recommendation we have 7 wonders with the Leaders expansion. This looks like a good intro to the “civilization building” games. When we graduate from 7 Wonders I got “Through the Ages” which was also recommend by two friends as the best of the “civilization building” games – nice in that it allows a tiered set of rules beginner, advanced and “full”.

Power Grid with the expansion power plant cards adds a networking game, which if successful will mean I will probably be forced to break down and get a railroad empire game. (Bad experience early on has me down on those…).

The success of Pandemic lead me to add another coop game – I picked Battlestar Galactica – It seems the perfect vehicle for the “coop+traitor” mechanic (and I loved the new series…).

‘For a few acres of snow’ was back ordered through Amazon (with I had a grunch of “points” to pay for this extravagance 😉 and has not shown up yet but has gotten some great word of mouth as a “hybrid” war/euro game.

The NWC connection will feature a “brown bag” lunch series where we will start applying some of the lessons and design insights to actual game design problems of professional interest to see if we can open the aperture of “acceptable” game mechanics to focus more on effective decision-making analysis, rather than satisfying cultural expectations of players.

I will be posting synopses of these brown-bags, which may not feature PowerPoint, but be facilitated discussions, or simply “think-alouds”.

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About Paul Vebber

"If you read about something, you have learned about it. If you can teach something, you have mastered it. Designing a useful game about something however, requires developing a deep understanding of how it relates to other things."
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