In a mildly ironic turn of events I’m playing more games, especially MMOGs, than I have for a while, but finding less to write about. To steal the splendid imagery m’colleague uses, I’m sailing through the doldrums in a tarnished soup tureen (or perhaps on a raft consisting of several soup tureens lashed together, all that could be salvaged after the yacht Giddy Excitement foundered upon the rocks of Harsh Reality, though you have to wonder what all those tureens were doing on board in the first place; the crew must have really been into their soup, super tasty soup.) It’s not really with listlessness or a great sense of dissatisfaction, just a lack of the burning rage or excitement that usually fires the engines of bloggery. It’s also coming up to holiday season and the resultant drop-off in blogging, so to keep things ticking over I thought I’d borrow the idea of the Van Hemlock Podcast’s “What We’re Playing” segment, with an ingenious tweak of the title to cover the theft (though the criminal masterplan may have been slightly undermined by drawing attention to it just then).
To kick things off, a card game. I’ve generally missed out on the whole “German-style” board game movement, but we recently hit upon the cunning idea of relocating irregular pub gatherings to somebody’s house, allowing the hard drinking to be combined with game playing. Before delving right into Carcossonne or a 19-hour Talisman marathon, we beta-tested the concept with Rock Band and Zombie Fluxx, provided by Andy (purveyor of general splendidness including some rather excellent Warhammer miniature photos at Power Armoured Beard, where he’s also got a Fluxx reviewlet.) The basic rules are simple so a bunch of novices to be playing within minutes, but the point of Fluxx is that the basic rules don’t stay basic for very long as players put down cards that extend or replace previous rules and goals. A single game isn’t really enough to draw firm conclusions from, but the mutable rules are certainly interesting (something Tobold touches on from a MMOG perspective as he plays A Tale in the Desert). The changing goals make long-term strategy difficult, as cards that are essential to meet the conditions of one goal can become obstacles to meeting another, and even if the goal does stay the same for a while the action cards swiftly cause best laid schemes to gang aft agley. Playing with eight players as opposed to the suggested maximum of six probably ratcheted that chaos up a couple of notches too, even in the first turn we were drawing and playing various numbers of cards, Larry the zombie was shuffling around the table in different directions, everyone’s items got redistributed, and the goal had changed numerous times. It was rather chaotic, slightly confusing and heaps of fun, a great warm-up game. I’m rather tempted by Monty Python Fluxx now, especially as you can shuffle decks together to seek the Holy Grail during a Zombie Apocalypse.