Friday, September 2, 2011

The Social Contract

What makes a good battlefield? Is it an epic terrain board that you painstakingly built frm scratch over a 4 month period? Is it the table or mat that you bought from the store that cost a pretty penny? Is it the terrain that's been beaten up, banged around and fixed and patched more times than you can count?
Well the only person that can answer that is you. Whether your playing a pick up game of 40k or a big game of warmachine, or even a new tabletop game that your playtesting for the first time (Hello shameless plug). The terrain and the board can make your experience one that you will remember. I have played on tables that have been set up with books, rolls of duct tape and decorative boxes for terrain and I've had some great games.  I have also played some games where the terrain was finely detailed, expertly painted and you couldn't help but get drawn into the Game as if you were there, fighting along side your army.  I do know which game table I would prefer to play on. Its the table where the person I played against was freindly talkative and a good opponent. I feel lucky to belong to a gaming group that is great to play games with, they get that this is a hobby and everyone should enjoy it.
The players make the game. It doesn't matter where you play. It matters how you play.
I listen to a good number of podcasts and this topic has been covered by most of the podcasts out there to some degree. When you play a game against an opponent you are actually entering into a social contract with that person. You each have expectations of the game your about to play. When starting a game make your intentions known. Some people step up, punch in , and smash face. They are looking to table the opponent, crush their army and drive their enemies before them. Others look to play a bit of a story. They want to see a story unfold on the battlefield of good vs evil, the right vs the wrong and so forth.
There is no wrong way of playing. Play the game you want to play. Just make sure that the person that is across the table from you wants to get a result that is near enough to their expectations. The problems arise when there is competition invoved, prizes or egos involved and the expectations of each gamer don't work well together. When a competitive gamer plays a "fluff" gamer, each person has a different expectation for how the game will play out. The fluff gamer will talk and let people take back mistakes out illegal moves and generally there is alot of wiggle room so that the experience of the game is better for both players. Not a bad thing in the right setting. Competitive or power gamers will bend the game to thier expectations and be critical of moves, rules and gameplay. They are always looking for the advantage they can exploit. The win at all costs mentality will be seen often. Again this is not a bad thing in the right setting. Its never fun to see your army be on the recieving end of a curb stomp. When that happens only one person gets any enjoyment out of the game. After all this is just a game.
My advice to anyone that finds themselves out playing a game; whether it be a tabletop game, a board game or even a card game, Talk To Your Opponent. Please don't be that guy that stands there quiet and brooding that only speaks up if there is a rules disagreement and spouts rules that just so happen to always favor him.. Even in a competative environment you can have a great game when you talk to your opponent. Be social and make the hobby better by adding the social communication to your game. I guarantee you will have more fun games, even if your playing with empty toilet paper tubes and soda can terrain.

1 comment:

Bose said...

Thanks for all this information. I think you make very valid points and I appreciate them and
agree with you.
Sample Contracts