Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

Monday, January 01, 2007

BGTG 67 - Jan 1, 2007 - Pretty, Wooden Abstracts

I've surprised myself by becoming more and more interested in abstract games over the years. However, as I discuss in this show, that's due to discovering a wide range of abstracts that don't make my head hurt. You see, I've never been a fan of chess, go, logic puzzles, or anything else that requires such hard thinking. It's just not fun for me. Even then, it's not the analysis that I find as bothersome as the need to look multiple moves ahead. In this podcast, I talk about some abstracts that are considerably lighter than those, either through a smaller strategic "game space," imperfect information, or multiple players.


Coffee Table Games
Furniture Games
BGG content tagged "Games as Art"
publisher Gigamic


Blogger Brent Mair said...

I'm glad to see you didn't wait too long into 2007 to get the first podcast of the year out.

I'm also happy to see you use the term "perfect information". It is a much better descriptor than "abstract strategy" for games with no hidden information.

So you like these games for the way they look more than the gameplay? That's what I got out of it. You want the game to look good then you hope it plays well.

12:28 PM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

So you like these games for the way they look more than the gameplay?

Yeah, I think that's fair. I really like how the look. In fact, I'm willing to overlook some drawbacks in gameplay if it's a good package.

But there are limits. You heard me say how Quits and Quixo were disappointments. I didn't even mention how much I disliked SiegeStones, which looks great.

Of course, when the rare game combines good looks and fun gameplay, I really love it (e.g. Pylos).

12:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark, you said that card games "like Bridge" were an example of games without 'perfect information'. I know nothing of Bridge, but someone once told me that there's no randomness in Bridge, that everyone's hand is the same and known.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

I only know a little of Bridge, so perhaps I was way off. According to the best card game site,, the form of Contract Bridge most often played socially, called Rubber Bridge, has the randomness (the imperfect information) I meant. I think what you're talking about is the Duplicate Bridge played in leagues and tournaments, where the same card deal is played multiple times.

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah... that makes sense. The person I was talking to said that because the hand is known in Bridge, and wasn't random, you could legally gamble since it was a matter of skill not luck. So, this guy was obviously talking about some 'serious Bridge'.

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark you would most probably like Polarity where you are using the magnetic field of pieces to balance other pieces. You nead a steady hand and an area of low vibration. Always enjoy your podcasts

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give Canoe a try. Beautiful board. Fun game. I did a review about it on Boardgamegeek. Check it out.

Terry Bailey Sr.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Brent Mair said...

You should give Elasund and Hacienda a try. They aren't related to abstracts, but since we are giving out game advice I thought I'd throw them in.

1:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quaridor is actually 3 and 4 player as well as 2, and like you brought up the game becomes much lighter and less forward thinking when you add in the additional players. I think the game is more competitive with two players, but based on what it seems you like about these games playing it with 3 or 4 might be better for you. It can be really fun, even though it almost always ends with one player that can't win choosing which of two players wins.

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really liked this episode about the pretty wooden abstracts!


9:43 AM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Hey Mark,
I really liked this podcast! I liked the explanations of how to play them. I'm getting caught up with your past ones too! I never play abstracts, but I'm going to have to give them a try. And as always, being pretty never hurts a game!


3:26 PM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

Wow, lots of good comments on this podcast . . . one I wasn't sure would resonate with many listeners. Abstracts aren't for everybody, and the "pretty" part doesn't come across when you can't see them!

I've played Polarity once, and though I get a kick out of the magnetic components, I don't find them especially attractive. And it's another perfect information game, right? Then again, the dexterity element introduces chaos.

Canoe is a possibility, if I can get past my hangup about those words etched into the Pin games.

Now, about Elasund and Hacienda... :-)


3:58 PM  
Blogger Terry Bailey Sr. said...

Mark the Canoe I was refering too is not from Pin.

This is a beautiful game.

Terry Bailey Sr.

11:57 PM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

Oh, I see the Canoe game now. Hmm, interesting.

9:46 PM  
Blogger N3JIM said...

Great show, Mark! I was just wondering about the "clever little pipe game" by Cheapass. Is it Steam Tunnel?

/Jim, Sacramento Boardgames Meetup

10:38 AM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

No, I meant the Very Clever Pipe Game.

1:27 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

The "Furniture Games" GeekList mentions Abalone but, perhaps due to the editions not being available then, does not mention the wooden versions. You can see them at Oui, c'est cher.

7:31 AM  

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