The Cult of the New, its an old but increasing trend in gaming. We are more attracted by the shiny, pretty item with the big NEW sign above it as opposed to the tried and trusted classic we know has survived the test of time. In some realms this makes sense. Video games will develop new technologies that allow the gamer to do more. Cars have rear view cameras, play DVDs, can fly and so on. Board games can create new mechanics, but they are usually just different, not necessarily better.
Has there been a better abstract game invented since Chess or Go? The growth in gaming that started in the late 70’s has increased the quality in games ten fold, but some of the best games came out years ago and yet we will ignore these ones in favor of more recent games that probably aren’t as good. I understand that my business and the game industry in general relies on this to survive and for that I thank all of you that are excited by the shiny stuff. Scythe is currently on Kickstarter and is set to break records for a non-miniatures game.
It looks amazing and Stonemeier games have a great track record for well made and playtested games, but is it better than Eclipse a game it kind of reminds me of. How many people who have backed it have played Eclipse and given the choice to get it would take that instead? Not many I would think. The art is amazing and the design looks very solid if not exactly particularly different to many that have gone before it. But what drives this need to get the latest thing and be the first to play the latest game? Do we have more fun playing a game because its new? Isn’t often better to play a classic that everyone knows really well and battle it down to the wire against competent opponents?
Although it is debatable, some of the best games of their genres are:
Negotiation: Settlers of Catan (1995), Cosmic Encounter (1977)
Area Control: El Grande (1995)
Tile Laying: Carcasonne (2001), Tigris and Euphrates (1997)
Route Building: Ticket to Ride (2004), Age of Steam (2002), Thurn and Taxis (2005)
Dice Rolling: Perudo/Liar’s Dice (along time ago/1987)
Deck Building: Dominion (2007)
Worker Placement: Caylus (2005), Agricola (2007)
Some are still selling like hotcakes, but others have faded away, trying to convince someone Caylus is really good is a lot of work. Graphic design from 10 years ago doesn’t help, but neither does the fact it is old. Which is crazy because good games really don’t age poorly. A good game now will still be a good game in 10 or 20 years time. If you like medium weight, strategic Euros, there really is no better game than Puerto Rico. It is almost a perfect game design in my opinion, but if you look at that box cover now, bleughh, pretty awful looking!
Don’t let that cover put you off though. When you come down here feel free to ask us about some of the older games we have. They are dead brilliant, and we love to see them hit the table, but knowing what to pick can be tricky. Like movies and books, a classic may look old, but is still great even 50 years after it came out.
But don’t stop buying the new stuff cos we’ll go out of business, just try and throw in the odd older classic here and there. You may be surprised. Kind of like when you play Cards against Humanity with you Grandma and she wins, because she’s been around for a while and done and seen half the stuff on the cards, you just never saw her that way cos she’s old….