Cardboard Children: Metal Gear Thrones

By Robert Florence on July 24th, 2011 at 10:40 am.


Hello youse.

I suppose we should start this week with the wonderful, exciting news that a Metal Gear Solid board game is heading our way!

It was announced at Comic-Con, where comic industry people con their fans into buying their dross for another year, and an image was tweeted by none other than my hero Hideo Kojima himself.

Yes, it’s a Metal Gear Solid edition of Ri-

Risk. Oh, for fuck’s sake.

Risk. Risk. Risk. Do you know how many different editions of Risk there are? Let me tell you – there are more editions of Risk than there are people who play board games. And do you know why there are so many different editions of Risk? Because the game is so bad, people keep trying to fix it. Risk: Godstorm. Risk: 2210 AD. Risk: Balance of Power. Risk: Star Wars. The common factor being “Risk”. The common factor being shitty old shitty Risk.

Look, Risk 2210AD is a pretty good game. I’d happily play that ANY time. But where it’s good is where it deviates from Risk. The elements that ARE Risk are still crap. And there’s no way, absolutely no way, that this Metal Gear Solid Risk re-theme will be deviating very far from that Risk formula. It’ll be crappy old 4-hour-long Risk but with Metal Gear miniatures. Which means I’ll need to buy it, thanks, here’s my money.

That’s ANOTHER problem with shitty Risk. I have, in my games collection, five different Risk games. I don’t want them, but I have them. Don’t ask me to explain it. This is just something that HAPPENS. Risk grows in a games collection like mould. It just happens. Don’t look at me like that. I am a man with a strong will – Green Lantern material – but I have five shitty Risk games. And soon I will have six. Because I will not stand for me not having something that says Metal Gear Solid on the box.

In fact, here’s a thing – IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN METAL GEAR SOLID MONOPOLY.

Monopoly is a fantastic game. An important, fantastic game. Anyone interested in my views on Monopoly should read this.

If you don’t like Monopoly, you’re probably one of the 90% of Monopoly players who aren’t even playing it by the proper rules. That means you ALSO need to read this.

So, you see, a Metal Gear Solid Monopoly game would be far better. Sure, thematically it would make ZERO sense, but at least we’d have a good game to play while we move our little Raiden figure around a board. And it’d be great to win some money in a La-Li-Lu-Le-Lo beauty contest, wouldn’t it?

(Okay, I just remembered that RPS has a predominantly PC-gamer crowd. I need to explain who Hideo Kojima is. He’s a genius who creates games with narratives that challenge the player’s perception of what games are. He even gave us a game that directly asked us “Why are you playing games? Go out and change the world instead.” He’s a different breed from the guys who write the PC games you people play – the ones with the dreadful translations from Russian language, that are usually about the abduction of girls from forests or something. You really are a weird bunch.)

Okay, onto business.

GAME OF THRONES: SECOND EDITION

Yeah. The minute I wrote the words “Second Edition” there, I could almost hear some board gamers gulp in horror.

Recently, because of HBO’s first-half-dreadful-second-half-great adaptation of Game of Thrones, people have been desperate to get their hands on the Game of Thrones board game. So, we’ve been able to watch, in amazement, as people go a little bit crazy on ebay. The game has been fetching over a hundred pounds in some places. And the people buying those games, I guarantee, have heard someone warning them that a reprint is inevitable.

KIND SOUL: Wait for the reprint. Seriously. Fantasy Flight will roll out a reprint soon, no doubt.

CRAZY KID: NO BABY I’MMA BUY IT NOW!

KIND SOUL: Listen, there will probably be a reprint by the year’s end. Just wait fo-

CRAZY KID: I’MMA BUY IT NOW! (click click click) TWO HUNDRED BUCKS I’MMA BUY IT NOW!! OH BABY I HOPE WE GET SOME SCENES OF EXPOSITIONAL DIALOGUE WHILE TWO WENCHES GET IT ON IN THIS GAME OH MAMA (clickclickclick) I’MMA BUY IT NOW! I WANNA BE THE GUY WHO DELIVERS SOME CLUNKY DIALOGUE WHILE IN A BATH WITH A HOT CHICK I’MMA BUY IT NOW! (clickclickclickclickclick)

And here we are. Even worse than the Crazy Kids could have expected. Not just a reprint – a second edition. An improved version of the game, containing elements of the expansions, clarified rules, and updated art. I mean, seriously… look at the cover of this new edition of the game.

That must make those Crazy Kids sick. If you’re one of those Crazy Kids, you can read about your mistake at the Fantasy Flight site by clicking this.

And on the subject of Game of Thrones…

BATTLES OF WESTEROS

Me and my girlfriend, we got something going on.

Once a week, we get Battles of Westeros onto the table, and we go very quiet. We lay out the map, and assemble the troops according to the instructions in the scenario booklet. I sit at the Lannister side, and she sits by her Stark house banner. We carefully insert our little flags into our troop miniatures, and turn those flags to the ready position. We draw our command cards, and roll some dice to receive our order tokens for the turn.

I go and make some coffee. I usually stand by the kettle as it boils and mutter to myself.

“Fucksake. This time. This time.”

The kettle clicks off. I pour. I carry them through.

We put some music on. When we first started playing, we would just play some music we both liked. Some Prince or something. But as things got serious, we moved to the HBO Game of Thrones soundtrack. We claimed it was for “atmosphere”, but I think it was mainly because it was unintrusive, and let us concentrate.

This game, man. This war. Fuck this war.

Battles of Westeros is based on the Command & Colors system created by Richard Borg. It’s a wargaming system that puts a focus on tactics cards and a simple dice-symbols-for-hits mechanic. I think Battles of Westeros is my favourite implementation of the system. What sets it apart is that, instead of the battlefield being split into three sections and your command cards being related to those, the command zones are attached to the battle’s Leader characters. This really helps to carry theme across, and means you have to play a far smarter game.

You have to play smart. That’s my problem right there, I fancy.

I’m not going to go into how this game works. This isn’t a review. The game’s great. The game’s clearly great. But a few days ago I went on tilt and said “Luck’s too big a factor in this game. FUCK IT!” and flung myself back on my couch like I’m 14 or something. I also slammed the dice down on the board so hard some of my wee men fell over.

(I mean, I was rolling TEN dice by the time I’d figured in flanking re-rolls and stuff, and I didn’t get one hit. Not even ONE HIT! And that didn’t seem right. That’s not right, is it? What universe would allow that? While she’s trying not to smile on the other side of the table. That’s not right, now, IS IT? Fucking Winterfell bastards.)

I’m getting angry right now, just thinking about it. I’m 4-1 down at this point. The God of Games is 4-1 down. The most recent battle, in the Whispering Wood, saw me breaking one of my commanders away from the units under his control on a fool’s errand. That meant no command cards could be played on these vital units. That meant I had to spend order tokens to bring them into meaningful positions. That meant I had fucked up. Again.

I’m sorry. I’m raging. My legs are stiffening.

You see, in Battles of Westeros, luck is always going to play some part in things. But a smart player plays so that he isn’t ever depending on the dice. Do you get that now, Robert? A smart player makes it so that he isn’t rolling the dice with his heart in his throat because he’s SCREWED if they come up with less than optimal results, you dickhead.

So sorry for the bad language. I’m furious.

I wanted to come on here today, as your God of Games, and tell you about this great game that I’m really good at. But instead I have to tell you that tomorrow I’ll be sitting down to get my arse handed to me, unless I can GET A GRIP. See, look, I know what the problem is. Let’s say a scenario tells me that I need to claim a certain objective by the end of the game – I can’t keep that goal in my head. I mean, I know I need to do that thing. I know I can only win if I do that thing. But I get drawn into stupid meaningless little skirmishes on that board. And she knows this. MY ENEMY KNOWS THIS. So she’ll cause little distractions, create little mini-stories on the battlefield that my ego demands some sort of say in, and my eye will start to come off the prize. I’ll see an opportunity to capture one of her commanders (in truth, she creates this opportunity) and I go bumbling in, flinging everything into achieving something that doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter, Robert. DO YOU GET IT YET, ROBERT? While she builds up towards the actual objective.

THE.

ACTUAL.

OBJECTIVE.

Now, you might be sitting there right now saying “Who exactly is he writing this for? Himself?” And I would say to you “No, I’m writing a game recommendation in a post-modern style.” But I’d be lying, because I don’t really know what post-modernism is (dropped out of Uni) and I’m actually writing this so that I can take a screengrab of the webpage and print the fucker out and have it TATTOOED ON MY FACE and then maybe I will GET THE POINT.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry.

You should try the game. You want a piece of this, right? You want some of th-

TEN FUCKING DICE! NOT ONE HIT!

I’m sorry.

__________________

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88 Comments »

  1. Fathom says:

    First half dreadful? What? You’re wrong. Or you just have bad taste and/or ADD.

    • WMain00 says:

      I concur. What is this nonsense? Guards! Guards!!

    • gwathdring says:

      FETCH ME MORE SCORPIONS!

      Or was that a reference to something else?

    • Janek says:

      I wouldn’t go as far as dreadful, but the first third was a bit slow. Much like the first third of the book.

    • Creeping Death says:

      ” wouldn’t go as far as dreadful, but the first third was a bit slow. Much like the first third of the book”

      Making it a very faithful adaptation, yes? Slow moving in no way equals bad. I’d take a slow moving, intricately plotted thriller/suspense film over something like Transformers anyday.

    • Janek says:

      Very faithful, yes. But “faithful adaptation” does not necessarily imply “good” though (it wasn’t bad either, just.. okay). For me, Ice & Fire always thrived on the politicking and intrigues – something which (partially through expository necessity) doesn’t really come to the fore until we reach King’s Landing. I found the start of the book a little bit of a chore in the same way.

      As you say, there’s nothing wrong with a slow pace in itself, I just don’t think the intricate plotting and suspense was actually happening yet in the first third.

    • Rab says:

      Yes, bad first half. Invented scenes of clunky exposition, reliance on misogynistic imagery, and that bit with Littlefinger and the girls. A cynical HBO-friendly, insulting first half.

    • PoulWrist says:

      No, the first episode was so dreadful I didn’t want to watch any of the rest of it.

    • Xercies says:

      I thought the first couple of episodes with me i was like “Oh My god its just like the book, awesome” then that wore off i realised that they weren’t putting as much depth as was in the book. But it got a little better at the end where they really executed some very important bits really very well.

    • Fathom says:

      Some of you people are stupid.

      Exposition is kind of necessary to establish a fantasy world we know nothing of. Not all viewers have read the books, you know.

      And complaining about the sex? Oh, yeah, sex is horrible, but please give us more bloody violence.

      What exactly did you want from the first half, if it was too slow for you? You people say that it’s not as deep as the books and yet too slow. How is it going to be less slow if it went into even more depth? Morons.

      The point of the “slowness” is to build plot and atmosphere, so yeah it won’t have battles for a little while.

      Oh, and newsflash: Medieval times were misogynistic.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      What Fathom said.

      Well, except for the “morons” bit. I’m sure you’re all very intelligent people.

      Morons.

      Hey, that’s fun!

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      The first episode was so bad that I almost stopped watching it after the first half hour, but then I didn’t. And the second episode was a bit rubbish. After that, a good tv show.

  2. Sami H says:

    Assuming that only one option on each dice was a “hit”, you had a 16.15% chance of failing completely :)

    edit: oooh, they were 8 sided not 6-sided. 26.31% then.

    • Hydrogene says:

      16,5% ?? Did you make that up, (78,9% of statistics on the internet are made up. Fact.)
      These are 8 sided dice on the board. How did you end up with 16,5% ?

    • Lilliput King says:

      That’s for 6 sided dice. It’s more like 26% for 8 sided, again assuming one hit side.

    • Sami H says:

      Didn’t realise they were 8-sided. 26.31% then :). For those wanting to work it out, the success rate is (note, ^ is power-of).

      (number-of-success-faces-on-dice ^ number of dice) / (number-of-sides-on-dice ^ number of dice)

      And then multiply it by 100 to get your percentage. For the failure chance, replace number-of-success-faces with number-of-fail-faces. Or, just subtract the success percentage from 100.

    • kwyjibo says:

      Your maths are wrong.

      edit – my reading is wrong.

  3. Vexing Vision says:

    I was actually surprised how very, very good Risk: Star Wars was. Three asynchronous sides and all that made me really happy.

    I don’t own it though. I can’t bring myself to own any Risk games in my rather extensive boardgame collection. That would feel WRONG.

    (I do admit to the shame of owning the downright horrible “Civilization (the Computer Game) – The Boardgame” though because I was drawn in by the brilliant models. :( )

    • gwathdring says:

      The LOTR Trilogy edition wasn’t bad. They optional timing mechanism (the advance of the Ring) was a nice feature, and the mission cards were loads of fun. I also think the map was really well broken up (much more interesting tactically than the default map) and greatly enjoyed the Leader/Stronghold dynamic. The map had lots of choke points, but not many in desirable locations … a lot of desirable territory was quite open to attack. With the exception of Mordor. Mordor was a bit ridiculous. Three strongholds …

      And the coastal territories all being accessible from one another was a very nice touch. Backdoors into almost any opponent’s strategy that wasn’t “Own all of the ports and also Mordor.”

    • Arathain says:

      I thought LOTR Risk was great, right up until the very end. The game ends on a dice roll, so when the RIng gets to Mount Doom you are compelled, on your turn, to throw down your cards and fling all your forces out in a vast, unsustainable push until you have not a unit left to attack with. Then, if you roll to end the game, you win. Otherwise, the next player does the same, stomping over your horribly undefended territory, and rolls the dice to see if they win. And so on. All the careful play, good choices, alliances and strategy go out the window, and you win on a 4+.

      It’s actually good enough up until that point that I’ll still play. I just don’t think winning means all that much, and that’s kind of a big deal.

    • Temple says:

      @gwath Puts me in mind of http://www.viktorygame.com/ where he describes setting up the game and making sure you put water tiles all aournd the outside so all citadels are attackable by sea.

      Also viktory looks like a good risk :)
      I have 3 copies of risk apparently, one I bought because of nice figures, the second I bought because of … of nice figures and the third just bred I believe.

    • gwathdring says:

      @Arathain

      Fair. I usually don’t use the time limit myself. I mostly just like that there’s an option to make the game shorter since Risk can go on for an age and a half.

      @temple

      Wow. That’s a pretty cool game. I’m intrigued.

  4. Anthile says:

    Metal Gear Solid 2 actually was ported to PC. And why would they ever make a Risk game out of it? Why? That’s about as random as it gets. They must really run out of licenses. I guess Super Meat Boy Risk is next.

    • Man Raised by Puffins says:

      The first MGS also got ported to PC, and was published by Microsoft of all people.

    • The Sentinel says:

      Neither fact means we PC Gamers took creator, Hideous Pyjamas, or indeed the series, to our hearts in quite the same way as the console crowd did. I was a little bemused by the choice of topic and smiled when he chose to remember his audience so openly.

      Mention Metal Gear Solid to a PC gamer and the first thing they’ll probably do is scoff derisively, then tell you that Thief did stealth FIRST, BETTER, and without needing to turn later games in the series into barely interactive films.

    • michaelgapper says:

      Except of course, Metal Gear beat Thief by eleven years. Even the first Metal Gear Solid game beat Thief to shelves by two months.

      But look! Here comes an old timer to point out that Castle Wolfenstein on the Apple II was the first proto-stealth game – discouraging combat and inviting players to hide and use disguises. It hit the Apple II in 1981, beating Metal Gear by six years. Apple wins, and – as is usually the case when Apple wins – everyone else loses.

      And wait! Here comes a Metal Gear fan to point out that, yes, the later games had lots of shitty, overlong cut scenes, but at least it HAS later games.

      And he’s ahead of you, preempting your response by pointing out that Thief 4 hasn’t come out yet, and might be rubbish.

      That guy is mean.

    • malkav11 says:

      Eh. Thief still does stealth better. Almost every tool in your arsenal in Thief is designed around stealthily infiltrating, robbing, and exiting from the levels you’re in. You can sneak through the vast majority of the game without ever getting into combat (though there is, I believe, a boss fight at the end. I’ve never gotten that far myself.).

      Metal Gear Solid games invariably give you huge arsenals of guns, explosives, and other tools of unsubtle violence that come off as wanting to be a combat-action game that the clunky shooting, infinite spawning swarms of enemies, and Snake’s very limited health don’t support. The number of tools to assist you in stealthy play by contrast are very limited indeed. My experience is that most of the stealth play simply involves staying out of line of sight, a version of stealth that I find exceedingly frustrating. And of course, MGS games have boss fight after boss fight where you absolutely must defeat them to move on.

      I’m not saying one series is better than the other, full stop – though I personally can’t get into MGS’s gameplay and have preferred watching games in the series to actually playing them. But in terms of stealth gameplay, so many games do that better than MGS, Thief high among them.

    • sinister agent says:

      It really doesn’t matter who “did stealth first”, or even better – they’re two very different styles of game. MGS gives you far more options about how precisely you take care of the things in your way (for the most part – boss fights and such aside), while thief gives you very few tools but lots more freedom in how you move about and tackle each level as a whole.

      Plus MGS 2 had that brilliant bit where you’re stuck on a circular platform with lots of goons dropping in who you can shoot… or, if you want to have far more fun, you can put your guns away, and they do too. Cue a five minute flying kicking, backflipping, face-slapping-over-the-railings punch-up.

      And the little touches about the MGS games were great – the one bit where some complete bloody idiot refuses to come with you while you rescue her from certain death because there are some insects on the exit door. I found out long after finishing the game that normal people used a grenade or a special spray item thing to kill them, whereas I’d simply punched her in the head and carried her unconscious to the lift. Because the game let me.

      MGS games are excellent in those little details, and in letting you screw around and try silly things. It’s a great shame they were rendered increasingly awful to actually play by Kojima’s terrible, terrible writing, drivelous plot, and tedious obsession with breaking the fourth wall, but. They are still significant games, and barring the atrocity that was MGS4, feature some terrific moments.

      Ahem. Anyway, it strikes me as irrelevent and quite petty to knock MGS simply because another game did one aspect of it before, or better, or whatever. It’d be like looking down on Half-Life because Unreal Tournament had better guns.

    • medwards says:

      I think I’m allowed to like MGS and still play PC games right? Like, sure, I would have preferred experiencing it on a computer, but thats not where it is. Rez as well. There are some very good games that have come out of consoles and I’m surprised we don’t acknowledge them more because no matter where a good game comes from it serves as inspiration for future good games.

  5. Redem says:

    O_O

    What the fucking fuck? That’s how you’re meant to play monopoly? That’s… FUCK. That’s a lot of childhood monopoly games that could have been a lot more fun/vicious/awesome.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Yes, it’s funny to see that the main complaint about Monopoly is that it takes ages and people get bored, while it is like this precisely because people made it this way with removing the auction, and refusing that a player can be eliminated.

      Most Monopoly games are not ending from bankruptcy of all players but one, they end out of pure boredom and tiredness. Like a common feeling of “ok, time to do something else which will not feel like sucking the life out of us”.

    • formivore says:

      What is Robert talking about? I’ve always played monopoly this way; at some point someone in the family must have read the rules. The auction rule does very little to save the game. Thing is its still almost always optimal to buy properties whenever you land on them. You just get too much money in the early game that you are rarely unable to buy every single property you land on.

    • BooleanBob says:

      I agree with formivore. When you first read about the auction rule, it’s tempting to slap your head and say, ‘Of course, it’s so simple!’. But actually the game still drags and the advantage of cunning auctioneering play doesn’t really cancel out the luck factor. And if everyone plays to their absolute strengths in the auctions anyway it only prevents anyone from completing a set, exacerbating the issue of the game lasting forever and not being fun at any point.

      That said I do completely love Rab’s original interpretation of the game as stealthy anti-cap propaganda.

    • malkav11 says:

      I had no idea that was the proper way to play Monopoly…but it honestly makes me want to play even less. I fucking hate auctions. In real life, and as a mechanic in games, either way.

    • ZamFear says:

      Everyone I’ve ever played with knows the auction rule. Nothing ever gets auctioned unless the person who landed on the property was too cash-strapped to pay the list price.
      The problem is the entire rest of the game conspires to make the auction rule completely irrelevant.

      Having more properties is always better. No exceptions.

      So either you have the property you land on, guaranteed if you have the cash, or send it to auction and and watch as the price gets driven up past the list price because everyone else wants the property because having more property is better. Now you have to make the lose/lose choice of dropping out of the auction, or paying a stupidly inflated price. Either option is worse than just buying it outright, so that’s what everybody does.
      There are only two reasons to auction something.
      1) You do not have the money to pay the list price.
      2) You have more money than everyone else, and nobody else can afford the list price. This still guarantees you the property, but at a discount.

      There is no “bluff appropriately and … end up buying a property you really want for way below the market price” because as long as your opponents’ bank accounts can handle it, the price will quickly get driven up to the list price. Because they want the property because more property is always better. There is no “trick another player into buying a property you don’t want for way more than the market price” because that’s complete and utter nonsense. There’s no such thing as a “property you don’t want.”

    • DarkNoghri says:

      I have to agree with formivore and Booleanbob here.

      Having also always used the auction rule (as far as I can remember. I read the rules at least once), it really didn’t help. Or at least it didn’t when we were non-devious ten-year-olds.

      How it played out:
      1) Player could afford property and bought it.
      2) Player could not afford it and it went to auction, when someone else bought it.

      2) was never appreciably more interesting than 1).

      Edit: What ZamFear said.

    • BooleanBob says:

      @PleasingFungus – nice catch. Thanks for the link.

    • Xercies says:

      Actually in all our game we have figured out sets that are good to have and sets that are a waste of time, i know its kind of random but to be honest more times then not, oranges win you the game, blues if you get them early certainly strengthen your position and Greens and a lot of times Yellows are absolutely shite. The most expensive ones usually people don’t land on them that much but some games you can win on them. Only very rarely have I seen people win with the greens.

    • gwathdring says:

      The reason I found Monopoly boring went something like this:

      1) No one let anyone else have a monopoly so no one could build anything until one of us finally gave up and let someone have a better deal just so something more interesting that ten dollars changing hands would happen.

      2) I was always the nice one who let my older sister have a monopoly so I could have all of my precious railroads which for some reason I HAD TO HAVE. Or a crappier monopoly.

      3) I never ended up with the Oranges and rarely ended up with the Reds … which statistically meant I was doomed to pay other people all of my money.

      4) I was always a bit crap at the game, but it did nothing to make me interested in being better. Real estate isn’t exactly as exciting as defeating Cthulu, to me. I honestly think Risk is more fun and interesting even though if will inevitably turn at least one person at the table into an asshole no matter how hard you and they try to be nice to each other. Risk is cursed and it’s still more fun to me.

      5) Player elimination in an already long and frustrating game is one of the cardinal sins of game design. If a player is eliminated, either the game ends and score is tallied, or the player has a reasonable chance of enough of a comeback to still feel with it. OR the game has to be relatively short. Yes, Risk commits this sin as well, but less often.

      6) Real estate is damn boring to me. I was there for the Mr. Thimble, the tophat-wearing thimble. And the fake money … I liked the fake money.

    • gwathdring says:

      @ Xercies

      Yep. Statistics backs you up fairly well. The most statistically viable sets are Red and Orange. Kentucky Avenue is, I think, the most landed on space. St. James place is up there too, I think … or was it New York Avenue? One of the oranges is next.

    • ZamFear says:

      That some properties/monopolies are so much better than others only leads to the “nobody trades” problem that gwathdring mentioned. Why should your opponent hand you a game winning advantage? Aside from being bored out of their skull and wanting the game to end. Which is probably the case, because they’re playing Monopoly.

      Since what a player lands on is completely dumb luck, either you hit one of the good ones, and buy it outright (because you’d be daft to risk it at auction) or you don’t, in which case you need every scrap of land you can lay your hands on to fight back against whoever does. Either way, everybody ends up hoovering up everything they touch, and nothing gets auctioned. More property is always better.

    • cramen says:

      I can see that Monopoly is an important game. I also accept that most people ruin it (particularly with free parking) but even with the rules as written it’s a poor game. As others have noted there is simply no reason not to buy a property that you land on and money is not much of an issue. Trading is supposedly the nature of the game when played correctly, but trading simply makes no sense. The value of every piece of property is completely transparent and different colours are of obvious differing value. It’s an auction game where auctions won’t happen and a trading game where trading is unwise. That’s just poor design. The rest of the game is rolling the dice and hoping you don’t land on the wrong space.

      House ruling the game to make all properties go to automatic auction works a little, but the game isn’t that great to begin with.

      It’s interesting historically, it’s important culturally, but it’s not a good game.

  6. Rii says:

    Sorry, this is almost entirely unrelated to the thread, but it occurred to me whilst reading it and I’ve nowhere else to put it, so here it is:

    So, auteur theory was instrumental in advancing the idea of film as an art rather than merely a craft, yes? And games are still fighting that battle. Well, what clearer example is there of the auteur in gaming than Hideo Kojima and Metal Gear Solid?

    • gwathdring says:

      I believe that there’s probably some great stuff in Metal Gear Solid. But the umpteenth time Snake paraphrased himself about how war doesn’t change in the first few minutes of the recent game didn’t scream excellent writing to me. Maybe it gets better when you get past Snake’s brooding monologues. Maybe the quality of his monologues improves after the ten minute mark. But either way it’s not really my thing.

      I don’t think we need something that long and complex to show that games are art. I think the much simpler sorts of poetic and creative gameplay that often comes out of the indie scene does it just as well. Void sounds like it might, too, so I’m giving that a play soon.

      For me, I think the key is having mechanics tell the story too. Otherwise it’s film art connected to a game engine (whcih doesn’t have to be a bad thing or clumsy or distracting). Does Kojima really take the interactive part of the game and use it to tell part of the story in a way that couldn’t be conveyed as well in other mediums? Or does he instead to the equally admirable thing of taking game stories into places and topics they don’t often go and dealing with those issues more sensitively than games are used to seeing them dealt with? Because that’s FANTASTIC. But it’s not the same as showing the world what makes the “game” part of the narrative artistic.

    • BooleanBob says:

      I’m more of the opinion that auteur theory was instrumental in the idea of discounting 99.9% of everyone else’s hard fucking work in a project so that one solipsistic dickhole could take/be given all the credit, and that collaborative art does not work that way.

      But it’s an opinion I’m asserting at a (slightly rude) tangent to your question about Kojima, who probably very much does deserve to be regarded as one of gaming’s first solipsistic dickholes auteurs.

    • gwathdring says:

      Wait … it just sunk in what you meant by Auteur theory. I don’t think auteur theory is why films were able to successfully enter the art world at all.

    • thegooseking says:

      Film grew up in a world where there wasn’t really any post-Structuralist theory (or, indeed, much Structuralist theory for any other theory to be ‘post-’ of). Games, by inviting the participation of the player, seem to be the kind of thing for which post-structuralist theory (Barthes’ “Death of the Author” and all that) was made.

    • Arathain says:

      I think there is some decent thoughts in the MGS series, but they’re a real challenge to pick out from the endless dross that comprises most of the dialogue. For goodness sake, someone hire that chap a decent editor.

    • gwathdring says:

      This reminds me of Bioware writing. I think they do some pretty good dialog. But in general, it’s like someone praised them every time they wrote anything ranging from decent to amazing and said nothing at all whenever they wrote anything ranging from a bit crap to absolutely horrible.

    • AndrewC says:

      ‘Auteur’ theory was coined during the 50′s/60′s as a direct reaction to the Hollywood system, which emphasised film as product, and often production-line product, with the actual creators just contracted players hired by the owners – the studio bosses. Thus the ‘auteur’ theory was there to emphasise how films can and have been a medium for personal expression – not just manufactured product. It is useful to look at the historical contexts for these cultural theories, as their meanings can change over time.

    • Rii says:

      @AndrewC

      Actually that’s the only sense in which I’m familiar with auteur theory, courtesy of film studies 101. Hmm, I shall have to be careful in future if most others have a different understanding of the term, heh.

      And yes, that’s what I meant by referring to Hideo Kojima as an auteur. The MGS games are clearly, to a significant degree, the product of his singular vision, which, yes, extends to his inability to shut the fuck up. The fact that the man is clearly insane and restrained by the collaborative process only in the sense that a bull is ‘restrained’ by its rider (“there, there Mr. Kojima, what say we nudge in the direction of playability for a time, eh?”) is why he’s such a good example. Would Kojima’s inexplicable moments of crudity – having a character literally shit their pants in the midst of an otherwise straight-faced scene, for instance – make it past committee, let alone a focus group? Not bloody likely. :P

  7. The Colonel says:

    Hmmm. I’m not a boardgame aficionado but I really want to get into it. Anyone got any good starting points for amazing games that one can play with people who (will intially at first) think that anything more complicated than monopoly (or risk) is straying into nerd territory and not want to play with me. Or alternatively is there someone who lives around London who wants to induct someone into the REALLY nerdy games?

    Also I find it highly offensive that you’d feel the need to buy anything that you didn’t need/really want. Capitalism run rampant. Thanks.

    • Xercies says:

      http://www.meetup.com/LondonOnBoard/

      Friendly group, have been there twice, haven’t played any of these advanced Board Gamey things but they are happy enough to tell you the rules and give you an introduction to them. Us lot on the Carboard Children Meet Up thread do sometimes go there on Sundays.

    • Temple says:

      THe RPS group that goes to the Sunday’s near St James Tube organised by London on Board.
      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/group.php?groupid=5

      Our typical thread
      http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/forums/showthread.php?478-Cardboard-Children-meet-up-thread

      As Xercies says, join LoB and you can go two weeknights or 3 Sundays a month. There are lots of games being offered all the time. Try Republic of Rome if you want to go mental.

      Give us more idea about what you want from a game and we’ll shout suggestions at you.

    • JuJuCam says:

      It helps if you have someone along for the ride, because there are plenty of good two player games that work well with more and two people instructing newbies is better than one person who might forget certain essentials like how to win and when the game ends (I wish I weren’t speaking from experience).

      If you can find a suitable partner in crime, common gateway games are Carcassonne (possibly too easy), Ticket to Ride (fairly easy) and Dominion (easy enough but very deep and replayable). These games tend to also have a slightly lower price tag than others.

    • The Colonel says:

      Thanks a lot. I’ll look into this. What a lovely community we have on RPS!

  8. Azazel says:

    When you play the game of thrones, you… you know the rest.

  9. It's not me it's you says:

    Excellent article! Can we please have clicky links though?

  10. SaVi says:

    How nice that I got into monopoly through the Super Nintendo and my Windows Phone 7,the rules are all there and auction is awesome. I should start playing it with actual people though.
    About Metal Gear, there were Metal Gear PC Games, so it’s all fair game :P

  11. Xercies says:

    Risk just doesn’t work with Metal gear Solid since its a bloody STEALTH GAME. There is a board game which is pretty much perfect for Metal Gear Solid already out there. I can’t remember the name of it but Rab knows of it since he has reviewed it.

    Also that Game of Thrones thing is now at the top of my list, i was searching for it after playing a game and was really shocked at the prices people were selling it for. Anyone who bought those things at those prices were definitely crazy!

  12. sharkwald says:

    So of Battle for Westeros and GoT: The Boardgame, which is the one to get? ENQUIRING MINDS WANT TO KNOW!

    • Vexing Vision says:

      The obvious answer “both” aside, that depends on how many regular people you got to play with.

      Batlte of Westeros is a brilliant 2-player game. Game of Thrones should be played with 5.

    • Temple says:

      Every board game question comes down to personal -as in who do you have to play it with.
      GoT is a longer game, requires a bunch of people and is sort of abstract for some.
      Battles is an under an hour game that is two player and has pieces that depict what they are.

  13. Erucan says:

    I’ve said it before and will say it again. If there’s a religion that can prove to change rng and dice rolls with prayer/magical dohikey. I’ll be all over that.

    Game looks fun, sadly there really isn’t any place for people like me who wants to play these kinds of games in a 80 km radius (meaning I have to travel 1-3 hours to reach a gaming shop).

  14. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    I recommend the Game of Thrones board game. I’d played it well before I’d ever heard of the books, and it is an excellent strategy game, with alliances, betrayals, too many threats, never enough soldiers, and the only luck in the game affects everyone equally.

    We did end up implementing some house rules for ships, which helped avoid Greyjoy or Baratheon either dominating the coasts or being written out of the game based on their first few turns. I wonder how the rules have changed in the second edition.

    I’m glad to see a second edition, because this is a game I’ve wanted for my own collection, and it’s been hard to find.

  15. Shockeh says:

    Try being someone who was already into the AGoT card game and the books before the HBO series. Oh, you want to buy something that was freely available and you’ve been a fan of for some time? TOO BAD SON. Now you’re going to struggle to find anything anywhere, and even should you manage it, you have to listen to terrible comic-book-store nerds berating it and you because the millisecond anything might have any mainstream success you have to hate it automatically (I call this ‘Games Workshop Syndrome’) regardless.

    Ugh.

  16. Duke of Chutney says:

    Monopoly is a crap game. I actually played different rules to those in the linked article. By the rules (obviously house) that ive always played any player could barter or sell a property they owned on their turn. SO people bought properties just to barter and screw over others. However, its still a crap game, essentially because you can loose on dice roles in the first 30mins (go round the board and get no property or get outbid on anything decent) and then suffer a slow demise for another hour, before being out and waiting out the game for another 2 hours.

  17. joeroyo says:

    Son I am dissapoint.
    When I read the headline about Metal Gear I belived that something amazing may have happened. Unfortunately it is not so. Has anyone here played Hour of Glory? Its a super indie boardgame that is set in ww2 and has some really genius mechanics, if you don’t have it I’d suggest checking it out. The company who make it are based in Cornwall in the UK. But I digress, Hour of Glory IS metal gear solid. in fact, if you drew a cardboard box onto your character when in “stealth mode” and an eye patch and cigarrette onto your character in “action mode” you would pretty much be 99% of the way there.
    here is the link to the game on Boardgamegeek incase you don’t yet have it. http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/12622/hour-of-glory-stronghold-kit

  18. J. says:

    Started a new campaign of Siege of the Citadel with some mates (it’s a lesser known spiritual sequel to Space Crusade, and improved in every imaginable way = pure awesome). We had some very lucky dice throwing in the first mission: 7 hits with 7 white dice (33% odds of a hit on each dice), and 1 hit with 9 red dice (50% chance of a hit on each dice).

  19. Rab says:

    Only PC gamers would work out the percentages of dice results. I love RPS.

    • DarkNoghri says:

      I saw one better in an engineering magazine once. They had some ridiculous numbers/odds calculated for something or other (I unfortunately can’t remember what about at this point) that they ran in an article. The numbers ran into 6 or 7 digits, I think. Only to have to correct themselves in the next issue when a reader went over their calculations and discovered that they were wrong. Wrote into the letters section and they had to write a correction.

  20. PoulWrist says:

    Poorplacement.

  21. Tei says:

    My family use to play Risk wen I was very young. With our own rules, of course :D

  22. sinister agent says:

    I found out about the auction rule when I was a kid, but by that point it had been established that board games in our family were things to be bought, then played for 15 minutes until everyone got tired of re-explaining the rules to my mum and calling my sister out for being a cheating dick.

    We had quite a few them, too, even some relatively obscure ones. Never got to play half of them properly, though. Oh, and my cousins played Monopoly with that ridiculous “get a pile of money when you land on free parking” rule, which all but guaranteed that the game would never bloody end.

  23. Temple says:

    Soooon, my prec- er…. Ay, up! Look what’s on t’way
    http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_minisite_sec.asp?eidm=130&esem=1

    Ok, by on the way I mean might get here this year.

  24. Noseybonk says:

    I saw RISK 2210AD in Toys-R-US. Do I dare…

  25. Shadram says:

    Don’t tattoo the webpage on your face, Rab! Tattoo it on your girlfriend’s face, and that way you’ll remember every time you look at her. If you tattoo it on your own face, you’ll only remember when you’re cleaning your teeth or combing your h… well, cleaning your teeth, anyway.

  26. alice says:

    This is easily my favorite recurring column on RPS these days, but now that Quinns hash ed to board gamery you two should have a prose-off to the death.

  27. chabuhi says:

    Ah, Risk! That board game my dad bought in 1970-something because everybody else was getting it, yet nobody new how to play it. It was the Cabbage Patch Doll of board games.

    Yacht Race was more fun. And by “more fun” what I mean is “please point a gun toward my brainstem and pull the trigger now”.

    And by “Yacht Race” I mean “a board game I’m sadly old enough to actually have in my collection from childhood”.

    And by “childhood” I mean “the last 42 years”.

    Sorry. I’ll go away now.

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