There’s a million role playing games out there and you have a limited budget. How do you know which is the best one? Not necessarily the best one overall, but the best one for you, your budget, and your gaming group?
I can help you out with the first two, but you alone know what your group likes (and if you don’t you’ve got communications issues far beyond the scope of what can be sorted out in a few blog articles).
Knowing the internet as I do, I’m not going to try to make a case for this game to be number one and that game to be number two and so on. That sort of thing is just flame bait. Instead I’m going to try to set up a system for comparing games based on their attributes, much like the Consumer Reports magazines my Dad used to get when I was a kid. (O.K. so pretty much exactly like Consumer Reports). Each game system will be ranked on the following qualities:
- Is the game easy to learn, easy to play, and easy to make up characters?
- Not quite the opposite of Simplicity: is there enough granularity and complexity to ensure replayability and sustain your interest?
- Does the game accurately simulate realistic combat, skills… or at least does it feel real? The litmus test for this is whether you can accurately simulate a wolfpack attacking a single target or not.
- Are the rules locked to a specific universe or do they lend themselves to multiple genres?
- Is the system particularly good for particular genres or types of stories?
- What’s the financial barrier to entry?
Just for fun, lets’ take a look at Tic-Tac-Toe:
Simplicity: You can’t get much simpler than Tic-Tac-Toe. Five out of Five stars.
Crunch: One Star. It’s hard not to lose interest after 3 games.
Verisimilitude: Also one star. No my knowledge, Tic Tac Toe doesn’t represent anything realistically. (To be fair, it’s not even a role playing game so, I’m a jerk for trashing it in this manner.
Thematic: Also one star. I have no idea what the theme is supposed to be. Placing one of two letters in a grid is nearly the acme of abstraction.
Cost: Four stars. It’s cheap to play, given that all you need is paper and writing implement — but not free so I’m savagely knocking down a point.
Tic Tac Toe: ⬤⬤⬤⬤⬤⬤◯◯◯◯⬤◯◯◯◯⬤◯◯◯◯⬤⬤⬤⬤◯
In other words, not a great game. But you knew that already.
Tomorrow, we’ll tackle an actual game.