I want to play it, but not that badly.
Many games in my group have fallen into the trap of being fun, but not quite fun enough to justify how much work goes into setting them up.
|I'm supposed to turn this...||into this?!|
Runewars has fallen into this trap. As much as I long to play it, the extended setup time just kills our enthusiasm for the game. Battles of Westeros suffered the same fate. I was teaching a friend of mine to play it one night, and she was watching Hockey as I was setting it up. Two periods later she was wondering if I was done yet. I ended up trading away Battles of Westeros when I got the much easier to set up Commands & Colors: Ancients.
|The fantastic tracking side board from Combat Commander|
|Four decks could be |
condensed into one!
But thankfully there are numerous fixes to many of these problems! Fantasy Flight Games eventually released pre-assembled flags for Battles of Westeros. Their newer games, like Descent 2nd Edition, combine what could have been a separate draw pile for each terrain type into a single deck. Instead of having a separate track for each game state, Combat Commander combines them all, even the ones you may not use, onto a single side board which you just unfold. A little ingenuity goes a long way towards reducing set up time, and thus increasing the likelihood that a game will hit our table.
Wait, where were we?
Every manual should have a picture of the game set up. A picture is worth a thousand words. And given the sometimes confusing language of many manuals, it is often more clear as well. Bonus points for numbering the picture with the steps taken.
|Is this too much to ask?|
For example, in Alhambra, instead of dealing the starting hand, then splitting the deck into 5ths and putting the scoring cards into the 2nd and 4th parts of the deck, it could be divided into 6ths, and the scoring cards go into the 3rd and 5th segment. For whatever crazy reason, this just seems like a more intuitive order of operations for a player to carry out.
Where is the baggie for this?
|I love this insert|
|This one too|
We have to mix them up again, you accidentally flipped some over.
I think my final pet peeve that effects set up time is games that have a random draw pile of something that isn't cards. And they don't include a bag. Bags are so vital for this function. You simply cannot easily shuffle most objects that are not cards. So what you have to do instead is just mix them up as best as able in the box top, and then make sure they are all face down. Then you hope that when people reach in, they don't accidentally flip any over. But someone will, at some point. It's just what happens.
If there were a bag, all you'd have to do is dump the pieces in the bag, shake it around, and you are done. Forever. Alhambra comes with a bag. Several bags if you get the big box. And Carcassonne eventually gained a bag in it's expansion frenzy. Quarriors came with a ton of bags for it's random dice draw. Bags are vital and you skimp on this component at your own peril.
The effects of long setup time
The worst part about long set up times is just how much they erode enjoyment of a game. Lets face it, setting up a game is work. Not many people enjoy setting up a game for the sake of setting up a game. It's a chore you must go through in order to get to the fun of playing. The more of a chore it is, and the less fun the game is, the less likely you are to play at all. But there is nothing as frustrating as a good game, a genuinely good game that you love, which has a prohibitively long or complicated set up time. The ingenuity on display when people are trying to make their favorite games easier to set up is a testament to this.
Elaborate repurposed art cases, custom build storage, card containers full of clearly indexed cards and tackle boxes full of meticulously sorted components. Some players' desire to make a game more playable knows no bounds. It would be nice if game designers kept this in mind more often as well.