Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Elegant

The best board or card games that are elegant in design & play...
Also nominated:

There is no comparison - this category did not appear in 2002.

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5 Comments:

Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...

OK... let's get this out of the way right now. I (Mark) flat-out refused to define "elegant" for the Apple Pickers. That should go a long way in explaining how Puerto Rico (a delicately balanced design with lots of complications) got nominated in the same list with something as delightfully clean as Blokus.

I also need to note that For Sale & Medici both finished two votes out of the top five - and substantially ahead of any other nominees.

10:08 AM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

Well, I clearly didn't understand this category. Granted that a term like "elegant" is hard to pin down, but based on the results, I have to assume I pin differently than the rest of the group. As a result, only one of my seven nominated games (Ticket to Ride)even made it to the first cut.

Say "elegant design" and the first game that pops into my head is Diplomacy. Here's this wonderful game that has such a huge fan base and it's based on a tiny number of rules. The ultimate in elegance. Didn't make the list.

Another easy selection for me was Geschenkt. I mean, that's a shoo-in, right? There's what, two rules, and yet the game is always fun and has some nice decisions. Not on the list.

My other four nominated games were Ohio, New England, Hansa, and Balloon Cup. These were harder to come up with and I wouldn't expect all of them to grab a nomination. But having none do so was a bit surprising.

It seems that most of the games that DID get nominated are either abstracts or head-scratchers. Abstracts I guess aren't too surprising, but they're *supposed* to be elegant, aren't they? I was focusing on themed games, since elegance is more of a surprise there. Then there are the titles which are just hard to explain. Hoity Toity? Princes? Puerto Rico? I really don't see the elegance there. Maybe there's just a difference of definition.

By the way, the games I voted for in the final selection were Ticket, Blokus, For Sale, Einfach, and Ta Yu. A reasonable correlation with the voting, but not particularly in line with my true selections. I don't know, maybe this is just too vague a topic to come up with a representative list.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

The simpler the game, the easier it can be characterized as "elegant".

For anything more complicated than a trick-taking card game, I believe elegance is the way the game flows and how all its parts work together seamlessly to generate an enjoyable, immersive gameplay experience.

Given my personal definition of elegance... Ticket to Ride? ACQUIRE? Clearly, the pickers had very different ideas of what the term means.

The Princes of Florence will always be the most elegant Euro in my book. Its design is so seamless and immersive, and its gameplay flows easily, like a tranquil stream...

4:13 PM  
Blogger Fellonmyhead said...

Well I'm sorry, but PoF leapt right out at me as one of the least elegant. TtR and Acquire both fit the term elegance much more than that game, but even those two are a push (what with the tickets in TtR and the whole shares thing in Acquire).

That would leave Blokus on top, Ingenious in second and TtD in third - and they are not bad choices for a top three which actually are elegant.

Larry, I wouldn't go with Diplomacy just because the rules are full of exceptions. And surely just being an abstract doesn't entail elegance - have you forgotten about Chess? One of the most inelegant games imaginable!

5:00 AM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

I pleaded for this category to be dropped. Everyone thinks of elegant differently. The whole object of this exercise is to compare like games, apples to apples, right? But everyone has a different feeling for what is elegant and what is not. Without some sense of what we were trying to get at, the results were bound to be all over the place.

For me, both Ticket to Ride and Acquire are inelegant. Ticket to Ride, because the scoring on ticket cards are not properly valued in relation to their difficulty, leading to significant imbalance, and because of a theme/play disconnect. Acquire, because it's very hard for new players to intuitively grasp because of theme is at odd with the gameplay (*being* acquired is rewarded unduly when compared to growing a good company).

My nominations went to Modern Art, Blue Moon, El Grande, EastFront, Beowulf, Civilization, and
Adel Verpflichtet. Obviously, my overlap with the rest of the voters was minimal. My personal criterion was for games which could do a lot with a little. So Blue Moon is a tremendously subtle and interesting game with very simple rules. EastFront is a wargame that manages to get a tremendous historical feel with modest, very clean ruleset. Modern Art and Beowulf are both straightforward game systems that manage to achieve both great gameplay tension as well as having great thematic strength. I'd make similar comments about Civiliation. El Grande wins for me because it makes a multi-player political-type game that is simple and really works. Adel Verpflichtet might have been kind of random though.

So that's my criterion for elegant. For me, it means so much more than just being simple or accessible: it means being clean, being streamlined, being without mechanical or thematic flaws, and also giving you a lot in terms of gameplay and theme. Blokus is a great game, but compared to the gameplay combined with the thematic thrill of, say, Modern Art or EastFront? Those games may be more complicated, but they do *so* much more as well.

3:33 PM  

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