Analog gaming

My mainstays are Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 and 5e. I’m lucky enough to have close friends who are whizzes with homebrewing mechanics and settings, so a wealth of spectacular experiences with that have me thoroughly indoctrinated (one day I’ll play Pathfinder or VTM. One day.) I love my “crunchy” dice-dependent TTRPGs, especially when playing with a group/GM that will toss in an epistolary phase/mechanic into the campaign to really dig into the roleplaying.

I like solo journaling games as well, even if I haven’t had much chance to play then recently. The Night Lasts is one of my favourites (whimsical fae court setting! the potential for complex and bloody political intrigue and/or courtly affairs! goes perfectly with many of my favourite waltzes and hot beverages!) and I have fond memories of passing solo sessions from The Great Ratsby back and forth with a friend over about six months.

I’d also be remiss to leave out mention of Goncharov: the RPG and Butterfly Court, which were immensely enjoyable instruments in forming the group that now runs the Neo-Interactives.

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I do enjoy playing analog interactive fiction i.e. gamebooks. I love all three variety of gamebooks - simple branching, those with their own rules, and those that use some existing RPG rules (solo RPG adventures). One of the most recent simple branching gamebooks that I played and enjoyed was Consider the Consequences, one of the oldest analog IF pieces ever. My favorite set of gamebooks that come with their own rules is Critical IF set of gamebooks. And out of all solo RPG adventures, my favorites are those from Call of Cthulhu and Tunnels & Trolls.

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My wife really likes Mysterium. I have to admit, there’s no better boardgame I know of that focuses on creative thinking. The artwork is amazing, but the core mechanic of visions is where the fun lies. You might get one or three vision cards and your mind races trying to find the connection to one of the possible choices. The vision cards are psychedelic and full of unique and contrasting details. They all look like wild dreams and you have to decipher the intent of the game master (the ghost, who cannot speak).

It’s not a game about “winning”. It’s really about the fun of abstract thinking. It’s also drop-dead gorgeous. :wink:


Honorable mention goes to Creationary, a Lego product that requires you to build rudimentary things, like how Pictionary requires you to draw things.

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This was what led me to sign up for an account on this forum. Well, we have…

I found some old Fighting Fantasy gamebooks at the library and at some bookstore. Found out more about them.

Got an online pdf copy of Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! from one huge online archive that was run by someone called Anna anthropy.

Found out that ink had done a remake of some sort of the entire series. Went to their website and there was, also featured, First Draft of the Revolution by Emily Short, amongst other things. At that time I had no idea she was going to make that big of an impact on what I’m doing now.

Read a gamebook blog. There were mentions of CoG on that blog (and Emily too), so went to their website, played a little and eventually gave in and went onto their forum. Then thanks to some people on said forum, I ended up here. So it’s really fortunate that I get to know such like-minded people.

Also, Consider the Consequences could be the first ever choice-based IF! (there’s a thread on that)

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I was first introduced to TTRPGs with a couple of informal groups playing homebrews of D&D: stripping it down to basics to let the little teenie bopper peering curiously at the table play along. This included a VTM (Vampire: The Masquerade) inspired group. I’ve been both a DM and a player, though I prefer being a player by far.

I dove pretty hard into indie TTRPGs once I figured out my preferences: extremely numbers light, GM-less, quick to set up, roleplaying heavy, with elements of cooperative worldbuilding and character development. I have a soft spot for pre-established relationships, riffing off of character archetypes included in the set, and rumour mechanics and other social-play oriented mechanisms. Love super long ongoing campaigns, and I have a huge roster of characters I can adapt to various universes to play with new or old tables. I play TTRPGs to write, and it’s magical when you meet someone who has fantastic writing chemistry with you, like Jinx.

The Goncharov Girlies (aka the NeoInteractives moderation team) became friends over playing Goncharov: The RPG, though we totally took it off the rails about midway through. Butterfly Court is like, the ideal game to hit the ground running if you like the sorts of games I do, and I’ve used it twice before to teach players who are completely new to roleplay, and even the idea of having original characters, how to play. We ran it as a group for the better part of a year, and Jinx and I still play around with our characters from the campaign. Some of them have shown up in our IF games.

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I loved MERP (Middle Earth!) and The Lone Wolf gamebooks (legally available as PDFs).

Nowadays I play sometimes Pachisi, Skip Bo, Uno, Yatzee, Phase 10.

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Current favourites:

On the TTRPG front a friend and I are having great fun with a Starforged campaign.
I recently played some D&D 5th Ed. My first experience since AD&D in the ‘80s. It was okay.
Game I’d most like to find players for is Blades in the Dark

On the Board game front we (family) often play:

Tyrants of the Underdark
Star Wars: The Deckbuilding Game
7 Wonders: Architects
Res Arcana
Azul
Splendor
TimeBreaker
Death on The Cards
Pandemic: fall of Rome
Triominos

When I can find players:
Dune
Dune Imperium
Battle for Rokugan
Ghost stories

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Crossword puzzles in the actual newspaper.

And we play a lot of pool.

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This is kind of funny. Guess how I got into Betrayal at House on the Hill? I saw Mysterium in a Forbidden Planet shop. (I was, what, 7?) I asked for it for my birthday. I didn’t get that, but I got BaHotH, simply because they forgot the name. :rofl:

That is a very similar story to how I got into coding. Just swap “Mysterium” for “book on learning Java”. (I looked it up and it said Java was easier than Python, which is such heavy BS. Also I despise JavaScript, so, yeah.) Then swap “(I was, what, 7?)” for “This was a couple weeks before my 10th birthday.” Finally, swap “BaHotH” for “a book on Python”. All I can say is, “thank you so much for forgetting the name of the programming language”. I can’t stress that enough.

I still haven’t played Mysterium yet.

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@SomeOne2 Ha! You reminded me of an old Christmas commercial about a clueless father going into a store to buy a video game system for his son and he just has to remember to get a Sega Genesis or Game Gear… and ends up excitedly asking the clerk for a Mega Pegasus for Reindeer. That poor, poor kid. :wink:


This is an odd recommendation, but hear me out. I actually like playing Star Trek Panic… by myself. It’s a cooperative game, but the strategy involved kind of lends itself better as a single player game. So I end up picking two characters and playing it out by myself. It also helps that the cardboard ship has physical explosions and shield damage indicators to place on it. (I feel like I’m a kid again playing with toys!) As the enemies get closer, it really makes you think about what damage you can take versus what you can dish out. (Rotating the ship turns your damaged sides away from oncoming fire.) I don’t mind losing in this game because I find it refreshing to play a game so involved completely at my own pace. How often can you say that about a boardgame?

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I do that with BaHotH!! Okay, one reason is cause nobody wants to play it since it’s so complicated to remember rules, there’s a lot of reading stuff out and it takes ages to play… but I agree with you.

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Was MERP based on RoleMaster? I have distant memories…

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Yes, but MERP was based on a d20 scale while original Rolemaster is on a d100 scale.

And then the MERP publishers ruined it. They had the license for Middle Earth RPG, not for books. They published gamebooks thinking “gamebooks aren’t books, they are games.” They were wrong and lost the liense immediately.

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Personally I consider dice (incl. TTRPG) and card games “discrete” games (that is, games centered on discrete value, e.g. rolling 8 on 2d6 or drawing the five of spades) so I consider “analog” the games centered on physical phenomena (practically all sports games, for example)

In my case, being a Neapolitan gentlemen (“signore tra i signori, popolano tra i popolani”, that is, capable of being a gentlemen along a gentlemen and a blue-collar along blue-collar, my favorite analog games are both carom billiard and bocce:

Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.

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Apparently, Rolemaster RPG is the most complicated system, albeit fair and reasonable. This looks like a good candidate to be implemented in a computer program!

Rolemaster Unified Review | Cannibal Halfling Gaming.

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Oooh, excellent topic. I’m not willing to commit to clear favorites, but here are some that come to mind:

Board Games

  • Big fan of the Battlestar Galactica board game (although do yourself a favor and play it with people who are already board game savvy and not prone to having their relationships ruined by board games). Solid game, and REALLY captures the vibes of the vibes of the 2004 TV series (to wit, the humans are already screwed when the game starts, many different things can happen but all of them make things worse, the humans lose much of the time and when they win it’s while scraping by on their last unit of oxygen). But in trying to serve as a neutral recommender, I should add that honestly Dark Moon has a cleaner game-mechanical implementation of a similar co-op / betrayal mechanic.
  • Also in the genre of “successful board game adaptations of other media,” the recent Dune Imperium game does a quite good job evoking the wastefulness (and yet you must participate) of politics / warfare.
  • I have a lot of fondness for Imhotep, which is just a very clean, elegant action selection game. The platonic ideal of action selection games. Everything about the game design works and the cubes are made of wood and pleasingly large.
  • These last two mostly stick out at me for being fun but also having a unique mechanic: Glory to Rome and RoboRally. Unfortunately for me, both also seem hard to source. Glory to Rome is sort of a tableau builder game, but the cards you use can each be used in like 4 different ways, leading to some interesting choices around “do I want this as a resource, or to make part of my recipe, or as a worker” etc. RoboRally seems like it was probably inspired by programming becoming more of a household term in the 90s, because you literally use cards to program your robot, and then watch as your program results in disaster because you made a mistake, or the chaos in the environment, or what someone else’s robot is doing. (“man plans, god laughs”)

I definitely quite like Betrayal, although I don’t know if it’s in my absolute top tier. But I really like what it’s doing with adding unique scenarios each playthrough that require their own strategies. (Although I find each scenario drops quite a bit in enjoyment if I replay–the pressure of coming up with an effective strategy with the team the first time is what I’m there for.). Although it does struggle with a common problem for games that assign some players to be the adversary, which is that they didn’t actually make being the adversary very much fun in a lot of the scenarios.

Also a classic! Different tone, but if you like the “generating creative connections from pictures” aspect, you might like Dixit (although it’s more casual / social focused).

Casual / social games

Right now I’m pushing Just One and The Crew: Mission Deep Sea at everybody. Both fun, quick, and perfect when you are going to have people joining and leaving in the middle. The Crew in particular is a co-op take on trick-taking card games, which was unique to me but is really fun.

Card games

Wow, this took me back! Euchre was really popular when I was in college, although I haven’t thought about it in a while. It does have great features for socializing.

TTRPGs

I would love to play more TTRPGs, but my interest seems to be higher than most of my friend group, alas.

I did play, and like, Fiasco! McMurdo station will never be the same.

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In college we played double-deck euchre. Single is too predictable.

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We played with 2 decks as well. I’m not sure if it was for the same reason or not; I just grew up “knowing” euchre was supposed to use two decks. All of the people I would ask why are either dead or have chosen to not speak to me for years. Most of the people in my family were number people, so reducing predictability seems like a probable reason. I guess I’ll just assume that.

Playing euchre was the only time when all the other family dynamics fell away and we were just 4 people playing cards. I think it took my Dad back to a simpler kinder time and the vibes followed in step.

In college, I found myself the one teaching others how to play, being a Midwesterner in a Pennsylvanian and Idahoan college. So, I guess there are a bunch of people in both places that are positive that euchre requires two decks, as I didn’t find out otherwise until a couple of years ago.

The last euchre game I played was on November 8th, 2016. I was playing with a few other candidates I had lured away from their dissertation work (I wasn’t a candidate yet, so I suppose that makes me a bad influence.). We were eating pizza and soda and listening to the early poll returns, relieved to hear the clear lead over Trump. That game and that night soured as things went on, and eventually the mood was tense. First one person said they needed to go, and quickly everyone split. I cleaned up the plates, cup, and pizza boxes and headed home, where I found my spouse on the couch watching the results roll in, having finished a bottle of red and had moved on to something else, I forget what. I sat down on the couch next to her, and we watched as our collective world flipped upside down. We went to bed late, when it was certain there was no path left to victory.

I’d really really like to play another game sometime, if only so that doesn’t remain the last time I played.

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BoardGameGeek’s 2023 Print-and-Play Solitaire Contest had some fantastic entries. But one that stood out for me was Fantasy Map Maker.

one of my maps created in this game

(the contest link)

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what’s so wrong with 3rd? (I played it once, years ago, I presume 2nd edition, so I’ve got no 2nd vs. 3rd opinions…)

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