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Monday, 12 May 2014

Online Board Gaming Pros and Cons

Often when I see "Online Board Games" brought up they are talked about as if they are inferior to playing their physical counterparts. I am going to try and highlight some of the pros and cons I have noticed while gaming online. Personally I do not feel that one way of playing is superior to another I think it is entirely situational and dependent on what mood you are in and how much time/money/friends are at your disposal.



The Social Experience
The number one argument against gaming online is that the social aspect of board gaming almost disappears entirely. While for the most part this is true and it was actually quite off putting when I tried my first couple games of Jaipur and Stone Age. But then I realized if I did any of the following things at a meetup or games night people would be talking about how strange I was for days.

Sit down at a table without knowing anyone or introducing yourself at all.

Not talk about anything happening inside or outside of the game at any point while the game was actually being played.

Some people don't do this but I like to have a conversation about the game after, not so much what happened during the session but the game itself, I also didn't do this in my first few online board game matches. What I am trying to say is lots of people may seem closed at first but all it takes is one person to start a conversation. Just like sitting around the table you can talk about anything you wish and people are friendly because after all they are still board gamers.

Friendly advice from another player, ended up playing two games with these guys and getting last both times, I suck at Tzolk'in

Rules Discrepancies
One thing I like about getting your board gaming in online is there is no gray area, it doesn't matter what platform you are using there is one thing that is universal and that is that the games properly follow the rules and don't allow cheating. Although there aren't many cases of either cheating or rules bending in my group this impossible to cheat does make it appealing to learn a new game this way.

I will admit I have jumped right into a game before without even reading the rules, I would not recommend this. Not because its hard to learn the game this way, I guarantee you will know how to play by the time its over, the problem is you spoil the game for people who are trying to play a game. And who knows maybe the reason they are gaming online is they don't have much time for gaming that day, maybe that is their only game and you gave them no competition at all. Which brings me to my pros and cons of gaming online, note that a lot of the points can be seen from both sides as both a pro and a con.

Pros:

You can play whatever game you want provided its available online somewhere
You can play with the number of players you prefer
Cheating is impossible
You don't have to travel anywhere
You don't have to invest in the game
You can try a game before you buy it
Games can go quicker because fiddly things are automated
You can multitask better on other peoples turns because you are not being "rude"
Can listen to loud music because you don't have to hear anyone talk
You can play with people you regularly discuss board gaming with online
Easier access to your opponent's resources / playing field

Math and Calculations are done for you
You don't have to fiddle with little pieces that require constant taking and putting back
No set up / pack up time

Cons:

You do not get to play with the physical components, I find much more satisfying holding a hand of cards than looking at pictures of cards on a screen. (Bolded because this is the most important point to me)

You can get stuck with someone who has absolutely no idea how to play (they didn't even get the rundown you would before starting the tabletop version)

Less table talk and chit chat

Your internet and or power can go out and same with your opponents

People can go pee/smoke/get side tracked without saying anything leaving you to pick your nose while you wait

Math and calculations are done for you (some people enjoy doing this)

You definitely lose a lot of the theme

Easier to get sucked into AP since you can see all your opponent's stuff without having to lean over the table

Conclusion

So overall the list of Pros in longer but the Cons might be more important, a bigger chance of your game being interrupted or not being able to finish or just a generally crappy game session. That being said you do have more options for what and when you play when gaming online and by getting regular online gaming friends you aren't going to have a bad time. Both can be an equally satisfying experience, and similar to various board games, both experiences satisfy very different itches. If you have never played a game online I would highly suggest giving it a try.



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