Well, I’m in the middle of washing my car when writing this. But I guess its a good time.
I picked up Pathfinder Adventures on Steam a few days ago. A near £50 + card game for £15 (give or take a few pennies).
Now normally I am a card lover, I like the feel of playing a card game with cards, having them in hand means I can look at them when I need to, pick cards up and check wording, it feels intuitive.
Even so, I do believe computerised card games do have some benefits.
When you have a £50 game that will take up a large amount of space on a desk or shelf, you want to decide whether or not it is worth buying.
It is also easier to find players, you don’t need to go to a store; there is an online community that can play games with you or the games have a solo function which simulates a number of players and some even provide assistance to be able to monitor other characters. For example, certain cards can be used by other players during the game and to represent this with characters, a symbol is shown that they have cards that can be used in the current encounter.
Thirdly, resetting is easy compared to playing card games; Pathfinder Adventures is actually the best example; at the start of the adventure you have to set up each location with a random set of cards based on a number of items, weapons, enemies and armour (and other cards). With a physical deck, this would require separating all the cards, shuffling them and setting each location, when computerised it is a series of 0’s and 1’s that can be organised in seconds.
However there are some flaws; the key flaw being that if the system is translucent or even hidden, then there is a risk that something is forgotten when a player transferred to the physical game. While Pathfinder Adventures is actually quite good, I can quote another game that sometimes hides rules; Blood Bowl. In the computer games, the turn marker is moved forwards without any signalling while when playing the board game the players each have to move their own turn track forward and considering that there is a penalty for forgetting, this can make players feel conned.
At the same time, there is a deceptive nature to playing a computerised board game, a Blood Bowl game takes 15-20 minutes on the computer, I have heard of some matches lasting two to three hours. This is due to die rolling and rule checking (as well as analysis paralysis on both sides), something that isn’t visible as AI know the rules and always have a ready strategy solving it in seconds not minutes.
I think there is another key factor; while the idea of computerised card games is a good one, I still believe that something is missing by not being around a table with a group of people who can win or lose together.
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