Finding Your Zen Game
Sam “King of the Hilltop”
There is such a wide variety of games out in the world! I mean anything from solo to cooperative, 2 player to 99 players, light to heavy. There is just such a variety and I personally enjoy so many types of games. Whether you are a person who strongly desires themes in games or more of a strict puzzle type gamer, there is a game for you.
However, I find myself attracted to particular types of games over and over again. The reasons for each one are different. An example, I really enjoy Dwellings of Eldervale as it allows me to play a Worker placement type game with a level of aggression that I just love. Thank you Luke Laurie…great game!
However, Dwellings of Eldervale needs a decent time commitment to play and sometimes I need a break from analyzing my actions for long stretches of time. (Yes, I do suffer from A.P., analysis paralysis. I am working on it…I promise!)
There are games though that I can pull out and I don’t even care if I win or lose. I just get lost in the actions the game provides me and enjoy it for what it is. I call these games my “Zen Games.”
I can have a terrible day, be exhausted, grumpy, and I can pull one of these out and I will be in a state of wonderful mindful bliss of just enjoying that board game moment. For me, this is Splendor and Kōhaku.
Are these the most complicated games ever? No. They are not supposed to be. I find their game loop endlessly satisfying and if I lose, it’s all good. In Splendor, I get to make an engine that works! It’s awesome and the ease of choosing an action: pick up gems, buy a card, or reserve a card. Simple, elegant, excellent. Just enjoy the moment!
A recent one came from a friend, Chris Goodlet of the Charity Board Gamer. He got me to pick-up a copy of Kōhaku. It’s a tile drafting game where you draft a koi fish and a pond feature from the middle and then place them in your own pond. The combination of different color fish and pond features gives you a final score once you have drafted 12 times. This game has been a hit with family and friends. Every time I play this game, it just makes me so happy and the colors are fantastic. The flow of the game is just so relaxing along with the theme of building your koi pond.
For me, Kōhaku and Splendor are my zen games. What are yours?
The Zen of Being King
Ed “Duke of BAzlandia”
I know, I know, I am just the Duke of BAzlandia, and therefore do not rule a kingdom. That being said, nothing brings me to that place of just peaceful bliss then King Domino. This is a game I can enjoy and just play. This is especially true when playing with some of my youngest children.
So, what exactly about this game brings me so much joy in a stress free way? First, I think the pure simplicity of the game. This is due to the simple rules. You get a starting tile, mix up some tiles, lay them in order, pick a tile you want to play(this also determines turn order), lay down the next row of tiles, and finally, in order, play the tile you picked and pick the next tile you want to play. Rinse and repeat.
It only took a paragraph to explain the basic game flow. Granted there are a few more rules with placement and size. However, simple rules and a simple flow of turn order and tile placement creates a game easy to play, easy to understand, and hard to misinterpret any rules.
Besides the above it’s hard to explain why this game takes me to a place of pure calm gaming enjoyment. This game provides the satisfaction of just putting some pieces down and scoring some points. Plus at the end it just looks nice even if you didn’t score all that well. You end up with a nice little map of your own nice little kingdom. Who knows, maybe one day I will be King.