February Update: Board Games and MMOs

February seems to have flown by fast! It makes sense (somewhat) because of the missing days, but that really did seem to disappear as soon as it arrived.

I’m still sick, but, I think, slowly improving… I was able to do more this month than the last. I’ll call that a step in the right direction. 🙂

This month’s social activities probably had more to do with game playing than anything else.

I went to a board game meetup in Palo Alto and finally got to try out 7 Wonders… a board/card game where you compete with your neighboring players to build structures and monuments for your ancient civilization by taking and passing around resources and cards. Surprisingly fast and simple, once you start playing. Probably the more advanced players will strategize the type of cards they hand off to the neighboring player, but since we were all noobs, it was a randomization, in a way. I liked the variability. The initial cards you take and the selected civilization you play for can change the strategy you take on for point collection.

Another day, a friend had a game night at his place where I introduced a bunch of friends to Pandemic. Pandemic is a collaborative board game where you take on the role of CDC members and fight against the rapid spread of a disease. It is extremely difficult and even on easy mode, is not easy to beat. After borrowing the board game from a friend months ago, I finally was able to crack it open and get some people to sit down and play. It can be a slow game due to the potential amount of collaborative thinking required, so finding time and willing participants is always a challenge. We lost at the very end, though I think we had a good battle going while the game lasted.

I also got to try a new card game called Machi Koro while at work (a coworker of mine, also an avid board game player, brought it in for some Friday afternoon gaming). Machi Koro is a town-building game that mixes deck-building with dice-rolling. You buy cards with earned coins and roll dice to activate the purchased cards. It’s a nice blend of strategy and chance, planning out the best set of cards for bonus coin and attacks, hoping and praying for a rolled 8 (or 9 or 10) so you can collect the big money and clear the game. There are more types of cards in the box than you put on the table during a game, so each game can play differently depending on the layout.

Onwards to digital gaming! A coworker got me to take the plunge and buy a copy of Final Fantasy 14. It’s not my first time playing it, though this IS my first time creating a character on my own account. Initial reaction is still not positive. It’s very slow and full of Japanese game design choices, like excessive un-skippable dialog, silent staring, a crowded UI filled with text, and the purposely-added up-panty camera angles. The panties have lace trims, btw.

Coming from a year’s worth of Guild Wars 2 playing, FF14 just isn’t quite cutting it for me. The battle system is slow and there’s no sense of direction or purpose. I just don’t feel like I have the freedom of movement as I do in GW2. Nor the sense of an expansive open world as I did in GW2. The map is confusing and moving around in it is not as streamlined. Thus far, it just feels like I exist as a random character in this world. There’s no motivation (and I’m rather blocked by my low level anyways) to seek out some excitement. GW2, at least, made it very easy to feel drawn in with their many world events that chained with each other. The voice acting too, is very impressive.

That said, I know a lot of people like FF14 and I have more friends who play FF14 than GW2 (no one wants to return and join meeeee 🙁 ). I still have ~20 days on my subscription, so I’ll keep trying it until that expires, then likely back to GW2. FF14 just feels too much like a grindy chore.