This or That with Ken and Dan

Party Games or Deep Strategy Games?

Dan: I’m a party girl! I like to not think as much as possible so I’m very much in the party zone.

Ken: I’m also a party fan. Just, though. I do also like a deep strategy game but I think there’s something beautiful about a game which you can explain to someone in thirty seconds and they just get it. It’s fun watching other people get really simple party games and go, “Wow, this is so easy.”

Dan: Yeah, I also have rule blindness. If you’re trying to explain a really complicated set of rules I’ll be all in for the first twelve seconds and then It’s completely gone.

Ken: I think Herd Mentality is one of my favourite icebreaker games to play with people.

Dan: Yeah, it’s perfect!

Ken: It’s so simple.

Games with many components or minimalist games? 

Ken: Oh, I think you know where we’re going with this – minimalist games all the way. I hate stuff. I  hate when a game has so much stuff, like little tokens and cubes and tiny rocks. It’s like, “I don’t need all this. I just want to be able to sit here and not interact with anything physical.”

Dan: It can disrupt the flow of the game a little bit. You’ll be like, “Okay, I want to make this play.” Then someone else goes, “Wait! I have a wingle-wangle token!” Then they’ll take ages to find this wingle-wangle token. Then they have to check if it can do the thing they want it to do. Ugh.

Ken: Yeah, I hate the wingle-wangle. It always gets me… (laughs)

Dan: You’ve famously been caught a cropper with wingle-wangles.

Ken: Yep, I’ve been wingle-wangled before.

Dan: When it comes to games, I love something you can just pull out at the pub. Sometimes it’s nice to have a beautiful board and lots of different bits and bobs but if you’re at a pub and you can just crack on, you know, with a tiny little box of cards or whatever, I think it’s neater.

Narrative-driven games or mechanics-driven games? 

Ken: I don’t think I’ve played many of the big narrative-driven ones. There’s one called Alice is Missing that everyone talks about. My friends have been trying to get me to play for years. Every time I see them they say “Oh, we should play Alice is Missing sometime.” We never do though. So, maybe it’s not for me.

Dan: I think in a narrative anyway. On PartsFunKNOWN when we’re playing My GM, which is literally just putting an X in a box on a spreadsheet, I’ll always create a narrative for the game. But, I think I would overall err on the side of mechanics because it involves a little bit less active thought, if that makes sense. (laughs). 

Ken: Yep, I agree with all of that. It’s a very good point. You can make a narrative out of a really mechanical game. There are ways to make games fun without injecting narrative from the box.

Dan: I’ve had this experience recently when I’ve been playing DnD where we’ve all had responsibilities to bring to the table. It’s sort of like having a job.

Ken: It’s homework.

Dan: It is homework. But more often than not I’d rather just rock up and play the game.

Ken: It is a lot of effort when you’re told something like, “Go away and think about four things about your backstory.”

Dan: I’ll do it on the tube on the way.

Ken: Yeah (laughs).

Strategy or Luck?

Dan: It depends on how the luck is falling for me. If luck is going really well then it’s my favourite thing in the world but if I’m having a bad run of it then it’s the most frustrating feeling ever. I like strategy. Part of the reason I love Blood on the Clocktower so much is that it’s a big logic puzzle for me. You know, you’re trying to figure it out, get some answers, and find solutions. A big part of that is strategy – working out who to talk to and trying to see the full picture of everything. The good thing about strategy is that it feels like it’s something within my control and if I lose, well, that’s my fault. I can’t blame the dice for not rolling a certain way.

Ken: I think you need a bit of both. Luck is very important but you don’t want it to be the main component. Like, if you’re playing Yahtzee then that’s just too much luck. Obviously, I play poker and you need luck in poker otherwise the worst players simply won’t play. It’d become like chess because people wouldn’t bet. They wouldn’t want to get involved if they knew they were going to lose every time.

Co-op or Competitive? 

Ken: Semi-co-op, semi-competitive. How about that? Like in Nemesis, you’re working together until at the last minute when someone says, “Actually I have the kill player 2 card,” and then they throw a Molotov cocktail at someone. I like the mix of both. Clocktower is a bit like that. You’re kind of working together but then you’re also not.

Dan: I have a competitive streak. It’s why I’m not allowed to play games at Christmas. I like to win. I know that’s a really unattractive quality (laughs). That being said, I don’t mind losing so long as I’ve tried hard. With competitive games, I think there’s something nice about the aspect of everyone working together but it doesn’t quite have the adrenaline quality of crushing somebody that you care about.

Play with someone who overthinks every move or someone who never pays attention?

Ken: Oh, now that’s very hard!

Dan: Such extremes. Good god!

Ken: I hate them both…If I had to choose then probably overthinking because at least they’re playing the game. You can kind of zone out while they’re overthinking. If someone’s not paying attention then they’re basically not playing.

Dan: I think someone overthinking is at least in the game. If someone is not paying attention and is mentally half out the door then it stops you from being able to play properly. My problem with overthinkers stems from the fact that I used to play Werewolf with people who would be far more interested in the mathematics of it all than in the figuring it out part. They would spend too much time arguing with each other about statistics. Overthinking games can be stifling but I’d much rather play with someone who was super invested in the game than someone who was barely paying attention. 

Only play games made before 1950 or only play games released last year?

Ken: Last year for sure. There are so many good games that come out every year. The board game industry is huge. A lot of the old games are boring, like Monopoly or Cluedo. I couldn’t play them now.

Dan: Hey now, Cluedo is one of my favourite games of all time… When I was in uni, I was studying to write and my lecturer said that if something existed in the past then it’ll also exist in the future. So, a lot of the technology we have now probably won’t be around because it’ll have moved on but certain things like paper will still be around in some form. Every game that is out this year is taking something from those classic games, elements that are still playable today. Playing a recent game is playing a game from the 1950s, just infused with fresh new ideas.

Enjoy this article? Check out 10 Questions with Ken here.