Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Perfect" Games

Over the weekend, some friends and I were talking about movies - we do this fairly often. Because we are social geeks who spend a great deal of time together.

The subject of "Perfect Films" came up.  A Perfect Film, by our definition, is a film which does exactly what it intended to do, without tripping over itself. A Perfect Film is not necessarily a good film, by the way.  There are plenty of terrible films which were perfect.

The Expendables, for example. It was not a good movie.  In fact, it was terrible.  The plot was thin, the characters had about as much depth as most D&D characters, and so on.  It was basically an excuse to get a bunch of over-the-hill action stars together to blow things up.

I saw it in theaters, and walked out with a big smile on my face. Because it was fun. It did exactly what it was intended to do. On my way in, I wasn't expecting Hamlet.

The discussion got me thinking - are there games out there which are perfect?  I'm sure there are.

For me, a Perfect Game is a game should be well-balanced and doesn't have That One Flaw That Brings It Crashing Down (okay, the link is, perhaps, not the best for this, but it's still worth reading).

I love Eclipse, for example. It's an excellent game. It's very good, and very well-balanced. But it breaks down, for me, when Plasma Missiles come into play.  They're not broken, but they definitely require more thought/discussion than any of the tech advances. For me, Eclipse is a Plasma Missile away from being a Perfect Game.

Chess is very nearly a perfect game. Were it not for the (admittedly slight) First Player Advantage issue, I'd probably include it.

Sorry Sliders is, for me, a perfect game.  Seriously. It's fun, there's no theme to get in the way, and the rules are clear and simple. Given that I'm not a fan of Dexterity Games, that's a huge admission.

Shitenno is a perfect game. Your decisions are meaningful, and every turn is a challenge. But it keeps moving - the game doesn't bog down very often.

Dungeon Twister is close.  Very very close.  The Goblin and Treasure lead to wild potential scoring swings, and, over the years, this has finally started to bother me a little bit.  Dungeon Twister: Prison, however, is a perfect game. Mark this date on your calendars, by the way: This is the first time I've said something even vaguely less-than-positive about DT.

Sabotage has been one of my favorites since I was in Junior High. It's an abstract strategy game in which the first player doesn't necessarily have an advantage.

We Didn't Playtest This At All is also brilliant and perfect.  It's the only filler game I have that takes longer to explain than to play.  There isn't One Broken Rule - every rule in the game is badly broken.  Deliberately. Asmadi also publishes Win, Lose, or Banana - the best $1 game you will ever play.

So what games do you find perfect and why?


  1. Anonymous6:50 AM

    Bohnanza my friend... Bohnanza is a perfect game. Lots of player interaction, easy to teach and fun to play...

    ~also, thank Santa for me.

    1. Bohnanza is an excellent game. It adjusts without too much trouble to the number of players and it's VERY well-balance. Thank you for reminding me.

  2. Anonymous6:41 PM

    When you bring up Chess, the obvious other game that comes to mind is Go. But I think it has the same problem, that the first player has the advantage.

    Personally, I would consider Ghost Stories to, at the least, be fairly close to a perfect game.

    1. I nearly always forget about the games I've worked on, which is how Ghost Stories avoided mention.

      Although I do think that Room 25 will be perfect. Or nearly so.