The Wednesday Blogs returns to its normal schedule after a Summer break. This week, I'm discussing the idea of how we're squeezing more gaming into less time (or trying) and where that relates to the future of sports board games...
How in the world is it already the end of August? Last time on the Blogs, I was celebrating the 4th of July, looking forward to the PLAAY DOT CON and to my end of summer vacation to Cape Cod. Now those are all in the rear view mirror and time marches on.
This week saw the release of the much anticipated Second Season Express. This standalone expansion to the longest running PLAAY release allows to get in a game of football in under 30 minutes (and sometimes as little as 15!) Using the same team cards that have been available for the last 20 years, you can guide your team in a minute by minute highlight gameplay, similar to the gameplay of Hockey or Soccer Blast.
This game solves one of my own biggest dilemmas, finding the time to play out a football season. Despite my best efforts and the long time I've been playing, it still takes me between an hour and a half to two hours to play out a game of Second Season. This made it challenging to do a single team season play through and all but impossible to do a full season replay. But now, Express would allow me to get in 3 or even 4 games in the time it would take me normally play out 1!
There was a full tournament played at the July convention in Denver, something that would have been a truly heroic feat with the full play version. Every had a blast with it and also got to take home an early copy of the game.
Of course there's trade offs; this game won't generate full stats and you miss all those little moments that can sometimes swing a game. Each time you're rolling the dice, you're capturing the key play of the current drive and whether the offense keeps it going or the defense gets a stop.
But my feeling is that these trade offs are worthwhile for the future of the game and, just perhaps, enticing gamers to check out a game they normally would have no interest in at all! A quick playing game with several key decision points is certainly a recipe for a good to great board game, no matter what the theme.
While there is certainly a place games that take over an hour and it's an experience that provides a whole other level of enjoyment than from a quick playing game, having an "Express" version gives you the option to condense that experience into a much more digestible time frame. Heck, you can even combine both version and play out the first 3 quarters of a game in Express than switch to the full play version to finish off the game.
I'm excited to see the general reception to this game and if there's any kind of crossover appeal. The more gamers we can expose to our great niche of sports themed board games, the more games we'll see designed and published in the future.