Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Playing Patience

"Patience" has a double meaning to gamers: it can mean tolerantly waiting, or it can mean "solitaire". I've been doing some of both lately. I may write about solo play of Zombie in my Pocket and Wings of War: Burning Drachens another time, but today let's talk about waiting.

General Anxiety

Quite some while back, Helen and I jumped on the bandwagon and eagerly pre-ordered Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage. This game is highly rated, but had been out of print for a decade. When Valley Games announced a reprint, we signed up. And then we waited... and waited... and waited for the reprint to appear. It took many months longer than Valley Games had originally projected. During the wait, our excitement levels went from "Man! I can't wait!" to "Y'know, maybe this isn't really our kind of game." When it finally (finally!) arrived, we didn't rip off the shrink-wrap. We decided to wait a while longer, because...

...the Plastic Generals hadn't arrived. Y'see, the game has cardboard counters to represent the important generals in this war, but we brave and faithful pre-orderers were to receive a special bonus: sculpted plastic figurines of the generals. But they weren't ready when the game itself was ready. "Soon!" said Valley Games, so we decided to wait for them and think further about how much we really wanted to play this game. And we waited... and waited...

Containing Our Impatience

Some while after we had ordered Hannibal, we ordered Container from the same company. This seemed more up our alley, as it's an economic game rather than a war-and-politics game. But again with the waiting! And again, our pre-order bonus, a set of sculpted cargo containers to replace plain wooden blocks, were delayed even longer than the game itself. Both did eventually arrive; we've even played Container, though not yet with the new sculpted container bits.

Agricola Envy

The hottest new game this year is Agricola. It was first published only in German and only in Europe, but those who played it hyped it heavily. Having learned from Hannibal that not all popular games will appeal to us, we researched it, and decided it was up our alley. We pre-ordered an English-language edition from an online retailer. And now we are (all together, now) waiting... and waiting...

Many people who pre-ordered from the publisher already now have their English-language copies. Some who pre-ordered from other online retailers are receiving theirs. Still no word about ours.

We did, however, get to play it the other evening. A friend of ours had just received his copy and invited us over. It did seem like a pretty good game, so we are still eager to receive our own copy and dig into it.

Patience is a Virtue

How shall I wrap up this little suite of cautionary tales? I am not really sure what lesson is to be learned here. Perhaps it is All things come to him who waits, since we did eventually get everything we were waiting for (except Agricola, and surely it will arrive Any Day Now.) Or possibly it's Be careful what you wish for; you might (eventually) get it, since after all that drooling and waiting for Hannibal, we are now considering trading it away, still in shrinkwrap. Or maybe the lesson is more pragmatic: Don't believe in publisher's schedules. Fantasy Flight Games has had one particular game in development for going on ten years now; it has been announced, delayed, dropped, and re-announced several times, and still seems at best a year away. (And it sounds like it could be really cool, too.)

What the hey. Sometimes the wait is well worth it. We pre-ordered the second printing of Through the Ages, waited patiently and then impatiently... and when it arrived, it was wonderful and looks as though it will be a favorite for years to come. (Well, except that it was short a few pieces and plagued by several misprints, and we had to order the "fix pack" and wait for it to come...)

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