Many games, maybe even most games, show you what they’ve got after a complete play. While there is usually some nuance to explore or depth to exploit, you can certainly get a sense of the game and decide whether you like it or not after a single play.
But not all games are so readily transparent. In fact, there are numerous titles that require repetition to fully grasp. If you write off some games after one attempt, you might never get to see the true beauty underneath. Here are three titles that beg for additional plays.
In Asgard, the players are vikings (or maybe tribes of vikings) who prepare themselves for Ragnarok the way only vikings can – by building temples to the gods and fighting battles throughout Yggdrasil. Over the first five rounds of the game, you’ll use cards to select the favor of the gods, use that favor to build temples or gain their powers, and then charge into battle on the side of either Light or Darkness.
The final round is Ragnarok itself and it plays completely differently from everything you’ve done before. Now, the gods themselves enter battle on the worlds around the World Tree and you can get points for having supported those that win. In a first play, it can seem a little haphazard and jarring to change the game so drastically right at the end.
But, on a second play, you realize that the first five rounds merely lead up to Ragnarok. In fact, those first few rounds, as you build temples or fight battles, are really about trying to figure out how to support the gods and ensure that yours will win. It also means learning to ride the coattails of other players. In Asgard, you learn to think about the end from the very beginning.
Seasons is a fantastic game that is different from, but reminiscent of, Magic: the Gathering. If you’ve given up on the CCG life, but still have a hankering for finding awesome combos and damaging your opponents, then Seasons may hit the right buttons for you. Players will draft a hand of nine cards that they will hope to play and utilize during the game. Gaining additional cards is possible, but not a common event during play.
And it’s that initial draft that makes the game difficult to really grasp at first. If it is your first time with Seasons, you won’t have a good idea of which cards work well together and can create powerful combos. Some cards seem innocuous or even underpowered. During the game, you see that they can be absolutely amazing when combined with the right abilities. You might inadvertently let good cards go during the draft that will be used by your opponents to smack you, and take cards that seem powerful, but turn out to be less good in isolation.
On a second play, though, after you’ve seen some of what Seasons has to offer, you’re in a better position to make use of that initial draft. Now you’ve seen the lay of the land a bit and can formulate a cohesive strategy from the get-go. Having that plan firmly in mind, the draft will make more sense and you’ll do better during the game.
T.I.M.E. Stories (spoiler free!)
Players are thrust into the past in TIME Stories, a title that is like combining a board game with a choose-your-own-adventure book. The box comes with only a single story, though there are several others available for purchase. After being transmitted into the past, players awake in an insane asylum where not everything is as it should be. From there, you make choices and interview different people to try to locate and stop the temporal anomaly.
TIME Stories is a great title and does a fantastic job of immersing you into a lively and disturbing world. On your first play, you’ll do some exploring, talk to some people, and inevitably waste your precious time as you go about trying to figure things out. After a first play, you may have seen only half of the story and be only marginally less confused than when you began.
But on the second play, you can take that knowledge and expand on it. You’ve now seen some dead ends and know not to go down those roads. You’ve found some interesting items and know exactly how to recover them. On second and additional plays, you start to make real progress uncovering the mystery and the game really begins to reveal it’s brilliance.
What games do you think need second plays to appreciate? Tell us about it in the comments.
Image Credits: What’s Your Game and Asmodee
Featured Image Credit: Asmodee