It’s curious. I love high conflict in board games. Yet, I can still have a good time after a night of losing very game. These were games I know and really enjoy. I’ve even blogged about them. Secret Hitler, Battlecon, and Onitama.
I started my Tuesday night [toggle Gaming], talking about joining a new D&D 5th edition campaign. Then, as conversations do when I am around, the talking pivoted from “Maybe I’ll try a half-orc barbarian that heroically looks out for the good oddballs” to “Holey crap! Can you believe Donald Trump this morning after the debate”. From fantasy brainstorms to showboating politics in about half an hour. Of course, I enjoy that, so I it was a good start to the night.
Then, I got the request to join the highly political and social game of Secret Hitler. Not only did I lose as a liberal at Secret Hitler though, I lost while supporting the Hitler character (unbeknownst to me). Not only did I lose at Onitama, but I lost one game in just a few moves. How did I not see that?! To be fair, I my loss at Battlecon was nearly a win. I was only a one action away from winning, against the best player I know at 1am.
One thing I love about games though is that players can learn so much about themselves and their friends when they lose. Personally, I often learn practical as well as psychological elements when I lose or watch others lose.
For example, last night, losing at Secret Hitler as a liberal, taught me that I am very poor at reading bluffs. It also means that the fascist players that beat us have gotten much better at lying since they started playing this game so frequently. Apparently, with practice, even in a bad liar can get convincing results. Do I want to improve on that? Well, certainly I would like to play more to learn how to spot a bluff better.
Then, losing like I did at Onitama in at least one game, meant purely that I wasn’t paying much attention as I also tried to handle a conversation on the side. Riiiight, so my multi-tasking skills are a myth. Really this is true for most people but it is so easy to forget. Most of us claim we can multi-task but that generally means we can do two things poorly at once. I need to focus to play well, like 95% of everybody else.
As for Battlecon, I learned that even against better, more experienced players, I’m really good in games using game theory (aka rock / paper / scissors type mechanics). I can still trust my intuition even when my focus is split. That whole, “your first answer is the right answer on multiple choice” really works for me.
Finally, at the end of the night, I realized that although I love to win high conflict strategic and tactical games, I love learning about people and myself even more. I enjoyed myself immensely, so did I really lose after all?