I love doing new and different things that challenge me as a blogger. This is a much more opinionated piece compared to other posts I’ve done thus far. So with that in mind, please be aware that I am doing this not as a review or anything of that nature, but rather, give a new perspective to playing games.
I think that making some house rules for certain games can make them more intriguing for a greater number of people that you play with, as well as making some games shorter, longer, dexterous or whatever else the group that you play with wishes. Slightly changing or adapting rules can be a fun thing. When I was younger my best friend and I had actually made up some new rules for Yahtzee that made it a full contact game. (We each had a set of dice and had to fight our way to a dice tower to count our rolls.) That’s not what I’m writing about though. The point I’m trying to get across is that you can alter rules to make it a new game that maybe you’ll enjoy in a different way than maybe what was designed for.
I wish I could tell you this was my cottage, but I can’t.
Depending on the group of people you are playing with, some minor adjustments may make a game that wouldn’t otherwise make it to the table, show up more often and be a bit of fun for everyone. I understand game designers create games to be played a certain way, but in reality, there is always a chance that house rules will be made whether it is deliberate or not. How would it not be deliberate you might ask? Well, some games have a lot of rules. When you don’t have the benefit of the designer teaching the game to you as you are sitting down with the game in front of you, there are rules that may be misinterpreted, or looked at and assumed they are understood, when in reality, it may be slightly different that what you assume to be correct. This in turn, will be explained at your table as the correct way to play and voila! You’ve got yourself a new house rule. These are how unintentional house rules come about.
There are other ways to come up with house rules as well. Looking through a rule book and not understanding a mechanic quite right, or not liking the way a part of the game plays, can lead to adjusting and fine tuning rules that have been laid out. These are rules that game designers seem to be on the fence about. (Please note once again that this is an opinion piece. I did basic inquiry to find a general consensus and not a full research project.) In one aspect, it is a benefit to some games to have house rules, as it can be beneficial to the game as a whole. Maybe a game too complex for a younger child to understand completely, such as X-Wing Miniatures with all of the ship mechanics, is simplified down to exclude those mechanics and becomes a basic point and shoot board game. Maybe a game has a habit of receiving the same house rule over and over again. If approached in the the correct manner, it could eventually become a house rule that the designer may go back and integrate it into the rules of the game.
There is however another side to the coin. There are negative ways to include house rules in games. (Once again this is based on conversations on Twitter) Something that came up, that started to even boil my blood, is that there are people who create house rules, and take to the internet claiming that they have improved upon a game that someone has worked so hard to give to the masses. My impression, is that if you want to improve a game with house rules, don’t try to discredit the entire game. Instead, try to explain (to the designer if possible) what is flawed and why, and how your house rule improves on said flaw. This could lead to a few things. The designer could agree with you, and consider a revisit of the rules. It could also lead to discussion about how, even though it helps out one aspect of the game, or in a round or two of the game, it may not be effective for the overall way the game is played. There are really endless possibilities that this could lead to, so I won’t go over each one of them, but trust me, there’s probably more.
In my talking over Twitter, someone had actually mentioned that they had met someone who buys games, and essentially dissects them and almost completely changes the game. This person was apparently bragging about it! Bragging! If you want pieces to a game, just to change the entire game, why wouldn’t you become a designer and buy just the pieces from somewhere and build your own games? I was floored when I saw that. If that person is easily able to use games like that to change them and make his own games, he should be doing that and selling his own games! Anyway, that’s an example of going off the deep end in changing rules, but it’s interesting to hear how far people actually go in making “house rules”.
When I originally had asked people about their views, I would have thought that making house rules was frowned upon (you may be able to see the transition in this post as to when my view was changed) but having talked to people, I realized that not only are they tolerated, but they’re really almost encouraged. The view seems to be that, if people are making house rules, that means they are playing the game. It also means that they have possibly found something they didn’t like about the game, and tweaked it to make it even more enjoyable for themselves. Designers find the feedback and hearing about those house rules in a positive light. They want to improve their games. They want to offer you something better than they did before. When you are looking through your collection of board games, they want you to be excited in grabbing their game. What better way to do that, than listening to the consumers and trying to give them what they want.
So, this was going to actually be a post on a game that I have come up with a set of house rules for. I don’t think there’s a need for it this week though. But I will quickly let you know why I was going to do the post. The game I was going to do has a habit of never ending. My group of pals had inserted some new house rules into the game that we think make it much more enjoyable, and it doesn’t end up being the only game you play for about forty-eight hours. I think I may eventually do the post I intended to do this week. But if I do decide to, it probably won’t be for a little while anyway. Hope you guys all have an enjoyable week, and I’ll talk to you next time!