Fortress: Ameritrash recently posted the best session report of a board game ever, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (a Cylon), an actual play report of the recently released Battlestar Galactica board game.
I defy you to read that narrative and not wish that you were there in one of those chairs, not wish that one in ten board games you played resulted in such a great story, not wish that you were the guy who made the game that made that happen.
(A short moment of full disclosure: Fantasy Flight Games writes me a paycheck twice a month. That said, I had next to nothing to do with the brilliance that is the BSG board game design. As I wrote when he won the Origins Award for his work on StarCraft: The Board Game, Corey Konieczka is one talented motherfucker of a game designer.)
All that aside, here’s what’s really, really interesting to me about the “Unbearable Lightness” session report: BSG isn’t a game designed to make stories. Not at all. It’s got a theme, but it tries to be a game about three hundred times more than it tries to be a story. So were the players responsible for the narrative, or was the game? And if it was the players, did they make it while they were playing (in which case are you sure the game itself doesn’t get any credit?), or is the story interesting because of the way it was structured and written down after the fact?
For that matter, is the play report an interesting story because gamers dig space ships and the stuff that happens on them, or because it’s about people who play board games, just like you and me, and it’s something nail-biting and awesome and dramatic that happened while they were doing it it? And if the latter—and I do think it’s the latter—would a stockbroker, fireman, or your mom read “Unbearable Lightness” and find it remotely compelling?
In any case, if I haven’t been clear, you should find a copy of BSG, and buy it, and play it. Thanks to Mr. Bistro for making the case so obvious.