By: Sally Neumann
People have varying opinions on what makes a “bad game” because of course they do—people are all different, etc., obvious statements, etc. But among all their differing bad-game claims (“too simple,” “Cylons always win,” “What’s with the meeple?”), one seems to stand out: excessive length is the worst.
Let’s kick this off by saying that I once played a four hour game of Uno that was fueled purely by spite. Three of my friends and I spent the better part of our day in the hot, loft section of a barn draw four-ing each other ad nauseum. I remember staring at my hand full of attack cards while the girl to my left smiled triumphantly as she said that impossible phrase, “Uno.”
Did I dare make her draw cards? Did I dare make this game last another interminable amount of minutes? OF COURSE. Because LOSING IS FOR LOSERS. Because I will go to HELL AND BACK before I throw a game based on LACK OF STAMINA.
The groans rang out as I placed the blue draw two down in front of her.
Eventually, one of us won, but I honestly don’t remember who. I just remember that we didn’t bother to congratulate the winner, yelled some exhausted expletives, and semi-immediately got Wendy’s.
Also this was like three years ago and I haven’t played Uno since.
Is this because Uno is an overall terrible game? Nope. My friends and I are just ludicrously competitive. It used to happen all the time, actually—the long game thing. I’m pretty sure the longest game we played (besides D&D which can go forever and nobody minds) was about 9 hours. Ever play Honor of the Samurai? Yeah we played it twice. Once for six hours, and once, two years later, when we had forgotten how SUPER LONG it was.
It’s one of those victory point games where the first person to a certain amount wins, but instead of victory points, it’s “honor,” and instead of someone winning, everyone lies in eternal bitter stasis until eventually we quit because we’re hungry and/or have to pee.
Some games, you see, are just long based on their mechanics, and require advanced planning/ stockpiling of food and adjacent bathrooms. But some games just go too long because everyone is deeply, fundamentally competitive, which isn’t at all the designer’s fault.
What do you guys think?