Family favourite: Arcadia Quest
The kids and I have started a new gaming tradition in the school summer holidays: we set aside 2 weeks to play Arcadia Quest that normally takes us about 20 hours to complete. Arcadia Quest, for 2-4 players, is a campaign game with 11 scenarios in which you have to complete six. I was originally drawn to the game by its awesome miniatures which I've tried to paint, starting with the Goblin Archers. The city of Arcadia is currently controlled by the vampire Lord Fang and his evil minions and monsters. Players take over guilds of 3 heroes, each of whom have unique abilities. These heroes' powers become stronger over the game so that you can finally destroy Lord Fang. However don't become complacent as the other guilds want to have prestige and they don't mind killing you to achieve this!
The blind leading the blind
Arcadia Quest was surprisingly easy to understand and play. Don't get me wrong: there's a lot to learn and it certainly takes a few scenarios to fully grasp, however there is one thing that most games can lead you down and that's the path of ambiguity. I'm using Arcadia Quest as an example and in no way am I belittling the game as it's probably my favourite. A game can be perfect but humans playing it can have different perspectives in how they view a rule. In Arcadia Quest, each player will receive new upgrade cards once a scenario is complete. The upgrade card offers a player, or in this case a hero, different powers and abilities that get used every time they activate it. My son had a particular upgrade card and he questioned its use. I had an idea regarding its ability but wasn't sure so I asked my wife and she offered a different opinion. In the end I asked another friend who was at our house at the time and his interpretation seemed the best. It was such a simple description but it took 3 people to reach the best understanding.
I've noticed that rule ambiguity doesn't seem to matter much at the beginning of a game, however once that rule has a huge affect regarding someone's gain or loss at a crucial point then it becomes very important! The beauty of boardgamegeek is the community it's created that allows a game to continue to develop within the forums. In fact, I've grown to enjoy the vagueness of rules as researching what others have done to gain clarity has become part of the journey of the game. Resolving ambiguity doesn't have to be an argument or leave you with a sense of inability. As I mentioned earlier our different perspectives can actually be helpful to reach an answer. It took us 3 attempts to clarify our rule in Arcadia Quest and each perspective added to the overall insight.
Go with the consensus of the group and stick to that agreement until the game is complete, then do your research. I just think that when we continue to challenge a rule during a game it can take the fun out of it.
How do you deal with ambiguity?