maandag 7 mei 2012

The card game contradiction

This weekend I attended a Legend of the Five Rings Kotei, organized by my boyfriend and his friends. Legend of the Five Rings is a story-driven trading card game with an Asian theme and a kotei is an official tournament where the winner gets to influence the storyline behind the game in some way. I made myself useful in the months leading up to the event by taking charge of the Facebook and Twitter profiles of the tournament, but to be honest I didn't play the game. No matter how awesome I think collectible card games like Magic the Gathering, Pokémon and Legend of the Five Rings are, I can never get myself to actually playing them beyond a casual game once a year (which I always lose, of course).

The lore behind these games, especially Legend of the Five Rings, is amazing and constructed really well. In Legend of the Five Rings there are 9 clans in the Empire and each player aligns himself with one of these (you can switch of course but your deck of cards usually works with one clan). Every clan has its special traits and characteristics and there's a lot of dynamics going on. With players being able to influence the storyline somewhat it keeps things fresh and there's really something you achieve when you win a tournament beyond just winning a prize. There's loads of little stories about characters you can play which can be read on the official site and there's also a really amazing roleplaying game which allows you to further explore the lore of this game, which I've played with friends a couple of times.

But the card game itself... doesn't work for me, which I am pretty sad about because every time I see my boyfriend and his friends play they just have so much fun! The truth is that L5R is a rather complicated game with so many different ways to play (there's 2 decks you play with and 4 ways to win a match, to start with), but that's not the real problem for me as I can't get myself to play easier games either. The fun of any card game lies in the time you invest in it; if you play a lot, you'll get better, and by learning the game you understand not only your own but your opponents cards better, how they work together and how they interact. I think for a lot of players one of the fun aspects of card games is discovering the strengths and weaknesses of their cards and utilizing those, which I think is awesome, but it's just not for me. I just can't get myself to invest this time in it, because I rather spent my time on my other hobbies such as writing or photography. But if I can't have an equal match with my opponents I don't really enjoy playing, so I end up not playing much at all because everyone is a lot better than me (really, I have no insight in this stuff whatsoever).

That being said, I love Legend of the Five Rings for so many other reasons. I love the story as I mentioned and the roleplaying game is a lot of fun, and it always makes me so happy when I see people I care about enjoy playing. But also, maybe most of all, I love the players. Every time I tag along to a kotei I'm amazed how friendly everyone is and how comfortable I feel. A lot of players are pretty loyal to the game and I've seen them at tournaments for over five years now! I'm not a big fan of big groups and events in general, but the kotei is always an exception to that. I think it's kind of fun how I can enjoy this game without actually playing it!