Hmm. While there are plenty of games in my collection that don’t hit the table enough, relatively few of them don’t deserve to.
I think the games in my collection I have the least desire to play are:
Funemployed. I’d much rather play Mysterium, Dixit or Monikers (well, old school “edition”) from my collection or at a stretch Mad Scientist University from outside my collection. Funemployed helped me realize that my trouble with CAH wasn’t just the South Park its-funny-because-political-correctness-is-meanbadwrong-and-we’re-edgy aesthetic just like Mad Scientist University helped me realized my problem with this style of game isn’t just the improvisational humor. These games really demand that you buy into their card sets and build a humorous geography around them–and that means despite being short phrases or even just individual words, you need to have a good relationship with the writing style that produces these cards, with the writing style that would happily produce results that amuse the creator and their friends from this jumble of words. And it turns out I just don’t have that relationship with Funemployed’s creators. At all. I have the distinct impression I wouldn’t find a lets-play of the creators playing their game very funny just like–despite finding those involved to be funny people in other circumstances–I didn’t find the SU&SD lets play of it very funny. Also it has some rather unfortunate cards in the deck and the cards smelled like a toxic waste dump and left a weird residue on my hands when I tried to sort through the cards to find the not-shitty ones so Funemployed managed to be a pain in the ass even when I was just unboxing it. Someday I’ll give it away to someone who has played it and liked it but doesn’t own it because I wouldn’t want to subject a new player to it again.
Spyfall I know! I know. But the thing is, once someone watching us play A Fake Artist Goes to New York remarked “So it’s like Spyfall without the social awkwardness.” And they were precisely correct. Spyfall is a lovely concept that’s quite fun to play, but also quite nerve-wracking and difficult. It doesn’t quite work, is the thing, it’s not quite a good game despite being fun and clever and hilarious. From the awkwardness of trying to guess where you are without knowing the options to the extreme difficulty of playing the spy in almost any circumstance to the awful rule whereby you have to guess where you are before getting caught to the mind-numbingly long eight minutes you’re supposed to survive … and some of this can be house-ruled into smoother function. But A Fake Artist Goes to New York already has the more sensible rules for what happens when the spy is captured, already makes it less socially intense to make things up on the spot, is fresher and faster and weirder and more clever, and is about equally hilarious in practice despite being less so on the surface. Being a bad game isn’t quit enough on its own. Spyfall’s sheer comic audacity powers through it being a rather poor game most of the time I’ve played it. But being so closely replaced by a superior, simpler, smaller, cuter, less awkward game means I’ll probably never play it again. But getting rid of it isn’t so easy because … well I do actually like it.
Battlestar Galactica This is another one that takes a bit of explaining. BSG is a pretty well respected game that does this hidden-traitor-co-op thing better than anyone–better than Shadows of Camelot, Dead of Winter, Archipelago. Archipelago has plenty else going for it and Resistance is almost too different a thing to count here, so that’s not supposed to be damning of the games in that list other than Shadows over Camelot. But the rising dread of not just not knowing there’s a traitor but knowing there will be eventually and might already be blows every other will-they-won’t-they-are-they-aren’t-they hidden role experience out of the water. And then you have the President and the Admiral thrown into the mix, positions where a traitor can do an obscene amount of damage, and then you have the reveal system whereby you can KNOW someone is a traitor because you have literally seen their card and they can still ruin your day until you manage to stuff them in the brig, whereupon they can promptly fuck off and ruin your day from a distance. And … then you have the awkward space combat system and the weird pacing that comes from the jump mechanic and the weird moments where a Cylon reveals (or has to reveal) too early and the game isn’t chaotic enough for the revealed Cylon to actually have any fun whether or not they can be effective … and somehow despite getting the most important part of the game more right than most of the other big players in that mechanical space it screws up pretty badly elsewhere and makes an awkward, long, and often frustrating experience that I struggle to recommend or, for that matter, play. I may never get rid of it and I even bought an expansion for it, but I may also never play it again.
Android It’s … it’s a remarkable thing, isn’t it? But … yeah.
Android Inflitration It’s a bit crap in practice, but it’s a nice idea that almost works. All of the mechanical systems are spot on it’s just … not balanced right. It’s too consistent about how far into the facility you can safely get and it’s too impossible to escape from deep in. It just doesn’t actually work as a push-your-luck game, more of a personality test. But it’s one of the only non-chess games I got my chess buddy to play with me and enjoy so it stays.
Flash Point There’s nothing wrong with Flash Point. It does what it says on the tin. It works. It’s an excellent solo game and a passable co-op game. It just … doesn’t feel very exciting and I really can’t put a finger on what it did wrong. My best take on it so far is that the fantastic fire-spreading mechanic is just a hair too swingy. It’s easy to get games where the fire it too controllable and where the fire is impossible to stop. But in both of these moments it still does what it says on the tin. It is by no means an accurate simulation of being a fire fighter, as a non-fire-fighter it feels like doing my job rather than playing an action hero. It doesn’t feel like an action fest, and when I get a slow fire I have to cautiously put out while I rescue everyone that still feels … correct. When I get an insane fire that cannot be controlled and I have to save who I can and retreat? That still feels correct, too. So again I have trouble saying it should work differently it’s just often not all that exciting and I’m rather spoiled for choice.
Guts of Glory is a surreal and delightful game. It’s a simple game. One could easily argue it is a terrible game. But it’s amazing and I love it and I will fight you.
Good Cop Bad Cop This one sounded good on paper. I was intrigued. I went for it. I just … it’s just … would you like my copy? I don’t feel bad about giving this one away but hot damn was it a miss for me.
Ugg-Tect Ugg-Tect is a great idea aside from the aspects of it that would make you average anthropologist vomit and attempt to murder the designer as soon as they got control of their stomach. But there are just too few cards. If there were maybe two or three more blocks per player and at least three times as many cards instead of the useless inflatable clubs, we’d be in business. As it stands it just … doesn’t work. You play it once or twice at best and you’ve seen all the tricks it has to offer and neither team is especially challenged anymore and the mechanics are just a little too clunky and awkward to quite work as a straight-forward racing game. It’s supposed to be clunky and awkward! That’s what makes it funny! But it just needs a bit … more. Not more mechanics, just more variety in the buildings and–if necessary to achieve that–the blocks. Imagine blocks of a color you don’t have a word for, so you have to refer to the block based on where it is haphazardly stacked next to blocks you DO have a work for and then use verbs and such to say where to put it? There’s a lot you can do without making the reference sheet more complex and I really wish there was more to the game in that sort of way.
Yomi Fortunately I only sprung for the PnP and only printed two decks. It’s … not terrible. It’s a fine filler if two people are waiting for another game to end. But there are better fillers I’d rather play and a lot of people seem to find this game much more aggressively boring so I’d hesitate even in the situation where it works best for me.
Whew! That was a long-ish list I suppose, but it’s long-ish collection.