Social Board Games, Part 11: Bohnanza Essays, The Resistance, Reflection

resistance2ndThis is it! Social Board Games, FIT2151, is now over for the semester, except for a “finals study break” session we’ll have next Wednesday, where they get to pick the games they want to play. Speaking of that, I gave them a survey and asked them to rank the games, and here’s how they averaged out:

La Boca
Time’s Up!
The Resistance
Wits & Wagers Family
Forbidden Island
Ticket to Ride
Zombie Dice

This ranking was no surprise to me based on their essays, although I was a little surprised to see Dominion over La Boca. Those who say Dominion has been eclipsed by other deckbuilding games are flat-out wrong, simply because Dominion offers the excitement of the mechanic in the simplest package available. Although many students insisted they wished we’d play more strategy games (and also Monopoly), I find that it is imperative to find strategy games that are deep but still very easy to learn – not an easy task. I think this is the main reason you see Bohnanza so low and the strategy games that they allegedly demand far below the party games. Similarly, Fauna is probably too complicated for a mere trivia game.

We won’t be playing Monopoly next year, simply because the class will now be an hour twice a week, at 3-4 P.M. – the game is too long to fit in that window. This means I won’t need to make a separate drive for the class, and that we’ll have a chance to play many more games. I realized that Zombie Dice was the only game to include dice at all, which is ridiculous. I hope to include Las Vegas and Escape: the Curse of the Temple next year, but that will depend on how well I can bug the publishers and/or a generous retailer. I also hope to truly include some traditional card games next year – no one should graduate from a Midwestern college without knowing how to play Euchre.

Unsurprisingly given the ranking, Bohnanza was not well-received, but the essays were still quite good due to what I thought was a very good writing prompt about balancing cooperation and competition. Unfortunately, during our last class, my students realized that the class is pass/fail – I hadn’t attempted to hide this from them, but I certainly didn’t push the fact. Since they all had sufficient grades already, I highly doubt I will see any essays about The Resistance, even though they clearly loved it, and the prompt was also something I find important, breaking and regaining trust. Next year, I’ll either have to change the grading structure, or make sure and put the more important prompts towards the beginning. I was overly worried that there would be harsh feelings during The Resistance, but this ended up being unfounded.

I had also asked them about whether the amount of work (700 words a week) was appropriate for a 1-credit course, and they overwhelmingly responded yes, except for one person (the surveys were anonymous). I hope to give them more structure next time, and will probably have them write slightly longer papers about units instead of doing a paper every single week.

I definitely made a lot of mistakes this time, but now I am confident next semester’s class will be even better. Hopefully I can continue to teach this course for a while! Next week, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled programming. See you then!

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