I played the minis game Heroscape last night for the first time. It uses special attack and defense dice. Attack dice have 3 skull sides and 3 blank sides. Defense dice have 2 shield sides and 4 blank sides. Each shield counters one skull, with any skulls left becoming damage. I had 3 figs. Each got attacked once. In total for all 3, I rolled 24 defense dice. I scored 2 shields. Total. I was dead 5 minutes into the game.
Did I mention that my crappy die-rolls are infamous among my friends?
After that, I played two games of 10 Days in Africa–a rummy-like game from Out of the Box. I won both of those, with a lot of luck. Then, seven of us played Cancellation Hearts, where I succeeded in taking zero points in the three hands we were able to squeeze in.
Contrasting these two games–and just Heroscape vs. Mechaton–I find that I like, and am better at, choice-centered games. The feeling of control is a powerful thing. Even when the handful of cards are so bad that your control doesn’t help you to prevail. Choice forces you to make a decision about how to allocate your resources, no matter how scant they may be. And decisions promote engagement.