“It’s Like Risk, Only Different.”

It’s never easy explaining a hobby game, for lack of a better term to differentiate mainstream stuff like Monopoly from what you would find in the average local game store, to casual passers-by. They want to know what it’s about and there never seems to be a good way to explain because the goals or theme are so different from what you find in the most well known board games. Usually I try to make a weak analogy, “It’s like this other game you have probably heard of, only different,” and that satisfies them enough to go away feeling like they got an answer.

One night, I played Antike with two others at Muddy Waters. It’s a big ol’ Eurogame about classical Mediterranean civilizations jockeying for territory and power, as they were wont to do. Three or four times, people passing by our table asked what game we were playing. After the first inquirer ventured to ask if it were a version of Risk, that became our go-to answer.

The moment that threw me most was when one person pointed out Israel on the game board. He seemed so pleased by the notion that Israel was a force in a Risk-like game that we didn’t have the nerve to tell him that region wasn’t Israel, per se.

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One thought on ““It’s Like Risk, Only Different.”

  1. Risk is the game that most people recognize for the territory-based game genre. If there were a PvP fighting game, it’s assumed to be like Street Fighter or SSBB/M “plus this” or “except for”. Post apocalyptic games are “like Fallout, but instead”, money-based games are “similar to Monopoly in that”, roleplaying games are invariably likened to a D&D clone, etc.

    There are nuances in each game that make it a separate game worthy of play and interest, but most people do not develop their knowledge of games (or any subject, really) to the extent that they recognize the important shift. It is also likely that the people that compare games to something they know about are trying to fish out whether or not it’s something they are interested in.

    “It’s unlike any game you’ve ever played before” is easily disbelieved and difficult for people to relate to. It’s much simpler for them to categorize (nothing wrong with that) and determine if it’s a game they might play. I don’t mind if Risk is becoming a go-to word for a strategy/domination game. If people don’t like BIG NAME GAME of some type, it is unlikely that something about the similarly categorized game will make them want to sit down and play it.

    It’s preferable to ask (and hear) “What game are you playing?” or some variation. Then at least the ensuing explanation has a chance.

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