I never used to like abstracts. And considering the abstracts I knew, such as Checkers, Dominoes, Tic Tac Toe, Connect 4, and so on, fair enough. I still don't like those games. I still don't like Chess much either, but I can see that it has some interest, I just find the movements of the pieces too complex. But then I played Blokus and liked it. Then my mate from Funatical loaned me a copy of DVONN, and I liked that too. And then he loaned me YINSH. And then I realised that I might not be so down on abstracts after all, and collected the complete GIPF series. And it has continued from there. With brother-in-law as a usually willing opponent, and occasionally the kid, I've played a lot of abstracts this year.
One of the advantages is that they're usually quick. If you've got half an hour for a game, you can fit at least one and sometimes 3 plays in. Gobblet and Quoridor play very quickly. They're also easy to explain. You can explain and play Gobblet twice in the time it takes to explain Hameln. That's not to say it's not worth the effort to play harder games, but it's certainly easier to keep the interest of a casual gamer if the rules explanation is quick.
Recently, my interest in abstract games has turned into a complete fetish. I looked at Stephen Tavener's ratings and examined all of his 9s and 10s. I looked at all the games that Clark Rodeffer may be interested in trading for. DAYS later my wishlist had grown bigger than my belly. And because many of the games are out of print, so had my want list. Then came the want-list purge as described in an earlier posting, and most of the abstracts survived. Why? Because good abstracts do get played. The kid and I can fit a game in most evenings. I'm much more confident that if I buy Kris Burm's new game SHMESS that I'll be able to play it a few times. I don't feel so guilty about buying games that will actually get played.
Abstracts are also often pretty. I have 3 of the Pin International Collection on a rack in my living room, I have two of the very beautiful Gigamic wooden games, and all of the GIPF Project's beautiful bakelite. I need more places to display all of these games, but I do love to look at them. Oh yeah, and beautiful glass Chess and Backgammon boards that I bought in a set for $A20. There's something mathematically enticing about abstract games.
So my wishlist now contains 26 or so abstract games, from a total of 87. Yeah, I still can't get past the amusing card games and chunks of plastic, but that's a lot of abstract games that I want. And I know I can't trust Santa...
BTW, for those who are wondering what has happened to Scrabblette: she's visiting family overseas and taught her nephew Blokus Trigon last night. She shares many of my fetishes.