Over the holidays I played a number of different boardgames with friends and relatives, and in the course of doing so I had a personal revelation of sorts:
I really don’t like it when a game makes you “lose a turn” as a gameplay penalty or obstacle.
This realization came to me after I played in several games where being forced to lose a turn was a routine penalty for unlucky dice rolls or falling afoul of other players. Used sparingly, it’s not a big deal to skip a turn every now and then (and in some games it is a logical gameplay element), but in one game I lost four turns in a row due entirely to bad luck–that’s about twenty minutes of sitting and watching other people play the game you showed up to participate in.
So yes, I’m bitter about that experience, but I would prefer that games try to find some other way of penalizing you than basically making you sit in the corner for a turn. An in-game penalty should make winning more difficult; it doesn’t need to take away the fun of actually playing the game. Take away my game tokens, make me go back to Start, lower my score, make me lose a few cards… but please, don’t make me stop playing!
(On a similar note, I’m a big fan of games that make sure that every player gets to “do something,” however minor, during every other player’s turn; even if all you’re doing is drawing a card or rolling a die while the other player takes their turn, it’s more fun than waiting for five minutes for your turn to roll around again. But I’ll save that rant for another day.)by
This can get really irritating in Citadels, which has a mechanic to semi-randomly “assassinate” someone and take away their turn. It always seems like there’s always one or two players that get nailed over and over in that one. The last game I played was a seven person session and I still managed to hit the same guy three turns in a row!
Yeah, Citadels can get ugly that way from time to time (otherwise a fun game, though). In games where you can selectively target another player for turn-losing, it can be especially frustrating to be in the lead, as that often means that the other players all focus on you and you spend half the game doing nothing while your turn is skipped repeatedly…