Where do you hear about the games you play? Chances are you rely on a number of different sources: podcasts, video reviews, maybe even the odd humble written blog. Each of these can have an impact on your buying habits, especially if you really know the particular reviewer. You don’t have to even agree with their opinion on most games, but if you understand it, that can inform you whether a game is for you or not. All of these are great sources of information, but there is another that is very powerful in its own right.
Word of mouth is a term that refers to a natural, more organic form of buzz. Because its generated through people’s honest reactions, it can fell a lot more authentic and trustworthy. I mean, no matter how transparent a review site is about their relationship to a publisher, it can’t compete with a recommendation from a friend that knows your gaming tastes.
The first I heard about a silly little dice game called Strike was at a convention. A bunch of people were gathered around a table cheering and groaning at the results of dice rolled into the box bottom. It was made up to look a little like a gladiator arena with a purple felt cloth making the floor of the ‘stadium’.
Initially, it was a bit lost on me the appeal of Strike, but the excitement from the participants was hard to ignore. When I finally got to sit down to play, in the teach it was mentioned that Strike is one of Rodney Smith’s favourite games. Interestingly, this fact immediately lent credibility to the quality of the game in my mind. Once playing, it was pretty clear why Strike was so popular.
The goal of the game is to be the last person standing with any dice left. On a turn, you have to throw dice into the arena and hope for matching results. Any matches, you get to take out and add to your dice pool, but if you fail to match, or roll an X (which replaces the 1), or foolishly roll out of the arena, you don’t get to take back dice. Dice that miss the arena and X’s are removed, but unmatched dice stay in.
So, say I started my turn with a 5 in the arena. I roll and get a result of a 3. Now, I can stop, but all of a sudden, my chances of hitting a match just doubled. If I decide to keep going and roll a 6, I’ve missed again, but now there are three targets for me to aim for. I also have to start thinking about what I’m going to leave in the arena for the next player. If I quit now, they become the instant beneficiary of my poor rolling. The more you roll unsuccessfully, the more you wanna keep going.
It’s these kind of deliciously fun decisions that make Strike so great.
It can be a hard game to find and so it wasn’t until this summer when I got my own copy. I paid a fair amount for what the game really is, but I’ve never regretted the purchase. It has been such a hit with the people I’ve introduced to it and that’s one of the most rewarding things. When you’re the person in a group responsible for teaching games most of the time, you want those games to be a hit. I think about the people I’m going to be teaching games to, and select titles that I predict they’ll like. With Strike, I’ve never doubted that folks will like it and it’s never let me down.
Listen to podcasts, watch videos, and read blogs, but also keep your ear to the ground. Listen to what your friends are playing and look for the hidden gems that come out of different shows. You’ll be surprised and rewarded, I guarantee it.