I have a love hate relationship with Vlaada Chvatil. There is no doubt he has a brilliant mind when it comes to game design. Space Alert, Galaxy Trucker, Through the Ages, Dungeon Lords and now Dungeon Pets run the gamat from pre-programming games to worker placement. Vlaada is very popular as is evident by how his games are ranked on boardgamegeek.com.
When I play his games I enjoy them (well maybe not Space Alert) but after I feel empty. They are like lite beer – refreshing on a hot day but after finishing you don’t reach for another because they are not enough to satisfy you. They lack elegance.
I recently played Dungeon Pets and one quite handily. The game has great production value and amazing mechanics. An amazing feat in design. Blind bidding + worker placement + many other mechanics make this a game that boggles the mind. How does someone take all these pieces and put them together to create a game that works? PURE BRILLIANCE!
And yet, although I won and although I think this is an amazing design it is a game I will play grudgingly (though I will probably enjoy playing it) and one that I will probably never own (unless my lottery numbers come it then it will be added to the greatest collection of games anyone has ever seen!).
This love hate relationship with Vlaada brings me to the title of this post – Simplicity = Elegance
Vlaada’s games are complex with many decisions but very little elegance. Whereas games like Pergamon, Fresco, Finca, Puerto Rico, 7 Wonders and Jaipur have a simplicity that makes them elegant. I like elegance.