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Table Tales: Dynasties

Photo: Jeremy Carlson


It started out as a friendly game. A learning game. I often spoke about the minimalist beauty of this simultaneous reveal and simple black & white cubes with light mathematical calculations as a glimpse into elegant strategy. Dynasties was one of the first 2P my Gameboy and I ever enjoyed together and remains a top favorite of mine. After hearing my high praise of the game on multiple occasions, Lena & her hubby decided to buy a copy from our FLGS. Teach her to play? I'd love to!

Now before I go on, I should prolly share a tiny bit more about Lena and me. Lena is a brilliant artist, writer, & tremendously creative. She excels at designing and deconstructing challenges and especially loves to do so in a virtual playground setting. She's a PC/video gamer primarily. Whereas, I prefer tabletop's raw components, coordinating multiple calculations to determine savvy initial and subsequent movements. I savor the tangible-ness of it all. Maybe our complementary approaches is why we make such a good Team. Anyways, I was beyond excited to share this favorite title with Lena.

It starts. Lena was not only quick to actualize rule explanation but beat me soundly in the first round.So, I upped my game. Mhmm, we're both playing the same cards now. Well, you know what they say about Great Minds. Okay, I'm going to determine the most savvy move this turn and instead of playing that, play to counter. It worked for just a turn or two, as Lena too began to utilize this strategy. It was brutally challenging, and I delighted in every minute of it. As the VP marker see-sawed along the scoretrack in the first half of our game, I focused in on the scoring parameters in our last round and this helped me claim the win by a significant margin. As I looked up to congratulate Lena for a wonderful first play, I noticed a very furrowed brow.

Uhh, how long was that there? Oh dear, was she not having fun? Mhmm...I'm not sure at what point I knew this would be not just her first but also her last game of Dynasties. Maybe when she handed the box to her Hubby and said, "You play it, I'm done" or her subsequent proclamation against "math-y" games. One day as I told her about another favorite title of mine (Ciao, Ciao) and asked her to play, the question immediately posed to me was whether I was going to Dynasties her again?


I didn't mean to allow my eagerness to play a truly great game with a strong competitor overcloud my observation of my tablemate's enjoyment. Really, I didn't. Doesn't matter though, as Lena will tell you. There are so many brilliant games to bring to the table, we don't need to agree on all of them. The important thing is, we keep playing them together, right?

Tho, I try to keep this in mind with any teaching games and demos I lead; even if your Players are very skillful, perhaps it's just not their cup of tea. I do wonder, if perhaps playing the reimplementation of Sun Tzu with its beautiful minis might create a different gaming experience for her. Maybe we'll try again, one day.

(Note to Editor: Stop shaking your head, Lena! You said we could try again...eventually!)

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