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Was there a gopher, or an article about fillers

There is a widespread persuasion that fillers are mostly uninteresting, monotonous and create some sort of a junk pile of board games. But is it really true?

1. What does the word filler mean?
Filler is something that fills something, obviously. But what does this filler actually fill?

A) some people think that it’s a game that fills the break between «heavy» board games;

B) some call filler easy-to-learn game, usually card one, that doesn’t fill the brain much; these comrades think that adding a game board can change anything;

C) the ones who love trading card games call fillers such cards that are added to the deck for generally accepted quorum to be reached; maybe this word is the best fit for this «filler» conception;

2. Quite interesting is the universality of this word. It’s used:

A) in cinema, especially in different serials, when the picture must be on the screen soon, and there is no screenplay yet. Cutting best/worst/making-of is made; dummy, in other words.

B) in music fillers are called songs and musical cuts for the album or track to satisfy needed requirements;

C) in videogames there are different side mission and quests not necessary for beating the game, often not connected with the game plot and usually needed to fill the gameplay. To be fair, because of the experience gaining system in role-playing games, completing side missions has its purpose, making the further gameplay easier.

3. Terminology mess.
From the above-started if seems quite clear that filler is not a game at all, but only a part of it, unnecessary and maybe useless.
It seems right that some unnecessary game part if used to fill the game, and it only lengthens it. In this case the game itself contain a filler.
But do really exist such games that are fully fillers? Let’s try to look into the signs of filler.

3.1. Does filler fill the time?
Very likely not. The real time filler (killer, actually) is a serious wargame or some other hardcore board game. To play the full session one need a lot of time and patience. One Eclipse game may last more than five hours. Of course, that’s great but a few people would agree to play another round.

3.2. Is filler a simple game?
It’s very difficult to say what does «simple game» mean at all. It might be easy-to-learn game. There are a lot of such: Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, Munchkin, many classical card games. Chess are easy to explain too. Does this mean these games are fillers?

3.3. Maybe filler is a game with simple gameplay and victory strategy?
One can count the victory strategy in advance only in a game with fully open information. Tic-tac-toe, checkers, for example. But card games and dice games cannot be counted since they all are mostly risk controls. One can’t bring to say that all games with open information are fillers.

3.4. So maybe a filler is just a card game?
Experts in board gaming describe signs of a filler as: cards of different colors/suits and numbers. For most of card games there are also easy-to-learn rules and simple gameplay. But there is a good term — card game. Why should one call fillers all card games? Many card games are not simple enough to be called fillers. These are traditional card games as well as published card games.

3.5. Maybe, filler is just some sort of a «dummy» game?
It seems, we’re getting closer to the answer what filler is. Are card games more numerous than board games or vice versa? And what kind of games are more popular? Definitely, card games, because they have a few advantages over board games:

  • they are more compact;
  • their rules are more easy to explain in general;
  • card games are more easy to scale so they can be played by two, three and four players;
  • and the main thing: one deck of cards can be used to play dozens of different games — from simple ones to very complex!

Any game can become boring. One player plays one game often, then changes it with another game, then with the next one, new and more interesting. Some time will pass, and the new game won’t be player so often (or at all). But it won’t become filler because of this.

3.6. So was there a gopher? Or maybe fillers don’t exist at all?
Most likely, fillers do exist after all. Filler is that kind of game (board game or card game) that uses «public domain», painting traditional deck of cards in different colors and selling it as a completely different game. There may be small differences that don’t change anything at all. It should be told that this is not applied to the games that use hybrid mechanics from two or three games. Of course, there are more fillers among card games than among board games. Examples? I guess, you may name a few such games by yourself.

3.7. Is it bad that fillers exist at all?
More likely, most people will say, that no. A lot of wonderful fillers were and are being published. The game must be fun to play. People play for fun. That’s great that one can play his or her favorite game in a new design.

3.8. And the last thing: there is such thing as prevailing view. It is not bad if some simple card game will be called a filler. That’s not bad at all, right?

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