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Wayback When? is a review of the games I was playing five, ten, fifteen and twenty years ago with me highlighting the most memorable titles of each particular month in the vain hope that I might dig out some of them to play again. This month we’re looking at August 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010.
Five years ago, I recorded 14 plays and there were three notable new games included. Seeland is a clever tactical placement game where you are collecting crop and mill cards and placing them on a map to encircle the mills with high scoring crops. Very easy to explain and play but it uses a double rondel with one determining what tile you can take and place while the other limits your flexibility in choosing tiles. Quite tricky and unforgiving at times. Space Dealer is a simultaneous-play game, timed to last exactly 30 minutes, where you carry out actions by placing a 30 second-timer on an item and once the sands of time have run through, you produce the resource, build the technology or land your spaceship at its destination. Players are seeking to improve their planets' capabilities, produce resources and deliver them to planets where there is a demand for those resources, thereby gaining victory points. This was ok but a "one and done" game for me. Keltis: Das Orakel has a single spiral track rather than the multiple paths of the original and it works very well. Probably the version of the game that is most strategic with bonuses for getting your pawns in specific fomations.
In August 2005, I only played three games but two were new to me. Arkham horror is one of those games with a huge reputation but I found the game play very frustrating and fiddly. The role-playing aspect was ok but the game felt clunky and over-long. Win Place & Show is one of the classic race games that I'd never got to play until this particular month. An enjoyable enough game where betting on the right horse is as important as getting your horse over the line.
Fifteen years ago, I played ten games in August with four new ones among them. San Francisco is a game about rebuilding districts in the city after the 1906 earthquake. You auction off rights to rebuild certain districts and when you have a majority of building permits, the district is rebuilt and you gain VPs. Nice game but nothing to make it stand out. Zero is a simple card game about exchanging cards in your hand to reduce the number of points they yield when the round is over. This is a game we played very often on family holidays as it is very simple and takes up very little space. Fun but not at all strategic. Vinci is the predecessor to Small World where you spread your civilization over the board but choose when to put it into decline to be able to establish a new one. Good but not as polished as Small World. Turfmaster is a nice race game, beautifully produced, where movement is determined alternately by card play and dice rolls. Can be fun but quite long for a series of three races.
August 1995 saw me play thirteen games with four notable new titles among them. By notable, I'm perhaps under-playing the status of Die Siedler von Catan. Often seen as many people's gateway into the hobby, we loved it at the time. And having played it again this month to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of my first play, I still love it. Flusspiraten was a game about trying to get your pirates to the end of a river in a boat shared with opponents. It was ok but not as interesting as the later Rette Sich Wer Kann (Lifeboats). Suppenkasper is a game I remember very little about except that it was a card game where you are trying to keep your weight under control by not eating too much or too little. As it's by Karl Heinz Schmiel though, don't go thinking this is another Die Macher - it isn't. Daytona 500 is another version of Wolfgang Kramer's Top Race / Formel Eins. Nothing very different about it, although it didn't feature the catch-up cards.
A Sunday Spielplan Snippet
I've been noodling around the idea of a new Snowdonia board for a while and have even experimented with something three-dimensional with little (stable) success. In recent weeks it's boiled down to TWO distinct concepts:
a) new version(s) of the existing board, and
b) new board(s) as part of new scenarios.
The latter would cover my long-gestating tea-themed Darjeeling & Himalayan Railway / Wye Valley Tourer pair of scenarios OR maybe the Mount Hakone / Snowdon super-teaming of Hiyashi and Boydell - especially as both would need additional wooden '-eeples' storage (for TEA LEAVES and WOOD respectively) and/or new actions & events.
The former would be a fun way to differentiate mountain-based scenarios (Snowdon, Jungfrau, Zugspitze etc) from those 'on the flat' (Trans-Australian, Necropolis, Blaenau Ffestiniog etc) ie. have a double-sided board!
So, for a sleepy Sunday morning, brew yourself a cup of delicious coffee and take a look at these roughs; feel free to express thoughts, ideas etc 'as per'.
A left-heavy Mountain approach - note the contoured action spaces and the appearance of the promo H space (take a Contract card from the discard pile) as 'standard'
As with the previous board, I like the Sun coming up (the weather spaces) being in a 'top corner' - it feels right! Also, the work rate tracks being right next to their actions makes sense.
A 'flat' board idea: I love the steam-powered excavator and, hopefully, the board preserves the sense of it.
A closer look at the postcard: Llanberis gets it's own build-able stuff, a train can be built early and the Pub gets an upgrade!
Ah, the kettle's a-whistlin' - over to you.
Good old Gareth managed to arrange use of the King Charles room all day on Saturday for any interested gamers; Well, the start of a bank holiday weekend, a mini beer festival at the pub and the opportunity to game for several hours drew quite a decent crowd.
I arrived with Charlie and Billy in tow just after 12 and we arranged and rearranged ourselves as people continued to roll on in.
There was some Orléans action,
There was a table playing Artifacts, Inc. (looks a lot more interesting than Machi Koro in my opinion!),
Keyflower, served up with bountiful plates of food,
I led a 5 player epic game of Rococo, which was interesting, but took too long at that count, not helped by me having to nip back to the car park to put another ticket on the car, lest I get another type of ticket on the car...!
I went for a heavy deputing strategy, which I've never really tried before, dismissing my workers at every opportunity. It was great to have a lean and powerful deck of employees, but the time it took to set up meant that a lot of dresses were already placed and I just couldn't work the cards to get enough for any majorities. Once again the winner was the player who managed to make a decent number of dresses and place them for good majorities, which is very appropriate given the theme.
I don't think I'd want to play this again at 5, it just goes on for too long. I think 3 is probably best, as that side of the board stays tight for majorities but cuts an hour off the play time.
Gareth came through on his promise of a game of Yedo for a number of interested players.
Some of us went back to the Stone Age for some straightforward worker placement goodness.
David managed to get his off brought, seldom played game of Archipelago to the table, although being close to the balcony meant that the courtyard covers band that had struck up for the beery masses below was an interesting accompaniment!
I also saw Star Realms and Spot it! being played, Mottainai made an exciting first appearance, and there are certainly more that I have missed!
I had to leave with the boys long before the event was wrapping up as some very good friends had finally gotten engaged recently, it's only taken him 17 or so years to get around to popping the question, so there was a "bit of a do" to attend.
Apologies for the brevity of the write up, I seem to somehow have acquired a rather monstrous hangover....
(Thanks again for arranging Gareth, much appreciated!)
Morten Monrad Pedersen
It’s all over in two weeks – the 2015 Solitaire Print & Play Contest, that is . As we approach the end run I have another interview for you. This time it’s U-Boat Attack from Michael Brettell.
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Attendees: Dustin, Lindsey, Joe, & Staci
Venue: Dustin & Lindsey's Apartment
Game --- Winner/Result:
1. Dice Town --- Staci
2. Seasons --- Staci
W. Eric Martin
• One of the biggest items buzzing at Spiel 2014 was the prototype of Magic: The Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers from designers James D'Aloisio, Ethan Fleischer, and Craig Van Ness. Could this be the second coming of Heroscape? Could MtG be transformed into a board game while still feeling like MtG? D'Aloisio visited the BGG booth to talk us through the game:
• Apocalypse Chaos from Florian Fay was the big release from Z-Man Games at Gen Con 2015, and I mean that somewhat literally as I was surprised by the size of the box when I first saw it at the con. For all that I feel I know about what's coming out, I'm glad that I can still be surprised, even by the little things. Next: Let's have a publisher pack each game with a live mouse. Now that would be a surprise!
• Every time I heard the name Dragon Farkle, I thought, "Really? Dragon Farkle? Why would Z-Man Games do that?" But of course why wouldn't Z-Man Games do that? Robert J. Hudecek's Dragon Farkle takes the basics of Farkle — the gameplay of which will be familiar to almost anyone who's played a press-your-luck dice game — and places it in a fantasy context, with players now collecting soldiers instead of points and pushing to defeat a giant dragon in order to end the game. You're not simply trying to reach a point threshold, but to do something with all that you've gained during the game.
• In late 2014, F2Z Entertainment — owner of Z-Man Games and Filosofia Éditions — announced the founding of Pretzel Games as another brand that would focus on high-quality dexterity games, and that promise was fulfilled at Gen Con 2015 as for four days straight dozens of people gathered around three playing areas devoted to giant versions of Gaëtan Beaujannot and Jean Yves Monpertuis' Western-themed disk-flicking game Flick 'em Up!
F2Z's Martin Bouchard has been overseeing Pretzel Games, and his enthusiasm about the line has been constant since he first demonstrated the Flick 'em Up! prototype to me in April 2014. Now he finally got to share the game with others on a large scale, and Flick 'em Up! was one of the early sellouts at the show. Here's an overview of what's in the game:
• Bouchard later led me through an overview of Flick 'em Up! Stallion Canyon, the first expansion for the game, which debuts at Spiel 2015.
• I appreciate designer Matt Loomis' refreshing candor in this demonstration of DragonFlame from Minion Games. As a dragon, yes, sometimes I just want to watch things burn — or, preferably, burn them myself.
• Designer Joey Vigour practically bled enthusiasm when I interviewed him at BGG.CON 2013 about Chaosmos, and just under two years later the game is now out in the public with the Ovoid being available for all to chase.
I paid my debts for this fancy overtext.
as a fan of ►thematic games, I always like to take a closer look at how well a game's theme is actually integrated and represented by the rules and mechanisms. Theme is certainly not the most important aspect for making a game "good", but it helps people with learning the rules and remembering them, as things are making much more sense. But theme in board games can be much more than mental glue.
I absolutely enjoy seeing something in a board game happen by the rules which is also backed up by a thematic reason. These thematic occurrences during a game offer the players a subtle narrative undertone and a logical reason of what is actually happening on the table and why. It explains what is happening beyond all the rather abstract rules and mechanisms. It stimulates the imagination, provokes emotion and makes the game's fiction come alive.
I can smile every time when I experience one of these situations, as these are the moments which are elevating the experience of playing a board game into something more: the game has become a medium of real immersion across the table, and the best thing about this is that the players won't even notice that they crossed over this line of getting immersed and absorbed into the atmosphere. It is not just you playing the game anymore, but also the game playing you.
If this sounds all too abstract and theoretically to you, let me give you two examples. Warning, minor spoilers to Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island and Eldritch Horror follow, as I will be using 3 cards from these games in my examples.
Example #1 - Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island
As the name implies, Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island is a cooperative game about surviving as a group stranded on a desolate island, trying to overcome its countless challenges and dangers as a group.
Without getting too much into rules details, I think this event card is an excellent example for an elegant integration of theme into board games. The upper part of the card shows the card's title "Body on the beach" and describes in italic letters the event card's thematic background. The arrow to the left indicates that the group morale of the surivors is decreased by 1, as everybody is shocked by this horrible discovery.
The next part, "Burial", shows the players how they can deal with this situation: one player has to invest 1 of his/her 2 action markers on this event card with the shovel item being already built and available. As a result, this bad event then gets discarded and the player who took care of it gets 2 motivation tokens as a reward -- while not being really pleasant, it still feels good to do the right thing and maintain your humanity even under these harsh conditions.
If the group ignores this event, it will eventually trigger the lowest part of the card, showing the penalty: group morale decreases by 2, as we let our friend's body rot on the beach.
As macabre as this example may be, everything about it makes perfect sense: somebody has to invest some time into this, he/she needs to have a shovel available and if we don't take care of this, we will blame ourselves for not paying our last respect to our passed-away friend. Furthermore, the game makes a good point that morale and working as a team is of upmost importance in this depicted scenario.
Example #2 - Eldritch Horror
Eldritch Horror is a cooperative horror adventure game, based on the writings of famous author Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Players take on the roles of investigators, working together to prevent the upcoming end of our world by ancient unspeakable horrors. To accomplish this, players will be travelling across the world, refining their skills, aquiring helpful items, going on adventures, gathering clues and solving mysteries.
My example here is purposely very basic to show that theme can work even in a very basic frame. The upper part of the picture shows a random encounter a player can have. Please take a moment to read this short text passage with with blue background now.
The icon simply means that the player has to do a dice-based test on his/her observation rating and depending on the outcome the player will be rewarded or punished. The interesting part for this example here is the part of failing this test: the player will become "delayed", meaning that he/she will lose the next turn because, thematically, the search for something went on for too long, as the investigator was too curious (or perhaps greedy), completely forgetting the time.
The lower part of this example picture shows one of the many different items in this game, and it is in comparison to other items indeed a rather trivial one: a pocket watch. Still, the thematic background logic works perfectly here. If the investigator would have had this pocket watch available while searching, he/she would have been able to keep better track of time without actually wasting any.
Again, this 2nd example may be an arguably "boring" example about wasting time and a watch, but as I said before, I deliberately chose this one to show that the correct use of theme in board games does not have to be over the top exciting every time, but clever and elegant in its core in order to work, just like in this example.
There is obviously always a certain grey area for filling these gaps with your own imagination, which is not a bad thing at all in my opinion, as it challenges your mind to some degree and plays on your own fantasy. It is the fun happening between the lines and gears of the rules for you to discover with your own interpretation.
Theme can be exciting, funny, relaxing, horrifying, thought-provoking, educational or anything else you want it to be, depending on which game you pick for you and your friends. It creates unique stories you will remember and laugh about with your friends even years later.
Having said all this, here comes the tricky part: theme is a double-edged sword which can cut both ways. Theme can be accurately implemented into a board game, yet at the same time miss opportunities, do questionable or even outright terrible things to players.
To be continued in my next blog entry "Theme in board games: The importance of doing it WRONG"...
This video shows how to play the game. Tit 3 Tat is a 3 player only abstract strategy game on Half a Checkerboard.
So the week got off to a good start on Monday, 4 games played! Excellent, made it up to 5 on Thursday and then an all day games day on Sunday got us to a total of.... 7! Not up to the heights of the first week yet, but still respectable.
I bought this on a Facebook group a while ago and went to play it 3 months ago in the first week of this challenge only to find that it was missing the guild cards for the 3rd age cards. I contacted the seller who assured me there had been an honest mistake and the cards were with someone who had bought the expansion from him at the same time. After 2 months I had not received any cards and he had stopped replying to messages. I got on to BGG and found someone with a spare set, organised a trade and eventually got the cards. Now I was finally able to play....
We had a full 7 players in the game and thanks to a very experienced player helping us out we got through explanations and a full game in about 1 hour flat! I was quite impressed... And I won the game! So this is going to stay in the collection for a little while I think.
We had time to get in a game of this as well, one of my favourite fillers (even though the theme is the very definition of pasted on). It went down well and has a guaranteed place in the collection. It plays very differently to most other games and I haven’t yet fgured out how to win.....
There was enough time for 2 games of this as it turned out. We had a bit of a discussion about the rules (the only copy we had was in German and there were a couple of points we were not certain of) and off we went. I did well and won the first game but in the 2nd I was avoided by the other players for the first few rounds (and had bad cards) so came in a dismal last. I think I still had enough fun to warrant keeping this one. Plus it plays with a lot of people, is fairly easy to learn and has a good amount of interaction.
The Hobbit Card Game
A simple trick taking game. Somehow I thought this would be enough explanation to explain the basic mechanic of the game but unfortunately one of the players didn’t know what trick-taking meant, so it took a little longer than I first thought. Even so we still had fun and I managed to kill Gandalf and Thorin in the first round to win the game. Nice finish to the evening and another keeper.
This is a fairly simple and quick playing game designed by a friend and based on a tasty Japanese food. You take turns making tasty foods for the hungry customers and try to serve more than the other players. It all comes packed up in a Japanese lunch box and I know that all the cards were hand made by the designer. I couldn’t get rid of this knowing all that (plus I enjoy playing!). Also how many game do you know that come with poo-stink tokens?
Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game
We ended up playing 4 games of this over the course, only one of which I set up properly (damn the extra henchman in the 4-5 player game!). Oddly the only win was the one I set up correctly, almost like it was designed to play that way.
This has replaced my other deckbuilder, Thunderstone, almost completely. Which is a shame because I really like Thunderstone and have played a ridiculous amount of it online. But I like the co-op feel of Legendary and the way the villains matched with the schemes mean that each game plays a little differently. I thin k I like it more with 2 or 3 but even with 5 it didn’t go on for too long. Definitely a keeper and I should try out Legendary Encounters: An Alien Deck Building Game as well....
Mage Knight Board Game
The most fun I have ever had playing a solo game was my first single player attempt of this game. I sat at my kitchen table for over 3 hours staring at cards and thinking through my options. I just failed to complete the mission that time, so far the only time I have failed to complete a co-op adventure and I have played many more times. In Japan I had a regular weekly game for a few months with a friend and I really enjoyed getting to know the game in more depth.
I haven’t played it so much since coming back to the UK, but I still love getting immersed in it for hours at a time. My wife is not a fan unfortunately, she prefers there to be more interaction with players in a game I think. I like it more than enough for the 2 of us though so it will stay and I will try to find someone else willing to close off the outside world for an afternoon and get lost in the possibilities of the game.
A quick aside: I was very disappointed to hear about the problems with the new expansion to the game, I was looking forward to having a new character to play with and some more tokens for the game (despite my worries about being able to fit them into the box). I hope that they will be able to address the issues and I can get the extra pieces sometime.
So more games played, more fun had and nothing to get rid of! Also a kickstarter arrived in the post (Viceroy) so numbers in the collection are going up!
Next week there will be cuts, I swear it!
Lassan a "kertek alatt" az idei esseni vásár. Ennek vonzataként talán élénkül a fordítási vágy is. Egy régi post elővételével a legfontosabb honlapokra irányítanám mindenki figyelmét!
"Day-t nappallá téve fordítunk."
Ja, ha már itt járunk, felkerült 2 új fordítás (X-ta és Játékmester munkája), amelyet én szerkesztettem pdf-be:
Neuroshima Hex! Uranopolis 3.0 [Magyar szabály]
Theseus: The Dark Orbit [Magyar szabály]
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