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Dice Tower Gaming Awards, and why they're better than the other awards. ;)

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Hooray! Nominees are up - go check them out.

I've really put a lot of thought into awards these days. There are certainly quite a few of them out there, even if most people use an award to validate their opinions on games.

So with so many awards out there, why another award?

My main goal with the Dice Tower Gaming Awards was to provide a platform on which games could be recognized - even smaller game companies. I wanted any game to have a chance of winning - whether Ameritrash, Euro, abstract game, etc. Obviously no award is going to be perfect, and I'm sure ours have lots of problems. But let's take a look at the current awards out there.

Spiel des Jahres. This is the biggest, by far. I usually enjoy the winners and nominees of this category. It does have a limited scope - family games, which I don't have a problem with - it's a good way to find out some of the best family games. My problems with the award (for me) are that it doesn't have enough variety, and that it's focused on German games. An American based game with a lot of English text, or a funky Japanese game aren't going to have a chance - unless translated into German. No big deal - but as a person with English as my main language, I'd like to see an English award with the same clout that this award has.

Sadly there are none. But the contenders would be:

Origins Game Awards: These would have the potential of being the American "Spiel des Jahres". But with a flawed process, several main companies ignoring the awards completely, and a lack of global outlook, these awards have lost a lot of credibility over the years. (NOTE: I'm currently on the committee for Family/Party/Children's games.)

IGA: I like the idea of these awards, and while I find their voting system fairly funky - it does work, and they have some great gamers on the committee. My main problem with IGA is that they are simply Eurogame centric. An Ameritrash game doesn't have a chance, unless it's two player - a category the committee doesn't seem to enjoy quite as much. The day Fantasy Flight Games wins an IGA will be a big surprise to me.

BGG Awards: These are the "voice of the masses" awards, and I find them interesting. The problem with these awards is that they groupthink often occurs - and people will simply vote on what's popular on the 'geek. I like to have the people voting on awards have at least SOME knowledge of board games, and you can vote in these awards even if you've only played one game. Thus, games with the best distribution will have the greatest opportunity to win. Oh, and I notice they keep copying my categories from our awards.

Games Magazine: This is probably the most influential award of the bunch - because of the wide range of the magazine. But these awards are picked by one person. So we are going to occasionally (often) get odd choices - and the games tend to tilt towards games that puzzle enthusiasts would enjoy. Some odd choices in the past (Buyword?) but also some bold ones (Dvonn).

Mensa: I like the idea of their awards, but the process tends to favor games that can be explained and played quickly. Not a bad idea, but the award should be called "best filler". Seems like an odd way to do it - doesn't match the idea of the organization.

And a whole pile more here!
http://boardgamegeek.com/wiki/page/Gaming_Industry_Awards&re...#


I want our awards to be as balanced as possible. So I've filled the committee with Ameritrashers, Eurogamers, wargamers and abstract gamers (although I need more of them). We argue about everything, but most people on the committee play a TON of games. And I want that breadth of experience, even if most of them vote down the games I think should win.

Nothing will ever be perfect, game awards will like discriminate against games based on theme, number of players, game length, style, and distribution.

Got any thoughts on how to make our awards better? Let me know! Want to be on the committee? Contact me. I'm always interested in seeing how things can be improved.


And while I chose my title to be a bit provocative, I really do have respect for (most of) the awards above. And I realize the vast amount of work that goes into them. I just want to see an English speaking award that carries a great deal of clout. Right now, that award doesn't exist. Will it ever?
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Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:07 pm
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Board Games Killed the Video Star!

Jim Reed
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ANOTHER RAMBLING BY JIM REED!

It's been said many times. Growing up, I played a ton of standard boardgames. However, video games were my true first love. One of my best Christmas memories was 83 (or around there) when I received my Atari 2600. Ever since I have pretty much owned every gaming system that came out. Yes, even the turbographix-16, the Jaguar, the Lynx, And the best system ever, the Dreamcast. Currently, I do not own a ps3, just a Xbox 360 and Wii.
I also play and have played plenty of PC games. The late 80's were dominated by PC gaming and every last dollar of my paper route money went to Sierra. ( I think I learned all my sex education from Leisure Suit Larry)

Obviously, a few years back, when I stumbled into this wonderful world of board gaming, time had to be found to play. Something had to take a hit to free some space in my schedule. One big thing that changed was television and movies. I was never a big channel surfer anyway, but my family and I did have our "must watch" shows. I may of had 10 or so where today I only have three or four, and with DVR, it's way more flexible than it was 5 years Ago. I don't care that I'm not watching as much TV. I'm actually glad about it.

That freed up some time but not much, so other than sleeping, the next thing to take a hit had to be my video gaming, and although I didn't notice this much at first, now I see, that board gaming has just about eliminated my video gaming.

Just a few years back, I would spend countless hours, and nights, climbing the online ladder boards and fragging friends and foes on games such as Halo, Gears of War, Call of Duty, Unreal Championship, Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon, and the list goes on and on and on. Offline, I would be hacking through multiple rpgs such as Oblivion, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, KTOR, and more, as well playing multiple sports, racing, and action titles.

As I started playing more and more table top games, the first thing I noticed that went, were the first person shooters. I barley touched Halo 3 multi player, I never got into Gears 2, I stopped playing Unreal and Rainbow Six games. I did enjoy COD Modern Warfare but never got into World at War or MW2. I did play these games but only the single player story lines. Playing online requires a lot of time and practice if you want the game to be fun and not frustrating, and it was time I just didn't have anymore.

Thankfully, a year ago (or more now), two games came out that I absolutely loved! Red Dead Redemption and Fallout 3! Fallout 3 is a single player only post-apocalyptic rpg. I sunk days of my life into this awesome title and still go back occasionally to finish up some DLC (down loadable content) missions. Red Dead Redemption is more an action adventure set in the wild west. (I love the wild west!) This game actually put a pause in my board gaming for a time. It does have some multi-player content and I did play some of the co-op multi player quite a bit and a bunch of the free roam online stuff. These games pretty much faded out though near the end of last year though. I never did finish the Undead Nightmare for RDR.

Over the past year, my desire to pick up and play new titles has drastically dropped. I have yet to play Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age 2, or Assassin's Creed Brotherhood (even though I own it!). I tried to get into Fallout Vegas but just couldn't. We picked up the Kinect at Christmas with a few games and even that hasn't been played much the past few months.

But let me tell you what! You should have seen the look on my face last week when my wife called to tell me that a Funagain Games box was on my front porch. It took every thing I had to keep from leaving work early. Every Tuesday now is open game night at my house flip flopped with rpg night (currently Deadlands Reloaded. (did I say I loved the wild west?) Every forth Sunday is Pathfinder.

A few nights ago, I turned on my Xbox and...well, I'm sure this has happened to everyone...I felt like playing something, but nothing I had I felt like playing. I dug through 40-50 game boxes, scrolled through dozens of down loadable games and nearly a hundred demos, and nothing. I started a bunch of games but quickly stopped. Man, what I wouldn't have done to set up and play a game of Stone Age or Puzzle Strike at that moment.

Board gaming has killed my video gaming, and almost, I don't really care. I'm loving the hobby, as much as I ever loved video games. I'm much more involved in it, with podcasting, conventions, and blogging. But, at times, I miss it. I have a really good friend who is an avid video gamer. (seriously, he needs intervention!) He spends 95% of his free time console gaming. We don't talk much anymore because I'm not as caught up and consumed by the hobby any more. Back in January, he did come over and spend two days and we vegged and played the whole time. It was great!

I'm not going into why I prefer board gaming over video games. That would be another long blog. But I do! Is there any games I'm excited about? Oh yeah! 11/11/11- Skyrim, Elder Scrolls V! Eventually, I will play more; Crisis 2, Gears 3, Rage, and more.

Now, are there any board games I'm excited about? Oh yeah! Too many to list here! And lets not forget this, I'm still excited to play almost all the board games I already own! (One of the major reasons I love them more than video games.) But as I said, that... would be another blog.

Check out My blog here...http://njagp.blogspot.com/
And more Gaming Goodness at my podcast here...http://njagp.libsyn.com/
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Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:35 pm
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Should First Plays Count?

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Jim Reed - This is my first Blog, I'm assuming it is supposed to be more like ramblings, so, here's some..



I'm not a statistical person. Although, I do record my game plays on Board Game Geek, I do not record whether or not I won them. One thing that has been really notacible to me lately, is that first plays should never count when deciding if you liked the game or not.



I would say that at least 40 percent of my plays come in the form of one and dones. (games I play only one time and never play again) Now, this isn't because they are bad games or games I don't like, although this is sometimes the case. Many times, it's a game played at a convention, the game store, or a friends house.



The other 60 percent is games I've probably played multiple times.



All of these games still have one obvious thing in common. They all had a first play. This, leads me to my point.



I'd like to categorize first plays into three categories:



1.) Games that are easy to pick up, understand, and play the first time.

These games can be light euros, light strategy, family, party, card, and so on



2.) Games that are difficult to understand the rules, methods of victory, etc until you've played them once.

These are usually heavier euros or heavy strategy



3.) Games you think are either one or two, but you end up playing with some rule wrong anyway.

This can be ANY game, and seems to be my "most likely to fall in" category.



The percentage for me, I would say is...

1 = 20% 2 = 30% 3 = 50%



Keep with me here.



With this in mind, 80% of my first plays should really not count.

I am also strongly starting to think that first impressions and game reviews with minimal plays should not have any bearing on how good or bad the game is.



Game examples:



Agricola ( Z-man games) - My first play of this game was at a convention I got spanked. It wasn't until about half way through the game I even saw the strategies involved. After seeing how the game end scoring worked, the whole thing totally made since. But that first play wasn't very enjoyable. My next play I did much better. In teaching and playing this game twice, I always destroy first timers.



Puzzle Strike (Sirlin Games) - The first play, we totally screwed up a major rule in crashing gems. So much so that all the players hated the game and I didn't play it again for a long time. Until someone told me how it actually worked. Now I love it!



Cosmic Encounter (Fantasy Flight) - I hated this game my first time playing. I just didn't see the flow of the game at all. I made every wrong decision I could possibly have made and understanding exactly how the negotiations worked took all game. My second play of this, I saw the same thing going on with a few other first timers.



Other games recently that we've gotten a pretty major rule wrong in our first play are Mansions of Madness, Rune Wars, A Touch of Evil, and even rpgs like Deadlands and Call of Cthulu.



I can't tell you how many games I didn't like the first time I played them, then to go on and like or even love the game after playing it again. And I see it all the time with other people. They get fustrated over one aspect of the game, don't understand something the first time through, or just don't win, and these thing really effect how much they enjoyed the game.



If anything should be said about boardgames, it's not just try every game once, but it should be said, "Try every game ATLEAST twice!"


This blog, and other blogs by me can be found here...
http://njagp.blogspot.com/
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Mon Apr 4, 2011 12:06 am
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Your Brain on Shogi

Geoffrey Engelstein
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Back in Dice Tower episode 198 I talked about a study that was done in Japan comparing the activity in brains of professional versus amateur Shogi players.

I wanted to post more details about the study, as I think that the images are quite interesting, but had to work on getting permission from the journal Science, which fortunately, I just received.

The paper is entitled The Neural Basis of Intuitive Best Next-Move Generation in Board Game Experts and was authored by Xiaohong Wan, Hironori Nakatani, Kenichi Ueno, Takeshi Asamizuya, Kang Cheng, and Keiji Tanaka.

The basic idea of the study was to use fMRI imaging to look at brain activity while solving shogi puzzles. As I noted above, the study compared professionals with high-ranked amateurs - quite good players, but not players that did it for a living.

They were given shogi problems that ranged from simple to complex, and gave them only ten seconds to determine their answer. For some of the problems it was impossible to actually figure out the right answer by working through the moves, given the time frame. This was done intentionally, as the authors wanted to study intuitive responses, as opposed to analytical.

There were several interesting results from this study. The first is that there was only one difference between the brains of pros and amateurs. Here's an image showing the difference in brain activity between the two groups:

From gallery of engelstein


This image was created by taking the brain activity of professionals and subtracting the brain activity of the amateurs. So areas that were active in both are removed.

See that small orange area in the middle of the brain? That's the only part that the pros use a lot that amateurs don't. It's called the caudate head.

The caudate head is part of the basal ganglia, which is involved in the formation and performance of habits. The caudate head is specifically involved in mental habits, where the putamen is involved in physical habits.

So that makes sense.

Let's take a look at a graph from the study:

From gallery of engelstein


As I said earlier, the researchers asked questions that ranged from easy to really difficult. They grouped the response times of the participants into four groups, called RT1 to RT4, from quickest to longest. So RT4 had the hardest problems.

The height of the bar represents how much the caudate head was activated. White bars are for the pros, and gray bars for the amateurs.

A few things leap out:

1. In general, pros use the caudate head more than the amateurs

2. As the problems get harder, the pros rely on the caudate head more, the amateurs less.


In other words, as things get tougher to figure out by analytically working through the problem, the pros rely on their habits and pattern recognition. In a word, they go with their intuition.

The amateurs, on the other hand, do not rely on intuition. They try to figure out the problem, even though it gets harder. In a sense, they are less comfortable with their gut instincts when faced with tough choices. The pros are more comfortable with it, or at least have a better idea of how good their ability to read situations is.

Here's another graph looking at the data a different way:

From gallery of engelstein


This is also a graph of caudate head activity, with the white bars representing pros, and grey amateurs.

But for this, after the participant gave an answer, they asked them whether they were confident in their answer. Those are the two groups on the graph (Conf and Unconf).

Again, when they are not confident, the pros use their caudate head (i.e. fall back on intuition), whereas the amateurs do not.

The researchers note that it is highly unlikely that the professionals have seen these exact same positions before. And yet given the timeframe to answer the question they cannot be definitively figuring out the answer (and their own confidence levels, and involvement of the caudate head supports this).

So the 'habit' and 'intuition' that the pros are using the solve the problems (and they are much more likely to get the right answer than the amateurs - almost double) must be relying on some 'higher level' pattern recognition.

The researchers point out that other experiments have pointed to 'goal-directed' pattern recognition. The concept is that the pros have an intuition of what the final checkmate position will most likely resemble, and then they determine which move will put them closest to that final position.

More research is needed on this, but it definitely highlights the fact that we really do not understand how people that are really good at games, and study them day after day, figure out the best move.

From Science 331, 341 (2011); Reprinted with permission from AAAS. Readers may view, browse, and/or download material for temporary copying purposes only, provided these uses are for noncommercial personal purposes. Except as provided by law, this material may not be further reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, adapted, performed, displayed, published, or sold in whole or in part, without prior
written permission from the publisher.
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Tue Mar 22, 2011 3:02 am
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Ludology Episode 3 - Catch The Leader

Geoffrey Engelstein
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Its Sunday and on this and every other Sunday we intend on having a fresh new release of Ludology for your listening pleasure.

This week we zoom in to explore a particular feature of many games, "Catch the Leader Mechanics," This is intended to launch a deeper exploration looking into the various ways games are balanced, which will continue over the next few episodes.

This episode may prove to be a bit controversial, as Ryan and I have strong opinions on what 'works' as a CTL mechanic and what doesn't, and games which exhibit both.

Ludology is available at www.ludology.net or on iTunes.

Geoff
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Mon Mar 7, 2011 1:29 am
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NJ Regional FIRST Tournament

Geoffrey Engelstein
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Last year I did a GameTek segment about the FIRST robotics competition, for high school students.

The teams are assigned a crazy hard game, and have to build a robot in just 7 weeks to play. This year's game is called Logomotion, and here are the rules and a quick overview of the game:



The first round of regional competitions have just been completed, and I am very proud to announce that the team that I help mentor - Team 303, Panther Robotics - was just part of the championship alliance for the New Jersey Regional! Special thanks to teams 1676 and 2016 for picking us to join their alliance.

So we're off to St. Louis for the World Championships at the end of April!

Congrats to all the kids on all the teams who put in such long hours to put together amazing machines.

FIRST is a great competition, and if you're interested in technology, games, kids, or all through, I encourage you to get involved if you can.

Geoff
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Sun Mar 6, 2011 3:07 am
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Rolling Freight

Bradley Keen
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Disclaimer: I was given a review copy of Rolling Freight.

Last year at Origins, my friend Erin mentioned a new game that she had the opportunity to play. I recall some of the key points from this conversation: dice, APE games, and trains. I knew that Ape Games also published duck! duck! Go!, a game with rubber ducks. I was both excited and skeptical. But Erin spoke highly of the game, so I knew that it must have something going for it.

I was pretty stoked when my review copy arrived. The first thing that I noticed were the beautiful components. If the final bits are anything near as nice as these, we are in for a treat.

Rolling Freight is built around establishing routes (shipping goods) and building track. But the unique aspect of the game is how you get the resources to build the track and establish the routes.

This is done via the roll of a handful of dice at the end of your turn. The die faces depict different colors. These colors match up to the colors of the links that you want to build. But you can also use the die to purchase upgrades (special powers), establish routes, and buy contract cards that give you the right to work on building the track. It's a nice use of dice, and I never felt like I was without any options on my turn.

Another interesting part of the game is the way that track is built. Unlike games like Age of Steam, where you can build pretty much wherever you want, Rolling Freight borrows from the Early Railways series of games from Winsome Games. Here, you can only build track if you have purchased the corresponding contract card for that link. That card will come from a deck of contract cards, of which only 4 are available at a time.

So far, I have only been able to play once. I enjoyed the game, but I did wonder about what I perceived to be a wash/rinse/and repeat aspect of the game. But I lost. I came in third place and was soundly defeated by Dan, who came in first and was doing some pretty awesome shipments at the end of the game.

To me, this means that I missed something and that I need to alter my play the next time we play.

Other than that notion, I had a very good time. There was plenty of player interaction and I, more than once, angrily stated that Mike or Dan stole one of my contract cards.

From my initial experience, I can say that Rolling Freight is a solid train game that can be enjoyed my newer gamers and more experienced train gamers. The rules are easy to learn and you don't need to master any of the tricky economics of some of the heavier train games.

Rolling Freight is currently available on Kickstarter. It is worth checking out. The rules are available, so you can give them a read if you are interested.

I am also going to do an audio review of the game with Eric (or in conjunction with Eric) on an upcoming podcast.
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Sun Mar 6, 2011 12:24 am
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Nuremberg 2011 and some other games I'm stoked about

Bradley Keen
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Every year Richard van Vugt of Gamepack.nl publishes a wonderful photo blog/list of the new games showcased at the Nuremberg Toy Fair. There are a number of games that look really interesting, including a new game from Stefan Feld and a Kiesling and Kramer release.

Here are a few of the games that I would like to play:

1. Paris Connection

Alright, you've got me. I have already played this game. It was part of last year's Winsome Essen set, and it is great. Congratulations to Queen Games for recognizing the great games that John Bohrer and Winsome Games keep coming up with.

You could probably take this game to crazy analytical levels, but I suspect that most gamers will enjoy it as a heavier 30 minute filler. It's good fun.

2. Casa Grande from Ravensburger.

Casa Grande by Günther Burckhardt has a definite Ravensburger look to it, and that's a good thing. Actually, it reminds me of Arkadia. It looks like players build buildings on the board and score points (?) based on the movement of Supervisor tokens that move around the edges. They seem to move via a die roll, so luck could be too large of a factor. But the components look great and it just has a "look at me, I'm easy to play, my bits are nice, and I have strategy" feel to it.

3. Plateaux from Winning Moves

Plateaux has all the makings of a fun two player abstract. It can play with more than two, but I wonder how chaotic it would be. Either way, players have the choice of two actions: Place a Brick or Move their Pawn. At the end of the game, the player with the highest pawn thingie wins. A perfect information abstract game. If you like that type of thing, this will excite you. If you don't, then you won't.

4. Olympos from Ystari

Whoa! What's this? Ystari games excite me. Up until this year, I owned all of them. I will now admit that I don't own Industria or their new three musketeers game. (I intend to fix this at some point...maybe). But a brand new release that joins Ystari with Philippe Keyaerts and their big box format is good news.

Yeah, this one is going to be a winner, I can just feel it.

So, those are the games I am most excited about. But I wanted to take a minute to also plug some recent additions to The Martin Wallace Ludography, a list that I try to actively maintain.

Martin has two new light card games coming out from Kosmos: Schlacht am Buffet and Volle Scholle.

Schlacht am Buffet is a re-release of ...und tschüss!, part of the Gold Sieber small box card game series. It has been out of print for a long time, though a Japanese company did produce a version of the game. It has no text, so that version would have been perfect. But Kosmos decided to stamp a theme on it and produce a new version with bits. Whatever. The game is brilliant. It is my favorite quick card game for more than 3 players.

I don't know much about Volle Scholle, but I am working on translating the rules. With that said, it's a super light game, and the game description on the geek pretty much covers most of the rules. It looks fun, in much the same way that ...und tschüss! is fun. I'm slightly concerned that it will be too random or chaotic for my tastes. ...und tschüss! is also random and chaotic, but it's a 10 minute game and it doesn't pretend to be anything else. But I will buy this game.

Martin is also going to release Discworld: Ankh-Morpork at Essen, a game based on the Disc World series by Terry Pratchett. I don't know much about it, but I doubt that I will pass it up.

A Few Acres of Snow should also be released this year, a remnant of the 2010 Treefrog Game Subscription. I'm somewhat sad to see Martin drop this model, but only somewhat. A subscription must put a lot of pressure on a designer to put out some very very good games. He would have to. If I order games up to a year and a half in advance, they had better be worth it. Dropping the subscription model takes away some of this pressure. This two player war game promises to be lighter and quicker than his prior two....and I am looking forward to the day when it shows up in the mail.

Finally, Mayfair is releasing a two player game from Martin, Test of Fire: Bull Run 1861. Martin has designed some of the best War/Euro games out there, but when he leans more towards War games, his designs sometimes leave me confused and cranky (I get tired of constantly looking up errata and different rules for particular situations). I do not think that Mayfair has some magical power to fix this, but designing for a second party means that he may tone down the rules some and I am excited by this game. It's not a must buy, as it doesn't have the Treefrog stamp on it, but it is a must play.

Let me know....are you excited by any of the Nuremberg releases?
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Sat Feb 26, 2011 11:26 am
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Wednesday Night Gaming: Rise of Empires

Bradley Keen
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[Hi! Despite my absence from audio podcasting, I'm not gone. I was excited to see the start of the Dice Tower blog and simply hope that these short posts are entertaining to some.]

Martin Wallace has released a number of Civilization/Empire Building games. The list includes Sixteen Thirty Something, Struggle of Empires, Empires of the Ancient World, Tempus, and Conquest of the Empire. I have played most of his games (with the exception of Conquest of the Empire), and it is interesting to see where he takes the genre with each new game. Bits and pieces of the games are carried over, while other chunks are forgotten.

Rise of Empires is Martin's latest game in this category, and I would say that it is his best and most approachable games. The rules are easy to grasp and they thankfully lack the caveats and holes that bothered me in his early offerings. Have a go at the Empires of the Ancient World rules sometime. I can only fairly state that I had a terrible time understanding the adjacency rules and the rules concerning water areas.

I've played Rise of Empires 3 times now, once with two and twice with three. Our latest game took about 2 hours to complete. I was joined by Mike and Dan.

Mike started off the game strong, and amassed an army of farms that he later drilled for oil. He had an amazing number of black resource disks that he could later trade for victory points, gold, and cities (which bring additional victory points). Dan and I moved slower, but concentrated on gaining territories on the board. In our first game as a group, I owned the board, and came out with a large lead in the end. Dan wasn't about to let that happen again. So we fought over the board, but reaped the rewards. Most of the locations on the board grant money, resource disks, or player cubes....as well as victory points.

The game was tight. I spent most of it in third place, but closed the gap between each round. In the end, Dan won and Mike fell into last place. Had he had some board territories, it would have been a much closer game.

Anyhow, it's a really fun game and I honestly think of it as a welcome addition to Martin Wallace's progression of War/Euro games. Yeah, I know. It's not a war game, but there is direct player conflict. You don't get to roll dice (a plus), but cubes are fighting and many get eliminated. That's a war game in my book.

Next week we will hopefully play Rolling Freight, a game that is currently available on Kickstarter as a "pre order". I can't wait to write about it and to discuss it on the podcast.
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Thu Feb 24, 2011 11:02 am
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TotalCon Anticipation

Eric Summerer
United States
Weatogue
CT
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As I write this, we're just under 48 hours away from the official start of Total Confusion XXV in Mansfield, MA. Despite my proximity (the Boston area's only a couple of hours away from my home in South Central CT), this event hasn't been on my radar. However, this year, we were delighted to be asked by the convention organizers to attend as Guests of Honor for the event. Tom's flying up from Florida, and Jim Reed is driving in from PA as well. I'm tremendously excited for all of this, and I wanted to highlight some reasons why.

1 - It's been a long time since I've seen these guys. Despite my working closely with Tom and Jim on the production of The Dice Tower, I haven't actually seen these guys in almost two years. Our last meeting was at Origins 2009. While a good portion of Team Dice Tower was able to attend the 2010 Origins, Tom and Jim were not, and it was especially strange to be doing "official" Dice Tower things without the Big Cheese himself in attendance. Even outside of gaming, it will be nice to hang out with these guys again. This is doubly true since I will be missing this year's Origins due to the birth of our second son in June.

2 - I'm in a bit of gaming drought. I'm in a community theater production of Godspell that goes up in April, and rehearsals have conflicted with my usual Sunday night game group. I've been trying to compensate with lots of yucata.de and Cyberboard Merchant of Venus, but there's only so much you can do before you need to interact with other human beings in person. As a side note to this, I have a number of games, that I've either received or purchased, that haven't seen table time yet. I think a convention is an opportune time to get them played.

3 - I'm looking forward to making some new friends. Yes, it's wonderful to reunite with people you haven't seen in a while, but it's also exciting to know that there will be a bunch of like-minded gamers here that I haven't met yet, just waiting to sit at the table and play something. In addition to meeting new people, I'm also interested in observing the culture of a new convention. Everybody does things differently, and I can't wait to see how it all works.

4 - We have a podcast to put together. Episode 200 (and possibly 201) will be from TotalCon, and I enjoy the challenge of doing something outside our usual box. Despite the work, I'm very proud of what we were able to do with the Origins 2010 episode (175, if you're keeping notes), and I think we can use some of the lessons learned to put together a good snapshot of a regional con experience. Our goal will be to capture the experience of the event for those who attend, while still producing an entertaining show for those just listening at home. Expect a lot of session reports as we play a bunch of games, and get reactions from others at the table. It'll be a bunch of editing, but I'm up for the challenge.

I should really try to contain my enthusiasm, or I won't be able to concentrate on any work that I need to do before leaving.

Oh, who am I kidding? I'm off to pack a tub of games! See you at TotalCon!
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Tue Feb 22, 2011 7:34 pm
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