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Black lives matter

Martin G
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I don't have anything like the platform in this hobby that some do, but I will say this.

If you say 'black lives matter', the only people attacking you will be racists. And I'd take that as a badge of honour.
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Fri Jun 5, 2020 10:07 am
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Getting ready for SdJ

Martin G
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As we await the Spiel des Jahres nominations next Monday, chairman of the jury Tom Felber has a message for you (via Google Translate):

Quote:
It will soon be time again: On Monday, May 14, the jury "Game of the Year" will publish their list of recommendable games. For me as chairman, it is always very instructive to see in the time immediately afterwards which reactions to this come from the population. But some of the most intense reactions are each based on a misunderstanding, a target group misunderstanding. According to our statute, the "Game of the Year" is supposed to be a game that is as suitable as possible to further promote and spread the game culture in the family and society. The game must therefore not be too complex and the entry should not be too difficult, so that the game can achieve a broad impact in society. But how can one easily recognize whether one has possibly wrong expectations and as a player still belongs to this target group?

Here are 10 unmistakable signs that you are no longer part of the Game of the Year audience:

You post every game you play on Boardgamegeek and enter it neatly where you played, the time, the score of all players, their names and trades, your player color, the amount of your blood pressure and the brand of chips -Package that you have consumed before lunch.

You instantly and always, while a game is in progress, take a picture of the game you're playing on Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and Facebook, and tag all the players, who of course are all on Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, and Facebook ,

After the Spielmesse in Essen, you proudly present your "Loot" games in the social media, a stack with all your games brought along by the fair.

You are seriously of the opinion that some of the previous award winners of the "Kennerspiel des Jahres" are actually child games and have already told the jury chairman or other members of the jury directly and emphatically.

You are regularly overpriced to send cool nerd T-shirts from overseas.

You're more than willing to spend at least $ 120 on a Kickstarter game by an unknown author and publisher you do not even know if the game system works.
The main thing is that the characters look cool and the illustrations tear you away.

Discussions on your game evenings often revolve around topics like "If Batman, Mr. Spock, and Tim and Struppi would meet Darth Vader, Lara Croft, and Rick and Morty as a team in an arena, who would win the fight in which round and why?"

Discussed? At your game evenings nothing is discussed. The other players should concentrate on the game.

You prefer to play all alone anyway, and you do not like it that way when interacting with your fellow players at the table.

Anyway, you're of the opinion that "Chess / Go / Monopoly / Settlers of Catan / Magic the Gathering / Netrunner / Poker / Tichu / Jassen / Skat / Bridge / Dog / Uno / Sinking Ships / Soccer / Rope Skipping is the best game ever and it does not really need any other games next to it.
Please bear this in mind before posting about your disgust/disappointment with the nominees!
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Mon May 7, 2018 5:01 pm
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A la carte!

Martin G
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This year, my picks for Spiel des Jahres were Love Letter, Abluxxen and Port Royal but none got nominated and only Love Letter even got a recommendation.

To the rescue comes Fairplay magazine's 'A la Carte' award for card game of the year, regularly the best fit to my tastes:

1. ABLUXXEN Ravensburger
2. LOVE LETTER Pegasus
3. UGO! Playthisone
4. PORT ROYAL Pegasus
5. KASHGAR Kosmos
6. SKULL KING Schmidt Spiele
7. PARADE Schmidt Spiele
8. SOS TITANIC Ludonaute
9. FUNGI Pegasus
10. KORYO Moonster Games/Asmodee

Of the rest, I've only played Parade, and I love that too. So what else should I try?

Ugo and Koryo I've come across a few times and I'm interested. I don't think Fungi sounds particularly exciting, but I could be convinced otherwise.

Kashgar I know nothing about, but it sounds like it'll need an English version to be playable for me. SOS Titanic is likely too solitaire for my tastes. And Skull King sounds like another (unnecessary?) version of Oh Hell/Rage/Wizard.

Anyone got thoughts on these, or can think of 2013/14 card games the Fairplay jury missed?
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Fri Oct 3, 2014 7:12 pm
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NaNoNeGaMo begins!

Martin G
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It's time for the second instalment of my annual month of playing no new games. You can read more about it and join me at the geeklist.

What is NaNoNeGaMo?
It stands for National No New Games Month, and it's an annual celebration of the tried and tested.

What does it involve?
For the month of June, participants will endeavour to learn no new games, enjoy ones they have already played, and post about their experiences.

Why 'national'? BGG is international!
It echoes NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is also international, and I just like the sound of NaNoNeGaMo.

Why June?
No particular reason, but there's no point having it in October or after, as I can't fight the Essen tide!

How do I participate?
Add an entry to the geeklist to say why you're joining in, and update it through June with your experiences. You can also buy and display the microbadge Microbadge: NaNoNeGaMo participant

What about Grimwold's New-to-Me geeklist?
If I get my way, it'll have a quiet month!
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Sat Jun 1, 2013 1:43 pm
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Ugh

Martin G
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This thread makes me ashamed to be a BGGer. Come on people, we're better than that.
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Thu Jan 17, 2013 5:35 pm
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Breadth-gamers and depth-gamers: the two hobbies

Martin G
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A couple of interesting and near-simultaneous blog posts by geekbuddies yesterday got me thinking about something I’ve written a bit about before, but not really articulated fully.

In the hobby as I see it, there’s a continuum of gamer types of which the two ends could almost be considered completely different hobbies. I’m talking about what I’ll call breadth-gamers and depth-gamers.*

We all have a finite amount of time to devote to gaming, we all have to make decisions about how to split that up, and we all have to compromise to fit in with others. But if you had free rein over the next 100 games you play, what would they be?

If your answer is one play of each of 100 different games, most of them new to you, then you are an extreme breadth-gamer (also known as the Cult of the New). If it’s 100 plays of your favourite game with your favourite opponents, you’re the ultimate depth-gamer (also known as a lifestyle-gamer). An alternative metric would be the average number of times you play each game you own. Breadth-gamers are happy with 5 plays or fewer; depth-gamers expect to get at least 10 and hopefully much more.

I think that recognising the different motivations and preferences of these two extremes helps make sense of a lot of conversations that go on here on BGG and in the wider gaming world.

Breadth-gamers are from Mars, depth-gamers are from Venus

Breadth-gamers are primarily motivated by variety. They feed off the buzz of figuring out how a new game works. For the breadth-gamer, reading about new games and collecting games is as much a part of their hobby as playing them. They read up on new releases, follow the Essen buzz, back numerous games on Kickstarter and probably have a large collection (hundreds rather than tens) with a fairly low average number of plays per game. Breadth gamers are likely to do a lot of their gaming in clubs, because they can satisfy their need for variety without going bankrupt.

Depth-gamers are primarily motivated by mastery. They see the first few plays of a game as a learning experience necessary to start playing the game properly. They like to read (and write) about a few games that they’ve really explored. Depth-gamers are more likely to play at home in dedicated groups. They are likely to have smaller collections or be actively trying to reduce their collection following an earlier breadth-gaming phase. Oliver’s article yesterday is pretty much a practical guide to transitioning your collection from a breadth-gamer’s one to a depth gamer’s.

Because of these differences, breadth-gamers and depth-gamers favour different types of games. For a game to be regarded highly by breadth-gamers it most likely needs to be quite accessible on a first play and with groups of mixed experience-level with the game. It may well feature a mechanical innovation that can be snappily summarised, and a rapid discovery phase in which a handful of different strategies can be explored and catalogued. It doesn’t necessarily need to have much variety beyond the first five plays, because most breadth-gamers won’t get that far.

By contrast, a depth-gamer’s game may be quite opaque on first play, but hint at future subtleties. It is likely to have a long learning curve over which levels of play reveal themselves. Depth-gamers enjoy playing games with other players who have attained a similar level of competence, and dissecting the games in detail.

I would like to emphasise that I’m trying to remain value-free here - these are different types of games designed for different types of gamers, not a hierarchy.

One aspect of John’s excellent article seems to be a depth-gamer’s lament on the dominance of breadth-gaming in the hobby. The depth-gamer often finds the behaviour of the breadth-gamer irrational. Why do buy all these games they don’t play? Why are they always chasing after the new hotness when there are already so many well-established classics? But for the breadth-gamer, reading about and collecting new games is a big part of their hobby. They express the same bemusement at the devoted depth-gamer, happy to retread the same old game over and over again.

What does it mean for the hobby?

So having sketched out these two caricatures, what implications does accommodating both within the same hobby have?

First of all, most games are designed to suit the preferences of breadth-gamers. How could it be otherwise in a rational market? The breadth-gamers are the ones buying most of the games, and they’re the ones that need lots of different games to keep them happy. A depth-gamer only needs a few games they really love to last them a long time. Of course there are some games that can satisfy both types of gamer, but games don’t need to be built for depth-gamers to sell well.

Secondly, BGG itself is much more of a breadth-gaming site than a depth-gaming one. The conversation is driven by new releases, Essen speculation, and ‘the hotness’. There’s no end of first impressions and fairly shallow reviews of new games to read, but a depth-gamer will often be frustrated by the lack of content on their chosen games that goes beyond scratching the surface.

For the same reasons that most games are breadth-gamer-friendly, so are the BGG rankings. It is inevitable that most ratings will come from the people who rate most games. So there’s no particular reason that games with attributes that depth-gamers value such as opacity and replayability will rise to the top of the rankings.

There’s also a bigger problem for depth-gamers. Breadth-gamers by their nature are pretty much happy to play anything once and so can easily flock together in groups of other breadth-gamers and play whatever takes their fancy.

But to get the type of play experience they crave, depth-gamers don’t just have to seek out other depth-gamers; they have to find ones who want to get in-depth about the same game they do! And the explosion of the strategy game market in recent years, fuelled by breadth-gamers’ demand, means that it is less likely that any one game will form a critical mass of depth-gamers around it.

So what’s a poor depth-gamer to do?

All that said, I’ve noticed a number of successful examples of depth-gaming communities recently.

I’ve already talked about small groups of friends who get together to play a particular game. But at the other end of the spectrum, my gaming group London on Board is large enough that it can support multiple communities of interest within, but mostly detached from, the rest of the club. Two notable examples are the Battlestar Galactica crew, each of whom must have played well over hundred times, and the 18XXers, a ‘hobby within a hobby’ if ever there was one. Games clubs also sometimes try to foster a degree of depth-gaming with a ‘game of the month’, though previous attempts to do this at LoB foundered.

There are also online communities, mostly outside of BGG, that have coalesced around particular games. The website dominionstrategy.com has been particularly successful at building a community around strategy discussions of Dominion and its many expansions, and the founder has just launched a similar forum around Twilight Struggle. Depth-gamers can also get their gaming hit online. I’ve recently taken to playing Brass with a group of BGGers who have played it as much as me and I’m really enjoying it because I don’t win all the time!

What type of gamer are you?

I like to think of myself as a depth-gamer, and in some ways I am, but I don’t have the dedication to go all the way. I suspect I’m roughly at the midway point on the scale I outlined. My preference for my next 100 plays would be something like 10 plays each of 10 different games. My collection has just gone past the 100 mark (with a mild dose of Essen fever) but I’m working on getting it back down again, and I’m aiming for at least 10 plays of each game I rate 8 or above.

I'll finish with some questions. Do you recognise the gamer archetypes I've outlined? Which one suits you best? Does the type you are ever cause you frustrations? What do you do about them?

*[I think I may have stolen these terms from Edward Fu]
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Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:23 pm
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A week in the life of a board game evangelist!

Martin G
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Bristol
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Not much blogging this week but lots of gaming, in a variety of interesting contexts.

Monday
An arts cinema in Hackney expressed an interest in hosting a monthly board games night, following a successful one in Brixton. Paul Lister and I volunteered to run it and the inaugural event was on Monday. It was well-attended but mostly by London on Board regulars.

We're focusing the night on gateways, dexterity and party games and it was great to see a young kid come along with his dad, learn Hamsterrolle and then teach it to a group of hardened gamers. I also taught Catan to one of the cinema staff and his friend. They liked it so much they played a second time instead of going to see The Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists! More publicity needed for next month - I've already written to Time Out.

Wednesday
On Wednesday I attended an interesting event put on by the London Educational Games meetup group. James Wallis spoke entertainingly about designing Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game and its unexpected emergence as a classroom tool; Brett J. Gilbert talked about his personal approach to board game design; and Andrew Sage told us about how his card game Symbotica came about before giving us a chance to try it.

Brett's excellent talk revealed that many of the educational gamers present weren't very familiar with modern board games. Of course I gave LoB a plug, and I'm now cooking up a modern board games 'taster session' with the organiser of LEG.

Friday
On Friday I was in a large department store on Oxford Street demonstrating Ingenious to Easter shoppers. This came about by getting in touch with the main UK distributor Esdevium to see if there were any potential hook-ups with LoB. They're running a major demonstration programme in high-street stores around the country and have now recruited a few LoBsters to help them out.

We had a couple of boards set up and tried to get people to play for themselves. Although the store wasn't as busy as I expected, quite a number checked it out and we made a couple of sales. The biggest enthusiasts were two of the staff, who kept coming back for more! It's a wonderful feeling to see that moment when the light goes on for someone with a new game.

Sunday
And finally, on Sunday, I was in a local pub playing card games with friends and happened upon another gaming group. We didn't actually get to play anything together this time but it was great to see and I hope to be back.
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Mon Apr 9, 2012 11:08 pm
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The next step: NaNoNeGaMo!

Martin G
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My last blogpost generated a lot more discussion than I expected - thanks! Most of it was around my frustration with the Cult of the New and desire to explore fewer games more deeply. There were several murmurs of agreement and a couple of well-argued posts against.

Maarten/cymric posted:
Quote:
Okay, you've explained what you find frustrating. Soren has already pointed out the obvious similarity to other cultural endeavours, and rightly dismissed the anxiety as romantic nonsense. But suppose for the moment that he wasn't right, then what? Ready to take the next step?
So here's a next step I've been thinking about: NaNoNeGaMo!

What is NaNoNeGaMo?
It stands for National No New Games Month, and it's an annual celebration of the old.

What does it involve?
For the month of June, participants will endeavour to learn no new games, enjoy ones they have already played, and post about their experiences.

Why 'national'? BGG is international!
It echoes NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which is also international, and I just like the sound of it.

Why June?
It's almost April now, and this will give me a chance to build up a head of steam. And there's no point having it in October or after, as I can't fight the Essen tide!

How do I participate?
Initially you can post a message of support here. Nearer the time I will set up a geeklist where participants can add an entry to describe their experience.

What about Grimwold's New-to-Me geeklist?
If I get my way, it'll have a quiet month!
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Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:01 pm
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Five years: the joys and frustrations of the hobby

Martin G
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It was Friday March 23rd, 2007 when a good friend I was staying with suggested he teach me some game called Carcassonne. I've always been a games player, but until this point I had no idea that the hobby I've come to love existed. The very next day, he pointed me to a games shop in central London (now defunct) to buy my own copy.

Scarcely did I imagine then that five years later I'd have played nearly 400 different games, own 100 (still pretty meagre by some standards!), run the biggest board games group in the country (with over 1200 members) and have appeared in national print and radio extolling the virtues of modern board games.

As a hobby, modern board gaming has turned out to be perfect for me. Playing games provides both a mental challenge and a wonderful social experience. As well as getting family and longstanding friends involved with my obsession, I've also made a bunch of great friends at London on Board and around the world through BGG, in particular the guys and girl of the GCL Meatball Division.

And it's not just playing games that I enjoy, it's reading, writing, thinking and talking about them. We're lucky to have BoardGameGeek as a central organising forum, for all its failings.

Frustrations
So that's the joys, what about the frustrations? Some are about games, some are about gamers.

Having played 300-odd games, my biggest disappointment is the lack of originality in modern designs, both in mechanics and theme. Although I'm primarily a Eurogamer, I'm utterly uninterested in the latest minor twist on worker placement and resource conversion. I want games to give me new ways of challenging myself and interacting with other players. Recently the marvellous Hanabi has restored my faith that this can still be done, by presenting a co-operative game that isn't just team solitaire.

I suspect that some elements of Ameritrash may appeal to my taste for high levels of interaction and my tolerance of randomness. But why oh why does AT have to be synonymous with orcs and spaceships? These hold as little excitement for me as do the Euro tropes of Ancient Egypt and the Renaissance. Give me more political games like Tammany Hall, more eccentric explorations of science like Phil Eklund's creations, more games that are inspired by strange little corners of history that we don't all already know about.

As for gamers, the biggest blight on my gaming life is nothing to do with stereotypes of smelly, antisocial gamers that I have found to be entirely unfounded. It's the Cult of the New that has people desperately seeking out the shiny rather than appreciating the old and tested. Together with the fact that there are just Too Damn Many games coming out, it makes it a delightful rarity to sit down at a table with a group who already knows the rules and the strategy of the game they're about to play.

I've made an analogy between learning a game and learning a language before. For me, the learning isn't the fun part. It's being able to converse. I'd stop learning new games right now if I was guaranteed opponents for the ones I already love.

Related to this is the phenomenon that Jesse Dean examined incisively the other day: the lack of what he calls a 'critical infrastructure' for the boardgame hobby. Although the volume of content on BGG is impressive, it's hard to find the types of articles I really want to read, if they even exist. I know plenty of people just want to play games and have fun, but some of us are interested in examing board games at a critical, maybe even academic, level, and there doesn't seem to be a platform for that right now.

Maybe there just aren't enough of us for a critical mass (no pun intended!), although there are interesting hints of what I'm looking for in blogs, some of the GCL lists and other sites (Fortress Ameritrash, Opinionated Gamers). But it really bugs me when I encounter the anti-intellectual attitude that even trying to examine games in these terms is contrary to the goal of 'fun'. I'm very much looking forward to Jesse's next blog post with his thoughts on ways forward for the field of board game criticism.

I appear to have written more about the negatives than the positive now, so I should probably stop. You wouldn't be reading this if you didn't share my opinion that this is a marvellous hobby, and one which I don't see myself ever growing tired of. Here's to the next 5 years, and hopefully not quite so many new games!
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Fri Mar 23, 2012 4:32 pm
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