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W. Eric Martin
Lincoln Damerst has been overseeing the production of the board game playthrough show GameNight! since 2012 and been involved in BoardGameGeek's convention coverage since 2009, but as BGG's new Director of Media, he's looking to do more. As BGG owner Scott Alden said when announcing Lincoln's new position in December 2017, Lincoln will be "involved in producing and cultivating other shows under the BGG media label", and now it's time to unveil one such effort: The BoardGameGeek Show, the first episode of which features Scott, Lincoln, and me discussing games recently played (Gloomhaven, Hunt for the Ring, Attack on Titan: Deck-Building Game, and more), upcoming convention coverage by BGG, and a landmark number for the site.
Our current plan is to release episodes of The BoardGameGeek Show on a fortnightly basis, alternating with new episodes of GameNight! Our line-up isn't set in stone as we'll have a fourth person on hand for the second episode (which will feature, I hope, an interesting way to compare several games that have something in common), and we've been talking with a couple of other people about show appearances in the future.
I hope you enjoy the new show, which will likely evolve as the weeks go on. If you have suggestions or comments, please let us know what you'd like to see!
W. Eric Martin
My son Traver started attending a new school at the beginning of 2017, and one of the features of the school is after-school care for children whose parent or parents must work during the day. In addition to this care, the school oversees a number of after-school clubs that are hosted by both teachers and parents. Once I learned of this, I immediately pitched the club organizer on the idea of me hosting a board game club, and eleven months later, that club has now come into existence. (The clubs are organized months in advance, on top of which I imagine the organizer wanted to make sure that we'd continue with the school before putting me in charge of something.)
I hosted my first session of this ten-week program in mid-December 2017, and given the holidays and my travel schedule, I'll be hosting on most Mondays until mid-March 2018. I can't claim to be an expert in children's game club organization after only a single session, but I've already learned a few lessons and thought I'd share them with you.
• Start with a plan: The Monday morning that the club would start, eight kids aged 6-12 had signed up to attend. (I had set a floor of age 6 to make things easier for myself.) I figured that I'd open with one or two games that all of them could play, then break them into two groups for smaller games afterwards. The club lasts only one hour, so we wouldn't have time for too many games, and since I had no idea which games they had previously played (except for my son, of course), I chose a dozen with simple rules that would ideally have them playing almost immediately.
For an opener, I chose Codenames. My wife Linda was attending as well and she knows the game, so she and I could serve as cluegivers and choose words — both to guess and as clues — that would be age appropriate. This game was a smash hit! The kids loved making wild and crazy suggestions that had no possible chance of being right, and they also loved it when they did choose correctly.
Giving clues is a bit harder as you're not necessarily sure what kids know at this age. I gave "Asia-2" as a clue to try to get my team to guess "Tokyo" and "Turkey". They guessed "Tokyo" immediately, but then one of them suggested "America" and suddenly they were almost all on Team America until another kid pointed out that Turkey is a country in Asia. Phew! Now I know who was paying attention for geography lessons. Linda gave a clue of "blood" at one point, and all the kids on her team chose "ketchup" as an answer instead of the adjacent "shark". Kids can't stay away from ketchup, can they?
• Be ready to veer from that plan: Two more kids joined the group right as the club got started that afternoon. This wasn't a problem for Codenames since you can have teams of any size, but it helped doom my next choice of game: Pairs. Pairs is labeled for 2-8 players, but for some reason I decided to go ahead with it anyway, with me serving as dealer for all ten young players.
Not a good choice! Not only was the action spread across a long, narrow table (as opposed to a pleasingly round table where everyone can see what everyone else is doing), but that game is a hangout design instead of a centerpiece; it's a grandma game (in my terminology) as it happens in the background while everyone has tea and cookies. I was trying to make it the focal point of the activity, but everyone was just staring at their one or two cards, then someone would randomly go out and they'd start all over again. Game abandoned! Let's move on to something else at two tables.
Go Go Gelato! and children who shall remain anonymous
• Don't worry about winning: Some of the kids wanted to play Codenames again, so Linda led them in that game, serving as cluegiver for both teams. I took out Go Go Gelato!, one of the real-time pattern-building games from Roberto Fraga and Blue Orange Games. I set up three kids with cones and gelato, then took the fourth set to explain the rules. Another kid asked at least three times within the one-minute rule explanation whether he could take the fourth seat because he loved the look of the game so much! Yes, fine!
I had mentioned that the first player to collect five cards wins the game, but they mostly just shoved the card to the side after they finished, then jumped into the next challenge. They didn't care about winning the game; they just wanted to beat one another in each individual challenge. They played and played and played some more, with one kid leaving early when their parents showed to pick them up, and someone else jumped into that seat immediately.
The same thing was true for Stick Stack, a dexterity game that takes less than a minute to explain, with players trying to set up a teetering stack of sticks so that someone else knocks it over and scores penalty points. No one was keeping score; they were just having fun balancing things and watching others get shaky over and over again.
I'll be sure to bring this game back next time (along with Codenames), and I'll pack Dr. Eureka or Dr. Microbe as well. A friend of mine ran a board game club at his school for six weeks earlier in 2017, and he said one of the great things that happens is that some kids step into the role of teacher when someone new wants to learn a game that they already know, giving you a chance to focus on those who want to learn something new or those uncomfortable in the role of teacher.
• Enlist assistants: Before we started that day, Linda and I talked about rules for the club — no interrupting others, be good winners, treat the players and the games with respect — and we shared those rules with everyone when we started. What's more, we chose someone to be the rules guru for the day. This student was supposed to be in charge of making sure everyone paid attention and did what they should do, but beyond that we had chosen someone who seemed quiet in order to encourage them to interact more with others. Some kids naturally jump in and participate, being loud enough that others can't avoid hearing them, but others might need a hand to feel more like part of the group.
Stick Stack and kids whose parents have given me clearance to post their images
Okay, that's not a lot to go on should you propose to run a board game club at your children's school, but it's a start, and I'll be building on that foundation over the next nine sessions, as curious to see what I learn from them as I am to see what I can bring to the table myself.
W. Eric Martin
We make lots of small changes in the structure and function of the BGG database, many of them invisible to most people because either the changes aren't showy or most people won't care about whatever change was made. If you don't log games played, for example, then any change in that system means nothing to you.
I want to highlight one small adjustment, though, and this isn't a change in the database functioning as much as a change in what we admins are doing behind the scenes. For the most part, designers, artists, and publishers on game pages are listed in alphabetical order in the space available. If you look at Apocrypha Adventure Card Game, you'll see the designers as "Chad Brown, Tanis O'Connor, Paul Peterson, Keith Richmond + 4 more"; we set a character limit for this section and others as is common for web pages worldwide. If you look at the Apocrypha box, however, you'll notice that "A game by Mike Selinker" is written near the top of the box, with a list of designer credits at the bottom. Mike Selinker's name isn't visible in that list, when it seems like he should be listed ahead of everyone else.
As admins, we can tag one or more names within each section (designer, artist, publisher), and those tagged names will appear first in the list. What's more, thanks to a recent change in how we display info, those tagged names will now be the only ones that appear "above the fold", a newspaper term that refers to something being visible on the front page even though the paper is folded. After I tag Mike Selinker, all untagged names will be "below the fold", that is, in the "+7 more" section that's visible when someone clicks the "+7 more" link or views the full credits link.
We haven't used this tagging system often, typically only when a publisher or designer has asked for a designer or artist to receive top billing in a listing. That said, we're now making an effort to tag certain publishers on newly approved game listings as well as on the most popular games in the database (based on page views). Which publishers? In general, we want to tag (1) the original publisher of a game and (2) publishers that made significant contributions to one or more editions of the game.
Why do this? Because under the previous method of listing publishers, this type of information is hard to figure out unless you delve into a game's versions, and even then you might not figure out who first published a game. Let's look at this listing:
Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn is a Plaid Hat Games title, yet Plaid Hat is not visible in the list of publishers. One tag later, and we have this:
Much better! Why does this information matter? For any number of reasons depending on who you are and what you're trying to do. If you're a fan of Ashes, you might be inclined to look for more games from Isaac Vega, but you might also want to check out more games from Plaid Hat since it decided to publish the game and likely had a role in the art choices and final development that make Ashes the game it is. If you're a researcher, perhaps you're curious about which companies originated which games. If you're a new publisher releasing games in, say, Bengali, you might want to know who to contact about licensing the game.
This system isn't simply for new and nearly new releases:
Moskito Spiele is listed above the fold for Die Macher since it's the originating publisher, while Hans im Glück published an edition that expanded the player count to five and represented all of Germany instead of only West Germany, bringing the game to a much larger audience in the process. Does Valley Games deserve a mention as well for its version? I say no, and others might say yes, which will lead to yet more corrections for such things in the corrections queue, so why did we do this oh my god please make the corrections stop I'll be over here sobbing.
Dan has created a special admin report that shows board games with multiple publishers and without tagged publishers, and this list is ordered by page views, which is a good thing since it has more than 18,000(!) listings. We'll probably never process them all, but we can start with the most popular games (along with new admissions to the database) and carry on from there. Some games will be easier to tag than others. If you see "Carcassonne" in the title, for example, then you're almost guaranteed that the game should be tagged with Hans im Glück and no one else. Certain publishers (e.g., R&D Games, eggertspiele) never or rarely publish licensed items, so we can tag their titles with confidence.
This process won't be quick, but given that we're changing the publishers listed above the fold on popular games, it will be visible, so I wanted to publish an explanation of what's happening and why. Thanks to Dan for making this process easier to carry out!
W. Eric Martin
In March 2017, I sent out a note to many BGG users indicating that I was going to merge the game pages for Diamant and Incan Gold. Anyone who had rated either game or who had either game listed as being in their collection should have received this note.
As I understand it, when Incan Gold was first added to the database in 2006, it was on the same game page as Diamant, then after the Eagle-Gryphon version of Incan Gold was released in 2009 the game was split into its own page due to it being "different enough" from Diamant thanks to five new artifact cards. IELLO released a new version of the game in 2016 that included the artifacts but reverted to the original Diamant name. Yay for the game being available again in a nice version, but boo for the confusion this new version caused, with English, French, German, and other versions of IELLO's edition being added to both the Diamant and Incan Gold pages.
Given that the two games were 95% the same, I decided to merge them together again, rewriting the game description on the Diamant page to cover all versions of the game. I sent a note explaining this decision to users, then a second note when folks asked about the status of their collection listings and logged plays:
My apologies, but I wanted to send a follow-up to yesterday's note about the pending merge of Incan Gold
. Ideally this will be my last note to all who have this game in their collection in some manner!
Someone sent me the following note: "Eric, I've played and rated both games. What will happen to my ratings (2 of them, rating comments, and plays?) I assume one of each will go away; which?"
Thanks for asking something along these lines! Comments and ratings carry over and duplicate in the combined listing. After all, right now you can add multiple copies of a game to your collection and rate/comment on each one separately. That feature already exists on a single listing, and the merge preserves those distinctions.
To double-check this, I created three game listings from scratch, rated each differently, and put a different comment on each one. I linked only one of those ratings/comments (the third one) to a particular version of the game; the other two I just placed on the game itself. (Did you know that you link a rating/comment to a particular version of a game? This site has lots of hidden features like that.)
I then merged all of these game listings and initially I was worried as a click on the ratings page showed me this:
You can see my separate 9, 7 and 5 ratings, but the comment is from the game I rated a 5, while the rating was from the game I gave a 7. Not sure why the data is presented that way, but that's something I need to ask the tech guys about.
Seeing only one of my ratings/comments worried me initially — but then I noticed the "reset filters" link under the "Ratings & Comments" header. Clicking that link showed me this:
Apparently the system automatically hides multiple ratings/comments from the same user under the default setting. This keeps you from being overwhelmed with duplicates. (I looked at Fluxx
Promo Cards, for example, and after resetting filters, I see that someone has rated this item a 10 more than thirty times. If you go from that page to another part of the site, then come back to the Fluxx
Promo Card page, the filters are automatically applied again, hiding all but one of this person's 10 ratings.)
I created a fourth game listing to test play counts since I forgot that the first time, and play counts get merged together with no distinction between one version of the game and another. Play count data is preserved, so if you took notes on the location, other players, etc, then that data carries over into the combined listings, but you can't specify which version of a game you play other than to add a comment along those lines. (This isn't a failure of the merge as much as a lack of a feature in the "play count recording" set-up; you can add details to play counts if you want to preserve a distinction as to which version of a game you played.)
Hope this answers any lingering questions...
I know some folks care a lot about these types of details, so I wanted to make sure that everything would work right, and that indeed seemed to be the case.
After I sent my note, I did nothing related to this merger for months. I headed to one con after another, with preparations for each taking time and BGG News posts taking time and this merger not being at the top of my to-do list. I have lots of projects like this — things that would be great to have done, but not things that are urgent to do. Perhaps you have lots of projects like this as well. In any case, someone reminded me of the merge-that-wasn't in November 2017 ahead of BGG.CON, so I finally did it.
Now, something you might not know about merges is that in years past when you merged something, you clicked a button, then after a short bit received a message on the page that said "Merge complete". At some point, I stopped receiving that message and just saw a 504 message instead. I might have reported this error message to our programmers Scott and Dan, but knowing me, I probably didn't; after all, the things had indeed been merged, so everything must be working okay, right? This must be just a nonsense error message.
So I clicked merge on the Incan Gold page, with Diamant being the target. The description of the target game is what remains after a merge; that game's title remains the representative title, the cover image the representative image. All of the version information of the title being merged gets added to the versions that already exist. The images get added to the gallery of existing images.
After I received the 504 message, I went back to the Diamant page and discovered that it still had only twelve versions instead of the twenty or so I had been expecting. (I needed to merge versions as well following the game merge. Again, doing so would preserve user collection info.) Perhaps I was mistaken and I hadn't clicked "merge". Perhaps the page timed out. I waited a minute, reloaded, and still saw only twelve versions, so I merged Incan Gold again.
That was a mistake.
Most of the things that I merge are new or obscure. Admins approve two submissions for a new game, for example, not realizing what the other person is doing, so I merge the listings. A user realizes that this little-known German game from the 1980s is actually the same as this little-known French game from the 1980s, so I merge them.
Diamant and Incan Gold fall into the category of neither new nor obscure. Thousands of users had rated each game and had them listed in their collections. I thought the merge had failed, but it was still going on in the background despite me having received the now-customary 504 message. When I clicked merge again, we entered new ground in terms of what the software was trying to do, with simultaneous merges happening at the same time. This wasn't supposed to be possible, but hey, there we were, merging things simultaneously.
What seems to have happened is that while the first merge was in the process of happening, the second merge looked at the user data for Incan Gold and saw nothing (because it was being rewritten as Diamant data or whatever it is that happens inside those computing boxes), so it decided it was done with collection info, and it raced through the version data and *boom* the merge was finished — not complete, mind you, but finished.
Eventually I saw twenty-something versions on the Diamant page, so I merged all the identical ones, and things seemed to be okay. A couple of days later, I saw a post asking about a user's logged plays for Incan Gold since they were missing. Collection info was missing as well. Scott and Dan were already at BGG.CON, so I resolved to talk with them about the problem later. Now it's later, and after learning what I did they're (1) ensuring that it's impossible in the future to have two merges running simultaneously, (2) researching exactly what I broke, (3) figuring out how to recover user data on Incan Gold, although it seems like they'll have to reach back to May 2017 in order to do so (due to how back-ups are handled), and (4) placing me in an oubliette to prevent further database disruptions.
To those affected by this issue, I apologize for the trouble. Ideally Scott and Dan will be able to undo what needs undoing. As for me, I'll refrain from merging older, established items under threat of losing my hands. I've already seen one disaster, so I don't want to encounter a second one...
W. Eric Martin
1. I'm still on the road for another couple of days. Regular posts will return soon, starting with my final Lucca Comics & Games report.
2. I've started publishing the individual game overview videos from SPIEL '17 on our YouTube channel, and those videos will pop up on the individual BGG game pages as well. We're having a back-up issue, so the videos aren't being published in chronological order, but in the end we'll get them all out anyway and all will be fine.
3. Something is happening with Mayfair Games and Lookout Games, but it's not clear what. Alex Yeager, who had been serving as Mayfair's lead acquisitions person and main developer since Asmodee acquired the English-language rights to Catan in January 2016, posted publicly on Facebook that November 3, 2017 was his last day at Mayfair after twelve years with the company. Julie Yeager and Chuck Rice are also no longer with Mayfair. I've asked the current contact person at Mayfair for information on the company's status and received no response; a similar request to a contact at Lookout Games received a "no comments at this time" response.
A glance through the last twelve months of releases from Mayfair shows almost nothing original to the company, aside from Food Chain, Run Bunny Run (a licensed game), and a new edition of Iron Dragon. Everything else from Mayfair originated from Lookout Games. Ideally we'll learn more about this situation in the near future.
From a series I'm calling "Rueing the day in Rome"
W. Eric Martin
I've been working on the SPIEL '17 Preview and little else the past few days, partly because I want to knock out as many titles as possible before sending out invitations to publishers to schedule demo time in the BGG booth during SPIEL '17 — something that will likely start later this week — and partly because we have guests in the house who are staying longer than expected since they were supposed to fly to Miami after visiting us. That flight was cancelled several days ago, so we're hosting them for several more days. I expect to return to regular posting soon, but in the meantime it's good to have a few more game players around the house...
W. Eric Martin
BoardGameGeek's SPIEL '17 Preview is now live! For those who didn't immediately leave to go look at it, a few notes about the preview:
• Currently the SPIEL '17 Preview has "only" 168 titles on it. Only. That's it.
I sent out requests for information to publishers on July 31, and in the subsequent three weeks I added some of the info I received to this preview, but not nearly as much as I had hoped to do. Work on the Gen Con 2017 Preview was the usual throw-everything-at-the-wall-at-the- late-minute experience, the internet in the Gen Con hotel was terrible, and I didn't complete nearly as many Gen Con previews as I had wanted to. Cue this convention's laments. I still have designer diaries in the queue that I had hoped/planned to publish prior to Gen Con, for example, and I apologize to those designers. You'll be hearing from me with new publication dates.
• If you are a publisher who has sent me your SPIEL '17 list, I probably have your info in my inbox. If not, it's in a folder for such things. I'll get to it. You're welcome to poke me should you care to do so.
• As I noted in my preview of the new convention preview tool, comments currently don't work. You can thumb game listings, add private notes, and tag games with a personal priority status, but you can't comment publicly on the listing itself. I'm not sure when we might have comments on the preview as I'm not the tech guy doing such things.
• Users have suggested listing the game designer above the fold, adding different printing options, and doing other things with the preview format. We have read those suggestions, and we'll figure out what we want to do over the next two months prior to SPIEL '17. I want to find some way to indicate the languages included with a particular version of a game, for example, with links to rules being a dream addition. We'll see.
As noted above, the past few weeks have been consumed with Gen Con prep, so I'm running with what I have available to me right now — especially since I promised to publish the SPIEL '17 Preview on Monday, August 21 — rather than waiting until some unknown day in the future. Act now! If needed, update later! I'm trying to do more of that, both in work and in life, and so far so good.
That's it for now. Go have a look SPIEL '17 Preview, subscribe for future additions to the list, and don't burn your eyes out staring at the sun!
W. Eric Martin
When I joined BoardGameGeek in 2011, one of my responsibilities was to continue assembling convention previews for SPIEL, something I'd done on BoardgameNews.com since 2007. In that first year, I also created a preview for Spielwarenmesse, with Gen Con being added to the roster in 2012 and the Origins Game Fair and Tokyo Game Market in 2015. For all of these previews, the idea is to highlight new games that will be shown or sold at these conventions, both to alert those who plan to attend and to let those at home know what they might see in their local stores (or not see given the size of many publishers).
The convention preview format on BGG was a unique creation usable solely for me to do what I needed to do — but having been assembled on the back of the GeekList infrastructure, the preview had some restrictions for both me and users because people wanted to do things with it that GeekLists were not designed to do.
Thanks to several intense weeks following the 2017 Origins Game Fair by Scott, Jordan and Dan, that situation is about to change, and the image below highlights much of what's new about our new convention preview tool:
To start, while the games in the convention preview are sorted alphabetically by publisher by default, you can also sort the games by title, by thumbs, by price, by playing time, by rating, by which were most recently added to the preview, and by priority.
Priority is a new status created for this preview format. You can click one of the four buttons by each game to tag it for yourself as "must have", "interested", "undecided", or "not interested". When you sort the list by priority, all the titles will be sorted in that order, with the games appearing alphabetically by title within each group. (When you sort by anything other than publisher, look for the publisher's name underneath the cover image.)
Priority also comes into play through the use of filters. Click on the "Filters" button, and you'll see this:
So many filters! You can apply one or more filters, and the results will be spit back at you with around 25 titles visible and the rest hidden under a "Show More/Show All" link. (This is how the games are shown without filters as well. We don't automatically show all the titles so as not to kill our servers. Similarly, we're keeping the name, game description, etc. under a "more details" link.) If you highlight "much have", "interested", "undecided", then everything you've tagged as "not interested" will now be invisible for you; if you highlight only "not prioritized", then you'll see only those games you haven't yet classified.
Expansion status is noted on game listings, so you can use filters to show only standalone games should you not care to see expansions in the list. Alternatively you look at nothing but expansions should you want to prioritize all of them relatively quickly. The availability status of a game is also noted within the listing, and you can use the filter to show only those games for sale at the con or those available solely for demo.
This might have been the most common request for convention previews over the years, so I'll highlight this fact: You can use a filter to hide from view games available at a convention solely for demo. Please clap.
You can segment out trick-taking games that include animals or nautical. You can look for games from favored publishers that support five players. You can exclude games from the preview that you already own or have preordered. What's more, by clicking on "Add To", you can interact directly with your existing game collection on BGG. Add something to your wishlist! Take it off the wishlist! Leave a comment for yourself! Change the title! (I'm not sure how changing the title interacts with things that sort by title. I'm guessing that the system will "see" the actual title instead of your placeholder, but I don't know for sure. We're still discovering things as we go along...)
If you click on the arrow underneath a game's thumb count, you'll see different sharing tools, including a grey permalink that when visited shows only that sole title, along with a link that allows a user to see all titles on the convention preview.
Click on the arrow to the right of a publisher listing (when the preview is sorted by publisher), and you'll have a link that shows only games from that publisher. In the current (i.e., soon-to-be-old) convention preview format, each publisher had a listing, but it had no link to share and it was a pain in the butt to edit. So happy to have this option!
Once you start prioritizing titles, you'll have a line at the top of the preview that reads "You have prioritized TK titles in this GeekPreview", along with a "View My Picks" link. Click on that link, and you'll see a list solely of those titles you've prioritized, complete with your name up top:
In essence, "View My Picks" creates autofilters that leave out all "not interested" titles, presenting all the games in a thumbnail format with the "must have" titles coming first. Your username is included in the headline, along with sharing tools should you want to tell your friends what you're thinking about getting at the next con. A link at top of the header lets folks go to the full convention preview should they want to see what you're not getting and make choices of their own.
Did I mention thumbnail format? I did — click the buttons underneath the search box in the preview, and you can alternate between the full list and a thumbnail summary of games showing only cover images, thumbs, and your priority status. (Some people might also use this format to search for games lacking images or saddled with 3D images instead of the more aesthetically pleasing 2D images that tile like a dream and allow me to create thumbnail images for videos. Some...)
Other general notes about this preview tool:
• This tool will not replace the existing Gen Con 2017 Preview. This new convention preview tool will go live on Wednesday, July 26 (if no issues arise in the next few hours), and I'll update both lists over the next three weeks. It's extra work for me, but many of you are already doing stuff on the existing preview, so I'm not going to abandon that.
Instead this window gives us a chance to stress test this new tool before the SPIEL 2017 Preview goes live on Monday, August 21, the day after Gen Con 2017 ends — and at that time, I'll be using only the new tool, not the old. (I'll need to move everything from my WIP SPIEL 2017 Preview, but using this new tool is quicker than what exists now, so that's a plus in the long run.)
• Currently comments cannot be placed on the game listings in the new preview tool. I believe the comments system is being worked on right now, so rather than try to mix old systems with new, we opted to launch this without comments right now. Again, it's a test to ensure the framework is in place, and we'll get a comment system in place later, possibly along with other things, with the biggest item on the wishlist being a preorder system integrated with the BGG marketplace.
• If a game's cover image has a triangle on it, click that triangle and a video will pop up within the preview. BGG attends a lot of conventions and shoots hundreds of game overview videos each year at these shows, with many of these videos giving an early look at games that will be released in the future. This format gives us another way to highlight the material that we've created, including the preview videos that I record at home. (After the video opens, click on the square on the cover image to hide the video and make it stop.)
• In the next couple of weeks, Scott plans to add the ability to print out portions of this preview, thereby allowing you to bring a list customized to your choices to the show in question.
• Filter choices are not persistent. If you create filters, leave the page, then come back, your filters are not remembered. You can bookmark a link to the URL that saves all of your filters. We did this so that people are not surprised to revisit the preview and discover a truncated list or something other than the full boat of what's there.
• You can subscribe to this tool, and you should receive notices when new items are added to the list. We're not sure whether you receive a notice when I update something. Subscribe and find out!
I'll update this post with a link to the new Gen Con 2017 Preview when this tool goes live (and I'll tweet it and post it on Facebook). Please use the feedback link in the bottom right corner of the tool to submit bugs, and please comment on this post with suggestions or feedback. I am super excited about this tool, and I hardly ever get excited about anything, so you can intuit that I think this is a big deal. Scott's already thinking up other ways this tool can be used, some of which he talks about in the demo video below.
Many thanks to Scott, Jordan, and Dan for making this happen!
Update, July 26, 2017: The new Gen Con 2017 Preview is now live! Looking forward to your comments and feedback so that we can fix anything that needs to be fixed in the next three weeks.
W. Eric Martin
BGG's Origins Game Fair 2017 Preview is now live for your viewing pleasure, and while these convention previews normally start small and grow immensely in the weeks leading up to a convention, in this case the 2017 preview already contains 95 titles on it and the Origins 2016 Preview topped out at 110 titles.
What does this mean? Did I somehow hunt down a greater percentage of the titles showing up at Origins 2017 than in previous years? What's more likely to be the case is that a larger number of games than in 2016 will be on hand when Origins opens on June 14 in the Greater Columbus Convention Center. The number of titles being released each year seems to be ever-increasing, and since Gen Con and SPIEL are already packed to the gills, I'm guessing (but open to being wrong) that publishers will spread out their new releases to Origins as well so that everything doesn't get buried in the rush.
If you're a designer or publisher who plans to have new titles on hand at Origins 2017 — whether new releases or prototypes of games to be released in the near future — and your titles aren't on this preview, please email me at the address in the BGG News header and I'll add your titles to this list.
BoardGameGeek will be at Origins 2017 for all five days, and we will livestream game demonstrations and designer interviews from the show for far too many hours each day. We will set up demo times based on what's listed on this preview (and information about other future releases), and I'll publish the interview schedule on Friday, June 9, which is the last day I'll update the Origins 2017 Preview. Only six weeks until we're live in Columbus — yikes!
What are you doing!? I don't even know you!
What does Alfons X. of Castile, Galicia, and León (1221-1284) have to do with gaming? Well, he commissioned the "Book of Games" (Libro de los juegos), which contained game rules, chess problems, and other things and which is considered one of the most important medieval books on the subject of games. Some 730 years later, Laura and Ezequiel Wittner decided to create a game award and called it Premio Alfonso X. In 2017, it will be awarded for the second time. The submission deadline was on January 10, 2017, and the jury has started its work.
What's special about this prize, you may ask? Aren't there game awards in countless countries? Every once in a while we hear that one famous game or another is now also game of the year in Finland, Portugal, or San Marino. These awards usually aim at recommending the best games to gamers who aren't spending all their free time on BGG anyway. It is rare that a game wins a national award which the community hasn't heard about before.
But when I tell you the titles competing for the Premio Alfonso X in 2017, I will assume that hardly any of you has heard of even a single one of these games. Here we go:
• Ciudadano Ilustre
• Código Enigma
• Conejos en el Huerto
• Cultivos Mutantes
• La Macarena
There is a simple reason for this: The Premio Alfonso X will be awarded only to Argentinian designers (or those who have lived in Argentina for at least two years). The point is therefore not to introduce the best of the international gaming scene to an Argentinian audience, but to promote local design and publication efforts so that Argentinian games can compete with those from the outside world. Before now, domestic games often went entirely unnoticed, partly because the production quality and artwork were decidedly mediocre. One geek wrote that if I saw the component quality of the Argentinian edition of Catan, I would cry. For those who want to have a look themselves, here is an unboxing video. You can admire the sturdy box at about 7:45 and later the precision of the tile cutting. This needs to improve, so there is a special award for overall production value as well.
Lastly, games are admitted only if they state the names of the designers and artists — which is somewhat reminiscent of the situation in Germany thirty years ago (but the Spiel des Jahres jury didn't mention the designers in the first years, either).
So if there is a prize aimed at promoting domestic games, it doesn't seem like some nationalistic nonsense, but like an honest effort to make gaming more popular in Argentina. If I weren't from Germany, a country with a strong gaming scene, I might be grateful for something like that over here.
You might get an idea of the size of the Argentinian gaming scene when you hear that the nine titles competing for this year's prize aren't the finalists or anything, but the entire field of contestants. (Well, apart from four submissions in a separate category — games with a circulation of fewer than fifty copies — which are essentially prototypes.) In other words, that list more or less comprises what was published in Argentina by local designers in 2016. I assume many of you have purchased more than nine games in 2017 already...
There's probably still a long way to go until the vision of one Argentinian publisher comes true and gaming becomes as popular as football, but you have to start somewhere. All of these contestants have their own BGG entries, so let me give you a quick introduction:
Chernobyl is a cooperative game in which you try to rescue survivors from the destroyed reactor. To win the game, you have to bring them to the helipad. There is a competitive mode as well. Chernobyl was designed by Gonzalo Emanuel Aguetti and published by Yamat.
Ciudadano Ilustre ("Famous Citizen") was crowdfunded, easily breaking its modest target of $737. It's a trivia game with geography questions mostly about Argentina, but apparently also about some other places. The designers are Vera Mignaqui and Eugenia Pérez, with the latter doing the artwork, too.
Código Enigma ("Enigma Code") is set in WWII and of course it's about deciphering German codes. To do that, the players collect card sets and try to prevent others from doing the same. Apparently the Germans are also interfering at times. Designers are Joel Pellegrino Hotham and Silvina Fontenla, who also did the artwork. It was published by JuegosdeMesa.com.ar.
In Conejos en el Huerto ("Rabbits in the Orchard"), the players move their two rabbits through the variably set-up garden and try to collect valuable vegetables. Their position determines which type of vegetable they can reach. A watchdog is doing its best to stop them. This game was designed by Luis Fernando Marcantoni, with artwork by Celeste Barone. It was published by Ruibal Hermanos S.A.
Mutant Crops ("Cultivos Mutantes") is a short worker placement game by Sebastian Koziner that's illustrated by Rocio Ogñenovich. You use your actions to plant and harvest mutant crops and collect points. It was published as a cooperation between El Dragón Azul and OK Ediciones. An English version has been announced by Atheris Games.
Dinosaurus is a microgame with just 36 cards. Dinosaurs from different eras run around on a fantasy island and fight for food. Their favorite snacks are plants, mammals, and each other. It was designed and illustrated by Amelia Pereyra and Matías Esandi and published by Rewe Juegos.
La Macarena is a witch or magician looking for a new apprentice. The players collect cards with four elements, and whoever has the most of one kind can eventually exchange them for amulets with which they can gain La Macarena's favor. The game was designed and published by five people under the group name Maldón, with illustrations by Alberto Montt. Two of the designers were at the Spielwarenmesse 2017 toy fair in Nürnberg, Germany, so this is the only candidate game that I have played myself.
With Venecitas, Joel Pellegrino Hotham has a second game in the race (and he did the illustrations together with Silvina Fontenla as well). I couldn't really figure out what exactly Venecitas means, but the goal is to collect colors. You roll a color die, may turn it by one edge, and then everyone gets the color facing them, while the active player also gets the color on top. Certain color combos can be exchanged against victory points. Venecitas was also published by JuegosdeMesa.com.ar.
ZUC! is a party game designed and self-published by Agustin Carpaneto in which you try not to draw a bomb card (because if you do, you lose). When it's your turn, you can play cards to shield you from an explosion, force others to draw additional cards, or avoid drawing any yourself. Illustrations are by Mariana Ponte.
Those who would like to know more about the small print run category can check out the respective BGG entries for Arte de Batalla, Cerrojo, Kallat and Star Warships.
Who Will Win?
There are several votes taken into consideration to determine the winners. A jury of eight people has the biggest weight in the decision, and it includes a few well-known BGG users like lolcese, Mos Blues, and Pastor_Mora as well as last year's winner Bruss Brussco (whose "take that" game KINMO has become a family favorite in our house). Thirteen Argentinian gaming clubs also cast their votes (ensuring that the games get played by many people in the first place), and there will be some kind of public Facebook vote as well.
The award ceremony will take place at the Geek Out Festival in Buenos Aires on May 6, 2017, where more than 1,500 people are expected.
If you read Spanish, you can learn a lot about the Argentinian gaming scene on the Geek Out website. I find this initiative very impressive and commendable.
Note: If you have anything to share about new games from Latin America, please contact me. I will try to write about these games once in a while.
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