Archive for Kevin Whitmore
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Whoosh! There went 2016! I may still get in a bit more gaming this year, but that won't stop me from posting my review of what occupied my game table in 2016:
Airlines Europe - Yeah, I know. This isn't new. You will find this a lot with my play habits. But I finally tried this, so it is "new" to me. This is the sort of game I admired back around '99 when I first found "German" games. I did enjoy playing this. But it isn't the sort of game that calls my name anymore. However, friends and my wife liked it. So it may endure in the collection, at least for a while.
Flamme Rouge - Just got this one, so just one play so far. I like racing games. I suspect this may be a racing game for folks who don't like racing games. It's fun enough. But super simple and quite short. My favorite racing games tend to have a little more complexity.
Scythe - I decided to jump in on this one. And we are playing it enough that I went ahead and got the expansion too. It's been popular with one of my game clubs, and I look forward to more plays.
Triumph & Tragedy - So far I have played most of one 1 game. It has some complexity, and runs long. I'm willing to give it another go. But for the time commitment, I suspect I will opt for 18xx more often than not.
A Feast for Odin - This is a good game. But I am not sure I actually like it. I just played once, and cannot point to any problem with the game. All of these "Harvest" games from Uwe work just fine. But I own Agricola, and Caverna. I am likely content to keep playing them (likely Caverna).
Orleans- I enjoyed my first play of this. A friend of mine describes this as 'Dominion done right'. I hadn't put that together, and really need a second look at this.
Forged in Steel - Wow! Best new game I have enjoyed in a long time. I just turned in my review for Gamers Alliance. The game is a "take that" sort of game where you build the city of Pueblo, Colorado. Wonderfully flavorsome.
La Granja - almost doesn't qualify. I played a learning session only. I hope to get a real game in soon.
Legends of Andor - Not sure about this one yet. The hope is to play this with my wife and another couple. We had some fun, but failed on the first quest. Will we get back to it?
2019: The Arctic - I had fun playing this. But boy was this an aggressive game. I picked on everyone, leading for much of the game. But I went down in flames. This game may be too aggressive for me.
Reiner Knizia's Decathlon - I printed this out in honor of the Olympics. We played it a few times and it was popular. Very approachable for casual game players.
Star Wars Rebellion - I played on a friend's copy. This was a lot of fun! The theme, the materials and the game play fit together beautifully. I'd be happy to play again.
Nina & Pinta - I always have high hopes for Ragnar Brothers games. But after the first play I notice I have not been rushing back to this one... The theme is kind of weird. I do want to play again, but it was not a rousing success the first time out.
Trapper-Company - I collect games from Historien Spiele Galerie. Trapper was one of those games I had been searching for for years. So I was very excited to translate it and give it a try. Hey! It almost works!
Tin Goose - I like this odd duck. It is an auction game, with sharpened elbows. I like the "undesirable conditions" that each airline starts with, and will wish to shed.
Mars-Odyssee 2010 - Another Historien Spiele Galerie game. One I thought had never been produced. (I saw a flyer for it. But never saw it mentioned or viewed in the wild.) But I found one for sale. A vertical game! I'm not so sure it works, but it is something to view!
Arkwright- Boy I wanted this to work. But it wasn't all that well received at one of my game clubs. I have hopes at the second club. handsome game.
18Africa- I pnp'ed this. Wonderful! It took the 1829 Mainline system and refined into into something better. A bit long, but worth it.
Square Mile - Heh, from 1962. But my first play, and astonishingly fun.
I played other new/new to me games, but I think that's the more remarkable stuff.
Owning a collection of games allows you to revisit games whenever you can convince your friends not to play a new game!
Mord im Arosa - Novel game, which you play for the experience. I like how careful listening is a key part of the game.
The Awful Green Things from Outer Space - Still fun. Still silly.
Crokinole- Tremendous closer. Love my custom board.
1830- Years later, and I still aspire to get good at this game.
Big Boss - My favorite Acquire variant.
Don Pepe - 6 mob families decide to dine together. What could go wrong?
Oswald B. Lord's Game of Politics - Ancient election game from the 30's, where you push pins into the board. Nice dice-based game.
El Grande - My first "10". Always glad to get it back on the table.
Tanz der Hornochsen - For some reason we never play 6 nimmt, but instead opt for this boardgame version of it. We love it!
1860- Another 18xx game I love getting back to. In many ways I think this game took 1825/1829 and refined it into something better.
2038- My original 18xx game. Still a great game, but long.
Perikles- I don't ever hear much about this older Martin Wallace design. But we enjoy the unique blend of civic competition paired with external wars.
Um Reifenbreite - Nice team based bike-race game that we keep coming back to.
Turfmaster- Another great race game. I love how the play oscillates between cards and dice.
Whacky Wit - This is just a joy to play, and demonstrates that roll and move can provide an exciting chase game.
2016 provided a lot of gaming fun. I look forward to what 2017 may bring.
Over the past year, and before, I have noticed a lot of my BGG friends spend time and energy tracking their unplayed games, with an eye towards "checking them off" their list. One friend ensures he plays every game in his collection on a fairly frequent basis.
In the past I tried tracking my unplayed games. But it felt forced, and I eventually quit. And when I really consider it, I don't mind owning unplayed/underplayed games. They are there on my shelf - I can consider them whenever I want. If I disposed of them, I might not miss them. But then again...
Consider a gold mining company. Do they mind that they have un-mined gold? Sure, they want the gold to be mined. But the un-mined gold is still valued, and held in 'reserve'. I propose viewing un(der)played games, at least for me and my collection, in this way. So why own a game you don't actively spend time playing?
Collector tendencies - This has been a trap for me, and I still haven't entirely released my foot from the jaws of this. I have enjoyed assembling collections. Unfortunately, I have had less enjoyment maintaining collections. So, for me, this is a known source of unplayed games, and I may still pursue assembling collections. But I try to think twice anymore before just adding to my collection.
Nostalgia - Another semi-trap. But I view this category a bit more like keeping things in your home that you just like. I have a lot of old books I have not read for years. I'm comfortable having them on my shelf. Some of my under-played games actually were played or at least examined, but long ago. For example, I spent many long-ago happy hours with SPI's "War of the Ring". I never did play it. But maybe I will someday!
Irreplacable - (or damn hard anyways) - If I were to sell many of my unplayed games, they wouldn't bring much money, but might truly be hard to ever find again. So the relative low reward of disposal isn't worth the higher frustration of never being able to revisit a game I might wish to. And I learned this lesson the hard way. I have re-purchased many a game I sold off too hastily. But sometimes, I have never been successful in finding the game a second time.
Inertia - Some games are very tough to sell. They don't carry much value, and I enjoy owning them enough to spare the space. For example, I own a copy of Suzerain by Tom Lehmann. It goes for less than $10, and I doubt many sales are happening. Why bother? I haven't played this game in a long time. But it was pleasant, and maybe I'll eventually give it another go.
In summary, I am content to own a "low performance" collection of games. I manage inventories for a living. I don't need to ensure my game collection has the appropriate turns, "ROI", or have it perform well against some other measurable standard. It just needs to allow me and my friends to have fun with it. As long as I have games my friends enjoy playing, the "dustier" portions of the collection can provide their own sort of non-gaming satisfaction.
A few years ago I published a geeklist where I listed every Avalon Hill game that was published by The Avalon Hill Game Co./Monarch Avalon Hill. (I omitted the games released under the AH brand, as owned by Hasbro.)
You can see that list here:
Avalon Hill, RANKED BY BGG
It remains my most successful geeklist. Because I couldn't display the rankings precisely the way I wanted, I used a manual sort to the listings. Over the years a few geeks have continued to sprinkle comments on this list, and the rankings continue to adjust. I try to thumb most every comment on the list, and periodically visit it to ensure the rankings don't get too far out of whack.
Avalon Hill was a great company. While surely this is just my personal assessment, I think most older geeks will agree that AH cast a long shadow. Back in its heyday it was a major hobby game publisher, back when there were not too many others.
The wargames were their best known category. But I really appreciated their range of other games. I'm not a strong hex and counter fan, but I sure enjoyed several of their wargames anyways - games like Britannia, Kingmaker, History of the World, and of course Civilization or even Age of Renaissance. (Amazing how many of those were reprints of European games.)
Anyways, I have come to hold in great fondness the place Avalon Hill held in the hobby. There was nothing like them before, or after. And as I have maintained my geeklist, I have enjoyed seeing the number of comments where people have fondly recalled one of the games on the list.
I have been inspired to pick up some of the games so admired. Oh I know, often it is just nostalgia talking. But even so, I can enjoy these games from my armchair. Reading the rules, examining the materials, and considering these older games is some fun. Will I actually play them? Well, I have hopes. But I won't take offense if players prefer to play some of the nice new games available. Somehow having some of these old games, makes this old gamer happy.
There are many gamers who influence me. But two people especially cast a shadow that I cannot ignore.
#1 is Rick Berthold. He has hosted a game night pretty much every week his entire adult life. I met Rick in 1988, and have been attending games at his home most every week of my life ever since. Rick is best known as one of the authors of Republic of Rome.
#2 is Joe Huber. Joe doesn't need much of an introduction to many BGG users. Joe is one of my favorite trail buddies here on BGG, and also through other electronic correspondence. He investigates many corners of the hobby, which I enjoy vicariously experiencing through his writings. We also enjoy gaming together when the chance aligns. 2014 has been a good year for us, as we have played three times, in three different states.
In April, Joe visited the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester, NY. I didn't go with him. But I was around him the evening after he concluded his visit. he was positively vibrating with excitement. He and Chris Kovac had discovered that Acquire had NOT been published in 1962, as previously believed. Since the 1st edition Acquire sets from 3M have a copyright of 1962 printed upon them, it is understandable how BGG and other sources listed Acquire as a game released in 1962.
But in fact, Joe reported that he had read Sid Sackson's diary entry where he had signed the contract for Acquire. This was in 1963. Further investigation led to discovering that 3M printed the first edition games on August 15, 1964.
So last weekend was the real 50th anniversary of Acquire. So Joe, two other friends, and I played. And Joe even brought an original 1st edition copy, the one with the lovely wooden tiles you see at the top of this entry.
Back in 2012, when we all believed Acquire had been released in 1962, Joe mounted a quest - to play Acquire 50 times in 2012. And he did it too. I played it once with Joe in 2012. And I have to admit the game still was a deflector to me. I didn't really grok the game. And this despite having played it a few times over the years.
I admire Joe, and enjoy corresponding with him. But we often diverge on what makes a game good. We overlap too. But we diverge enough, that I just chalked his love for Acquire as one of those divergences. Not too surprisingly, I didn't play Acquire in 2013. But what I did do, was play Big Boss a number of times. Wolfgang Kramer is the author of Big Boss, and right at the start of the rule book he announces that Big Boss is his homage to Acquire.
My several plays of Big Boss must have unlocked something in my brain. Because up in Denver this past weekend, I felt like I finally understood how to play Acquire effectively. I know that I played the best game of Acquire I have ever played when I played against Joe and our mutual friends. Oh, I still made some mistakes, but I was in the zone! (Even so, Joe won our game - but I made him work for it.)
Just tonight I attended my usual weekly game at Rick's house. I mentioned the back-story of the publication date of Acquire. Rick is a hardcore Acquire player. For decades he has hosted a weekly session of Acquire with the same men. (I am not one of the "Acquire Boys".) Rick, and a mutual friend, wrote a strategy article for Acquire for The General years ago. Tonight, I asked Rick how many games of Acquire he has played in this life. He paused, and told me that it had to be in the thousands, perhaps 10,000 plays.
And I then realized. Acquire is a great game. Two of my gaming mentors and opinion leaders admire the game. And just recently I had more fun playing Acquire than I had ever expected to. So 50 years later, I am finally an Acquire fan - and just tonight I agreed to buy a beautiful copy of the first 3M edition of Acquire, with those lovely wooden tiles you see at the top of this entry.
This evening a couple of friends came over, and allowed me to select which games we should play. With their consent I introduced them to two older hobby games:
Wabanti is a game from 1974, although me edition is not quite that old. It was published by Franckh in 1986. This is a game with no theme, and only a very thin veneer of motif. The playing field resembles a honeycomb, and large hex nuts are the "playing stones":
The whole idea is to roll dice, jump the stones according to the rules in a way that you connect the mass to your "side" of the hexagonal game board. I wanted to play this as a three player game, as I had played it only 2-player previously. In theory, I had expected the game to change from a 2p "tug of war" into a three-player "swirl".
Unfortunately, one of my opponents had terrible luck with the dice, and was shorted dice for much of the game. I came oh-so-close, about three times, but could never quite finish my opponents, when finally my LHO got the needed liberties to win the game.
Wabanti took about 30 minutes to play, All of us really liked it. But agreed that it occupies a strange intersection of gaming. The analyze and move portion of the game appeals to the abstract gamer. But the game has huge swings of luck with the rolling of five dice to set the available moves each turn.
For our second game, I brought out Janus, a game originally from 1973. My edition is another Franckh release, this time from 1988. This is another game with no real theme, just a tiny bit of motif. Janus is a Roman god. But the only real tie to theme is that Janus has two faces, which set which directions you can move in.
Janus has players moving around a large field covered with movement tiles that have movement values from 1 - 5, various colors, and various liberties as to which direction you can move. Underneath the tiles are quadrants that can be claimed by the lucky player who removed the last tile covering a quadrant.
There is a lot of chaos in this game, as players are all trying to look 3+ moves ahead striving to move their pawns. You simultaneously want to clear quadrants and claim Janus heads (which enhance your movement possibilities). So simple, but seeing the moves is tricky, and then coping with the changes wrought by the other players adds to the already complicated task.
We liked this one so much we decided to play again.
I've written before about all the games I have purged from my collection. But I now wish to write about a related phenomena - the boomerang game. SOmetimes I purge a game, just to decide on reacquiring it later. Often the decision to reacquire happens years later. So I thought I'd explore this list of games:
Ab die Post! - I disposed of this game because it was too big of a box for too small of a game. I also disliked the break in theme, repairing your airplane engine - while flying - made no sense to me. Also it was part of my Goldsieber Big Box collection. When I decided against keeping that collection intact, this game departed. But in 2013 I was finally able to play the game Entenrallye. I had a marvelous time with Entenrallye, and the one game it reminded me of was - Ab die Post! So I decided it was time to revisit this game.
Advanced Civ/Civ - When I first got enthused about Euros in 1999, I disposed of several older long duration games. I couldn't ever see going back to those old games. But a few years further into my hobby, I realized I missed having some of those older games. It was a dear trade, but I got a copy of Advanced Civ/Civ back on my shelf. Sadly I still don't play this. But I'm keeping it.
The American Goldrush 1849 - Ahhh... Jean du Poel. I have pursued his games for many years. I lapsed in my fidelity to his games for a couple of years. I am now back in reacquisition mode. The American Goldrush 1849 was relatively easy to re-find. Some of the others I let go may never be reacquired.
Ben Hur - see above. Another Jean du Poel.
Britannia - I'm now on my third copy. I had the Avalon Hill copy from the early days. It was purged to make room for Euros. But when the re-issue came out I found myself tracking it down. We played it a few times, and I was reminded I really do like this game. More recently, I traded away the re-issue to go back to the AH edition. While many would say the re-issue is a superior edition, I have the most fondness for the earlier AH edition, the one I learned the game on. I also have the Ireland expansion from The General magazine which works with the AH edition best. Finally, since I rarely play this game, I appreciate the smaller box the AH edition comes in.
Circus Maximus - I traded my first copy of this away for a Euro that didn't endure for me. So when another copy came my way, I decided I should keep it.
Domino Knobelspass - I played this solitaire. Eventually I felt I had played it out, and traded it away. A few years later I realized I would enjoy playing through it again. It is small enough I may just keep it. I think I can set this aside for a few years, and still enjoy solving the puzzles again after a long break.
Don Pepe - I think the theme to this game is sublime. Some friends played on my copy and just loved the game. I ended up giving them the game. I was content to simply play on their copy occasionally. But when another local friend was selling his copy, I decided I should add it back into my collection.
Dragon Pass - I've owned this game 3 times now. I even had the companion game, Nomad Gods at one point. I really want to like this game. It is set in the world of Glorantha,the setting for Rune Quest, a rpg I played many years ago. But I doubt I ever learn this game from the rule book. I gave my French edition (and Nomad Gods) to a friend. I am hoping he teaches me the game someday.
Empires of the Ancient World - Martin Wallace has a knack for crafting games that tease and tantalize. This is a game with a tremendous theme. The whole idea of using cards to build custom armies and then duking it out with the other players seems great. I've never had a successful session with this game. I gave my first copy to a friend who wanted it. Right after a flopped session on another friend's copy, I ended up getting my second copy. I paused. Do I want this game? So far the answer is "yes". We'll see after I try playing it again.
Die Erbraffer - Years ago I played this game with Mark Johnson. I had fun, and Mark ended up selling me his copy. We played it a few times before I decided it was too light, and had some problems. But a different friend was doing a purge of his collection, and years later I decided it was time to try it again, perhaps even rewriting the rules to fix the issues. This is still on my "to do" list.
Greyhounds - Greyhounds was brought in, tried once, and disposed of. But as it happened, we played the basic game. I somehow learned that there was an advanced game, "The Bookie Game", which we had failed to try. So I reacquired it, and we played the Bookie Game. Wow! Tremendously fun! This is a keeper.
Heimlich & Co. - Early on in my obsession, I decided to get all of the Spiel des Jahre winners. Heimlich & Co. was played a little bit, but set aside in my quest for more advanced games. Nowadays, I am more in favor of games I can easily explain, and have casual players enjoy. Heimlich is a game with lots going on without lots of rules explanation. Winner.
Im Zeichen des Kreuzes - Wallenstein got me interested in the cube tower. I enjoy seeing how new game ideas were developed. So I opted to get the original cube tower game, "In the sign of the Cross". This game has a few issues. Players are recreating a crusade to the Holy lands. Yikes! How did this get released in PC-astute Germany? But the graphic execution is just lovely, and I enjoy the unexpected theme.
In Teufels Küche - The game that inspired this article. I've just arranged to import another copy of this game. The game itself is average - good. But the toy value, and the silly theme raise the game experience. I know going in that this is not a strategic game. But I have missed having some of the quirky games that have passed through my hands over the years. I am also considering reacquiring Die Oster Insel, the old one where the Easter Island statues race.
Die Mauer - Just another older Euro that I want to revisit. I did notice that this and other older games are getting harder to find. This may cause me to be a bit slower dumping lesser-used games. Will finding it again be too difficult? Then perhaps it needs to stay in the collection...
Meander - I sometimes wonder what I was thinking when I dispose of a game. This is such a case. This is a delightful exercise in physics. I'm so glad to have it back in my collection, that I now own two copies, which opens up some possible variant plays.
Nur Peanuts - Here's a game that is a bit hard to get to the table, which is why it was purged. But I really do like it. However, opinions vary. Nur Peanuts has elements of Can't Stop and Monopoly embedded in it. The game has a feeling that it might be spinning out of control. I think that's what I like about it.
Romeo und Julia - Another Jean du Poel. But this time, I am pleased to have the edition I ended up with. I had the canvas bag edition, and my second time by I now have the wooden box with wooden cards edition.
Scotland Yard - I think I gave my original copy to family. I eventually wanted to revisit this game due to my first play of "Fury of Dracula". Fury of Dracula is a fine game, but I found myself wanting to revisit the basic mechanisms from Scotland Yard. I don't know how much the game club will be interested in playing Scotland Yard with me. But it is a classic and I'm glad to have it back in my collection.
Stephensons Rocket - I played this a few times when it was new. But never really bonded with it. But more recently when a copy crossed my path, I decided to buy it and see if there was something there for me. I think so. I need a couple more plays to cement what I think about this game.
Vino - I disposed of this because it had not been played or enjoyed much. But I decided to give it another chance. So far we haven't gotten to it. But I remain interested.
War at Sea - When i disposed of my older games this one was a casualty. But a friend gave me another copy a couple of years ago, and I was reminded I like this dicefest sea battle game. I played it with a friend and we had a good time. So maybe it will see some more use.
War of the Ring (SPI) - SPI games always scared me back in the day. But I really love Middle Earth, and so I got this game back when it was new. Of course I could never figure out how to play it, and eventually it was purged. I now own it again, and do not expect to play it. But it is a beloved artifact of my youth.
White Lady - I tried it. it was quite bad. But years later I decided to get a big collection of the Franckh/Edition Perlhuhn games. White Lady was back! I still think the game has issues. But I love the graphic design, and we even played it on a Halloween, and had some fun with it. I'm still intent on keeping my Franckh collection intact, and now am even more interested in Reinhold Wittig's games. So I suspect this is now a keeper.
Yacht Race - This is a lovely artifact from 1961. It is a beautiful game to play upon. The ships have weighted and felted brass bases. We enjoyed it, but I foolishly sold my original copy. I finally retrieved this error, and got another copy for the collection.
So that's a lot of back and forth. Foolish you might say. I could have saved a lot of bother by just keeping all these games from the get go. And part of me agrees with that assessment. But I also know that maintaining a collection of about 300 games fits my tastes. I don't want the collection to get oversized, it complicates selecting what to play. But I have also enjoyed leveraging unused games into funds to bring in new-to-me games.
However, I am noticing that fewer "new" games are appealing to me anymore. I suppose I am getting set in my ways, and a bit nostalgic. So the drive to play older games, games I have some familiarity with, is stronger than checking out the games at the top of the Hotness.
Wed Mar 12, 2014 12:23 pm
I backed the latest edition of Ogre on Kickstarter as soon as I heard about it (last year). I have a long history with this game. I recall seeing the old Metagaming editions for sale, but never got around to buying them when suddenly they disappeared. I finally bought my first copy of Ogre when Steve Jackson Games released it in a sturdy Pocket Box edition. Over the years, I've owned many editions of Ogre and GEV. So backing the Kickstarter was an easy decision.
But I've just listed my Kickstarter edition up for trade. I spent 2 evenings assembling the 3D Ogres, and punching out the counters. I now wish I hadn't as the longer I've looked at this giant box, I come to resent how freaking big it is. I will never take it anywhere. I can barely walk through a doorway with it.
And then there are the weird design decisions that were made. Why are the counters wedge shaped? Why are the Ogres WAY TOO LARGE?
But I have a plan. I was so enthusiastic with the Kickstarter that I ordered a second copy, (which is the Designer's Edition, not the Kickstarter Edition). I also ordered the retro counters.
So my tentative plan is to open the 2nd game, and scavenge the maps and dice. I have not yet figured out what replacement box will be best. But I think I will boil this game down to a more reasonable sized box, that houses the very nice maps and the cool retro counters. Then I can part out the counter sheets to folks who want them. And ditch the stupid big box...
Alternately, I suppose I could dispose of the sealed copy and part out my Kickstarter edition. But I suspect people who want the Kickstarter factions and Ogre's would prefer to get the Kickstarter box complete, albeit that my copy is punched and assembled?
So perhaps a poll is in order:
Given that Kevin has decided the new Ogre edition is just too big, and that he intends to part out one of his two copies, should he:
In retrospect, I made a mistake. The game I wanted would have been more like a large GMT box (or 2) with the classic counters and mounted mapboards. Fortunately I can make this happen, if rather inefficiently.
Wow, turns out Jean du Poel released a game back in 2002 that I never found out about: Mars Odyssee-2010. I had an advertising circular for this at one time. But I assumed it had never been produced. Tonight I found a site where it had been rated by a few folks. Here is a photo of the box:
It is likely an unfulfillable quest to track down this game. But I am tempted! For the rest of this blog I will talk about my ups and downs of following Jean du Poel's published games.
I have a fatal attraction for the games of Jean du Poël, especially if they were released by his private game company Historien Spiele Galerie (Historien Spielegalerie). Back when I started in this hobby (late 90's), his games were mentioned in tantalizing snippets and made especially enticing due to their "Spiel Kunst" ethos.
Game materials were hand made. Faux leather play mats with silkscreened art. More silkscreening for the game cards or tiles. Impressive wooden caskets to house them in.
Mare Mediterraneum was the 6th game ever loaded into the BGG database.
I've sought out a lot of his games over the years. And in recent years I have been gradually letting some of them go. But I still have a few:
along with Mare Mediterraneum this gives me a Roman trio of strategy games. Although I did let Ben Hur go, perhaps that was a mistake.
I have a couple of others still in the collection: Soldateska is a more modest production, being a card game. But the cards do look good:
and Aeronautika is just amazing to behold:
But I have purged several games of his. As much as I love the Spiel Kunst, often the games themselves just don't work too well.
Kolonial Afrika was perhaps the hardest one to give up. Check it out:
Die Schätze des Ali Baba was also elaborate, but I failed to take some pictures of it while I owned it.
Teutopolis which was redone by Kosmas into Wettstreit der Baumeister was monochromatic, so I can understand why people might prefer the full color treatment kosmos gave the game.
And yet even after purging all thos games, I still find myself curious about what I have missed. Surely many of his games lack an interesting theme. Ruhrpott-Tour has absolutely no pull for me. But his Atlantis and Parthenon games appeal.
And now I know that his space adventure game actually was produced... I would be tempted to go to Essen again, if I knew he would be exhibiting.
For the past month, Steve Jackson Games has been leading a very interesting Kickstarter effort around the old game of Ogre. This has been fascinating to watch, and I decided to back their project.
I have fond memories of playing Ogre back in my youth. I still own the black pocket box editions of Ogre and G.E.V., along with the various supplements, including a first edition Ogre Book. I even own the semi-related Battlesuit game, and a copy of Ogre Miniatures. (Although I did sell off my metal miniatures years ago, accepting that I was never going to actually paint or use them.)
So I am their prime target in releasing a big edition. I will admit that I backed the project, somewhat despite some of their decisions around this giant edition. I guess the box is as large as a zipcode and weighs roughly the equivalent of a Mack truck. They also decided to make the Ogres 2 hexes large, even though that is completely wrong with the scale. Then they opted to make the counters some sort of weird flying wedge shape. Wow. I suppose this is all fine, just not what I would have asked for. In my heart of hearts I would have asked for some sort of GMT type of treatment, a nice box, filled with square counters, although I do appreciate the mounted mapboards.
Ah well, I'm not really all that worked up about the design decisions. Different strokes for different folks...
But I do want to comment about the whole stretch goal thing on Kickstarter. This has proven very interesting. I signed up early and have been pleased and surprised by how much extra junk is going to come with my purchase. At some point the folks at SJG announced they needed to stop adding stuff to the box so that they could work out the shipping details. (Especially for non-USA folks!)
This is where I find it has gotten especially interesting.
A number of their later goals have revolved around, "Order XXX dollars, and we will do YYY." I find this bizarre. At $300k they agreed to release a computer version of Ogre. At $400k they agreed to produce a new pocket version of the game. At $450k they agreed to relaunch Ogre Miniatures. At $550k they agreed to hire a new employee and have Ogre become a main part of their product development.
To my way of thinking, they are now making decisions around how to operate their company based on faulty logic. Can a company really count on long term support from gamers who are possibly just making a nostalgia purchase?
Oh I might buy the computer game, and I am likely to buy expansions. But I'm not going to repeat my purchases of miniatures - I know they are not for me. Each gamer will have their own answers to the future purchases. But I find it weird that Steve Jackson Games is making management decisions around certain financial thresholds. I suppose it makes some sense. But, really? Wouldn't you want to assess the amount of labor/reward this effort yields?
6th edition represents a reprinting of pretty much all prior work done in the Ogre universe. Older players like me are going to take advantage of this opportunity - especially as at one point it sounded like this was going to be the last chance. I have my doubts that future sales could as easily come. This 6th edition is feeding pent up demand. There seems much less assurance that future demand will be so robust.
So I salute Steve Jackson and his game company. Its great to finally once again care about one of their current products. I wish them great success with the future efforts to support the Ogre product line. But I would also tell the new Ogre line editor at SJG to learn to speak Munchkin.
So a while back I sought out and have now collected nearly all the Franckh pre-Kosmos games. Apart from a few dreary exceptions, I got all of the cool looking games they produced, except for the extremely rare and very-expensive Big Boss. I know of one copy for sale at £250, something like $400 – whoof!
So what does a collector do? Well, I perked up with interest when I noticed the pieces used in one of the other Franckh games I got, Terra Turrium, uses the exact same pieces as Big Boss. Oh there is the detail that the Big Boss corporations have special stickers on eight of the blocks, but otherwise – exactly the same building pieces! And Terra Turrium has enough of them too. Big Boss has 100 building blocks, eight of which are specially stickered. Terra Turrium has 100 identical building blocks. So a bit of labeling and eight of them could serve as the special corporation toppers. Promising!
Another nice touch is that Big Boss uses the same colored sticks as player flags that Terra Turrium does, Nice!
Big Boss also has a counter and 7 shares for each of the eight businesses. This seems trivially easy for me to make some homemade versions. But as so often happens with my idle plans of action, I hit a slight snag and had not yet solved it, when I got distracted…
The snag was the board… I took a look at the pictures here on BGG, and deduced that the board used for Big Boss was not going to be able to be recreated using the Terra Turrium board. The Big Boss board has a sequence of 72 spaces, that ramble about in an eccentric path.
The key point is the longest straight path is 12 spaces long. The Terra Turrium board is a 10 x 10 grid, and it is also raised so that the blocks nest nicely on their spots. Not unsolveable, but enough to slow me down.
The distraction: an online friend of mine decided to sell off his copy of Alcazar. Alcazar is a 2009 release that was intended as an update to Big Boss. However, it is a serious departure from the original game. The theme has shifted from sleek business buildings to rustic castle building.
Further, the game play was significantly altered, the shares were eliminated, and replaced by nobles to place in the castles. I went back and forth on whether to get this game, but ultimately crumbled and got it.
So now I am examining Alcazar, and evaluating what to do. The most obvious idea is to play it as written. The second thought is to play the enclosed “New Big Boss” game enclosed as a variant within it. The only barrier to that is that the game is entirely in German, but this will not stop me, I can do translation work when motivated. A third option is to follow Joe Huber’s guide to How to play Big Boss (or something very similar) with a copy of Alcazar, as posted here on BGG. And a fourth option would be to use the Terra Turrium pieces on the Alcazar board to actually play Big Boss as written.
Four options! Sounds good, but which to do first? Often if a game doesn’t go over well, it can be harder to get it back on the table for a second chance. I’m likely to go with option 1 or option 4. In considering option 4, I have realized that I would still be doing a slight variant. The Alcazar board is very close to the Big Boss route of wandering spaces. But it is not identical.
(note how Big Boss has the first lane run from 1-12, while Alcazar runs from 1-11.)
I am still evaluating, but I don’t think this slight shifting of corners would pose a big change to the play of the game. On the bright side, the Terra Turrium pieces fit perfectly onto the Alcazar spaces.
Oh! One more detail – Big Boss uses a deck of 90 cards containing 72 ground plots (1-72) and 18 Story cards. Unfortunately the cards from Alcazar do not support this, as they have given the Tower cards (which correspond to Big Boss’s Story cards) a different back. Fortunately I own a 6 nimmt deck, and can use that to support playing Big Boss with a deck of 90 cards, all with the same back.
So it would seem I am finally ready to play Big Boss: I will use an Alcazar board, playing pieces from Terra Turrium, shares and counters that are home made, and cards from a 6 nimmt deck!
God, I hope I like it.
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