W. Eric Martin
• A mere day after I finally got off the pot and posted shortlists for the 38th Annual Origins Awards – information available since mid-December 2011, mind you – the Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design announced the nominees for the Awards. Envious scene-stealers, the lot of them!
How are the nominees chosen? Retailers who attended the GAMA Trade Show in mid-March 2012 voted for their favorite titles from the ten included on each shortlist and the five biggest vote-getters in each category are the nominees that will be voted on by attendees of the 2012 Origins Game Fair and announced on June 2. In the categories of interest to BGG readers, the nominees are:
Best Board Game
-----• Automobile (Mayfair Games)
-----• Dungeons & Dragons: Conquest of Nerath (Wizards of the Coast)
-----• Hibernia (Closet Nerd Games)
-----• High Noon Saloon (Slugfest Games)
-----• Pastiche (Gryphon Games)
Best Family, Party or Children's Game
-----• Bears! (Fireside Games)
-----• Faux•Cabulary (Out of the Box Publishing)
-----• Get Bit! (Mayday Games)
-----• Scavengers (Zombie State Games)
-----• Space Mission (Schmidt Spiele)
Best Traditional Card Game
-----• Cthulhu Gloom (Atlas Games)
-----• Nuts! (WildFire LLC)
-----• Star Trek DBG: The Next Generation (Bandai)
-----• The Red Dragon Inn 3 (Slugfest Games)
-----• The Struggle for Catan (Mayfair Games)
Also included among the nominees are a few categories for which shortlists were not previously released, including this one:
Best Historical Board Game
-----• Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles (Worthington Games)
-----• Lost Battles (Fifth Column Games)
-----• No Retreat! The Russian Front (GMT)
-----• Strike of the Eagle (Academy Games)
-----• Test of Fire: Bull Run 1861 (Mayfair Games)
-----• World War II: Barbarossa 1941 (Zvezda)
• On the Old Board Gamers' Blog, Todd points out new additions to the board game offerings at U.S. nationwide department store Target – including Rune Age, Deadwood and Zooloretto – and debates whether the development is positive for all concerned. From my point of view, this is just another step in the Germanification of the U.S. game industry.
• On March 11, 2012, a long article about modern board games titled "Inside the board game renaissance" from Leon Neyfakh appeared in The Boston Globe. The piece initially focuses on Kevin Spak and Sam Liberty, who have "dreamed up more than 50 games, filling countless notebooks with plans and sketches, and producing scores of paper prototypes that they’ve play-tested with friends and fellow gamers" – with their first release, Cosmic Pizza, due out in 2012 from Cambridge Games Factory, according to the article.
While the article contains a few points that gamers will contest – especially its definition of "Ameritrash" – it deftly covers the basics of how modern gaming made its way from Europe to the U.S., mentions how Mihály Csíkszentmihályi's concept of "flow" relates to gaming, and explains why these games might appeal to many people:
[For board game enthusiasts,] board game design is an art – and like poetry, film, and literature, it exists for its own sake. As they see it, playing a finely tuned, conceptually imaginative board game is a mind-expanding experience that has the potential to make players feel emotions, respond to pressures, and think thoughts they never get to in real life. A board game may have no purpose, but by playing it – by subjecting ourselves to its rules – we can create a sense of purpose, if only for a little while.
Then Neyfakh bags on Dominion for having rules that would drive most newcomers away from the table. Too true. As the article states, introducing someone to modern games – or anything else new, unusual and somewhat involved – is best done on a personal level as your enthusiasm and knowledge does a lot of the work needed to get someone over that first hump.
And even then you're not guaranteed success. As Neyfakh quotes CGF's Rob Seater as saying, "To a large extent it's a lost cause to say, 'I like this thing – why doesn't everybody like it?' Well, because other people like other things."