On Gamer's Games

Wherein I Discuss Those Games Described As Gamer's Games
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Blog Roll and Monday Quick Hits

Jesse Dean
United States
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Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious predator on Earth!
Microbadge: I have more previously owned games than owned gamesMicrobadge: Out for blood - I play without mercyMicrobadge: My Favorite Contribution to BGG
Lords of Waterdeep
My Lords of Waterdeep review is up. Summary: I played Lords of Waterdeep so you do not have to. Essentially it serves as a fairly effective distillation of previous, more complex worker placement games, with just enough there to give a hint of these other games while failing to capture what makes them special. It feels fairly hollow as a result, but for those whose preferences run towards the lighter end of the spectrum it should be fast and entertaining enough that that might not matter.

Critical Infrastructure Series
My next article in the “Critical Infrastructure” series should be up later this week. I expect it to have three parts in total. As with A Few Acres of Snow and the Critical Silence On The Biggest Flawed Game of 2011 this one will be posted on www.2d6.org 24 hours before I post it to “On Gamer’s Games.” I expect that it is less likely to break the blog feature then the last one was.

Is there any interest in an “On Gamer’s Game” microbadge? If so is anyone interested in making one? Unfortunately my skill set does not include making effective, yet tiny graphics, so if there is some interest I will have to find someone who has both the capability and willingness to construct one.

Blog Roll
A lot of blogs in the broader wilds of the internet allow people to link to various websites, mostly blogs. Since that is not a real capability here, I will instead provide a list of spots I generally go to when I conduct my daily board game reading:

While I am quite jealous of his relatively low blog number (46!) I am able to overcome that in order to read Martin’s generally very good content. Lately he has been talking a lot about pushing for a more effective focus by playing previously experienced games and is going to be leading a book discussion group on “Rules of Play – Game Design Fundamentals.” I plan on participating and if this topic interests you, I encourage you to do so as well!


One way to describe the project of this book is to say that we are working to establish a critical discourse for game design. We agree with veteran game designer Warren Spector that "It is absolutely vital that we start to build a vocabulary that allows us to examine, with some degree of precision, how games evoke emotional-intellectual responses in players." As a nascent field of inquiry, there are not yet well-developed ways of talking about games and how they function. What is the point of establishing a critical discourse? Simply put, a critical vocabulary lets us talk to each other. It lets us share ideas and knowledge, and in doing so, expands the borders of our emerging field.
Straight Talk on Strategy Gaming
Nate does not post frequently, but when he does it is always worth reading. His posts tend to be large, well-thought out and extremely comprehensive covering both modern and classic games. He occasionally posts reviews, to but most of his articles are on general topics. My favorite of his articles, and the one that originally brought his blog to my attention is Agriconomics where he examines whether or not Agricola is really an economic game. It is really exceptional, and I highly encourage that anyone who is even remotely interested in the topic.

Over on Fortress Ameritrash (www.fortressat.com) are three columnists who I try to read whenever they post. They do not have links that specifically connect to a collection of their articles, but they if you poke around on the site you should be able to find their articles. They are:

Matt Thrower with “Bolt Thrower”,
Ken B. with “Next of Ken”, and
Michael Barnes with “Barnestorming”

There are some differences about their columns. Matt tends to write a lot more general article beyond his column, where Mike and Ken mostly seem to write articles directly related to the column itself. Matt and and Mike both write a bit about media in addition to their discussion on games, where Ken seems to be laser-focused on games, but in general I find them all to be worth reading, both for the reviews themselves as well as for the frequently insightful discussion that occurs in the comments section. I know that Fortress AT has a bit of a bad reputation on BGG, but for those who are looking for intelligent criticism of games, then it is probably a good idea to keep up with their articles. I tend to read them regularly, it was Barnes’ column that brought Cave Evil to my attention, even though the games they cover are outside of my area of interest.

The Opinionated Gamers (www.opinionatedgamers.com) is also worth reading mostly because they have a large stable of reviewers who all contribute to what is ultimately a group review of the game they are discussing, and frequently have other articles that are worth reading including, arguments about the merit of particular designers, interviews with particular designers, convention reports, and more. They tend to prefer euros that sit outside my general area of interest, but the articles are typically worth reading, if only to provide some enjoyable annoyance. I do not even bother reading the comics any more though.

What’s Next?
My current plan is to write a comparative review of Hawaii and Pantheon. Both are middle to light weight Hans im Gluck eurogames which typically means I am going to be predisposed to disliking them. Surprisingly enough one of them worked for me, and I am going to write a comparative review of the two games, exploring why exactly one of them worked for me while the other, sadly, did not.

Since it looks like we are hitting a bit of a dead zone in interesting new games after that I am thinking of writing a comprehensive review on a lightly reviewed classic. Five geek gold to whoever is able to guess which one it is. No more than one guess per person!
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