W. Eric Martin
• The 2012 Toy and Game Expo in Sydney, Australia takes place June 9-11, and publishers scheduled to be in attendance include "Mayfair Games, 93 Made Games, Treefrog Games, Purgatory Games, Queen Games, Rio Grande Games, Good Games, War and Peace Games, Mayday Games, StrataMax Games, Wattsalpoag Games, Crown & Andrews and Eureka Concepts", according to a press release from Expo organizers – which seems like an impressive list of non-Australian publishers willing to travel a long way to show off their designs. Good news for Australians, especially if those publishers bring copies of games for sale since they're usually extra-expensive due to the shipping expense.
• In other convention news, I overlooked this Geeklist covering LeiriaCon 2012 from Nuno Sentieiro, co-designer of Madeira: Pearl of the Atlantic, due out at Spiel 2012 from Italian publisher What's Your Game? In addition to showing off Madeira, Sentieiro includes a prototype pic of Xavier Georges' Chicago, a nice all-wood version of Mac Gerdts' Casus Belli (now titled Antike Duellum), and short summaries of four prototypes from Martin Wallace. Dozens of convention photos are posted in this Spiel Portugal album.
• The Swiss branch of Mensa has launched its own game award – Mensa Preference – but unlike the U.S. Mensa branch that gives its highest honor to five games, Mensa Switzerland is reserving the Mensa Preference award for a single game which will be chosen from a half-dozen finalists, with those finalists being Aquileia, Miss Lupun...und das Geheimnis der Zahlen, Ninja: Legend of the Scorpion Clan, The Castles of Burgundy, Tschak!, and Village. Mensa Switzerland members will play these games intensively over a game weekend April 20-22, then vote for their favorite.
• Jon Shafer, lead designer for the video game Civilization V, offers advice that applies to game design of all stripes in an article titled "Make a Better Game – Limit the Player".
• In yesterday's new game round-up, I mentioned designer Alf Seegert's amazing ability to be interviewed in all types of places. Seegert is at it again in an interview by BGG user Jaime Polo, who has also conducted interviews on his BGG blog with designers Bryan Johnson, Dave Chalker, Henrik and Åse Berg, and others.
• Blogger "wolfie" at I Slay the Dragon looks at posts by Jesse Dean and yours truly on the subject of game reviews, then tries to answer the question "Do game reviews spend enough time playing games before they review them?" An excerpt:
...I will be honest; as a reviewer, it is much more beneficial to myself to review games that are "hot" or "in the new." The fact is, like it or not, these games attract more attention. Posting about theme [sic] puts our voice into the mix and hopefully attracts new readers. Increased readership also increases the number of people reading our reviews of older or lesser known games, as well as increasing our chances of receiving review copies from companies looking to get the word out. Like it or not, these things are necessary for us to continue spending our time playing games for the purpose of reviewing them, as well as spending time on the review itself.
Hmm. Over the four years that I ran BoardgameNews.com, I received plenty of offers of review copies, and believe me those review copies are a mixed blessing. Surveying my list of previously owned games, I see many, many titles that received a drubbing in my BGN reviews and a fair number that I could never bear to bring to the table, much less review. (I also see many comments that need updating as they refer to BGN reviews that can no longer be found. Someday those reviews will appear once again!) I always warned publishers that due to the volume of games published no review was guaranteed, but if I did review a game, I'd lay out my opinions as honestly as I could. While BGGN publishes no reviews, I do review infrequently for Opinionated Gamers, and my last two contributions – for multi-player reviews of Carnival and Zong Shi – were also harsh. If anyone out there writes or produces game reviews solely to receive review copies, I question their sanity...