Another month and the challenge keeps going well, with 7 games played, for a total of 17. It’s a little under what I would have liked since I figure I need to play on average a little over 8 games a month to be able to finish the challenge on time, and I would love to play 10 a month to insure that I do complete the challenge, but even with only 7, I’m still on pace.
This month also marks my first game dropped/changed. I’m thinking that there might be a second game that I might drop from my list, but for now, one game has been switched for another. Let’s check out what I played and what is being replaced.
Ah, small, micro games how you got my heart and what looks like the heart of half of the boardgame designers community. Not a week goes by without a new micro game being announced or showing up on Kickstarter, with Tiny Epic Kingdom, Burgoo, Where are Thou, Romeo? and Coin Age (just to name a few) leading the way. And you know what? I’ll always at least check it out. Why not? For under $10 (yeah, shipping is always expensive to Canada), you can hopefully get something that’s at least fun for an hour or two.
It is now Laboratory‘s turn to joins the fray (actually, it’s their second time as their first was a 1-card “CCG” called Shift, which I am unfamiliar with) with a micro resource management/rondel game, Province. How good can it be, with its small board, handful of tokens and very short playing time? Sure, the artwork is reminiscent of the more popular resource management games out there, but it looks so… simple. Simple? Yeah, it is. Easy to learn? Yeah, you can say that. Easy to win? Sure, I’ll show you how easy it is to… lose. Let’s check it out.
I got too many games. My wife tells me this and I actually agree, but the thing is, I love getting new games, learning new games and playing new games. I’m trying this year to get at least some of the games I really like back to the table a few more times than usual, but it still doesn’t change the fact that I have too many games and this situation is likely to only get worse as new games are arriving all the time at my house.
Unless I turn my office/game room into a Tardis (not likely) or get a storage space (which would only delay the issue instead of solving it), I need to get rid of some games. Now, this is something I tend to do annually, doing a small purge and getting rid of 10-15 titles. I’m also a regular participant in the local Math Trade, which actually doesn’t help as it only replaces games instead of reducing the pile. This year, I’ve decided to do something more drastic: I’m going to try and get rid of 10 games per month, for around 10 months. Yup, following the 10X10in2014 challenge, I’m going to do a 10outX10monthsin2014.
It’s sometimes hard to say why you decide to back a game on Kickstarter. Sometimes, it’s just the attitude of the designer/publisher and some of the buzz on Twitter or around the game that puts the bug in your ear. Sometimes, it’s the mechanics that look interesting at first blush, or the subject. Sometimes, and for me this is not as common, it’s the art or the minis.
In the case of Lagoon: Land of the Druids, the art attracted my eyes a little bit. It was nice and kind of stood away from the typical fantasy art. And then I started to see some buzz coming from Unpub 4. So when it came to Kickstarter, I took a look. Didn’t check the video (I find these less and less interesting since they tend to have little to do with the actual game/mechanics and more to do with “carnival barker” type thing) but what really caught my eyes was the fact that the designer/publisher had put up the entire game as a print-and-play, which I proceeded to download. The game looked interesting and what’s more, it was a simple matter to print it and try it out. What did I think? Let’s check it out.
I haven’t done one of these posts in quite some time as I am trying to reduce the amount of projects that I back on Kickstarter. I’ve slowed down somewhat, but I am not that particularly successful as I’m still backing quite a few projects. One of the aspects that help me with this is the shipping cost to Canada, which through no fault of the people creating Kickstarters, is becoming outrageous. A lot of the time, while I might want to help out and back a project, the cost of shipping is so high that I end up waiting for the project to successfully fund, hoping to be able to buy it from a local retailer once it comes out.
This bring out a dilemma: do you back it, giving the creators money directly and maybe getting some exclusives at the same time or do you wait for it to come out, maybe check out the early reviews and pay less from an online retailer? For me, it’s always a question of just who is putting out the game in the first place. If it’s a larger company or someone who I’m pretty sure will actually put out the project, I’ll wait and pay less. If it’s something that looks really neat or a project from a first timer, I’ll back it a lot of the time, simply to help out. Let’s check out the latest batch of projects that I’ve backed.
Last December, I decided to embark on a great challenge: could I, proud member of the Cult of the New, play the same 10 games 10 times each in the space of a year? I had, in the last few years, fallen with with a bad crowd. With so many new games coming out all the time, with so many of them looking good or at very least interesting, I had taken the unfortunate habit of playing games only once or twice, and this even if they were great games. No more, I said. I’ll pick the 10 games that I thought would offer me the most, and attempt to play all of them at least 10 times in order to fully appreciate them.
So, after making my list, I set off in January to play those games. It’s been a month already and I’m proud to say that I’ve started on the right foot. I’ve played a total of 10 games last month. Yup, one month in and already 10% done.
Ah, train games. Seems that every other post I am talking about one of the greatest theme for board games, trains, and everything they seem to encompass. Be they simple games like Ticket to Ride or Union Pacific, slightly more complex games like Russian Railroads or Locomotive Werks or the big guns like Age of Steam, 1880, 1817 and all other 18XX. All these games have the same core, the iron horse, but all feel quite different in the way they represent their subject. They all have a different focus and level of complexity, and in the end, they are all lovely games for different reasons.
There has been many attempts at bringing dice to train games. Some have been successful or at least interesting (Railroad Dice) and other seem to have missed the mark (Railways Express). After Quarriors, which innovated with a dice building game, Wizkids stepped up to the plate once more and delivered a train-themed dice game, Trains & Stations. Any good? Let’s find out, shall we? Continue reading
Time has come in this gamer’s life where I decided that I could, nah, I should design a game. I’ve played enough games, I’ve seen enough systems both good and bad and I’ve got a head full of ideas. I mean, I already design games, right? Video games, but they’re the same, no? It can’t be that hard, right? it’s just cardboard and dice after all. There’s no logic. No frame rate to worry about, things are much simpler, right?
Well… no. Easy is hard to do. Making a board game, you can’t hide behind the pretty graphics and the soaring soundtrack. It’s just you, your systems and the cardboard pieces. Usually, the first time you design a game (board or video), you tend to do too much: too many rules, too many options, too many steps. The key is to be able to find the center of the design and pare down, remove the stuff that isn’t necessary and get to the core. Easier said than done.
All this to say that I too have decided to attempt to design a board game or two. So far in my life, I’ve always attempted to make things that I was fascinated with, in order to better understand them and to see just how difficult it is to do simple things. I’ve not always been successful, but the times I was (making beer, video games, writing), I think I did it very well. So, let’s see just how I well I do at that boardgame design thing. Continue reading
Theme is a funny beast in boardgames, as it does add greatly to a game but sometimes can feel very generic. Many a comment and a joke has been made about the stern gentlemen on the cover of many a euro game, trying to look very much the part of a merchant or a trader. To stand out, you need to have a truly unique theme, but even better, have a theme that is somewhat supported by the gameplay of the game. It helps both in the immersion and if done correctly, in the understanding/retention of the rules.
I love Worker Placement games (or is that Action Selection games? Perhaps that’s an entirely different topic…) but for a lot of them, the theme is not only pasted on (Lords of Waterdeep, anyone?) but also quite generic (too many medieval games about traders to list). Sometimes, out of nowhere comes a truly thematic, truly wonderfully game and this is what Euphoria: Building a Better Dystopia is to me.
Welcome to the first instalment of The Mechanics, a new monthly feature where I will look at an interesting boardgame mechanic and see how it can be used/re-purposed for video games. The idea is to see what is available out there for the plundering and see if we can come up with something quite cool.
While I will focus on specific mechanic, I might take small detours every once in a while into families of games and shift the focus a little bit in those, by looking at how some principles of video games can be applied to them.
Stick around, hopefully this will be a very interesting series. I know it will be for me!