Because like they say: “Who reviews the reviewers?”…or something like that I think…
This article is geared towards a loosely mottled collection of topics including review of big trends, noteworthy contributions, news, and just plain interesting quality work from the past week or so in the world of board gaming and its enveloping media coverage. I hope to be able to do this on a somewhat regular basis even though I know that people have an oversaturation of information out there clogging up their feeds, but I hope to be able to highlight the bigger (or smaller and perhaps overlooked) comings and goings of the community and provide some color commentary to go along with it.
As a plus side, I’ll throw a few non-board game related links in at the end to spice it up so we all can feel smarter at the watercooler.
1a. Over at Board Game Geek, the hotness list accurately reflects the chatter than reviewers have been putting out. As of writing this, Plaid Hat Games’ Dead of Winter along with Days of Wonder’s Five Tribes are both in the top seven, and haven’t shown signs of slowing down yet. The impression of the community for the former has been as welcoming as any game of recent promotion or release.
1b. Let’s see how other big name releases, like:
D&D Attack Wing
King of New York
Sheriff of Nottingham
Castles of a Mad King Ludwig
**insert your suggestion/nomination here fellas and ladies**
…fair in comparison over the course of the next couple months. Like Five Tribes, which may not have received as much fanfare prior to release, it’s always interesting to see what game (i.e. Star Realms, Splenor) relatively unexpectedly captures the community next by storm, regardless the size of the publisher.
1c.The later, Tribes, has some split in opinion, including the maestros over at Shut Up and Sit Down about it’s ability to be more than a…pile of cardboard rainbow emesis strewn about on a table (to paraphrase their thoughts somewhat slightly more eloquently).
1d. Esoteric Order of Gamers: while the name may not portray it’s content or usefulness, the product – concise rules/summary information for tableside use while navigating board games, is quite that. The latest includes the previously mentioned Dead of Winter, as well as the recently resurgent deck building Arctic Scavengers.
2a. The season of the German Grand Slam of Board Gaming, Essen Spiel, is upon us. Spiel, in the town of Essen, Germany, is host to a game fair including previewing, selling, publishers, designers and artists alike. Upwards of 150,000 are expected to wallow in those halls over the 4 day span of October 16-19.
The lucky few among the community are allowing us to live it through their eyes and cardboard hankerings as the rest of us get to salivate over what we’ll likely wait months for instead. The guys over at Board with Life offered up their most anticipated games of the show this year and is worth view if you’re looking for the long story shortened.
2b. If you’re looking for a particular game or are a completionist, check out the list that BGG user W Eric Martin has put together. With 22 pages and 567 items listed so far, it gives you a small glimpse into the enormity it must be if you were there in person to take it all in.
3. One of (my personally) most anticipated games from the early Kickstarter season of 2014, Arcadia Quest, is slowly traversing the pneumatic tube system of life, or postal system as well call it over here. Put out by the folks at Cool Mini Or Not, the Big Guys of Board Gaming (or BGBG as I’ll refer to them) are starting to get it to the table and Rodney (who needs a good nickname) from Watch It Played has his usual high production quality videos up and this one is so large it requires 3 parts to give you all the goodness.
4a. The Lagoon, Land of Druids review by the Tom Vassal of the Dice Tower (another one of the BGBG) is up. And similar to Five Tribes, the consensus is…that there isn’t a consensus. And this is a good thing. Designing your own game is a lot like testing a new idea out.
As noted by the Harvard Business Review:
“The reason testing is so vital is because it minimizes the investment required to eliminate uncertainty. In so doing, you increase the speed of innovation and decrease the cost of failure.”
And isn’t increasing the speed of innovation and minimizing cost of failure exactly what we’re looking to do in the board game world?
4b. The most interesting part, and the part to stimulate the most discussion, is that he doesn’t like it. To put things mildly, without quoting him, he uses the dreaded “H-word”. And as with influential negative reviews comes controversy. As one of the pillars of the community, agree/like it or not, he has a lot of pull for games they review, positively or negatively. That being said, he clearly states that they game itself is well made and does have multiple compliments for it. Check it out for yourself before weighing in with your own opinion.
4c. The negative review aspect of our industry and community is a topic I hope to explore at a later date in a column. If you have any thoughts, feel free to let me know or contact me with them.
5. I ran across these books a developer/designer needs to read, and although it doesn’t hit our usual geographic area of coverage and was done more for the video game medium, I thought the points retain all the same relevancy. I highlight this especially for the game designers among the crowd. It’s a little heavier reading than Jamie Stonemaier’s Kickstarter advise, but the principles behind it are just as important.
6a. In case you’re going through Wh-eaton withdrawal, the latest blog posting from our Tabletop Godfather is sure to cure what ails you. Our celebrity board game enthusiast has put out a partial listing of the games we’re to see played for Tabletop Season 3. The list found here includes Libertalia, Sushi Go, and Tokaido. No word on when we’ll see the life size Rampage game, maybe that should have been one of their funding stretch goals…
Also mum’s the word on what RPG’s we’ll see with the beyond successful Indigogo campaign but here’s the preliminary candidate list.
6b. Then again, for those looking for a quick laugh, there’s always this too. “Fat Wheaton Burger?”, though I wonder what “Wil Wheaton Seduction” smells like. Maybe a whiff of Trek with a smidgeon of Eureka?
7a. Sultaniya, a game on more outside of my radar, is up for review over at the League of Nonsensical (but totally sensible) Gamers. You may not agree with their decisions but their process is top notch.
7b. More mainstream pick-up via the AV Club who has their own round-up of action that went on at the recently departed Gen Con, including their list of must see games.
7c. Glad to see between this article and the Grantland spotlight on Diplomacy, that the outside world is starting to pick up on the slow moving, albeit miniature juggernaut of board gaming.
9. “Why I don’t let my kids beat me in board games” and why you should care. Poignant topic as we try to get the next generation
indoctrinated interested in them.
10. Kotaku, of the Gawker dojo, has a post about the most satisfying board game feelings/moments, from the classic Americana games to some of the more recent Eurostyle, that’s worth getting nostalgic over.
11. Live in the New York area and have an overflowing closet of games that you don’t want or need? If this sounds like you, then maybe you could consider donating to help support our troops.
Outside, in the non-board game world but still worth taking a look at:
- A look at using statistical models to predict the future of novels and depending on who you talk to, one of the most anticipated novels of the last decade: Book 6 of Game of Thrones.
- The mathematics behind all geeks’ wet dream: a working cloaking device.
- ThatGeoGuy delves into a variant of the classic 2 doors and one liar riddle that we’ve all heard at some point. Worth a read especially for those that always thought it was too easy of a solve/concept.
- If butter and bacon are more of your thing and you have 10 minutes, then take a read (with Star Wars reference included) about a look behind the curtain that is the Paula Deen empire, “Strike Paula Deen Down and She shall become more powerful that you can possibly imagine.” And if that opening line doesn’t frighten/intrigue you, I have nothing more to offer.
Let me know what you guys think of this article and what you’d like to see more or less of in the future. I left a lot out that could have been in here. And feel free to submit things that you think belong. I’m looking…