Category Archives: News

Next Meeting, 18th August 2020 – Online!

It is at times of stress that people need social contact more than ever, and board games are a great medium for that.  Despite the limitations of “remote gaming”, the overwhelming impression is that it is important to stay in touch, so we are persisting with online meetings.  Therefore, our next meeting will be on Tuesday 18th August 2020; we will gather from around 7.30pm, and start playing at 8pm.

This week, the “Feature Game” will be Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition.  This is a return to the the recentRoll and Write” style games that have been so successful, though rather than the communal colouring fest that is Second Chance and Cartographers, in this game players are planning a road and rail network.  It is more complex than some of the games we’ve played like Noch Mal! and Second Chance, and those with good spacial awareness will be at a slight advantage, though careful planning is the key.

Railroad Ink: Deep Blue Edition
– Image by boardGOATS

And talking of railway lines…

Jeff swaggered into his favourite pub, and asked the landlord for a pint.

As the bartender reached for a fresh glass, he commented, “You look very pleased with yourself, did you win the lottery?”

Jeff replied, “On my way home from here last night, I had to cross the railway, and I came across this girl tied to the tracks. So I untied her, and took her home, and we had a fantastic night.”

The landlord was shocked.  Reflecting he said, “I cannot imagine anything as terrifying as being lashed onto the cold steel rails, waiting with dread for the distant whistle then the vibration of the oncoming train, desperately hoping that someone would come along to help.  She must have been really grateful! Tell me, is she pretty?”

Jeff paused for a second thoughtfully. “Hard to say,” he said. “It was dark, and I never did find her head.”

Next Meeting, 4th August 2020 – Online!

It is at times of stress that people need social contact more than ever, and board games are a great medium for that.  Despite the limitations of “remote gaming”, the overwhelming impression is that it is important to stay in touch, so we are persisting with online meetings.  Therefore, our next meeting will be on Tuesday 4th August 2020; we will gather from around 7.30pm, and start playing at 8pm.

This week, in a change from the recentRoll and Write” games (namely Noch Mal!, Second Chance and Cartographers), the “Feature Game” will be Finstere Flure (aka Fearsome Floors).  This is an older game where players are trying to get their pieces across the dungeon of prince Fieso’s fortress, without being eaten by the monster, Furukulus.

Finstere Flure
– Image by boardGOATS

And talking of monsters…

Jeff had a fear that there was a monster living under his bed. Because he wasn’t sleeping, it was affecting all aspects of his life, so he decided to seek professional help. During the consultation, the specialist told him his situation was unusual but not unheard of. He explained that he could be cured, but it would take a minimum of six sessions at £250 each.

Jeff declined citing the large cost and decided to struggle on.

A few months later, Jeff was at a pub when he bumped into the same specialist, who asked if he’d made any progress.

“It’s perfect doctor,” Jeff responded, “No more monsters.”

“That’s really excellent, but how did you manage it?” the specialist asked.

“Well,” said Jeff, “I told a friend of mine, and she solved my problem in exchange for a bottle of whiskey.”

The specialist was puzzled. “What did she do?” he asked.

Jeff, replied gleefully, “She told me to saw the legs off my bed!”

Boardgames in the News: Games Britania

With people’s horizons limited by the pandemic, the national broadcasters have been digging about in their cupboards and have made available some of their old classics.  BBC4 have also got in on the act, replaying their 2009 series about the history of popular games in Britain.  The three-part series, “Games Britania“, is presented by historian and English lecturer, Benjamin Woolley, and covers “games in Britain from the Iron Age to the Information Age”.

Games Britania
– Image from bbc.co.uk

The first part was repeated last Monday (20th July), and explains how ancient and medieval games were more than just fun, but by the late Middle Ages gaming had become increasingly associated with gambling. The episode concludes in the Victorian era with establishment of the world’s first commercial games industry.  The second episode will be shown tonight (at 10.40pm) and traces the surprising political and social impact that board games have had in Britain over the last two hundred years, while the concluding part is next week (at 11pm) and moves onto computer gaming.

Gyan Chapoor
– Image from video on bbc.co.uk

The first episode is currently on BBC iPlayer and will be available for about three weeks; the second and third episodes will be available shortly after broadcast.

Boardgames in the News: Really Useful Goats

Obviously, goats are very lovely, but they can be useful as well as ornamental.  The flock that visit annually visit the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in California are essential and have averted a number of crises.  In what has become a nice seasonal tradition, every year, the LBNL rent the herd from Goats R Us”, to eat the grass and reduce the wildfire risk around the laboratory; watching their arrival is quite spectacular…

– Video by Berkeley Lab on youtube.com

Spiel des Jahres Winners – 2020

The 2020 winner of the coveted German Game of the Year or Spiel des Jahres award has been announced as Pictures.  This is a family game where players have to model the picture on their card using the available components, e.g. shoelaces, coloured cubes, etc.; players get points for correctly guessing other players images and for other players guessing their image.

Pictures
– Image adapted by boardGOATS from the
live stream video on spiel-des-jahres.de

The Kennerspiel des Jahres was awarded at the same time.  This honours more challenging games and this year was awarded to The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine.  This is a co-operative trick-taking game, where the players are astronauts on an uncertain space adventure.  The Kinderspiel des Jahres award was announced last month and went to Speedy Roll (aka Hedgehog Roll) a game where players which players roll a Velcro ball to pick up goodies that help the move their hedgehogs through the forest, cooperatively or in competition.  Congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

– Image by BGG contributor kalchio

Boardgames in the News: Carcassonne Catches Catan

Board Game Geek (BGG) is arguably the foremost website for information on board games.  It includes a forum for discussion, but also an extensive database currently comprising nearly a hundred and twenty thousand games with associated reviews, photos, publication details and rules clarifications.  There are over two million registered users of the site, many of whom use the BGG to record the games they own, log each time they play, and register their ratings of games in the database.

The Settlers of Catan
– Image by boardGOATS

For many years, the most rated game according to the BGG website was The Settlers of Catan but it has now been overtaken by Carcassonne (95,496 and 95,499 ratings respectively as of 1am BST on Sunday 19th July).  Over the coming weeks the numbers will fluctuate and the tide will ebb and flow, but it looks like Catan, which was released in 1995 (five years before Carcassonne), has been caught.  The race is not over, however, Pandemic is not far behind…

Carcassonne
– Image by boardGOATS

Boardgames in the News: Thirsty Meeples Moves and Reopens

As the government lifts its restrictions, pubs and cafés are reopening.  Today our beloved Horse and Jockey reopens:  we know it will be a while before we can play games there again though, not least because all seating is currently outdoors.  Also reopening today, however, is Oxford’s board game café, Thirsty Meeples.  They will be opening in their new larger location, which is about twice the size of the old one—just as well given the current distancing restrictions.  Thirsty Meeples haven’t moved far, they are still on Gloucester Green, just two doors down in what used to be FOPP, part of the music chain owned by HMV.  The shop is opening today for game sales with the café set to open on Wednesday.

Thirsty Meeples
– Image by boardGOATS

 

Boardgames in the News: New Editions that aren’t an Improvement

Everyone has experienced a disappointing remake of a favourite film; while we always hope for an improvement, only occasionally do we get one.  Board games have a similar problem, but as with films, things are often not clear cut.  For example, the new version of Camel Up arguably has nicer art and a better pyramid dice shaker than the original.  The Crazy Camel mini expansion and the partnership betting (from the original Supercup expansion) also add quite a bit to the game play, especially at higher player counts, but the money isn’t as easy to handle and the dice and camels themselves are plastic and don’t feel as nice.

Camel Up
– Image by boardGOATS

Similarly, the recent editions of Glen More (Glen More II: Chronicles) and Snowdonia (the Deluxe Master set) are beautiful and include lots of extra content.  As previously discussed, this is at the expense of shelf-space though, and portability which means they are less likely to get played.  In other cases, the revision is considered a definite step back.  For example, the revised edition of Colosseum by TMG is widely believed to compare unfavourably with the original Days of Wonder edition.

– Image by boardGOATS

In a recent new edition of Monopoly, female players initially receive $1,900 with a salary of $240, while male players start with $1,500 receiving $200 when they pass “Go”.  On the plus-side, as part of the publicity, three teenage entrepreneurs received a grant of $20,580 each to invest in their own inventions.  Otherwise, Ms Monopoly is widely thought to be hugely patronising to half the population while claiming to celebrate empowering women, something that is apparent in the adverts.

– Video by Hasbro on youtube.com

These days, a lot of gaming is being done online.  One new electronic game that has been seen as a retrograde step is the new Scrabble app, Scrabble Go.  This is a new product that, thanks to changes in licensing, replaces the previous offering from Electronic Arts (EA).  The problem is that the new version seems to have been designed to appeal to the Candy Crush generation with vivid colours, treasure-style rewards and in-app purchases.  Unfortunately, Scrabble is a very traditional game and its players generally don’t appreciate that approach.  To date, nearly eight thousand of these have registered their disgust through an online petition.

Scrabble Go
– Image by boardGOATS from play.google.com

The Carcassonne app has also received a similar licensing-inspired change and although the new Asmodee version is less offensive, many seem to prefer the older, Coding Monkeys version.  So, before deciding to upgrade a game, keep in mind that a new version, often isn’t a better one.

Boardgames in the News: Doing the Echidna Shuffle

For our group, 2018 was the Year of the Echidna.  At UK Games Expo that year, some of the group were introduced to a fantastic game called Echidna Shuffle.  We played the spots off that copy and come Essen in October, another half a dozen Echidnas smuggled their way back to Oxfordshire.

Echidna Shuffle
– Image by boardGOATS

The heart of game features insects hitching rides on gorgeous plastic echidnas that players move around the wood in a sort of conga, following each other.  It turns out that these fabulous prickly critters do this soft-shoe shuffle in real life on Kangaroo Island

Shuffling Echidnas on Kangaroo Island
– Movie by Authentic Kangaroo Island on facebook.com

Boardgames in the News: The Peril of Box Inflation

The increase in the number of games available has increased the pressure on the market considerably in the last couple of years, and as a result, buyers are getting more canny.  Backers are more discriminating on KickStarter, and it is becoming harder to get market penetration with an original product.  As a result, in the last year, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of reprints, deluxe editions and revisions of popular games.

Power Grid Deluxe: Europe/North America
– Image by boardGOATS

The explanation for this is relatively simple.  When a game becomes scarce, the price rises.  This creates its own frenzy of people calling for a reprint.  In turn, this raises the profile of this now unavailable game, fanning the flames of desire in those that can’t get it, and increasing the price still further.  This creates huge demand, and when the game is eventually made available, a lot of people perceive this as their only chance to obtain it.  The combination of this Fear Of Missing Out (aka “FOMO“), and the fact that people have a better idea of what they are getting, means the product is more likely to be successful than something relying solely on “the cult of the new”, reducing the risk for all parties encouraging more cautious people to take the plunge.

Yokohama
– Image by boardGOATS

The downside is that some people will already have a copy, so the problem is how to encourage them to get involved too.  One way is to provide a special edition, often including new material, or deluxe, better and, perhaps, larger components.  These often also provide a better margin for the producers, making it a win for them, in all directions.  The downside is that the box size has to be increased, partly to hold all the additional/larger content, but also to signal to everyone that the new edition is better than its predecessor.

Snowdonia
– Image by boardGOATS

Games to get a deluxe reprint in the last year include, Luna, Snowdonia, Glen More, Cleopatra and the Society of Architects and Age of Steam, with Rococo, Lords of Vegas, K2, and CliniϽ coming in the next twelve months or so.  These editions are truly beautiful and delightful to play with, but some of the boxes are enormous, especially when compared with their original editions.  This makes them a problem to store, but more importantly, they are much less transportable and therefore less likely to be taken to games nights.

Glen More
– Image by boardGOATS

If the likelihood of games being played is dependent on them travelling, “box inflation” reduces the chance of them being played.  This is a great shame, because these deluxe editions are really lovely to play and have had a lot of time and money invested in them.

Luna
– Image by boardGOATS