Category Archives: News

Next Meeting – 14th November 2017

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, 14th November, at the Horse and Jockey pub in Stanford-in-the-Vale.  As usual, we will be playing shorter games from 7.30pm as people arrive, until 8pm when we will start something a little longer.

This week, will be the slightly belated “Essen Special” so the “Feature Game” will be Flamme Rouge, a bycycle racing game where players have to balance the demands of their “sprinter” and their “rouleur”; the winner is the player to get one of them over the finish line first.  Although we are celebrating this year’s Spiel Convention at Essen, this game was actually released at Essen in 2016, but now has an expansion that adds a couple of extra players.  There will also be other games brought back from Essen, including AzulQueendomino and Animals on Board.

Flamme Rouge
– Image by BGG contributor Hasematzel

And speaking of bicycles…

Jeff was out riding his bicycle when knocked over a little old lady.  Jeff was horrified and stopped to help the old dear.  She was a bit shaken, but was a tough old bird and, with his help, got up and dusted herself off.  As she got to her feet, she berated Jeff asking, “Don’t you know how to ride a bike?!?!”

“Yes,” he answered, “But I don’t know how to ring the bell yet…”

Deutscher Spiel Preis – 2017

In 1990 the German magazine “Die Pöppel-Revue” introduced The Deutscher Spiel Preis, or German Game Prize, which is now awarded annually at the International Spieltage, Essen.  While the Spiel des Jahres rewards family games and is awarded by a panel of judges, the Deutscher Spiel Preis is awarded based on votes from the industry’s stores, magazines, professionals and game clubs.  For this reason the Deutscher Spiel Preis tends to reflect “gamers games” and is usually more in line with the Kennerspiel des Jahres.  This year the award went to Terraforming Mars with the winner of the International Gamers Award, Great Western Trail, as runner up.  The 2017 Spiel des Jahres winner Kingdomino was joint sixth with the Kennerspiel des Jahres nominee Raiders of the North SeaIce Cool, winner of the this years Kinderspiel des Jahres, also won the Deutsche Kinderspielepreis.

Terraforming Mars
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor punkin312

In Terraforming Mars, players take the role of giant corporations, sponsored by the World Government on Earth, to initiate huge projects to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage until the environment on Mars is habitable. Players then buy project cards into their hand and later, when they have the resources needed, they can play the cards and ultimately place tiles on Mars itself. There are three different types of cards: Red cards provide actions that have an instant effect and are then discarded until the end of the game; Green cards have a one-off effect but their “tags” are retained, and Blue cards have an ongoing effect and/or an action that can be activated once per round. It is building these card combinations that is at the core of what we have found to be an interesting game.

Terraforming Mars
– Image by boardGOATS

Essen 2017

It is that time of year again when the gamers’ minds turn to Essen and – The Internationale Spieltage.  To Gamers worldwide, Essen is synonymous with the largest games fair in Europe and, arguably, the world.  The fair runs Thursday to Sunday in mid/late-October every year and is the one of the biggest and most significant of all the boardgame conventions with many new releases and timed to coincide with the end of October.  This year the first day will be this Thursday, 26th October and games, publishers and their wares are all making their way to Germany for four days of fun and games.

Essen
– Image from merz-verlag-en.com

Last year several of the group went, and they came back with a lot of expansions for well-loved games like Istanbul, Colt Express, and Orléans and picked up some new games like Key to the City – London, Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails and Cottage Garden.  This year, new games include Queendomino, Indian Summer, Altiplano and Keyper, with expansions to old favourites like Isle of Skye, Imhotep, Ticket to Ride, Terraforming Mars and Splendor as well.  Once again, several locals are going and they are sure to bring back some interesting toys to play with over the coming months.

Keyper
– Image used with permission of designer Richard Breese

Boardgames in the News: AlphaGo Goes Again

Last year, Google announced that it’s AlphaGo software (part of their DeepMind project) had beaten the reigning three-time European Go champion Fan Hui winning five consecutive games – the work was published in the scientific journal Nature.1 The original tree search in AlphaGo evaluated positions and selected moves using neural networks. These neural networks were trained by supervised learning from human expert moves, and by reinforcement learning from self-play.  Today the team reported2 a new version of AlphaGo, “AlphaGo Zero“, that was developed without any input human data beyond game rules. Previous versions of AlphaGo were initially trained on thousands of human amateur and professional games to learn how to play Go.  AlphaGo Zero skipped this step and learnt to play simply by playing games against itself, starting from completely random positions.  AlphaGo Zero thus became its own teacher and after three days beat the previously published, champion-defeating version of AlphaGo by one hundred games to nil.  After playing thirty million games over a period of forty days AlphaGo Zero became even stronger, outperforming the version of AlphaGo known as “Master”, which has defeated some of the world’s best players including the current world number one Ke Jie.

Go
– Image from deepmind.com

1 Silver et al., Nat. (2016), 529, 489; doi:10.1038/nature16961.
2 Silver et al., Nat. (2017), 550, 354; doi:10.1038/nature24270.

Five Today – Happy Birthday to Us!

Five Today!

BoardGOATS is Five Years Old Today!

We are very lucky: after five years the boardGOATS is still here meeting fortnightly in the Horse and Jockey in Stanford-in-the-Vale.  The group is now bigger than it has ever been, but still has a lovely, friendly, social feeling.  We would like to thank to everyone who has come along in the past and in particular, all those travel from further afield to make it the success it is – we really appreciate it.  We’d also like to thank the folks at the Jockey who have been supportive throughout letting us have so much fun in their back room.

Boardgames in the News: Rolling the Dice in the British Virgin Islands

With Hurricane Maria currently devastating the Caribbean, people are once again battening down the hatches and preparing for winds that could reach over 150 mph.  While they are waiting, they could do worse than play a game or two to try to take their mind off it.  That is exactly what the Virgin tycoon, Richard Branson, did when Hurricane Irma struck his home, Necker Island, in the British Virgin Islands.  According to his blog, Richard and his team settled down to an evening playing Perudo (aka Liar’s Dice) before the whole team slept together in two rooms, listening to the parrots chattering away next door, waiting for the arrival of the approaching menace.

Perudo
– Image from virgin.com

This is not the only time Richard Branson has shown an interest in games.  He has expressed a love of chess previously, but he also nearly had a commercial interest in another well known game.  Back in the early 1980s, a friend in Canada, introduced him to a new board game.  It was such a hit that developers invited him to travel to Quebec and seal a deal to distribute the game globally.  Since Richard was incredibly busy with Virgin Records at the time, the trip was postponed so the developers sold the game, Trivial Pursuit, to another company, and the rest is history.

Boardgames in the News: Biscuit Boardgames at Bake Off

This week on The Great British Bake Off, it was biscuit day.  So, Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith set the remaining eleven bakers the challenge to bake a biscuit-based showstopper with a boardgaming theme that could actually be played.  Now on its eighth series, The Great British Bake Off recently moved from BBC to Channel 4, a change that was accompanied by a rejuvenated presenting team including Sandi Toksvig and Noel Fielding.

The Great British Bake Off
– Image from Channel4.com

Sadly, the games depicted were all variants on traditional games like Snakes and LaddersCoppit (similar to Ludo), Operation and Chess rather than some of the fantastic modern classic games now available.  Nevertheless, there were some interesting renditions, including from one contestant, Kate, who went for something slightly more modern, basing her creation on Jumanji, the game from the eponymous film.  Stacey was more ambitious deciding to design her own game called “Get to School”, as well as bake it.  There wasn’t time to play test that, but Paul Hollywood did challenge student Liam to a game of Noughts and Crosses played with his compendium of biscuit games.  In the end, the title of Star Baker went to Steven, the Marketer from Hertfordshire, for his “Check Bake Game”, based on Chess.

The Great British Bake Off
– Image from Channel4.com

The episode is available to watch on on demand for another three months.