Category Archives: News

Spiel des Jahres Nominations 2017

Today, the Spiel des Jahres Award nominations were announced.  There are three awards, a children’s game award (Kinderspiel des Jahres) and the two that interest us more, the “Advanced” or “Expert” Kennerspiel des Jahres and the main award, the Spiel des Jahres (which is often interpreted as the “Family Game” award).  This year there are three nominees in each category:

We’ve discussed the possible nominations a couple of times within the group, but nobody really had much idea this year.  Part of this is because we’ve not really engaged with many of these, though Kingdomino did come up and we are planning to play Terraforming Mars on 30th May, so we will be able to make our minds up about that one then.  Fabled Fruit, Captain Sonar, Great Western Trail and The Grizzled also came up in our discussions and these were recommended by the Jury.  The winner of the Kinderspiel des Jahres will be announced in Hamburg on 19th June, with the Spiel and Kennerspiel des Jahres a month later in Berlin on 17th July.

Spiel des Jahres
– Image from spieldesjahres.de

 

Boardgames in the News: So, it’s OK to Play

There have been a number of recent articles on games and playing, in a range of BBC Radio 4 programmes including You & Yours, Mark Watson’s Inner Child, Saturday Live and “Do Pass Go”.  Today, there was another half hour documentary called “The Human at Play”, which set out to answer the question of why it’s becoming more acceptable for adults to play.  Starting at the London Toy Fair, Farrah Jarral then visited the Bristol game cafe Chance and Counters and spoke to play advocates, activists and academics as well as representatives of the UK games distributor Esdevium (now part of the Greater Asmodée).  They get a little bogged down on the definition of “play”, but there are a number of interesting points come out of the discussion.  Among these the fact that boardgaming is currently growing at a rate of 20-40% year on year – a mind-blowing statistic, but one that most Euro-gamers will have seen anecdotal evidence of.  They also conclude that not only is it OK for adults to play, it is also very valuable and may even be “essential to the future survival of our species”.

The Human at Play
– Image from bbc.co.uk

“The Human at Play” is currently available on the BBC iPlayer.

Boardgames in the News: Turning Goats into Water

In the Sindh deserts of Pakistan, the water situation is desperate:  some women walk for four hours to collect water for their family.  Fariel Salahuddin has an answer to the problem though, GOATS!  There are a lot of goats in the desert, every family has a goat or three, but money is scarce.  So, villagers club together, each providing a goat or whatever they can spare and Fariel and her friends sell them for during Eid when the price is high.  The money is used to pay for solar water pumps to provide water for drinking, bathing and cooking.  Perhaps the biggest impact though, is on society:  families are happier and the villagers are socialising more.

Goats for Water
– Image from bbc.co.uk

Next Meeting – 16th May 2017

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, 16th May, 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 the “Feature Game” will be Keyflower, which is a tile laying game with an unusual auction mechanic implemented using meeples. We’ve chosen Keyflower because it is one of our favourite games, but it is a long time since we’ve played it and lots of several players seem to have missed out.

– Image by boardGOATS

And talking of auctions…

Jeff wen to an auction and bought a Stradivarius and a Rembrandt.  He was very happy with them since the price he paid was remarkably low, and even he had heard the names.  Although he knew they were valuable, Jeff had no idea how much they were actually worth, so he decided ask a valuer to put a number on his windfall.

In response to his query, the valuer explained, “Well sir, this is indeed a Stradivarius and that is a Rembrandt, but it’s a great pity that Stradivarius couldn’t paint and Rembrandt couldn’t build violins…”

Spring 2017 Oxford Meeples Big DoG

On Saturday, April 29th, Oxford Meeples is opening the doors of Wolvercote Village Hall to the general public once more and inviting people to join them for of their quarterly Big Days of Gaming.  As usual, the Oxford Meeples will be bringing a large number of their games, but everyone is welcome to bring their own as well.  The hall opens at 10 am with gaming starts from about 10.30 am and continuing ’til late.  Entry is free, although donations towards rent of the hall and refreshments are always appreciated.  Children are welcome so long as they are accompanied by an adult.  Several of the GOATS have committed to going, but final numbers will no doubt depend on other commitments (and the weather!) as usual.

Oxford Meeples Spring DoG '17
– Image from oxfordmeeples.org

Game Plan: Rediscovering Boardgames at the V & A Museum of Childhood

Inspired by the recent articles on Saturday Live and the Today Programme, on Easter Sunday, Pink and Blue decided to visit the V & A Museum of Childhood to see their “Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered” exhibition.  Catching a train from Oxford Parkway and negotiating the London Underground, they arrived in Bethnal Green.  With its vaulted ceiling and exposed metal work, the Museum building looks for all the world like a re-purposed Victorian Civil building, a train station, swimming pool or maybe some sort of pumping station.  Much to their disappointment, however, after extensive discussion and investigation, it turned out that the building was designed for the purpose, albeit after relocation of parts from “Albertopolis” on Exhibition Road.

Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered
– Image by boardGOATS

The exhibition itself was well presented and occupied a sizeable portion of the overall floor space.  Although it was located in one of the upstairs galleries, the exhibition was well advertised and, from entering the main hall, games were brought to the visitors’ attention with table space and signs offering the loan of games should people want to play.  It wasn’t an idle promise either, as there were several family groups making full use of the opportunity, albeit playing what might be called classic games rather than more modern, Euro games.

Senet
– Image by boardGOATS

A quick look at the model train cabinet and brief spell side-tracked by one or two other exciting toys preceded entry to the exhibition which was shrouded by an eye-catching red screen.  The first exhibit was a copy of Senet, arguably one of the oldest games in the world – so old in fact that we’ve lost the rules and nobody knows how to play it.  This was followed by some traditional games including a beautiful wooden Backgammon set made in Germany in 1685 and decorated with sea monsters and a lot of fascinating Chess sets, old and new.  Next, there were some ancient copies of Pachisi (which evolved into Ludo) and Snakes and Ladders, both games that originated in India and were originally played seriously by adults.

Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered
– Image by boardGOATS

Further round there were many other curious games, for example, The Noble Game of Swan from 1821, which was an educational game for children, itself developed from the much older, Game of the Goose.  Education was a bit of theme and there were a lot of games from the nineteenth and early twentieth century designed to teach geography in some form or another.  These included Round the Town, a game where players had to try to cross London via Charing Cross, and Coronation Scot, a game based on travelling from Glasgow to London inspired by the eponymous 1937 express train made to mark the coronation of George VI.

Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered
– Image by boardGOATS

Education didn’t stop there either:  for those that had been members of RoSPA‘s “Tufty Club“, there was a game promoting road safety featuring Tufty the Squirrel and his mates Minnie Mole and the naughty Willy Weasel.  However, when designing this roll-and-move game, they clearly ran out of imaginative “adventures” with a road safety message, as they had to resort to “Picking and eating strange berries – Go back three spaces…”

Tufty Road Safety Game
– Image by boardGOATS

Progressing through the late twentieth century, there were the inevitable copies of the childhood classic games, including Game of Life, Risk, Cluedo, Mouse Trap, Trivial Pursuit, Connect 4, Scrabble and the inevitable Monopoly, all of which risked bringing a tear to the eye as visitors remembered playing them as children.  The exhibition eventually brought us up to date with modern Euro-style games, presenting copies of Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne and Settlers of Catan.

Pandemic
– Image by boardGOATS

More interestingly, there was also an original prototype of Pandemic supplied by the designer, Matt Leacock, complete with his scribbles and bits of paper stuck over infection routes he decided to remove as the game developed.  One of the final display showed how the influence boardgames have had on the computer gaming industry is sometimes strangely reciprocated, with a copy of the Pac-Man game, including the title figure wrought in sunshine yellow plastic.

Pac Man
– Image by boardGOATS

Leaving the exhibition, there was just one last game – “What’s Your Gameface?“.  This cute flow chart entertained Blue and Pink for far longer than is should have as they tested it out with all their friends, relatives and fellow gamers (nobody came out as “Cheater”).

Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered
– Image by boardGOATS

With the exhibition done, there was still time for a wander round the rest of the museum and a quick cuppa in the cafe.  Reflecting on the exhibition, perhaps one of the best aspects had actually been the quotations that adorned the walls.  It seems luminaries from Plato to Roald Dahl have all had something to say on the subject of games.  Perhaps George Bernard Shaw supplied the most thought provoking comment though, when he said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  With this in mind, we did what gamers do when they travel, so tea and cake was accompanied by two rounds of Mijnlieff, the super-cool noughts and crosses game.  With the museum closing, it was time to head home, but there was still time for a game or two of 3 Sind Eine Zu Viel! on the train back to Oxford…

Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered
– Image by boardGOATS

The Exhibition is only open till 23rd April 2017, so there isn’t much time left and it is well worth a visit.

Boardgames in the News: More Games Reporting from the BBC

In recent years, there have been a number of short articles on the BBC especially on the radio; over the Easter weekend there was more Gaming Goodness.  Saturday Live is the Radio 4 Saturday morning magazine show presented by Aasmah Mir and the Rev. Richard ColesLast Saturday, guests included the comedian Milton Jones, the fiddle player Sam Sweeney (formerly of Bellowhead) and Catherine Howell, collections manager at the V & A Museum of Childhood. This latter guest was of particular interest as Catherine Howell curated the museum’s exhibition “Game Plan: Board Games Rediscovered”.  This traces the the history of boardgames from Senet to Pandemic: Legacy and beyond and comes to the end of its run on 23rd April 2017.

Samira Ahmed with Tom Vasel
– Image from samiraahmed.co.uk

Perhaps more interesting though was the Radio 4 documentary broadcast on Good Friday, called “Do Pass Go”.  Part of the “Seriously…” series, the half-hour program was presented by Samira Ahmed and included interviews with designers, reviewers and gamers with a visit to Spiel 2016 at Essen.  Much more than the usual five-minute clip, this is an in-depth study of the resurgence of analogue table top games in an increasingly digital world.  Both this and the Saturday Live article are available on iPlayer and for those who would like to know more there is also a blog post covering the making of “Do Pass Go”.