Category Archives: News

Next Meeting – 15th May 2018

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday, 15th 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 Caverna: The Cave Farmers, a worker placement game that reimplements the game Agricola.  Players take on the role of the bearded leader of a small dwarf family that lives in a little cave in the mountains. Everyone begins the game with a farmer and his spouse, and each member of the farming family represents an action that the player can take each turn. The families cultivate the forest in front of their cave and dig deeper into the mountain, furnishing the caves as dwellings, as well as working spaces for small enterprises.

Caverna: The Cave Farmers
– Image by BGG contributor saksi

And speaking of dwarves…

Jeff was walking through town late one evening when he bumped into a dwarf.  He didn’t see the diminutive chap, and stepped very heavily on his foot and snagged his belt buckle in his beard and knocked off his hat.

The dwarf hopped up and down cursing under his breath and, after extricating himself and picking up his hat, eventually yelled, “I really ain’t happy!”

Jeff replied, “Oh,” he said, “So which dwarf are you then?”

Spiel des Jahres Nominations 2018

Almost every time we’ve played Azul, the topic of conversation has moved on to the Spiel des Jahres and how it would be a travesty if it did not receive at least a nomination. It was with this in mind that we read the Spiel des Jahres nominations when they were announced this morning.  There are three nominees in each of the three awards:  a children’s game award (Kinderspiel des Jahres), the “Advanced” or “Expert” Kennerspiel des Jahres, and the main Spiel des Jahres (often interpreted as the “Family Game” award).  In addition, for the first time since 2010, there is also a special award for Pandemic Legacy: Season 2 by Matt Leacock & Rob Daviau, reflecting Pandemic, Forbidden Island and Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 that were all nominated, but failed to win a prize, and have had a significant influence on cooperative and legacy games as a whole.  The other nominees are:

  • Kinderspiel des Jahres
    Kinderspiel des JahresEmojito! by Urtis Šulinskas
    Funkelschatz (aka Dragon’s Breath) by Lena & Günter Burkhardt
    Panic Mansion (aka Shaky Manor) by Asger Harding Granerud & Daniel Skjold Pedersen
  • Spiel des Jahres
    Spiel des Jahres
    Azul by Michael Kiesling
    Luxor by Rüdiger Dorn
    The Mind by Wolfgang Warsch

Firstly, more than half of the nominees were designed by either Wolfgang Warsch, or Michael Kiesling, so huge congratulations to them.  In our view, Azul richly deserves it’s nomination and it would be no surprise if it ultimately wins the award.  Of the other two nominations for the “red pöppel”, The Mind has received quite a lot of attention, and is a bit like a cross between Hanabi and The Game (both of which have been acknowledged by the Jury in the past, in 2013 and 2015 respectively).  Luxor has a good pedigree as it is designed by Rüdiger Dorn (also designer of The Traders of Genoa, Goa, Istanbul, and one of our group favourites, Las Vegas), but it is a bit more of an unknown as it has only just come out.  Usually the Kennerspiel Prize winners are a good fit to our group, but this year they are also largely unknown to us, so there is clearly a lot to discover before the winners are announced in Berlin on 23rd July (Kinderspiel des Jahres winners will be announced in Hamburg on 11th June).

Spiel des Jahres
– Image from spieldesjahres.de

 

Boardgames in the News: Asmodee For Sale‽

Over the last few years Eurazeo have developed Asmodee from a small French games company primarily known for a clever little kids game called Dobble, into an industrial conglomerate swallowing up the likes of Days of Wonder, Fantasy Flight Games, Z-man Games, Mayfair, and Lookout Spiele.  In the process, Asmodee added some of the most high profile modern boardgames to their portfolio, including Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Pandemic, Agricola, Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game, SplendorDead of Winter, Settlers of Catan (now known simply as “Catan”) and as of this weekLove Letter.  Speculation as to the end result has been rife, here and elsewhere.  Indeed, three months ago we raised the question:

…it would seem that Eurazeo is not looking to hold onto Asmodee for the long haul, instead they will be looking to maximise Asmodee’s growth and then make their exit, probably in the next two to five years.  So the big question is, how are Eurazeo going to make their “controlled exit”?

Reuters now reports that according to un-named sources, the answer is, “Sell Asmodee”.  Apparently, investment bankers have been hired to run a sale process which they claim could value the company at over €1.5 billion (quite a return for Eurazeo who originally paid €143 million for Asmodee in November 2013).  As yet, there is no credible information as to who the potential buyers may be, but if the news that Asmodee is to be sold is true, there will no doubt be plenty of speculation over the coming weeks and months.  Possibilities range from a major toy manufacturer like Hasbro or Mattel wanting to add expand their range of boardgames, to venture capitalists companies going for maximum short term profits, leading to reduced quality and increased prices.  No doubt, time will tell…

Asmodee
– Image from forbes.com

Boardgames in the News: Osprey Plays Games at Blackwell’s

On 28th April 2018, Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford are holding their second games night in collaboration with Osprey Games, a small games publisher based up Cumnor Hill.  Originally owned by Berkshire Printing, part of Brooke Bond, the tea company, Osprey was formed in 1969 to publish “Aircam Aviation“, a series of books that grew out of the aviation illustrator Richard Ward’s work on the collectable tea cards.  In 1998, Osprey became an independent company and moved from London to Oxford and began focusing exclusively on publishing on warfare and military history books.  Over the last ten years, Osprey has been publishing the Bolt Action rules used for World War II simulation games, but more recently has also engaged in reprinting some of the lesser classic board/card games.  This includes Martin Wallace’s London, Reiner Knizia’s High Society and Patrick Reid’s semi-cooperative game, Escape from Colditz.

Osprey Games
– Image from tabletopgamingnews.com

Blackwell’s is a very well known independent Oxford bookshop, but given the increasing popularity of board gaming in Oxford, they have jumped on the band-waggon and now stock a moderate range of modern board games including staples like Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne.  Last October when London was re-released, Blackwell’s had copies available for pre-order for significantly less than they were being sold for at Essen a couple of weeks later.  Since then, Blackwell’s have had good deals available for other Osprey games as well, including Star Cartel and The Lost Expedition.  It is clear that Blackwell’s and Osprey Games are building a strong working relationship which was consolidated back in February when they held their first joint board games evening at Blackwell’s Bookshop on Broad Street.  This was clearly very successful, as there is now a second games evening planned for Saturday 28th April, 7pm-10pm.  There is a £4 entry fee, but that includes a free drink at the bar.

Blackwell's Bookshop Oxford
– Image from theguardian.com

Next Meeting – 17th April 2018

Our next meeting will be on Tuesday 17th April, 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 Mini Park.  This is a very quick, light tile-laying game from Taiwan that was popular at Essen last year.  Players take on the role of architects designing a new park, taking it in turns to either place a tile or add a character.

Mini Park
– Image by used with permission of boardgamephotos

And speaking of architects…

An architect named Jeff and an Engineer named Joe, went on a camping trip together.  It had been a long day and both of them were tired so they pitched their tent, and went to sleep.S

Some hours later, Joe woke his mate and said, “It is a beautiful night, Jeff, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.”

Jeff replied, “I see millions of stars.”

Joe asked, “What does that tell you?”

The young architect thought for a moment and then said, “Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically speaking, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, it’s evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.”  Then he paused before he continued, “Why, what does it tell you?”

His engineer friend was silent for a moment, and then said, “Practically speaking, it seems someone has stolen our tent…”

Boardgames in the News: So, What’s the Big Deal with “Legacy Games”?

Legacy games were the latest, greatest thing in boardgames in 2011, when the first “Legacy Game”, Risk Legacy, was first published.  Although Risk Legacy, was the first of this style of games, it was the arrival on the scene of Pandemic Legacy: Season 1, four years later, that really raised their profile, and with it’s arrival, there was a lot of debate.  Legacy games are board games where changes are made as players play; think “Choose Your Own Adventure“, only with a boardgame instead of a book.  The difference is that the changes that are made are permanent and affect game play the next time.  Examples of these changes include permanently marking cards, adding stickers to the board, destroying components, opening sealed envelopes, and so on.

Risk Legacy
– Image used with permission of BGG reviewer EndersGame

These changes are designed to be permanent and are typically part of a campaign that can only be played through once.   And this is where the controversy lies:  hitherto, boardgames have been toys that provide entertainment time and time and time again, and have a resale value, Legacy Games can only played through once and have little or no resale value once the campaign has been started.  There are other issues too, for example, for the best experience, these games need to be played with the same group every time, and as such, are not ideal for games groups where different people attend each time.  Designing them is considerably more complex than normal games as well, as all the alternate paths have to be balanced and every possible eventuality play-tested.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
– Image by BGG contributor Six8

There has been a lot of demand for the development of Legacy Games with a reset capability, and games like Fabled Fruit and Charterstone have been produced with this in mind.  Unfortunately, this completely misses the point:  the excitement of the true Legacy Games generate is precisely because they cannot be reset.  This is not to say that “Fabled Games” and other reset-able “Legacy-style” games are poor games, in fact, because they need more play-testing than most games, the opposite is often true.  And these games still have the feeling of exploring the unknown, but there is something they cannot reproduce.  The fact is, boardgames are very precious to gamers, and as a society people are taught to take care of games, so permanently damaging them is something everyone is taught not to do, a bit like permanently damaging a book.  For this reason, there is a frisson of excitement that comes with permanently changing a game and that is the true mark of a Legacy Game; love it or loath it, the knowledge that the game can be reset removes this defining aspect.

Pandemic Legacy: Season 1
– Edited from image by BGG contributor Muse23PT

Sad News of a Little Friend

Anyone who has been to a Monster Games event or one of the group’s New Year’s Parties over the last three years will be sad to hear of the passing of our little grey host this morning.  Always very chilled out, chatty and exceptionally friendly, courteous and good natured, he will be much missed by both his guests and staff.

Barney
– Image by boardGOATS