Category Archives: News

Next Meeting, 29th November 2022

Our next meeting will be Tuesday 29th November 2022.  As usual, we will start 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 the Asia expansion to the multi-award-winning bird-themed card game, Wingspan.  This latest expansion introduces new cards and a “flock” mode for playing with six or more players.

Wingspan: Asia
– Image from

Speaking of birds…

Jeff and Joe were chatting about their favourite songs.  Joe was really into modern stuff, but Jeff said he preferred eighties music.  Then Joe asked Jeff what his favourite song was.

Jeff answered, “Wake me up before you Dodo…”

Boardgames in the Nude: A Report in The Independent

Board games have long been a tradition in Germany, as has naturism, but a recent report in The Independent suggests that in rural Lincolnshire they have taken to combining the two German traditions.  NakedLincolnshire organise “Social Nudity, Naturism and Clothes Optional Events”, and one of their recent events, attended by Colin Drury, was a games night in the Hemswell and Harpswell Village Hall.  The report suggests they played Chess, UNO, Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble and other family-friendly fayre, so perhaps someone might like to go along to their next event introduce them to some more modern games?

– Image from The Independent

Essen 2022

Known to gamers worldwide simply as “SPIEL” or “Essen”, the Internationale Spieltage, the annual German games fair is the largest in Europe and arguably the world.  The fair is of particular significance as many new releases are scheduled to coincide with the event just in time for Christmas sales.  In 2020, like many other events, SPIEL was cancelled.  The online event that replaced it was not as successful, and in 2021 there was a return to the in person fair albeit with restrictions and much smaller than that in 2019.  Today is the first day of this year’s SPIEL which runs from Thursday to Sunday every October.

Essen 2022
– Image from

Although many of the Covid restrictions have been lifted, medical grade surgical masks covering mouth and nose are still mandatory for all visitors and exhibitors.  So while SPIEL will likely be larger this year than last, it probably won’t reach pre-pandemic proportions.  The maths trade is back though, a crazy event where hundreds of people agree multiple trades and sales online in advance and then all meet up at 3pm and try to find the people they have made contracts with and make the exchanges.  Remarkably, it works, and very well too, with some people selling hundreds of euros worth of games through this means.

Essen Maths Trade
– Image by Friedhelm Merz Verlag

Despite the number of people involved, the exchanges only take a few minutes and it is usually almost all over in half an hour making it a surprisingly efficient way of making space for the new arrivals.  In addition to the Maths Trade, there will be the usual exhibitors showcasing their wares.  The Spiel des Jahres and Deutscher Spiele Preis winners will also all be available and there will also be lots of games making their SPIEL debut.  These include Uwe Rossenburg’s latest game, Atiwa, and the top of “The Essen Hotness” games:  Tiletum, Revive, Woodcraft, Lacrimosa and Hamlet: The Village Building Game.  Games like Flamecraft, Turing Machine and War of the Ring: The Card Game will be for sale too.

– Image by BGG contributor W Eric Martin

There will be re-implementations, like Richard Breese’s reworking of his 1998 game, Keydom’s Dragons (formerly Keydom), Clever 4Ever (extending Ganz Schön Clever), Skymines (a redevelopment of Mombasa), Amsterdam (formerly Macao) and of course, Ticket to Ride (San Francisco).  Expansions will also be on show for games like The Red Cathedral (Contractors), Galaxy Trucker (Keep on Trucking), Meadow (Downstream), Sagrada (The Great Facades – Glory) and two of our favourites, Viticulture (World) and Wingspan (Asia).  Sadly, no-one from boardGOATS will be there to see them though; maybe next year…

Wingspan: Asia
– Image from

Then we were Ten – Happy Birthday to Us!

Ten Today

BoardGOATS is Ten Years Old Today!

Ten years ago today, six people met in the back room of The Horse and Jockey pub in Stanford-in-the-Vale and played games.  Since then, we’ve survived, closure of the pub after the fire, eighteen months of gaming online, the loss of one of our stalwarts, and recent uncertainties at the pub.  We are still going though, and will be meeting this week and celebrating with chips and cake.

Deutscher Spiele Preis – 2022

The Deutscher Spiele Preis awards recognise the “Best Children’s Game” and a top ten list of the “Best Family and Adult Games”, the results of an open vote by games clubs, gamers and people in the industry.  They are awarded annually at the Internationale Spieltage in Essen and the winners are announced in advance.  As annual awards, the games named in the Deutscher Spiele Pris lists often intersect with the winners and nominees of Spiel des Jahres Award, but in many other ways, the awards differ.

Deutscher Spiele Pries 2022
– Image from

The Spiel des Jahres winners are chosen by a committee with a list of strict criteria whereas the Deutscher Spiele Preis is more a list of the most popular games of the preceding year.  As such, games that are not eligible for the any of the Spiel des Jahres Awards often feature in the top ten list of “Best Family and Adult Games”.  For example, games that were considered at the time to be too complex or aggressive for the Spiel des Jahres awards have ranked number one in the Deutscher Spiele Preis list.  These include Tigris & Euphrates (1998), Puerto Rico (2002), Louis XIV (2005), Caylus (2006), The Pillars of the Earth (2007), Agricola (2008), Terra Mystica (2013), Russian Railroads (2014), Voyages of Marco Polo (2015), Mombasa (2016) and Terraforming Mars (2017).

Terraforming Mars: Hellas & Elysium
– Image by boardGOATS

Of all these great games, only Terraforming Mars even received a nomination for the Kennerpiel des Jahres award (though Agricola did receive a special “Complex Game Award”).  In contrast, over the last few years, there has been much more overlap with games like Azul (2018), Wingspan (2019) and The Crew (2020) all ranking highest in the Deutscher Spiele Preis list and winning either the Spiel or Kennerspiel des Jahres award.  Further, all the other winners of both awards including MicroMacro, Cartographers, Paleo, Lost Ruins of Arnak have featured high on the Deutscher Spiele Preis list and/or received Spiel/Kennerspiel des Jahres nominations.

Ark Nova
– Image by boardGOATS

This year, while there is still a lot of overlap between the lists, the top ranked game on the Deutscher Spiele Preis list is a bit of a throwback, being too complex even for the Connoisseur or Kennerspiel des Jahres award.  The Deutscher Spiele Preis winner, Ark Nova has been extremely popular amongst gamers creating a lot of “buzz”, so it is no surprise that it did well.  The strategy revolves round building card combinations and the theme, zoo building is very appealing—everyone loves animals.

The full Deutscher Spiele Preis list is:

  1. Ark Nova
  2. Cascadia (Spiel des Jahres Award Winner)
  3. Dune: Imperium (Kennerspiel des Jahres Award Nomination)
  4. Living Forest (Kennerspiel des Jahres Award Winner)
  5. The Red Cathedral
  6. Witchstone
  7. Beyond the Sun
  8. SCOUT (Spiel des Jahres Award Nomination)
  9. Golem
  10. Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition
Ark Nova
– Image by boardGOATS

Boardgames in the News: The Evils of Cheating

Amongst gamers and friends, intentional cheating is a heinous crime—it is totally unacceptable.  But why?  On the face of things it is very simple, cheating is a betrayal of the contract, it is against the rules of the game, and without rules, there is no point, no game.  It runs deeper than that, however:  cheating violates our fundamental sense of fairness.  Everyone understands that life isn’t fair, but games are an abstracted version of life, where players can, for example, experience the thrill of taking chances, engage in complex plans, even take on a different persona and characteristics, or perhaps even Cheat.  With other things shifting, a key part of this gaming world is its fairness.

– Image from adapted by boardGOATS

Amongst friends, it is usually well understood that people are fallible and make mistakes, so when errors are noticed, the culprit is usually highly embarrassed and typically tries to rectify things in everyone else’s favour.  Intentional cheating is something else though and is seen as a violation of trust that can cause a deep, never to be healed, rift between erstwhile friends.  Added to this, amongst friends, there is little to be gained by cheating and so much to lose that it is remarkably rare.  It is perhaps largely because of this, that the current Chess cheating scandal is making headline news.

– Image by Unsplash contributor sk

The current furore surrounds a third round match between the Norwegian Magnus Carlsen and American Hans Niemann in the invitation only event, the Sinquefield Cup.  In the case of the Grand Tour Chess events (of which the Sinquefield Cup is one), while there is still much to lose, there is also a lot to gain, both financially and in reputation—reputation is currency as it gives access to invitation only events.  In the match in question, the Norwegian, Carlsen, world champion since 2013, who had been unbeaten in his previous fifty-three matches and with the advantage of playing white was beaten by the nineteen year-old American, Niemann, who was the lowest-ranked player in the tournament.

– from

Despite having another six rounds left to play, Carlsen then withdrew from the tournament.  Although a Tweet raised suspicions of cheating, Carlsen made no substantive allegation or presented any evidence.  However, a couple of days later, (one of the largest online chess sites) confirmed that Niemann had been removed from their site for cheating.  While Niemann himself admitted cheating during online games by using computer assistance, he denied cheating when playing face to face.  Opinions seem to be split, with analysis of the game by Chess Grand Masters showing no evidence of cheating, while circumstantial evidence suggesting Niemann was not able to analyse his own moves without electronic assistance.

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This is not the only instance of accusations of cheating at Chess—nearly twenty years ago Veselin Topalov‘s manager accused then world champion Vladimir Kramnik of cheating during his allegedly “strange, if not suspicious” trips to the toilet, and in the late 1970s Viktor Korchnoi’s team alleged world champion Anatoly Karpov’s team were cheating by sending their player a fruit yoghurt with carefully arranged blueberries.  The current outcry from both sides, some supporting Carlsen in his actions and others accusing him of making unsubstantiated allegations, show how divisive cheating can be, even amongst professional circles.  Amongst friends, though less public, cheating can be even more destructive ending long-held friendships, and this is why intentional cheating is such a crime and considered totally unacceptable by gamers.

– Image by Unsplash contributor Felix Mittermeier

Boardgames in the News: What are “Filler” Games?

To most people, games come in two types, board games and card games.  Modern board gamer, however, have many other classifications.  For example, board gamers make the distinction between Strategy Games and Family Games.  Strategy Games typically are more complex than Family Games, which is not to say that Family Games don’t involve strategy, simply that the strategies are more involved.  Typically, a “Light Family Game” will be relatively simple in concept and take around forty-five minutes to an hour to play, where “Heavy Strategy Games” tend to take at least a couple of hours and sometimes several or more.

– Image by boardGOATS

Examples of Family Games include Niagara, Downforce and Escape: The Curse of the Temple, while Altiplano, Keyflower and Concordia might be described as Strategy Games.  There is a third category which, can be harder to describe, Filler Games.  These are typically shorter games that often also fit the Family Game criteria, but have sufficient challenge that players of heavier Strategy Games enjoy playing them between other games.  “Shorter” is obviously in the eye of the beholder—to people who often play games that last several hours, any game that lasts less than an hour and a half might be a “Filler game”.

– Image by boardGOATS

However, if a games night lasts around three hours, a Filler Game might be one that lasts no more than around thirty minutes or so.  More importantly, and in order to save time, they have minimal setup time and are usually well known amongst gamers or at least are very quick to teach.  Popular Filler Games include card games like No Thanks! and Love Letter, but also tile laying games like NMBR9 and board games like Tsuro and Draftosaurus.  All these fit the basic criteria, but additionally are good fun and are great for warming up or down at the start or end of an evening, as well as for playing between games and while waiting for other games to finish.

No Thanks!
– Image by boardGOATS

Boardgames in the News: Changes to Game Selling on BoardGameGeek

Many gamers have lots of older, unloved games that take up space that could be used for new or more exciting games.  There are lots of solutions to this problem, but one is to sell, but the question is, “Where?”  Historically, there have been two main solutions to this:  ebay and the BoardGameGeek Marketplace.  The advantages of ebay are the size of the market and the tools that are available, however, for many, the BoardGameGeek Marketplace has been the venue of choice for several reasons.  These include the feedback from names recognised on the forums, and the fact that sellers/buyers are dealing with gamers who talk the same language and typically care about similar things or at least understand their concerns (e.g. how well it is wrapped, marks on the back of cards, wear to the pieces etc.).

ebay Logo
– Image from

As mentioned recently, in March, BoardGameGeek announced a new Marketplace to replace the old one.  This was to be a more professional offering produced in partnership with Marketbase and was rumoured to be required by the US Internal Revenue Service.  However, a week ago, it was announced that this new market place (which was still in the beta-testing phase and had not been released world-wide), was to be closed on 1st September with no new listings from 15th August.  The explanation given was that the “marketplace software and service provider was unable to replicate the same success across other communities and is now forced to close their marketplace offering.”  It is perhaps worth noting that although Marketbase claim there was a “150% month-to-month growth” any increase in sales was probably strongly influenced by a free shipping offer.

BGG Corner Logo 2022
– Image from

The new Marketplace had been quite divisive and many people were pleased to see its demise, however, that was short-lived as yesterday, BoardGameGeek announced that the “Classic Marketplace” would also close on 1st September.  In its place, there will be new, commission-free “flea market” forum pages on each game page.  At this time, it is not clear how much of the subscription service, feedback and other features (like price tracking) will be retained and how, but it is clear that the current plan is to completely remove the old market place and with it, all the historic data.  This loss of information is a great shame as it means there is no evidence to support expectations of how much games are worth and as a result, reduces BoardGameGeek to the “Wild West” that is the FaceBook Marketplace and the myriad of FaceBook selling groups.

FaceBook Logo
– Image from

Boardgames in the News: Games Shop Closures – Is it really THAT Bad?

In an excellent recent article on the TabletopGaming website by Ludoquist co-owner, Nick Smith, listed some thirty games shops that have closed so far this year—in six months that is a lot, and behind every one there are the people, the gamers who were enthusiastic about gaming and have finished with debts, bankruptcy, a lot of stress and are likely now out of work.  Each closure is a tale of personal disaster and tattered dreams.  A closer look at this list, however, shows that nearly two thirds of the shops in this list are branded “Geek Retreat”, so what’s that all about?  Is there more to this than first meets the eye?

– Image from

Geek Retreat is a franchise built on a successful venture in Glasgow and then in Newcastle.  Instead of the “Pay-to-Play” model used by a lot of games cafés, they rely on a commitment from customers to buy food and drink at intervals.  They are not simply board game cafés, to a greater or lesser extent they cater for a wider range of interests including collectable games, comics, Pokémon and miniatures.  This varies from venue to venue, indeed, one of the issues they have is that the only thing the shops really share is the branding.  As a result, some are reportedly excellent, while others have a reputation for being very smelly for example and some are cramped, cliquey or otherwise unappealing.

Geek Retreat
– Image from

Further, there are rumours online about the Geek Retreat franchise itself.  In October 2020, Geek Retreat announced their intention to open a hundred venues—a ballsy move given the situation just a few months earlier due to the global pandemic and the fact that we had not yet been through the first Covid winter.  The positivity of that announcement was somewhat tempered by suggestions that the intention was to place these next to existing stores, muscle in in their trade and ultimately put them out of business.  There are other comments to the same effect, but Harry Antony on FaceBook was particularly vocifereous in October 2020:

“I spoke with the CEO of Geek Retreat over the phone because they wanted to find people interested in setting up and managing one of their shops,and they said they wanted to put a shop in every town in the UK, and they would get a contract with the council so only they could set up a gaming/geek culture shop in that town. What’s more, he asked where I lived, and I said I wouldn’t want to set up a shop there as there is already a newly-opened board game coffee shop here, and he said they would be able to put them out of business no problem. When I told him that they were friends of mine and they’ve worked on this for years, he said I need to not be soft and that business is a dog eat dog world. He also said they were arrogant for not taking Geek Retreat’s help to set up one of their franchise shops. I wouldn’t want anything to do with them.”

There is no question statements like this will not have helped the newly opening stores.  Further, with an alleged £5-10,000 upfront fee and 8-10% cut (on turnover, not profit), there is a suspicion that the arrangement is much better for the franchiser than the franchisee.  In a business which already has slim margins and at a difficult time, the high costs can be the difference between make or break.  Since the franchisees get relatively little from the brand due to the lack of consistency, it has been suggested that many of the most successful stores ultimately re-brand as an independent after a year or so.

Tabletop Gaming Logo
– Image from

That is not the case for most of the closed venues listed in the article on the TabletopGaming website, however.  These have closed, thanks largely to the current economic environment aggravated by the factors mentioned above, so perhaps it is no real surprise that the Geek Retreats have such a high attrition rate.  One of these closures is Geek Retreat Oxford.  This was opened in New Inn Hall Street in August 2021 by Matthew Wellington and Andra Gheorghe.  Just six months later it closed and it now looks like it will not be reopening.

Geek Retreat Oxford
– Image from

Oxford has a strong history of gaming venues with The Gameskeeper on the Cowley Road, Hoyle’s traditional games store at the junction of High Street and Longwall Street, and the highly popular Thirsty Meeples on Gloucester Green (which expanded and moved a couple of years ago).  That Geek Retreat Oxford, which received excellent reviews while it was open, lasted such a short time, is very sad.  But at least Oxford Geeks have other retreats—these need our continued support to ensure they survive the difficult times ahead.

Thirsty Meeples
– Image by boardGOATS