Tag Archives: Cascadia

Boardgames in the News: The Guardian’s 2022 Christmas Choice

Some time ago, The Guardian added a specially dedicated board game section to their online “lifestyle” magazine.  Although they include articles covering jigsaws, role-playing and even Wordle in the mix, over the years, they’ve also published popular articles discussing modern board games—their 2020 “Best Game to Play at Christmas” article has garnered over a thousand comments.  Their latest contribution is a list of seven of the best new board games to play with family.  The most high profile game in the list probably is Cascadia which won the 2022 Spiel des Jahres award (and was a runner up for the Golden GOAT last week), but the list includes a variety of games and is well worth a look.

Cascadia
– Image by boardGOATS

Golden GOAT Award Winners – 2022

As usual, the boardGOATS met just before Christmas for a party and to decide the winners of the GOAT Awards.  After pizza and crackers and the usual mayhem, the group voted for two awards:  the Golden GOAT for our favourite game and the “GOAT Poo” award for our least favourite.  Everyone had the usual three points to hand out for the Golden GOAT Award (plus a bonus if wearing Festive Attire), though a maximum of two points could be given to any individual game.  Everyone could also nominate up to two individual games for the GOAT Poo Prize.

Dice Hospital
– Image by boardGOATS

This year, there were a few games that received the unofficial “Marmite Award”, that is to say they received nominations for both the Golden GOAT and the GOAT Poo prizes.  These included Dice Hospital, Azul, Modern Art and Viticulture.  For the GOAT Poo Prize itself, there were several games that received two or three nominations, but the clear winner was Villainous – The Worst takes it All which received six nominations—quite an achievement since only five people played it and one of those wasn’t present for the vote!  Villainous is a beautiful, asymmetric card game, but one that we struggled with for several reasons, not least the fact that players had to work out how to play their own character, and we were playing it with five people which is two or three more than it needs.

Disney Villainous: The Worst Takes it All
– Image by boardGOATS

Nominations for Moment of the Year included two epic games, one of Viticulture and the other of Tapestry.  The latter nomination included the citation:  “I thought I was doing well until Ivory lapped me… twice!”  Pine also recalled Lilac nobbling him in Turf Horse RacingThe most poignant moment however, with hindsight, was last year’s UnChristmas Dinner, which was the last meeting attended by Burgundy, who very sadly, suddenly passed away just a few days later.  We all still miss him, but the fact we were joined by Jade and Plum and their partners this year is his legacy, and one we think he would have been proud of.

Mike Parker
– Image by
Pushpendra Rishi

And that just left the Golden GOAT Award for the best game of the year.  Previous winners including Wingspan, Altiplano and 6 Nimmt! were ruled out, but there were plenty of options remaining.  Lots of games received three nominations including Endeavor, Cascadia, Old London Bridge, Splendor, Tapestry and Die Wandelnden Türme  But this year, the clear winner was Everdell. This card-driven game was only played for the first time a few weeks ago, but it is planned to play it again soon with one of the expansions being the “Feature Game” early in the new year.

Golden GOAT - 2022
– Image by boardGOATS

15th November 2022

With lots of absentees including Pink, Lemon, Orange and Plum, it was a relatively quiet night, but there were still nine and that left a difficult decision as to how to split up the group.  The “Feature Game” was Everdell, and although it only really plays four, Ivory had the new, Complete Collection which includes the Bellfaire expansion which adds two more players.  Three players seemed a little on the small side, so a four and a five it was, and the five were keen to give Everdell a go.

Everdell
– Image by boardGOATS

Although Ivory had played Everdell with Pink and Blue in the summer of 2020, nobody had seen the new, Complete Collection which was a recent acquisition for Ivory, and what a box it was—It was humongous!   Everyone wondered how Ivory stored it.  That developed into a conversation about where people store their games, and it seems pretty much everyone uses a “Kallax” (though some people didn’t know that’s what they are called). However, it turned out the Everdell box is so big, it doesn’t fit onto a Kallax and Ivory stored it under his bed!

Everdell
– Image by boardGOATS

Everdell is a very good looking game, a card-driven, tableau building and worker placement game set in a woodland glade.  Players take the role of leader of a group of critters constructing buildings, meeting characters and hosting events by placing workers to get resources and spending them to play cards.  Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to choose their own wooden meeple animals out of a selection of over twenty different types.  Ivory went for the purple Platypuss, Purple went for a light purple Owl, Lilac went for orange Foxes, Teal chose the grey Hedgehogs , and Green wanted the Brown Bats.  By random selection using a mobile app, Teal was to go first.

Everdell
– Image by boardGOATS

It took a few turns to get the hang of the game, although it is not overly complex on the face of things.  It is one of those games where there are apparently lots of choices, but in practice they are clear and relatively simple:  players either place a meeple to get a selection of resources, or play a card into their tableau.  And then, when all possible choices have been exhausted, players move onto the next “season”.  The trick is working out how to extend the possible number of turns taken each season. Ivory was the only one of the group who had played it before, so had got it worked out.  Everyone else had moved into spring while he merrily carried on taking his turns in his winter!

Everdell
– Image by boardGOATS

Teal was the first to move onto spring, and this order continued through the rest of the game. At one point it looked as though everyone else would have finished completely, while Ivory was still in summer!  It didn’t quite work out like that, but Ivory did have several more turns after everyone else had finished.  The other trick to Everdell is to pair up the Critters cards with the Construction cards. By building a Construction, a player could then build the corresponding critter for free afterwards, thus giving them extra turns and extra bonuses.  Ivory did well in this, and his starting and early meadow cards fell his way.

Everdell
– Image by boardGOATS

Green and Purple also did well getting pairs of cards and playing them during the game. Unfortunately Lilac and Teal just couldn’t seem to get the pairings they needed. So it seems there is still a certain amount of luck in this game.  The other thing which surprised everyone was how quickly the group got through a very big stack of cards from the meadow draw pile.  After last time where we nearly failed finish Endeavor before the pub closed, the group set an alarm to give them a thirty minute warning before closing time as we were worried we may have the same problem this time.

Everdell
– Image by boardGOATS

By the time the alarm went off nearly two hours later, the game was all but finished—not bad for a new five player game.  Playing it again, the same group could probably do it in ninety minutes or less.  Would it get another outing though?  It certainly has cuteness factor in spades; it is interesting, and the game-play is not overly complicated; it has challenge in random variations, and many good looking expansions to enhance and change the experience. So, it will almost certainly get another outing and Ivory had better not put the box too far under the bed, as we’ll be wanting him to bring it along again in the new year.

Everdell
– Image by boardGOATS

After too much “cards with text” with Villainous last month, it was clear that Everdell was not a game ideally suited to Lime and Pine.  Instead, Blue said she had just the game for them: Cascadia.  Cascadia won this year’s Spiel des Jahres award, and had not yet had an outing within the group.  The game is very simple though:  players have a starting three hex terrain tile, and on their turn, they take a terrain hex and a wooden wildlife token and add these to their tableau.  Each terrain tile has one, two or three types of wildlife depicted on it, and the wooden tokens have to be placed on a terrain tile with matching wildlife symbol and that is more or less all there is to it.

Cascadia
– Image by boardGOATS

The interesting part is the scoring.  Players score points for the largest area they have of each of the five different types of terrain with bonus points for the player with the largest area of each.  That is simple enough, but they also score points for each of the different types of wildlife, and their scoring is different for each game.  The scoring depends on the location of each type of wildlife, for example, this time players scored for each set of three (and only three) adjacent bears.  They also scored points for each different type of wildlife between pairs of hawks.  Ribbons of salmon and groups of elk also scored as did foxes for each different type of wildlife surrounding them.

Cascadia
– Image by boardGOATS

The game play behind Cascadia isn’t very new or terribly original, with the tile laying elements giving a feel similar to games like Kingdomino, or even Carcassonne.  The variation in the wildlife scoring (with more wildlife cards available to add more variety), however, and the fact that the wildlife tokens are finite in number and are drawn from a bag, adds just a hint of something reminiscent of bag-builder games like Orléans or Altiplano.  As the group played and Lime and Pine got into it, Blue and Black started to appreciate the subtlety a little more.  The addition of special Keystone tiles that give players nature tokens when wildlife tokens are placed on them, also help players to mitigate the luck elements.

Cascadia
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, foxes seemed to hide in the corner of the bag when players wanted them, then when they didn’t, they all came out of hiding.  Pine, inevitably put in a good showing and, despite everyone trying to persuade him, Lime succeeded in ignoring the advice to join his two groups of bears together (which would render them pointless).  The scores for the terrain were quite close with a spread of just a handful of points.  However, while Lime, Blue and Black had similar scores for their wildlife as well, Pine was eight points clear of his nearest rival giving him a final score of ninety-eight, ten points clear of Blue who was the best of the rest.  Pine and Lime had clearly enjoyed the game though and it will almost certainly get another outing soon.

Cascadia
– Image by boardGOATS

Lime excused himself, leaving Blue, Black and Pine to play something quick, taking less than an hour.  Although every time we play it, Pine points out that Bohnanza is not quick, this time he was persuaded because there were only three players and he wasn’t given time to think about it too carefully.  Bohnanza is one of the group’s most popular games, yet it hasn’t had an outing for ages.  The game play is very simple, but very interactive with a strong trading element. The active player first plays one or two bean cards from their hand into their fields taking care to keep them in the same order and only play the cards at the front.  They then turn over the top two cards from the deck and plant or trade them.  Finally when everything else has been dealt with, they can trade any cards in their hand with anybody else.

Bohnanza
– Image by boardGOATS

Cards are played into fields—with more players, each person has two fields in front of them and may buy a third, but with three, everyone starts with three fields.  This is important as each bean field can only hold one type of bean at any given time.  Beans can be harvested at any time to give coins and the game ends after three turns through the deck.  There are a few clever things about the game.  Firstly, players cannot harvest a field with a single bean in it unless all their fields have a single bean in them—this prevents players just cycling through beans they don’t want.  The really clever part of the game is that the fact that bean cards turn into coins when fields are harvested.  As the rarer beans are more valuable, this means they get increasingly rare as the game progresses.

Bohnanza
– Image by boardGOATS

This time, Blue planted two lots of Garden Beans early in the game which meant there were none available later.  Pine and Black shared the Black-eyed Beans, Stink Beans and Red Beans between them.  Blue planted lots of Green Beans and took it in turns with Pine to experiment with Soy Beans.  By the end, there were really only Wax Beans, Blue Beans, Coffee Beans and the occasional Green, Soy and Stink Beans.  With three experienced people playing, it was always going to be a tight game.  Pine finished with thirty “Bohnentaler”, a couple of more than Black, and was quite disgusted to find he was pipped by Blue by a single point.

Bohnanza
– Image by boardGOATS

Learning outcome:  Ikea need to sell a bigger Kallax.

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
spiel-messe.com

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

Deutscher Spiele Preis 2022 – Time to Vote

The best known award is probably the Spiel des Jahres: this year’s winners were announced yesterday.  The Deutscher Spiele Preis, or German Game Prize, is slightly less well known, but arguably better reflects the slightly more advanced, “Gamers Games”, with the results usually more in line with Kennerspiel des Jahres category rather than the family Spiel des Jahres award, or “Red Pöppel”.  Whereas the Spiel des Jahres awards are selected by a jury, the Deutscher Spiele Preis is selected by a general vote which is open to anyone, players, journalists and dealers alike.

Deutscher Spiele Pries 2022
– Image from
spiel-messe.com

Voters must include their name and address, so after removing any duplicates, all votes are treated the same with games placed first receiving five points, those placed second receiving four, and so on.  The top ten games from the previous year are included in the ranking, so this year that’s games released in German since the end of July 2021.  Thus anything new at Essen last year or the Spielwarenmesse (Nürnberg) this year, is eligible.  So that includes games like Ark Nova, Cascadia, Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest, Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition, Red Rising and Creature Comforts.

Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest
– Image by boardGOATS

Voting is open until 31st July; it’s not necessary to submit a full list, so why not take the opportunity to vote for your favourite release of the year?

Spiel des Jahres Winners – 2022

The 2022 Spiel des Jahres (German Game of the Year) winner has just been been announced as Cascadia.   Cascadia is a token-drafting and tile laying game featuring the habitats and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest.  Players take turns expanding their terrain area and populating it with wildlife by taking a terrain and wildlife pair of tiles and adding them to their territory.  Players are trying to create large areas of matching terrain to create wildlife corridors, while also placing wildlife tokens to achieve the goal associated with that animal type (e.g. separating hawks from other hawks, surrounding foxes with different animals and keeping bears in pairs).

– Image by BGG contributor singlemeeple

In recent years, there has been a marked change in the sort of games winning the award with a noticeable shift to lighter games with a general drift away from “traditional board games” like past winners, El Grande, Tikal, The Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride: Europe.  This was epitomised by last year’s winner MicroMacro: Crime City, which is arguably more of an activity than a game.  Although this may make games more relevant to a wider cross-section of the public, it also means the Spiel des Jahres awards are increasingly less applicable to more traditional gamers.  This year’s winner, Cascadia is something of a throwback in this regard, being a more conventional modern board game and not as light as some of the recent winners.

– Image by Ludonaute

That said, the introduction of the Kennerspiel des Jahres or “connoisseur” award eleven years ago, was aimed at filling the gap left by the drift of the Spiel des Jahres Award, with a move towards lighter games.  As such, it is usually a better fit for the experienced gamer, though not necessarily those who enjoy classic Euro board games.  This year, all three nominees were more traditional Euro-type games, guaranteeing that the winner would be too.  The Kennerspiel des Jahres winner is announced at the same time as the winner of the “Red Poppel”, and this year it was another nature game, Living Forest, a game where players are a nature spirit trying to save the forest and its sacred tree from the flames of Onibi.

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

The Kinderspiel des Jahres award winner was announced last month and went to Zauberberg (aka Magic Mountain), a game where players move sorcerers’ apprentices down a mountain, and ride the influence of the will-o’-the-wisp.  As usual, congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

Spiel des Jahres Nominations 2022

The nominations for the three categories of Spiel des Jahres have been announced.  This is arguably the main award in board gaming and is the one everyone wants to win.  There are three categories, the Kinderspiel (children’s game) , the Kennerspiel (“expert’s” game) and the most desirable of all, the family award, the Spiel des Jahres.  The nominees for this year’s awards have been announced as:

In recent years, there has been an increasing tendency by the committee to reward games that challenge the conventional idea of a game.  This was certainly true with Last year’s winner, MicroMacro: Crime City, which is very different to traditional games and arguably is more a cooperative crime-solving activity using the medium of “Where’s Wally?“.  The “game” is played on a large monochrome map, with a deck of cards. The cards ask questions with the answers to the questions on the map. In turn, these lead the players to the solution to each of the sixteen cases.

– Image by BGG contributor Hipopotam

The Kennerspiel des Jahres award which honours slightly more challenging games, went to Paleo and the Kinderspiel des Jahres award winner was Dragomino, a children’s version of Kingdomino (which won the main prize in 2017).  Paleo is a co-operative campaign game, where players try to keep the human beings in their care alive while completing challenges.  With the games honoured by the main award becoming lighter over the years, we have found the Kennerpiel des Jahres is generally a better fit to our tastes.  However, campaign and legacy games are not well suited to groups where the people playing games are different from week to week, and many people don’t like cooperative games too, so it will be interesting how this award changes in coming years.

– Image by from spiel-des-jahres.de

The judges will be meeting 17-19th June in Hamburg, with the Kinderspiel award announced on 20th June.  The Spiel and Kennerspiel des Jahres announcements are a month later on 16th July in Berlin.

Essen 2021

Today is the first day of this year’s Internationale Spieltage.   Known to Gamers worldwide simply as “SPIEL” or “Essen”, this is the largest games fair in Europe (and arguably the world), and is held annually in Germany.  The fair runs from Thursday to Sunday in October every year, and is of particular significance as many new releases are timed to coincide with the event just in time for Christmas sales.

Essen 2021
– Image from spiel-messe.com

It is one of the biggest and most significant of all the boardgame conventions.  Last year, like so many things, it fell victim to the global pandemic, and instead was held online, in a format that was widely considered unsatisfactory (especially to those used to visiting in person).  This year, there will again be a “virtual” event, but this time held alongside the “Real Spiel”, an event with limited ticket numbers and virus control measures in place.  Safety concerns and worries about practicalities mean the show will be much, much smaller than usual with only 60% of the usual attendees and many exhibitors noticeable by their absence.

Essen 2019
– Image by boardGOATS

Absentees include, 2F-Spiele, Cwali, Splotter, BoardGameGeek, and even the mighty Asmodee and all their subsidiaries.  As a result, this year, Essen is likely to feel more like the smaller, more intimate event of years gone by.  There are still lots of games making their debut though, including Messina 1347, Golem, Boonlake, Llamaland, It’s a Wonderful Kingdom, Cascadia and expansions for Keyper (Keper at Sea) and the 2021 Kennerspiel-winning game Paleo (Ein neuer Anfang!).  Sadly, none of the boardGOATS will be there to see them though.  Maybe next year…

Essen 2021
– Image from spiel-messe.com