Tag Archives: Elysium

Boardgames in the News: Playing Diamond Light Source

Diamond Light Source is a particle accelerator near Harwell, Didcot.  The synchrotron accelerates electrons to near light speeds so that they give off light ten billion times brighter than the sun.  It is used by over six thousand visiting scientists per year from both from academia and industry who study everything from fragments of ancient paintings to fossils, from jet engines to unknown virus structures.  As part of their ongoing education and out-reach program, Diamond staff, Mark Basham and Claire Murray engaged with board game designer and now former research scientist, Matthew Dunstan to produce Diamond: The Game.

Diamond: The Game
– Image from diamond.ac.uk

Matthew Dunstan is probably best known for Elysium (nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres in 2015), but also designed/co-designed Chocolate Factory, Pioneer Days, Monumental and Relic Runners.  As a graduate student at Cambridge, he was also interested in structural chemistry and was familiar with Diamond Light Source.  The value of gaming and play in general and as tools for learning and social development are well known, and there are many games with a science education element, including Periodic, Compounded, Inhabit the Earth, ION, and Evolution (the last of which was the subject of a publication in Nature).

Diamond: The Game
– Image from twitter.com

Diamond: The Game1 is a bit different to these, however, as it was specifically aimed at secondary school students (aged 11–18).  The game was intended to enable them to explore the broad variety of science carried out at Diamond, scientific careers and the experiences of being a scientist.  To increase student engagement and attainment, there was a specific emphasis on linking curriculum and classroom learning to scientific applications and the real-life careers available in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.  The initial release was delayed thanks to the global pandemic, so a “print and play” version was released in 2020 with a lighter variant aimed at primary school children.  Schools that would like a hard copy can apply online.

– Video by Paul Grogan

1 Murray, C. et al., Res. for All, (2022), 6(1); doi:10.14324/RFA.06.1.14.

Spiel des Jahres Winners – 2015

The 2015 winner of the coveted German Game of the Year or Spiel des Jahres award is Colt Express which is a game about bandits robbing an amazing 3D train.  The game plays in two phases:  first everyone plays action cards cards onto a common pile and then the action cards are resolved in the order they were played. There were three games nominated for the Spiel des Jahres this year and we’ve played the other two, Machi Koro and The Game, so we’ll play Colt Express next week to see what all the fuss is about!

Colt Express
– Image used with permission of BGG contributor henk.rolleman

At the same time the Kennerspiel des Jahres was awarded, which honours more challenging games.  It was introduced in 2011 to replace the jury’s habit of intermittent special awards for games too complex for the Spiel des Jahres (notably Agricola which was awarded a special “Complex Game” prize in 2008).  The 2015 award went to Broom Service, which is a reimplementation of the 2008 Spiel des Jahres nominated game, Witch’s Brew.  It is a role selection game where players collect potions, then deliver them across the land to towers that advertise their desires with color-coded roofs.  This year we haven’t played this or either of the other nominees (Orléans and Elysium), but it probably won’t be long before we do.

Broom Service
– Image from asaboardgamer.com