Tag Archives: Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

Boardgames in the News: How to Spot Fake and Counterfeit Games

Over the last few months, there have been increasing numbers of reports of fake or counterfeit games.  The quality of these forgeries is extremely variable and a huge range of games appear to be affected, from popular gateway games like Ticket to Ride: Europe, 7 Wonders or Dominion to more complex games like Terraforming Mars.  Card games like Codenames might be thought of as an obvious target due to how simple they are to reproduce, however, one of the most affected games is Azul, and reports suggest that it is the cardboard components that are poor quality—the plastic tiles are indistinguishable from the genuine articles.

– Image from czechgames.com

So, how does one spot a counterfeit board game?  The answer is basically the same as for anything else.  Firstly, look at the quality.  This is probably the strongest indicator and if the quality of the fake is particularly high the buyer might not mind so much, or even notice.  Things to look out for include:

– Image from imgur.com by BGG contributor ceephour

Some counterfeits are very high quality however.  This can be due to the so-called third shift work“, where a game is made in a factory that is nominally closed overnight, but the workers gain access and create bootleg copies with stolen material or off-cuts. Some of these are very good, but in some cases they also use parts that failed the quality control tests.  In such cases, the seller maybe more of an indication.  If buying on ebay or Amazon market place, beware if the seller has a strange name, claims to be located in the UK but isn’t, and has a very long delivery time.  In such cases, the scam is often to get payment a long time in advance, so that by the time the item is delivered (if at all), they are long gone.

Terraforming Mars
– Image from imgur.com

Thirdly, don’t imagine that Amazon is safe either:  there are three types of transaction, “Shipped from and sold by third-party seller”, “Sold by third-party seller and fulfilled by Amazon” and “Shipped and sold by Amazon”.  Amazon only “sells” authentic items, however due to “commingling“, their stock can become contaminated by fakes.  This is because when an item is sold by a third-party seller and fulfilled by Amazon, the third-party seller ships their item to Amazon who add it to their pile in their warehouse before they ship it on.  If the third-party is dodgy, the person buying from them may get lucky and get a copy from Amazon’s stock which means someone else will be unlucky…

Finally, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is—caveat emptor: Buyer Beware!

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 Jahres 2018Emojito! 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 2018Azul 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: 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

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”.

Spiel des Jahres Winners – 2016

The 2016 winner of the coveted German Game of the Year or Spiel des Jahres award is Codenames.  Codenames is which is a word-based deduction game played in teams.  Each team has a leader who gives clues to the rest of their team who are trying to choose particular word-cards from an array.  The trick is for the leader to come up with a clue that covers multiple correct answers so that the rest of the team can identify the complete set before the opposition.  It’s not really a game that really suits our group as several of the regulars aren’t very keen on social deduction games, but it is very quick to play, so, although we would probably have given the award to one of the two other nominees, Imhotep (manipulating large wooden blocks) or Karuba (“boardgame Bingo“), it may well end up as the “Feature Game” next week.

– Image used with permission of boardgamephotos

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).  This year the Kennerspiel des Jahres award went to Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King, which is one of our favourite games.  This year was a bit of a “Marmite” year for us as there were a lot of games on the lists that don’t really fit our group, including the two other Kennerspiel des Jahres nominees (Pandemic Legacy and T.I.M.E Stories).  The Kinderspiel des Jahres award was announced last month and went to Stone Age Junior (aka My First Stone Age), which is a simpler version of the family worker placement game Stone Age.

Stone Age Junior
– Image used with permission of boardgamephotos

Spiel des Jahres Nominations 2016

This week, 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:

A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the possible winners of these awards and we felt there wasn’t really an obvious winner this year; now the nominations have been announced it is clear why we felt that way.  Our group are not huge fans of the “social deduction” games that have become popular of late, and since three of the six nominations in the two categories of interest to us are of this type, they are not games we have focussed on.  That said, we are very, very fond of Isle of Skye, and Karuba got its first outing last week and probably deserves another go.  Imhotep was only only released a few months ago and hasn’t yet made it to the table, but otherwise it looks like this year will be a fairly quiet one from our point of view.

Spiel des Jahres
– Image from spieldesjahres.de