Monday, May 31, 2010

Spiel des Jahres 2010 nominees and recommendations

Well, they've been announced on the SdJ website...
(In case you don't know, the Spiel des Jahres are the world's biggest board game awards, although they usually cater more to family games.  Settlers of Catan won in 1995 and Ticket To Ride won in 2003.)


A la Carte
Roll Through the Ages


Level X
Don Quixote
Hansa Teutonica

Well, looks like my favourites won't be winning.  Sigh.  Although I'm quite happy to see Tobago, Hansa, Samarkand, Jaipur, and Endeavor all on the recommendation list.  Chris Norwood over at GamerChris swears by Dixit, a party game that is more elegant and subtle than most and Roll Through The Ages has gotten a lot of press.

And I gotta say, I picked up up my copy of A la Carte last week.  It's a rather silly game of cooking that comes with neat little spice bottles and actual metal pots for your "food".  I'm excited to give that a try.

You can see the Children's Games nominees at the same website.  Congrats to all the nominees!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My issue with party games: case in point...

Played Balderdash last weekend at a friend's place and one of the players was Romanian.  He'd been in Canada since he was 13 so he's very fluent in English now but it's still not his first language.  Now, he's smart, very smart, but if you're familiar with Balderdash, you'll see the issue.  The goal is to write imaginary definitions for strange words so well that people will guess your definition is actually the real one.  Now, for someone who hasn't spent as much time reading English definitions as the rest of us, he's at a bit of a disadvantage.  Lame.  And not a fair game of skill.  He lost.  Of course.

Reminds of my game of Cranium with my very intelligent but dyslexic friend who kept having to spell words backwards.  He lost.  Of course. 

When I play a game, I'd like to know that everyone is on an even footing if they haven't played the game before,  independent of their academic or cultural background.  Maybe that's why I play so many Eurogames.  Cubes are totally language independent...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gaming in Waterloo...

Regular games night is happening Monday nights at the University of Waterloo.  We start at 6 pm and if you're in the Waterloo, Ontario area we'd love for you to join us.  Shoot me an email for more info. Some pics from this past Monday...

A game of the tricky Gonzaga underway

A couple people play 'Hey, That's My Fish' while waiting

Yours truly taking over for someone in 'Samarkand' and realizing he's been handed a winning hand

'Samarkand' - awesome new family game from Queen

Setting up the classic 'Puerto Rico'

'Lost Cities - The Board Game' being played at the other table

Friday, May 14, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The story of the Bottle Imp...

We have been playing Flaschenteufel: The Bottle Imp as many times as possible the past month. It is a ridiculously clever and devious trick-taking game that works best with three.  I am happy to say that this great little game is being reprinted in the upcoming year.

When Gunter Cornett invented the game, he had based it on a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Thanks to Wikipedia, here is the story:

The story is about a working class native of Hawaiʻi, Keawe, who buys a strange bottle from a sad, elderly gentleman who credits the bottle with his wealth and fortune, and promises the imp in the bottle will also grant Keawe his every wish and desire.
Of course, there is a catch — the bottle must be sold at a loss, i.e. for less than its owner originally paid, or else it will simply return to him. The currency used in the transaction must also be in coin (not paper currency or check). The bottle may not be thrown or given away. If an owner of the bottle dies without having sold it in the prescribed manner, that person's soul will burn for eternity in Hell.
The bottle was said to have been brought to Earth by the Devil and first purchased by Prester John for millions of dollars; it was owned by Napoleon and Captain James Cook and accounted for both's great successes, but each sold it - leading both to a nasty end. At the time of the story the price has diminished to eighty dollars, and declines rapidly to a matter of pennies.
Keawe buys the bottle and instantly wishes his money to be refunded, to convince himself he hadn't been suckered. When his pockets fill with coins, he realizes the bottle does indeed have unholy power. He finds he cannot abandon it or sell it for a profit, so he wishes for his heart's desire: a big, fancy mansion. He then sells the bottle to a friend (after explaining the risks) and returns to Hawaiʻi.
Upon his return, Keawe's wish has been granted, but at a price: his beloved uncle and cousins have been killed in a boating accident, leaving Keawe sole heir to his uncle's fortune. Keawe is horrified, but uses the money to build his house.
Keawe lives a happy life, but there is something missing. Walking along the beach one night, he meets a beautiful woman. They soon fall in love and become engaged. Keawe's happiness is shattered on the night of his betrothal, when he discovers that he has contracted "the Chinese Evil" (leprosy) in his travels. He must give up his house and wife, and live in the caves with the other lepers. Unless...
Keawe tries to track down the friend to whom he sold the bottle, but the friend has become suddenly wealthy and left Hawaiʻi. Keawe eventually finds the bottle, but the owner has bad news: he only paid two cents for it. If Keawe buys it for one, he won't be able to resell it.
Keawe decides to buy the bottle, and wishes himself clean. But now he is despondent: how can he possibly enjoy life, knowing his doom? His wife mistakes his depression for regret at their marriage, and asks for a divorce. Keawe confesses to her his secret.
His wife suggests they sail to Tahiti, where the colonists of French Polynesia use centimes, a coin worth one-fifth of an American cent. When they arrive, however, the suspicious natives won't touch the cursed bottle. Keawe's wife decides to bribe an old sailor to buy the bottle for four centimes, and she will secretly buy it back for three. But now she carries the curse.
Keawe discovers what his wife has done, so he asks a brutish boatswain to buy the bottle for two centimes, and he will buy it back for one, thus sealing his doom. However, when Keawe goes to retrieve the bottle, the sailor threatens to bash in his head. There's no way he's giving up the magic wishing bottle. (Its most attractive feature, from the boatswain's point of view, is being filled with a never-ending supply of whisky.)Keawe warns the sailor that he'll go to hell if he keeps the bottle, but the sailor never expected to go anywhere else. Keawe returns to his wife, finally free from the curse. In effect Satan is confounded - having taken considerable trouble in sending this bottle into the world, and finally gotten for it only the boatswain's soul, which was his anyway. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Analysis and Innovation....

In his review of the upcoming release Innovation from Asmadi Games, the other Eric Martin places his first game on par with reading Walter Rudin's classic undergraduate mathematical analysis text, The Principles of Mathematical Analysis.  Having been through 11 years of post-seondary mathematical studies, I can still say that I find Principles to be a hard and very dry read.

I think I'll be passing on this game....

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Played last night: Hansa Teutonica and Flaschenteufel

Hansa Teutonica - Finally played it last night and I think it really is as good as they say.  Tactical, open-ended, lots of player conflict, and quick-moving.  Feels more like a more abstract Endeavor (I know, seriously?) but doesn't capture the same feeling of conquest.  AWFUL rulebook translation.

Flaschenteufel - Yes, the bottle imp really is a devilish delight.  A very devious trick-taking game that is great for 3 players and really makes you feel like you're making deals with the devil.  Love it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

You tell me: Spiel des Jahres 2010

Nominees for this year's Spiel des Jahres award should be coming out near the end of this month.  Thought I'd see what you all think the nominees for this year could be...

Monday, May 3, 2010

On the horizon: Age of Industry

BGN points us to the impending release from Treefrog Games, Age of Industry, which is a simplification of Martin Wallace's Brass.

I admit to not having many Martin Wallace games (only two, really) but Brass has been getting rave reviews since its release a few years ago.  I avoided it after reading the complex rule set.  Trust me, I know my friends.  But AOI seems to have simplified at least some of it and streamlined the game a bit.

As well, Age of Steam (which I still consider a Wallace design even after all that legal drama) is possibly the best board game I think I've ever played.  So yeah, excited about this one...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

And the winners are....

Stephany Lopers and Chad Weaver!!!  Congrats on the draw for a copy of the new Wits & Wager Family.  Expect an email from me in the next day or so.  And thanks to everyone who submitted their guesses...