We all have a soft spot for the latest and greatest board game that’s coming out next. After all, it’ll be better and more wonderful than the game that came before it, or so we’re told. We are entranced by the playthroughs, we gawp at the beautiful components and we imagine how much fun we’ll have playing this amazing new game. Yet, sometimes these new games aren’t actually that new and we’re too blind to see it. So in this article, I want to explore what this means for us, as the board game buying public. (This topic was inspired by the always wonderful Bez.)
I had to get my message to the Princess. It was vitally important that she would hear this, but I had to be extremely careful. Many people were plotting against her, and against me, so nobody could be trusted. I had to try and get past the guards, the handmaiden and others to reach her. My heart was beating in my throat and my emotions were welling up. I tried to keep it together, because I was so close to delivering to her my Love Letter by Z-Man Games.
The crowds were gathering outside, asking difficult questions, asking to be let in, not sure if we still had any control over them – but we fobbed them off with excuses, sent them to a different office and generally put up a smokescreen. We hadn’t finished our final project yet. There was so much left to do, so much evidence to destroy or get out of the back door. We didn’t know how much time we might have left, when we finally heard the chanting outside: “Stasi raus, es ist aus!” by DDR Museum.
I could hear screeching tyres and gunshots coming from video game machines, the melodic sounds of fruit machines and some general hubbub of laughter, talking and other noise. I was standing at one end of the air hockey table, with my opponent on the other side. Yet, even though it felt like we were at some sort of amusement arcade, we were both at home and hadn’t left the house. We were just about to play a game of Klask.
The Chancellor’s new reign had begun, as the Exiles had fled to the far reaches of the land. They had failed in their attempts to usurp the ruler, but here was another chance for them. They would muster their warbands, campaign against the Bandits, explore the world until eventually, they were strong enough to try again and finally succeed in overthrowing the leading power. Yet, they could never be sure if their fellow Exiles would deceive them and maybe even swear allegiance to the Chancellor, instead of staying strong and following the Exiles’ code of honour, sticking by the sacred Oath by Leder Games.
As is customary at the end of a calendar year, it’s time for my top 5 board games of this, rather odd, year and for me to announce the winner of the Top Table Award 2020. Let me say that this year, I happily allowed games into the top 5 list that were published before 2020, as long as these games were new to me this year. There is a clear winner for me, not just based on the number of plays, the amount of enjoyment the game brought and the nostalgia factor that the game has for me, but because this game took a well-established genre and took it to the next step, making it more accessible to a wider range of people. However, let me not spoil it for you, but start at number 5 and work my way to the top slot.
It was getting dark, which meant it was time to light the campfire. We had already collected plenty of wood and tinder and someone had started to build the first layer of the fire. Now we were going to take turns and add more wood to it. After all, we were on a teambuilding camping trip, so we had to show we could work together. Of course, most of us were very competitive and soon people were starting to show off. The head of marketing decided that adding branches vertically, balancing them on the base, was the thing to do. IT, of course, went one further and decided to light the fire in a couple of places to add extra peril. It was quickly turning into a mad competition of Tinderblox by Alley Cat Games.
“Asbestos and its use have a long history. A naturally occurring mineral, asbestos was once celebrated for its seemingly wondrous resistant and strengthening properties until it was declared a human carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 1987. […] This odd dichotomy between the recognition of the harmful effects of the mineral and lure of the potential to make a profit on it is by no means new to industry or unique to asbestos. As game designers and game players, however, this is thought provoking.” From the rulebook of The Cost by Spielworxx.
As you can probably tell from my review of The Crew, I love trick-taking games. I grew up with them. I learned to shuffle cards when I was about six and started to play Skat with my family when I was about eight. In secondary school, I learned Doppelkopf. I didn’t play them for many years after I left school and it was only when I played Vivaldi at Gaming Rules’ evening during last year’s Essen Spiel Messe that I rediscovered the genre. So I wanted to talk more about my fascination with these games.
The old topic of “house rules” keeps cropping up. Some of us are purists and feel that you have to play games with the rules they came with, because otherwise you won’t get the experience that the designer intended. Others feel that tweaking a few rules here and there can make a game more fun for you and the people you play with and that designers want us to enjoy their games. In this article, I want to speak for the latter group and show that house rules aren’t a sacrilege.