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The Village Square: April 13, 2015

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We hope everyone had a fantastic Tabletop Day this past weekend! What did you play?

Are you sure you played that? Perhaps you might be thinking of your last meal…

I’m guessing you’re out of sheep themed games that also happen to be delicious delicacies.

Yup. Also, I’m full!

I’m glad Tabletop Day treated you well Kenith. For the rest of you there’s still a chance to enter our Quarriors! contest for a treat of your own! But seriously, don’t eat those dice.

Community Talk

Come gather around
In the Village Square to chat
About board gaming

Twitter bubbled Tuesday with a new hashtag game: #BoardGameHaiku. If you search twitter for the term, you can lose hours diving through the cleverness composed by your fellow gamers.

Here’s how it happened.

I’m not good at this
It’s a bit too hard for me
Wait, I just did it

So, where do games cross the line from fun, yet difficult to not fun and difficult?

I think I have an answer.

First, if the genre of game calls for a certain difficulty level, then a game should have a good reason to break with convention.

League of Gamemakers
Share your bountiful wisdom
About dice and cards

In my day job, I design casino games, so I spend a lot of time around cards, dice, and other instruments of randomness. Rolling a die is a classic example of picking with replacement, meaning the pool of possible outcomes remains the same from pick to pick. Drawing a card is a classic example of picking without replacement, meaning the pool of outcomes dwindles with each pick. This difference alone leads to many benefits and drawbacks for dice and cards.

Mechanics Face Off: Dice vs. Cards
League of Gamemakers

Oh Mister Filip
Care to share some of your thoughts
On the same topic?

What is random? If I draw a card, will it yield a random result? If I roll a die, will that lead to a random result?

The answer is: we don’t know. The deck of cards can be stacked, the die may be false. And yet, as humans, we tend to believe that we’re pretty good at both seeing randomness and generating it.

We’ll be here next week
If I don’t burn it down first
I’m hungry again!

Games On Our Table

Play 2015-Apr-13 - The Staufer DynastyThe Staufer Dynasty – I’m still working through the Essen crop from last year and this one from Andreas Steding (Hansa Teutonica) was near the top of the list. The main problem is that I didn’t know anyone who owned it (as with ZhanGuo which I also want to try). Fortunately a buddy of mine recently picked it up and was raving about it. He was gracious enough to come over for a game night so I could try it out. I’m glad he did because this one is an exceedingly clever design. The whole thing felt like a gigantic puzzle that the players are trying to manipulate, that might be a roundabout way of saying that it’s an area control game. But stick with me, it’s the most exciting take on area control that I’ve played since Ginkgopolis and surprisingly streamlined despite how fiddly it looks. If no one in my game group picks this one up soon then I may have to cave and snag a copy so I can explore it more.

Play 2015-Apr-13 - PatchworkPatchwork – I’m sure you’re all glad that I’m finally playing something other than Fields of Arle and Roll For The Galaxy. Well technically I still played those games too but I’ll spare you the details and instead start raving about another Rosenberg masterpiece instead. Alright, it might be a little soon to call Patchwork a masterpiece but it’s one of the most clever spatial games I’ve ever played. This 2-player game utilizes a giant shared rondel made up of fabrics in varying shapes and sizes. There’s a resource/time management aspect tying everything together that makes choosing the perfect patch for your quilt incredibly tense. Once the pieces are laid out there’s no more random elements in play but despite the perfect information Patchwork manages to maintain a quick pace. I can’t recommend this game enough for any gaming couple.

Play 2015-Apr-13 - DiamondsDiamonds – I grew up playing trick taking games but haven’t made time for the genre in recent years. I heard good things about Diamonds and managed to try it out for the first time this weekend. It’s quick and presents a really unique take on tradition card games. It felt familiar and yet provided a totally new experience at the same time. I’m tempted to pick it up so I can suggest it the next time someone tries to rope me into a game of Euchre.

Play 2015-Apr-13 - RattlebonesRattlebones – One of my friends predicted that I wasn’t going to like this one. It started out well enough as I enjoyed manipulating my dice with the really intriguing dice customization system. But then I managed to roll Rattlebones for nearly the whole entire second half of the game and that’s not an exaggeration. In other words, I did nothing and watched everyone else play the game. I don’t care how unlikely this was or how clever the design is, it happened and proved my friend right. I came away wishing I had played Las Vegas instead and I did not like Las Vegas. I can see the appeal but was really hoping for something more out of this game. Perhaps another game will take this concept and make it into something I might actually enjoy.

Play 2015-Apr-13 - Roll For The Galaxy#100Rolls Update: With my parents in town I managed to get in 7 more games of Roll For The Galaxy – 3 with them, 3 with my wife, and 1 at my game group. Dare I say I’m going to reach 100 plays well before the end of the year. Current total: 43/100

I love optimization and engine games with tableau builders and card driven ones being my favorite. This usually means medium-heavy euros and medium-light card games.

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