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The Village Square: February 16, 2015

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It was a pretty exciting week for us here at the dragon! We had two dual perspective reviews including our recently crowned Game of the Year, Hyperborea. We also had our very first Knight’s Forum with great discussion about board game potential from the community. We’re really looking forward to next month!

For those that haven’t seen all our wonderful faces here’s a reminder that we have a full hard working team.

Dragon Slayer Team 2014

Don’t forget about me!

Sorry Kenith, while you may not do any writing you are a invaluable member of our team.

Ahem…

Of course, we’re always glad to have you around too Batman. Care to join us in town?

Community Talk

There was plenty of great discussion alongside of our Knight’s Forum.

As many publishers will tell you, when you are a publisher, your focus shifts from design to producer. If you listen to the Plaid Hat Podcast, it’s pretty clear Colby is more Executive Producer now than designer. It seems that’s always been Buonocore’s role (and he can correct me if I’m wrong!).

Now, I don’t dare profess to any of these people that I know better. Certainly not. But, some who only have one game under their belts, or seek to start a discussion, might find use in some of the key lessons I want to share. Or, perhaps, you’ll just find it interesting to hear about the perspectives of a video game industry veteran?

I’m so close to victory and death simultaneously that I’m shaking from nerves and adrenaline. I’m not sweating, but I’m clammy, and shaking. I keep joking aloud that I need a cigarette, which was funny the first time, but certainly not the third. I don’t smoke, never have, but by god I’m going to beat this cliche into the ground.

So, in general, whether we’re talking about a barbarian getting better and better at slaying goblins, an economic engine more and more effective at cranking out victory points, or a nation built from a humble settler now able to flood the world with its armies or dominate the lands with its ruthlessly adorable culture, we will arrive at the same concept: development.

I’ve posted before about rearing a gamer. I’ve tried my best to cultivate that desire in my child. Using some general principles from Operation GamerWife, I’ve kept him interested. I never, never push games on him. I rarely suggest it, but often agree when he suggests games. And, in fact, sometimes he gets bored halfway through a game (usually on the third play in a row) and, at that point, we pick it up and stop. I have no desire to force him to finish a game and turn the experience unpleasant.

Operation Gamertoddler
Giant Fire Breathing Robot

In our first article of the month, Alex introduced the topic of Satisfaction and concluded that we’re satisfied when games appeal to our senses of power, achievement, and affiliation; working within the constraints of “smart restrictions,” including having games creatively limit our options and end at an appropriate time, tends to provide the greatest satisfaction. The other side of the coin is figuring out what isn’t fun or denies satisfaction. This article looks at some common sources of dissatisfaction and identifies what designers can do to avoid them.

I think the major block for getting new people into the games hobby is the lack of reference people have for modern game mechanics and themes. I think the task of learning rules while looking at a board full of pieces in a game where the theme is about farming can be too much for people to want to learn, especially when the alternative is look at a hand of funny cards and pick one.

In order to break through this wall, I want to tell people about the benefits of games. I want to tell people about the educational benefits of games, the social benefits of games and the medical benefits of games…no joke…medical benefits. I want to give people a different frame of reference in order to make games more approachable.

I want to give my gamer friends (that’s you!) something they can share with their non-gamer friends that will give them a reason to sit down to play a board game.

Dragon Slayer Roundup

Knight’s Forum:

Board Game Potential

Mr. Jack Pocket - Thumb  Review:
Mr. Jack Pocket

Jason-talkRight Meghan-talkRight

Hyperborea - Thumb Review:
Hyperborea

Games On Our Table

Andrew’s Game Plays

Play 2014-Feb-16 - Orleans
Orleans – Considering how much I loved Hyperborea this one was near the top of my “to play” list for the year. I was expecting a lot more similarities between the two games but aside from pulling stuff out of a bag and placing them on a player board they hardly have anything in common. This was a pleasant surprise. Unfortunately I wasn’t nearly as impressed with how Orleans implemented bag building as I was with Hyperborea. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of cool ideas here it just didn’t seem nearly as smooth in execution. One thing that struck me as a bit of a double edged sword was the wide decision tree. You have so many options to pick from which is great but I didn’t feel like the decision process was intuitive. Obviously there’s a pretty big learning curve here in understanding what the different tokens do and what strategies are opened up through the various buildings. I don’t mind a learning curve but I wish the decisions were more natural to ease the process. I’ve also found that games which provide too many options (certainly subjective) without much guidance tend to turn me off. Overall I was a bit disappointed with my first play of Orleans but it’s been stuck in my head so I have hope that more plays will reveal the great game that I wanted it to be.

Play 2014-Feb-16 - ProgressProgress: Evolution of Technology – I played this one for the first time at the end of last year and was able to pick it up in a math trade. I decided to play a couple games without looking at the tech tree to keep the game moving quickly and found that it worked fine that way. Now that I’ve got a couple plays under my belt I’m excited to learn the tree so that the hand management will be more interesting. I may try out the solo game soon to further familiarize myself with the technologies.

Play 2014-Feb-16 - SanssouciSanssouci – I hadn’t heard of this one before but a buddy of mine had been really impressed and thought that it would be right up my alley. He was right! The game play is dead simple with players drafting tiles from a central displayed by playing cards from their hand. These tiles are played on your personal board in an attempt to form paths towards the bottom of the board as well as completing lines and rows. It sounds like there’s not much to it but the game had a very compelling puzzle aspect with a good dose of uncertainty thrown in through the drafting system. If you’re like me and hadn’t heard of Sanssouci and enjoy simple rule sets and puzzles then you should definitely track down a copy!

Play 2014-Feb-16 - RollRoll For The Galaxy – My wife and I got a chance to get away for the weekend and stayed at a charming bed and breakfast nearby. Our hectic life has made it quite challenging to play games together recently but we finally had a break to enjoy one of our favorite past times. I have fond memories of playing Race For The Galaxy when we were dating and first married so it seemed appropriate to pull out my latest obsession, Roll For The Galaxy. Over the weekend we played a dozen games and had a blast exploring the galaxy together again.

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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