The Village Square: December 15, 2014



Last week was classics week here at iSlayTheDragon. We took a break from talking about the latest and greatest games to look at ones that inspired our hobby. I remember playing The aMAZEing Labyrinth and Scotland Yard growing up as well as being introduced to Settlers of Catan in college (sorry Jason, I’ve never played Samurai Swords). My review didn’t quite make it in time so you can be on the lookout for it tomorrow when we conclude our series.


Community Talk

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]It’s the holiday season and the festivities are in full swing. A mighty fine tree stands in the center of the square. Alongside it are the jolliest adventurers around.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”50px”]Villager 3[/fifth][fifth width=”10px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][half][plain]♫ ♪ O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree! ♪ ♫[/plain][/half][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”50px”]Villager 2[/fifth][fifth width=”10px”][/fifth][fifth width=”50px”]Villager 4[/fifth] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWRRRR!!!!![/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Dragon Avatar[/fifth] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 4[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Oh no, not again! Kenith, you have to stop setting our Christmas tree on fire.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]I thought that was one of our special holiday traditions…[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Dragon Avatar[/fifth] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]While they’re putting out the fire we can check in with the rest of the village.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

How to be a Good Recommender

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]It’s really key for me to give someone a great recommendation. I want them to be excited to dig into the rules as soon as they open the box. I thought about the way I typically go through my recommendation process and thought I’d share it for the two of you interested.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - Hyperbole

Grant Rodiek


Dimensions of Games: Pacing

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Pacing is a topic that doesn’t get brought up often in tabletop but it is a contributing factor to the definition of the “feel” or “narrative” of games. Pacing has the ability to build focus and motivation in a gaming experience so that the next turn feels more important than the last turn. Pacing can help lay the foundation for Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s psychological theory of flow. The theory of flow is a state of mind in which a person is completely absorbed in an activity.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - Game Precipice

Alex Harkey
Games Precipice[/fifth]


No Second Chance to Make a First Impression

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]A proper theme of a game announces what we can expect inside the box. A ship, a sheep and a sad guy on the cover will tell us that we will most probably be optimizing our moves, exchanging cubes for other cubes and preparing a nice point salad. A dude with an oversized weapon, a fiery dragon or a charging army will tell us that we will most probably be rolling dice, playing “in your face” cards, putting narration over common sense and relying on both strategy and luck to win the day.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - NSKN Games

B. G. Kubacki
NSKN Games[/fifth]


Randomisation Timing

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]I feel good about having a situation set up with some noise in it to keep me on my toes then getting to make decisions about how to react to those random factors. It bothers me to make a decision and then have a randomised outcome that undermines the actual choice in the game in the face of a random number generator.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - 3DTotal Games

Greg Carslaw
3DTotal Games[/fifth]


The Psychology of Winning

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]I argue that what keeps the board game community from becoming frustrated with their mounting losses and walking away from the hobby are two things. First is the form factor of the games themselves. Second is the environment in which games are played.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - Dr Wictz

Dr Wictz[/fifth]


What Games Mean To Me: Creative Outlet

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]I have spent most of my adult life and plenty of dollars looking for an artistic hobby I could get interested in for more than two months. I am the kind of creative person that has no real artistic talent… Board games are perfect for my analytic brain and my creative goals. Board games give me the freedom to work with mechanics and themes to build a “functioning sculpture.”[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - TGIK Games

TGIK Games[/fifth]


How Reiner Knizia Makes Games

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Reiner Knizia needs no introduction. As the most prolific game designer in the world today, you’ve almost certainly encountered his games, of which there are many. During our conversation, I was struck with not only how kind and funny he is, but also how much wisdom he’s amassed over the years, wisdom that he was more than willing to share with me. And now I’m going to share it with you.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - AndHeGames



The Creator’s Dilemma

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]If I don’t take the time to play new games, read new books, and watch new (quality) movies and TV, the games and stories that I create will begin to suffer. If I don’t want my work to stagnate, I need to invest the time in refueling my creative reserves.

But time spent consuming is time not spent creating. Creating is how I get paid.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - Darrell Hardy

Darrell Hardy[/fifth]


Top 25 Games Ever

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Oh my GOODNESS GRAVY, this week we’re giving you something you’ve been asking for for 3 and a half years. A list of Shut Up & Sit Down’s top 25 games of all time, ordered from our least most favourite to most most favourite, and all just time for Christmas.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - Shut Up & Sit Down

Shut Up & Sit Down[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]See you next week for more holiday cheer![/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”50px”]Villager 3[/fifth][fifth width=”10px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][half][plain]♫ ♪ O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree!
Thy branches burn so brightly! ♪ ♫[/plain][/half][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”50px”]Villager 2[/fifth][fifth width=”10px”][/fifth][fifth width=”50px”]Villager 4[/fifth] [full][/full]


Dragon Slayer Roundup

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Jennifer[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Labyrinth - Thumb Review: Labyrinth[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Jason[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Ikusa - Thumb Review: Samurai Swords[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Meghan[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Scotland Yard - Thumb Review: Scotland Yard[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Wolfie[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Settlers of Catan - Thumb Review: Settlers of Catan[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]


Games On Our Table

Portrait - Andrew Andrew’s Plays

Play 2014-Dec-15 - Fields of ArleFields of Arle – After playing this for the first time last weekend I was really excited to explore it and try out the different paths. There are a lot of different things you can pursue and unlike Agricola it seems you are rewarded for specializing more than diversifying. I didn’t have anyone to play with during the week and didn’t want to wait so I ended up trying out it out solo. The solitaire game is excellent for experimenting and I ended up playing it five times that way, each time with a different strategy. There’s a good amount of variation with which buildings are available, on top of that the sheer scope of the decision tree allowed me to choose different routes.

On Saturday I was able to play with a real opponent and felt a lot more comfortable having had several games under my belt. Initially the game appears to not have a lot interaction but I noticed more subtlety this time around. There are a lot of actions available and the incentive to specialize can mean that you don’t care about that actions that your opponent is taking especially with the ability to imitate a blocked spot. Having played the solo game there were two big differences that I noticed when playing with an opponent. First, you don’t have uncontested access to the buildings so you either need a more flexible strategy or may have to race for a key building. Second, there is one off-season action available and the first player to take it blocks off that whole season (while giving up start player). These dynamics influence the game quite a bit and represent some interesting interaction that might be missed during your initial learning games.

Play 2014-Dec-8 - SuburbiaSuburbia – After Fields we wanted to play something a little lighter. We settled on Suburbia, which I’m always happy to play, and added in Suburbia Inc. This was my first time trying the expansion and I didn’t actually feel like it changed the game very much. I liked some of the new elements, especially the borders, but don’t really feel like it’s very necessary. The increased tile variety could be a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it, for now I’ll probably stick to the base game.


Play 2014-Dec-8 - ProgressProgress: Evolution of Technology – Since hearing the premise of Progress I’ve really wanted to try it out. Having a game that focuses exclusively on the tech tree aspect of civilization games sounds like a blast. Combine that with abilities that power up during the game and a fast play time. Progress was even more streamlined than I had thought it was going to be after reading the rules. I really enjoyed my first play, it fits the quick playing card driven game niche that is great for 2 players. We were mostly drawing and playing cards somewhat randomly so I’m looking forward to more plays to see how much depth the drafting offers.


Portrait - Jason Jason’s Plays

Builders - Thumb The Builders: Middle Ages – I’ve already talked about this one previously and we play quite a bit of it because it’s so accessible and quick to set up and play and pack back away.  However, I mention it this time because I played twice with my daughter and it’s the first time she’s beat me!  So that was rewarding and fun and a joy to see her reaction.  We also tied the second game and so I went back to the little rule booklet to check out the tie breaker – yeah, there is none…

Bombay - Thumb Bombay – First play of this fairly simple pick-up-and-deliver title that I recently got in a trade.  I like that it moves quickly and player actions are back and forth, which really cuts out downtime.  It’s also pretty tense, because you don’t have enough actions to do what you want – plus there are a lot of options for points and little decisions to make.  Great elephant pawns, too!  Other than that, the main first impression we got from this one is the smell!  Not sure what plastics they used for the elephants and temples, but man, oh, man!  It’s worse than the Stone Age dice cup!!

Warrior Knights - Thumb Warrior Knights – Epic and glorious and adventurous.  And really fiddly and clunky!  This is a fun conquest, diplomacy, and economics game.  There are a lot of elements here woven together to create a thematic tapestry of goodness.  You select six actions each round, plus you may be involved in up to six more neutral actions that can impact all players.  Perhaps the most innovative feature is that when players select their actions cards, they are all divided into 3 piles and then individually shuffled and drawn, so that you never know exactly when your action card will be revealed and, thus, your turn.  Plus, depending on what actions players take and in which order, these will eventually trigger other game events like collecting taxes, paying your army’s wages, and convening a political council where players vote on laws and assign various offices and charges to each other (and the benefits therewith).  Fighting is a bit more limited – this is not strictly a war game – and combat resolution is wholly unique and tense and very random (so you’re warned).  While it does have a built in endgame mechanic so that it can’t drag on indefinitely, this one still requires a sizable investment of time.  Indeed, as usual with our big games, my boys and I are still playing this one and probably will be for the next 2-3 evenings!


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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