The Village Square: December 22, 2014



Things may slow down around here as we prepare to celebrate Christmas with our families but the Village Square has never been busier!


Community Talk

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]There are many holiday traditions around town. Last week we witnessed the annual burning of the Christmas tree and it seems the flames are finally down to a low blaze.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]That’s right! But it’s not just our tree that was decorated nicely. At least before it caught on fire.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Thanks to me![/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Dragon Avatar[/fifth] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Yes Kenith, we all appreciate your contributions. Maybe we should take a look at some of the decorations that remain unscathed.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

11 Ways to Combine Christmas and Board Games

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Board Games and Christmas aren’t the most natural of combinations. But gamers with a little creativity have made it work.

Here are 11 ways that clever board gamers have combined board games and Christmas.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - Clever Move

Matt Casey
Clever Move[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 4[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Is everyone around here into board games?[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Every now and then we have visitors, especially around the holidays. And you know what that means…[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

It’s That Time of Year: Trying to Convert the Family Time

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]it is the holiday season and with that comes family time. Some people are blessed to have a whole family of gamers. Others, not as much… Here is the dilemma, my mom’s idea of games end at Yahtzee, Boggle, Pit and Rook. Those are all fine games, but I want to expand her horizons a bit. I want her to understand why it is that I love board games as much as I do.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - Whose Turn Is It Anyway

Jacob Coon
Whose Turn Is It Anyway?[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 4[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]What about the kidos, do they join in on the gaming too?[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]You bet! And that leads to a very interesting debate among the parenting folks.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

Gaming With Children: Should We Let Them Win?

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Parents play games with their children – a very good endeavor – but some also let their kids win to protect the little ones’ self esteem. Is that good practice?[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - NSKN Games

Andrei Novac
NSKN Games[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 4[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]How about the rest of the year? Surely everyone doesn’t sit around and play games all the time.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Some times we take a break from playing to think about games or write about games.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Everyone has a different reason for playing games, that’s the beauty of our hobby.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

What Do You Get Out of Gaming?

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Gaming, for me, is the best form of entertainment because it is an active pursuit. What I mean is that, unlike watching a movie or a sporting event, a gamer isn’t simply sitting back observing the actions of others. Instead, the gamer must observe the actions of others (or of AI opponents in the case of video games) and then react to those actions. Which, in turn, requires further decisions by the opponent.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - Giant Fire Breathing Robot

Giant Fire Breathing Robot[/fifth]


What Games Mean to Me: Get Me Out of my Natural Shell

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Board games act as a way for me to interact with the people I am close to, yes that sounds weird….but… is what it is! Board games give me a chance to be myself in a setting where everyone is pre-programmed to have some fun.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - TGIK Games

TGIK Games[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]That’s great, really inspiring stuff. However, I’m pretty sure what every gamer really wants to do is make a game of their own. How did that saying go? Oh yes, “There are no new mechanics under the sun.” Wait no, I think it’s “The goal is to win, but it is the designer that’s important, not the game.”[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]I’m pretty sure that’s not it. Perhaps my friend Reiner will know, I heard he’s pretty smart.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

How Reiner Knizia Makes Games (Part 2)

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Part 2 of the fantastic conversation we had. Check out part 1 if you haven’t already.

Now, more from Reiner Knizia on playtesting, work habits, and breaking into the industry[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - AndHeGames

Andrew Miller
AndHe Games[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]That just proves my point, being a designer is great. I mean, they get interviews that have several parts. What self respecting gamer doesn’t want that kind of fame?[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

Is There a Designer in Every Gamer?

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]In episode 13 of the Whose Turn is it Podcast, the hosts were asking the question “is there was a designer in every gamer?” The hosts were of the mind that there is a designer in every gamer, but the guest, Ignacy Trzewiczek, went so far as to say that most gamers are not qualified to design games and should not design games… I am here to offer my counter to the idea that gamers should not bother designing games at all.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - TGIK Games

TGIK Games[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Speaking of which, I think we have enough time to check in with a couple of our local designers to see what they’ve been thinking about.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

Making Efficiency Fun

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]A lot of players hold to an unwritten rule that if a game has a stated objective then there’s an imperative to play the game in the way that most efficiently achieves that objective. They also tend to hold other players to this, claiming that it ruins the game if someone has joined in with alternative goals… As a designer I never want someone to have to choose between playing well and having fun. I think that it’s part of a designers job to write rules such that the fun option and the efficiency victory option are the same thing.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - 3DTotal Games

3DTotal Games[/fifth]


Going Wide

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Cardboard Edison asked me a very interesting question: “You seem to have designed games in a pretty wide range of genres. Some designers and publishers prefer to work in a narrower range to build a brand. Could you talk about the pros and cons of the different approaches, both as a designer and a publisher?”[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - Nothing Sacred Games

Teale Fristoe
 Nothing Sacred Games[/fifth]


Dealing With an Unsuccessful Kickstarter

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]As many of you readers know, last week we made the decision to cancel the Kickstarter for New Bedford. Episode 76 of The State of Games spends several minutes discussing the reasons behind this. The brief explanation is that while there was still a chance for it to fund, the backer numbers and total pledge level were not what we expected, and not what we thought the game deserved… it’s important to engage in some self-reflection to figure out what went wrong and what we could have been done better. We asked for feedback on the project and received some from backers, non-backers, and fence-sitters. This taught us some valuable lessons I’d like to share.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - Oakleaf Games

Nat Levan
Oakleaf Games[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Those guys are awesome! Come to think of it, all these holiday festivities are making me feel particularly generous. I think I might buy them all thoughtful presents. I’m just that kind of guy.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]While you’re wrapping up all those last minute Christmas presents and sending them off why not send the gift of games as well? Maybe you’ll get some in return! That’s right, it’s been too long since the last BGG Math Trade. Check it out soon because time’s running out![/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

New Games For New Year’s (US Only Math Trade)

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]What better thing to do with all of the games that you got for the holidays than to trade them away for other games that other people got for the holidays?

Submissions close: Monday December 29, 2014 at 9:30pm Eastern
Wants due: Sunday January 4, 2015 at 9:30pm Eastern[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - BGG

Board Game Geek[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Make sure to join us next week as the whole town gathers for an extra special Village Square Spectacular![/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]


Dragon Slayer Roundup

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Wolfie[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Cash n Guns - Thumb Review: Ca$h & Gun$[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Jason[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Villainous Vikings 2nd - Thumb Review: Villainous Vikings 2nd Edition: Voyage of Valhalla[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Take It Easy - Thumb Review: Take it Easy![/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Jennifer[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Snapgammon - Thumb Review: Snapgammon[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]


Games On Our Table

Portrait - Andrew Andrew’s Plays

Play 2014-Dec-15 - SpellcasterSpellcaster – I’ve been looking forward to this quick tactical card game from RnR Games ever since my Essen preview. My initial reaction from reading the rules was that it reminded me a lot of Star Realms and should appeal to the same crowd. After finally playing it I’m holding to my initial assessment and think Spellcaster has the potential to be a big hit for the same reasons as Star Realms (quick, cheap, compact). It’s amazing how many tough decisions Spellcaster is able to cram into such a short play time. The really innovative elements is the shared tableau that only allows for one card to be active from each type (color) of magic. Like any good tableau builder this is a lot of synergy between the cards but in order to pull off combos you’ll need more than the two actions you get per turn. This means you’ll need to broadcast part of your strategy and see how your opponent reacts to it before you can attempt to execute it. Fortunately a lot of the cards are reactive in nature and reinforce the back and forth nature of the game. This also adds in a natural catch-up mechanic that nicely balances draw luck with stalling out games. So far I’ve played 8 games in total and have been very impressed with what Spellcaster has to offer!

Play 2014-Dec-15 - LagoonLagoon – This game took most of the first play to wrap my mind around. It’s that the actions are all that complicated but the strategy itself is quite unintuitive at first. The board expands as you explore new tiles and then eventually you’ll be tearing it apart in order to work towards the end of game scoring. The tricky part is that the scoring is conditional based on which color there is the most of left on the board when the game ends. The strategy in Lagoon deals with manipulating the board and the position of your druids. I’d like to give Lagoon another try before I decide how I feel about it. I generally like the strategy in my games to be little bit more intuitive and can’t tell whether the decisions will be natural once you get past the learning curve.

Play 2014-Dec-15 - Among The StarsAmong The Stars – I’ve wanted to try Among The Stars for a long time, basically since it was released. I finally got the chance to play it last week and was very impressed with the spatial element that it brings to drafting. I was particularly impressed with how well the 2-player game played.


Play 2014-Dec-15 - RTtA Iron AgeRoll Through the Ages: The Iron Age – I planned to try this one out solo before I taught it to someone to ensure that I had all the rules down but I had a friend over that wanted to try it out so we gave it a shot. I enjoyed the original game (The Bronze Age) but after several games found that it didn’t offer as many meaningful decision as I would have liked. The Iron Age seems to make several improvements by simplifying goods and giving players more choices for how to spend their resources. I’m planning to play some solo games in the next couple of weeks to see whether this iteration can stand up better to repeated plays. My initial expectation is that it will.


Portrait - Wolfie FutureWolfie’s Plays

Play 2014-Dec-15 - Twilight ImperiumTwilight Imperium (3rd Edition) – Twilight Imperium is probably my favorite game. I think I’ve gotten more hours of enjoyment out of this single game than any other game in my collection. Of course this is in large part due to the 8-to-12 hour duration of a single game, since I only get to play it a couple times a year. However, I’ve also spent plenty of time outside of actual gameplay studying rules and FAQs (for my enjoyment), and creating tools to assist in gameplay and organization of the box.

This past saturday I was as happy as a clam at high tide to get another game of Twilight Imperium out on the table, the first since my beautiful baby daughter was born. And oh, what a doozy…

— Continued in the detailed Session Report —


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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