The Village Square: December 8, 2014



The year is wrapping up but there’s still plenty of chatter in the community. It seems we aren’t quite to list and recap season, I imagine in the next couple of weeks we’ll start hearing what people thought of 2014. What does everyone out there think, how did this year stack up?


Community Talk


[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]It seems the adventurers are still recovering from their thanksgiving feast. I heard there was a big party at Grant’s house though. Maybe we can stop by and see who’s there.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

2014 Year In Review [Part 1Part 2]

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]I asked the community to tell me about how their year went. What did they learn? Where did they succeed? Where did they fail? Hopefully their stories below are interesting, insightful, and fun.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - Hyperbole

Grant Rodiek

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]That was some party! Quite an impressive turnout, I’ve been very impressed at how responsive our community has been to Grant’s collective articles. Your hard work is not going unnoticed, Grant.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]While you’ve been busy partying I’ve taken the liberty of compiling the scholarly musings from our fine citizens. [/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]He’s just bitter that he wasn’t invited.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]I’m sure my invitation was merely lost in the post. I’m quite popular you know. Just ask my best friend Greg. We met many years ago while studying Mathematics in university.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

Calculation Burden

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]I think this is an important feature of gamers: Players are able to play and enjoy games that have a mathematical complexity above the level that they are willing (or able) to calculate by hand. The more I thought about it, the more obvious it became that the vast majority of games that I enjoy are to some extent designed around this purpose. I started looking through my games with the lens of “How does this game create mathematically complicated situations without at any point asking any player to do any arithmetic in a manner that they’d notice?”[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - 3DTotal Games

Greg Carslaw
3DTotal Games[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Or you could ask Christian. He’s a real person that’s really my friend. This isn’t some superficial friendship that’s as thin as most euro’s themes.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

Stepping Up Your Game’s Theme

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]It’s time to step up our themes. How many more zombie, Cthulhu, pirate, space empire, wizards games can we make? There are more worlds to be discovered than just these typical themes.Building a world for your players may or may not be your biggest concern. I know a lot of designers that think only of mechanics and then slap a theme on that fits. Remember though, your theme is the first thing anyone ever says about your game. The theme is always in the description of your game.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - League of Gamemakers

Christian Strain
League of Gamemakers[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Then there’s the guy over at TGIK Games. I think his name is Terry? Or Gary? Either way, we can all agree that knowing someone’s name isn’t necessary to friendship. We’re on a no-name basis.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

The Potential Bubble of Boardgames?

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]While there are lots of positives going to the board game industry compared to the card and comic industries, there is a responsibility to the people within the industry, both gamers and producers, to do their part to expand the reach of our games.[/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]Maybe it’s Igor? Or Keller? Thomas George Issac Karl? I think that’s it.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Are you out of “friends” yet?[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]No. Why, just last week I made a new friend.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Do you at least know his name this time?[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]That’s not important. We were too busy getting really deep and philosophical.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

The Morality of Wargames

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Wars are such an awful, horrifying and depressing human practice, quite probably among the worst and most terrible forms of organized human interaction. Games are such lovely, harmless pastimes that we pursue in order to avoid the harsh realities of human interaction. Why on earth would we blend the two? And isn’t there something fundamentally wrong with playing around, for fun, with some of these darkest chapters of human history?

… I think that when it comes to war, the same rules that apply to books and movies apply to games – it’s important to discuss war and reflect it as a grim reality, as long as we don’t trivialize human suffering, glorify war or make offensive and demeaning remarks on certain groups of people or their history. Yet gaming is somewhat different than other mediums (a post about that hopefully some day too), since they are interactive.[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - The Political Gamer

The Political GAmer[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]I’ve got an idea, how about we ask the king of our fine town? Surely he can settle this.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Oh no, I don’t think that’s a very good idea. We had kind of a falling out years ago. He’ll take any opportunity to tarnish my reputation.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 1[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Nonsense, Eric Martin is a wise and unbiased ruler.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Fine, but he’ll probably change the subject and talk about something else. Like all the fancy new board games that he’s been playing. Or his sophisticated German friends. Or how he’s so much smarter than me.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]

Choosing Germany’s Game of the Year

[fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Spiel des Jahres jury chairman Tom Felber has been touring North America to talk about the Spiel des Jahres — Germany’s “game of the year” award — at various conventions and game stores, and as part of that outreach effort he visited BGG.CON 2014 and spent an hour discussing the origin of the Spiel des Jahres[/plain][/three_quarters][fifth width=”20px”][/fifth][fifth width=”100px”]Community (Avatar) - BGG

W. Eric Martin
Board Game Geek[/fifth]

[full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Villager 3[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]So as you can see, I’m very popular.[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full] [fifth width=”30px”][/fifth][fifth width=”70px”]Portrait - Andrew[/fifth][three_quarters][plain]Maybe we should ask our fine readers. Are you friends with the red wizard?[/plain][/three_quarters] [full][/full]


Dragon Slayer Roundup

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Games On Our Table

Portrait - Andrew Andrew’s Plays

Play 2014-Dec-8 - Fields of ArleFields of Arle – I’ve been waiting with much anticipation to hear more about the latest release from Uwe Rosenberg. I was introduced to him through Agricola, one of my all time favorite games. As I explored his other offerings I found that his designs have become more open with time. Unfortunately this diverged from many of the things that I like so much about Argicola. Ora er Labora and Caverna are great examples of this. Ora overwhelmed me with the sheer number of options available throughout the game. There’s an expansive conversion tree and the game doesn’t provide any direction for the players. Likewise, Caverna replaces your starting cards with an open market of buildings which opens up your available options significantly. However, I did end up really enjoying Glass Road despite being pretty overwhelmed during my first game at the prospect of picking 5 roles from a hand of 15 each round. I have faith in Rosenberg’s designs even if I’ve ended up passing on many of his newer games.

When Fields of Arle was announced I was very excited to hear that it was going to be a 2-player game. I’ve really enjoy Agricola: All Creatures Big And Small and having something meatier sounded great. At the same time it appeared to be more open than any of his previous games, perhaps this would appeal to me in the context of a restricted player count? When I found out that I had a copy on the way I was elated! I decided to celebrate by declaring Saturday Rosenberg Fest! I packed a bag with all of his games and set off to find opponents that would partake in his excellent games.

Play 2014-Dec-8 - Fields of Arle 2

I had to start the day with the star of the show, Fields of Arle. This game reminds me a bit of a mix between Glass Roads and All Creatures Big And Small but quite a bit heavier. You’re managing a lot of different resources like in Glass Road and often give up points for the opportunity to get more points. It also has a random set of available buildings and expanding territory that make it seem like All Creature’s big brother. The decision tree in the game is very wide, there are a lot of actions to choose from and they are all available right from the start.  None of the individual options are very complicated but they are interconnected. Yet the game didn’t feel overwhelming to me in the way that Ora et Labora did. The resource conversion tree is a lot smaller in scope and much more intuitive which makes it a lot easier to set goals and pursue them. If anything this is Rosenberg’s point salad game. Most of the actions will get you points or set you up to get points with your next action. There’s a great mixture of long term planning to get big point gains (such as purchasing buildings) and short term point maximizing. I was very impressed with my first play of Fields and look forward to trying it again.

Play 2014-Dec-8 - Glass RoadGlass Road – We moved straight into my newest Rosenberg obsession. All of my recent plays of Glass Road have been solo which made the transition back to multiplayer more difficult than I was expecting. It seemed like I wasn’t reading the other players very well and hardly ever matched extra roles. On top of that I had key buildings that I was planning my strategy get purchased out from under me at several points during the game. I really enjoyed the game despite having many wrenches thrown into my normal solitaire strategy. I love how differently the game plays in it’s solo variant. Hopefully I can play again with real opponents soon!

Play 2014-Dec-8 - Le Havre Inland PortLe Havre: The Inland Port – I recently acquired this one in a Math Trade after having enjoyed his other 2-player offering, All Creatures Big And Small. I finally got the chance to try it out and was blown away by how clever the design was. It’s very abstracted but that helps to keep it going at a quick pace and makes your choices very clear despite the number of options you have to choose from. The resource management aspect of the warehouse grid and the building activation wheel are both incredibly elegant design choices.



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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