Essen Lists 31-Oct-2006

I was going to do an Essen Report but I was very tired after this years fair so left it for a few days. That was a mistake as with my bad memory I can't remember half of the games already. Plus Paul has already written his and since we played the same games i'd be just repeating him. So instead i've decided to give a few "top five" lists.

Games that didn't work.

A big disappointment this one. Looked interesting with a different mechanic. But I won the game by hoarding cards in the second round and rushing the last round. The demoer said that it was rare to see games go the full distance go I guess we got caught by some newbie errors but it left a bad taste. I'd like to give it a second go but not enough to buy it.

We were supposed to be connecting islands together. But it descended into trying not to leave the next player anything useful. Was never going to work with our group.

Top or flop
Once the chap explaining it said "the predicament is whether you should use a big card to increase your holdings and then see everyone else make the film flop, or increase the films ratings and see everyone else take shares in the film" we all saw the third option of using it to trash others films. It then became a game of who could draw the most -3 cards. Hence all luck and by real decisions.

This one has potential and a copy did make its way back to Brighton BUT... Any game that involves drawing tiles has to take the Oggie factor into account. As usual he managed to bypass the laws of probability and end the game very early by drawing all the scoring tiles before half the tiles has been drawn.

Cockroach Poker
Some people may enjoy this sort of game. Perhaps beer will help, perhaps more then 2 players are needed. Personally i'm in no hurry to find out.

Must visit stalls

2 genuinely nice guys wearing kilts. Just forget about buying the game - its sold out. Better pre-order next years now.

Another good bunch of people this time all wearing yellow shirts.

They've usually got at least one decent game out each year. This year On the Underground looks a true winner.

Rio Grande
So many tables with games with English rules.

No idea what the company is called. But the Japanese chap with the potato chip game. Ok the demo was from the year before but it was such a hoot that it never failed to raise a smile every time we walked past this year.

Lessons learnt for next year.

Driving was so much easier then flying. The cost was about the same and travel times were similar. But we had much more flexibility, getting an extra 90 mins on bed before we started was a huge help.

Avoid the chinese on Saturday night, it at least take games to restaurant. We were stuck in there for almost 4 hours, half of it without beer. And the only game we had with us was Top Trumps. We will know better next year.

One day is not enough recovery time. I've learnt from previous years that taking the Monday off work after the fair is essential. Whether it was the additional driving, the heaving crowds on Saturday or my advancing years, I found that it took me much longer to recover this year.

Inform your bank you are going to Europe. One of the group was struggling for cash during the end of the week as his bank stopped his card.

Games I'm looking forward to trying.

Its a fragor game and there appears th be the chance to switch people up. What's not to like?

Space Dealer
Bit of a cheat here as we played this the first session after we got home. It was a bit chaotic with 6 and the variable speeds of the egg timers was a disappointment. We alsomissed a couple of rules. So I'm still looking forward to trying it properly.

Picked this one up as a pre order. Haven't heard anything about it since but it does sound interesting.

This one sounds like it could fry my brain. But at the same time sounds like it could be a corking game.

I've been waiting a year to get this. I just hope its worth the wait.

Top 5 games of the fair.
On the Underground
JKLM game based on the London underground. Probably my favourite game of the fair. We played it 3 times during the week with varying numbers and it seems to work just as well with each. Fairly simple rules and relatively quick to play so I can see this getting plenty of play. Now why didn't I pick up a copy?

Maestro Leonardo
Slightly heavier and longer game then On the Underground. I need to play this more to see if it is balanced. Each player starts the game with a radically different setup, some of which seem more powerful then others. But I guess time will tell. This is certain to see some table time as 5 copies made there way back to Brighton.

Die Staulan der Erde
The first on the list were our first 2 new games of the fair, so everything was looking so good early on. We had to wait until the last game played in the Messe for the next best game. This was by far the heaviest game we played. Possibly a sunday game rather then a tuesday night.

Die baumeister von Arkadia
A small but crucial missed rule from the lovely lass that taught us this one means we can't be completely sure about how this one really works, but I liked it enough from the game we played to pick it up.

Null & Void
Every year there is a light game that catches our imagination. This year its Null and void. This is a trick taking game where its only really important what's in the last trick you win. Not sure if we'll be playing this in 6 months but it will provide plenty of fun while we are still playing it.

 Comment by    31-Oct-2006
Personally I enjoyed Cockroach Poker :D

Actally no it was pretty awful with 2 players.

I'll reserver judgement on Gheos in case we played it wrong or something, but game over after 40$ of the tiles were drawn was disappointing.
 Comment by Tel   31-Oct-2006
Yep - Gheos nearly also made it onto the looking "forward to playing list", as we certinaly didn't do it any justice in our one game.

Tenth of 10 Games that made me the gamer I am 16-Oct-2006

So far in this series we've had 9 games that have had the most impact on me as a gamer.

Careers- The first game to get me hooked on games.
Fair Means or Foul- Never write a game off after 1 play.
Magic the Gathering-Without MtG I suspect my gaming would be much more sporadic.
Settlers of Catan- They make games in Germany?
Guillotine-So you can play 1 game all day without getting bored.
Carcassonne- I gotta try this Essen thing.
Limits- See I even enjoy games that try to kill me.
Lost Cities- Games can even make commuting enjoyable.
Puerto Rico- My current favourite.

On compiling this list I've had to skip quite a few games with a decent shout at being included. Age of Steam- for restoring my faith in longer games. Flaschentueffel- for repeatably embarassing me whenever we play. Shear Panic- For Gordon Lamont taking time out at a sci-fi convention to give me a 20 minute demo of his new game. Sticheln- for Pauls glorious muppet maneuvre. The list just keeps going on, but I had to pick a final game.

However the last game in the list was, at least to me, an obvious choice. Its the next game I play. I don't know what its called or what its theme is, but whatever it is I'm hoping it will be as memorable as the rest of the games on the list. Once there is no chance of this happening then its probably time to call a halt to my gaming. But I suspect this isn't going to happen for quite a while.

Looking forward to the next game is more true at this time of year then any other. The next game I play will almost certainly be in Essen, so I have no idea what game its likely to be. But I can't wait to find out. There are a few games that sound interesting from the snippets I've heard so far, but the beauty of Essen of that there of bound to be at least one game that has slipped under everyones radar, and will create a buzz around the attendees.

Like a lot is gamers who have been buying games for a few years, I now own enough games that if I never bought another game I could happily play my way through my collection without getting bored for a very long time. But I keep buying and trying new games - why. Simply because the next game I buy could be even better than Puerto Rico.

So the final game in the list of games that made me the gamer I am is the next one...or possibly the one after that.

 Comment by Paul   16-Oct-2006
Thanks for taking the time to do this Tel. It's been an interesting series.

Ninth of 10 games that made me the gamer I am. 14-Oct-2006

The penultimate game in the list and probably my current favourite game. I suspect this will come as no surprise to anyone as it is one of the most popular games in the genre. Alea has a policy of demoing a game still in beta at each Essen. A few years ago the hype surrounding that years demo was so huge, that it became the most eagerly anticipated release in years. When Puerto Rico was finally released it didn't let anyone down.

For me this is what a game should be all about. Multiple ways to score victory points and hence multiple ways to acheive victory. Plenty of tough choices throughout the game. Everyone is involved at all times so no down time for anybody. A nice balance of playing your own game but at the same time having to be aware of what everyone else is doing. A small dose of randomness (the tile draw for plantations) to prevent it becoming too formulaic. The opportunity to stitch people up. Its seems to play equally well with 3, 4 and 5 players and alledgedly with 2 though I've never tried that. And all this in a game that plays well within an hour, what more could you possible want.

We have seen a variety of different strategies win the game, with most buildings being popular with at least a couple of approaches. The game just feels well balanced, finely tuned as is a pleasure to play.

Andy in the group has complained a couple of times that we played the game to death. Personally I think we have only scratched the surface of the game and would be more then happy to play it every week to discover yet more hidden depths. I have bought the PC version and have played that a bit, but PC games just aren't the same as face-to-face games. You are playing against a pre formulated opponent, whos actions can usually be predicted. Its much more fun to play against real people who occassionally through in a curve ball just because they can.

Have you guessed yet that I like this game? There was an expansion out for PR a couple of years ago,which added different buildings, we've never found it necessary to crack it open as we are still having fun with the originals.

So there you have the 9th game in my list of 10 defining games. Puerto Rico as close to a gaming nirvana currently available.

The Debating Game - length isn't everything 06-Oct-2006

(I meant to post this a couple of weeks ago but forgot - sorry)

A couple of months ago in a session report for Indonesia I stated that I would usually prefer to play 3 one hour games then 1 similarly rated three hour game. I'd like to explain what I meant by this.

I need to emphasise that this is a very broad stroke comment and there are exceptions. As with everyone else I have times when I feel like playing various types of games and longer games are not excluded from this. But on average my statement holds true.

Next I have to dismiss the notion that I dislike all longer games in fact Age of Steam and Power Grid are 2 of my favourite games, ranking alongside games such as Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence. Granted just to get my argument off to a bad start, I'm going to have to exclude these games from the argument as I am equally happy to play either of these at the expense of any other games.

My problem is with the 7 and below rated games. 7 rated games are, according to the geek, the games that you are usually willing to play.

I am a big fan of just playing games, and as such will seldom, if ever turn down the opportunity to play a game. If someone is keen to play a particular game, then regardless of how I feel about the game, I will nearly always join them in their game. Thus I suppose I would probably say i'm willing to play most games, I'm just more willing to play some game then others.

For this reason I don't usually score many games lower then a 7. Because of this the rating band of 7 is probably too large and should really be subdivided. If it was then most of the longer games would probably fall into the lower half of the category.

Now back to the original question which was why I would rather play shorter games. I've struggled to understand this myself but will try and explain.

One feeble reason is that as a rule I don't get as much time to play games as of like. I'm usually restricted to a 2.5 hour session once a week. It seems like a wasted opportunity if we only manage to get a single game in during the weekly sessions. As a group we recognised this a while ago and introduced the monthly all day session. But even in the all day sessions I still have a nagging feeling that we could be playing many more shorter games. Within the group we have so many games that getting them all to the table as often as they deserve is impossible. Playing shorter games means that you have the chance to actually play more games. Now I know this is a flawed argument, as at the end of the day you've still spent the same amount of time gaming, you just haven't played as many. Taking this argument to its logical conclusion, then my perfect gaming session would consist of nothing but 5 minute fillers. But this simply isn't true, fillers are ok as - well fillers. We have had the occasional session playing nothing but fillers, which I enjoyed, but I do prefer playing more meatier games.

Ok lets try another argument. One of the big reasons I liked playing games as a kid was that I had a very low boredom threshold. I hated sitting around doing nothing. Hence games were a way for me to stay entertained. Times haven't changed me that much. I still get bored very easily. Perhaps this could account for my preference for shorter games, I get bored in longer games. Unfortunately this argument does't hold much water either. I don't tend to get any more bored with longer games then I do with shorter games.

In the previous Debating Game blog I said that I prefered playing tactically then strategically. This could be a factor in my preference for shorter games. Longer games will tend to require a longer term strategy to work. Whilst this certainly doesnt hold true in every case, its certainly the most convincing argument I've come up with so far.

The only other argument I can come up that holds any sort of weight is down to the way I play games. As I said in the first blog I am a competetive person who enjoys being involved in the competition of the game. If I'm totally out of contention I will usually just coast to the end if the game trying not to spoil the game for anyone else. Now in shorter games this isn't usually too arduous. However if I have to sit through the last 2 hours of a game on auto pilot then it becomes very tedious (ah the low boredom threshold may have an impact after all). Fortunately this doesn't happen very often, but when it does, it does tend to grate.

I would hate to think that I've become prejudiced against most longer games just because of a couple of bad experiences probably of my own making or because of an irrational thought that by playing shorter games I could be playing more games. But I can't think of any other explanation. I suspect I'm on a hiding to nothing in this debate, not being able to really put up a sensible defence. (Perhaps its time to duck out of these debates for a while and let someone else put up better arguments.) Any help, comments or thoughts as to why I prefer the shorter games would be really welcome here as I am truly stumped.
 Comment by    13-Oct-2006
^^^ clearly written under the influence of a full moon and 1 beer to many :)

Eight of 10 games that made me the gamer I am 01-Oct-2006

Number 8 and I still haven't selected a game by Reiner Knizia, so time to put that right. However I'm not going to select one of the obvious big games. Despite being a big fan of E&T, medici, modern art, through the desert and many other of the good doctors heavier works, I'm actually going to select one of his card games.

For a while Paul and myself found ourselves catching the same train home from London each night. Not wanting to waste a great opportunity to get some additional gaming in we began looking for a small game we could play on the train. The original idea was magic, but thought this would require too much room. After trying another couple of games we hit upon Lost Cities.

This is one of those games that can be explained in a few minutes and until you try it sounds very run of the mill. The oversized deck of cards of made up of 12 cards in 5 suits, values 2-10 and 3 doubling cards. Each player is randomly dealt a hand of 8 cards. A players turn consists of playing a card and drawing a card, both mandatory. When laying a card it can either be played onto the top of your stack for that colour or onto the communal discard for that colour. When playing onto your own stack you cannot play a card lower then the card on top of the stack. Doubling cards must be played before any number cards. When drawing a card it can be taken from the draw deck or from the top of any of the discard decks. Play ends as soon as the last card is drawn from the deck. Each stack scores for the sum of the cards in that stack minus 20 points if it contained at least 1 card. This value is multiplied by the number of doubling cards +1. Finally a minus of 20 points of awarded if at least 8 cards were played into a single stack.

Our initial thoughts on the game was that it had the making of a good game, but seemed a little broken. Whoever managed to get 8 of a set invariably won. Then we discovered that the 20 point bonus was added AFTER the multiplier. When played by the correct rules this becomes a great game.

My one gripe with the game are the oversize cards. These are difficult to shuffle and make the game take up more room then it needs to.

Lost Cities gets onto this list, in part, because it is my most played game since we started keeping records, with only Magic beating it as my most played game of all time. But its mainly in the list because it is a tremendous little game that repeatedly throws up some of the toughest decisions while playing. You will often go through a period in most games where you don't feel it is safe to discard any of your cards but at the same time playing a card will certainly cost you points. Deciding which is the lesser of 2 evils is usually not obvious and can cause the head to hurt if it goes in too long.

We must've bemused plenty of fellow passengers as we would both spend periods of the game shaking our heads as we stared desperately at the cards looking for inspiration before declaring that we hated the game.

So there you have the 8th game in my list of 10 defining games. Lost Cities - the game that made the London to Brighton commute actually seem like a good idea.
 Comment by Jason Spears   02-Oct-2006
I've played this dozens of times and never saw the part about 8 or more cards in a stack adding 20 points to the score. So weird. Reading this entry I was so confused until I went and checked the rules myself. Guess that is what I get for letting someone else teach me.
 Comment by Tel   03-Oct-2006
Missing rules is a bit of a speciality withing our group. I sometimes doubt that we've ever played a game with the correct set of rules.

With regards to the one in Lost Cities I suspect playing without this rule is a better alternative then playing it incorrectly. The correct rule just adds a bit more angst as to when to play into a colour if you are approaching 8 cards, but doesn't unbalance the game. Playing the way we did in our first few games meant that the bonus for getting 8 in a colour could be worth up to 80 points, which made going for big sets almost imperative.
 Comment by Andy   03-Oct-2006
Oversized cards hmmm, tell the truth now about your improvised train 'deck' :D
 Comment by Tel   03-Oct-2006
OK, so I made a home made deck out of land cards from magic. I had already bought a copy of Lost Cities. The regular cards were just too big to play on a small train table.

Seventh of 10 games that made me the gamer I am 22-Sep-2006

The games on this list are all there because in some way or other I have special memories of them. The next game on the list is there for an unusual reason. 5 years ago I was taken into hospital and after a month of tests and treatment, needed to have major stomach surgery. As a result of the surgery I had a huge scar running all the way down the middle of my stomach. Less then a week after the surgery some of the Piddinghoe crowd came to visit me in hospital. Knowing that I'd been stuck in hospital for over a month, they knew exactly how to cheer me up, they brought a couple of games in.

One of the games was new to everyone. Limits is a push your luck card game. There are two decks of cards one just containing blank cards in the 5 Suits. In the second deck, each card displays a number for each suit. 5 cards from the first deck of dealt to each player, and the top card from the 2nd deck is revealed. Each player now places one of his hand face down in front of him. Players now take it in turns to play a card to the communal stack and then draw to replace. If they have 4 if a kind they can reveal their hand, draw 4 new cards and distributing their original hand, 2 each into the stack and draw pile, claiming 2 VPs. The idea of the game is that the allowed number of cards allowed in the stack for each suit is defined as the number on the control card for that suit plus 1 for each face down card of that colour. On their turn a player may challenge any of the other players last card. At this point the stack is examined to see if the challenged colour was over the allowed limit. The winner of the challenge gains positive VPs whilst the loser gains negative VPs. The winner is the player with the most points at the end of the game. Nothing too brain burning here, just a light entertaining little game.

Back to the hospital. When everyone arrived I was fit enough to make my way to the common room. One of the obvious effects of recent stomach surgery is that any exertion on the stomach such as coughing or sneezing tends to hurt. One of the side effects of playing limits is that you tend to laugh. I found that these two things together weren't very comfortable. Hence I tried not to laugh - ha some chance. Everyone saw the problems I was having, and being true mates tried all the harder to make me laugh.

The number of cards being played especially onto the low limit colours was verging on the ridiculous. Finally I lost it and couldn't stop laughing. My stomach felt as if it was on fire and I was convinced I was about to reopen my scar, but couldn't stop laughing for quite a while.

As a game on its own rights Limits will never make it into any lists of my favourite games, but because of the circumstances, I now remember this as probably my favourite gaming experience. It managed almost single handedly to erase the gloom of the previous month.

So there you have the 7th game in my list of 10 defining games. Limits - proving that in the right circumstances any game can become a favourite.
 Comment by Paul   24-Sep-2006
Ah sweet gaming moments...

Picture the scene. The limit for red is zero.
"One red"
"Two reds"
"Make that four"
Cue the sound of Tels sides splitting. Literally.
 Comment by Boog   28-Sep-2006
I'm not quite sure what we'd have done if Tel actually had started bleeding heavily, thankfully we didn't find out.
I do know that I was in almost as much pain as Tel was from laughing so hard.
I never play Limits now without remembering my initial game of it.

Sixth of 10 games game made me the gamer I am. 10-Sep-2006

October 2000 and Paul told me he was going to this games fair in some German city I'd never heard of called Essen. We'd just started playing board games on the traditional Magic nights, so Paul was planning on picking up some board games to play. At the time I was after Lord of the Rings and had heard that games were cheaper in Germany and since I didn't think I was fair for Paul to have to buy all the games for the group, I gave him some money and asked him to bring a few random games that sounded good back for me plus LotR.

Paul arrived back with with a big rucksack full of games, with another box full on the way. I got Lord of the Rings, in German of course, but Paul had met the designer of some site that was starting to collect English translations to german games rules, hence our first introduction to BGG. Amongst the other games he got were a 3 for £30 deal (or the equivalent in German Marks). He gave me the choice of which 2 I wanted. I took Web of Power and Cartegena, both excellent games, however the stand out game and the one I let Paul keep (he had been all the way out to Germany to get it!) was a tile laying game called Carcassonne.

By a lucky break the train line to London was flooded the day after Paul got back so I couldn't get to work and since I couldn't work from home I decided that the best course of action was to help Paul try out some of his new games. Without doubt the game of the day was Carcassonne, a tile laying that had people shaped playing pieces game called meeple. Carcassonne is a game that is exceptionally easy to learn but provides some interesting decisions during the course of the game.

When it came to explaining the rules, nothing could be simpler. The game is a tile laying game. Each tile is square and contains some combination of roads, towns, fields and cloisters. On your town you draw a facedown tile and immediately place it such that at least one edge is adjacent to a tile already in play. Legal placement of the tile demands that all edges of the new tile must match the edges of any exisiting tiles they are adjacent to. Next the player may optionally place a meeple onto one of the structures on the new tile as long as there isn't another meeple already in that structure. If at this point any roads, towns or cloisters are complete they are scored and any meeple on them returned. The game continues until all the tiles have been laid. Fields and unfinished structures are scored at the end if the game and the player with the most VPs wins.

Some people dislike the game because of the luck element of having to play a blind tile, but I've never had a problem with this. In a way I see Carcassone as a glorified card game. The luck of the draw will usually even it self out, but even if you have the game from hell where, for example, you draw nothing but road tiles, then the game usually plays in about half an hour so its not the end of the world. It can be frustrating at times to need a particular tile and see everyone but you draw the tile, but that is the nature of the game.

Like guillotine this a game I definitely prefer with fewer players preferably 2. With fewer players there is a lot more control and players can cope better with a few bad draws. For a couple of years after its release it was my favourite board game, and it probably still is as a 2 player.

A few years later Carcassonne was the first game that a few of the group bought the PC version of. Since the AI was quite good in the PC version we all adapted and improved our games. To start with there was limited blocking going on and then only of the player had no positive move. After playing the PC game, there is much more emphasis on depriving your opponents of meeple.

The bounty that came back from Essen that year made me want to try the show myself, and after my first visit I was hooked and have tried (unsuccessfully on 2 occassions) to attend every year since.

So there you have the 6th game in my list of 10 defining games. Carcassonne -An early favourite in the genre and partly responsible for my annual pilgrimage to Essen.

The Debating Game - Tactics over Strategy 02-Sep-2006

There are many approaches to playing the wide variety of games that we play. But 2 of the more fundamental basics are strategically and tactically.

A strategist will early on in the game, if not before the game starts, decide on a way of playing. Often they will be unconcerned with short term or intermediate results, with all there actions being made to progress towards there overall targets. The strategist firmly believes that 1 battle does not win the war.

The Tactician on the other hand is often more interested in making the most out of the current set of circumstances. His motto is "If you look after the pennies, the pounds will take care of themselves".

Of course its not as simple as that. In reality most players will use an approach pitched between the two extremes, using short term tactics to move towards a long term strategy. The question is how much emphasis a player places on the tactics or strategy.

Personally I tend to play with more emphasis firmly on tactics. Certain games demand that you play one way it the other, but as a rule will usually not be following some larger gameplan. I discovered fairly early in the Piddinghoe groups life, that some (most - no better make that all) players took great joy in disrupting the best laid plans. Hence now I tend to approach each challenge in the game on its own merits. This gives the flexibility, that you are not tied to any long term targets, so if some "kind person" gets in your way you are not forced into a total rethink.

Another reason I prefer tactics to strategy is that I have an awful memory. This is a handicap when playing games at the best of times, but I've found that a bad memory is more of a hinderance if I'm trying to work to a masterplan. On a number of occassions I have set up a position in the early game so that it could be exploited later in the game, only to completely forget about it when the time came to capitalise.

While playing by gut feel isn't necessarily tied to playing tactically, this is the way I usually play. For a lot of games I am usually flying by the seat of my pants, either chasing short term objectives or more likely following my gut feel. I've been playing this way for so long that I tend to trust my instincts most of the time. This does mean that from time to time I make mistakes, or miss opportunities, but on the whole my instincts tend to be quite good. Another reason I play this way is that as a group we prefer games that move at a decent pace, rather than getting bogged down with lots is heavy thinking. Being a fairly competetive person I suspect that was I not to play by gut feel I would probably descend into analysis paralysis. I know that from time to time my instincts fail me and I don't have a clue what to do. At these times I do end up taking longer then usual making a move.

This isn't a way of playing that some people can do and its also an approach that just doesn't work with some games. Taj-Mahal is one such game for me. It appears that to be successful at this game you have to develop a long term strategy early in the game. Since most of the points are accumulated towards the end of the game, it is important to have a strong idea of where you are heading. As a result I am hopeless at Taj-Mahal (that my excuse and I'm sticking with it).

The flip side of this are games where the board cab change quite dramatically during the course of a turn, in these sort of games it is often better to play tactically. One example that springs to mind is Tongiaka. The cascade movements in Tongiaka can mean that when it comes back to your turn the board is totally unrecognisable from where it was at the end of your previous turn. In these circumstances it is very difficult to progress towards a particular target. Instead you have to react to the current situation on each turn.

Something that does confuse me is that I am not a big fan of games with too much luck. Yet if I am truly playing "gut feel" moves and reacting to the current situation then I should prefer games with high luck content. I'm not sure how to reconcile this (probably the topic for another blog) but it seems to work for me, and as long as I keep enjoying gaming I'll stick to playing the way I do.

Fifth of 10 games that made me the gamer I am 02-Sep-2006

Despite owning a SdJ winner since as early as 1990 (Fair Means or Foul), by the mid/late 90s I was still unaware that there was a huge gaming scene in Germany. The game that changed this was the game that launched a thousand gamers, Settlers of Catan.

It was Paul again that introduced me to Settlers (that bloke has a lot to answer for). Here was a game that could be finished in an hour, no more of the 9 hour sittings trying (unsuccessfully) to finish a game of Civilization. Granted I was sceptical as the game came out of the box, the first thing I saw were a pair of dice.

I'm sure everyone who is likely to read this knows the rules to Settlers, but just in case a quick outline. Settlers is a 3 to 4 player game where the aim is to build a network of roads, towns and cities. The board is randomly generated by putting 4 types of hexes together. Each hex is then assigned a number from 2-12. On a players turn they roll a pair of dice, all hexes that contains the sum of the 2 dice then produce. A card matching the hex type is given to each player for each town they have on a hex. The active player can then attempt to trade cards with other players. He can then spend his cards to build further towns, roads (towns need to be connected to other towns) or upgrade to a city (effectively a double town). The first to 10 points wins he game where each town is worth 1 VP.

We suddenly had a game that usually played in under an hour, had no elimination and was fun to play. We were still in the middle of the Magic craze, otherwise this would almost certainly had an even bigger impact then it did and would probably have been played to death. Instead its major impact on me was by opening my eyes to the existence of the German games market.

There is no denying that Settlers is a great and ground breaking game. However was the game to come out now I'm not sure it would jump into my must buy list. You see in my opinion it does have one big flaw. Dice over a long period of time will produce a nice bell curve distribution of the numbers 2-12. Knowing this players flock around the hexes with the numbers 5-9. However by their very nature dice are random and won't necessarily follow that bell curve over the course of a single game. In a way the game needs this otherwise the 2 and 12 hexes would be fairly redundant. However when a 4 is rolled 6 times in 7 throws or the 8 doesn't come up at all in the first half of a game then someone can be given a thoroughly miserable game. Over the last 10 games we've probably had about 7 where someone has been forced to effectively sit out the first half of the game not having seen any cards. If you dont get resource cards in Settlers you can't do anything to improve your situation. You need cards to build roads then towns to get onto other hexes. You need cards to be involved in the trading phase of the game. What we have seen all too often is someone roll the dice every 10 mins or so then sit back and watch everyone else play the game.

It seems rather harsh to be complaining about a game that has sold as many copies as Settlers has, and do have a soft spot for the game (it did make it onto this list). As long as you are involved, ie have been getting cards and so can be involved in the trading and building, this is a truly great and enjoyable game. Over the years I have been considering making a dice deck to see how this affects the game. I am now considering picking up the new event deck to see is this helps 'fix' the game. This is a deck is cards representing every possible throw of 2 dice. There is also a reshuffle card to spice things up a little. Apparently some of the cards also trigger a event when drawn, but presumably this can be ignored if required.

So there you have the 5th game in my list of 10 defining games. Settlers of Catan - the game that launched my german revolution.

Fourth of 10 games that made me the gamer I am 29-Aug-2006

Going back to the late 90s and on a handful of occasions Paul and myself would take a days holiday, and meet up in London. After a trip to a couple of games shops we would spend the rest of the day gaming down a pub. On the first of these days we picked up 3 games to play during the day. A single game of Biting of Hedz was enough to mark it as a dud. The size of the rule book was enough to put us off Car Wars. Hence we were left with one game to last the rest of the day, and I suspect that was only bought because it was by the publishers of MtG - Wizards of the Coast. Another trip to the game shop looked on the cards. That was until we played our first couple of games of Guillotine. 7 hours later and we were still playing. I can't think of another game that I have subsequently played for so long or for so many back to back games.

Guillotine is very simple in concept. The game consists of two decks, a deck containing nobility cards each worth a number of VPs, and a deck of action cards. The idea is that a row of 12 nobility cards are laid out to represent the unfortunate french aristocrats waiting to be beheaded on a typical day during the French Revolution. The players take the part of the executioners, vying to claim the heads of the more prestigious victims. 12 of the nobility cards are dealt face up on a long row and each player starts with a hand of action cards. Players take it in turns to optionally play a card, they must take the front noble from the row and then draw one card from the action deck. Once all 12 nobles have been claimed we repeat another twice and whoever has the most VPs wins.

The action cards come in a variety of flavours. Most allow you to modify the order of the line by moving a noble forward or backwards. Others make certain cards more or less valuable, force players to discard cards etc. Add to this that some of the nobles when drawn force the player to perform certain actions and you start to realise that there isn't quite as simple as first appeared.

At first glance this seems a very simple game without much scope to provide too many choices, but as we found out on that first day, with just 2 players there is plenty of scope for planning ahead. Indeed by the end of the day we were planning for possible outcomes 4 or 5 moves ahead. A game that on reading the rules appeared to be very simplistic, turned out to have much more depth then expected. I learnt an important lesson that day not to dismiss any game until giving it a go.

The problem I have with the game now is that when it does tend to come out we play with 4 or 5 players, and with this many players it becomes a case of just grabbing the highest available score with each card rather playing for the longer game. Now I don't normally have a problem with playing like this, indeed in a lot of games I adopt a similar approach. However having played this game as a 2 player, with all the sparring for position, I feel the multi-player version just isn't as much fun. Hence another game which improves with just the right number of players

So there you have the 4th game in my list of 10 defining games. Guillotine - so good I played it all day.
 Comment by Andy   31-Aug-2006
I agree it is best as a 2 player, but I think that there are better offering out there now - San Marco for example, which you can play with more than two people. This said I wouldn't say no to a game, if only to give Tel the "Piss Boy" card !!!
 Comment by Andy   31-Aug-2006
Oops SAn Juan not San Marco ...mmmmm pizza!

Third of 10 games that made me the gamer I am 20-Aug-2006

A couple of years after I bought Fair Means or Foul Paul introduced me to a card game he just been shown.

From my first game of Magic the Gathering I was hooked. Here was a game like nothing that I had played before. You could tailor the game to play to your preferred playing style. Whether it was to rush your opponent with an army of small creatures, try and trample them underfoot with a 1 huge creature, destroy your opponent with direct damage or just try and frustrate your opponent into submission by stealing or countering their cards, magic provided the ways and meeans to do them all. I used to spend hours putting decks together then tweaking and re-tweaking them trying to get that killer deck.

For the benefit of that one person in the civilised world who hasn't heard of MtG, it was the first successful instance of that dangerous beast known as a money sink, oops sorry, a collectible card game (CCG). The idea is that you buy a deck of 60 cards. Unfortunately unless you had bought a pre-constructed deck, these cards alone weren't particularly useful, hence you went out and bought more decks, and then a load of booster packs. From your blossoming collection of cards you custom built your own deck of 60 or so cards. Armed with your pride and joy you go out and challenge your mates obviously inferior deck. When you found that your new super deck was "flawed", you'd go away and tweak it some more, probably buying new cards to do so.

We got into the game not that long after it hit Britain. The advantage of getting into the game when we did was that the cards weren't that readily available. At the time this wasn't seen as a benefit as we were always trying to get hold of the latest expansion cards, which wasn't that easy back them. but it did mean that we didn't throw that much money at the game. After we had bought enough cards to build a few different decks we were happy to keep playing the same decks, often after little tweaks. As the expansions became more readiliy available we did start to spend a little more money on the game.

The Piddinghoe Gamers owes its existence to Magic. Originally Paul and myself started making an occasional trip down the pub to play some Magic. We quickly grew in number as Andy, Oggie and Steve all came on board and the sessions became a regular weekly meeting. Looking back on those days and I still have to say that Magic has to be my all time favourite 2 player game. Whilst the game could be played with more then 2 and we tried all sorts of variants with numbers from 3 to 5 players, I personally think that it was designed as a 2 player and that's when it truly shone. Not only was the game great to play, but I also found the deck building to be good fun too when there was no one else around. Trawling through your ever growing collection of cards desperately hunting for a combo of 2 or more cards that was unstoppable.

Unfortunately all good things come to an end, and this was certainly true for Magic. As the years went on Wizards of the Coast kept releasing more and more expansions. To make sure people kept buying the new cards they had to make them more powerful then previous editions, or at least unstoppable without other cards from the same expansion. Over the years we'd all spent more then we care to admit on the cards. One by one we stopped buying the newer cards. But this meant that we were no longer playing on a level playing field, with those still buying having an advantage. Hence the number of games started to tail off.

Without a doubt this is THE defining game of my life so far. It got me gaming on a weekly basis, got me looking in every games shop I passed and was the game that formed the Piddinghoe Gamers group, without which it would've been unlikely that I would've played the rest of the games in this list. I've thought a few times about getting the game back to the table but can't really see it happening, the fairest way would be to buy some pre-constructed decks, but a lot of the enjoyment was from the fact that it was your deck you were playing with. So I suspect all those lovingly crafted decks are going to keep gathering dust and chewing up valuable storage space. Logically I should get rid of them, but it isn't going to happen while I still believe there is even the slightest chance I may play again. I always was an optimist :-)

So there you have the 3rd game in my list of 10 defining games. Magic the Gathering - Tap card to be hooked on games for life.
 Comment by Steve   20-Aug-2006
Like Tel I think this game is one of the most obvious games that made me into a 'weekly' gamer. Up until magic I was just an occasional gamer.

I currently play in a couple of groups one of which I introduced to boardgames because of the decline of magic playing within the piddinghoe gamers. This process however took a little time so I was still buying magic for a little longer than the rest of this group. This is probably one of the reasons why my win % for magic is as high as it is.

I also occasionally have the desire to want to play magic, to this end I still have a couple of decks (probably a bit too optimistically) in my games bag.
 Comment by Andy   22-Aug-2006
"This is probably one of the reasons why my win % for magic is as high as it is."

Big Head :)

Actually it would be nice to play some magic every now and again - otherwise I must have a few thousand magic cards for sale - please send offers......
 Comment by Boog   23-Aug-2006
Deeply scary. In many ways Magic also re-introduced me to regular gaming after several years break.
I'd done a lot of RPGs at Uni (D&D, Runequest, Paranoia and Cthulhu mostly), but in between my group up there had done some of the other games available from Games Workshop (back when they still sold stuff they didn't produce). So we'd play Civilisation and Fury of Dracula, and Talisman of course.

Then I left University and discovered in the "real" world no-one played anything other than Monopoly.

Couple of years after that I moved to a new job and got sat at a desk next to this wierd Northern bloke with a slightly worrying grin.
Not long after that he introduced me to Magic the Gathering.
Ack. Terrible game. Absolutely evil. Possibly the best marketing job since Microsoft.
As mentioned, success was *largely* dependant on your library of cards. Thinking up interesting combinations of cards depended on *having* interesting cards to choose from. Creating a counterspell and direct damage deck only worked if you had enough of those types of cards to choose from.

The *really* clever thing (which I don't think Tel mentioned) was the concept of card rarity.
The shitty cards were dead common (ask Oggie how many Ice/Snow Hounds he has!), but the really good ones were *rare*. So you had to buy loads of expansions and decks to get the really good cards (Serra Angel anyone?).


I got sucked in, bought less than my fair share of cards (certainly compared to people like Oggie who'd go down the local game shop and buy carrier bags full), and was saved from insanity (opinions may differ on this) and bankruptcy by moving to a job which didn't contain a wierd grinning Northener.

I have mixed views on this game. I hated how compulsive I got about it at the time. I hated the continual ranges of expansions which you *had* to buy if anyone else did if you wanted to stand a chance.
But it has provided some absolutely classic gaming moments. One of the other guys who played with us at work at the time was a little, um, crap.
So we got the game where he said "nyer, if you attack me, I'll kill myself".
I did.
He did.

All that said though, I *still* have all my cards. Can't bring myself to chuck em away after spending all that money on them.


Second of 10 games that made me the gamer I am 12-Aug-2006

Unlike most gamers that went to University or in my case Polytechnic, I didn't do that much gaming whilst there. I did briefly flirt with roleplaying, but only for a few months before I packed it in. So after leaving home, the next 5 or 6 years were pretty much a barren period when it came to gaming. I did play the odd game of risk and a few party games but that was about it.

My re-introduction into games came when I bumped into Paul, a friend from the poly, not long after returning to Brighton to work. Before too long we would get together and play some games on the occasional Sunday. It was about this time that I got my first exposure to German style games. Whilst browsing the Virgin Megastore in Brighton I came across a game that was marked with a little red playing piece that apparently meant it was the german game of the year. I knew nothing about the game but decided to give it a go. Had the box been labelled Adel Verflictect I probably wouldn't have picked it up, but it had the friendly title Fair Means or Foul.

The players take the part of antique dealers who split their time between the auction house and various stately homes. Hence each round each player must secretly choose which 1 of the 5 actions they want to use. Now the players dont have unlimited funds to build their collections, in fact they start with only 4 cheques. However our budding collectors are not above some thievery in the pursuit of the ultimate collection. Hence at the auction house the player has the option of playing one of his cheques or playing one of his 2 thief cards. The highest valued cheque buys either of the 2 antiques currently available. All other cheques are returned to their owners. If there was a single thief played then that player receives the winning cheque. If more then one thief if played then all thieves leave empty handed.

At the stately homes the players will be showing off their antiques for prestige (VPs). However as we've already seen our players like a bit of skullduggery. Hence the players at stately homes have 3 options. They can either choose to exhibit, play a thief or hire a detective to try and catch any thieves. All players that choose to exhibit must display at least 3 antique cards from their hand. The 2 players displaying the largest collection gain prestige. Now any thieves played get to steal an item from each exhibit. Any remaining items are returned to their owner. If at least 1 detective was played then all thieves played in the stately home are apprehended and the owner of each detective gains prestige. This continues until someone gains enough prestige to trigger the end game. At this point the players with the largest collections gain more prestige. The most prestigious player at the end of the game wins.

Unfortunately first impressions were not good, in fact after a couple of games it got consigned to the back of a shelf and didn't see the light of day for another 10 years or so. The problem was that at the time I wasn't a member of a group, so both games I did manage to get in, were with only three players.

With a full compliment of 5 players (6 with the Hoity Toity reprint) this is a great little game with lots of bluffing and second guessing. Its one of my favourite implementations of the Rock, Paper, Scissors game. Much of the fun in the game comes from trying to work out what everyone else of going to do and hence what your optimal move will be. Unfortunately the couple of games we tried all those years ago were with 3 and it didn't really inspire anyone as there just was not enough competition for the various actions. I learnt a valuable lesson from this experience, regardless of what it says on the box some games only work work a certain number of players.

Having just started a couple of games on Spielbyweb, we have found that we have been playing the game wrong. We used to select both the location and action cards together, but the rules state that location cards are revealed before players choose their action card. Secondly we were assigning points for exhibitions based in the exhibitors location rather then the leaders. Both these rules have a considerable impact in the game, so i'd like to try the game again now with the proper rules. I know we are currently playing a couple of games on Spielbyweb, but as much as I like Spielbyweb, I don't think this game benefits from online play, it is just too slow.

So there you have the 2nd game in my list of 10 defining games. Fair Means or Foul, aka Hoity Toity, aka Adel Verflictect- The first german style game I ever bought.

The Debating Game - How important a factor is winning in the enjoyment of a game? 09-Aug-2006

This is the first entry in a new series of Blogs entitled "The Debating Game", where 2 (or more) members of the group will put contrasting views forward on a series of gaming topics. Feel free to add your own comments to what is written.

To kick of with we start with the question on whether winning a game has any impact on how much you enjoy the game. Way back we started collecting peoples ratings of each game with the standard mark out of 10. What we decided to do however was rate each individual playing, the idea being to see how players game preferences changed over time. What appeared to be happening was that some members of the group appeared to mark up games they won, and mark down games where they didn't do do well. This has been the topic of a quite a few discussions over the years. Being somebody that according to the stats has been guilty of inflating their marks when victorious I thought I'd better try put and put an argument forward for my defense.

Personally I think winning has an important part to play in games, the winning conditions give the game a purpose, and the players an objective. Whats the point of playing a game if your not trying to acheive the winning conditions. Also at the end of many games there is a 5 minute phase where the final scores are tallied and the winner determined. Surely if winning is unimportant then this is 5 minutes of wasted time, 5 minutes of lost gaming time. If winning isn't important then why do games have winners. Every game I can think of has a winning condition, whether its a first past the post race, most Vps at the end win, or a colaborative affair where the players as a whole either win or lose against the game system. About the nearest I can come to a board game without a winning condition are RPGs but they dont really count as they were just a way to pass the time as a student :-).

I am a competetive person, I always have been. Being part of an extremely successful school football team didn't help and at the time I was a very bad loser. Over the years I have unfortunately had more practice then I'd like at losing and have hopefully learned to accept defeat with a bit more dignity, but I have to admit I still dont like it. Hence when I play games, I will invariably try to win often to the amusement and occasionally annoyance of others in the group. I enjoy winning, it usually gives me a buzz to win a game, I don't know why it just does. I dont know whether its the temporary one-upmanship (??) over the other players (I try to be a gracious winner), the latent survival of the fittest gene kicking in or just the relief that I managed to do something successfully, but there are few feelings better then that felt after you've just won a tightly fought game.

I am a big fan of playing games and will rarely turn down the chance to play any game, but a few years ago certain games didn't hold much appeal. The rest of the group used to really enjoy games like 6 Nimmt and Alles im Aimer but personally I would've preferred to be playing something else. In both these games there is a huge chaos element. and victory was far from assured even if you played the perfect game. At the time I put it down my indifference to these games as not being a huge fan of chaos games, I now realise that I was missing the point. I believed that party games were there to have fun and laughs with, but for "proper" games the main challenge was to try and win. What I missed and have only realised in the last couple of years is that for some of the "proper" games winning isn't important. I have learned to appreciate some of the lighter games for what they are. I may still have one eye on winning (old habits die hard), but I can now appreciate irrational moves just because they are funny. I knew my opinions had changed when I actually bought my own copy of 6 nimmt last year.

When we move away from the lighter, fluffy and chaotic games into the majority of the 1 hour plus games I revert to type and the old competetive streak tends to resurface. However age has matured me and I am now not as bad a loser as I used to be and I can now enjoy a game despite losing. I still do get a buzz out of winning, but what is more important now is the battle of wits against the other players. So if I'm involved in a tussle with other players I'll tend to enjoy the game regardless of the result. In fact I'd prefer to be on the wrong end of the result after a really tight tussle, then romp home to a comfortable victory, without having had to try. The flip side of this is if I'm knocked out of contention early on and don't have any "involvement" to concentrate on, I struggle to keep my enthusiasm for the game. Within our group there seems to be a few approaches to deal with being totally out of contention. These include hitting the leader, hitting the person second last, hitting anyone randomly and trying out a new strategy. Ideally I will try some different tactics but since I hate the idea of being Kingmaker in these situations, I usually end up playing fairly neutrally coasting to the end of the game trying not to spoil it for anyone else or unfairly unbalancing the games for those still in contention. In these cases I will usually mark the game down as I dont really feel as if I was involved in the game.

The bottom line is I do rate each game according to how much I enjoyed the game regardless of whether I won or not. Since it is rare to get runaway victories, a win usually follows a game where I've been involved in a battle for the win and will hence get a good rating. This gives the impression that I still mark wins up, but in such circumstances I would've marked the game the same had I not won. However there was a time when winning all important, my enjoyment of a game was largely dictated by how well I did in the game (well not entirely, biting of hedz was a truly awful game regardless of how I did). Different people get different things from games and many years ago I got a lot of my enjoyment from winning. But even then its obvious that winning isn't the most important aspect of a game, if it was we'd all be playing Tic-Tac-Toe against 3 year olds. There are a lot of factors that will contribute to how much someone enjoys a game, this includes but is not restricted to: what sort of game it is, who they are playing with, how much involvement they have in the game, how much "bad luck" they get during the game, how long the game takes to play, how much downtime there is between turns and of course whether they win. The order of the importance of all these factors is probably different for every person. Hence for some people winning is a big factor in their enjoyment, where for others it has no impact at all.

So whether winning is an important factor to someones enjoyment of a game, I guess depends on the individual person. Once upon a time I would've said yes winning was very important to my enjoyment of a game, and I suspect there are quite a few people out there that would've agreed with me. Even now, given the choice, I would still rather win the games I play, but winning is now less important then being involved in an enthralling competition within the game and it certainly doesn't add the 1 or 2 points onto my rating of the game that some suspect, at least it hasn't for a few years :-)
 Comment by Paul   10-Aug-2006
I'll reserve comments for now, as I'm writing the counterpart Blog to this one. I just thought I'd clear up the mystery of how Tel "did" at Bitin' off Hedz, played well before we began to keep records. Sadly his dinosaur seemingly possessed short stubby legs, so it wasn't particularly fleet. Neither did it have particularly good arms, being quite feeble at throwing rcks and sticks at it's more speedy opponent. Thus he didn't manage to plunge into the volcano first, or indeed at all. Quite what this says about evolution, I'm not sure.

I can however confirm that Bitin' off Hedz is a truly dreadful game.
 Comment by Andy   11-Aug-2006
Perhaps when both sides of the argument are up we can have a poll to see who wins :)
 Comment by Anne   11-Aug-2006
Being an 'occasional' Piddinghoe gamer, I always seem to suffer from lack of experience when playing games with the usual Pid gang. I'm always at a disadvantage if I'm playing a game for the 2nd time and everyone else has had umpteen chances to perfect winning strategies. Consequently I tend not to win very often. But when I do, I am very happy!

Being a realist, I am happy when I do well against the others e.g. come 3rd out of 5. I obviously don't like losing but as long as I do as well as possible, I'm satisfied. Hence, for me, the enjoyment factor is always the biggest aspect of playing games. It also means I tend to prefer the lighter and quicker games such as Heckmeck, Hick Hack in Gagelwhack, and the card games. As the Pid gamers know, you can tell how much I'm enjoying a game, not by the score but by the laughing - I have been known to break down in a fit of giggles (and hiccups).

The regular Pids do occasionally 'use' my presence as a tactic if they are losing. Their mentality is sometimes 'If I can't win, I'll try to make Anne win, just to stop xxx from winning'. This can be another source of amusement.

On a separate note, if I do play a new or slightly 'heavier' type of game the gang are all very good at telling my the rules (mostly the right ones, I THINK)and giving me hint/tips.

First of 10 games that made me the gamer I am 07-Aug-2006

This is the first in a series of articles I'm going to write about what are the 10 most important games that have made me the gamer I am today.

Nearly everyone plays games as a kid, and I was no different. I remember playing a variety of party games at Christmas with uncles, aunts and cousins, and playing standard family games such as Monopoly, Sorry, Cluedo and Chinese Checkers with my dad and sister. But the game I have fondest memories of at that time was Careers.

Careers is played on a monopoly sized board, with a monopoly type track going round the outside and usually uses the monopoly style movements of moving the number rolled on 2 dice. However here the similarities with monopoly end. Some of the squares on the outer track were gateways into various career tracks (Farming, Politics, Going to the Moon etc). Each of these career tracks had their own movement track printed inside the main board. The idea of the game was to progress round the board trying your hand at a variety of jobs. The aim of the game was to acquire 60 VPs to win the game. But this is where Careers differed from you run of the mill games at that time. VPs came in 3 forms, Fame, Happiness and Cash, and before the game started each player had to secretly write down their personal victory condition. This was a value for each of the 3 types of VPs such that the sum of which had to be 60. This allowed you to try different approaches to the game, concentrating on the different type of VP. Hence although everyone was playing the same game, nobody knew what anyone elseís exact victory conditions were. As with a lot of games at this time movement around the board was usually via a throw of the dice. However there were two decks of cards, one (experience) containing cards of the type move forward X spaces, and the others (opportunity) being go to some career entry space. Since about a third of the outer track allowed you to draw opportunity cards, there was a small degree of control on where and how you moved.

This was the game that as a child got me hooked on the gaming bug. Whenever I wasn't out and about annoying the neighbours by playing football in the street, I could invariably be found trying to persuade someone into a game of Careers. Its probably not worth trying to compare it to the German (Euro/Strategy/these games of ours - delete as applicable) games I play now, as its not in the same league, (just the thought of moving according to the roll of a dice makes my skin crawl) but it did have some nice mechanisms. First and foremost there was no elimination. There is nothing worse when playing a family game, then someone getting knocked out of the game, and having to wait over an hour before they can join in the next game. The variable victory condition was one I really enjoyed and am surprised I haven't seen it more. The standard conditions people often played were a 20/20/20 split, but I preferred to try other splits and we did see people win with extreme choices. I can remember my dad winning at least one game with a 0/60/0 split, looking for pure happiness (idealistic fool). The different career tracks were usually biased towards one of the VP types, with some being high risk/high returns and others being the safer options, so decisions had to be made as to how to go after your VPs.

Having not played the game in over 20 years I expect a lot of the memories are seen through rose tinted glasses. When I started playing board games again on a regular basis, I decided to try and obtain a copy of my own for sentimental reasons. I had seen a few copies in various charity shops over the years however most were of a different edition that had a much simplified board but I did eventually obtain a copy of the edition I played as a kid. I'd never recommend it with the Piddinghoe crowd as we've too many newer and undoubtedly better games that donít get anywhere near enough plays. But at some point I'm going to have to give it another game, probably one Christmas back at my parents, just to re-live old times. Then again I may be better leaving well alone, and leave childhood memories as just that - memories.

So the first game on the list is Careers, the first game that really got me hooked and responsible in no small way for me wanting to play board games in later life.
 Comment by Paul   10-Aug-2006
Interesting. The earliest games I can remember playing a lot of were Snakes and Ladders and Frustration, so presumably these were the ones responsible for hooking me. I was obviously easily pleased. Thinking about the reliance on dice in these games, and my legendary ability to only use the part of the dice with low numbers on, it's suprising I wasn't put off gaming for life. Perhaps I was luckier then, and used up all of my dice luck by the age of 6.

Why the big box? 16-Jul-2006

Its coming round to that time of year when I need to spend a few hours moving games about my house desperatley trying to make room for the new influx of games that I'll bring back from Essen. It is getting harder and harder to find unused cubbyholes to jam the "undesirables" in. This is why I feel I need for a mini rant.

I've been trying to get hold of a copy of Royal Turf for a few years and failing miserably. I did get close 2 years ago, I saw a copy in the second hand hall of Essen, only to see someone pick it up 2 seconds before I got there, and I've still not forgiven Andy for that :-) Once I heard it was to be republished at Winners Circle I was delighted that I'd finally be able to get my own copy of the great game. At every stall at last years Essen I was looking for it, to only find out when I got back that the release had been delayed. Finally a few weeks ago it got released, and I managed to pick up a copy online.

WHY oh WHY oh WHY did they have to make the box so big. The game now comes in the same size box as the Alea range, the one including Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence. Now I'm all for uniform box sizes, it does make stacking games easier, but when your running out of space to store your games, as I'm sure alot of people in the hobby are, then the last thing we want is a box half full of air. The previous versions of this game got by quite nicely with a smaller box so why change??? Had I seen the box before buying I may well have left off buying until after Essen and had another look round the second hand stalls for the smaller earlier games. It will be a sad day when I have to start offloading games before I can find the room to buy more, but it will be an even sadder day if I have to start skipping buying a game just becuase the box is too big.

Thanks I feel better for getting that off my chest. Now I've just got to get round to playing the new version to make sure the gameplay hasn't been tweaked too much.
 Comment by Iain   17-Jul-2006
I didn't realise they had doubled the box size. What a strange decision?
 Comment by Andy   11-Aug-2006
Muahahahaha - I'll swap mine with yours ... not !!!!

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