Support Mechanics & Meeples in 2018

Over the years, my board game writing has very much been a labor of love. So, once a year I like to remind readers that they can help to support this writing, and ensure that Mechanics & Meeples continues into the distant future.

If you’re interested in supporting the publication of Mechanics & Meeples articles, I encourage you to become a patron at Patreon. You can choose to contribute as little as $1 per new article I write (or even $1 per month), and in doing so you’ll work together with (hopefully) lots of other patrons to support this site.

Here’s the URL:

http://www.patreon.com/user?u=67916

When you become a Patreon, you can also receive all of the notes I post on Patreon, where I do my best to post a link for every board game review I publish and for every old article that I revive here. So, it’s a one-stop shop for all of my board game writing (though only the new stuff is labeled as “paid” creations).

Even if you personally can’t become a patron, thanks for your readership and your thoughtful comments. That’s just as important as a little bit of patronage to keep me writing!

New To Me: Fall 2017

As usual, this is my quarterly list of games that I played in the last three months that I had never played before. Many of them are fairly new games, but sometimes there are older games too, that I’ve just now played for the first time. Also as usual, the ratings all match my personal enjoyment of the game as a eurogamer who likes medium-weight games. YMMV. 

The Very Good

Terraforming Mars (2016). One of last years’ most popular games finally got a play from  me this fall. It turns out that it’s largely a card-driven engine-building game, not unlike Master of Orion: The Board Game (2016), which I also wrote about recently. You’ve got six different resources, which get produced each turn, and various cards can give you more production, more resources, or the ability to use the resources. There also is a board, which lets you build cities, waterways, and forests, and there’s definite strategy based on board position, but it’s the least part of the game.

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The Eurogame is Dead! Long Live the Eurogame!

I’ve been seriously playing eurogames for about 15 years now. The Settlers of Catan was my gateway — both because it was the first euro that I owned, back in the ’90s, and also because it was the game that got me interested in the rest of the euro field, in the early ’00s. My first month of recorded games in October 2003 is a set of classics: Domaine (2003) x2, High Society (1995), New England (2003), Serenissima (1996), Starship Catan (2001), and The Settlers of Canaan (2003). It shows how heavily the special Ks of Kramer, Klaus, and Knizia impacted me in those early days of gaming.

In the fifteen years that I’ve been eurogaming, the field has transformed pretty notably. I mean, change is a constant; I tried to talk about the ongoing transformation of the field in yearly reports for 2005 and 2006 but I eventually decided that the board gaming field was too slow moving for that type of yearly reporting to be meaningful. 

But now it’s 15 years past my entry to the field … and you can see a lot of change in 15 years!

So, to close out this year, I’m going to talk about what I see as some of the major changes in the eurogame field between the start of this century and … today. Continue reading

A Legion of Legacies, Part Two: Legacy Venn

In “A Legion of Legacies, Part One”, I wrote about the general tropes of Legacy games like Risk Legacy (2011), Pandemic Legacy (2015, 2017), and SeaFall (2016): what they are, why they’re controversial, and what makes them great.

Though Legacy games are quite innovative, they’re not something that emerged fully formed from designer Rob Daviau’s brow. Instead. they’re part of a larger stream of game design that goes back many years. In fact, I’d more specifically define them as a combination of three major game design elements: campaign play, hidden secrets, and modifiable components.

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The Tao of Board Gaming VII

The Tao of Board GamingKoans I-III can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming I (December 2009). Koans IV-VI can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming II (April 2010). Koans VII-IX can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming III (October 2012). Koans X-XII can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming IV (May 2014). Koans XIII-XV can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming V (December 2014). Koans XVI-XVIII can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming VI (April 2016).

XIX. The Buddha Nature of Cooperative Games

One day a seeker came to speak with a lama about the Buddha nature of cooperative games.

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A Legion of Legacies, Part One: Legacy Play

Six years ago, Rob Daviau come up with an interesting new idea that would form the basis of RIsk Legacy (2011). Imagine a game that can be played multiple times, forming a campaign; but also imagine that game changing over time, with secrets being revealed from game to game, while the game itself is irrevocably changing. Cards are destroyed and stickers are applied to various components; the board, the cards, and the player roles all mutate, both improving and degenerating over multiple plays. It turns out that this second element, of dramatically changing game elements, bolsters the first element, of multiple plays, creating a real gaming innovation.

Risk Legacy was immediately a hit, but it took several years (and a few more outings) for the “Legacy” idea to catch on more broadly. It’s only recently that it’s blossomed, with multiple Legacy games coming out in 2017-2018. Continue reading