To date, very few deckbuilding designers have returned for a follow-up try at the category. It was therefore really a pleasure to see a second deckbuilding design from Martin Wallace — one that feels both like an evolution of his A Few Acres of Snow and also like a new and innovative design.
A Study in Emerald (2013) is a big game that includes deckbuilding as one of several moving parts that together create an intriguing multi-faceted game design. Continue reading →
I’ve been writing about deckbuilding games here for a while, so I’m delighted that my friend, Eric Vogel, has a deckbuilding game of his own coming out from Evil Hat. It’s called Zeppelin Attack! and it’s a new Spirit of the Century-themed game. I played it while it was under development, and liked it quite a bit, so I asked Eric to talk to me about the new game and how it advances the deckbuilding form. —SA, 1/28/14
Shannon Appelcline: Thanks for talking about Zeppelin Attack! What led you to design a Deckbuilding game?
Eric B. Vogel: When Dominion first came out, my friends and I played it to death. We played it till we were sick of it. I thought it was incredibly clever, but it did not directly inspire me to make that kind of game. Later, when I played Thunderstone and then later Ascension, and it was clear that deckbuilding was going to be a genre and not just a game or two, I started to really have a desire to design one myself. Also, with the design of Armorica [a card management game —SA], I started to wrap my head around some of the technical issues involved in designing complex card games. A deckbuilding game seemed more like something within my grasp. So probably around 2010 I started really playing with ideas for a deckbuilding game.
Several years ago, I looked at expansions in board games. At the time, I concentrated on how the expansions were integrated into the games, and offered the theory that expansions that were permanently added to games weren’t that great, but when you could (optionally) choose to use them or when you could replace some core game system (or even the whole game), things worked better.
It’s now six years later, and I’ve seen many more expansions come and go — some successful and some not — and so I wanted to attack the topic again by instead examining whatgame expansions do. Along the way, I’ll use examples from some of the more recent games I’ve been playing, such as 7 Wonders (2010), Innovation (2010), Kingdom Builder (2011), and Ascension (2010).
Though my new gaming was light in fall (primarily because my gaming was light in fall, due to the holidays), I’ve opted to publish my short list of new-to-me games while they’re all still fresh. (And it looks like I still managed almost a dozen new games.) As always this is an assessment of how much I like the games, rather than whether they’re great or not. I tend to prefer light-to-medium euros that don’t make me work too hard.
Caverna: The Cave Farmers (2013).I thought Agricola (2007) was great the first time I played it, because it combined worker placement with scarcity and it also supported deep and thoughtful gameplay. It’s too long for me to play very often, but it’s still a great game that I love when I play. Caverna is essentially more of the same, but with fantasy theming, with some simplified game elements, with reduced randomness, and with an interesting new expeditions systems. Overall, it’s a great variant, that’s just (barely) far enough from the original that you might want to own both.
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It’s been a long time since I’ve written a gaming rant, so here we go …
Last Wednesday, I played Martin Wallace’s Toledo for the first time in five years. Back in the day I reviewed it as an entirely adequate family game, but it didn’t thrill me. Now that I’ve played it again half-a-decade later, I think I can better explain why.
For me, Toledo’s main problem is that it depends on its players dutifully storing away cards, like a squirrel planning for winter. Sure, you could play your cards fast and furious, but that’s a recipe for losing. That’s because card play in Toledo stacks: you’re allowed to play as many cards as you like during a turn, provided that they all have the same value.
In other words, like most eurogames Toledo is ruled by the tyranny of efficiency: you have to figure out how to eke out the most efficient plays, to save a fraction of a turn here or a fraction of a resource there. Ultimately, those little efficiencies add up, and the player who has fractioned the most wins.