Last Season’s Hot Games: A Top Ten from Essen 2005, Part One

Last year I worked up a list of the top ten games to be released at Essen 2005. Now that several months have gone by, I’ve actually had the time to play through all of them (other than no-show Tempus). As a result, this week and next I’m going to offer up a summary of my opinions about the best (and worst) games from my list.

This week, the top five games, which I grade between an “A” and a “B+”, all well above average.

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Anatomy of a Game: Carcassonne, Part Three: Cooperation & Competition

This is my third article on the game system of Carcassonne. In case you missed the others, the first article looked at the game design of the core game and the second article analyzed how the early supplements affected balance and tile distribution.

With that out of the way, onward!

I picked up a copy of Carcassonne: The River II in March, and it was the first Carcassonne supplement that I’d bought in some time, due to a variety of factors.

One factor, that’s beyond the scope of this series of articles, was that The Cathars was released exclusively through a German magazine. Because I didn’t want to spend outrageous amounts of money for four tiles I ended up with a gap in my Carcassonne collection, and thus some of the symptoms of The Collector Bug abated.

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The Problem with Blind Bidding

“1 …”

I had two, perhaps three seconds left to make a decision, and it would decide the entire game.

“2 …”

We’d tied at rock last time, and the average person shifts upward, which meant Eric was most likely to go to paper. But Eric was bright, and he probably knew that, which meant he’d stay at rock to crush my scissors when I displayed that to cut his paper if he did shift up as expected, but if …


My gyrating hand came to stuttering stop, stuck on rock because I was frozen in indecision.

And Eric had counted on my indecisiveness, as was evidenced by by his wide spread hand.

“Paper smothers rock!”

To be honest, I’ve never understood why paper beats rock in the first place.

Stupid game. Continue reading

Anatomy of a Game: Carcassonne, Part Two: Balance & Tiles

In my first article in this series, I talked about the design of the game Carcassonne, breaking it down by parts and seeing how they all work together. However, Carcassonne is a lot more than than just the basic game. Nine supplements of various sizes have slowly expanded that base game, moving it in various directions (and not always the ones suggested by the original game).

Over the next few articles in this series I’m going to examine those supplements, to show how they’ve evolved the SdJ winning Carcassonne‘s gameplay. But first, a brief overview of all the supplements to date.

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