Eight years ago I wrote an article called “IP, Morality & The Gaming Industry” where I bemoaned the fact that Intellectual Property don’t adequately protect game creation. Games like Aquarius, Barbarossa, and Commands & Colors got ripped off to varying degrees, and the designers didn’t have a lot of legal fallback. That’s because copyright only protects the concrete representation of a game and patents, which could protect mechanics, are too expensive.
Today, that understanding of intellectual property law seems to be changing, so I wanted to post a short news piece talking about two new US court decisions.
Spry Fox vs Lolapps (2012) got quite a bit of attention a few years ago. It’s about an app, not a board game, but it’s now being used as the basis of more recent decisions, so it’s worth looking at. The suit centered on a rather innovative gaming app called Triple Town. Like many puzzle games of recent years, the object is to move identical objects together in a small grid, but here they form something else. Then another game called Yeti Town came around and Spry Fox, the Triple Town publisher, said it was a rip-off. Continue reading →
Star Realms (2014) is a science-fiction themed deckbuilding game that rather uniquely is built for just two players — which is certainly a different way to create a small deckbuilder, as opposed to the variable play models used by Pergamemnon (2011) and Zeppelin Attack! (2014). However, you can play Star Realms with more players by buying additional decks of cards.
Looking at the deckbuilding tree of design, Star Realms is most clearly a descendent of Ascension(2010) — which is unsurprising because they have a designer in common. Both games allow for the purchase of cards from a random selection of just a few that are available at any time. They’re also both heavily suited and they both feature cards that are left on the table: constructs in Ascension and bases in Star Realms.
El Grande (1995), by Wolfgang Kramer and Richard Ulrich, is one of the foundational games of the eurogame genre. I still try to play it at least once a year, but I’ve never written an in-depth discussion of it, so I wanted to take the event of this year’s play to talk about it a little bit.
The Majority Control
At heart, El Grande is a majority-control game — or really, the majority-control game that defined much of what followed in eurogames. You place cubes into regions on the board and you try to have just enough to beat your opponents. It’s a simple recipe of efficiency mixed with risk-reward.