New to Me: Winter 2015 — The Season of Feld

This is my quarterly listing of games that I played for the first time ever. As usual, I’m offering my own thoughts on these game, not a more general assessment of whether they’re good or not. If you like euros more than American games; if you prefer things on the casual-to-medium side of the spectrum; and if you don’t mind controlling some randomness, you might agree.

As you can see, I’ve labeled this the Season of Feld. It’s not that there were a lot of Stefan Feld games out this quarter; it’s that Christmas was just past, and I got Feld for Christmas. So, I got an opportunity to try out some older Feld games that I’d missed … and La Isla finally showed up in local stores too. Mind you, my Great games for the year were Feldless (but I liked the Feld I got).


The Great

Roll for the GalaxyRoll for the Galaxy (2014). While we first played this dice-game variant of Race for the Galaxy (2007), one of my friends asked, “Which is better, card play or dice play?” My answer was that dice games tend to be more viscerally exciting (when done well), while card games tend to allow for more depth. That suggests that a dice game could raise itself up to the next level if it combined the raw excitement of dice rolling with the depth of a game with more components … and Roll for the Galaxy is that game.

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Six Designs of Real-Time Games

Real-time games are one of my favorite genres. Sadly, they’re pretty rare too, with a game of real note only showing up every year or two. In this article, I’m discussing several of the most interesting real-time games, to highlight what each does great (or not). Rather than trying to rank these games, I’ve listed them in order of publication … but if you want to know my favorite real-time game, it’s Galaxy Trucker (2007), hands-down.


Ubongo (2003)

UbongoUbongo isn’t exactly a real-time game by my definition. Instead it’s a game that you win by engaging in a task (the placement of puzzle pieces within a grid) faster than everyone else. However, Ubongo shows off the most important element of real-time gaming: adrenaline.

When I first played Ubongo, I was amazed by how jazzed I felt afterward and by how much I wanted to play again. That’s because it does a good job of making you want to play fast and rewarding you for doing so.

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A Second Look at Expansions (or: The Expansion Expansion)

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 what game 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).

So, how do you expand a game?

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Shannon’s Christmas ’12 Gift-Giving Guide

Christmas is just around the corner. If you haven’t already picked up presents for your family and friends … it’s getting down to the wire. To help the process along, I wanted to offer what I hope will be the first in an annual series of board-game gift-giving guides.

I’ve mostly focused on games from the last year or two, with a few references to older releases. Everything’s organized by the type of gamer you’re giving to, with the caveat that most of my suggestions are euro games — which means somewhat more strategic and somewhat more abstract.

If there are any other great games from recent years that belong on this list, please tell me about them in the comments below, along with the type of gamer that you’d give them to. Continue reading

New to Me: Summer, 2012

Here’s my newest quarterly listing of games I’ve played recently that I’d never played before. As usual, this list tends to focus on brand-new games, but on occasion the odd older game shows up that I just hadn’t tried out before. This time around there was a little glut of games in the 2007-2008 range.

I’m happy to have seen a couple of terrific releases (Village and Small World: Realms) which made the Summer a great time to be gaming. Sadly, there were also two total failures in D-Day Dice and (very belatedly) World War 5.

Everything is arranged in approximate ranking of personal like, from most to least.

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My Fives and Dimes: 2011

Games that you played five or ten times in a year (five and dimes) have been used as a barometer of the board gaming world for years. Here’s what made my five and dime board gaming list in 2011:

Dominion — 19 plays

My winner for the year was Dominion, which made 19 plays, many of those after the releases of Cornucopia and Hinterlands. This also made Dominion my most-played board game ever, with its 94 tabletop plays edging out the 93 plays across all variants of Ticket to Ride.
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