Knizia-thon, Part One: Marco Polo Expedition v. Blue Moon City

KniziathonAs I’ve played an increasing number of German games, I’ve increasingly grown fond of those by Reiner Knizia. Sure, he’s the big grand poobah of German gaming, and he designs more games than most small countries, but I’ve discovered that I like his games because they’re just more fun for me than a lot of what I play.

To some extent this surprises me, because they’re pretty analytical and pretty mathematical, neither of which matches my definition of fun, but of everything I play they’re the ones I come back to the most.

I came to this realization late last year, so this year I’ve set out to play as much Knizia as a I can. I’d hope to have a pile of Knizian nickles by year’s end, and though that hasn’t come about, I’ve still managed quite a few plays.

To date my 2007 play list looks like this: Ingenious x5, Blue Moon City x4, Quo Vadis? x3, Through the Desert x3, Amun-Re x2, Colossal Arena x2, Dead Man’s Treasure x2, Dragon Parade x2, Escalation! x2, Genesis x2, Great Wall of China x2, Hollywood Blockbuster x2, Marco Polo Expedition x2, Ra x2, Taj Mahal x2, Buy Low Sell High x1, Ivanhoe x1, Kingdoms x1, Knights of Charlemagne x1, Loot x1, Lord of the Rings x1, Palazzo x1, Relationship Tightrope x1, Rheinlander x1, Stephenson’s Rocket x1, T&E Card Game x1, Too Many Cooks x1, Tutankhamen x1, Winner’s Circle x1.

Which I suppose one really can’t complain about, since I’ve been playing at least one Knizia game a week.

All this play of Knizian games has gotten me thinking a bit about his design, and thus I offer up the first of what will eventually be several articles on his games.
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Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror, Part One: A History and Ten Top Games

In my real life I work for Skotos Tech, an online gaming company that’s increasingly becoming an online entertainment company. Our newest site, which I launched last week, is Xenagia, a community site all about fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Thus far we’ve got a forum and a book index, with plans to add reviews in a couple of weeks.

(And, if you’re interested in the topics, please stop on by, as we’re working hard to create a community, particularly on the forums.)

Because of my work on Xenagia, I’ve been largely immersed in these three genres over the last couple of weeks, and that’s what led to this article, talking about science-fiction and fantasy (and to a lesser extent, horror) in gaming.

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Last Season’s Hot Games: A Top Ten (or so) from Nurnberg 2006

Last year I posted a list of ten games worth watching from Nurnberg ’06. I’d been hoping to post some followup on all ten games to talk about what was good and what wasn’t, but it took forever for the Nurnberg games to actually hit the U.S. shores, and to date there’s still a few that I haven’t gotten to play.

But, before the next Nurnberg rolls around I wanted to post my notes on the 8 games that I had gotten to try out. So: Nurnberg 2006. Some of these games are a bit old by now, but they nonetheless represent some of the more interesting games of last year, and if you haven’t tried them out yet, here’s some more info.

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The Multiplayer IGA Nominees: 2006

There are, over the gaming year, five different major awards. The first two are the German awards, the SdJ and the DSP. Then there’s the RPG industry award (the Origins) and finally the American mass-market award (the Games 100). It’s pretty easy to pigeon-hole each of these:

  • The SdJ is a German award for a casual or family game.
  • The DSP is likewise a German award for more serious games, though the results have been getting more casual as they’ve started to let the masses vote.
  • The Origins board & card game awards are, first of all, more beauty contests than anything else — where people vote on companies as much as products. In addition they tend to award American take-that style play. If you’re looking for a new Munchkin, look here. (Since splitting into the Origins award & Choice awards, Origins proper has gotten somewhat better, while the Choice awards continue to be about what you’d expect.)
  • The Games 100 are a very eclectic mix, centering on ultra-casual strategy-light games that’ll appeal to the (American) mass market, but extending somewhat to more gamist games, thanks primarily to the fact that they get to name 100 picks.

… and then there’s the IGA, the International Gamer Awards.

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Games to Watch For: Nurnberg ’06

The Eurogaming year is centered on two points. Toward the end of the year we get the huge consumer show at Essen, and then in February we get the Nurnburg Toy Fair. Nurnberg is a different sort of show than Essen. It’s not open to the public, and there are more prototypes shown off, which might not become actual games for many months. Nonetheless, there’s cool stuff to be seen.

Last year in October I wrote about the newest releases at Essen, and now I’m going to follow that up with Nurnberg ’06: a look at a new set of games that may be making their way to us between now and … next Essen. As before, I’ve picked my top ten, mostly focusing on gamer’s games, with my top contenders marked with a star(*).

I should note that, as I commented on in my year-end round-up, much of the gaming fare continues to get lighter. Many of the games I selected are on the light-to-medium side of things, and many designers who have done heavier work in the past are emphasizing lighter games now. Over at BoardGameNews, a translated Nurnberg report seems to make the same point.
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