What Makes 10 Great Games Great

I’ve been keeping track of my games played for almost fourteen full years. That means that I have a pretty robust listing of games that have worked well enough to get numerous replays from me over the years. They represent a set of great games, with features that any would-be great game could endeavor to repeat. So this week I’m going to go through my listing of those top games and offer my opinions on either of their best features — the ones that make them so worth playing and replaying. Continue reading

The Expansion Game, Part Two: Bane or Boon?

Four weeks ago, I wrote about gaming expansions, positing a history for them that I really believe is how they came to be. Having thus examined the question of how gaming expansions exist, I’d like to talk about a more philosophical question: should they?

This surely isn’t the first time that I’ve talked about whether gaming expansions were good or bad. In my Carcassonne articles, I discussed how much the various expansions — particularly the latter ones — have messed up the core game play, while in a discussion of Memoir ‘44, I talked about how much I admired the system of scenarios, something that has now been carried across several supplements.

So, expansions can be good and bad, and when I answer the general question of whether gaming expansions are a bane or a boon, I generally have to say yes. Continue reading

A Wife’s Perspective

This week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I asked my wife to write an article for Boardgame News. Though Kimberly enjoys the occasional game, she’s by no means a serious gamer. Thus she offers a unique perspective on what games your loved one might enjoy. So, consider this a guide to games you might play with your non-gaming-spouse-or-girlfriend this Valentine’s Day, and an insight into why those or other games might be enjoyable. You might even print it out and give to them, so that they can decide for themselves if any of the games sound fun.

As for us, maybe we’ll play some Carcassonne or Lost Cities after a nice dinner out tonight at our favorite Cajun restaurant.

I’ll now turn things over to my wife, Kimberly Appelcline —SA Continue reading

Nickels and Dimes: 2006

There are any number of ways to review games and say which are best. I regularly write gameplay reviews at RPGnet. Here on Gone Gaming, I’ve written previewsyearly lists, and more.

However ultimately I think one of the best guides of “what’s good” (or, at least, “what’s good for me”) is what gets played. No matter how beautiful and elegant a game is, if it never gets played because it’s ten hours long, it’s hard to count it as a good game. Hence the yearly “nickel and dime” lists where people talk about what games they’ve played at least five or ten times.

In past years my nickel and dime lists have been somewhat uninteresting. They tended to focus on the 2-player games that I played with my wife. Alas, my wife has largely stopped playing games this year, but on the upside my 5&10 list is a more accurate reflection of my gaming tastes (with perhaps too much emphasis on fillers).

Here’s what 2006 brought:

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Expansive Theories (or: The Horror! The Horror!)

Gaming expansions. They’re a way of life — particularly if your game has just won the SdJ, or alternatively is published by Fantasy Flight Games. (If both happen some day, we can only assume that the expansions will have expansions.)

Frankly, I like expansions, or at least I like the basic theory thereof. If a game is well-designed or otherwise enjoyable, I want to be able to play it more, but on the other hand my constant need for novelty requires me to go out and find new games to play. Expansions for games that I already like meet both needs.

However last weekend while playing The Dunwich Horror, the second and newest expansion for Arkham Horror, I increasingly realized that in my mind some expansions work, and others are, to put it topically, turkeys. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed The Dunwich Horror, and it’s going to get played again, but I also think that FFG is advancing right down the path that makes me most leary of gaming expansion.

Generally, I categorize gaming expansions into four types: permanent expansions; one-time expansions; replacements; and alternative games. As we’ll see, The Dunwich Horror falls into the first category, and the one I like least.

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Five Games I’m Thankful For: ’05

Happy Thanksgiving to all you Americans. Since I have the misfortune to post on Thanksgiving Day proper, I figure there’s only a few dozen of you reading, max (and that only thanks to the International nature of the Internet), and so I’ve decided to go with a pretty light & fluffy topic this week: five games I’m thankful for.

They’re not necessarily the best games I’ve played, nor even the games that I’ve played the most — but in various ways they’ve made me happy over the years. When I’ve reviewed the game in question, I also included a link to my review over at RPGnet. Go check that out for some more thoughts on the game in question.
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Memoir ’44, The Seafarers of Catan, and Other Scenarios

One of the most successful games that I’ve acquired in the last few years has been Memoir ’44. It’s not necessarily the most strategic game that I’ve played in that time period. (Despite my occasional grognardery, I’d probably admit that was Puerto Rico.) Nor is it the most clever game I’ve played in that time period. (For that I’d currently say Dungeon Twister, though ask me again when the new-game smell has worn off.)

However, Memoir ’44 is one of the games that has kept me coming back for more the most, and which I expect to keep doing so for years to come. It’s long been obvious that Days of Wonder’s business plan is to create true evergreen games that can not only continue to sell long past the initial drop ship, but can also be evergreen for their players too. And that’s a pretty cool thing.
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