The Alea Analysis, Part Six: Palazzo (M#2), Augsburg 1520 (M#3), Rum & Pirates (#10)

Over the last few years I’ve slowly been updating, expanding, and revising my series of articles on Alea games. If you’d like to catch up, you can read about: Ra, Chinatown, and Taj Mahal in Part One; or Princes of Florence, Adel Verpflichtet, and Traders of Genoa in Part Two; or Wyatt Earp, Royal Turf, and Puerto Rico in Part Three; or Die Sieben Weisen, Edel, Stein & Reich, and Mammoth Hunters in Part Four; or San Juan, Fifth Avenue, and Louis XIV in Part Five.

This article brings Alea past the mid ’00s and through the rest of what I think of as its lowest peak. After Palazzo and Rum & Pirates, following on the heels of Fifth Avenue, I was wondering if I should give up on the series … and then the good Feld games started appearing (in part seven!). I think it’s notable that I haven’t played any of these three games since my alea-thon of 2009, though two of them remain in my collection.


Medium Box #2: Palazzo (B-)

Author: Reiner Knizia
Publisher: Rio Grande (2005), out-of-print
Alea Difficulty Scale: 3
Other Articles: Knizia-Thon Part 2: Palazzo & Obscurity (11/07)
My Plays: 6

Palazzo ThumbnailThe object of Palazzo is to build Renaissance palaces composed of multiple floors. You bid for those floors in auctions and/or purchase them. Each floor is made of a specific material, has 1-3 windows or doors, and bears a number from 1-5 (which must be placed in increasing order as you build). The final value of each palazzo is dependent on how many floors it contains, whether it’s all made of one material, and how many doors and windows it has.

Strengths: Auctions & Options

Both the auctions and the options in Palazzo include some clever design.

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The Dice Games of Stefan Feld

Last week, I got to play Die Burgen von Burgund (The Castles of Burgundy), alea Big Box #14. It’s yet another game by Stefan Feld and yet another Feld game that uses dice as part of its mechanical engine.

I wrote about game designer Stefan Feld just last year (part 1part 2). At the time I found him to be one of the brightest rising stars in the eurogame field. A year later, I still hold by that assessment. In my personal gaming pantheon, he’s replaced Wolfgang Kramer as the designer who produces somewhat abstract medium-weight gamers’ games just for me. (Thanks Stefan!)

My discussions of dice games (part 1part 2part 3) date back a bit further to 2008, which was the last time we had a glut of dice games on the market. As I wrote at the time, there are quite a few interesting game mechanics that tie those dice games together … and also some ways that they differentiate themselves.
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The Games of Stefan Feld, Part One

Over the last several years, designer Stefan Feld has made a rather impressive emergence onto the Eurogame scene. However, unlike many designers he doesn’t seem to have any specific patterns of design that make his games readily recognizable. Instead, I’d say the common feature that all of Feld’s games share is their uncommonness. Each one tends to have unique elements that really stand out from the crowd.

Thus, in appreciation of his games, I’ve decided to write about his several most popular games and what makes them unique. This week I’m going to cover his four games that were published from 2005 to 2007. Continue reading

Yo Ho! Yo Ho! A Pirate’s Game for Me!

Knucklebones: November 2007This is a reprint of an article written in May, 2007 for first publication in the November 2007 issue of the now-defunct Knucklebones magazine. Because of its origins, this article is more introductory and (hopefully) more polished than many of my online writings. Despite the original source of this article, this blog is in no way associated with Jones Publishing or Knucklebones Magazine.

November 2007 was also the first month that Knucklebones opted to accept two different articles for me; the other was an article on Z-Man games, which I finished a couple of weeks later, in June.


Shiver me timbers if it ain’t September again, and you know what that means, matey! It’s time to dedicate a noggin’ o’ rum to Ol’ Chum Bucket and Cap’n Slappy — the two scurvy lads who came up with Talk Like a Pirate Day, back on September 19, 1995.

Of course we know all you mateys and wenches alike will be taking p-arrrr-t in the festivities, but don’t take it as an excuse to just drink grog and sing shanties. You can also weigh anchor, hoist the Jolly Roger, and plunder and pillage on your own with a selection of excellent pirate games.

So keep reading for my top suggestions and I won’t have to make you walk the plank!

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