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The Convention Man

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Yesterday a friend of mine said the title above. It’s a foreign word and I was hardly understand him at first, though in the end I think I get what He meant by it. We were talking about playing board games while we’re in a board game event. The topic of the discussion was about our time to play games within the event, as we tried our best to play as many games as we can during the event. Sadly we usually not satisfied with the result, we still think our plays are lacking. Need to play more, and more and more, but there’s so little time. What’s the difference between playing in an event and playing in a private group? Well, one thing for sure is the privacy. What I mean with privacy here is that in private group you can focus to the game 1000%, no hindrance, no distraction and other things. While in an event or convention sometimes people come and go, we meet some people have a little chat here and there, need to do some errands for a second or two, loud and noisy, hard to focus, playing with the staff or something else.

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Time is the constraint, which we cannot do time travel in reality.

So in that time, we had a set back in play time because there were several things got in the way of our session and the game that should last 2-3 hrs, tool 5 hrs to finish. That practically almost a day, or half. So when talking about this issue, my friend mentioned that we are no longer a convention man. Funny, it sounds that way at first, as well as cool at the same time. When I think it over again, it is true, that we (my friend and I and maybe some of you guys) are no longer them convention men. Who have time to play all day, play freely and there’s nothing in the way. Sadly we are becoming men that need to make schedule to any of our plan or action. Who need to prioritize what to do or get gaming as a privilege. We now put more variables in our gaming life, such as family, couple, work, job, relax, rest and other things. Which in fact could sink gaming to the bottom of our ocean.

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Go for a whole day!

Funny as it was, in the past we can spend the entire full day playing in a gathering event or play day with no worry through anything. We can sit there on the table for hours, not eating even we’re hungry. We play non-stop without breaks between heavy games. That’s us, convention men.

Hence we’re not really suitable to get what we want in conventions, but we should be more satisfied with private group gaming session. There we can maximize our playing time to the fullest. But of course the vibe, the ambiance of a convention is not something that can be replaced and it is truly one of a kind. So I hope not just me, but all of us can still do both.

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Teaching board games is always something I look forward to.

Time to play!

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2017 in Article, Board Games, Events

 

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Back From the Dead in Tabletop Day

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Holla, I am back, writing. It’s been what, months since my last post? Dunno for sure but, here I am with another post (not sure there’s someone really anticipating my post or even read it like a big of a deal. So what happened in the past few months? Well many or not many, but one thing for sure I am (and we are) celebrating International Tabletop Day (Sat, 29th April 2017), which is a topic worth my fingers numbing. So how’s your Tabletop day? Playing and celebrating with some friends? Mine wasn’t heavy into gaming, just stay home with my wife and luckily our friends came over from out of town and we did play some games, good ones.

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The Name of The Rose to celebrate International Tabletop Day

Lately I’ve been resting with the usual gaming sessions, and instead taking the fast non-stop train of Gloomhaven campaign. Do you know it? It’s on Kickstarter right now for it’s second printing and it’s spectacularly on fire right now by surpassing 3 million dollars pledge level. Congrats Isaac Childres (it’s game designer), keep up the good work. In case some of you want to know more or back, there’s still time, just go ahead to the project page and find out yourself about the awesomeness of the game. Find the link here.

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Its just unusual to me to put hold all the gaming sessions and play this game in rows instead, well there’s always the first for everything. I played the campaign with my wife, each of us handle 2 characters. It’s been a joyride, we love it, we cannot wait to find out what scenario we will take and what it has in store for us. Though I might say that the game took hours to play and we consumed our nights just like seconds burned through our delighted and enthusiastic characters. I think it’s safe to say that we are addicted to this game right now, which is completely amazing feat, since my wife is known to be not really a fan of this kind of games, and I also do not have history and experience in such games. But hey, whatever makes us happy is worth our time. And I will be doing another write (review) about this specific game in the next post but I still stand at zero. Hope things can be smooth and I can start writing them to the upcoming post.

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Starting the Campaign

So let’s take a loot (oh, I mean “look”) at another general matter. I also starting to introduce heavier meatier game to my gaming group at office, they’re complete noobs and to be honest this is something that kinda risky, but I can always tune it down when I think it’s necessary. From Camel Up to Takenoko, Codenames to La Isla, Parade to Potion Explosions and Grand Slam to 7 Wonders. And they seemed fine with it, a good sign. So let’s just wait how the ordeal goes in the next future. Hope to bring more meat after this. Maybe The Name of The Rose, El Gaucho or even The Castles of Burgundy.

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Also I just came back from our seventh gaming camp couple’s week back. It’s fun, though there’s just a few of us, but the spirit still the same, play games and have fun. We started up late and got many friends caught up with something can couldn’t join. It’s definitely our fault not to broadcast it sooner. We played a good deal of quality games, like The Colonists, Adrenaline, Anachrony, Kanban, Food Chain Magnate and such. This year was different because we changed the days, from Saturday to Monday, to avoid the post holiday rush on our way back, so we can actually relax and save time in the trip home. This was very good and everyone agree with the idea, and that surely will be implemented in the subsequent annual camps.

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The 7th IBG Gaming Camp, 2017

Here are some event photos you can check out.

Still strong on the gaming camp hype, our team sat down to talk some ambitious project regarding convention, first big convention for our community, to help gamers get to together and play games as well as to keep our community alive well and strong. Though we have some problems and limitations, we did have a good discussion and planned to get something going whatever it is. So all we have to do first is to pull some strings. Let’s hope there’s something good and big come out from it. Crossing fingers.

Apparently Roxley games launched it’s rework of Brass in 17th April and this was something I highly anticipated since a long long time ago. Goodbye EGG version, it’s a good decision not to get that version and waited long enough for such a masterpiece from the legend, Martin Wallace. So, a bit of a note, I dislike EGG business model and I do have personal vendetta against them due to my experience on backing The Gallerist which totally made up my mind not to back any games in KS from them. And the other thing was because the Brass ordeal. You sir, just make up into my shit list.
Okay so how’s the next Brass is going to be? So friggin’ awesome. I opened the KS page, check what they have to offer, read the pledge levels and “click” I backed the bundle pledge. Roxley has overdone it with this one, great revamp on the artworks, omitting the dull tone (though based on the theme, it seems reasonable but not expected) to a high contrast and beautiful art style from Mr. Cuddington, they’re so talented and they’ve made Brass into a work of art. And  not only Roxley revamps the game, they also create another version of Brass, with different game play and rules so in short, they make 2 games in this project, Brass Lancashire (the old and classic one with revamped art and streamlined rules) and Brass Birminghamp (same revamped art but different game play and rules). And guess what, Roxley even offers the bundle package with same cost shipping (USD 19 to Indonesia for both games, so sick cheap). I can’t wait for the games to arrive, though the custom fee for them will hurt my wallet.
Find the KS link here.

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Ain’t this beautiful?

Let’s move on to another topic, with Gloomhaven on my play list, I kinda short list my acquisitions lately. Well can’t say lately since I just starting this month. But for what it’s worth, I usually posting my loot monthly, so each month I will take a group photo of my newly acquired games all in the same month, and then post it on my facebook or instagram. And for April, there is none! Yeaaay… isn’t that something? Though I must say that I cannot do the same in the next month, since right at this moment a friend of mine is hand carrying Cottage Garden from Netherlands, weee…. Okay it’s been something that we (my wife and I) have been looking for, cannot find it here. So I hope Gloomhaven will occupy my gaming time in the near future and keep my purchase into a tight belt, there are good and bad sides to that, sadly.

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Time to go back into Gloomhaven

Okay, though it’s already 30th April and Tabletop day is passed, but not the spirit, we’re going to play some more and tomorrow I will attend a small event near my place held by my FLGS, Monopolis Wonder. Will demo one or two good heavy Euro games, hopefully things go smooth. In case you interested to join me, check here.
See ya and happy gaming!

 

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My Top 10 Games from 2016

2016 is over and from it, there are many games that I’ve tried and yet to try. So in short, here are my top 10 of 2016 and some worth mentioned. The rank is of course, subject to change by play count and also different feel of the game and as time goes by, but at least this is my initial take based on my (first) experiences.

The Top 10
#1 Great Western Trail
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Okay, I heard good (if not great) things about this one. After I got and played it, I must admit that it’s quite over-hyped but agree, this one is good and worth to be in the very top of this list.
Why I like it?
Classic
This is modern Euro that has the classic feel shows in the presentation. The rules are somehow hard to chew but once you play it for the first time, you know what to do and straight-forward simple. There are many mechanics thrown into the game but surprisingly they work very well overall.
There’s a deck-building aspect in it.
A hint but not too strong to be considered as a deck-building game and doesn’t restraint players for building their deck cause there are still many ways to get points. In short, players do not have to totally surrender over the deck efficient and effective aspect of a deck-building game.
Rondel
Disguised in the player board, this one has rondel mechanic in it. Yes, the location spaces along the trail is one network or rondel system that becomes lengthy over time during the game because new locations will be added by the players. I could need a game with rondel in my collection and though this is not the usual rondel but better than none.
Engine Building in player board
The player board gets more interesting since players get to move some components from their player board into the game board in such interesting way. Players mostly score points and get instant benefit while improving their engine.
Clever use of objective cards
Players acquired objectives from the card display and put them their deck. These acquired objective cards are mixed together with their cattle cards, which will eventually be drawn into their hand and can be used in such an innovative way. Players are left with an interesting decision either to keep those objectives in their deck (while making your deck less-efficient in the same time) or play them to get the bonuses but must committed to complete them at the end or they will get penalized with minus points.
What I don’t like about this game?
Hmm, almost nothing. The components are good, though there was minor misprint in one of the player’s building tile (though a simple sticker should take care of the problem). The player boards should be thicker (as thick as the game board) and also has indentation to place all the wooden pieces.

#2 Yokohama
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Finally another heavier game (heaviest actually) from Hisashi Hayashi. I kinda like most of His game and this one is so beautiful (aside from the beautiful artwork from Ryoko Hayashi). Some said (including Rahdo) that the game design shares the resemblance with Stefan Feld designs (a point-salad game), and I must agree. Even this year, Hisashi Hayashi is more Feld than Feld himself.
Why I like it?
Heavy
At first the box and visual presentation of the box art surely gives you friendly and casual feel of a classic Euro with a location (city / country) name as its title. If it’s true then you were fooled, it’s unlike any of sorts, though the box art is remarkably compelling and relaxing. The truth, the game is quite complex. Though the rules are simple but there are many tidbits that players need to keep up for the first time.
As far as the eyes see
Ludicrous amount of ways to get points. Yes there are many ways to get points (really a point-salad game) even there are some double locations that serve that sole purpose to open more access through out the map.
Combos
After a while learning the game, you can figure out some interesting combo with chaining action and additional action together, also helped by abilities from technologies and bonuses.
High variable setup
There will be no setup like before. The game map setup makes it different each time you play, the location and how you build your resource processing engine is based on the game map. You need to be more efficient to move around and using your assistants to beat your opponents. And in addition, the technology card and award distributions are also different in each game.
What I don’t like about this game?
The modular boards are easily get moved and shifted by players though I understand that this is how the variable setup possible. And the cards, ugh the cards are too fiddly, placed on top of the modular boards and also technology cards are too hard to read (the texts are too small) especially from a player seat to the end of the table. If only they can come up with iconography solution for this. Table-hugger, yes the game takes a lot of table space. With card displays and huge modular boards with maximum amount of players, you get a busy tablecloth ready to be played.

#3 Terraforming Mars
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This offers a very interesting theme with science backing the theme and logic of the game. Immediately ordered it once I had the chance and played it straight out. The game is amazing, very intimidating though but rewarding with clever card plays.
Why I like it?
Really dig the science behind the theme
The theme is not very compelling for me, but for some reason the relevancy between game and real life science seems click (thinking of High Frontier or Leaving Earth for other examples).
Clever card plays
This definitely what makes the game shines. First of all this is naturally a card game. Many cards inside the game, and it offers different clever card plays along with a tableau engine building. In a game, all the cards won’t be played and sometimes the cards can be useless but sometimes can be very crucial. This reflected by the timing and compatible pairing with other cards (combos). So players need to adapt to every situation in the game and come up with the best solution to get the most points in the end.
Shiny metallic cubes
Okay, they’re plastic but seriously they still looks good and shiny like metals. I like to hold the biggest cubes in my hand, big cubes. Aside from the idea of same big size for all the cubes, I agree the different sizes makes it easier for color blind players.
Game flexibility
The end game relies on the players. There are three parameters to end the game and players are “semi-cooperatively” work towards that end. So in a way, players together is in control with the length of the game (which could also be the drawback in terms of unnecessary prolonging the game).
What I don’t like about this game?
Many. Yes, aside from the cards have heavy texts on them, makes it hard for players to read and prolong the game duration. And for new players, pretty much intimidating if they’re not omni or heavy-gamer people. The cards distribution can also felt unbalance.
The player board could be improved, to keep track the income track and the supply with the same components could turn your game experience a bit nightmarish if things turn sideways. Good thing that there’s a game trays for the player board (or should I say player mat?). The game length could be hard to determine because of the end game trigger, which based on players game plays.

#4 Scythe
pic3163924_mdThis one is one of the best, undoubtedly. You can see it on its Kickstarter project and how good the feedback is. Backed it myself and worth every penny. Stonemaier games has a very good reputation though relatively new in the hobby.
Why I like it?
Stunning artworks and immersive theme
Actually the game was purposely designed out of the beautiful and stunning artworks from Jakub Rozalski, based on His self-made universe of alternate world war aftermath. The scenes are jaw-dropping and awesome. One can own this for collection only and no one dares to argue. The game sets in a alternate history of world war where mechs were exist in 1820’s and there are some factions that want to seize control of the land. The factions not only shows different characteristic in appearances but also in abilities that affect the ways to play them.
Marvelous components
The game is heavy, literally. Many top notch quality components, as already known by it’s components quality, Stonemaier games didn’t kid around by chucking realistic resource tokens and metal coins, not to mention thick card board and huge enormous game board, and those mechs. Hands down, one of the best Kickstarter game projects.
Interesting game play
The rules seems intimidating, but once you break it down, it’s pretty simple and straightforward. It’s an engine building game with variable player power, area control, resource management, and semi racing game with interesting player interactions.
I love how the scoring works and the encounter cards also add a nice touch to the game theme. Battle doesn’t seems highlighted, so for Euro-gamers this should give a plus, direct conflict is down to minimum. So for those who expecting frequent battle, they might be disappointed. Though of course they can play it that way, it’s not guaranteed to be a winning strategy.
What I do not like about the game?
This is hard. Maybe my biggest issue is the game takes a huge table space, more if you use the collector’s edition bigger board. Also it’s better if players can accomplish more objective cards.

#5 The Oracle of Delphi
pic3302018It’s Stefan Feld new title, The Oracle of Delphi. Surprisingly in this game He didn’t make His usual point-salad game, this one is a racing game. Yeah, racing, surprised me. I do not consider myself as a Feld fanboy, but I do like and admire His games. There are many favorites among His games such as Trajan, Bora-Bora, The Castles of Burgundy, Amerigo, Aquasphere, The Name of The Rose and many more.
Most of these share the same feat, various ways to get points (point-salad). But not this one. In this game players need to appease Zeus by completing 12 tasks before anyone else. The player who completed those 12 tasks and managed to get back to the starting place, won the game.
I usually do not like racing game (Euphoria, Istanbul, Viticulture) so I am kinda pessimist with this one and did not get my hope high. Though I hope this could be like Lewis and Clark or at least as good as Automobiles for me.
So let see the summary…
Why I like it?
Stefan Feld
Okay should I admit that I might be a fanboy after all? Stefan Feld always counts something in my book. His games are awesome so far and truth be told in early days of my board gaming adventure, I planned to collect all of His games (though I’ve been lazy and distracted). So His name as the designer should be one of the reason why I like this game.
Dice Allocation
Yes, one of initial reasons why I like Feld was right after I tried The Castles of Burgundy. The dice allocation system is very clever and interesting (for me). What you can do with such dice really amazed me, and how He managed to mitigate the dice roll luck, the reason why I like dice games. And guess what this one also uses the same system and in addition, the dice are custom dice, superb.
The symbology and iconography
Okay, I do not know whether it’s Feld’s, Dennis Lohausen’s or the developer’s doing that makes it great but this game has such a clever implementation of colors / symbols in the game. Not only just to make players identify the elements in the game but also the various aspect or elements in the game are boiled down to these 6 colors / symbols. And extra, it’s color-blind friendly (bravo!).
Theme
Greek Mythology is one of the themes that makes me interested. So this one is interesting. Though I also think it’s lack of theme and quite abstract (most of His games are).
Rewarding game play
Actually aside from the racing game aspect, the game play is simple and quite fun. Okay Euphoria is fun and simple but somehow at the end of the day, its not really rewarding for me when lost the game. But this one feels slightly different. You can feel the excitement to complete task, moving around ship and matching the colors, tinkers with your dice and what combo you can possibly do with those God’s special abilities. So my verdict so far, its playable in the future. In fact, I already logged 3 plays in such a short time.
What I don’t like about this game?
I’ve experienced difficulties to set the map. Even there’s a pictured diagram for the basic map setup, it’s kinda hard to determine the shape of those map tiles because there are more then one kind (4 shapes and sizes). And Place Zeus in the center, what center? There’s no shallow in the center (at least not center, center if you know what I mean). And the cities should be placed in an equally-distant way (come one, it gives me headache). I also tried the random setup and it’s not easier (could be worse).
Racing game, as I already mentioned earlier, even the racing is not that bad, but if it’s not a racing game, it could be better for my taste. For example completing tasks gives you points (how many points is vary not on the type of tasks but the type of objects (monsters, statues, offerings or build shrines), this mean based on colors and each game it should be vary. I never favor a wooden die. Better other materials. Not really an issue but worth mentioned. I mean how good could this be if the dice are plastic or resin (just like in Bora-Bora) or whatever that is beside wood.
The Gods abilities and Ship tiles feel somewhat not balanced. I feel Ship tile that gives starting position on all Gods really overpowered. I also feel that Blue, Red and Yellow Gods are very useful throughout the game, unlike other Gods, which only used number of times for specific actions. But that’s just based on 3 plays.

#6 Word Porters
pic2948039_md This one is coming from Hisashi Hayashi, one of the few Japanese games that go international. His games are amazing and innovative.
I knew him the first time from Sail to India and then Trains. As these games are good, I started to check His other games and turned out His other games are also good.
And when I knew He has a new game with word as its main idea, well I like word games, so I immediately sold.
Why I like it?
Word Games

I love word games, and this looks a very nice addition aside from Codenames, Snake Oil and Dixit. The truth is, I think this is the successor of Dixit and Codenames combined. It shares unique features from both games.
Hisashi Hayashi
I don’t know from when I starting to like and hunt for Japanese games (maybe safe to blame Love Letter) and to be more specific, Hisashi’s games kinda always have special treatment in my eyes. So here it is, another Hisashi’s game that actually quite good and fresh.
It actually good
Turns out the game is very good. If you have second thought about this one because it looks similar to Codenames and Dixit altogether, well it has the same features but the scoring system is different and it changes a lot in the gaming experience. Since in Dixit you try to choose the one and in Codenames you play in teams, in this game you try to guess all other players. The feel is quite different (turned out it’s a big turnover) and it’s so exciting. So I still think it’s worth having in my collection (I own Codenames, Dixit, Spyfall and Snakeoil for your consideration).
There is a minor but essential deduction element in the game, which makes the game quite complex in meta gaming but not necessarily running the game entirely. So whether you use deduction or not, the game can still be fun.
What I don’t like about this game?
The only version is in Japanese though it has English paste ups in the BGG file section and the word cards have English translations, still hard to get this easily run smoothly. You need to get some efforts done, such as print the paste ups, stick it in the hint cards or use sleeves and insert it to the sleeves.
Also the English texts in the word cards are too small, it’s hard to read.
It shines with more players, the game can be played with 3-7 players, but with 3 or 4, is not as good as 5-7 players.

#7 Mask of Anubis
pic3104778_mdThe only reason I found this game interesting was the VR implementation into an analog game. Sounds and looks cool. It’s a Japanese game and not an easy one to acquire. I had to go to Japan to get this, though this was also available in Essen 2016 for a limited amount.
Why I like it?
VR Technology

Okay, technology implementation is always interesting. You can see many approaches from the likes of X-Com, Alchemist and such but this one is more interesting since it’s using our sensory and perception more closer. To play the game you need a VR goggle (which already included inside the game). The first time, you need to assemble it first which is not easy but I am sure everyone can do it.
The interaction is off the chart
In this game, it constantly demands interaction between players. Players need to listen carefully, explain clearly and work together to map the pyramid. It’s a very fun game to begin with, lots of talking, back and forth and getting things done. I also think it’s good for training your visualization skill (mapping it out in your head based on the description of your teammates).
Challenging with different people or group
since the main focus is people interaction and communication, it’s essential to have a good communication and interaction. But in order to do that, there are too many factors at play. Different people with different understanding, speaking skill and how their mind thinks really make this game challenging when played with different people. Though returning group find it easier from session to session due to teamwork and progressing communications.
A monster to explore
As you check on the maps (oh did I tell you about the app you need to install first before you can start to play this game?), there are many stages provide by the publisher, from easy to hardest. The difficulty is based on the scope of the map size. The bigger the map is the more points of view it needs. So, it’s rewarding in terms of game time. And also there also extra stage and time trial mode if you want to change the game mode.
What I don’t like about the game?
The VR goggle is kinda bit fiddly and fragile. You need to carefully use and store it if you want it long-lasting. The truth is you can always replace / substitute it with another VR out there (there are many cheap ones). The assembly instruction could be more helping and clear.

#8 Automobiles
pic2586265_md Another racing game, that I like. It’s about racing (Nascar) so definitely a racing game. Its a good game, quite thematic in spirit of the game.
Why I like it?
A racing game with racing theme
This really makes the game inline with the theme. A game about racing cars with a racing mechanic. So you can feel the atmosphere of speeding over your opponents and give them smoke!
It actually tense and satisfying
To get your car speeding away leaving your opponents behind or even make a come back by surpassing your opponents give a great satisfaction to anyone. Though in the end there’s only one winner, the game rewards you with some adrenaline along the race.
Bag building in it’s finest
Bag building is not a common mechanic used, it’s new and you can also find it in Orleans and Hyperborea (don’t know any other games that use this). But this one really works very good compared to those two (hyperborea too fiddly with the game map, while Orleans is too dry and bland). Okay the bag building also doesn’t important but that makes it good, its just a means, an engine for your car to beat others. So we need to make the engine better but the most important thing is the result. As long as you can beat your opponents or progressing you car as you expected, keep ’em coming!
Tweaking
You can try different or random setup for the cubes ability. So each race would not be the same. And there are 2 circuits to choose, which each has different characteristic that change how you race. So you can always tweak the game setting and feel it in different ways.
What I don’t like about the game?
Hmm, nothing in particular I guess. A good game without any flaw, oh well the box is too big because of the not so useful plastic storage.

#9 Railroad Revolution
This was my only blind buy in 2016 that turns out pretty good. My two reasons were because it’s from What’s Your Game? and its price was reasonable.
Why I like it?
What’s Your Game?

What can go wrong? Yes, they have been releasing good quality games so far. Well, Signorie and Zhang Guo are the least of my favorite, but still good games nonetheless. I like how they present their image and well also because Nuno and Paolo are with them (can’t wait for Brasil).
Simple rules
After reading the rules once, it’s quite straightforward. Easy to grasp rules and the actions are very streamlined. Its enjoyable and rewarding, though unlike my top favorite heavy games such as Madeira or Kanban.
Cool Worker Placement
Okay, actually it’s just a simple one, place a worker in an action, do the action and take a bonus. But the bonus depends on what kind of worker you use to activate the actions, different not based on the worker type but also on the action it’s used. Simple not really that innovative but somewhat fresh yet simple.
Why I don’t like the game?
One thing for sure, What’s Your Game? is notoriously known for its warped game board. Don’t know why they couldn’t make their folded board flat in the table. Encountered the same issue with Madeira and Nippon.
Another issue is the restricted actions, don’t get me wrong, but simple actions and set of rules intend to do just this. There are basically only 4 actions on a player’s turn and there’s nothing that a player can do outside that. So whether a player want to build a station, rails, telegraph office or trade, you need to do it. The only thing that makes them different is only the kind of worker you used to do the action. So the game is somewhat constrained in a specific length. Which not always a bad thing, just consider it as game rounds. Also the condition of player’s action is somewhat solitaire and there’s no blocking in the game. Of course there’s a minor element where player’s get the first bonus effects but that can be mitigated easily by playing the right worker in a certain action. The last thing is the iconography or maybe graphic design elements. Don’t get me wrong, Mariano Iannelli is a talented artist but from what I see with this one, He didn’t take this 100%, the icons were bit off, out of place and not really suitable. Just call it designer’s perception, but that is it. Not affecting the game play and surely won’t be matter to anyone.

#10 Covert
pic2744644_mdDice…. yes dice. Would love for a good dice game.
Many said that this game is good and couldn’t wait to try it.
Why I like it?
Dice allocation
is always interesting, the actions are blockable by dice value so you need to prioritize, so there’s a good decision and planning in it. After you roll your dice, you need to figure what are you going to do with those dice, checking other player’s dice results too.
Theme
Its a secret operatives / spy theme. You need to gather intel and travel around the world to complete missions.
Why I don’t like this game?
First, the dice roll is too random, you can plan it but there’s a time when you really really get a bad roll. Next is the code breaking, it’s fucked up. Getting first is important but the rest only luck left that you can break the code after other players messing it up.
There’s no modifier for general. Okay, there are some, but not easy one to get. If only it has same one like workers in Castles of Burgundy or something. Fixed action to spend dice to get modifiers.
The world map is kinda bit complex. it’s hard to find a location (though it’s already color coded. Also there’s an inconsistency in the iconography, I don’t know why they did not use the same icons.

There were also some games that worth mentioned, like these games below:
Quadropolis – As you notice, it has Days of Wonder’s game quality and characteristic. It has family-friendly value, easy to grasp rules and interesting play. The real deal is about set collection in a 9×9 grid tile laying game. There’s a small bit of worker placement but not quite a classic worker placement since the worker is more like a resource. This one is not really my taste just like their other games (though Five Tribes is on my collection).
Thief’s Market – Surprisingly good beefy filler, though the rules are simple and straight-forward. But the game’s hook is what make this one good. The dice distribution is really clever, players  are forced in position to decide how they take the dice in a clever way to achieve their goals.
The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game – It’s the card version of one of my most favorite games and though at first thought skeptically at it, it turned out OK, well yes not good because too simple for my taste. Good thing this is perfect if you want a fast game (30 minutes or under an hour) with casual friends, since it’s very simplified with the building types, restriction of tile laying and also small-generated points, strictly a set collection card game.
Waka-Tanka – A friend introduced this one to me and wow, we had fun. It’s a bluffing, push you luck game that could make your night with friends unforgettable. I consider this as a filler. An OK filler game with casual friends.
Dairyman – Got this one from Japan. It’s a very simple Yahtzee style of dice game. The interesting part is the decision offered to players whether they want to pursuit another risk to get bonuses based on partial stages in dice rolls. And the use of freeze tokens and additional red dice improve the game.

And also some that I really want to try, interested but still don’t have the time to try it.
A feast for Odin – It’s Rosenberg latest, another monster after Caverna. But what I do not like is the idea of Rosenberg’s games is really centered in the same idea, like it’s an improvement of some sort from the same game between Agricola, Le Havre and Ora et Labora.
Cry Havoc – A Blood Rage killer? Okay that’s way ahead of it’s head. Blood Rage is a beast and though it seems like one, I do not think it is. A good game maybe, I really interested in the conflict resolution system, which kinda unique. But still this is an area majority game in the core.
Inis  – Been hearing good things about this. It’s the new title from Matagot in the same line of Kemet and Cyclades. The cards are so beautifully represent Celtic’s art visual theme.
Vast: Crystal Caverns – One of those games that I really want to try. It offers a very unique game play and experience, a new level of variable player power. It’s a game where players have different goal, which change the way they play in the game. Sadly it’s hard to get and quite expensive, and lastly I do not know if it’s within my taste or not.
Cottage Garden – I love Patchwork and this one really tingles my love of it in a very different way. Patchwork seems mathy, this one seems a lot more fun and more space to move around. Would love to get this one.
Vinhos Deluxe Edition – I really want this one, since I wanted to complete my big box collection of Vital’s game, I alread had The Gallerist (and Kanban though it’s not in the same line). One said this game is the most complex of Vital’s games, so really interesting to see this one compared to Kanban.
Black Orchestra – The idea and theme sounds good and yes I love the artworks. Simple as that, though I do not know is the game really work or not for me.
Dream Home – Look at those beautiful pictures? Who could resist this one? In this game you build a dream home of yours by drafting cards as rooms, specialists or even tools. Definitely will pick this one once I have the chance.
Lorenzo il Magnifico – One of my most wanted list, the box cover is so stunning, though the in-game artworks are not. But hey, this is Euro and a good Euro is simply not based on it’s artwork. Been hearing good things about this one and definitely want to have.
Solarius Mission – Okay, this one lost against Terraforming Mars, but not totally, since I still want it even after I got Terraforming Mars. I do think my wife will prefer this over Terraforming Mars being it’s more towards classic Euro feel than TM.
Beasts of Balance – I’ve seen this on Kickstarter, though as much as I really wanted this, I did not back it due to the expensive price and a children game likely. Yes, this game helps children with their hand coordination and animal / shape recognition. Though the technology they used is slick! Would love to try or have it.
Fabled Fruit – A new mechanic in the board game world, fable. Not the same as legacy but it offers a progressing game in a series of sessions where players keep progressing the game even after several plays until the game run out of resources (in this game’s case it’s the cards). Unfortunately the cards have pretty moderate in-game texts.
Oceanos – Bauza’s new game with drafting mechanic (thinking 7 Wonders) but offers a new element of decision in it. Definitely will pick this one once available, already watched Rahdo’s runthrough and I fell for it.
Roll Player – The rare of the bunch. Its a dice game with role playing theme. And it’s so awesome. I really want this so bad but it’s hard to get. Passed on the Kickstarter because of the shipping cost. Hope I can get this game soon.
Ulm – The first impression I get when seeing this game is Pillars of The Earth, because of the 3D-like building components in the center of the game board. And it gives certain vibes of a good classic Euro, so nailed it.
The King’s Abbey – Actually already waiting for this for quite a long time, even before it’s released. Based on the description it’s a medium heavy game about building an abbey. Sadly I had to pass on this when I had to choose whether getting this or Domus Domini.
Legends of The American Frontier – Wow, just wow. This game was on my wishlist for a very long time. The Kickstarter project took a very long time to complete. I love the idea / concept about being a legionnaire and working their life career with various choices. Love the artwork too, beautiful. Sadly the high roll and price really kinda turned me off.
Round House – Finally got this just now and I am looking forward to try it. Rahdo said it’s good and it’s from the same designer of Burano (which I also want it). The rules seemed simple and interesting with rondel and worker placement.
Dragoon – I just interested on the game components, which are sick with metal dragons, cloth map and others. But after rules reading I thought it’s too simple for my taste.
Moonquake Escape – Damn I really want to get this, the components are very eye candy though I do not know how the game turns out and does my wife will like it or not judging by the game’s alien theme.

 

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2015 in Words

dav

Gaming with friends in IBG 6th Gaming Camp 2015

2015 is a Kickstarter year for me. First of all I am not a Kickstarter maniac or regular. Usually I tag along friends backing a project (and yes all of them were board games). I don’t know why and how this year I grew some balls to back them independently. Even offer some friends to tag along.
If came to think of it, I didn’t really know what was the reason for the change.

In total there were 9 Kickstarter projects that I backed, though not all of them are by myself. Those nine are Above and Below, Trickerion, The Gallerist, Guns and Steel, Soccer 17, Eminent Domain Exotica & Battlecruisers, Gloomhaven, Scythe and The 7th Continent. The latest three were crazy backing, because the three were around at the same time and they’re not tiny and small cost games. A peculiar feat for me personally. In fact most of the nines are expensive games (consider the shipping cost) counting Above and Below, Trickerion and The Gallerist.

I still waiting for the completion of Gloomhaven, Trickerion, Scythe, Eminent Domain Exotica & Battlecruisers, and The 7th Continent. Trickerion completion should be in progress but I doubt it will arrive in 2015, my estimation is on the first week of January (or second). The others are undeniably completed in 2016. Guns and Steel has the fastest record on Kickstarter completion on my book, it showed up like magic, ZAP! And it’s in a good condition even it was mailed only in small envelope pack. I love the quality of the game box and cards. Soccer 17’s completion was also in time, this was likely because it’s shipped locally in Indonesia. Above and Below also turned out good, perfect condition though there was small issue from the custom office. My friend sorted it out thankfully. The game is perfect, love the components and fly with rainbow colors in my expectation. Maybe my biggest issue was from The Gallerist. This project was spectacular, in terms of game play and components. But it’s the opposite when talking about the service and attitude of the publisher. I was greatly disappointed by their service and would no longer back their future projects through Kickstater. Very sad consider how perfect the game is. One of my most favorite games in 2015, it might be the best. Moongha Invaders was finally completed in December (after waiting 3 years) which is good. The box is big and heavy, we backed it with quite a deal in group pledge. Eminent Domain Microcosm was smooth, it arrived in good condition and I like it very much for a 2-player microgame. The disappointment was in Viceroy. Sure it had lots of stretch goals and bonuses, I even added the playmat into may pledge. But unfortunately the game was wrapped only in plastic bubble wraps which inevitably arrived badly damaged. The box was no longer a box, full tear in several sides. I demanded replacement from the publisher but they only managed to give the replacement in the next batch of printing (which will be in 2016). The game also not that impressive.

In total my board games acquisition is 38 games, which is already more than 2 games per month. Crazy indeed, and I still whined there were many titles that I’ve missed along the way. Those games are Aquasphere (KS), Revolver 1.4: The Tarnished Star, Hawaii, Rum & Pirates, Caverna, Microcosm (KS), Kanban: Automotive Revolution, Super Motherload, Craftsmen, Wildcatters, Patchwork, El Gaucho, The Witches, Hattari, Minerva, Eminent Domain: Escalation, But Wait There’s More, North Wind, Spyfall, The Ancient World, Roll For The Galaxy, Lord of The Rings (given by a friend) with expansions, Super Rhino, Black Sheep & White Sheep, Sukimono, Too Many Cinderellas, I Hate Zombies (KS), Viceroy (KS), Discoveries, Guns and Steel (KS), Dark Moon, Terra Mystica: Fire & Ice, Nippon, The Gallerist, Above and Below, Moongha Invaders and Soccer 17. Also bought Maskmen but the game is not arrived yet, probably after new year, so it’s not included in 2015.

From 38 games, only 5 games that I sold almost immediately, I Hate Zombies, Stockpile, But Wait There’s More!, Black Sheep & White Sheep and North Wind. I found I Hate Zombies to be far less entertaining, immediately sold it. But Wait There’s More was kinda impulse buy because of Snake Oil, never had the chance to try it but from friends testimony I decided Snake Oil still a better one and no need to have more than one for this kind of game. North Wind was too light for my taste, kinda repetitive and it’s heavily lean on luck of the die rolls. Black Sheep & White Sheep on the other hand, I couldn’t stand the rules which was poorly translated to English, decided to throw it away. Stockpile was an exception, I sold it because I already have the PnP copy and I had to keep one of them. Apparently letting go my hard worked and full of sweat print and play version was harder than the original one. So I sold it to a friend.
I received Lord of The Ring plus with 2 expansions from a very kind friend, which he no longer need it in his collection. It’s in a bad shape but still a good addition since I love the theme. I planned to have a custom box made for it.

Some notable games worth to mentions are:
Aquasphere. This was the latest game from Stefan Feld and I like it very much. It replaces The Castles of Burgundy for me. The vibrant colors are very interesting to see and the programming actions are amazing and brain burning at the same time. Simply a great game.
Kanban: Automotive Revolution. Okay, this is a beast, why? Because it’s a beast, that’s why! My first Vital Lacerda’s game. It’s complex and very heavy, but it’s beautiful. Best game of 2014 for me. I only managed to try the “Mean Sandra” mode recently and was surprised how different it was and immediately got hooked to it.
Rum & Pirates. Another classic from Stefan Feld, this time it’s one of his old early games. I got it as a birthday gift from my girlfriend and it’s not a hit for me, which made her kinda sad. Sorry girl, cannot lie about it. Its a fun game but somehow it frustrated me. It’s just the die rolling thing is not my best choice.
Super Motherload. Okay, a card game that combines puzzle game with deck building mechanism. Interesting and it’s good. I decided to sell Blood Bowl in order to give space for this one. Just enough for deck building games in my collection I guess. I paid quite  a hefty price for this via ebay.
Wildcatters. I got this game from a friend who visited Netherland along with Patchwork and El Gaucho. This is a majority game in disguise of an oil company stock market game. I love the visual presentation of the game and it has ‘Brass’ feeling in it.
Spyfall. A friend brought this hyped game and after one play, I was immediately hooked. Ordered it from him (luckily he still had one copy left). It’s a good social deduction game and a good addition to my filler collection alongside The Resistance: Avalon and Snake Oil.
The Ancient World. I skipped the KS project on this one, and after several occasions passing the opportunities, I couldn’t hold myself to get it. It’s pricey but nevertheless my first Ryan Laukat’s game. Damn, I need to find a way to get that City of Iron 2nd edition and Artifact inc. It’s a simple worker placement / set collection game and it has ‘The Pillars of The Earth’ classic worker placement Euro feel in it.
Roll For The Galaxy. It’s the dice game to Race For The Galaxy, which I almost hate because I never good at it (completely not it’s fault). This time I tried  my friend’s copy and immediately fell in love with it. Definitely better than the card game. So I snatched one copy and secure a place in my collection. The rolling action of the dice on the cups are novelty, a signature to the game.
The Gallerist. This is simply a work of art. Starting from the illustrations, components and to the game play itself. It’s better than Kanban in several terms. It has semi-coop feel and non-blocking actions in it, which makes it more friendly and forgiving than Kanban. When I received the game, I was surprised with how huge the box was. It was huge, almost as the size of Eclipse box. I love the box insert (very functional) and how thick the tiles are.
Nippon. Nuno Bizarro Sientiero and Paulo Soledade designs are amazing. I said it from Madeira and Panamax. They’re instantly become a hit duo-designers by designing their first game, Madeira and no one even saw that coming. I think I have click with their games, so when I knew they wanted to launch a new game (Nippon) also from What’S Your Game?, it’s an insta buy for me. I pre-ordered it instantly as soon as it’s available for PO. The game was amazing, very solid, very simple but don’t get me wrong, there’s a beast in it. I needed 2-3 plays to realize what kind of game this was. It’s like Russian Railroads. There are lot of things you need in so little time (literally). Timing is important, take part in scoring is crucial, optimization is mandatory if you want to survive this game. Bravo and salute to them!
Above and Below. Another Ryan Laukat’s game, this time I successfully backed it on KS. It’s pricey but totally worth it. Beautiful illustrations and compelling story mashed together in a good game play. As I read somewhere in BGG, a user wrote that Ryan’s design is far from death or hopelessness. Ryan’s games are juice out optimisms all over the place. I really enjoy my first try and eager to play it again soon. I believed I was not mistaken not to pass this game. It’s about time for him and I knew it.
Moongha Invaders. My longest KS project ever (well not really, since it’s already completed and The Fallen City Of Karez still not yet complete), with more than 3 years time. Finally I received the game. It’s huge and full of miniatures. Okay Martin Wallace might be suck it up big time for doing minis project and won’t be doing any of it in the near future. Sorry for him. Moongha Invaders is one of a kind Wallace game. No other of his games are like this. Just like A Study in Emerald, this is also different. The game really lies heavily in high rolls and guess what, surprise surprise, no modifier. Ain’t that something? But I like it (I might be subjective), it gives different feels, fun and fresh. Cannot wait to try the 2-player variant.

My play time also decrease exponentially compared to the previous years, this might have anything to do with my work in new place. Often come home late night gave no more time to play games. I also didn’t have time to do any player aid designs and retheme for Play On Print. But recently I started to design games again, I hope it’s productive (it must be!).

Let’s talked about gaming groups. Yes, less and less gaming groups each year. More specific and selective than before, am I a bad person? Well can’t blame me though! With less play time I found each play to be far more precious and selecting the perfect group is crucially important. Yes, cannot afford to play game with bad experience. I still have the urge of playing with new people, random people, to introduce new games to new players and maybe participate in the community grow. I still excited to explain games to others which is still good. Uh yes, still in the tradition on my community each year, this year we also successfully held a gaming camp (this was the sixth) last November. It’s good, not really many players just because we intended as it was to maintain good gaming ambience. Hope to hold another one.in 2016, and maybe some small gathering or camp.

Looking forward in 2016. I guess next year I’ll have less purchase because of life and less play time also because of life. Need to do something about my life and I hope things will be better in the near future. Okay back into games. Very looking forward to Gloomhaven, Scythe and The 7th Continent completions. Also need to filter more strictly in game purchases. I also participated in 10 x 10 games challenge in BGG and the games in my list are not easy tasks. Trickerion, The Gallerist, Kanban and Nippon are included on the list, these are beasts. Fingers crossed!

I guess that’s all for 2015. Wish you a great celebration welcoming the new year. I have no doubt will be gaming off the 2015 into 2016. Play more, buy more!

Happy Gaming!

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2016 in Article

 

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More Than Just a Gamer

Looking back at my 30 years I was not a real and passionate gamer. Yes I love to play games, but that is really something that children or kids like, playing. For me, there was nothing specific and special about it, just play and play. I played video games on my childhood and teen era, I got glasses from getting to close to television while playing Nintendo and Sega, it had been an addictive moment but I guess it’s just a phase in my life which already over. As time passed, I play to kill time, yes it still offered me pleasure but not as bad as when I smaller.

I managed to move on, I let go gaming and no longer pursue to have the newest and most updated consoles or games, I played what I can and nothing serious can be achieved from it and thought I just wasting my time. The last things that I hold on were a PSP and a PC but now they’re just a memory. When I eventually knew about board games, things were greatly changed. I immediately stop playing any video games (aside games from my android phone) and really really take board games into my religion. Everything about board games really drawn me into something fantastic, impressive and amazing all at the same time. I play and play and play, I started collecting board games, not only just playing it.

Shelf of Board Games

Shelf of Board Games

What’s the point by collecting something? Well as you can see taking ownership on something always feel good, it makes us secure in a way that we partially can describe. It gives us sense of belonging, a trophy to remember, monumental, milestone to live by. It gives us meaning to what we do, not just playing it, killing our time. The short would be “you have what you play” which pretty much sums up the whole idea of collecting games. When we share our game stories to other people, to tell them interesting and awesome moments during our gaming session, those people would (some or even one of them) inevitably ask about what game is it, and do you have it or not. This is a cry for achievement, a proud feeling to have the thing that is the center of the conversation.

So there are 2 different things in one unity, playing and collecting, and both of these things have their own issues. Playing is not as easy as it looks, maybe people see that “Why playing is difficult? All you need to do is play!” Well the problem with that are sometimes we don’t have the time to play amidst our usual day to day activity in life, and we don’t have someone to play with (not that you always or may want to play solo). So there you go, playing needs 2 most important aspects, friends and time which not most of us have at the same time. The same goes to collecting, though in different aspects. Collecting games has money and space issue. Money because you need to purchase games from time to time in a regular basis. And to be frank shipping to my country is a killer, just as expensive as the game itself. The other aspect is the space, when you are serious in collecting games, you need a specific space to keep those games in good condition, that rings “Shelf”. You need shelf and it doesn’t come free with the games and also the shelf needs space in your place. More to it, as your collection grows, you need an extra shelf to keep it safe and organized. Extra shelf means extra space, which really leads to take more space in you house (you need bigger place eventually that of course it doesn’t cheap at all).

Playing Board Games

Playing Board Games

So in short, I am not just a gamer. I am something more, more involved in the board gaming industry. I am the market catalyst, the drive of game publishers and proud being one. I know it’s a money spender (drainer or whatever you may call it) but it has to be done. I want to have a great collection of games that accompany me, my life and family throughout the end of this life, so I can keep playing games and share this hobby til the end, a board gamer enthusiast! One day, maybe I could even design a game, maybe…

 

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in Article

 

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The Uninvited Guests

Hi there, you, me and other fellow geeks must have experienced this “uninvited guests” at least once in life, or often (you decide). And right now you might wonder what kind of guests are “uninvited guests”? Let’s be honest, us gamers, really happy to have game buddies orbiting around that are vigilant to take seat for gaming session with you since our hobby here (or activity) does need the presence of others (not you, solitaire players), physically, not saying online mode of board gaming session is not board gaming but it isn’t. Seriously, please just be focus and serious here, I’m talking the good old session with your friends (or anyone / anything else) happily sitting around the table playing board games with you. Ah… those happy times (well, I’m about to get there in an hour or two). So if you’re not a solitaire player, then playing board games cannot be done just by yourself. You need another partners (at least 1 other victim to bully around). And partners come from invitation, you ask your friends, colleagues and more to play with you. The good thing (which we all hope) they respond and willing to play, but not all the time they can manage your invitation. I live in a place where board game is an alien, that usually followed by a question by others and Monopoly as my respond. Yes, it’s not a common thing, not like karaoke or video games Hence we do not have a big community (yet) but it’s growing. With this scale, there are not many gamers lying around to be invited and most of them are not always available. So this leads to the gaming partner issue.

Gaming Group

Gaming over local gathering

What issue is that? It is when you want to play but no one’s available to play with you (no I’m not gonna resolve this to solitaire play, better read rulebooks or browse BGG). Getting someone to play with you is not a trivial quest, sometimes it’s so damn hard, either they’re busy or it’s just you’re not the one person they want to hang out with (*bitch). Either way, it’s a problem for us gamers and one of the solution is to invite all your friends and see who’s come up to the task of true friends (no I’m kidding), willing and able to play with you. So you start sending / broadcasting, here, there and everywhere (by texting, calling, posting request on social media, email , forum thread or maybe BBM broadcast) which will significantly raise your chances (or not) to get gaming partners. Well it’s a good effort though. But based on my experiences doing this kind of shit, there are people that just prefer doing than talking which is generally a good idea (compared to the opposite). Yes, I did invite them over for a game or two, yes I do expect all of them to come (cannot be picky with this kind of thing, can’t I?), but I do more appreciate them to answer to my invitation first rather than unexpectedly showed up without confirmation. Beside it surprises me, they also screw up the session big time! The reason is they ruined the gaming group formula. Let me explain, if you want to gather some friends over a game session, you need to think / plan what to play and how many additional players you’ll be needing. The thing is if you desperately try to invite anyone or everyone and ends up with an odd number of players that would give you and your group a headache to start with. Most Euro games (yes we often play Euros) are suitable / best with maximum number of 4 players (at least games on my collection) and having 5 players in the group is kinda a pain in the ass. It’s good if you have 6 (you can divide them into two 3-player groups) but 5!!!!??? Okay, there are nice amount of 5-player games out there but I don’t have that much and sometimes 5-player games take more times and not the best number for games (not talking about party or filler games). The fifth player is surely an uninvited guest and if he/she’s respond to my invitation first before barging into the session, I am sure I can find another solution of games.

A scheduled game session on progress

A scheduled game session on progress

Look here, how hard can it be, to reply to an invitation? just push a button or type a text can’ be that hard right? I could prepared more suitable games for the group and evade this kind of problems. If you are them, think again. I know you’re invited by me but we feel you as uninvited if you did not give feedback, so give feedback to be invited! It’s a small things but also important, I will definitely appreciate it if you give us heads up!

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Article

 

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What is a ‘Point-Salad’ Game?

Hi guys, as I strolling around the geek site (we all could come clean and said it’s Boardgamegeek.com) and find a specific jargon called ‘point-salad’ games which sounds very alien (for me at least). Once I look deeper on the subject matter, it happens that ‘point-salad’ games is one of the categories that define game’s scoring mechanism.
So what is a ‘point-salad’ games? I found no exact description for this (yet) but based on browsing efforts on the net these are what I found…

If you don’t know what “point salad” is it refers to the relatively recent school of design in which there are such a wide variety of ways to get points that it actually becomes difficult to take actions without getting some amount of points as compensation. These games are often derided as being “unfocused” but I like to see them as “open-ended” and would like to get more of them.
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/161603/point-salad-games

A game where nearly every possible action you take nets you points, if not immediately then through some intermediate with easily calculated value, typically for no apparent thematic reason. Dominant Species is not a point salad – there are clear goals, and you play many small moves toward those goals prior to their being scored.
http://www.reddit.com/r/boardgames/comments/1xr2k3/what_is_point_salad_exactly/

Or you can get the idea of the scoring mechanism right from a designer’s mind like Jeffrey D. Allers in his article below
http://berlingamedesign.blogspot.com/2013/03/tossing-point-salad.html
He, while believe how game designers should stay away with this kind of scoring mechanism and stick to the ‘meat-and-potatoes’ games, managed to provide brief and short description of it.

So ‘point-salad’ games is a scoring mechanism in game designs that offers players to get points with most of the actions available in the game (so this kinda makes it easier to gain points in a game). Though the points rewarded by each actions are varies, it’s still generate points. This scoring mechanism was becoming quite popular recently thanks to Stefan Feld’s games (as some people might assume), most notoriously was Castles of Burgundy.
In Castles of Burgundy, getting points are not difficult, players only need collecting tiles and place them on their estate. You gain points from animal tiles, a specific building tile, selling goods, complete regions, complete bonus tiles and also end game points from workers and silverlings and other knowledge tiles. That sounds a million ways to gain points, wait til you know about Trajan. In case of Trajan, players gain points from completing Trajan tiles, constructing buildings, advancing on the senate tracks, shipping goods, scoring regions and of course bonus points.

I guess by this two examples one can have a good understanding of a ‘point-salad’ game. But in designing a game does not simply boiled down by the scoring mechanism. Designers tends to work around various aspects and other complicated elements of game designing, and a scoring mechanism is one small part of that sacred process (we all can agree on this, can’t we?). So a designer cannot just say “I want to make a ‘point-salad’ game!” (on the contrary of my remark, of course they can!) but a whole lot of things are in considerations. But what if, Stefan Feld did want to make ‘point-salad’ games in the beginning. It’s his real intention, so it gave births to few of his prolific games like Castles of Burgundy, Trajan and Bora-Bora. It still a valid argument though.

Many ways to score points from player's estate

Many ways to score points from player’s estate

Putting games into a specific category is not easy, because there are games that have no tangible value on the subject or perhaps the subject itself does not have a specific range of values to restraint an object to falls into that category. So I can still say Drum Roll is a ‘worker-placement’ game as well as Troyes. Castles of Burgundy was released onto the market on 2011 (around 3 years ago) but then again, there are so many games before it that in my opinion have this ‘point-salad’ scoring mechanism. One of them is Agricola. Of course it’s not that all the actions in Agricola give points, but looking at the end game scoring, almost all the aspects of the game are scored, which led players to apply a specific mindset that you need to cover all things in Agricola to do fine (considering the penalty for not doing so). So players need to get all the aspects and through these, score points. This kind of scoring really led me to think that Agricola is also a ‘point-salad’ game. Looking back at this, there are also 2 different definitions about a ‘point-salad’ game, is it about all or most of the actions provide points or maybe each turn players generate points? What do you mean by “generate points each turn”? Let’s look at Russian Railroad for instance, though it probably falls into engine building category, but RR is not like the usual engine building games, but it really points generator. In RR, scoring happens each round, not triggered by the player (through actions) though players can gain points also from their actions. The main issue is the round scoring, in which if players already build an engine (no matter how small), they’ll earn points each round. It’s their job to make it bigger and better. Sounds like snowball economy right? (now I remember about Scepter of Zavandor). Does this kind of scoring mechanism is also falls into a ‘point-salad’ category?

Points generator

Points generator

So what about it compared with ‘multiple paths to victory’ games?  ‘Multiple paths to victory’ is as the name suggests, has more than 1 path to gain victory. While at first, it’s not fair placing reward and game play into the same field. ‘Multiple paths to victory’ offers players several ways to gain victory, unlike the single path. Games with single path to victory are usually far simpler than multiple paths. Their objective usually straight forward / direct (collect points from X or maybe reach a specific condition). Okay collecting the most points is a bit ambiguous, but what I meant was the way to collect point is simple and only from one way. I don’t know, but I think Power Grid is not a multiple path to victory game. The only way to win is to supply electricity to houses that provides the most lucrative profit while maintain the least expense for purchasing power plant, resources and networks. Unlike, for instance, civilization games (Sid Meier’s Civilization) that have more than 1 way to achieve victory. In civ games, players can achieve victory by expanding their territory (through war or peace), by developing technologies or even cultures and wealth. Another example is Wiraqocha (though the game is not common, but I found it as good example for a ‘multiple paths to victory’ game. In Wiraqocha, to win the game players can complete one of the three conditions, through collecting resources, collecting relics and build Leviathan (giant flying machine). So there are 3 ways to achieve victory and each one of these conditions are very different by nature. These ‘paths’ change the nature of one’s play, how they plan and act during the game. I think it’s the core principles of the game with ‘multiple paths to victory’. Though a ‘point-salad’ game has this kind of feeling with many ways to score points, but I think they are also different in some way. I believe Trajan is a ‘point-salad’ game but also a ‘multiple paths to victory’ game. It has different strategies to offer, players can either choose to rely heavily in shipping or construction or military or politic or forum. But the actions on these ‘paths’ are not always provide players with points (maybe yes, in the end, but it’s not fixed), aside some actions provide points down into the smallest element such as completing a Trajan tile (even the points is not the main purpose of the action) which looks more like a small reward.

Actions in Trajan

Actions in Trajan

Another example is Tokaido. in Tokaido the bridge between a ‘point-salad’ game and ‘multiple paths to victory’ is a bit short, supported by the simple game mechanic of ‘point-to-point movement’ provides clearer perception towards ‘point-salad’ scoring mechanism. Players move their marker from one point to another point, do the actions and mostly get points (almost everything provide points). But as it’s actions are different, players can maximizing their actions to what actions provided them the most points (this looking back at each character’s ability that give them benefit in what factor). Of course it still leaning on a ‘point-salad’ game rather than a ‘multiple paths to victory’ game because of the game complexity level. In Tokaido, a player who focuses on scenery and ‘onsen’ might not get the best by taking a ‘souvenir’ action but nevertheless that action gives him points, unlike Trajan for example, a Trajan player that focuses on shipping and politic might not get the best of his military or construction action. In Trajan, focus is the core principles, entering the shallow water might not be so profitable after all.

Leaning towards to a 'point-salad' game

Leaning towards to a ‘point-salad’ game

Though there’s still no definitive answer and meaning of ‘point-salad’ games, but after my efforts to give it definition by examples and comparison of different games, should give you a better (if not good) understanding about what it is. In the end, there are still much more to learn, much more to conceal and reveal through the eyes of professionals and gaming experiences throughout the community. I hope this article is good enough to amuse it’s reader and also great if attracts people to board gaming hobby.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2014 in Article, Board Games

 

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