Tag Archives: Village

Episode 46 – Essen 2012, Day One!

The immense Spiel event takes place every year in October in the German city of Essen and sees the release of hundreds of new board and card games (as well as so  much more). The Little Metal Dog Show was in attendance for the second year running as the fair celebrated its thirtieth anniversary. Bigger than ever, the halls were filled with booths featuring games from around the world, and this first episode of four will take you straight to the show floor. In this one you’ll find interviews with the following people and companies…

Direct Download – http://littlemetaldog.podbean.com/mf/web/wa788t/LMD_Episode46.mp3

TF22 – LOAD! designer Dennis Kirps along with TF Verlag’s Rainer – http://www.tf22.de/

Ted Alspach of Bezier Games, designer of Suburbia (which ended up selling out!) – http://www.beziergames.com/

Soda Pop Miniatures presented Tentacle Bento and new expansions for Super Dungeon Explore – http://www.sodapopminiatures.com/

Max Michael from Stratamax games discussed Sheepdogs of Pendleton Hill – http://www.stratamaxgames.com/

Z-Man Games’ own Zev Shlasinger took time out from his very busy booth to talk about a lot of stuff – http://www.zmangames.com/

R’n’R Games were in attendance with a pile of new titles – http://www.rnrgames.com/

Michael Kranzle from Pegasus Spiele joined me to talk about their huge range of titles, including Kennerspiel des Jahre winner Village – http://www.pegasus.de/

Jactalea’s Timothee Leroy comes on and discusses Button Up!, The Blue Lion and more – http://www.jactalea.com/

That’s the Thursday dealt with… three days to go!

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It’s the (second) most wonderful time of the year…

Oh yes indeed – GenCon is nearly here! The USA’s best board games show is approaching once again, kicking off this Thursday for four days of gaming in Indianapolis, Indiana. Once again it’ll be stacked with the usual pile of new releases and exclusive previews as pretty much every major American publisher will be present along with plenty of the larger European names – but what are the big titles people are looking forward to?

Libertalia from Marabunta / Asmodee is one that I think will probably be under many people’s radars but I have a feeling it’s going to end up being one of the year’s best releases. A role selection game at heart with up to six players acting as pirate captains on their way to retirement and looking for a final hurrah, it’s a sneaky extravaganza of treasure hunting and back stabbing with a great level of player interaction. I’ve already managed to get my hands on a copy so expect a review in the very near future. Also, if you get a copy early enough, you’ll get metal doubloons! Who wouldn’t want it?!

Tzolkin: The Mayan Calendar by CGE was available to play in early prototype form at the UK Games Expo, but it looks like a near finished version should be at GenCon. It’s a worker placement extravaganza with a really interesting mechanism where cogs turn and interact with each other on the board. Stay on the board too long and your guys could well end up a wasted placing as they move past the resources that you’re aiming for. CGE’s games are always beautifully produced so you know this will be incredible to behold – there’s no other company out there who I’d trust to make such an involved and creative board concept.

Fantasy Flight will be there with wheelbarrows filled with stuff, of course, but the new versions of Merchant of Venus and Netrunner are both due for release at the show. Early reports say that these two remakes are amazing, managing to capture the brilliance of the original games while giving them a shiny makeover, though MoV will include the rules to play both the old and new versions. Netrunner’s asymmetric gameplay has long been a favourite of mine and I can’t wait to get my hands on this modernised version to see how it compares to Richard Garfield’s classic. Also, there’s the small matter of a little game called X-Wing finally seeing the light of day…

Village, the Kennerspiel des Jahres winner for 2012, has been picked up by Tasty Minstrel Games and looks like it’ll be this year’s go to game for those who want to scratch their Euro itch. Players need to find fame and fortune for their family members in order to keep their name immortalised in the village’s chronicles – make the right moves and your legacy will live on. Screw it up and your future generations will fade into obscurity. It’s a very clever worker placement game and probably the only one I know where death is used to limit a character’s time. This will only be available in very limited amounts – apparently there’ll only be fifty at the show – so if you want a copy, head to TMG’s booth early.

AEG’s Tempest line is also due for its first public viewing at the show with the initial three games in the series getting a release. Courtier, Dominare and Mercante all promise very different playing experiences but the interesting element will be seeing how the public react to the storybuilding aspects of the world. As characters change, further games in the series will reflect these developments – for example, should the story necessitate that a major role needs to be wiped out, later games will reference back to whatever happened. We’re not looking at a Risk Legacy effort here where every person’s game will be different as time goes on; AEG will run the story along the lines of their Legend of the Five Rings property, controlling it from their end with input from players and designers. This could prove a very interesting experiment…

AEG also have the light-as-a-feather but very entertaining Smash Up ready for release at GenCon. The world’s first shufflebuilding game sees players combine two twenty card decks (ninjas with robots, pirates with aliens, that kind of thing) and utilise their joint powers to take over bases in order to score points. It’s a very quick little game but has a surprising level of depth to it as you try and work out which sets work particularly well against your opponents’ selections. I think this one will do pretty well at the show, especially as it clocks in well under that magical 45 minute mark for playtime.

Of course, one of the best things about any gaming convention is the discovery of those releases from smaller companies. 5th Street Games will be showing off their rather splendid Farmageddon while Asmadi should have copies of their very limited Origins hit FlowerFall available too. The new Enhanced Edition of Sentinels of the Multiverse will be selling at the Greater Than Games booth, while Leviathans, the steampunky miniatures air-combat game that I’ve been waiting since the beginning of time for, is finally due – albeit in very limited numbers. Last of all, Morels from Two Lanterns Games will definitely be available and it looks utterly lovely.

Oh yeah. One final thing.

I’m very excited about is the fact that my new game, Pocket Universe, will be on show at the Game Salute booth. I’m finding it very nerve-wracking that it’s being shown at all but it’s even worse when you consider that I’m not actually going to be there. You may well have tried it out yourself by downloading the files from the site (there’s been a few, honest!) but that version is light years away from the one you’ll be able to check out at GenCon. While it’s still in prototype format, the gameplay is 99.99% finished – I’m considering tweaking maybe one or two very tiny elements – so why not have a look at it yourself? Just ask one of the GS team at the Sneak Peeks booth (#2035) and tell them I sent you.

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Spiel des Jahres 2012 – The Nominations!

It’s that time of the year again where a panel of judges huddle around their big table at a secret location somewhere in Germanyand fight it out to decide the shortlist for the Spiel des Jahres. As always, despite it only having been announced a couple of hours ago, the usual bickering has sprung up in various corners of the internet where The Hardcore Gamers declare that everything isn’t as good as it used to be and why was this game nominated and the SdJ don’t know what a good game would be if it bit them on the ass.

Despite the accolade being called the Game of the Year, these people forget that… well, it really isn’t for them. Since the award’s inception back in 1978, its focus has been on nominating and promoting games that are good for families and friends to play together. Sometimes the winners cross over into the kind of things that even the nerdiest of gamers will enjoy – think Ticket to Ride, Dominion and the like. Sometimes the jury picks a comparative stinker (I’ll mention no names) and the world ends YET AGAIN – for those Hardcore gamers at least.

The SdJ panel, every single year, manages to pick a selection of good games. Face it. Sometimes they may not be world beaters, but they’ll at least be fun to play and people – NOT HARDCORE GAMERS – will have a laugh with each other. I’ve seen people complaining that Dominant Species didn’t catch a nomination and I’m now wondering what on earth is wrong with them. It’s a heavy as hell game that takes three or four hours to get through. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but there’s no way on earth that little Jurgen will settle down for an evening with Papa und Muti when that hits the table…

Of course, last year saw the unveiling of the first Kennerspiel des Jahres, the award for a more advanced game which went to the mighty 7 Wonders. This year’s selection is solid (see below) but again, you’re never doing to see something with 24 page rulebook in 10 point type on the list. Many of the complainers won’t have even played the whole list – I know I certainly haven’t – but that’s not what the SdJ and the accompanying awards are for. They exist to raise awareness, to show off some games that deserve a bit of a mass market boost, and not to pander to some bloke who thinks that anything released after 1995 is crap.

Now after all that, what were the actual nominations?

Well, for the Spiel des Jahres, I reckon it’s a good selection. Donald X. Vaccarino’s Kingdom Builder (Queen) seems to be the early favourite and I’m inclined to agree with the sentiment as it hits all the marks for a good family game. A game of spreading your dominance over certain areas determined by card draw, it’s not overly complex, kids will find it easy to pick up and the random goal selection at the start of a game adds a fair bit of replayability. I’ve played it a few times and while it never shook my world, it was a pleasant way of spending time, especially as an end of the night closer.

Eselsbrucke (Schmidt Spiele) – aka: Donkey Bridge – is a story creation game with an element of memory thrown in for good measure. By using randomly generated pictures, players must make up tales then see if their opponents can recall what the objects were. I can’t recall any other games based around using mnemonics, but Stefan Dorra’s involvement could be enough to see this steal the prize.

Finally, Vegas by Rudiger Dorn (alea) is a total push your luck dicefest. Rolling different numbers allows you to place your dice on various mats, each representing a different casino that contains a certain amount of money. At least one dice must be placed after each roll, then – once everyone is done – whoever has the most dice on a mat claims the cash. It looks like one of the lightest ever nominations for an SdJ, but who’s to say that’s a bad thing? Everyone loves chucking dice about, don’t they?

The Kennerspiel is a bit trickier to call. K2 (rebel.pl) would be my call as I really enjoy Adam Kaluza’s game of conquering the mountain, dealing with the elements and – of course – trying to screw your fellow climbers over. I’m actually a bit surprised to see it put into the slightly heavier category but hope that it’ll actually give the game a well deserved boost in publicity. The combination of hand management and making the right call at the right time – plus the fact it’s playable in less than an hour even with five people – means I’d love to see this take the award.

Village (eggertspiele) has been getting some great press and actually has an English language run due out through Tasty Minstrel Games soon. I’ve had my eye on it for a while and think that it looks like a rather solid Euro, but I must admit a little surprise that it got on the shortlist ahead of Ora et Labora. Hopefully I’ll get it to a table soon and will see why the jury took that call – but the reasons can only be good, surely?

Franz Vohwinkel’s Targi (Kosmos) is a game that I actually know very little about. Again, I was a little surprised to see a strictly two player game on the list (though Friday, Friedemann Friese’s solo game about life on a desert island also made the longlist) but this one looks… I don’t know… a little dry? It seems to follow the ‘get resources, make money’ model, but I won’t venture a full opinion until I get to see it in front on me.

Finally, the younger gamers get a look in with the Kinderspiel des Jahres and there’s only one winner in this for me: Schnappt Hubi! from Ravensburger. This was the first game I played at Essenlast year (with the assistance of a very helpful German lady who translated everything for me and my fellow gamers) and I loved it. You’re trying to hunt down Hubi the ghost as he wanders around a haunted house that you build through the turns. The game is centred around an electronic device that lets you know if you’re bumping into a wall or passing through it safely, involves mice and rabbits, and I want an English version NOW PLEASE RAVENSBURGER PLEASE NOW.

Die kleinen Drachenritter (HUCH! and friends) translates as “The Little Dragon Knight” and looks like it’d be a hit in our house. Stacking games go down very well despite the fact nearly everyone who visits is around thirty years old… Anyway, players have had their gold taken by a dragon and must build piles of stuff to reach a certain height, but piece placement is limited by rules involving colour matching. Definitely one I want to check out.

Finally, for those who enjoy their games with a slightly more disgusting vibe, Kosmos present Klaus Teuber’s Spinnengift und Krotenschleim (“Spider Venom and Toad Slime). Another memory game, it involves recalling where certain required ingredients have been placed to help out a bunch of scatty witches. Correct selections will let players add tokens to the cauldron which will eventually trigger the appearance of monsters – and who doesn’t enjoy that? Again, I want to try it, if only because its designer is a former four times award winner, including taking the 1995 SdJ with Settlers of Catan.

Another year, another bunch of fun sounding games that I can’t wait to play. The Kinderspiel winner will be revealed on June 11, while the two grown up prizes are announced on July 9. But who will it be?

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