Lacxox.

I have no idea what I'm going to write in this blog. Quite possibly nothing. We'll see.

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2014 Retrospective #3 - The Last One, Including a Few Rereleases and Bingo, a.k.a. Knizia's 2014

Laszlo Molnar
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Before I went on vacation I quickly posted my yearly list of games published in 2014 (Published in 2014: Best and Worst games I've played and what remains to be tried. Opinions&suggestions are welcome!).

Only while on vacation did it came to my mind that I used to write some paragraphs about the previous year’s games by Reiner Knizia. Why I used to do this, I have no idea, but let’s keep up the tradition.

The once-beloved-by-gamers designer who is known to be very prolific had a very calm year in 2014. Yes, the database still lists quite a few games for him (including two Cambride Games Factory games that are waiting to be published since 2012) but four of these were practically re-releases, not even reworks, really. King Arthur only got a new technology used instead of the old electronic board (now things are easier in the age of smartphones, but why did it get a new game entry?) while Fantasy Flight Games started/continued the trend of publishing new editions to old Knizias.
This is how the collection of all the earlier Blue Moon sets and promos got a new one-box edition in Blue Moon Legends. Fine, as I did not own the game before (it's great!). This is also how Risk Express was slightly rethemed to Age of War (I’d say the retheme wasn’t exactly a good decision but the game is still not bad, even though it should have been updated a bit). Much to the outrage of Westeros fans, FFG’s own silly children’s game Penguin was rethemed to Game of Thrones: Westeros Intrigue but while the theme does make (a very little) sense here, adding the Iron Throne rule did not make the game significantly different from the original.

So what remains?
Surprisingly, only three games (not even excluding children's games), one of them (Zombie Mania, Noris Spiele) is a silly dice roller for kids (in the vein of his numerous games in the real pickomino family). The other one is called by two words most hardcore gamers hate:
Family Bingo (Trefl). So yes, it’s a kind of Bingo game for families where everyone has their own personal boards consisting of 16 numbers in various layout and numbers are drawn in the beginning of each turn, but you have to complete various tasks first (faster than others) to actually be able to cover the given number. The tasks are various according to the game page: any kind of task is possible using colored wooden sticks (building a construction on time or after memorizing it, answering questions, guessing what another player is trying to visualize, guessing the color or number of sticks, throwing, stacking etc.) The player who creates a bingo first wins.

Okay, so maybe it does not sound that fun for hardcore gamers (well, it sounds like a fun family party game), but the other big box Knizia of 2014, Orongo (Ravensburger) does something rather similar. In the beginning of each turn, a few numbered tiles are revealed (they will be placed on the board on the numbered spaces) and players are competing for them, trying to get the tiles that would benefit them most, as the first player to cover a specific number and kind of tiles first wins. Okay, as it is done on a common board and players are bidding for the tiles, it still does not really feel like Bingo… Actually, even with Amun Re-ish bidding and some Through the Desert-ish blocking, the game feels to be the freshest Knizia in the past two years, and had it been released 10 to 15 years ago, I think it would be listed among the classic Knizias (with some component problems that are rather surprising from Ravensburger).

So… That’s all. I really miss the third box of the Hobbit series but it seems some miracle needs to happen to see it published.

2015 is looking better - but not necessarily for gamers. Well, gamers can be happy to see new editions of Tigris & Euphrates and Samurai by FFG and Res Publica gets a new, reworked sci-fi version in Res Publica: 2230AD. Ravensburger releases 6 family-friendly Knizias, including the new version of Die Insel; another electronic one with a 3D ship; a race game in the vein of Winner’s Circle and Abandon Ship (Drachenhort, listed as published but I still haven’t seen a copy anywhere), a Star Wars-themed dice game and two small box kids’ games (well, we’re at 8 plays of Wer war’s: Das Kartenspiel with the kids). Another kid-friendly dice game, Mmm! has already won the Austrian Game of the Year award, and there are already 7 light Knizias listed that are either small international market games or English rereleases of small international market games… And the months of announcements before Essen are just ahead us…
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Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:51 pm
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About the Spiel & Kennerspiel & Kinderspiel des Jahres, in short

Laszlo Molnar
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Colt Express won Spiel des Jahres, Broom Service won Kennerspiel des Jahres and Spinderella won Kinderspiel des Jahres. Maybe I could not agree with all the nominees (and especially what was left out) and I did not even play Broom Service yet (I did play Colt Express and Spinderella though; I have also played Orléans and don't think it would have deserved the award), but based on what I heard, the jury has choosen the best games from the nominees for the awards (I was even rooting for them after the nominations were out). So, hooray, and congrats to them!

(Yes, that's it.)
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Mon Jul 6, 2015 9:01 pm
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Spiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres nominations announced

Laszlo Molnar
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Last Minute Predictions for Spiel & Kennerspiel des Jahres 2015 nominations

Well, even the surprises weren't that surprising this time.

Spiel des Jahres: each year there is at least one game amongst the nominees I haven't even heard about; this time it's The Game: Spiel... so lange du kannst! which seems fun enough, so I guess it's all right. As for the other two nominees, I guessed Colt Express (it's a fun game for all ages so it deserves the award) correctly and Machi Koro was on my 3-game extra shortlist for the award (even though I'm amongst those who think it's a bit broken 2-player - without the expansion - and otherwise it's not bad but not great).

The other games on my list are also featured as recommended games: Loony Quest, Patchwork, Cacao each got a recommendation (which is fine; I think that's what they really deserved) and as for the other three recommendations, UGO! is the one I'm also happy to see here - I guessed it was eligible last year so I did not vote for it but it does deserve the recommendation (just as Abluxxen would have deserved it as well).

Of course I miss one title, Black Fleet from the list but as I wrote yesterday it was more of a wish that it was nominated; I thought it might not be recommeded even - and indeed it wasn't.


As for the Kennerspiel awards, I feared the worst for Five Tribes and it did happen: the game that should have won the award wasn't even recommended. It is "THE" go-to next step game for me, even my wife who prefers Spiel des Jahres games does like it. I think the jury might have dissuaded each other from nominating it; I also think this is the gamer's game that might be more enjoyable for the target group of the Kennerspiel award than real gamers; it's a shame it was left out.

There is nothing surprising about the rest: I did say Orléans had a chance to be nominated even if I had not played it and Elysium also had some positive buzz. My second nomination Deus got a recommendation and so did Fields of Arle just as I guessed. I also mentioned The Voyages of Marco Polo for a possible nomination and it did get the recommendation as well.

So, all in all, not very surprising results, but I feel bad for Five Tribes even if I'm a bit angry the company handled the Fakirs/Slaves issue very unprofessionally.


edit: Oh yes, I forgot about one title. And that's one of the KdJ-nominated ones, Broom Service. I did not vote for it even though it looks fun. So why? Because it's a reimplementation/rework, revised and expanded version of Witch's Brew, a game that was nominated for Spiel des Jahres a few years ago. So at least now I did the game in this year's list that breaks the unwritten rules of SdJ. Still I hope the best for this game.
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Mon May 18, 2015 8:33 am
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Last Minute Predictions for Spiel & Kennerspiel des Jahres 2015 nominations

Laszlo Molnar
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Say what you want, hate it as you like, Spiel des Jahres is still probably the most important award of board gaming. A board game that wins the award sells probably at least 50 (!) times as many copies as it would have otherwise. Yes, it is mostly about gateways and games for the masses, but this is the award that can show those masses that there can be better and other games than Monopoly out there, showing them a little about the world of board games. Also huge Spiel des Jahres successes have a strong effect on games to come, even springing copycats and gamer’s games that might use their main mechanism. So yes, it’s a very important award, even when it awards games that are clearly not gamer’s games.

Last year I was more off with my predictions on the Spiel des Jahres nominations than ever and I don’t feel like I know much more this year, but let’s see what I think.


Spiel des Jahres:

Last year it wasn’t easy to come up with any nominees even; this year I have three clear favoritest hat I’d like to see nominated and if any of these won I would be happy. It’s more like a list I wish would be nominated than a prediction though – in most years I could find some nominees that I hadn’t even heard about before.

So, here are my nominees:
Colt Express
A fun and thematic game of light programming with a strong theme even made more thematic with a spectacular but easy-to-assemble train. It’s lots of fun for the whole family.

Loony Quest
An enjoyable line drawing game with different scoring options, lots of spatial skill needed and a fun theme also familiar to those who mostly play video games (good for converting them!). A rather novel idea; I guess the jury is going to tell how much replayability it has, but it sure is special and different enough for award consideration.

image by punkin312

Black Fleet
Now I’d say it probably won’t get a nomination (maybe not even a recommendation?) but I’d love to see this win. It’s on the higher end of complexity for the award but I still believe it belongs here. A pirate game with some luck, some planning, moving nice ship models on a huge board; a rather engaging gameplay with some Euro concepts added, but still everything is explained fine and I’d say it’s still accessible for the masses.


There are three more games that I’d guess can be nominated, even though I’d be happier with the ones above:

Cacao – a mix of El Caballero’s tiles and Samurai The Card Game’s tile laying plus about 5 different ways to score – the latter makes it more fun for gamers than for beginners I guess. Also it’s often compared to Carcassonne but… this ain’t no Carcassonne. On the other hand those who enjoy it will be easier converted to Eurogamers.
Machi Koro – A kind of simpler, shorter Catanish game where instead of different resources, your fields only produce money. It’s okay and I know it has lots of fans but it did not feel outstanding for me.
And, maybe, Patchwork – Yes I know it’s two-player, but Spiel des Jahres always brings some surprises and a few years ago Targi was also nominated (for the Kennerspiel award). I think this game is a bit less special than Uwe fans think but it's fine and the theme and look also makes it accessible for a new group of players.

Aand… I really don’t know much about any other possible recommendations. I’d recommend 7 Steps for the award as I liked the experience and it even looks good for a family abstract; also co-designer Reinhardt Staupe’s other, in many ways similar co-design, Träxx (a game I haven’t tried) is getting some positive buzz but that’s it. I also liked Knizia’s Orongo and I think it would be good for a recommendation, but unfortunately it has some production design issues so it won’t even get a mention. Of course I’d also hope for seeing Abluxxen in the list, as it was released last Spring and maybe it was left out last year because the jury learned about it too late… But I don’t have high hopes and I don’t even name the next Ravensburger card game (Stichling by Ralf zur Linde) here even though possibly it deserves a recommendation.


Kennerspiel des Jahres:
Five Tribes– is the one I would definitely nominate for the award and if I had the choice I would make it the winner. It’s a colorful, beautiful game with an interesting concept and a gameplay that slightly favors intuitive gaming instead of over-optimizing your moves. There only tiny problems it might face: one is that in some ways it’s too similar to last year’s winner (Istanbul) and the other one is the late change of slaves to fakirs causing inconsistent iconography and some slight compatibility problems between the first editions and the expansion(s). Also, in his review jury member Udo Bartsch gave it only 3 stars out of a possible 7 (as, reading the review, it seems he’s rated it from a very gamer point of view, getting lost in the complexity of some decisions instead of playing intuitively).

Deus – might be my favourite game from Sébastien Dujardin (Troyes, Tournay). It’s also his most colorful one. It also has a map where you build stuff. I think it’s an ideal Kennerspiel des Jahres material.


For the third nominee I’d name one of the games I haven't tried yet. There are a few good-looking games with a positive buzz that might take the third nomination (Orleans, The Voyages of Marco Polo and even Jäger und Späher – yes, another strong Kosmos 2-player game; just to name one I vote for Marco Polo). As I haven’t played them yet so can’t tell how they fit or not. Also, Fields of Arle (another one I haven’t played yet) has so positive buzz that even that one can get a nomination or at least a recommendation as a 2-player.

And there is Imperial Settlers. After the previous incarnations, the game got cleaner and it got a really family-friendly look (except you can’t play it with anyone over 50 because the letters are too small to read) but I’d guess it still can’t get the nomination for a German award. A recommendation, maybe. Edit: not released in Germany yet. Thanks to ovis for the heads up.

And there are some that I’d say won’t even get recommended even though as some are rooting for them:
Mangrovia, Murano – Two not bad, family euro-looking, maybe somewhat more complex games so they would fit the Kennerspiel award, but they really don’t feel special enough for the award.
Abyss – it was nominated for some French and gamer awards but I don’t think it’s the kind of production the German jury would prefer.

The nominees will be announced in half a day. It’s time to post my list now; I’m curious which games went under my radar this time.
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Sun May 17, 2015 9:31 pm
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2014 Retrospective #2: Fives, Dimes and the 10x10 Challenge

Laszlo Molnar
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Last year I took the 10x10 challenge. Well, actually it had 17 items and many of them were not about playing one game ten times but a family (or playing a designer 100 times…).

As I wrote back then,
Quote:
That's why this is more like a wishlist below - a wish-to-play-10-times list. Also, it features more than ten items - I will be really happy if any ten of these succeeds.

Actually I will be really happy even if all of these succeed to 50%.

In the end, 8 of them succeeded and 3 more items succeeded to at least 50%. So, strictly by the numbers, the challenge did fail, but actually it brought great success for me. It had so many benefits that it makes me more than happy.

First of all, the obvious success stories.
I did play Escape: The Curse of the Temple, Kingdom Builder, Qin and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug ten times. Actually, I played Escape 37 times even (the expansions and the designer’s challenges provide a great replayability here). Okay, for Escape and the second Hobbit game (that I didn’t even own when the challenge started) I mostly had solo games, but these are cooperative games with official in-the-box solo rules so that does count for me. (And I will be really angry if the third Hobbit game does not get published.) Kingdom Builder also could have been way more than 11, had Queen games sent me the Island expansion I kickstarted early in Spring. Actually I’m really angry they still have not. On the other hand I’m really happy for my 10 Qin plays (greatly helped by the expansion boards this year) that helped me reach 25 plays of this light-but-really-good recent Knizia.

Oh yes, Knizia.I did play 100 Knizia games in 2014 just as I wanted to. Well, actually I recorded 210 plays of 56 of my Knizia games in 2015, but even if I don’t count children’s games and even those age: 8+ games that are clearly aimed at the young crowd, I’m still at 112 plays of Knizia games. Oh yes, because my most played Knizias were played with my children this year, including a few dimes (Catch-a-Roo, Circus Flohcati, My Beautiful Pony, King Arthur: The Card Game) and others like Ribbit that I bought in the Czech Republic in May (7 plays), Alles Kanone! (6) and so on. As for “grown-up” Knizias, most of the so-called classics had only 1 to 5 plays (from Tigris & Euphrates to Ingenious) while I did play Orongo, the Essen game acquired only at the end of the year, already 5 times and like it more and more with each play.
Yes, it also meant two Knizia aims failed: I played Prosperity only 3 times (well, when I started the challenge I already wrote ‘I’m pretty sure I won’t record 10 plays’) but for the kind of game it is I’m already happy that I’m at 6 plays and I think I can reach my tenth play this year. Also, for Samurai, I wrote ‘I want to play it more!’ which did succeed: in the 4 previous years (2010 tro 2013) I played my favourite game only 8 times altogether and in 2014 I played it 4 times which was a welcome change of pace.

But back to successes: I also had success with two “family” aims: I played the games of the Keltis family 15 times and the Ticket to Ride family 16 times. (Also, Carcassonne, which was not listed, had a surprise revival this year, with 16 plays of the different standalone Carcassonne games, and that's not counting the 24 plays of the Kids of Carcassonne.) Had I owned only one of these games, the aim could have been playing that one 10 times, but I’m happy to own the (almost) complete families so why focus on only one of them? That’s the mistake I had with the GIPF project: I tried to focus on one game (DVONN, which reached 5 plays) but should have focused on the whole family instead.

I did reach 5 plays for two other aims, Qwirkle and Las Vegas (6 plays) as well, which is… okay. Both of their plays were helped by my son becoming old enough to at least give them a try, and also by their expansions. On the other hand, I’m not sure it was a god idea to include them in my challenge. I do like them, especially their accessibility (I can play them with practically anyone) but I’m not enthusiastic about them. Adding them to the challenge only because I had a chance to play them ten times… was not a good idea.

There is one more item that succeeded: the one about children’s games, as you can really trust your kids when it comes to playing. I was sure I was going to play Da ist der Wurm drin and Catch-A-Roo ten times, and indeed these had 24 and 30 plays respectively. I also made the guess that “probably” I’m going to play five other games listed with them – and we did play The Kids of Carcassonne 24 times, Der Verzauberte Turm 23 times (before the gimmicky tower broke) and PitchCar 12 times (including 2 plays with gamers at a Con). Viva Topo! reached ten plays only if our 1st of January 2015 plays do count – my son was eaten by the cat too often in the first half of the year and then he refused to join his younger sister in the second half of the year. And Nacht der Magier had only 8 plays – this is a game I seem to like more than my kids do.

The further obvious fails: Love Letter had only 3 plays (AEG rules with about 10 rounds per play – already when I started the challenge I said “It’s not that probable that I’m going to reach 10 plays of it”) as it’s better with more than two. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (“there is no guarantee I can play it ten times this year”) is 2-player but my wife is not really fond of it (3 plays). The Palaces of Carrara (“one of the least likely to succeed items”) had 4 plays, only one of them at home. And I wanted to play King of Tokyo based on recommendations – I still do not own the game, but when I tried it I recorded 4 plays.

More about the other dimes, because that’s the real success: I had ten (!!!) dimes of games originally not listed in the challenge. I can obviously thank this to my kids. Four of these were clearly children’s (age 6+ or less) games (Animal Upon Animal, bought during the year, 16 plays; Circus Flohcati, 15 plays; My Beautiful Pony, 11 plays; Memory, 10 plays) but the majority of the ten plays of the other games was also played with children (mostly with my son who turned 6 this year). Yokai no Mori had 13 plays, as it’s a great “Shogi for beginners” game. Spot it! (12 sessions) was a surprise success story in the second half of the year with anyone. Coloretto Amazonas (11 plays) is not great for gamers but fun with my son. The same is true for King Arthur: The Card Game (10 plays). FlowerFall (10 plays) is silly fun, but fun. And then there is Pyramid (10 plays), a reverse Scotland Yard with dice and a pharaoh theme – it looks like a children’s game but is enjoyable for adults as well.
My son got hooked on tricky labyrinth games in the last months of the year, so besides Pyramid, both Master and The Magic Labyrinth had 8 plays, Labyrinth: The Duel had 4 plays and Château Roquefort, a game creatively re-using the moving labyrinth idea of the Labyrinth games, also had a play after he got it for Christmas. I think these are going to have their golden year in 2015.

So I tried to make my list for 2015 according to what I learned about 2014. Except for one single game, I did not even name any game that I do want to play ten times next year, while I want to have those ten dimes in 2015. As far as dimes go, last year was a huge success for me (19 dimes, including quite a few ‘grown-up’ games, great!) and I’m going to do it more cleverly next year.

Lacxox's Informal 10x10 Challenge Geeklist 2015
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Fri Jan 2, 2015 1:12 pm
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2014 Retrospective #1: Collection Changes – Saying Good-bye (to a Dozen Games)

Laszlo Molnar
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Last year I bought/acquired/won/whatever 70 new games. Yes, 70. Yes, these include expansions. Yes, I bought most of them rather cheap. And yes, 24 of these were bought for playing them with the kids. But still.
Of course I don’t need so many games. Or do I? Checking the list and excluding the 20 yet unplayed games, it seems I have played the remaining 50 quite often – 4.36 times on average. Not a bad number, considering 6 of them appeared in our collection only in the last week of the year (for Christmas) and I do strongly believe these last few will be played at least 10 times in the next few months. Not bad, and I still have high hopes for the ones I had bought but have not played yet.


What’s more important for me is the nuber of games I sold. You know, I’m still in the state when it is really hard to get rid of any game of mine. Each of them are games I acquired and hoped to play a lot. But as my collection grows very fast and I do not have all the time in the world, I do have to say good-bye to some of these.


There are some I haven’t even played yet. It was the easiest to say good-bye to these, even though I did want to give them a try… Only I had to see it would not happen, and that I was always going to have other games that would have priority over them. So, I gave away
Carolus Magnus – the most praised Colovini game ever; it’s just too old to be taken to gaming clubs and too “heavy-looking” to be introduced to my family.

Mutant Meeples – as I did give a try to Ricochet Robots with family and friends and they did not like it (however much I do), a game that is a variant of RR but has additional complexity by the different “robot” abilities seemed to be one that has no good prospects here.

Ramparts – is one I bought long ago. It just never hit the table and looks a bit old and too abstract to become a family favourite, especially as we have a few better abstracts of this nature here.

Arkadia – is one I played before I bought it cheap, and I really like this game. I just spent years trying to figure out how to introduce this game to the family. Finally I sold it.
Medina – is another one I played before I bought it cheap. It is a big box and a new, slightly reworked edition was coming. I’m still thinking about buying the new edition – preferably when I can play it with one or more of my kids.


It was a bit harder to say good-bye to the other games.
For example, there is Granada. It’s like an anniversary edition of Alhambra with a beautiful (even if somewhat superficial) board and one significant and tricky rule change. It is a fine game, even if not better than the original. It’s just… an oversized box (we’re talking about Queen Games here) and it does not even have any expansions, so in case my kids want to learn Alhambra later, I can buy the original and maybe some expansions for them.

Ingenious Challenges. There is nothing wrong with them. The card game works fine, the dice game is great with two, the tile game is silly fun. But I just don’t want to play these at home, and when we go somewhere else and we want to take some small-box games with us, there are better options to choose from. And these Challenges are standard Knizias, so I own a few better games where I can find the same mechanism ideas included.

The same with Morels. It is a fine little card game. I just have lots of card games that are even better, and the mechanism is really not that interesting or unique here. The only reason why I was somewhat sad to sell this one is the look and the theme, which is really special and somewhat close to my heart.

Great Wall of China. This is a fine Knizia, often compared to Samurai while it’s closer to Taj Mahal I think. But it’s not good with two (what’s more, my wife does not like it) so it’s really hard for me to get it played. I liked Great Wall of China but I could not find anyone to play it with me in the past few years.

Then there was Port Royal. It seems we were not born for each other. I played it two times with gamers, first five-player (which is terrible for Port Royal), next time three-player (where two players had really bad luck), for lukewarm reactions at best. I tried to play it against myself. Then I played it quite a few times against others on yucata. I started to ‘get’ how I can play it fine – unless I’m unlucky, in which case I can’t do anything – but never got how it can become fun. Maybe it was also unfortunate that I learned Circus Flohcati just a few months earlier – a game that is much simpler, almost a children’s game, but is just way better in my eyes. Finally I sold Port Royal.

What about Hellweg Westfalicus? It was another interesting experience. I did not like the rulebook, it’s really confusingly written. However, I did like the game, and the more I played (always teaching the game to others) the more I won – and the more I liked the game. I just… got tired of trying to convince others about the qualities of this game. I liked it, I was also a living proof that it’s really not a ‘memory game’ (it seems to be an advantage to know which cities you should have wares in in the last round of the game but I never did) but my enthusiasm for pursuing co-players faded with time. Still, when I sold the game in the end, I was really sad.


Finally, there was Kereskedj okosan!, a 28-year-old game. Basically a roll and move game where you move your ship along a fixed route, sometimes arriving in harbours and sometimes not. You can buy wares low here and sell them high there. In case you roll the numbers to get in that harbour. If you have enough money you can buy more expensive ships with higher storage capacity. And sometimes even the “world trade situation” is changed which causes prices change. This is math meets pure roll and move. I tried this game a few years ago again, and it was a really weak experience. But I did play it a lot when I was young! And… it had a small card inside with the hand-writing of my Auntie who gave it for my birthday:

“Aug. 1986
Be healthy and happy in your life!
Auntie, Grandpa”

They both died fourteen years ago, my grandpa following his daughter in less than two months.
I said good-bye to this big box, all the familiar cards and the smooth touch of the great plastic ships.

But I kept the small card, of course.
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Thu Jan 1, 2015 10:30 pm
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Musings on Thumbs ups

Laszlo Molnar
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I am not a thumbwhore, but I like to watch the thumbsup s my contributions get. I don't beg for thumbs or go for cheap thumbs (or, at least I'd like to think I don't), but getting thumbsup s for a contribution certainly does make me feel acknowledged and does inspire me to keep on doing things I like doing even without them.

But I just don't get how they work. Probably it's like movies: some movies get successful and some don't, and even though quite often you can make a guess if a movie is going to become a huge success or not (and help it with stong marketing push) sometimes even the most hopeful ones fail.

Now sometimes I get why some geeklists of mine get popular or ignored. For example I have quite a few Knizia geeklists, focusing on some mechanism elements, and some of them get quite popular while others (like 1, 2, 3 and 4) go largely unnoticed. It is partly because of the less inspiring topic, but mainly because of timing and hotness: for example, this one was published when Blue Moon Legends was hot property so many subscribers found it.

In other cases I'm more puzzled. My Building Donald X.'s Kingdom - A 100 Play Challenge (now at 30%) list is well-received and even inspires me to put the game on the table as often as I can, so when I started to play Escape a lot, I thought a list like this might inspire me the same way. But Escaping from Kristian Amundsen's Temple - A 100 Play Challenge (now at 36%) got exactly zero thumbsup (including thumbsup s for the geeklist items) and zero comments. Last year, my list Lacxox - Essen 2013 games of interest. that I created mostly for private use (still, in English, as I'm always open to comments etc.), got exactly 1 thumbsup which was okay. Now my latest list, Lacxox's Essen 2014 watchlist is at 50+ thumbsup s. Seriously, I have no idea why (this time I'm more surprised about the success of the list).

Please, don't rush and give the lists thumbsup out of pity - this blogpost is not a desperate attempt to make these more popular. But really. It's more like just... a recording of my surprise and total incomprehension of how and why things work, and, at the same time, marvelling at the unpredictable nature of things.
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Fri Sep 12, 2014 10:26 am
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Short commentary on the Spiel & Kennerspiel des Jahres winners

Laszlo Molnar
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I'm usually not the one who says the Spiel des Jahres jury is wrong, they should have chosen other (heavier) games and so on - but this year I wasn't really satisfied with their choices (and not the weight or complexity of those games), see here. Well, at least Abluxxen, the game that should have been nominated but outrageously wasn't even recommended, became Game of the Year in Austria.

Luckily, unlike in the previous years, they made the best choice when choosing from the three weak nominees. (I love Hanabi and really like Kingdom Builder. They were the ones that are destined to be classics. But they are not necessarily the ones from the nominees that non-gamers could really love, and in this sense I'm not sure it was the best decision to award them.)

As for Spiel des Jahres, Concept has a great concept which makes it a great activity but the game rules aren't that great. I'm not against party games winning Spiel des Jahres, I rooted for Dixit a few years ago, but I really hoped Concept wouldn't win. Splendor is good, it's in about the same league as Augustus was, mildly uninteresting for hardcore gamers, mildly interesting for others, but not a standout. Camel Up - the winner - is the only one I haven't played but it's also said to be fun, and that's the most important quality of a Spiel des Jahres game.

Kennerspiel des Jahres? As I wrote when I made my predictions before the nominations,
Quote:
*Concordia – if Navegador wasn’t nominated (nor recommended), this one won’t be either.
*Rococo – if Concordia won’t be nominated, this one won’t be either.

So, practically, they shouldn't even have been nominated (hey, they are just copycats!) while in those predictions I also wrote
Quote:
Istanbul (without playing it, I would vote for this Dorn title)

On paper, that already made it obvious that Istanbul should win. But actually, I have played Istanbul two times since, and what I found was
- It's about the tenth variation for Dorn's trademark breadcrumbs mechanism
- Still, it's an interesting variation
- It's better for those who aren't hardcore gamers than any previous Dorn design (it's shorter, simpler, more accessible than Genoa or Goa, and is not "set collection for set collection for set collection's sake" like Diamonds Club)
- Concordia might be a stronger design, but it's less fun than Istanbul is for non-hardcore gamers. Also, Istanbul has the best look of the three nominees.

So, well, what can I say? Congrats to the winners and especially to Mr. Dorn!
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Mon Jul 14, 2014 9:03 pm
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What the German Spiel des Jahres Jury Forgot About...

Laszlo Molnar
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Budapest
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...luckily wasn't forgotten by the Austrian Game of the Year (called Spiel der Spiele - Game of Games) jury.

Yes, according to the press release of the Österreichisthe Spielepreis, the Austrian Game of the Year is Linko!, the tricky and ingenious card game by Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling, a title that somehow wasn't even mentioned (recommended) by the Spiel des Jahres jury this year.

Many of the "Spiele Hit" sub-awards go to Kinder/Kenner/Spiel des Jahres nominees like Flizz & Miez for kids, Camel Up for families, Blood Bound and Concept with friends and Russian Railroads for experts. This shows the SdJ jury still quite knows what they are doing.

But there are also Spiele Hit games that were not mentioned by them, like Die verrückte Vogelscheuche, Geisterei, Hetzen nach Schätzen and Speed Cups for kids, Tortuga and Battle Sheep for families, North Wind (another surprisingly missing title from the SdJ nominees, a more or less Catan-free Teuber design) with friends and the only BGG top 10 game from last year, Caverna: The Cave Farmers for experts.

But these are only "further details" - for me, what's important is the win for Abluxxen. And I just wonder - would it have won even if the SdJ jury hadn't outrageously neglected it before? Or maybe it would have gotten only a sub-award? I don't know but I'm happy that "the smaller country of Germany" did know what they were doing even more.
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Thu Jul 3, 2014 11:12 pm
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Something Personal

Laszlo Molnar
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images by SnakeKing, obenn, also a drawing of Brian Barling - modified - were used to create this post.
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Tue Jul 1, 2014 10:00 pm
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