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Links: Settlers of Catunes, Guess the Spiel des Jahres & Why Critics Said Nothing about A Few Acres of Snow

W. Eric Martin
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• Music to play Catan to? The music group Pax Dei has teamed with Tobias Strauss on "Catan-Projekt", an effort to musically interpret The Settlers of Catan novel by Rebecca Gablé. The entire work is less than thirteen minutes long, so clearly this is more of a Reader's Digest version of the novel than something comprehensive. You can download individual MP3 files or the entire work from Catan.de. (HT: JugamosTod@s)

BoardGameStrategies.com is a new blog devoted to "notes about how to play board and card games well – or poorly". Not sure whether we need advice on the latter topic, but apparently the blog's editor, Nick Bentley, is willing to help us out regardless. Since the blog is new, only two posts are up so far and they focus on Battle Line and Zendo.

• Slashdot features Steve Jackson Games' COO and managing editor Phil Reed at South by Southwest – an annual music, film and interactive conference and festival – talking about recent releases and what's coming later in 2012.

• German website/magazine Spielbox has launched its annual "Guess the Spiel des Jahres" contest. The first person to guess the game that will be crowned SdJ in July 2012 wins the main prize, and anyone else who guesses this game is entered into a random drawing for prizes. Should you, by chance, be the first to name the games that win Kinderspiel des Jahres or Kennerspiel des Jahres, you'll also win a prize.

• Speaking of which, the Spiel des Jahres jury has launched its 17th annual game design scholarship competition, with the prize being week-long internships at both a large and small game publisher, an internship at the studio of game designer Jens-Peter Schliemann, and an internship at a toy store (presumably to help you better understand the market), along with €3,000 to cover travel costs. Applicants must apply by May 11, 2012 and present at least two designs at the game designer meeting in Göttingen in June. Full details in German, along with an application, at the link above.

• BGG user Jesse Dean has an interesting post on his BGG blog "On Gamer's Games" titled "A Few Acres of Snow and the Critical Silence On The Biggest Flawed Game of 2011" that explores why next to nothing was said about Acres' solvability – and designer Martin Wallace's failed efforts to fix same – in the game reviewer community. As Dean's notes in his essay, I was one of the reviewers/game community individuals he contacted on this topic (and others), and I thought I'd share my direct answers to put them out in the open:

Quote:
First, I'll acknowledge that I have not covered this topic at all. I just searched BGG News for mentions of "Acres" and see only announcements of the rules being posted, the game shipping, the game being added to Yucata.de, and (ha ha) the game winning awards and accolades for being one of the best designs of 2011 – so I'm also part of the blackout in terms of not covering the discussion.

As for why, hmm, hard to say. I've yet to play the game, so I have no opinions one way or another as to whether something is broken or not, and possibly due to that lack of experience, I overlooked initial claims of a broken strategy the same way that (as I wrote earlier) I dismiss suggested "corrections" for games that I have played that don't need to corrected but rather need to be played differently than players have been playing them. Thus, I never followed the discussion in great detail and I didn't know that Martin had issued corrected rules. (I follow a lot of things on BGG and elsewhere, but that percentage compared to what I could follow is miniscule.)

As for why others in the reviewer/news community would not cover such things, I'd offer a few possibilities:

1. They're terrible players with no skill, and therefore they've never discovered the broken strategy.

2. They play games a few times, write about them, then move on to other, newer games.

3. They're of the same opinion as I am in terms of claims of "brokenness" from others.

4. They viewed the problem as being something applicable only for those who play the game devotedly and of interest only to those players, with most people falling into one of the three camps above. (If you're familiar with Magic: The Gathering, think of the problems with "Skullclamp" or "Umezawa's Jitte". Those cards are completely broken in tournaments, with expert players abusing them to no end. In casual play, however, those cards are okay because casual players don't tune their decks as well, don't know how to use the cards as well, or are playing against others in this situation and they have the cards in hand to deal with the problem.)

Hope that helps...

Eric

I'm still cogitating on what else I want to contribute to Dean's thread, but given the 137 comments (and counting), it makes more sense to continue that discussion on his post rather than here. Check it out!
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