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Thoughts on Vuoden peli (Finnish game of the year) 2016

Max Lampinen
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Belated thoughts on last years awards, I've been way too busy lately!

Vuoden peli 2016
Short overview of the award.. Past winners include games like Manhattan in 1994, which as a result, was one of the first eurogames I played. They can be abstract too, games like Blokus (family game 2003) and Pentago (strategy game 2006) have won. Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride were translated soon after they came out, both won, and started the publishing journey of Lautapelit.fi, which some of you abroad might recognize from heavy games like Eclipse and Nations. Recent winners have mostly been eurogames like that too, Splendor, Dominion.. I'm fairly certain my own boardgaming career wouldn't have started without this award. People who don't play that much boardgames tend to respect the award winners, and are somewhat aware of them, as they're advertised in magazines. Bit like SdJ, but in smaller scale, indeed.

Children's game of the year: Muumipeikon kalaretki
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/206850/muumipeikon-kalar...
Children's game award was won by Moomin game where your goal is to find fish from hidden tiles. If you pick a right tile with magnet, you catch it and get points. Moomin is sure way to win Finnish game of the year awards. I've been playing a 2010 winner Muumien purnukkajahti a lot with my son, but these Moomin games aren't exactly high art. Another year where children game winner is pretty low quality compared to Kinderspiel des Jahres. This game beat other nominees like My First Stone Age and Spinderella. Sigh.

Family game of the year: Otrio
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/188465/otrio
Abstract games tend to do really well in the family game market. Finland, land of engineers, loves these. I don't have much to say about this game. It's like a bit more interesting tictactoe where there are multiple ways to complete the line.. Animals on Board and Race to the North Pole were other notable nominees. Nothing spectacular.

Party game of the year: Kivi
https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/206851/kivi
This category was added last year with ridiculously good nominees (Telestrations, Spyfall, Concept). Now it was time to come back to earth. Good games like Terra (ok, bit boring "party" game and my old parents found it too difficult) and Codenames were nominated, but the winner was extremely middling dice-based abstract game. Why? I think they should merge this category back together with family games if this is considered a party game.

Strategy game of the year: Castles of mad King Ludwig

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/155426/castles-mad-king-...
This winner was clear highlight. While I personally prefer Suburbia with gamers or Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King with non-gamers, it's a high quality strategy game. I was surprised that it was even translated. Other nominees were all ok to good aswell: Dokmus, Flamme Rouge, Skyliners, Blueprints, Allies: Realm of Wonder and Karuba

So, quite average year with some nice surprises and some letdowns. Hopefully 2017 will be a nice boardgaming year too. I'm eagerly waiting for Spiel des Jahres nominees in couple of months as I've fallen bit out of loop about good new games.
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Sat Feb 18, 2017 12:58 pm
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Ticket to Ride Guide Update and 2016 Progress

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First things first, I updated my somewhat popular Ticket to Ride Purchase Guide with Deutschland 1902 expansion: https://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/47705/which-ticket-ride-s...
Shortly put it's really awesome. The passenger mechanic is smoother than Märklins and you can blend it in, along with long routes, to Märklin seamlessly aswell, if you happen to own Märklin instead of Deutschland.



Then the purchases. I've set limit of 5 purchases to 2016. I started the year with frantic trading and clearing of shelves, to make that limit easier. SI got Lanterns: The Harvest Festival and Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 as Christmas gift. I heavily dislike the destruction it requires, compared to everlasting Time Stories, but I do like playing it with my wife. Lanterns is.. ok. I got rid of Lewis & Clark, Elysium, Cacao, Steam Park, and some Dominion expansions. They just weren't unique enough to remain in my tightened collection, and I hardly play Dominion. I kept base and Prosperity to play with my son when he grows up though. In their place I got plenty of things. Mostly thanks to Dominion stuff selling for almost store value. I got Star Wars: Imperial Assault – Return to Hoth, Pandemic: State of Emergency, Smash Up expansions, Ca$h 'n Guns (Second Edition): More Cash 'n More Guns, Zug um Zug: Deutschland – Deutschland 1902, and T.I.M.E Stories: A Prophecy of Dragons.
Imperial Assault expansion appears to be mostly more of the same, but I love the snowy scenery and iconic characters. More Cash N Guns completed the game for me, Pandemic expansion is lovely and modular. Smash Up is still Smash Up, underrated gem on BGG. Time Stories is best thing ever, but haven't had time to play newest set yet. Anyway.. Good stuff.

My actual 2016 purchases went up to two already aswell: Celestia and 7 Wonders Duel, and I don't have games left that I want to get rid of (Lanterns might go though..), so it may look like I'm heading for failure, but I'm very confident. I have so many great games that I could honestly play them for rest of my life without needing to buy single thing. I'll probably get 2 expansions for my birthday in April (this year I'm counting gifts to limit, because honestly.. with shared bank account it's same as if I'd buy the games myself) and one game in Christmas, something like that. Wish me luck! I'll make the Big Report at end of the year with opinions on the purchases, if they were worth it.
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Fri Jan 29, 2016 11:07 am
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Gaming with 2-year-old

Max Lampinen
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I have 2-year-old son and one of my favorite things to do with him is playing games. Here are some tips for other boardgamegeeks and their small geeks.

I think most important rules are that you have to be patient, don't attempt too hard games too soon and don't force your child to play! I bought first game for my son when he was just 1,5 years old. Nope. Don't do that. And I also made mistake of purchasing couple that he still can't play, won't advertise those either.. We have some 5+ games we play, but most of the times it's best to believe the packages. Anyway when he turned 2 we did start playing quite a bit of games, I'll tell about those.

5 first games we got (that were succesful):
First Orchard
Educational: You learn most of basic gaming concepts.
Fun: My son loves it when crow eats fruits. We let it eat them from basket if we win too. It's ok game for adult player too.

This is the game we started with. For 6 months or so it was pretty much only game we played. Not every day or anything, first we took it out maybe every 2 weeks or so, and once he got it, weekly or so. Nowadays it's the safest choice, a game we can play without almost any problems. It's a co-op game where you throw dice with colours and crow in it: with colour you can play fruit of that colour in basket, when you get crow, crow moves towards the orchard to end the game. Very nice components and you learn many gaming basics with ease (dice, colours, turns, winning/losing - even though my son always wants the crow to win).

Snail's Pace Race
Educational: Some basic gaming concepts and racing.
Fun: Not really. But you don't constantly have to remind your child what to do either.

This is way worse game than First Orchard, but racing is pretty imporant mechanic in some boardgames for older children, so it's good to start learning it too (First Orchard doesn't have any racing aspects). Throw dice, move snails. It's easy game to find. There are lots of versions of this game, we have a random supermarket one that has fish instead of snails. I was reluctant to have it in our collection at first, but I've come to realize that children do need games like this, even if they are "bad".

Here, Fishy, Fishy!
Educational: Colours, dexterity.
Fun: Yes. Occasionally it's honestly fun for adult too.

My son loves this game. You get to fish stuff with magnet rod. It's kinda close to a toy. But you also learn colours. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this over First Orchard for its educational aspects, but at least my son finds this one way more fun. Like Snails Pace there are cheaper versions of this too, but Haba is easily the best to be honest.

Memory
Educational: Yes.
Fun: My son doesn't really enjoy it, but suggests it every now and then based on car artwork alone.

Memory is surprisingly hard game. But you can teach it to 2-year-old easily. We have version with like 20 different cars in it, so we don't even turn the pictures upside down yet. It's difficult enough.

Villa Paletti
Educational: Depends on your rules. Can be.
Fun: Often.

This used to be in our adult collection.. It won Spiel des Jahres ages ago. But now my son owns it. Pretty much everyone I know plays this with one variant or another. So it's just logical to create a variant for children. It scales well to all ages that way. Even if you just take turns building it, it will teach patience. And when it falls down, you can laugh. No need to take losing seriously, that's the lesson of Villa Paletti.


Next steps:
Richard Scarry's Busytown: Eye found it! Game
Educational: Everything you can hope for really.
Fun: I have to constantly remind my son what to do, but he loves the game so much anyway. Searching for items is fun for adult too!

This is the best children's game for 2-3-year-old I've seen so far. If you were to buy only two of them, I'd get this and My First Orchard. This one is co-op too. You spin and results are: move 1-4, pigs eat food (if they eat everything, you lose) or draw a card and find that item from huge board. (So it combines racing, My First Orchard and Memory, great next step) I was reluctant to try this one yet, as the box says 3+ but turns out my son loves this game. Sometimes he can't focus the whole game, but that's part of being a child really... Great great game anyway.

Formula 1 Grand Prix
Educational: Counting
Fun: My son suggest this game very often, but it's not his favorite. He just likes the cars I think. For adult it's very average experience

We have this, but any other basic racing game is fine. My son loves cars, so this theme is good for us. Throw dice, count, move. Simple as that. (This game also has pit stop rules and stuff like that, but we just left it out) 2,5-year-old can count the pips of dice already. My son hates to count 4-6 though, so this is good for practicing that (as big roll is good, which rewards him for making the effort to count high).

Gulo Gulo
Educational: Colours, dexterity, keeping many rules in mind
Fun: It's bit hard for my son, but we often have fun with dexterity part.

This is the latest game we've started learning. Like Eye Found It, it has lots of aspects from those 5 first games, but combined, so I feel it's a good next step too (even though box says 5+). The dexterity part is of course the main draw here. You got to take proper egg from basket, without dropping the stick. Fun game, we've played it 5 times now, and my son almost gets it.

Click Clack Lumberjack
Educational: Nope. Some strategy, but with 2-year-old not really.
Fun: Fun for both of us.

This is one of my sons favorites.. I actually bought this for my adult collection (I love dexterity games, like my favorite Riff Raff), but as my son was helping me unpack it (as he often gets to do with new games) I had a sudden thought of trying it out with him. We did, and he pretty much got it right away. We don't actually count points, but he understands that minus points are bad and chopping the bark is good. It's one of his favorite games now, and I moved it to his collection. I think it's better as childrens game anyway, to be honest.

We've also been learning Richard Scarry's Busytown: Busy, Busy Airport Game
Educational: You learn to keep lots of small rules in your head, which is a nice skill, but otherwise not really
Fun: Can't tell yet. For adult it's average. My son doesn't fully get it yet, but I suspect he'll love it when he does.


..but it's bit too hard. It has fun aspect where you get to place the flight destinations around the room though. It's not nearly as good as the other Richard Scarry game, which inspired me to buy this, but I'm sure it will be a hit later. The components are A+.


For Christmas I've bought my son Monza (it's bit more advanced racing game, even though it has colours instead of pips - it should teach planning, plus it's Haba game so it looks great), Loopin' Louie (heard lots of good about this, and my son loves funny games like this, should be a hit) and my personal favorite:Mein erster Spieleschatz. I found it accidentally when browsing amazon.de for Haba games. It has 10 games for 3-6-year olds in one package. Components look awesome and it should be good bang for buck. I'll write another report when my son turns 3 next year and tell how we liked these games. If you have suggestions for games we could play, let me know!
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Sun Nov 29, 2015 2:58 pm
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"Which Ticket to Ride should I buy?" - A Guide

Max Lampinen
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"Which Ticket to Ride edition or map collection should I buy?"
This is a question you see a lot. Here's my brief answer, that's hopefully helpful to some. Personally I've solved the question by buying almost every version (excluding Deutschland and Anniversary), but that might not be the healthiest solution for everyone. You can also just buy versions that have countries that appeal to you (great tactic in theory, familiar or interesting countries do add to the fun for me), but due to different mechanics of different maps, it might end up in disappointment aswell.

I arrived here by accident, what's Ticket to Ride?
It's perhaps the greatest modern boardgame there is. Tabletop has nice playthrough:

There's also one for Ticket to Ride: Europe, you can find that yourself!

"I know what Ticket to Ride is, but I didn't know that there are MANY Ticket to Ride versions!?"
There are 5 big box Ticket to Ride editions (plus Deluxe edition of one of them) and 5 map collections.
The big boxes are, in order of release: Ticket to Ride, Ticket to Ride: Europe, Ticket to Ride: Märklin, Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, Ticket to Ride: Deutschland, and deluxe version of the first (US): Ticket to Ride Anniversary Edition. Map collections are numbered in order of release from 1-5, and we fans of course hope that this information will be outdated in years to come and that there would be more to come. The big boxes come with everything you need to play, but you need one of the big box editions to play map collections (some restrictions apply, read on).

Do you want to own only one version of Ticket to Ride?
1. Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary
2. Ticket to Ride (tie, read long texts to decide)
2. Ticket to Ride: Europe (tie, read long texts to decide)

Do you intend to play with two players, three max.?
1. Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries
Consider expanding with Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 – India & Switzerland (The 2p highlight Switzerland also used to be available on its own, but it's very hard to find now, so it won't be cheaper for sure! Just go for the map collection: India is nice with two too, and all TTR maps do work with two, so don't be discouraged to buy other expansions aswell). You can also consider buying Ticket to Ride: Halloween Freighter to play expansion maps with 4, if you went with Nordic Countries but occasionally want four players.

Do you enjoy heavier games in general, and wish TTR was heavier too?
1. Ticket to Ride: Märklin
Consider expanding with:
1. Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 5 – United Kingdom & Pennsylvania (you also must buy this to expand Märklin further, to get normal train deck, luckily it's also the best heavy expansion)
2. Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 4 – Nederland

Do you want to play with six players?
Buy Ticket to Ride or Ticket to Ride: Europe and Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia

I already own a big box, what map collection next?
These are quick generalizations, for better look, read longer texts.
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia if you're interested in team variant.
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 – India & Switzerland if you're interested in playing with 2 or 3.
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 3 – The Heart of Africa if you want something new.
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 4 – Nederland if you want something slightly heavier.
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 5 – United Kingdom & Pennsylvania if you want something heavier.


Read more:

Ticket to Ride
This is the game that started it all. It has US map and all the cool elements that make Ticket to Ride fun. It's also the version you'll most likely encounter outside gamestores. I think it's the best big box version to start with especially if you or your group are new to boardgames. It's a versatile big box that works with 2-5 and comes with simplest ruleset. If you live in Germany, you could be interested in Zug um Zug: Deutschland instead.

Expansion: Ticket to Ride: USA 1910
If you've already bought Ticket to Ride and like it, you should consider this small expansion. It comes with 35 new tickets and a new bonus scoring card (most tickets completed instead of longest route) that add replayability. There are three new modes: new tickets only (same feel as normal game, but different routes), Big Cities (selected tickets, good for tighter 2p games) and Mega Game (everything mixed together). In my experience, Mega Game soon becomes the default way to play for most. With two players it can be nice to use the Big Cities mode separately. It may seem expensive, but that wasn't all: this expansion also comes with replacement deck for base game (bigger train cards, second set of base tickets).

Ticket to Ride: 10th Anniversary
This is deluxe version of basic Ticket to Ride that also includes 1910 right out of the box. If you're interested in US+expansion combination, I'd seriously consider this edition, as it's not much more expensive, but certainly more impressive. The trains are bigger than in other expansions so they won't fit expansion maps correctly. But if you a) want just one Ticket to Ride game in your collection or b) are willing to buy either Märklin or Europe before expanding with map collections, then I'd seriously consider this edition. Apparently the box doesn't include expansion rules, you can find them here: http://cdn1.daysofwonder.com/tickettoride/en/img/tt_1910_rul...

Ticket to Ride: Europe
Ticket to Ride: Europe is perhaps the second most popular big box edition. It has map of Europe and some new rules: tunnels and stations. Tunnels are routes that may require additional cards to complete (or not), they make the game more exciting and fun in my opinion. Stations allow you to use routes that others have built, at cost of victory points. It makes the game feel less aggressive, you'll never be fully blocked. Both are great additions. If you aren't completely new to boardgaming, this is perhaps the most lucrative big box to go for. Like US, it's a versatile big box for 2-5 players, and after the rules have been learned, perhaps even more familyfriendly than the base, thanks to stations.

Expansion: Ticket to Ride: Europa 1912
This expands Europe map same way 1910 expanded the US map. You'll get 46 new tickets that add three new modes: Europe Expanded (some new tickets), Mega Europe (all tickets) and Big Cities (selected tickets). As with 1910, you'll most likely find yourself going for Mega Europe most of the time, and Big Cities if you play with two, but the third mode is nice to have. Europe doesn't have replacement train deck, but instead comes with Warehouse & Depot variant, which I've personally played once. It's nice addition to have, but most people don't like it.

Ticket to Ride: Märklin
Somewhat divisive expansion. Passenger mechanic increases complexity and almost turns TTR into whole new game. As such, it's not the recommended big box to get as your first one, unless you're 100% sure that you enjoy heavier gameplay. Technically you can just leave passenger mechanic out, but tickets aren't balanced that way. The train deck is also different and not directly compatible with map expansions. However, with newest map collection (5) comes train deck with extra locomotives - buy that one and take the extras out and you can buy other map collections too. It's a nice deal, especially since 5th map collection is the one heavy gamers would be most interested in anyway. Märklin used to be something of a "deluxe edition", before Anniversary Edition came out - the train deck is beautiful, board not so much.. Märklin also has different player colours than earlier Ticket to Ride games. Update: Zug um Zug: Deutschland – Deutschland 1902 can technically be used with Märklin too,,as the map geometry is same as Deutschland. The new passenger system (Way better than Märklin one!! Like simplified Pennsylvania,smooth) blends in seamlessly, so do long routes (as they're dealt separately). If you sleeve new tickets, you can play Märklin without either passengers, and it gives basic Deutrschland feel. Remember to remove Märklin specific cards or just use train deck from another TTR if you own one, for balanced play.

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries
This is easily the best Ticket to Ride version and one you should buy if you intend to play with only 2 or 3 players. Very tight and nice map with.. Nordic countries in it. Only 40 trains are used, but there are 5 extras, so it also works with any map collection, but again, it caps at 3. You can buy Ticket to Ride: Halloween Freighter to play expansion maps with four players. Noreic Countries also has different train colours than earlier Ticket to Ride games (purple, white).

Zug um Zug: Deutschland
If you live in Germany or otherwise prefer German maps, this might be nice alternative for basic Ticket to Ride. It's basically Märklin map without passengers and with different tickets. For others, it's generally not a good deal, as you'd have to order it from Germany and you should always find the US map cheaper. There's a new expansion Zug um Zug: Deutschland – Deutschland 1902 that adds new tickets and a passenger variant. I haven't played it or found more information, but when I have I'll update it. It does make Deutschland seem more lucrative for wider audience, as it now has something unique in it. Update: I bought it and heartily recommend it, the passenger mechanic is much smoother than Märklin one (but like simplified Pennsylvania) and new tickets are always great. If you own Märklin, you can trechnica!ly use the expansion with it too.

Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia
First map collection has pretty basic Asian map, Legendary Asia. It's good for quicker games, as trains are spent faster. Real draw is the Team Asia variant, which is really funny partnership twist to TTR. It also allows 6 players (3 teams of two) to play. If partnership TTR sounds fun to you, and it should - it's implemented very well, consider this!

Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 – India & Switzerland
Big draw of this expansion is Switzerland, which is the best expansion map for two or three players. It's the most sensible way to expand your Nordic Countries or make other big box more versatile. Switzerland adds country destinations, which is pretty cool addition. There's also India, which is pretty basic map that rewards you from making loops. Solid expansion.

Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 3 – The Heart of Africa
This expansion disappointed many by only including one map. It's bit cheaper as a result though (or at least should be, blame your store if it isn't!). It introduces terrain mechanic, you can double value of your routes by playing correct terrain cards. It's pretty interesting mechanic, but also quite heavy and takes away from that TTR elegance we're used to. If you want to shake things up, it's a very good expansion to go with.

Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 4 – Nederland
This expansion comes with just one map aswell, but again, it's bit cheaper and the map is more involved than past ones. Nederland adds money to TTR and yes, it's pretty much as fiddly as it sounds. You have to play bridge tolls to build routes - first player on double route pays to bank and second player to that first player (so he got away for free). It's a very nice map if you want something heavier.

Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 5 – United Kingdom & Pennsylvania
If you want something even more involved, look no further. Fifth map collection adds the most "gamer-y" maps so far. Pennsylvania is like a mix of Union Pacific/Airlines Europe and Ticket to Ride, simple stock system if you aren't familiar with the games, and it's beautiful (at least this Airlines fan thinks so). UK turns the complexity to 11 with its technology system, where you spend locomotives to buy all sort of abilities and bonuses. This map collection also comes with new train deck (with additional locomotives), by removing the extras you'll have normal train deck to use with Pennsylvania or other maps, if your only big box is Märklin!


Digital
You can also play Ticket to Ride digitally. It's implemented very well. You can play on iPad, Android devices and Steam. Europe, Switzerland, India and Legendary Asia are available too, hopefully more to come. Highly recommended, especially if you have hard time finding real life partners, but be warned that after heavy online play you might start beating more casual players quite badly!

Promos & misc.
There are couple of smaller additions to your Ticket to Ride collection.
Ticket to Ride: Halloween Freighter adds Halloween-themed trains for one player to use. It's greatest use is that you can play expansion maps with four, even if your big box happens to be Nordic Countries. Technically you could try to play 5p maps with 6 too, but it doesn't really work. Ticket to Ride: Character Score Markers includes shaped scoring markers in all player colours (including Märklin, Nordic Countries, and even Halloween trains which weirdly don't come with one). Ticket to Ride: Alvin & Dexter adds some fantasy-flavored chaos to TTR. It's more strategic than it seems, really, but not something you want to add every game. If you own most of the other stuff, it's something to consider. Ticket to Ride: The Dice Expansion is quite widely hated addition, that replaces set collection with dice. Again, this is something to add to your collection, once you've bought everything else and want to add a twist. Ticket to Ride: Mystery Train Expansion is out of print promo that added special powers to ticket deck, it also came with 4 normal tickets, that are luckily included in USA 1910 (and Anniversary Edition). Ticket to Ride: Orient Express adds 7 new tickets to Europe (1 long, 6 basic). Ticket to Ride: The Card Game is completely separate game in TTR family. It doesn't feel much like TTR, it's more like TTR-themed Mamma Mia!. Liking TTR is no guarantee that you'll like it aswell, but if you like both memory games and TTR, it could be a game for you.


If you have something to add, feel free to comment!
And no matter which version you're playing, remember to have fun!
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Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:16 pm
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Thoughts on Vuoden Peli 2015 (Finlands Game of the Year)

Max Lampinen
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"Vuoden Peli" winners were announced 2 months ago. This is bit late, so let's get these thoughts out of the way before it's embarassingly late. "Vuoden Peli" is basically Spiel des Jahres-like award of games that have been translated to Finnish and will generally be available to massmarket and not just in hobbystores. The quality isn't as high as SdJ, because the amount of releases is lower and selection process bit more commercial, but the nominees and winners tend to be games I do like.

Short overview of the award.. Past winners include games like Manhattan in 1994, which as a result, was one of the first eurogames I played. They can be abstract too, games like Blokus (family game 2003) and Pentago (strategy game 2006) have won. Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride were translated soon after they came out, both won, and started the publishing journey of Lautapelit.fi, which some of you abroad might recognize from heavy games like Eclipse and Nations. Recent winners have mostly been eurogames like that too, Splendor, Dominion.. I'm fairly certain my own boardgaming career wouldn't have started without this award. People who don't play that much boardgames tend to respect the award winners, and are somewhat aware of them, as they're advertised in magazines. Bit like SdJ, but in smaller scale, indeed.

Like SdJ, there's also children's game category, but it's bit dubious, as it's actually chosen by some weird process that involves children in kindergartens testing the games. It sounds completely logical, but as a result the winners aren't exactly the kind of games you want taking up space in your closets, they'll be fun for game or two and then you want to bury them in the backyard. So for that reason, and because my own son isn't old enough to play most of the children's games, I won't talk about that aspect.

So!
Which games won this year? Source: http://suomenleluyhdistys.fi/vuoden-peli-2015-kilpailun-voit...

2015:

Family Game of the Year
Port Royal

I'm not a huge fan of Port Royal to be honest. I bought it last year, when it came out in Germany, and while it was ok, it didn't feel like a keeper to me. The push your luck -aspect was very nice though, it's not quite as dry as some other enginebuilding games. I don't dislike it either, though, and I especially like its reasonable price. The other nominees were two games by my favorite designer Antoine Bauza: The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet and Takenoko so we could say the quality was very good this year. I would've expected Takenoko to be in strategy game category though, I've found it bit complex to teach to non-gamers.

Strategy Game of the Year
New York 1901
I haven't played this yet, but it looks like a solid strategy game and a good winner indeed. It has been hyped quite a lot on BGG too, which is always nice, when lighter games get attention. Other nominees were Rise of Augustus, which I personally would've swapped with Takenoko in Family category, but it's a good game, whatever. And Cacao which I think is pretty nice game.

Party Game of the Year
Telestrations

This is a new category. It's understandable addition, since partygames haven't really been celebrated that much in Vuoden Peli competition. Last party game to win was Cranium, way back in 2003. This years other nominees were Concept and Spyfall. Now this is bit misleading, we definitely don't usually have this many quality partygames translated to Finnish per year! It's usually generic triviagames and such. But this years nominees were are all games I rate 10 personally. Hopefully it's a sign of awesome partygaming times to come. I'm happy that Telestrations won too, of these 3 games it's the one that should be in every family in my opinion. Hopefully people try the other nominees too, though.

The competition was really high quality all around this year, I don't think people can go wrong in buying any of the winners or nominees. I hope next year will be as good.
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Thu Nov 5, 2015 7:36 am
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Boardgames and Materialism

Max Lampinen
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I'm not a materialistic person.
Don't worry, I'm not the preaching kind.
But look at me, we live in apartment building with zero unused rooms, and I don't even own a car. I use public transport and bicycle.
My bookshelf is full of used books, mostly I use library.
My computer and television, years old. Clothes, I buy them once a year.
I have a tablet, which is kind of pointless seeing I also own laptop, but it works as e-reader too (free books) so I give it a pass.
I also give pass to: buying sodas (I don't drink coffee, I say), going to the gym (my back needs it, just can't work out effectively without exercise machines) and many other Western luxuries to be honest.

I'm also a geek.
Besides all the nice things like inclusivity and creativity, and all that jazz, what's the one thing that permeates geek culture?
Spending money, collecting. This is hard. I struggle all the time.
I own some DVD's of my favorite shows, but that's it.

Aaaaaand. I also own 160 boardgames not including expansions.
Shit.

Boardgames have been the one area where I've always given myself a pass. Look, they'll last forever and they're 100% social unlike videogames. At least I don't buy videogames. This one will create so many good memories. Look, one more and then no more. They say this one is going out of print, one more. More, more, more.

I'm guessing that most of BGG is middleclass to upper middleclass, I'm bit lower than that, yet I have spent, spent, spent (not to debt or at expense of my son or anything, but too much). But I don't really need to buy this many games. Do I play them enough to justify that, is it end of the world if I don't buy every game that I think is "perfect match" for me, have I fully explored every game I own? No, no and no. I know for sure I won't be buying Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 as good as it might be. But I did catch myself considering it, despite every inch of my body being against its idea, because of this one site I visit, where people made fun comments about it.

Boardgamegeek, as nice site as it is, is built to make you want to spend money. It's also awesome database and community. But that's just the way it is. We have advertisements advertising new games, top lists advertising old ones. Geeklists: people advertising their old and new games. Reviews, same. That BGG version of Tabletop too. News: look at these games, buy more games.

"Every satisfaction he attains lays the seeds of some new desire, so that there is no end to the wishes of each individual will."

I'm a materialistic person.
But I try not to be.
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Wed Nov 4, 2015 6:35 am
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2015 Purchases - 12/12

Max Lampinen
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I'm still studying in university and not even business or engineering or something like that, I study literature. I also have a family and thus there needs to be budget. This is a good thing, because it forces me to set limit to yearly boardgame purchases. This year the limit was 12 (one per month) and I'm about to complete it.

Next year, inspired by bgg user I stalk, who buys one game yearly, I'm aiming even lower, to 5 purchases. Most likely 3 SdJ candidates, one KdJ candidates and Vuoden peli (basically Finnish SdJ), I'm expecting at least one of these to overlap with this years Essen purchases, which will leave one game leeway to buy best-looking game of next years Essen. I'll also alllow myself to buy TIME Stories scenarios outside this limit, if I stay excited about the game. If I don't I'll probably sell it, and allow one extra game purchase. Former feels more likely at the moment.

Anyway, let's move to this year. I bought:

1. Loony Quest
First purchase was one of the two Essen 2014 games I was most excited about (other one was Colt Express). 100% happy with the game, especially for its reasonabnle price. Haven't even co pleted all levels yet. Really funny drawing game.

2. Elysium
Blind-bought because Space Cowboys had released 2 awesome games before. Elysium ended up being worst of the three, but still beautiful and very replayable purchase. With smaller buy-limit this would've been cut in hindsight, as it's not supper innovative, but with limit of 12, I'm happy with this purchase.

X. The Game
I made my own version by drawing some arrows to my 6nimmt deck,as I wasn't happy about the grim artwork. So I won't count it among the twelve. Good game anyway.

3. Cacao
Cool SdJ-recommended game that was also translated to Finnish. Nothing special to be honest, but really elegant and nice game. This would've been another game to cut with fewer purchases though. But I'm happy to own it.

4. One Night Revolution
One Night Werewolf is top5 game for me, so buying streamlined sci-fi themed version was easy choice. My first Kickstarted game. I haven't actually received my copy yet, but I've played the game and I'm satisfied. It does streamline ONUW and force people to lie, with expansions this could overtake it.


5. Broom Service
KdJ, based on proven game, Ghibli-like artwork. Easy autopurchase. Satisfied.

6. Spyfall
This was hyped a lot so when it finally became available, I bought instantly. Good choice, it's unique and fun social game, right uip in my alley. I would even be prepared to spend one of next years purchases to expand it, if they'll make one.

Post-Essen 2015:

7. New York 1901
It won Vuoden peli (Finnish "SdJ"), which means autobuy. Haven't played yet. :shame: Looks good.

8. Mysterium
I waited for this game all year. English version has awesome components. Haven't tried English version yet, but it's a great game system that can be combined with Dixit for replayability, even though I still say Dixit is superior in its simplicity and constant interaction.

9. Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
Cacao-like game that's really smooth and elegant but would've been cut if I had bought fewer games. I really like it though, great game.

10. Codenames
Easy autopurchase. Really innovative and fun. I still haven't translated all tiles to Finnish though (needed in wordgames), have to do it, to play more.

11. The Voyages of Marco Polo
Hesitated for long time, since it's so heavy, but it's KdJ approved and seems to streamline many hot mechanics from recent heavy games into nice remix. Haven't played yet.

12. T.I.M.E Stories
TIME Stories was autobuy.. Space Cowboys and storytelling in awesome package. I've only ran it once so far, but currently it's my favorite game. Have to play more to form complete opinion. I don't regret for sure, and Space Cowboys will continue to be blind-buyh worthy, even with limited purchases.

X. Qwinto
I own Qwixx, so I just made my own Qwinto scoresheets and use Qwixx dice. Feel bit bad. It's a nice game. If I have more money one day, I promise to buy proper version. It's not like it's expensive.

Sold Russian Railroads and Istanbul to allow two more games.
12b. Jamaica
I think it's a family classic and wanted to finally add this older gem into my collection.

12c. Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 5 – United Kingdom & Pennsylvania
Haven't bought it yet, but will buy as soon as it comes out this month and it'll complete my 2015 purchases.

So, onwards! Next year I'm aiming for 5 purchases.
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Tue Nov 3, 2015 3:23 pm
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My TOP 10 Games - 2015 Edition

Max Lampinen
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I title this list 2015 Edition, so I can re-visit it in a year and hopefully see that my taste is impeccable and hasn't changed much.

1. Ticket to Ride: Europe
I don't think any game will ever replace TTR as my #1. It's the pinnacle of boardgaming for me and I'm not afraid to recommend it to anyone. Sure, for hardcore players there are problems like card-hoarding strategy, but those don't affect me, so I call it a perfect game. Europe is my favorite.

2. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
Best Werewolf-variant I've tried so far. If I would have opportunity to play Two Rooms and a Boom regularly, I could pick it, but as I can't play it even yearly - let's just go with this. Awesome 'family version' of Werewolf games that takes 3 minutes to play and is FUN. If One Night Revolution gets expanded, it might replace this, as it forces players to lie.. Sometimes ONUW might fall flat, if players don't get it.

3. Telestrations
Telestrations is my favorite party game. I don't even play with random dirty words like some people on BGG do and I still love it, it's always fun. I'd play this weekly if I'd get 6+ players regularly.

4. The Resistance
My current Resistance preference is classic Resistance with expansions > Resistance Avalon > Resistance with plot cards > classic Resistance. Vanilla Resistance easily becomes a pointless yelling match and I'm not even yeller. Plot cards help but they make for very heavy game. Avalon is really elegant and awesome. New incarnation is the definite version for me, I don't always use all modules though. I think this is great game that took best part of traitor games and removed all the fat. That said, with new gamers I'll almost always go with Saboteur (compilation editions), which is way easier to 'get'.

5. Ghost Stories
This is maybe one of the most conservative choices on this list, as it's pretty heavy game, and as such well-loved on BGG. I almost didn't even learn it as the rulebook makes it seem so hard. It's the most replayable co-op I know of and I have so many good memories of playing it with my wife. We'll probably play it for years to come so it deserves a place on my top10. It can also represent Antoine Bauza's game as a whole, he's my favorite designer.

6. Cosmic Encounter OR Star Munchkin
I'm happy to play either game. On my profile I've listed Cosmic Encounter, because sure, it's way cooler game to like, and because I do think it's in many ways the superior game. But I'm just as happy to play Star Munchkin. It does need one houserule (45 or 60 min timer), but other than that it's great streamlined version of CE. Cosmic Encounter is ridiculously good though.

7. Bohnanza
I had heard of this game long before I found modern boardgames, but never tried it. When I finally did, it had somewhat fallen out of fashion and I don't understand why, as I haven't found any game that does this trading thing better. Catan has trading, sure, but it's even older and clunkier game. Bohnanza is always fun to play, and along with TTR, one of the game I always recommend to all types of new gamers.

8. Dixit
I don't think I have anything interesting to say about this game. So you can probably guess that I'm pretty bad at it. But I still love it! Such simple concept and elegant system. Rarely bombs, which is good thing in a party game - some games with newbies may not be most memorable, but it hardly ever truly bombs.

9.Eldritch Horror
I'm literature major, I love stories. I like storytelling games like Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game and Co-Mix, but for me it has been almost impossible to find a group to play them with. Then there are boardgames that tell stories. No I don't mean every 'thematic game' (so-called Ameritrash genre), there isn't much story in throwing dice and messing up your opponents army. But games like Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Eldritch Horror tell actual stories. I prefer Eldritch Horror because it's full co-op, and its stories are modular and more exciting. Not that heavy if you have that one experienced player (in our games me) who knows the small rules and steps in to explain them when needed. But the more elegant TIME Stories might replace this, when I've explored it more.

10. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
In my profile I've placed new hot game Codenames here. It's somewhat true, but more honest answer would be digital cardgame Hearthstone. It's not a boardgame I hear you yell. Well, tell that to all the people who mark their digital Dominions and boardgamearena players here on BGG. Anyway.. I'm not much of a videogamer, I always feel like I'm wasting time. I've played hardly anything since my teen years, post-2006. Some World of Warcraft.. oldschool Mario Kart.. that's pretty much it. I've played Hearthstone since launch though, it scratches that Magic: the Gathering itch I have (I never could afford the cards as a teen, and even as an adult I'm not rich enough to do so; plus I'd have hard time finding opponents, I've found that I'm not really comfortable with playing against hardcore gamer nerds, it's just not fun). I like that you can get cards for free and that you can play on PC, tablet or phone (I play on tablet), and that you find opponents in mere seconds whenever you want to play. I've played almost 2 years and it's gotten bit less exciting than it used to be, but I still play 5-10 games a week, which is still quite a lot, I think I'll play as long as they keep making expansions and Tavern Brawls.

Special mention: At the Gates of Loyang is "our game" (me and my wifes). It's bit heavier than the games we really want to play these days, but we're so familiar with it that it doesn't feel heavy. We played it a lot when our son was a baby and sleeped all the time. Some people escape to imaginary space adventures, our fantasyland is ancient Chinese vegetable farm, I guess that tells something about us. There's something immensely relaxing about this game (we don't really use the 'take that' cards).
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Mon Nov 2, 2015 4:25 pm
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Story so far...

Max Lampinen
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How I got into boardgaming?
I'm pretty geeky person, so I've been on the verge of becoming boardgame for past 10 years or so. It actually happened about 5 years ago though. If we start from very beginning, I could say that, oh yeah I played Warhammer 40,000 15 years ago, but that phase didn't last very long and didn't lean to anything, so let's not start from there. Or I could say that I've played Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition almost all my life, but that's pretty obvious one.

My favorite game as a child was Tjuv och polis, which is actually pretty cool roll-and-move game. I'm not sure how it's supposed to be played, with multiple robbers?, but we played it 2-player. Other player moved thugs to rob banks and then you had to get them out of the board to get the money. Police tried to catch or blog the thugs. Labyrinth was another game I loved, but for some reason I always had to beg to get it played. And of course I played the usual stuff, from Monopoly to Chess.

Let's move on. I also played Ticket to Ride not very long after it came out, as it was nominated Vuoden Peli ("Game of the Year", basically like Spiel des Jahres) of Finland. It was hard to wrap my head around that game, but I thought it looked awesome. That wasn't the start either. The start was one dark winter night. I was at library, where one of my favorite Finnish authors was giving a speech. It was inspiring, he talked a lot about his influences, so after that I went to bookstore with my girlfriend (now wife) to browse the classic section (I bought two books that I'd now place in my top10, so it was great day all around, but let's stick to the topic). We had recently played Ticket to Ride: Europe, again, it had been very hard.. It's funny to think about that now, but I do think about it, so I don't demand too much from people who don't play much.

Anyway, I had enjoyed the Europe version too, despite its harder rules, and it had left me feeling that I'd like to own such game too. At the bookstore there was Carcassonne, which I had heard a lot about (it has also won "Vuoden Peli" so it's a game you can stumble upon easily, without being a boardgamer) and decided to buy it, i was only 25€ after all (or 20, not sure). We played it a lot and couple of months later I googled something like "games like Carcassonne". That didn't actually lead to purchase of games like Carcassonne, but to couple of expansions (1 and 2 I think). I found cool Finnish website, Lautapeliopas, which had all the info.

Sometime later, through Lautapeliopas I found the next game, Dominion, yet another Finnish game of the year winner. I forgot to mention, but I have also played some Magic: the Gathering ages ago, which could've also led me to boardgames, but I never had enough money to start collection or even draft regularly, maybe that's for the best, to be honest (no offense to MTG players, the game itself looks like so much fun, I've just never been rich enough to play). This is quite a ramble, but the point is that Dominion was described as non-collectible MTG. Not the best comparison to be honest, but it made me buy the game. And again some expansions bit later. What to say about this time? I played lots of 2p Dominion and Carcassonne with my partner. Then I found boardgamegeek, the most boring-looking website I've seen since Geocities era.

I bought Puerto Rico and Agricola. Puerto Rico.. well let's just say I don't own it anymore, no offense to fan. Agricola.. the images I saw looked mind-blowingly good. How can games like that even exist? I thought. When you start with games like this, you're bound to go deep. Deep I went. Over the next 6 months I explored heavier and heavier games until I had managed to suck all joy out of boardgaming. I don't have much to write about that time in my blog, other than it definitely helped me find what I do not like. I ended up losing quite a bit of money too, as I got rid of many heavy games I had bought.. I love Agricola and other Uwe Rosenberg games, but these days they're exception to games I really like, weight-wise. If I had to learn Agricola now, I probably wouldn't, but I'm happy I did. It and At the Gates of Loyang are regular games in me and my wifes 2p rotation. Anyway, let's just say you'll never see me in boardgame championship or at serious boardgaming club, that's just not for me.

What helped me find the joy again then? The same thing that has probably helped many people find boardgames in first place. Yes, we're probably thinking of same thing... good old Wil Wheaton and his Tabletop. Watching it made me finally buy Ticket to Ride. I'm not sure why I didn't buy it like after Carcassonne, but the reason I didn't buy it later was because I was becoming elitist. This blog is about the journey that began with that Ticket to Ride. I've been on that journey for 2 years now and I'm happier and happier with boardgaming. It's a good journey to be on, I even get to play most of my favorite games with nearly everyone, not just so-called boardgamers. This blog will be about gateway games, Spiel des Jahres or Kennerspiel des Jahres at most, and not being ashamed for being most comfortable with them for good. For me they aren't gateway games, they are the destination. I had to travel far, all the way to games like 1830: Railways & Robber Barons to realize it though. The next blog posts won't have this much rambling. I guess I'll write about my top10 games and my 2015 games in next few days, after that I'll decide how often I feel like writing.
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Mon Nov 2, 2015 2:28 pm
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Introduction

Max Lampinen
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What's this blog?
It's a blog for my thoughts about boardgaming. Nothing flashy.

What's 鳥居?
鳥居 is Japanese word, in Western letters the word would be torii. I thought it'd be funny name. Before you ask, no I'm not Japanese and neither am I manga/anime fan. I've watched like 4 anime shows, which is probably more than most people have, come to think of it. Anyway.. I do have some interest in Japanese culture, mostly via writers (i.e. Haruki Murakami and Yasunari Kawabata). I study literature in university (hopefully I'll actually graduate one day) and I hate traveling, for me books are major way to experience cultures. If I could travel to any one country, it would be Japan though.

Anyway, to the point. Torii is like a gate from profane to sacred in Shinto religion. Why is it relevant or funny? Well, here on BGG people like to talk about gateway games. It's like this barrier from bad games to awesome games, to sacred ground. Well, I love some of those so-called bad games. And I love gateway games, and I hate how people are sometimes elitist about them. If you don't like games like Ticket to Ride, you probably won't like this blog.
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Mon Nov 2, 2015 1:52 pm
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