Lacxox.

Knizia. Spiel des Jahres. Some other thoughts, but only rarely. I'm not that much of a big thinker, you know - but I love games.

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Gamers, Kenners and Beginners

Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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Some people seem to be as blind as a bat.

Are you surrounded by gamers? Has your kid understood Agricola when they were 6? Good for you. I don’t even say it’s exceptional – looking at my kid it seems he’s destined to be a small genius as well.
But we are geeks. We are gamers. We are people who play a lot and not only Sorry! Sliders and Monopoly: Uzbekistan or some other funny versions. This is our hobby. Of course the guys and girls in the gaming club are also gamers. Friends and other family members might be gamers too, or at least they have gained some gaming experience from you. They are playing and learning games more complex than they ever would if you didn't teach them. It’s hard to imagine what those whom we don’t know think and what they understand from all these games, how they enjoy them and so on.
Of course it is hard. It’s hard for everyone but not impossible.

We are surrounded by people whose IQ is higher than average. When I told some colleagues that even our (artificially) blonde, artificially big-breasted and rather simple-minded secretary has an IQ above 110 no one believed. Come on, 100 is supposed to be the average IQ in your country!

I try to keep my perspective wide.
I have worked for a month in McDonald’s. Those were possibly colleagues of an average IQ there (not the guys from the University doing some summer working).
I have worked in the first (and last) Cineplex Odeon cinema in Hungary for one and a half year (partly while attending the University). I’ve seen people there, I met people there, I went out with people working there. I was shocked when someone came out of the screening saying ‘I didn’t know this USA movie had subtitles… I can’t read.’ I’ve seen people with average IQ and still not too many below that.

Now I go to gaming clubs. I play gamers’ games there. I also play with my family (mother & sister), my new family (wife – not really with the small kids yet) and friends.
I teach Spiel des Jahres-winning or -nominated games (not the more complex ones) to my 69-year-old mother. She is struggling to learn the rules but she does it and then she enjoys these games and I enjoy these games with her. Last year she got Thurn und Taxis for Christmas. They learned it with my sister from the rulebook. When I visited them I corrected them as there were more than one rule that they played wrong (and these weren’t small rule details).
I play SdJ-games and little bit more complex stuff with my wife. She enjoys them but she prefers simple games (I think her favorites are still Ingenious, Ticket to Ride and Battle Line).
I play different games with my friends. Sometimes I try to teach them something more complex. They got totally confused by Tigris & Euphrates. They play more complex (not very complex) 1-hour games for 3 hours which clearly kills the fun so nowadays I try to play simpler games with them as well.
Each of these friends attended University. So did my wife and my mother. They are definitely not simpletons. They are just not gamers.
What’s more, I wasn’t a geek yet when I taught Carcassonne and Blokus to one of my best friends (he’s currently attending a University to get his 3rd degree) he said thanks but no thanks; he did play with us that evening but never since – he said the only board game he enjoys is Activity. As he said, he’s just too tired by the evening to keep thinking for “fun”.

So whenever someone states, or even argues aggressively that (obviously terrific) games like Puerto Rico should have won the Spiel des Jahres and that kids are all capable of learning these games I just think about these above. And I think about reviews in the general media when non-gamer journalists wrote Incan Gold or Ticket to Ride are “too complex”. I think of the time when I was a “beginner geek” and I thought all the games I enjoy will be enjoyed by my friends as well (I started to learn the power of Spiel des Jahres later). I had to learn most of the gamer favorites (the games you can see in the top 200, most of them full of combinations and calculations) are not what a non-gamer would call “fun”. And I think of what a little percent and a very selected group of people we know.

We can (mostly) agree Puerto Rico is a great game for gamers – but who said the majority of people would find it even remotely fun? And if they would not, who said this award should be a gamers’ award? If you think the award should be given to the best game of the year – just think about what “best” or “most fun” means for everyone. it's not "counting, combinations and optimization", I can assure you.

All this came to my mind because of an argument (a very usual argument coming up every year) about this year’s Spiel des Jahres award. I’ve given up arguing but I had to write my opinion somewhere.

As for the games, I still haven’t taught 7 Wonders to my friends or my family (I definitely want to, but I haven’t played anything with those friends who would understand & enjoy it in the past months).
Qwirkle, on the other hand, seems to be a new favorite for my wife.
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Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:27 pm
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Spiel des Jahres 2011 - The Winners

Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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I guess after my blog posts Predictions before the Spiel des Jahres nominations are out and Thoughts after the Spiel des Jahres nominees were announced I should write this follow-up as the winners were announced today.
So, as you quite probably know, Qwirkle won Spiel des Jahres and 7 Wonders won Kennerspiel des Jahres (not really "Complex game of the year" award as many think; it's more "The game of the year that is accessible to those who are not absolute beginners").

In my predictions I said I can see 7 Wonders easily winning the "more serious" award and I was right; of course it wasn't hard to predict (it might be a bit better feat that i predicted this even before the nominations were announced).
A month ago I wrote
Quote:
Now all I want to see if my prediction about 7 Wonders
wrote:
I predict hardcore gamers getting upset because of this nomination/win.
turns out to be true or not.
and I see I was quite right so I feel satisfied.

On the other hand, there is the surprising news of Qwirkle winning Spiel des Jahres. I predicted Asara winning although I thought Forbidden Island also might have a chance (friendly theme, a family-friendly version of an already Spiel des Jahres-nominated game...). While I really like Asara I think it was the Fresco of this year, being a fairly simple Euro that was still not outstanding enough to win. I feel a bit sad as I liked Asara more than Fresco as its core "worker-card placement" mechanism was a nice idea that made the game feel fresh (while I could not find any novel idea in Fresco, a game I also like).
So what about Qwirkle? Do I think this one didn't deserve the award? I can't tell. Probably it deserved it. I taught the game to my wife who enjoyed it pretty much and said she wants to play it again soon. So it quite probably fits the award.

It's just... I can't help but think about how unlucky Herr Knizia was because Ticket to Ride was published in the same year as Ingenious. Ingenious would have won the award in many years of the 2000s but not in 2004. Qwirkle (originally published 2 years later) takes more than one idea from Ingenious, feels like Ingenious, is (just a bit) more luck-dependent than Ingenious and is clearly inferior to Ingenious. It's not a bad game... I just didn't see this one winning.

Whatever. Congratulations to the winners, and I still think the jury knows their job exceptionally well!
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Mon Jun 27, 2011 9:21 pm
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Best and worst of 2010

Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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The "I have no clue what to use this blog for so I use it for self-advertisement purposes" entry:

I have published a nice long geeklist. Read it and discuss.
Published in 2010: Best and Worst games I've played and what remains to be tried. Opinions&suggestions are welcome!
Thank you for your attention.
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Tue Jun 14, 2011 4:00 pm
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Two experiences gained from a team building weekend

Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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Last weekend the company I work for organized a team building trip. The first evening one of the new guys opened a new box of Saboteur. Some of us sit down and started playing. I had two interesting experiences:

1. There were many different program options for the next day (cooking, football, running, hiking in the hills). Those who chose hiking in the hills (the choice was made days before) were also the ones who were playing the game. They (we) are not friends and not people working at the same department. What can be the connection? I just don’t know but it was interesting.

2. While we were playing, some guys and girls from the sales and customer service departments came and went by, looked at what we were doing and some of them even looked at the rules of the game. I remind you it’s a game that’s got a 1.3 weight rating at BGG and it has a two-page “rulebook”. They were showing the rules to each other, saying things like “Look at this. Start to read it. You won’t understand a word.” They meant “My God, this thing looks incredibly complex, I would never have the energy to learn it”.
I would really love to see those who say “Agricola can be played by a 6-year-old kid” or even those who said “7 Wonders is a simple family game, it should have been nominated for SdJ instead of KdJ” see these guys and girls and realize how much they can’t see anymore the reaction of average, non-boardgaming people to games that seem rather simple for us, geeks.
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Mon May 30, 2011 12:07 pm
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Thoughts after the Spiel des Jahres nominees were announced

Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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Yesterday I made my predictions in this same blog and it seems I have quite good intuitions.

Main prize: I was pretty sure Asara and The Forbidden Island would be nominated and it seems I was right. Qwirkle might be the surprise nominee as it’s an older game – but I guess it was published in Germany only this year. If it means these three are the nominees this year, I’d say what I wrote before: Asara might win (although Die verbotene Insel also has a chance).

Kennerspiel des Jahres: So I told you 7 Wonders is going to be here, didn’t I? Strasbourg and Lancaster are also nominated (haven’t played either so I didn’t predict them) but it seems quite probable that 7 Wonders is going to win.

Recommendations: it seems recommendations for both categories are listed under the same recommendations list. I just didn’t know there are going to be only 3 nominees this year – I mentioned 4 titles as possible nominees for the main prize that I can find here: Mondo, Safranito, Skull & Roses and Uluru. I also mentioned Die Burgen von Burgund as a possible nominee for the award for experts – it’s listed as a recommended game as well (I was afraid Luna won’t be mentioned but I’m happy to see it here). I’m a bit surprised to see Sun, Sea & Sand in the list (I didn’t find this one to be that fun) and don’t know the other nominees.

Some surprise misses: I’m a bit surprised Airlines is not even a recommended game (maybe the lack of originality? It wasn’t a problem before). I’m happy Pantheon, Vinhos & Civilization is not even mentioned, sad to see Navigator missing and a little bit happy to see Troyes missing (although I still say it’s not a bad game – but it does have its flaws).

All in all, I feel I’m getting better at this Spiel des Jahres prediction thing I guess.

Now all I want to see if my prediction about 7 Wonders
Quote:
I predict hardcore gamers getting upset because of this nomination/win.
turns out to be true or not.
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Mon May 23, 2011 10:39 am
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Predictions before the Spiel des Jahres nominations are out

Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
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As far as I understand Spiel des Jahres nominations are out tomorrow.
I have no idea about the Kinderspiel des Jahres list but have some predictions about the Spiel des Jahres and the Kennerspiel des Jahres (new category - Game of the year for experts).

According to an interview the jury said previous nominees Puerto Rico, Vikings, Stone Age or Torres would have been better fits for the new award than for the Spiel des Jahres. As many of these are games for 10+ year-olds I do predict that many geeks will be upset seeing the games nominated for the complex game award are still not the most complex ones, not the ones they like to play.
Now I'm pretty sure a geek favorite like Vinhos will not be nominated for the award; quite probably it won't even be recommended. The Spiel des Jahres jury prefers games that are fun and don't have unnecessary complexity. Now we can be sure simpler, easier games are going to dominate the Spiel des Jahres list and you are going to find more complex, but still family-friendly and enjoyable games in the "complex games" category (and that's something I expected when they announced they are going to have a separate category for these awards - they awarded Caylus, Agricola and World Without an End before).

So what do I think gets nominated?
Complex award: (more like "an award for those who are not totally new to the hobby") :
7 Wonders (probable winner) - no, the game is not that complex; it's rather light but it's not less complex than Stone Age or Vikings either - and it can be hard to learn for those who are totally beginners (as you have to learn many icons and cards and can't ask anyone during your first play). I predict hardcore gamers getting upset because of this nomination/win.

I'm really not sure about the rest. What is going to be the upper limit in complexity?
I would not be surprised to see some of the following here:
Grand Cru - I know it's a simple game (well, with a weight rating right now at a surprising 3.2) but it's also the game that won its designer a special Spiel des Jahres scholarship some years ago.
Navegador - which is tense, fun and fine
Die Burgen von Burgund - which is great and also more fun than the usual - really good - Stefan Feld games
Firenze - which is just very enjoyable
Industry (? haven't played it yet)

(only) recommendation:
Troyes - might make it to the nomination list but I'm really not sure. I'm also not sure it got a German release.
Olympus - did it get a German release?
Glen More - or was it released earlier?
Tikal II - why not? It's fine; it's just not Tikal.

no Pantheon - doesn't seem likely
no Vinhos - a 'too complex game for its own good' with a beginner designer's flaws.


(simple) Game of the year (Spiel des Jahres) award:
not in any order, I have no idea which one of these has a real chance to win:
Asara - If 7 wonders stays in the complex category then it might win the award.
Forbidden Island - The jury likes Matt Leacock, liked Pandemic and this family-friendly, simpler version of Pandemic might be just what they were looking for. Also the German edition is said to be better than the English one.
Airlines Europe - Union Pacific was nominated more than 10 years ago. This is a simpler, probably better version (that is different enough), also having some small ideas taken from Moon's SdJ-winning Ticket to Ride and feeling like SdJ-winning Alhambra (which was based on Stimmt So! which was actually pretty much a simple card game of stock-holding copying the original Airlines). Still it's a bit more complex than either so it might end up in the complex category, I don't know.
Mondo - which I haven't played yet but seems to be another Michael Schacht family winner.
Safranito - is simple, is different, also has a dexterity element to it and it got good (though not great) reviews.


recommendation:
Skull & Roses - I believe this one got a German release. If it did, it might even be nominated.
Uluru- might get a nomination
Cargo Noir - is okay and nice for families
K2 - is simple enough to stay here; a themed race game - fine
Pergamon - is not bad but not that special either; I'm not sure if it gets recommended here or in the other category
Snapshot - seems fine for what it is. Is it?
Funfair - is a really nice and really fun game compilation for children and families.
BITS - FITS was nominated; this one might get recommended.
possibly The Great Fire of London 1666 - not bad game with too long set-up; are there german rules added?
possibly Isla Dorada - not as good as it should be, its "Elfenroads meets Ulysses" idea is rather nice and can be fun with the right circumstances.
possibly Artus - I don't know which category and in case of this one the jury's personal tastes might differ (too) much.

And of course there will be some surprise names, names that I have probably never even heard of in the lists. There are surprises each year.
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Sun May 22, 2011 10:23 pm
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1000+ images

Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
Budapest
Hungary
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Last week I have uploaded my 1000th (and 1001st, 1002nd and 1003rd) image to the BGG database. Do I get a special badge for that?

Whatever, I have created a geeklist to show off the ones that I like most. Here it is:
Lacxox's Gallery - My Selected Images after Uploading More than 1,000 Pics
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Mon May 9, 2011 1:12 pm
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It's Time to Stop Him!

Laszlo Molnar
Hungary
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My son is becoming a geek, I'm afraid.
He is 2 and a half years old. Since January each and every evening when I get home from work he says 'Let's have a look at one of daddy's games!' Sometimes it's not even enough to see only one (in case I have shown only a small or boring - for him - one). This way I have shown him most of my games by now.
This week he was playing with a smurf figurine when I arrived home. Then he asked me to show him one of my games.
'Which one?' I asked.
'It should have a board', he said.
'A board. Okay. And what else?'
'A river', he added.
I was thinking what I could show him and then looked at the smurf in his hand... and said 'Okay, I know which one I'm going to show to you'.
There was a box hidden somewhere; a box of a smurf game that included 15 collectible smurf figurines (you could get these if you spent enough at the shop) and it's a game for 4+ year old children. It has a board with a river, and it has the figurines. I thought if he likes the cylinder-shaped "workers" he is going to love the smurfs.
He always gets excited when opening the box, seeing something he hasn't seen before. He opened the box, looked at what's inside...
Board Game: Smurfspelet

...and bursted out, with real pleasure in his voice: 'Dice!'
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Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:25 pm
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