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Links: Nominees for the 2012 IGA, Why Top Ten Lists Are Terrible & How Salmon Swim in Game Terms

W. Eric Martin
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• The nominees for the 2012 International Gamers Awards in the "General Strategy" category have been announced, and in alphabetical order they are:

Multi-player nominees

-----Dungeon Petz, by Vlaada Chvátil (Czech Games Edition)
-----Eclipse, by Touko Tahkokallio (
-----Hawaii, by Greg Daigle (Hans im Glück)
-----Helvetia, by Matthias Cramer (Kosmos)
-----Kingdom Builder, by Donald X. Vaccarino (Queen Games)
-----Last Will, by Vladimir Suchý (Czech Games Edition)
-----Mage Knight: Board Game, by Vlaada Chvátil (WizKids)
-----Ora et Labora, by Uwe Rosenberg (Lookout Games)
-----Prêt-à-Porter, by Ignacy Trzewiczek (Portal Publishing)
-----Risk Legacy, by Rob Daviau and Chris Dupuis (Hasbro)
-----Trajan, by Stefan Feld (Ammonit Spiele)
-----Village, by Inka and Markus Brand (eggertspiele)

Two-player nominees

-----Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, by Uwe Rosenberg (Lookout Games)
-----Star Trek: Fleet Captains, by Mike Elliot, Bryan Kinsella and Ethan Pasternack (WizKids)
-----Summoner Wars: Master Set, by Colby Dauch (Plaid Hat Games)
-----Targi, by Andreas Steiger (Kosmos)

(Note: I'm on the IGA jury for the general strategy category, but for the second year running I have abstained from submitting a nominee list.)

• And for general commentary on IGA's general strategy nominee list – and game awards in general – I present Dana Stevens' article in Slate from early August 2012 that is specifically about Sight & Sound's once-per-decade list of "The Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time" but applicable to all such lists in any medium:

[W]ill you excuse me if I refrain from joining debates about what does and doesn't belong in the 2012 cinematic pantheon, and take a moment instead to ask: What is the source of the authority we confer on this, or any, list of the "greatest films of all time"?

I'm not saying canonical lists don't have their purposes, and their pleasures.... But there's something in me – and in many cinephiles, I suspect – that chafes at the debates about what titles should go where on the list, who's been shafted and who's been overrecognized. The pomp surrounding the list's release brings out the otherwise extremely latent punk rocker in me: Even though I may agree every film on it is an innovative, significant, and beautiful work – perhaps even among the best in the history of the medium – a part of me can't resist the urge to mock and defile the list itself. I suppose this drive to defile is only the reverse side of an excessive deference to the list – either stance is an affirmation of its ultimate authority. If the unveiling of The List is Moses bringing down the tablets from the Mount, resistance to that unveiling is a dance around the golden calf of anarchic cinematic pleasure. But that dialectical tension between authority and anarchy isn't only played out at the moment of the list's reception – it's present in the construction of the list itself, as each critic's subjective passions do battle with his or her fealty to the notion of establishing and upholding a film canon....

The reason that's most commonly adduced in defense of top 10 lists – that they serve to spark conversations about film – has always struck me as somewhat bogus, because the movie conversations that lists often inspire (Who's up? Who's down? What movies would you put on the list instead, and where?) seem like the least interesting sort to have. Such is the power of the "greatest of all time" list: In order to engage with it in any mode other than dismissal, you must implicitly accept the notion of its validity. It's that feedback loop of respectability that brings out my aforementioned inner punk rocker, juvenilely anti-authoritarian as she may be.

Emiliano Sciarra's card game Bang! was first published in 2002, and in addition to releasing a deluxe version of the game in 2012 – Bang! 10th Anniversary – publisher dV Giochi is holding a design competition in which players are asked to submit a new character card, with the grand prize being one of each Bang! item currently in print. For contest details, head to the dV Giochi website.

• Designer Wolfgang Kramer is interviewed by Derek Thompson at MeepleTown, and here's an excerpt in which he lays out what makes a game good:

A good game is a game which you play very often. The more often you play it, the better it is. This is valid for simple and complex games. Family games are games in which the children have the same chance to win as the adults. A good gamer's game is a complex game, which you can play with different strategies. The different strategies should have the same chances to win – the odds are even.

• Dennis at Bellwether Games interviews Jesse Catron, designer of Salmon Run from Gryphon Games, a game that combines deck-building with racing:

It was obvious to me from the theme that the game should be a race. I didn't want it to be just quick sprint to the finish like most race games. I needed a way for the game to emulate the struggle and the fatigue of swimming upstream for hundreds of miles. I wanted to reward pacing and timing while punishing recklessness. I needed the game to give players feedback on how they were playing the game and have that affect their future progress in the race. My solution was deck-building. Each player would have their own deck of movement cards. I gave them a choice in how many movement cards they could play from their hand. If they exerted themselves by playing too many movement cards they would gain a Fatigue card which would act to slow them down towards the end of the race. Knowing when to pace oneself and when to exert oneself became vital. This worked remarkably well and provides a nice decision point for gamers and perhaps a lesson in delayed gratification for the young ones.
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