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Links: Honors for Eclipse, China Moves to the Stars & Deciphering What You Like in Games

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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Board Game: Eclipse
• Costin Manolescu, owner of the Romanian site BoardGames Blog – in his words, "the first Romanian blog dedicated entirely for board and card games on the Romanian territory" – announced the winners of the 2011 Jocul Anului, the first attempt at a Romanian "Game of the Year" awards system.

Nominations were taken throughout February 2012 at and on Facebook for games released during the 2011 calendar year, then BoardGames Blog readers voted on the finalists in each category, with Touko Tahkokallio's Eclipse winning both "Expert Game of the Year" and "Game of the Year". Agnieszka Migdalska's Top-A-Top from Kuźnia Gier won for best children's game, while The Settlers of Catan won for best game in Romanian. Amazing to note that with each new language in which it appears, Settlers wins more awards.

A complete list of finalists in each category is available on the Jocul Anului website.

• Designer Michael Schacht has gone spacey with his latest China map project, putting players in a familiar genre environment while they build constellations with their "house" placements and use the wormholes to create hidden connections.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

As with all of the maps that Schacht has created in his "12 Months of China" project, China: Starmania is playable on Schacht's online gaming site.

Board Game: Monster auf der Flucht
• Canadian publisher Le Scorpion Masqué will now have its titles distributed in France and Switzerland by IELLO, with La Course des Étoiles and Monster Chase being available in May 2012. (Source)

• Bellwether Games has published an interview with Danish designer Asger Sams Granerud, who details his still-in-the-works football/soccer simulation game [Mental] - Football.

• In a March 2012 blog post, after cogitating on why he doesn't like El Grande, Ilium and Nefertiti, BGG user Kevin B. Smith discovers one aspect of games that make them enjoyable for him:

To have a short-to-mid-term goal in mind, with a reasonable chance of achieving it. The goal should span multiple turns, but generally would not be a game-long strategic plan. None of the games mentioned so far have that attribute. Or at least I lack the proficiency in those games that would be required to be able to pick a goal and aim for it. And none of these games have enough appeal for me to want to play them enough to develop that proficiency.
Well there's the rub, isn't it? He lacks the proficiency to see such goals and work toward them, yet he also has no interest in playing the games more to discover whether such goals exist and whether he can work toward them. Given that El Grande has three scoring rounds during the game, with each one taking place after each player has taken only three turns, El Grande would seem to satisfy the "short-to-mid-term goal" that Smith wants – yet it doesn't.

Not sure what lesson game designers might draw from Smith's observation – maybe nothing – but it reminded me of Jon Shafer's observation that I linked to the other day, namely to "limit the player". From Shafer's post:

The last benefit of limits that I'll talk about is their ability to help ease new players into a game. Developers nearly always get too close to their games and forget how intimidating it is to learn as someone picking it up for the first time. If the player knows his first goal is to find and harvest a particular type of resource, or that he needs to capture a certain part of the map it helps focus his attention and keep him from becoming intimidated by a vast array of options...
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