RIP Steve Kingsbury
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England
Hemel Hempstead
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Our good friend, and talented game designer, Steve Kingsbury, passed away a few days ago, at the unreasonably early age of 56. For over 20 years, a small group of us met almost every week at Steve's house for an evening of serious, but friendly, game-playing.
Steve had retired from his full-time job last year, with plans to devote significantly more time to both game-playing and game-designing, but within a few months was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. Thus, the world has been denied both the strategic Tour de France game he had been tinkering with for many years, and the Mars exploration game with Agricola-like mechanics that he had been teasing us with.
This list is a tribute to Steve's enthusiasms, both within and outside the world of gaming.
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1. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.02 Overall Rank:17]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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For many years, no one game dominated our gaming sessions. The cult of the new reigned supreme, and very few games hit the table more than three or four times.
Then along came Agricola, and the discovery of the joys of card drafting, and the rest, as they say, is history. Since 2008, there have been very few months when we have not played at least one game of Agricola, and several occasions when we have played three or four weeks in a row.
Steve was arguably the least skilled of our little group, but was also undoubtedly the most enthusiastic, making up his own Agricola-themed Christmas cards, and naming the players of the team he managed in an email-football game after some of his favourite Occupations.
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2. Board Game: City and Guilds [Average Rating:6.63 Overall Rank:4458]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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This was the first of Steve's two published games, both produced by the now defunct JKLM. This is a nifty little tile laying, area control, game that won't outstay its welcome.
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3. Board Game: Kings Progress [Average Rating:6.43 Overall Rank:7540]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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This is Steve's second published game, an interesting example of hand management and timing. Those of us who assisted in its development would probably argue that it's a better game than its geek rating would indicate, but who can defy the wisdom of crowds?
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4. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:341]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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This is probably the game that saw the second most number of plays in our sessions. For a year or so we were all sitting there doing the robot dance, trying to figure out the intricacies of conveyors and gears, as often as not ending up with a robot in a pit.
Steve's robots were all painted up, and his favourite, Hulk X90, continued to appear on Monday evenings well after we stopped playing this regularly.
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5. Board Game: Zankapfel [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:9475]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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This is the first game I can recall getting a few repeat plays after we started meeting at Steve's, back in the days when German games were still a bit of a novelty. It's a nicely produced, simple, game of apple farming, with a few twists.
Of course, it's now many years since we last played this - I ought to dig it out again.
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6. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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Stone Age was another game that quickly became a favourite of Steve's, and while it hasn't had as much play as Agricola, it's continued to appear at intervals, when we've felt like something a bit lighter.
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7. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:127] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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Another game that continued to come out over the years, when we were in the mood for something slightly lighter. I think that the train card mechanism in this game was something of an inspiration for the influence cards in Steve's own game, King's Progress.
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8. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:283] [Average Rating:7.22 Unranked]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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Like most gaming groups, we have dabbled with the odd game of Catan, but it was never a huge favourite of our's. However, Steve did also play this regularly with his family, and any game that can get non-gamers involved is always worth a mention.
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9. Board Game: War of the Ring Collector's Edition [Average Rating:8.64 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.64 Unranked]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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This isn't a game that we played in our group sessions, but Steve and another member of the group used to get together quite often to play this outside the group.
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10. Board Game: Go [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:124]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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This was one of Steve's enthusiasms from an earlier period of his life. We understand that he used to play a fair bit of Go in his student days, though we've little idea what standard he reached.
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11. Board Game: Treatment: A Psychiatry Card Game [Average Rating:5.88 Unranked]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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Steve was a highly respected consultant child psychiatrist. We didn't talk a lot about our work experiences, but although he had just retired from full time practice, he certainly intended to continue involvement with the profession. He was one of the main driving forces behind CAPA, an improved partnership approach to mental health treatment, on behalf of which he had attended many conferences.
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12. Board Game: GolfMania [Average Rating:5.12 Overall Rank:14978]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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Steve had a similar level of enthusiasm for golf to that which he held for board games, and he had achieved a highly impressive handicap of 7.
We were regularly treated to golf war stories, but I don't think he had any ideas for tackling the notoriously tricky problem of producing a good golfing game.
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13. Board Game: Monopoly: Oakland Raiders Collector's Edition [Average Rating:5.50 Unranked]
A H
England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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Steve was a huge (if remote) fan of the Oakland Raiders, as reflected in his geek user names of sandblack and Steve Silbla.
The Raiders were seldom better than feeble throughout the period that I knew Steve, but every pre-season he was convinced that they had just made the improvements necessary to become contenders.
Steve had a ticket for the Raiders game in London last autumn, but his illness prevented him attending, though I think their abject performance that day somewhat mitigated his disappointment at missing out.
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14. Board Game: Twins [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:6758]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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There is little doubt that Steve would have said that his proudest achievement was helping to develop his twins, Michael and Clare, into the impressive, mature, young people they have become. Sadly, neither of them is showing signs of becoming a committed gamer, though they have both dabbled from time to time.
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15. Board Game: Ninety-Nine [Average Rating:7.34 Overall Rank:2697]
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England
Hemel Hempstead
Herts
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We had been playing Agricola regularly for around a year, when one of our number, Martin, decided to start recording complete details of every normal, 5-player, game we played - a feat he has achieved with great accuracy and remarkably little impact upon the game process.
Steve continued to play through most of his illness, struggling a bit physically, but with little mental diminution.
We had recorded 99 games before he became too ill to continue, and we were forced to put on hold discussion of plans for a special game 100.
Sadly, that game will not now occur, at least with a full complement, but in his memory our most recent session featured a game with an empty farm set up for Steve, to whom we awarded an honorary win, and the Occupations and Improvements drafted from a deck specially composed from his favourite selections from those 99 games.
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