Uncovered! The Rüdiger Dorn Story, as Told by Reiner Knizia
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R...er wrote:
It’s true that mechanics are the most important thing for me. Designing games on a theme is more difficult for me and infrequent successful.*

Do you know who said this?

Was it Rüdiger Dorn or Reiner Knizia?

...What if I told you the two designers are the same?



Many successful authors use pseudonyms. Why wouldn't Knizia use one (or a few)?

Join me on the journey, let's see how Knizia created and formed his 'Rüdiger Dorn' persona over the last two decades!



*from an actual interview at Opinionated Gamers


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1. Board Game: What Was That Name? [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
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So,
REINERblankKNIZIA
RUDIGERblankDORN

How did this alias came? Don't forget we are talking about Reiner Knizia who just loves puzzles - there are already dozens of puzzle boxes with Reiner's name on top of them in game stores.

Reiner sounds quite like Rüdiger, that's true, even though they have rather different meanings. Still, two of the words above refer to locations - Reiner is a
Quote:
topographic name for someone living at the edge of a field or wood, from Middle High German rein ‘edge’, ‘embankment’
while Dorn is a
Quote:
topographic name for someone who lived by a thorn bush or thorn hedge, from Middle High German dorn ‘thorn’, or a habitational name from any of numerous places named with this word.

But according to the urban dictionary,
Quote:
A Dorn is a person who is a math genius"

which is certainly true for Knizia who gained a Master of Science from Syracuse University and a doctorate in Mathematics from the University of Ulm.

Also, what is the difference between Reiner and Rüdiger, a name he was wearing way too often in the past decades? "ein" (one) is changed to "üdig" which does not make much sense. But if you reverse them you can see üdig is "gidü" backwards.

Oops.
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2. Board Game Designer: Rüdiger Dorn
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There are only 3 images about Rüdiger Dorn available at BGG.

The first one is so small that it could very well be an image of Knizia as well, but even if it isn't, you can't see much of him.

The guy on the second image (a low quality pic taken about another small pic on a box) doesn't even look like the first one.

And the third one, the only one with good resolution... Shows yet another person in the same hoodie. (Lesson 1 for masters of deceiving: if you can't get the same actor to play the same character then try to make everything else similar. Start with facial hair and the clothes.)

Er... But what is he doing?
Is he playing a...
KNIZIA GAME? wow

(Atually, this publicity still was made to explain why 'Rüdiger Dorn' made an area influence game with the title Il Vecchio - the alias or nickname of Cosimo de Medici - by 2012).
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3. Board Game Publisher: KOSMOS
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If you check their history with the publishers that published many of their games it is apparent that a publisher that published several Knizia games is more likely to have published several 'Dorn' games as well. What's more, a larger percent of Dorn's games were published at Knizia's frequent publishers than Knizia's games. What do I mean?

Reiner Knizia has 475 games (including expansions) in the database, 'Dorn' has only 50.

It means every 8th Knizia game was published by Kosmos and every 8th Knizia game was published by Ravensburger. It paved the way for 'Dorn' - every ~4th Dorn game was published by Kosmos and more than every 4th Dorn game was published by Ravensburger.
Of these, there were 4 Knizias and 3 Dorn games published in the alea series that consists of only 33 standalone games right now (8 of them by Stefan Feld, as they really love to keep enploying the same author).

Also, while every 30-40th Knizia game was pubished by Hans im Glück and the same is true for Pegasus, every 25th/12th Dorn game was published by Hans im Glück/Pegasus.
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4. Board Game: TimeLine [Average Rating:5.83 Overall Rank:9913]
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Reiner Knizia was born in Germany, in 1957 and his first published design was out in 1985 - or at least that's what he claims even though the database lists his first games from 1990.

'Rüdiger Dorn''s first appearance was in 1992 but his first real board game was published in 1996. According to his biography he was born in Germany, in 1969, 12 years after Knizia, suspiciously in the same Chinese zodiac - the year of the Rooster. If you think Knizia does not know or care about the rooster or other Chinese animal signs you are strongly underestimating him - just look at the year Rooster Booster was published in and you'll find it was timed top be published in the last year of the Rooster according to the Chinese zodiac.

As 'Dorn' noted in an interview,
Quote:
In my childhood I played classical games (Chess, RISK, Backgammon) - first I modified games which were not optimal in my eyes, then about 1990 I "designed" own ideas - my first published game was Cameo.
While the author known as Rüdiger Dorn became associated with games innovatively using the mechanism of a classical game (Mancala), the other (side of the) author, Reiner Knizia made his own versions of many public domain games (even modern games), for example the book Kartenschach offers a bunch of Chess variants and Risk Express is a RISK-inspired dice game...


1997 to 2001 (or maybe 2003/2004) are called Knizia's 'golden ages'. If you want to know how gamers' games became a speciality of his pseudonym 'Dorn' after this period (starting with 2001, but latest at 2004), also you do know quite much about their body of work, read the (somewhat exhausting but) detailed story of how all these things happened below.
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5. Board Game: Cameo [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
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THIS IS WHERE THE DORN STORY STARTS.

When Knizia used the pseudonym Dorn for the first time, he published this solitaire game under this name. The title says it all: he just had a 'cameo' in the world of solitaire puzzles - he didn't know (yet) how many solitaire puzzles he was going to design two decades later.
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6. Board Game: Ex & Hopp [Average Rating:5.44 Overall Rank:14785]
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The name was not used again for four years. then, in 1996 this little card game was published.

sisteray wrote:
frustrating and dry addition puzzle. I'd be surprised if Reiner Knizia was not inspired by this when he designed Poison and especially Figaro.

The game is actually a lot more like a few other knizias, including his Tabula Rasa from just the previous year to Schatz des Kapt'n Flint (from 1991- or the later Dead Man's Treasure, see references at Vegas below) to Great Wall of China...

Why did he send it through Ravensburger's elaborate jurying sistem using his old alias? Who knows - maybe as a relatively newcomer designer he wasn't sure Ravensburger would publish two of his games in the same year.

That's how people start using pseudonyms - it's also why one of the most prolific authors, Stephen King created Richard Bachman. Knizia is one of the most prolific game authors (and he always put an emphasis on game designers being 'authors').
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7. Board Game: Der Schatz der Erdgeister [Average Rating:4.80 Unranked]
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By 1998 Knizia was considered a serious gamer's game designer. So he sent his children's game prototypes to publishers under his pseudonym - and in that year, two of them were released. Der Schatz der Erdgeister featured a mechanism where 'The player moves 1 or 2 pawns of his/her choice as many spaces as there are pawns (his/her own and opponents’) on the path or shaft.' While the game's ideas were developed and incorporated into a better family game (Magic Hill) that was published by Ravensburger in 2001, also in an adventure game (Emerald, 2002) that was later the base of Finca (designed by a designer who obviously grew up playing lots of Knizia/'Dorn' games), this quoted idea led to the realisation that this idea is, in a way, similar to the mechanism of Mancala.

Note: using the 'trademark Dorn' Mancala/breadcrumbs mechanism wasn't completely new for Knizia, as it was already used in Mole Hill a year before...


So when he started to work on a simple game with a mancala mechanism he was sure he would send the prototype under the name Rüdiger Dorn. That's how Space Walk was born (Ravensburger, what else) in 1999.
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8. Board Game: Genoa [Average Rating:7.10 Overall Rank:596]
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But it's also what resulted in designing a heavy game with the mancala mechanism. Knizia was somewhat disappointed with the performance of Res Publica and ready to design a hardcore gamers' negotiation game after all the years as a king of gamers' games, so he designed a board game with lots of negotiation (even negotiating directions like in Stephensons Rocket, 1999). But he also incorporated the mancala mechanism as the core of the game. He felt it was so much Dorn that he should not publish it under his own name, even though it was a lot more complex game than 'Dorn' ever designed.

This is how, after having his name featured on the cover of Alea Big Box #1 and #3, also Alea small box #2, alea big box #6 was designed by a newcomer who designed only light games before...

A new Rüdiger Dorn was born and applauded.
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9. Board Game: Goa [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:133]
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The master of auction games (who designed most of his auction games pre-2004) had a great idea then: use the mancala-ish/breadcrumbs movement of Genoa for auctions! That's the auction idea he used on a game that otherwise has his classic Ra-like structure: collect tiles (this time, representing actions) from the middle via a special auction (well, in 2 times 4 auctions instead of 3 times 3), and score them in a variety of ways including cumulative, triangular scoring, scoring for majorities and face values.

Still, the game with this strong spatial aspect at its core feels more like Genoa (that's also where the title came from) than Ra.

It also helped that his frequent publishing house Hans im Glück published two Knizias in 2003 and they did not want to publish only one author like Alea stuck to Feld later, so it was better to publish it as a Dorn game.
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10. Board Game: Jambo [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:565] [Average Rating:7.03 Unranked]
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After the success of Scarab Lords (2002), Knizia was working on a few thematic and varied 2-player card games including Minotaur Lords, Blue Moon and Jambo. As he sent both Blue Moon and Jambo to the same publisher (Kosmos), he thought it would be better to send one of them using the Dorn alias (this was the first time to use it at Kosmos as well - his previous 7 games and expansions all had the name Reiner Knizia on their Kosmos book cover).

Even though it had no mancala, of the two Jambo felt less Knizian - with a stronger aspect of take that, more varied cards and trading. It's still not the Dorn that could be seen at any publisher before... And not very Knizian either: no wonder the "Jambo board game" Waka Waka (published at Kosmos 8 years after Jambo just like the board game version of Lost Cities was published by Kosmos 8 years later) is more family-friendly and has less of the take that element.

With this game the concept of the 'Dorn' alias became more complex but also crystal clear. From now on, Knizia would use it for
- games using some kind of mancala/breadcrumbs mechanism element;
- complex, possibly even ruleswise fiddly games: 'Knizia' could stick to elegant and streamlined designs he became known for but did not need to cut thematic details and other special rules, possible take that elements from his 'Dorn' designs. That's why this 'Dorn', who previously said has grown up playing classical games, stated in an interview quoted above:
Quote:
My favourite game all over the years is Magic, the Gathering.
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11. Board Game: Palazzo [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1644]
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So, as the rules were set, it became somehow easier (and a fun, inspiring excercise) to design games that would fit this persona.

The Alea medium box series opened with a Dorn title (#1) and a Knizia title (#2) in the same year (2005). Knizia saw how much more love Louis XIV got and while it reinforced the 'Dorn' image he created, it helped him move to lighter fare.

Palazzo (alea medium box #2) is interesting - it has the Dead man's treasure/Vegas kind of arrangement of tiles (see later) and movement (of the architect) I talk about at Vegas. (Note: Dead Man's Treasure was also published in 2005, which shows Knizia started toying with this 'Dorn' concept pretty much in those years (just like he likes to explore all the possibilities when he finds an interesting concept, see here, here, here and here) and he published the less dornish, more streamlined ones under his name. (To be fair, I still don't know how Palazzo ended up having Knizia's name on the box and not Dorn's one but once again I guess it was because of the other game).

But what about Louis XIV, the other game? It's a classic area majority game where your markers are placed using the trademark 'Dorn' breadcrumbs mechanism. It should be noted that Municipium, a Knizia design published in 2008 is said to have been waiting for years for publication as it was already finished in 2004. And how easy is it to see how similar concepts Louis XIV and Municipium have? See this user comment at Municipium:
blakstar wrote:
in terms of mechanics- reminds me (...) of Louis XIV- you try and get majority of your pawns in areas to grant you special actions.
Both are area majority games where all the areas can provide something to the players and sometimes each of them are evaluated and their benefits provided in a clockwise order. But Louis XIV had the trademark 'Dorn' mechanism and fiddlier rules so it had to be published with Dorn's name.
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12. Board Game: Arkadia [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:847]
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Years after Kramer's Princes of Florence, years before Knizia's lightweight games with polyominoes, there was this game with a spatial aspect that is very 'Dorn', placing game pieces touching previously placed ones (a kind of breadcrumbs mechanism if you will... or Through the Desert-like, just think of Titania, see below) and players trying to surround scoring items with their own markers (ahem).

But now don't even try to focus on the Knizian mechanism elements but how items collected by players (seals in 5 colors) are scored. They are scored according to a special 'scoring board', a castle with 10 spaces where castle pieces are placed, sometimes even on top of each other. At the beginning it shows a map of the castle - that is, 10 spaces with 2 seals of 4 families each and two neutral spaces. During game, players place castle pieces with seals in the 4 colors on these spaces, changing how many seals of a color are visible. Players might, as an optional second action in their turn, choose to score as many of their collected seals as they want to. The value of each seal is determined by the number of seals of a particular color that are visible from above the castle (e.g. if 3 red seals are visible, each red seal scored is worth 3 gold coins).

Knizia liked this idea so much that he wanted to use it in another game as well. The idea to update his old game Ferkelei with this ingenious scoring fascinated him so in the next year, Merchants was born, using his beloved theme (see Knizia Florentine auction games, Genoa, Goa, Il Vecchio). In this game, instead of 10, only 6 cards show the current values of the scoring items (goods on players' ships) and players keep playing cards on these six cards, covering previously placed cards and thus influencing the values (prices) of their goods. The scoring of their goods is a possible 2nd action in their turn...
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13. Board Game: Keltis [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:1505]
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Looking at the ludography of 'Dorn' it is easy to identify a breaking point after Arkadia (2006) and Diamonds Club (another Ra-like tile collection game with a collection mechanism that is very 'Dorn'), two Ravensburger games. It happened just then that Knizia won Spiel des Jahres (and, by the way, Kinderspiel des Jahres, Children's game of the year as well) for a board game adaptation in 2007. It was an adaptation of one of his classics (Lost Cities) from his 'golden age'. Feeling the nostalgy, he focused not only on creating kids' games and a bunch of spin-offs to Keltis but also on adapting or continuing all his classics in new games like Strozzi (see image of 'Dorn' above), Priests of Ra, Ra the Dice Game, Samurai the Card Game, Modern Art the Card Game, Pickomino the advanced game and so on. He also tried to continue Through the Desert but the end results were too different, see the next item.
Knizia was so busy doing these, working again on his beloved children that he did not have time for complex or mancala-inspired games that could have worn Dorn's name. That's the real reason why in one of the rare interviews 'Dorn' said he did not have time for complex designs at this time "because he had a small child" at home.
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14. Board Game: Titania [Average Rating:6.42 Overall Rank:4278]
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This game was already at Hans im Glück in 2008 but was published only in 2010. What happened?

Well, just look at the game and try not to think of Through the Desert. You have seas instead of a sea of sands, and ships instead of camels (ships of the desert!) here, but that's just a thematic difference to make a distinction.

Oh yes. Originally the game was designed under the working title 'Through the Desert II: Cities in the Sand'. It became a real Knizian development on the game:
- You still placed same-colored camels next to each other from a common stack of camels
- You still got points for certain, randomly distributed tiles (this time face-down as a nod to those fans who like playing TtD with face-down tiles)
- An 'epoch' still ends when the last piece of one set of camels is placed on the board.
- However as a sequel it was also about construction, so instead of simply scoring for oases, you may build constructions at these spots and score points for them.
- And as in his other classic 'constructing stuff in the Desert' game, Amun-Re, the game lasts two epochs and while player pieces are taken off, constructions stand where they were erected for the second epoch.

However, as the game became more fiddly and complex than Knizia wanted he decided to submit it with a theme as different as possible. First the colors of the prototype were inverted to see how it can be different.

It was easy to find a new story then, changing from the driest place on Earth to the wettest place on... Earth or some fantasy setting.

That's the true story of how Titania was born.



Additional note: in the very same year, another big-box Knizia game with Through the Desert mechanism roots (players moving hex to hex, blocking all the hexes they have visited) was published. It is called Jäger und Sammler, it's location is brown mud (what do you get when you mix sand with water...?)

and unlike Through the desert, but very much like Titania,
- 2 players may move next to each other on a hex
- the game lasts two epochs ('seasons') with players leaving behind some stuff in the first epoch for the second one.
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15. Board Game: Las Vegas [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:477]
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Vegas, which almost won a Spiel des Jahres (it was nominated) and is once again an Alea medium box game, was a result of the 'no time for complex games' era.

The first, 1991 'version' of Die Schatz des Kapt'n Flint (which was listed under the same item not too long ago) was an even simpler majority game - a fight for islands - using simple, value 1 and 2 tokens. In the 2005 version everyone has the same set of 8 cards that they play in order to influence the islands each of which have 2 or 3 randomly distributed treasures on them. The 6 island tiles are arranged in a circle and there are two player-independent figures that have some effect on the islands.

They are moved whenever a player does an action on their current tile (Istanbul, anyone?). The game ends either when one of them does a full circle or when players have placed all their cards on the tiles.
The movement of the two player-independent figures was rather Dorn-like (see my comments at Palazzo), but as the game was still most like the early 90s game (and other Knizias like Hungry) Knizia thought it would be better to publish it under his name.

Then, in the end of the 2000s he started working on a dice game version. It still had randomly distributed loots valued 1 to 9 (times 10,000), majority achieved by dice placed on the islands, using the same, player-colored sets of 8 dice instead of cards (but you have to place all your dice showing the same number, see Pickomino. The early prototype form even looked like this:

(and, apparently, users also like to place those tiles this way: )

(edit: also, look at this Las Vegas Royale 'big box' edition: )


The rules for this early prorotype were rather Dorn-like so he decided to publish it under Dorn's name. Also the gameplay resembled Alea Iacta Est somewhat, so it seemed reasonable to publish this one in the same Alea line.
Then, as a result of a testing process, the breadcrumbs mechanism was replaced by a simpler one so in the end it was a strangely simple game for an alea and a strangely Knizian one but it was too late to change then.

Still, in the expansion quite a few ideas reappear from the original island games like
- dice that have a double value,
- dice that remove other dice
- and cards with unknown values.

Just remember it was all there for decades...

And now look at the cover which, just like Poison in its end of 2000s editions,

features the unmistakeable figure of Knizia himself!


Also, look at the brilliant and bold move of giving a 'Dorn' dice game just the same theme and name as an old Knizia dice roller (Vegas) at the very same publisher (Ravensburger)!
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16. Board Game: Istanbul [Average Rating:7.60 Overall Rank:97]
Laszlo Molnar
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Things calmed down by the beginning of the 2010s. Everything that could be adapted or continued was adapted and continued, including "Dorn"'s Jambo as noted before (Waka Waka, 2012), which also got a sequel/rework in Asante. Other old Dorns got only slight make-up changes like Genoa that had only a little rule change, Goa which was streamlined and balanced a bit and Space Walk which, in 2012, got an updated variant in a trademark 'Dorn' style, changing the completely abstract strategy to a card-driven game where players' actions were influenced by the cards that had to be played at the beginning of their turn.

While Knizia sold half a dozen games that were developed as a by-product of Titania (you know, tile laying with tiles preferably starting from the middle), it was time for 'gamers' game designer Dorn' to return. The first try, using the aforementioned Dead Man's Treasure/Palazzo movement mechanism, wasn't a real success: Il Vecchio wasn't bad at all but tried to be a modern complex game, a mix of Municipium, Feld (Luna), but also trying hard to feel like a Dorn - it lacked a clear personality.

But the second try brought Kennerpiel des Jahres (Game of the year for experienced players). Istanbul (2014) features a variant of the trademark 'Dorn' breadcrumbs mechanism but also feels damned close to Knizia's Blue Moon City(a game that was also nominated for Spiel des Jahres):
- BMC's board consists of 5x5 minus 4 (mostly randomly distributed) rectangular tiles (well, 5x5 with the 2 expansions) with the main square (the obelisk) in the middle. Istanbul has 4x4 - well, 5x5 with the 2 expansions - with the main square (the fountain) somewhere in the middle.
- on your turn you move one or two spaces from tile to tile. In both games.
- your main aim is to be the first to lock a number of gems on a given tile. You do this by fulfilling the needs different tiles show.
- encounters with player-independent figures: in BMC three dragons help you if you pay cards on the same tile where they are. In Istanbul the Governor gives you a bonus card and the Smuggler gives you one good of your choice for a price.

This is how Knizia became the first ever designer who has designed winning games in each of the three main Spiel des Jahres categories (and he even won a special literary award for his Lord of the Rings...)
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17. Board Game: The Hobbit: Enchanted Gold [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:14303]
Laszlo Molnar
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The following three items are so typical Knizias that they alone could prove the Knizia=Dorn case.

After four Hobbit titles were released in 2013 (and a fifth one was waiting its release - it still is),

Knizia was working on a card game version as well, where, instead of rolling specific dice shown on adventure cards, you had to pay specific gem cards to complete adventures (or defeat enemies) on four subsequent boards that depict the story elements in an abstracted form.
Just like in the big-box hobbit games or in many Knizias, including a Star Wars game released in 2015 (see these kind of games in my geeklist), for completing the adventures (rolling the symbols shown, I mean playing the specific color cards) you may get helper cards that might help you once or for all the game, also you may win VPs. You move to the next table once all the cards of the current table are resolved. And while you may resolve the cards in any order, the last card to be resolved is specified (and located in the upper row) on the boards, just like in the originals.
Gem cards were changed to gems during development but the game remained the same.

Interestingly (?), in the 2-part Hobbit board game (originally designed to have 4 boards, not stretched to 6 - the latter happened when Peter Jackson made a trilogy out of the planned 2-part movie) you collect helper cards on the first boards but only gems on the Smaug board - what a coincidence, in this game you collect helper cards on the first boards but only gems on the Smaug board!

Oh yes, and each turn you may play cards from your hand. In the Knizia game you have 13 dwarf cards and a Bilbo card. In the game published under Dorn's name you have dwarves, Bilbo... and some other special helping characters (like Eagles or Beorn) that are present on different commonly available helper cards in the game published under Knizia's name.

So how did it become published under Dorn's name in the end? Who knows. Maybe Knizia felt the cards you play each turn (to draw gems from a bag) were a bit less elegant than what he usually has to offer, more like the cards in Jambo, useful at certain points of the game and less so other times. Add that it's a simple, 2-player game so maybe he felt it's like another 2-player dragon game of his, Dragonheart.

I don't know what lead him to this decision (maybe he just inadvertently sent the prototype with the wrong name to the Polish publisher) but it just helped to make it obvious for the public that Knizia and Dorn are indeed the same.
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18. Board Game: Karuba [Average Rating:7.22 Overall Rank:419]
Laszlo Molnar
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Is Knizia just sending us the signals? Does he just want this thing to be over now?

After getting a handful of Take it Easy!-like titles released where each player has to place the same tiles on their boards, hoping to score the most,


at last he released one with Dorn's name.

What led him to this decision? I don't know anymore. Maybe he felt the main decision in the game (do I play the current tile or one of my pawns as many steps as there exits on the given tile?) is somewhat similar to the one in Magic Hill (do I use my card to specify which of my pawn to move or to move one of my pawns as many steps as the number shown)? I'd rather guess it was because of the similarities to the game (also published in 2015) below.

Maybe he just feels his name is not as popular among gamers anymore as Dorn's is right now, and, well, admit it: if the same game were published with Knizia's name on the cover, it would not have a 7.4 rating but something certainly below 7. I bet he is laughing up his sleeve.
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19. Board Game: Tschakka Lakka: Die rasante Würfeljagd nach dem Tempelschatz [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:11622]
Laszlo Molnar
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This other 2015 game has more or less the same theme (collecting gems in the jungle, also endgame bonuses for the different colors compared to others) but mechanism-wise it is another typical Knizia game with 'the Dorn touch' - a kind of the spatial breadcrumbs idea, practically a bit like the Knight placement in Robber Knights - incorporated.
It is just a yet-unofficial (because of the designer name on the box) part of a nowadays rather populous Knizia push your luck dice game family.

Here, after you place your adventurer, your turn is just the usual (just the same as in case of many games with more or less the same mechanism in the list above):
- roll 7 dice, freeze one or more at exactly one gem available next to your adventurer (some needs only 1, some 2 or 3 dice of the given color to be collected; that's the link to Robber Knights).
- Dice have a 'wild' side as well (just like in another 2015 game of the family, Star Wars: Galaxy Rebellion)
- Dice have a 'bad luck' side as well (just like in another 2015 game of the family, Mmm!) which can't be rerolled (see Ra: The Dice Game).
- you may stop or keep rolling. If you stop you collect the gems you can collect (that is, you have locked enough dice on them); if you keep rolling you might lock further dice on the same gem or another available.
- If, after your roll you can't lock any dice your turn ends immediately and you can't collect any of the gems.

It is all very familiar from the Knizia dice games above; Mmm! even has the spatial aspect of this one. Still it has the idea identified with Dorn even from his classics like Goa or Genoa: the first gem you may collect in your turn is one next to your adventurer, but the second gem may also be one next to the gem already available to you, the third game may also be one next to the second gem and so on. So finally it became a Dorn game and I guess Karuba, which also has adventurers collecting gems in a jungle, moving point to point and finally also scoring the different gems relatively to each other felt similar enough to be published with Dorn's name.
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20. Board Game: Steam Time [Average Rating:7.19 Overall Rank:1240]
Laszlo Molnar
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Or maybe he just thought the crystals thing was something to prelude his upcoming game Steam Time (published in 2015, under Dorn's game as it's a complex worker placement Euro, certainly not something that would be published under Knizia's name) that, according to comments, is said to have a
Mountainroot wrote:
a big luck factor (draw of the crystals
but you have to
Cyberian wrote:
Collect lots of crystals to take better actions later.
Yes, this might explain why even the Hobbit game above was also released under Dorn's name.

Still,
Skifreak737 wrote:
Wow, what a brilliant take on the Egizia mechanism!
Phrim wrote:
Egizia-like worker placement system where you can't go backward
Well, about that Egizia-like worker placement system... Doesn't it ring a bell?
Then check out my Egizia review: Egypt + Knizia? (A creative day at the Acchitocca headquarters)

Exactly.
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21. Board Game Designer: Kinjiro
Laszlo Molnar
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So, what does the future hold? 'Rüdiger Dorn' is an acknowledged name for sure now, but maybe it's time to introduce further pseudonyms. After a few Knizias published by Huch!, a msyterious new designer appeared (with strange, horror-themed games for an Euro publisher) in their line-up in 2014. Nothing is known about him, but... Kinjiro is a masculine Japanese given name. And if you look at this analogy

You might try to translate Kinjiro to German...


Sounds close enough.
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22. Board Game: Istanbul: The Dice Game [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:883]
Laszlo Molnar
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2017 update:

So 'Dorn' has published quite a few games this year, although there is only one really 'new' amongst them.

In spring, his Louis XIV, a game set in historical settings, was slightly reworked and rethemed as Mafiozoo with a maffia theme (Ra/Razzia!, anyone?).

Then, in autumn, four further games were released.

The real 'new' game is Montana. It's a somewhat fiddly game which is a mix of several different ideas, including a spinner (already used in a few earlier Knizias before) for some randomness (but not that much - there are 2 meeple in four colors that you can get after spinning the spinner; you may get any color in 5 of the 8 spinner spaces, partly thanks to two joker spaces - it's pretty much like the two colors you may roll in Genesis, with 2 joker sides on the dice). It's got your laying hexagonal tiles of your own color on a hexagonal map (yeah, just think of Samurai). And it's got Amun-Re-like auction... curiously, just in the same time when Knizia, under his own name, released his Amun-Re: The Card Game. shake

Also, there are two standalone variants based on his 2016 Spiel des Jahres-nominated, obviously Knizia-designed Karuba (see item #18 above). The SdJ nom helped the game get more popular than usual so now a 'card game' and a cooperative 'kids' game' is released. Should I even refer to the games that followed Knizia's Spiel des Jahres-nominated Ingenious (a card game, a dice game, a push your luck game, an abstract game, a kids' game, now another game with square tiles...) or SdJ-winner Keltis (a card game, an expansion, a push your luck game, a more gamery variant, a dice game...)? And the Karuba variants aren't missing Knizia treats either. The card game (innovatively titled Karuba: The Card Game) includes a very Knizia mechanism: players simultaneously choose their cards that they want to place and the player with the lowest-numbered tiles - that are more useful - must discard one. The kids' cooperative variant (Karuba Junior) introduces a 'pirate ship' which might look like it came out of nowhere only if you don't know Knizia released a kid's pirate ship co-op in 2016 (Captain Black) and Knizia's kids' co-op this year (Icebreaker Snow) is about moving ships to their harbors - in both Karuba Junior and Icebreaker Snow, running out of cards before all player pieces reach their goals means the mission is failed. These stand-alone variants that follow Karuba by a year just arrive at the same time when Knizia revealed that an expansion and a 'sequel' is to be expected next year for his Spiel des Jahres-nominated The Quest for El Dorado which was published in 2017...

And then there is Istanbul: Das Würfelspiel, or The Dice Game. If you read the rules you might think it's not Knizian at all. That is, until you play the game. In Ra: The Dice Game Knizia replaced the auction mechanism - the heart of Ra - with some push your luck dice rolling (5 special dice) with up to two rerolls (still keeping some basic rules on how the game worked, like rolling Ras to reach end of an epoch), keeping the scoring of Ra, creating a surprisingly good adaptation of Ra to dice. Then he went further with the Keltis Dice Game, replacing the main mechanism of Keltis (playing cards in ascending or descending order, which was the heart of the family) with some dice rolling (5 special dice) with up to one reroll, keeping the scoring. On paper it looked bad but when played it did evoke Keltis and became a surprisingly good adaptation. And now there is Istanbul: The Dice Game. 'Dorn' replaces the main mechanism of Istanbul (all that tricky spatial movement) with some dice rolling (5 special dice) with zero reroll granted (you can only 'buy' rerolls here). The result? YOu guessed: it's a surprisingly good adaptation of Istanbul to a fast race game that still has most of the flavors and feel of Istanbul. Once again he succeeds with this bold move, proving how important the scoring options are in his games, keeping the feel of these games even when the innovative main mechanism is replaced with rolling five dice.
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23. Board Game: Luxor [Average Rating:7.25 Overall Rank:1098]
Laszlo Molnar
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This 2018 Spiel des Jahres-nominated game urges a special update as it proves once again everything written above.

Luxor is a card-driven board game where players move forward on a path and...
Well, look at the image and let's go back 25 years in time.


So, first of all, take the early Knizia Tutankhamen (1993).
That (also) Egyptian-themed game was a set collection game where players moved their pawn forward on a path consisting of tiles (to be collected as sets). It also had pharaohs that could be used as additional tiles of the sets (these became treasure wild card tiles in Luxor).

image by Toynan

18 years later, Keltis: Das Orakel was released (also with Knizia's own name on it).
In that one, just like in Luxor, players move forward on a path based on card play, even if in a different way - well, actually the Oracle herself moves just like this, moving 1-5 steps for cards with (oracle) numbers 1 to 5. (edit: and now the Luxor: The Mummy's Curse introduces a 'negative Oracle' to the game, a common Mummy figure that moves forward just like the Oracle based on the #of eyes on the Osiris card and players try to avoid meeting him.)
You also have set collection (stones), scoring points for stepping on tiles (numbers), jumping ahead (clover leafs) or even backwards (spirals), also score for having three figures on the same (kind) of figure (leprechaun) - these are all already there.
And of course the game ends when a certain number of figures (belonging to one or more players) reaches the end area. Then all your figures score based on their respective space. The further they are ahead the more they score.


These are all there in Luxor! So why is the 'Dorn' name used then? Partly because it's once again fiddlier, less elegant than most games released under the 'Knizia' brand. Also...

...there was a 'Dorn' game I've already talked about before.
In Magic Hill (2001) you had no no spiral but something still quite similar - circles with lots of steps, with the main aim being that you have to find the way to the centre.
Movement is controlled by cards played from hand - move as many steps as the number (1 to 5) indicates, or if you play a joker card, move 1 to 5 steps.
It also has special tiles (to be revealed when you step on them) and stones on the way (on fixed spaces); besides some nasty ones these (including doors - secret passageways - and cards that let you play another card) can help you reach the middle faster.

image by puppi

(What about the special idea of how you get to play cards? It can also be traced back to a 2001 'Dorn' title, Gargon, where you could always choose cards from two different rows, knowing which colors will be available sooner or later when you take cards from this or that column.)

So... you can find 'Dorn' trademarks in Luxor as well, the fiddliness is more typical for Dorn, and... Well, Keltis: Das Orakel updated the Tutankhamen idea 17 years later. Luxor updates the idea of 2001 games also 17 years later. (Or if you will, just look at it like this: Magic Hill came 8 years after Tutankhamen, 9 years later you got Keltis: Das Orakel and 8 years later Luxor; it just looks better if you keep changing your alteregos in a timeline like this.
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