Board Game: Spiel
[Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:7323]
[Average Rating:6.22 Unranked]
That's a Palm Pilot on the left, and a pink iPod mini on the right. Yes, I've been doing BGTG that long!
Opener: I should've made it more clear in the audio, but the obvious opener is that I will be going Essen this year, and you can find me on Saturday afternoon at the NorthStarGames booth, Hall 3 P-103. It’s near a corner by a restaurant, and the same hall where Amigo, Z-Man, Pegasus, Stronghold, and others are. Please stop by and tell me if you listen to the podcast. I'll also be around on Saturday morning and all of Sunday, just taking it all in myself. I'm not wearing a BGTG shirt or anything, so just try to keep a lookout for this guy. -->
Woo-hoo! After work on Friday I hop a train to Essen! I'll arrive after Spiel closes for the evening, but hope to see some folks that evening. Then on Saturday & Sunday I get to take it all in. I'm buying a few things, but mostly I just want to experience the spectacle of it all. I was last there (my only other time) for a single day in 2003. I wrote an article about that experience for an online magazine of the time, The Games Journal. It's still there, with a photo of a younger me.
Now it's over a dozen years later, and I have the opportunity to go back. What am I excited to see? Everything, really, but for podcast purposes I made a list of a "baker's dozen" games that most pique my interest. These lists are typically personal--lists by others feature different games, and you may find some of my choices curious. You can just listen along, of course, but I've also recorded these in a geeklist. Check it out. Here's what I wrote on that list about my "process" for picking games.
By now we know the drill... Look through BGG's Spiel (and Gencon) Previews, and flag too many titles that catch my attention. How do they grab me? Theme/setting matters, but hints about the gameplay/mechanisms (especially playing time) matter more. So does the designer and publisher.
Anything that has its roots in Kickstarter makes me instantly wary. It's not an automatic NO, but I'm so skeptical of that platform as a development tool (as opposed to merely funding), that I'll let others take the plunge first. Wait & see.
Expansions rarely grab my attention. I'm just not an expansion guy, expect for a few rare favorites (e.g. Port Royal). Similarly with abstracts--not my thing, but there are rare exceptions.
In general, my ranking of factors is
1. Publisher (which goes to development process & production quality)
2. Gameplay/mechanisms (looking for the types of games I know I like, though sometimes something unique & new. I steer clear of games rated at over 60 minutes--wait & see only, for those)
3. Designer (I'll let someone else take a flyer on a new, unproven designer...in most cases)
4. Theme/setting (I have distinct preferences toward real-world, historic subjects, and away from zombies/elves/spaceships. But I've learned from long experience that this is the least reliable indicator of whether a game will be a hit with me, alas)
Full list including many more Honorable Mentions, and some additional comments on my geeklist.
Closer: It's too long to call my honorable mentions the closer, so I guess that means it's the part where I talk about how Mars games aren't automatically on my list. Almost the opposite, really. Does it work that way for you? Is your day job uninteresting as a game subject? I think it's because we know too much about our own jobs, and any game about them falls short...but if they include all of that detail, it's too much! (Plus, it becomes work again.)