Just Another Soulless Euro (JASE)
Brian Bankler
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A bit over a month ago I played Macao, and the first thought the came into my mind? "Just Another Soulless Euro." You have a game that (maybe) has a new idea, but is just boring. Anodyne. Theme repeated. The mechanics? Incrementally better, perhaps.

What makes a JASE? Well, theme should be repeated. Mechanics, ditto. Timing matters. Many classic Euro games would be JASE if they appeared today, but that's kind of the point. They appeared a decade ago. A JASE can be a good game or bad game (although I'll naturally think of a game I dislike as soulless, and a game I like as Soulful), but they tend towards mediocrity. No horribly unbalanced game would ever qualify as a JASE. They'd develop it to bland paste. No, the JASE is a solid performer, punching the clock and doing it's job. I imagine JASE as a civil engineer (from the old Yellow Pages Listing "Boring, see Civil Engineers.")

I've started tagging games with JustAnotherSoullessEuro. For now this is my personal take on the debate, but if everyone uses the same tag I'll revist other titles that pop up.

Based on cymric's comment below, I created a companion, trying to define soulful games.
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1. Board Game: Macao [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:330]
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Brian Bankler
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Now, to be fair to Macao, I'm not really sure if truly counts as a JASE. However, since it happened to be the unfortunate game that made the moniker jump into my head, it is at least an honorary JASE.

In Macao's defense, the "pick a die, then get those N items in N turns" is a novel idea. But then it's tacked onto a cube collection, pick up and deliver, hey look I'm a trader on a ship, theme.

Verdict -- JASE
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2. Board Game: Alea Iacta Est [Average Rating:6.64 Overall Rank:1657]
Board Game: Alea Iacta Est
Brian Bankler
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I hear you ask "Can you be a JASE if you use dice?"

YES! The trick is to combine it with a set collection mechanic, yet another "Hey, we need to influence these people to maximize our VPs" theme and also to be timed to 'ride the wave' on dice games.

Also, boring me to tears helps.

Verdict -- JASE

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3. Board Game: Finca [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:653]
Board Game: Finca
Brian Bankler
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If there were any justice in the world (N.B. -- There is not), Finca would be the game that earned the moniker of JASE first. I can't really remember anything about the game, but you collect items to fill out an order. Oh, and Finca's trying to make the Rondel cool. Now, I haven't really liked any of the Rondel games, but they were trying something new. And Finca took that and removed anything edgy at all from it. Kudos

Verdict -- So JASE.
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4. Board Game: Vasco da Gama [Average Rating:7.24 Overall Rank:634]
Board Game: Vasco da Gama
Brian Bankler
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I was pretty bored when I played this, but I do think that there may be enough new ideas in VdG for it to qualify as "A neat idea I just didn't like." But in trying to remember details of a game that I played fairly recently (a few months ago), I can't really remember. You have worker placement, you collect sailors, and ... sail.

Verdict -- Borderline.
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5. Board Game: Hansa Teutonica [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:138]
Board Game: Hansa Teutonica
Brian Bankler
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In my original posting on JASE, I wondered about Hansa Teutonica. I happen to like it (quite a bit), and I think it does have some ideas that haven't been around recently (bumping people to exchange resources for time). Some of the comments also said HT was more an abstract than Euro.

But surely the theme is JASEr than JASE. And the fact that many people really hate means it isn't really bland. Anyway, I'm still conflicted. Hey, we all have things we love that we know we shouldn't

JASE -- Undecided.
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6. Board Game: Steam [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:192]
Board Game: Steam
Brian Bankler
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I'm not sure Steam is JASE, but at some point, making the same game for the dozenth time has to count. Train game or not.

Verdict -- If not now, pretty soon.
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7. Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:297]
Board Game: At the Gates of Loyang
Brian Bankler
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Thankfully I played this game before I bought it. The 3rd game of the "Feeding Trilogy" (after Agricola and Le Havre), I really disliked this. You play in your own sandbox, have to keep careful accounting and in general meh.

BUT, I happen to think it's just a game I dislike. OK, the merchant thing has been done before, but vegetable merchant is at least a new twist, and with the plots of land I think it's somewhat thematic. The VP mechanic is brutal by Euro standards. At some point (like Steam) I think this could eventually have qualified, but not yet.

And just to be clear, I wish more designers would make a trilogy of games that have one game I play 25+ times, one I play 10+ times, and then one I dismiss after one play. (Ditto for Alea...)

Verdict -- Not JASE, just something I disliked.
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8. Board Game: Cuba [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:539]
Board Game: Cuba
Brian Bankler
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Another game I played earlier this year ... I suspect I wouldn't even consider this if I'd played it 3 years ago when it came out, although even then most of it's mechanics had been seen before. So I'm being a bit unfair ...

Verdict -- JASE
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9. Board Game: Daytona 500 [Average Rating:7.14 Overall Rank:1975]
Board Game: Daytona 500
Brian Bankler
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No, not Daytona 500 (the game), but the above games are the only ones that jumped out at me in looking through the Top 500. I'm sure that there are lots of average, mediocre, soulless games buried in the middle of BGG. That's what the middle of BGG is for -- the average, mediocre games.

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10. Board Game: Fresco [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:334] [Average Rating:7.28 Unranked]
Board Game: Fresco
Brian Bankler
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I haven't played this yet, but I've been avoiding it. The rules didn't inspire confidence. Assembled masses, what say ye?

JASE -- Comment below.
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