Serious Partying

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I wouldn’t call Codenames the best game I’ve played in the past couple years, but it’s probably one of my most-played. This is partially due to its length, short enough that almost no one plays just one game, and its flexibility with player numbers. It handles ten people as well as it handles four. I’ve even gone higher than that, and it’s been fine (your results my be different). But probably the biggest factor has been that it can be pulled out with just about any group at all, regardless of experience level. These days I bring it to just about any gathering where games might be played. If people have played it before, they’ll probably play it again. If no one has heard of it, it almost always ends up with someone asking me where they can buy a copy. It’s cheap too, so people don’t balk at the price like they do with most hobby games. Continue reading

Faidutti’s Triple Play

Bruno Faidutti

He’ll probably read this and ask me to change the picture. I’d just be flattered to hear from him.

One of my strongest influences in board gaming came from noted French designer Bruno Faidutti. Aside from his many designs over the past 15 years, at one point he maintained one of best board gaming sites on the internet, his Ideal Game Library. This was a valuable resource to me as a new gamer, because it showed me two very important things: that gaming had a rich and eclectic history, and that I did not need to like every popular game. Of course, Bruno is best known for his games, which are numerous and varied. I’ve gone all over the places on his games. Mission Red Planet is an underrated game that synthesizes bluff and area control to great effect. A couple, like Red November and Mystery of the Abbey, are compelling misses for me. At least one or two others, like Letters of Marque, didn’t work for me at all. But his contribution to gaming can be best summed up in what I call his Triple Play, a run of three little games he released between 2000 and 2001. These games, Dragon’s Gold, Castle, and Citadels, are three designs that continually impress me with their simplicity and their terrific interaction. They’re all pretty different from each other mechanically, and my mental grouping of them is mostly arbitrary. But they have always felt of a piece to me, and I think they’re exactly what light games should be. Continue reading

Friday Fallout – November 16, 2012

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Let’s wait until after Thanksgiving, hmmm?

My article on F:AT didn’t run last week, so that meant that I already had one lined up for this week. That’s why you didn’t hear from me this week: I didn’t have deadline fear. And my excuse for posting late today? I usually punch this thing out over my lunch break, but our internet was completely out from about 10 AM on. It’s still technically Friday now, right? Continue reading

Board Gaming’s Missing History

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These are apparently the rules of Magic Realm.

When I was in college, I discovered Roger Ebert’s series about “The Great Movies.” For the past 10-15 years, Ebert has been steadily releasing essays on films that he considers to be particularly entertaining, moving, or otherwise significant. There are several hundred essays collected now, including such varying subjects as Lawrence of Arabia, Groundhog Day, and Goldfinger. Say what you will about Ebert as a critic, but his command of language is remarkable. His gifts are best used in this context, where he doesn’t need to say whether a movie is worth paying to see, but rather he can focus on the details of what brings greatness. He’s a good candidate to write such essays as well, simply because of how many films he has seen. Continue reading