Essen. The name of a German town with a population of over 500,000. A name which has been adopted by the board game community to refer to Intenationale Spieltage Essen, one of the largest board gaming conventions in the world. Last year, we interviewed Dr Harvey O’Brien, a veritable master of the convention on his experiences, and for the first time, both Emmet and I will be in attendance. But this visit will be a short one: we fly in Wednesday evening, spend all day Thursday and Friday at the convention, and fly back on Friday night. Paddy has put together a list of some of the things he’s most looking forward to.
Frustration. For weeks that was the predominant emotion. Maybe weeks is a bit too long, but for sure it was frustration. You see, I’d decided to enter the GenCan’t Roll and Write contest. A game design contest that with a one month deadline, that needed to involve standard dice (the roll bit), that involved writing on paper (eh…the write part), and that MUST include a solo mode. All three things made me uncomfortable as a designer. Generally I don’t like dice. I’ve very little experience with roll and write games. I’ve more experience with solo games, but have never designed one, and any ambitions I’ve had to design one usually end with exasperation as I try to find the balance between replayability (generally through random events, unpredictable outcomes etc.) and making the game about skill, not luck (generally though reducing randomness, avoiding hugely unpredictable outcomes). Continue reading
Dearest readers, yes, it has been a while since we published something, and for that, both Emmet and I would like to say sorry. We did warn you though, in our first podcast of the year, it was looking like we would have a very busy year, both in work and personally, and it has proved to be true. But, for me at least, I can start to see the clouds clearing on the horizon, and so I should be able to get back to writing and recording over the next few weeks. With that in mind, let’s talk games!
I’ve never roasted coffee. I do enjoy a good cup of coffee, and we’re lucky to have some very well regarded roasters in Dublin, like 3fe, Roasted Brown and Coffee Angel. Given my lack of coffee roasting experience, what follows is a wholly groundless assertion: it’s an art. Sure, you can measure the roasting time, the temperature, but I bet it’s never 100% exactly right every time. Neither is a game of Coffee Roaster, a solo game from Japan. Sure, you can math out some bits, try to count and make sure you’re as close as possible, but things don’t always go as expected, and you end up with a horrible cup of coffee from an over-roasted bean. Continue reading
This week I’m going to continue my designer diary. Previously I introduced Agency, a game I started (but moved beyond) with the restrictions for our Build A Board Game event, which we ran in August last year. Agency is a game about marketing; the player represents an advertising agency, looking to fulfil contracts in the market to earn cash. The player with the most cash at the end of the game, is the most successful. Just like real life cash is how we measure success, cash and victory points. Continue reading
Glen More is an older game – it’s not polite to talk about someone’s age, but I bring up it up is to remind us that it belongs to a different time, a time when the “Euro” and “Ameritrash” genres were more clearly defined, with less “hybrids”. As a matter of fact I think it’s a perfect game to demonstrate the difference in opinion Emmet and I have in relation to theme and its importance to a game. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out Episode 7 of the podcast.
Glen More is ostensibly about building a small Scottish village, making whisky (interesting aside: it’s spelled with an “e” i.e. whiskey, if it’s country of origin has an “e” in the name. Ireland, America = whiskey, Japan, Scotland = whisky) and promoting chieftains to gain influence and power which is represented by victory points. Obviously. The theme is “evoked” through kilted men and sheep on the box cover, Tam o’shanter caps, highland cattle, whisky production and use of the word ‘chieftain’. It might sounds evocative, but there’s very little to drag you into the theme, to immerse you in it and make you feel like you’re actually in Scotland building a village.
But to me it doesn’t matter because the gameplay is so good! Continue reading
We often hear about the importance of first impressions. Back in the early 2000’s, I was introduced to a game, and to be honest, I didn’t really like it. Looking back, I can’t remember the specifics of the experience, why I didn’t like it, just vague impressions. I moved on, left college, got a job, moved to Japan, time passed and this game’s popularity endured, it’s stature growing in the community before cementing its place as one of the classics of modern board gaming. Originally released in the year 2000, this classic has more expansions and variations that you can shake a stick at. I’m talking about Carcassonne. Continue reading