28 March 2015

Golden Age

People are fond of pointing out the 'golden age' of things. There was the golden age of comics, the golden age of cinema, the golden age of television, the golden age of aviation, and so on. Normally, a golden age is identified in retrospect. People who study a particular topic look at the history and say, 'Look at the innovations that were made during this historical time period. Look at the great people who made a difference in that time. That was the golden age of [insert topic here].'

Rarely does one get to identify a golden age whilst it is occurring.

But that's exactly what is happening with board games right now.

I remember as a young boy in the 80s, reading Games Magazine. I enjoyed solving the puzzles, doing cryptograms and rebuses and other word games and visual puzzles. But there was a section in the middle of each issue that I always skipped: board game reviews. That seemed silly to me.

Back in the 80s, board games included staples such as Monopoly and Scrabble, as well as party games like ScruplesPictionaryTrivial Pursuit, and Balderdash. Those were your options. I was familiar with a few games from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, which populated my grandparents' cabinets: games like Life or Payday. All of these were fairly simplistic. They may have had an interesting theme, but there wasn't a lot of meat to the mechanics. Roll some dice, move a pawn, draw a card, follow the instructions.

21 March 2015

Board Game Cafe

I recently learned about Thirsty Meeples Board Game Cafe. This is a shop where you pay a cover charge (the Thirsty Meeples cover charge is £6.00 for three hours, £5.00 for children, with a discount of £1.50 if you order something from the food/drink menu). If they're slow, they'll let you stay beyond the three hour limit. You are then welcome to come into the shop and play any of the games they have available (over 2,000 titles, according to the website). It's not the sort of place you go when you want a meal; their food offerings are a handful of cakes, snacks, and sandwiches. They're there mostly for people who want to play board games.

Thirsty Meeples is far from the only one. Board game cafes are popping up all over the globe. There are some in New York, at least one in Beijing, another in Toronto, a few in Australia (Brisbane and Melbourne at least), even one in Malaysia. There doesn't appear to be one in the state in which I live, unfortunately; that might be good news though, as I'd probably bankrupt myself if there were one.

The staff have to be well versed in board games. They're responsible for helping people find the right game for their group, and ensuring that they know how to play. Of course, this sounds like a fantasy job to me; spending all day showing people how to play board games and getting paid for it would feel like it was too good to be true!

16 March 2015

Board Game Review: Hanabi

I've been keeping an eye on my site traffic, and something I've noticed is that the entries that are getting the most views are my Board Game Reviews. Apparently, those entries are generating some international traffic, which I think is excellent! I've been getting visitors from India, Germany, Australia, even the Ukraine!

I'm a little disappointed that people don't seem to be reading the other entries as much. But I suppose I shouldn't look a gift horse in the proverbial mouth, should I?

So with that in mind, I think it's high time I wrote another board game review. Although to be fair, this one will really be a card game review, as the game I'm reviewing this week is played entirely with cards, aside from a handful of tokens. That's right, it's time to review Hanabi!

Let's look at the ratings, and the system:
Strategy and Randomness are rated from 0 to 6. A 0 means the rated aspect plays no part in determining the game's outcome; and a 6 means that it is the only factor that determines the game's outcome. Complexity is also rated from 0 to 6; a 0 means that it's so simple a six-year-old can play it, a 3 means any adult should have no trouble playing, and a 6 means that you'll need to refer to the rulebook frequently. Humour can be rated as 'None,' meaning the game is not meant to be funny, or it may have one or more of the following: Derivative (meaning the humour is based on an outside source, such as a game based on a comedy film), Implicit (meaning that the game's components are funny, such as humourous card text), or Inherent (meaning that the actions the players take are funny). Attractiveness has nine possible ratings. Ideal: the game is beautiful and makes game play easier. Pretty: The design is beautiful and neither eases nor impedes game play. Nice: The design is beautiful but makes game play harder than necessary. Useful: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but eases gameplay. Average: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Useless: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Utilitarian: The design is ugly, but eases gameplay. Ugly: The design is ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Worthless: The design is ugly, andmakes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Average Length of Game Play describes how long an average game will probably last, give or take.
Strategy: 3
Randomness: 3
Complexity: 2
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Pretty
Expected Length of Game Play: 30 minutes

08 March 2015

My Game In Progress

I've mentioned here before that I'm working on writing a roleplaying game. I think it's high time I talked about that.

I'm actually working on two games. They use the same system; I started writing Shifters and then realised that the system worked really well for an RPG set in the Tron universe. So I've begun adapting the rules for a game called The Grid.

I got the idea for Shifters when playing with a group that would cycle through GMs; one GM would run a game, then another GM would take over and run a different game. We played Changeling a lot, and one of the games was a crossover of Mage: The Ascension and Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Several of the players in that group were new to gaming, and there was talk of introducing them to a lot of different RPGs. I found myself worrying about the fact that every time we switched to a new genre, we'd have to teach them a new system and spend time creating new characters. Even if we'd used a universal system like GURPS, we'd still have to make new characters every time we switched genres.