Graphic Novel Adventures
As a child, I was always a sucker for Choose Your Own Adventure books. The idea that you didn’t have to follow the hero around, but could actively decide which path to take, was revolutionary at the time.
Obviously we have plenty of games these days that give you a character and you get to decide everything that that character does. One thing that many of these games lack though, is the depth of theme that you get from a well-written story.
Combining an engaging story with enough decision making to make you feel part of that story is a tricky balance to strike, and even today very few games manage this. One new entry into this genre is a series of books from Van Ryder Games known as Graphic Novel Adventures. Let me tell you about them…
Two Player Games (part 3)
If you want to be really unsporting and generally piss people off as much as possible – and I mean without becoming a professional footballer – you should consider colluding in Castles of Mad King Ludwig. You pre-arrange with a friend that whenever you are master builder you will put whatever they most want into the highest price slot and they will buy it from you. In return you will do the same when they are master builder, and so the money just moves backwards and forwards and is never really spent. In the meantime, you both get whatever rooms you want and the other player(s) are cut out of the game.
Obviously it is rare for something quite as extreme as this to happen, and the behaviour is often not formalised in such a way, but the fact that this kind of process works is something of a flaw with an otherwise excellent game. However, in the two-player version, it is automatically fixed.
So, which games actually benefit from the two-player mode and why? (more…)
This might seem like an odd topic for a boardgames blog, but today I’d like to talk about making payments to people who live overseas. If you ever decide to begin publishing boardgames though, this will become immediately relevant.
We have had to make many payments overseas since we work with people and companies from all over the world. We have worked with artists from Malaysia and Bulgaria, programmers from Kazakhstan and India, voice artists from South Africa and the USA, not to mention manufacturers who, for most boardgames companies, are based in China.
It’s not until you have to make your first payment overseas that you realise it isn’t as straightforward as you might think. There are many different ways to do it and it can cost you an arm and a leg if you don’t do your homework. So let me share some of my findings with you. You might find them useful one day…
Two Player Games (part 2)
Sometimes, I really think that boardgame designers have a better understanding of human nature than anyone else. Take Catan, for example. You are a group of bedraggled settlers, just arrived on an uninhabited island and desperately in need of food and shelter. You want not only to survive but to build a new Utopia – a place that others will some day look to and say “This, truly, is civilization!” And how do players go about enacting this magnificent vision? By faffing around for ages doing very little apart from occasionally robbing each other, and eventually getting so bored that trying to compress four sheep until they turn into a brick seems like a good way to pass the time…
In the spirit of this classic boardgame, this week’s post will focus on the ill-conceived, unsuitable and generally ridiculous end of two-player gaming. Which games really don’t work without at least three players? (more…)
The 18xx games are a genre all to themselves. Essentially they are heavy train games, which involve you buying and selling shares in train companies and then running those companies to make as much money as you can.
There are literally dozens of different 18xx games. The reason they are called 18xx is because they all take place in the 1800s and each one is named after a different year (and place potentially). Yesterday, I spent the day (yes, they’re long!) playing 1846: The Race for the Midwest and had a great time.
If you’re happy playing longer games and you like economic games, there’s a good chance you’ll really enjoy the 18xx series. Let me tell you about them…
Two Player Games (part 1)
Two-player games are rather unique, and differ greatly from multiplayer games both strategically and in the atmosphere they generate. Why is this, and what are the pros and cons of two-player gaming? (more…)
War of the Ring: The Collector’s Edition
War of the Ring is one of my Top 30 Games of All Time. I’ve played it a fair bit over the years, mostly with my Boardgame Opinions compatriot Mark Windle, since he owns a copy. It’s a fantastic game in many ways.
A few years after the original release though, they announced a Collector’s Edition – a limited one-time-only print run with outstanding components (and a price to match). Ever since, I have dreamed of one day owning and playing a copy. After waiting many years, a recent windfall finally allowed my dream to come true…
Pie Face (part 2)
I do not, in general, enjoy watching professional sport. Nor do I even think that I am that likely to enjoy watching pro gamers. Why? Because the longer people spend playing a game the better they understand it, and the less pressure there is to improvise and invent new approaches to playing it. Creativity and strategic diversity eventually get replaced with a set of standard moves that are widely accepted as optimal plays. If it was up to me, every football pitch would have random terrain features added to it, and they would only be revealed to the players at the start of the game.
Pie Face defies this trend. A game as unpredictable and strategically diverse now as it was on its very first release, players continue to find this game so engaging that the results are invariably visible on their faces. Last week we dealt with the multiplayer variant, now we will tackle the solo game. (more…)
Pie Face (part 1)
An undisputed classic of the heavy strategy genre, the mechanics of Pie Face are notoriously difficult to master. Indeed the skill cap for this game is so high that even people who have played it many hundreds of times can still improve just as fast as complete novices. The (famously unpredictable) game dynamics can change completely in a single turn, and experts as well as beginners can suddenly find themselves in a very sticky situation. So, what is it that makes Pie Face one of the all-time greats of hardcore strategy gaming, and what is the best way to master the complex and game-changing decisions players have to make on every single turn? Let’s find out. (more…)