Congratulations to the nominees for the 2017 Spiel des Jahres


Nominees for the “Spiel des Jahres 2017”

Kingdomino von Bruno Cathala

Magic Maze von Kasper Lapp

Wettlauf nach El Dorado von Reiner Knizia

 

Nominees for “Kinderspiel des Jahres 2017”

Captain Silver von Wolfgang Dirscherl & Manfred Reindl

Ice Cool von Brian Gomez

Der Mysteriöse Wald von Carlo A. Rossi

 

Nominees for “Kennerspiel des Jahres 2017”

Exit – Das Spiel* von Inka Brand und Markus Brand

Räuber der Nordsee von Shem Phillips

Terraforming Mars von Jacob Fryxelius

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Geekway to the West 2017 (Convention Report by Chris Wray)

GeekwayArch.jpg

I look forward to Geekway to the West every year.  Held in the St. Louis metropolitan area, Geekway is a staple of the gaming scene in the Midwest, especially among us Missourians.  This year’s convention sold out in record time, and it attracted more than 2,000 attendees from across the country.

I’ve been going for several years now, and this year Geekway felt bigger and better than ever before: it is truly starting to feel like a national convention, complete with an exhibitor hall and all of the events you’d expect from a major game event.

As 2017’s convention season gets underway, I wanted to write my thoughts from this year’s Geekway.  I spent most of the convention playing my favorite games from Gen Con and Essen 2016, but below I did do four mini reviews of new or new-to-me games: Frogriders, Gloomhaven, Not Alone, and Wordsy.   Continue reading

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CMON Expo 2017 – Nerd E’s Experience

This past weekend, May 11th – May 14th, I attended CMON Expo 2017 in Atlanta.  I attended as a member of the media and I have a lot of cool stuff to share.  I had a great time.  I had only been to local conventions before so seeing a full demo staff and convention exclusive sneak peeks was great.  I know you want to hear about the games but indulge me just a little while I talk about the convention itself and some highlights.

The hotel was amazing.  Although the room rate was discounted it didn’t come cheap but for the price, the venue was exceptional.  Arriving on Thursday I got to participate in the early gaming and see the set up before it was complete.  It was a nice way to play some games with others without the constant “buzz” of people.  It was a much more laid back and welcoming first night.  It was also fun to see something in person.  When the “Dice Tower entourage” entered it was, I’ll say, obvious.  I don’t mean this in a bad way at all.  But everyone turned to see them.  It was as close to rock stars entering the stage as was going to happen.  It quickly died off and everyone went back to gaming of course but to see that reaction was actually a bit surreal.  To be frank, those guys are just guys like me.  We post videos and do reviews.  I know they do much more and higher quality but at the end of the day they are just people who play and love games but by doing what they do well, they have become more than that.  And that was just fun to see.

I will say this though, I spoke to a lot of other media and everyone was nicer than the last.  Next time I hope to be a bigger fish and be invited to the actual media room so I could see some of the demos behind the scenes. (when I attempted to get my badge they didn’t have my name on the list at all but we got it squared away).  But I did realize while there that I was the only person posting a daily vlog (which I will link to at the end) during the convention.  Just me.  Now the Dice Tower was filming of course but as far as real time info on YouTube it was just me.  That was pretty cool.

Ok ok.  Enough about me, what about the GAMES! Continue reading

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The Opinionated Gamers Take Their Best Guess at the 2017 Spiel des Jahres lists

 

It’s that time of year again… on Monday, the jury will release the nominated (and recommended) lists for the Spiel des Jahres, the game of the year award.  There is a pretty complicated process through which the jury members play the games and then settle upon their votes – this has been outlined in a number of different places, including an interview with then-head-of-the-jury Tom Werneck.

The overall rules seem to change a bit each year as far as the number of games nominated and/or recommended, and the public doesn’t see those changes until the lists come out.  The ever-changing nature of the lists does make it a bit hard to simulate, but that’s never stopped us before!  We are going to keep to our tradition of trying to make our guessing before knowing the real list, and then we’ll see how well we match up on Monday.   Then, once the real lists are known, we’ll vote again to see if our preferences match those of the jury.

The usual caveats still apply.  It’s hard for us to know which late releases in 2017 make the cut for eligibility.  Also, as we only have two or three active OG writers in Germany, there are probably a few games that are big over there that we simply don’t know about as there is no EN version.  We did not really generate a list of games and have people pick from it; OG writers were just told to vote for five games.

This year, we used a similar system to last year.  Each OG writer was invited to rank up to five games that they feel will win the Spiel des Jahres, with the most likely game receiving 5 points, the next likely 4 points, …

These votes were then tabulated and collated by the magic hidden within Google Sheets.  This year, we had 20 different writers chime in with their votes, and we think that the Spiel des Jahres will be…

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Dale Yu: Spoiler-Free Review of the EXIT series from Kosmos

Dale Yu: The EXIT series from Kosmos

  • Games:  EXIT: The Abandoned Cabin, EXIT: The Secret Lab, EXIT: The Pharaoh’s Tomb
  • Designers: Inka and Markus Brand
  • Publisher: Kosmos
  • Players: 1+
  • Ages: 12+
  • Time: 45-90 minutes (or maybe more)
  • Times played: 1 play of each of the three games with review copies provided by Thames&Kosmos

 

As you’ve likely noticed, the past year or two has been filled with releases in the “Escape Room” genre – games where players work together to solve whatever puzzles come in the box.  We’ve reviewed a number of different releases here on the OG blog in that time period:

For spoiler free reviews from Opinionated Gamers of other escape room games, please see:

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Review of Escape Room The Game – Welcome to Funland | Escape Room The Game – Murder Mystery (NO SPOILERS)

Escape Room The Game Welcome to Funland | Escape Room The Game Murder Mystery

  • Designer: Team Identity Games
  • Publisher: Spin Master Ltd. and Identity Games International B.V.
  • Players: 3-5
  • Ages: 16 and up
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Times Played: Once each with 4 players
  • Both expansion packs were purchased using personal funds.

Introduction

Escape Room The Game [OG Review] is a cooperative “escape the room” game from Spin Master Ltd. that was released in 2016. The base game contains four different Adventures for teams to explore and experience. Plays must work together to solve several puzzles before time runs out. Verifying that each puzzle has been solved correctly requires the use of an electronic Chrono Decoder and associated Keys. The Chrono Decoder is unique to this game system and is used in several ways, including: it’s the game timer, it contains various ciphers needed to solve puzzles, and it verifies the code – entered by inserting Keys into the device – for each part of the Adventure.  Shortly after the release of Escape Room The Game, two separate expansion packs were also released for the game:

  • Welcome to Funland (Difficulty 3.5/5) – Escape from the scary theme park before the creepy clown comes back!
  • Murder Mystery (Difficulty 3/5) – Investigate the crime scene and identify the weapon, motive, and suspect to solve the murder!

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Play These Games First: Other Recommendations

What games would we recommend that aspiring (but wholly inexperienced) gamers play first?  This is the final article in a three part series, and today we discuss our other recommendations that didn’t make the top 10.

We ran through details of the project yesterday, but as a reminder, we had 13 Opinionated Gamers vote in a shared spreadsheet, with 46 different games receiving votes.  We decided to write about our findings in three articles, discussing the top ten games.  Monday’s article discussed #10 to #6 (i.e. the second-highest vote getters).  Yesterday’s article discussed #5 to #1 (i.e. the highest vote getters).  Today’s article is everybody’s chance to discuss games that didn’t make the top 10, plus offer thoughts on the list. Continue reading

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Play These Games First: An Introduction to Gaming (Games #5 – #1)

What games would we recommend that aspiring (but wholly inexperienced) gamers play first?  This is the second article in a three part series, and today we discuss the top five most recommended games.

We ran through details of the project yesterday, but as a reminder, we had 13 Opinionated Gamers vote in a shared spreadsheet, with 46 different games receiving votes.  We decided to write about our findings in three articles, discussing the top ten games.  Yesterday’s article discussed #10 to #6 (i.e. the second-highest vote getters).  Today’s article discusses #5 to #1 (i.e. the highest vote getters).  Tomorrow’s article is everybody’s chance to discuss games that didn’t make the top 10.   Continue reading

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Adventures in Gaming: Tokyo Game Market

As a gamer, I’m always looking for that next board game adventure. This year it was Tokyo Game Market. Travel is always a bit daunting for me but I made the jump. I arrived about 5 days before the show to do a little sightseeing with a good friend that knows Tokyo and speaks Japanese. Highlights included a bike tour of Tokyo,( be sure and keep that helmet on!) and the walking foodstand tour of Shibuyu. I also got a rockin’ good fortune at Senso-ji Temple so watch out, I expect to be winning a lot of games soon.  The day before the show I went to an International Gaming Party and got a little preview of some of the new titles from Japon Brand and TBD.

I tried Animani, a quick little filler where each player is a distinct animal with a special power and you try and eliminate the other by using attack cards on your neighbors.

I also tried Jandwich, a food themed card version with a Mah Jong mechanism. The little playing aids for scoring are bilingual.

I also played Kikkasa by the same designer of Jandwich another Mah Jong inspired little dice game. Here the there is gathering the best chrysanthemums. This one has a very high luck element but it’s also super fast and portable.

Next up was Ars Combinatorial which contained two decks and a book with 5 different games.

I also tried Numeracy: The Rainbow Unicorn, the first of a trilogy of games. This one is aimed towards the children’s market with the subsequent games having more complex mechanisms. The Rainbow Unicorn is route building and resource gathering and super cute.

Colortopia is a real time race game where players use 6 double sided cards to match patterns. Some of the cards have two primary colors with the opposite side having the resulting mixed color and other cards have single cards with the opposite color on the other side. I love these kinds of games and had a great time playing.

I tried another race bluffing game called Honest Rabbit. Normally these kind of games are not for me but we had lots of fun and since no one is really expected to be honest this totally worked for me. Players take turn drawing cards from a common display making 3 card sets of runs or the same color. When they have a set they can ask a player for a 4th card for the set and that’s where the bluff comes into play. Depending on the result you move your rabbit a certain number of spaces.

Taiwan Monster Brawl lives up to its name. The art for the spell cards is fantastic. We only got to play a short game and as expected it’s a dice feast.

Finally had a chance to play Mini Rails. This is a short train game, buy stock or build once per round for 7 rounds. Train game at a minimum from the designer of  SteamRollers.

After the show we tried Space Debris a little card game which was really placement game. This one has Looney Tune type animations and the company had an almost identical game which was ninja themed.

Also tried a tile placement game from Grounding, the company that did Machi Koryo. It’s a race to get around Tokyo. Makes a great souvenir for me since it lists all the popular tourist spots.

Finally tried Hatsuden which is a little two player card game in the vein of Lost Cities. Definitely want to try it again.

So the game market is pretty impressive. This year it was at a Tokyo Big Sight, a massive convention center. It filled one of the halls. Every little table is a stand and there are so many things to see. I love looking at all the independent productions and hand crafted items and would have bought tons more if they had English rules. I just don’t have the space for games I might not ever be able to play…

Here are most of the games (I also ordered some from TBD) and I’ll be posting more commentary as they get played and I catch up on some sleep.

 

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Play These Games First: An Introduction to Gaming (Games #10 – #6)

A few weeks ago, a former coworker with little gaming experience asked me for a list of recommended board games.  He loved the classics as a child, and he had tried a couple of modern titles, but he wanted to explore a few more.  

In today’s marketplace, where thousands of titles are released each year, finding good games can be a challenge.  I immediately rattled off a list to my friend, but I also got an idea for an article: what would the consensus list be for us here at The Opinionated Gamers?  What games would we recommend that aspiring (but wholly inexperienced) gamers play first?  

We had 13 Opinionated Gamers vote, with 46 different games receiving votes.  We decided to write about our findings in three articles, discussing the top ten games.  This article will discuss #10 to #6 (i.e. the second-highest vote getters).  Tomorrow’s article will discuss #5 to #1 (i.e. the highest vote getters).  Wednesday’s article is everybody’s chance to discuss games that didn’t make the top 10.  

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