Dale Yu: Review of Sagrada

 

Sagrada

  • Designers: Daryl Andrews and Adrian Adamescu
  • Publisher: Floodgate Games
  • Players: 1-4
  • Ages: 13+
  • Time: ~45 minutes
  • Times played: 7, with review copy provided by Floodgate Games

If you’ve ever been to Barcelona, or ever seen a picture of Barcelona, you’ve surely seen the Sagrada Familia, the famous church designed by Antoni Gaudi.  Started in 1882, and still under construction, this not-quite-a-cathedral is world renowned as a UNESCO World Heritage site.  In this game, players vie to create the most beautiful stained glass panel to be included in the great basilica.

Each player is given a board which represents a window frame with a 5×4 array of spaces.  In these spaces, players will place colored dice to create their stained glass panel.  The game is played over ten rounds, and in each of the rounds, players will draft two dice – so there will be just enough to fill in all the spaces by the end of the game. Continue reading

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Dale Yu: Review of Amun-Re (2017, Tasty Minstrel Games)

 

Amun-Re (2017)

  • Designer: Reiner Knizia
  • Publisher: Tasty Minstrel Games
  • Players: 3-5
  • Ages: 12+
  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Times played: >30 overall, 3 with new version from Tasty Minstrel

One of the things that I’ve noticed in today’s gaming world is that the number of new gamers is an increasingly larger proportion than ever.  As the overall popularity of boardgames increases, it is only natural for there to be more and more new gamers…  Each time that we add someone new to the local game group, we do get a nice chance to pull out a bunch of “classic” games that are always as good as we remembered them to be when they first came out, but they simply don’t make it to the table that much as there are always new games to be played!

A number of companies seem to be trying to take advantage of this by re-releasing versions of older games.  Tasty Minstrel Games is co-producing the SuperMeeple version of this 2003 auction game.  I still have my original RGG version from way back when, but this has been a hard game to get a hold of in recent times. Continue reading

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Kickstarter Skepticism: Why we’re not eager to play that game you backed…

By: Chris Wray and Jeff Lingwall

Game night begins, and everybody stands around waiting for somebody to nominate a game.  These days, most large groups have at least one Kickstarter enthusiast, and he or she always seems to speak first.  You probably know the speech, which sounds something like this:

“I backed this game last year, and my copy just arrived.  I really want to play it.  It came with painted miniatures, plus it hit all of its stretch goals.  My copy is a Kickstarter-exclusive!”  

The enthusiasm is understandable.  The backer has paid a small fortune for the game and waited a year for its arrival.  Meanwhile, the designer/publisher has been sending weekly or monthly updates, causing the backer to develop somewhat of an emotional attachment to the game.  

But not all of us are Kickstarter enthusiasts.  In fact, among experienced gamers and game critics, most of us seem to be Kickstarter skeptics.  We’re suspicious of the word “backer” — just call yourself a “buyer” — and we think the phrase “stretch goals” should be used primarily in yoga studios.  

We’re not being curmudgeons: we’ve been around the block a time or two, and we know just how bad Kickstarter games can be.  (Really bad.)  Our time to play games is limited, so please pardon us if we’re not eager to play the game that you paid a fortune for — and waited a year for — without ever playing.  

The fact that the game was on Kickstarter doesn’t mean it is a better game: if anything, it probably means it isn’t.  Traditional publishers are highly selective, and they often spend years developing games, two gatekeeping functions that aren’t present with Kickstarters.

The BoardGameGeek (“BGG”) data supports us. In recent years, Kickstarter games have, on average, underperformed their traditionally-published counterparts in the BGG ratings.  And as time passes, the underperformance gets worse.  As we’ve previously explored, the ratings of most games decline over time.  But that effect is particularly pronounced among Kickstarter games, which have ratings that decline even faster than those of traditionally-published games.  

This is our empirical analysis of Kickstarter games—our attempt at partially explaining why they underperform their traditionally-published peers over time.   Continue reading

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Mini Rails Mini Review – First Impressions

Mini Rails 

  • Designer Mark Gerrits
  • Artist Steve Tse
  • Publisher Moaideas Game Design
  • Players 3-5
  • Time 40 minutes

Mini Rails is the latest game from designer Mark Gerrits who also did SteamRollers. Moaideas Game Design is the publisher. Mini Rails is the very essence of what constitutes a “train” game as the only two actions are buying stock and building track.

The game consists of a quick 6 rounds before establishing the winner with the most valuable stock.

The components are very nice. A frame for the modular main board is provided.  Pawns and action markers for each player as well as a player board and and board for turn order and counting the rounds are in the box. 

The main board is seeded with track for each color of train (discs) dependent on the number of players.

The turn order board is set up with the pawns Catan style with the last player going twice in the middle. The train discs are then randomly drawn and placed in other other column with one more disc than the number of pawns. 

Each player now has 2 turns per round. They must buy stock or build track in any order. To do those actions the player moves his pawn to the other column picking up the disc color they want and leaving the pawn there in its place. This establishes the turn order for the next round. If the disc was taken to be stock, the player puts the disc on the zero position of their player board.

If the disc was taken for track, the player places it on the main board in any space adjacent to already present track of the same color. If that space contains white pips, everyone with stock in that color moves their stock disc up equal to the number of white pips. If the pips were red, stock moves down. Finally, one disc will be leftover at the end of the round. That discs is moved to the round counting/taxation area. The color represents a train company that has paid taxes. A train company may pay taxes more than once or none depending on the game.  

After the sixth round, any train which has not paid taxes will not score positive points. Remove discs of that color from the positive portion of player boards. Any companies which have paid taxes are removed from the negative side of the board. The winner is the player with the most total stock value.

 

 

My thoughts:

Train game aficionados will find Mini Rails to be a mini train game reminiscent of Paris Connections. The set up time and play is even faster. For the rest, Mini Rails is fun and fast, easy to teach and learn. For only having 2 actions, the choices can be surprisingly difficult to make. The risk of tax outcomes also add a bit of tension to the game. The game can feel a bit out of control but figuring out how best to advance your holdings is the main challenge.

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The Opinionated Gamers discuss the Spiel des Jahres award nominees / recommendations

OK – so each year, we predict the award nominees, and some years we look pretty good… and some years (like this one), we look like a bunch of hacks.  The reason?  Well, none can really be given other than we’re not on the jury!  There are thousands of games released each year, and many of them are good enough to be considered award winners!  

 

We’re going to start our own little voting process up again to choose who we think will win amongst the 3 nominees for each award.  But, for today, some thoughts on the awards from our writers.

 

Dale Y: I am a little surprised by Magic Maze.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love the game.  I think I had the only copy at the Gathering of Friends in April, and I was showing it to everyone.  It was so liked that my buddies from BGG essentially took it from me in a sort of Eminent Domain case so that they could get it up on Gamenight and bring it to BGG.Spring!   I just didn’t think that a small publisher from Belgium would have made the list.  This does somewhat go against previous precedent of sticking to the big domestic companies.  Now that I have seen the list of finalists, I can make good arguments for each of the three winning.

Continue reading

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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

Continue reading

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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…

Continue reading

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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:

Continue reading

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