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EDITORIAL – FALL 2006 – VOL 2. NO 20

Blackjack

 

I’ve been to Las Vegas and I have to say that it strikes me as a fantasy land, truly as Disney World for adults. There’s glitz and glamour all along the Vegas strip. I enjoy the top entertainment there and the whole atmosphere, from the pyramid marking the Luxor to the movie set-like setting of New York, New York to the gorgeous Bellagio and so many other venues. It seems like there’s always something to attract your attention. And, by the way, did you know there is gambling there?

Of course you did! Although I love games, gambling is not one of my vices. If I win, it doesn’t mean that much to me and if I lose, it annoys me too much! But besides the standard winning and losing at the gaming tables, gambling, from a different perspective, holds an attraction for me: the high rollers populating some very exclusive gaming tables.

I’m fascinated by seeing these serious gamblers, dressed in anything and everything, from shorts to tuxedos, transfixed by the spin of a wheel or flip of a card. It’s amazing to see so much money disappear down a slot as the dealer exchanges cash for chips and to see those chips fly across the table, particularly when you realize that we’re talking thousands of dollars per second changing hands. For example, let’s take the blackjack table.

Luck is always on the side of the house. Just look at the opulence of those great Vegas hotels; they’re paid for with YOUR money! No matter how lucky you feel or what foolproof system you’ve designed, you should know, deep in your heart, that the fool is you if you think you’re beating the system. But of all the games in the casinos, blackjack is the one where a savvy or shrewd player can slant the odds in his favor. (Card counters have distilled this into a semi-science – which is why known card counters are banned from casinos.) To borrow from Kenny Rogers, knowing when to hold ’em and when to fold ’em is all important. And, if you’re playing blackjack, your heartbeat pounds with every card as you’re moving towards 21 (an ace and a 10 or picture card will do quite nicely). Hit 21 and you are a winner! Well, against all odds and with great pride, we loudly proclaim that, with this issue, we’re winners!

21 is our winning number as this issue marks the start of the 21st year of Gamers Alliance! And, just like in blackjack, we’re loaded with Kings (of the game reviewing world) and it’s coming up all aces!

In this issue of GA REPORT, we carve out chunks of territory in a new land, fight like eagles, search for a masterpiece and search for words! We welcome first time contributors Frank Hamrick who gets in-temperate and Joe Huber who visits Indonesia. Meanwhile, Craig Massey enjoys his mania, Chris Kovac goes on a knightly quest and Pevans travels with this year’s Spiel des Jahres while Ben Baldanza plays travel agent and suggests a destination for all to enjoy. And, of course, much more.

Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President


 

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Fall 2006 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy (Out of the Box Games, 4 players, ages 12 and up, 30-40 minutes; $14.99) When it comes to trick-taking games, Bridge is undoubtedly king of the castle. There are newspaper columns specializing in it, several high profile celebrities (Omar Sharif for example) devoted to it and thousands of card players spending hours on it. Despite this, the game remains a mystery ...
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Reviewed by Craig Massey (Ragnar Brothers, 3-5 players, ages teen to adult, about 90 minutes; about $50) The release of a Ragnar Brothers game is a highly anticipated event that comes along once every few years. Anticipation for Canal Mania started building back in the summer and fall of 2005 with information from session reports and sneak previews from the brothers themselves. When Essen 2005 ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Immortal Eyes/Winning Moves Games, 2-4 players, ages teen to adult, 90+ minutes; $40.95) Scientists theorize that, in the beginning, the Earth consisted of one large land mass that, over time, broke apart to create the continents we know today. In Conquest of Pangea, this idea is the crux of the gameplay as the super-continent of Pangea starts to split. It is ...
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Blackjack I've been to Las Vegas and I have to say that it strikes me as a fantasy land, truly as Disney World for adults. There's glitz and glamour all along the Vegas strip. I enjoy the top entertainment there and the whole atmosphere, from the pyramid marking the Luxor to the movie set-like setting of New York, New York to the gorgeous Bellagio and ...
Read More
[In this issue of GA REPORT, we welcome first time contributor Joe Huber. Joe is a well known gamer and he writes: "I grew up playing Acquire and Civilization, and still enjoy both games today - if few of the wargames I also played back then. In 1995, I got back into gaming, discovering both German games (particularly Settlers of Catan and Auf Achse), ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Pywacket LLC, 2 to 6 players, ages 8 to adult, about 30-60 minutes; $24.99, Deluxe Edition $29.99) Word search puzzles have been quite popular over the last few years and building a board game upon that premise is nothing new. For example, Pressman issued a game, featured in the Spring 1988 issue of GA REPORT, called Wordsearch. Fast forward almost 20 ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Winning Moves, 3-5 players, ages teen to adult, 35-45 minutes; $25.95 ) Leonardo Da Vinci was a true genius, an intellect who excelled in many fields. Arguably his most famous contribution to the world is his masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, a painting that has captured the imagination of art lovers the world over for centuries. Part of the appeal comes from ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Immortal Eyes/Winning Moves Games, 2 players, ages teen to adult, 30 minutes; $23.95) Pecking Order, the first release from the Immortal Eyes imprint launched by Winning Moves, is a Richard Garfield design combining simplicity with a strong undercurrent of bluff and strategy. Pecking Order comes with a mounted board and two identical decks of cards. Each deck consists of 12 numbered ...
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Reviewed by Chris Kovac (Queen, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 30 minutes; $24.95 ) Robber Knights is one of the small box games released after Nuremburg earlier this year and is a tile laying strategy game for 2-4 players designed by Rudiger Dorn, probably best known for Goa (Summer 2004 GA REPORT) and Louis XIV (Summer 2005 GA REPORT). The object of the game ...
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[With this issue, we welcome new contributor Frank Hamrick. Frank says: My Grandmother taught me Monopoly when I was 7 years old and I became an addict! I played every game I could find from Monopoly to Parcheesi, Sorry, Commandos, and Dig. By the time I was in High School I decided that the world needed a good war game and started designing my ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Immortal Eyes/Winning Moves Games, 2-4 players, ages teen to adult, 45+ minutes; $30.95) Exploring a New World is always an exciting prospect. In Terra Nova. the third release from the Immortal Eyes imprint launched by Winning Moves, that sense of exploration is captured as two to four players compete to carve out their own niches in this beautifully produced game. Terra ...
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Reviewed by Pevans (Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes; $32.95) Well, it’s just won the Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year) in Germany and there’s been quite a buzz about Thurn und Taxis since it first appeared: let’s see if it lives up to its reputation. Interestingly, the game’s author is given as Karen and Andreas Seyfarth ...
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Why Everyone Should Visit Essen (at least once) by Ben Baldanza A few years ago, I was in a meeting with some German businessmen. During small talk, I mentioned that I would be visiting their country in mid October. Happily, they asked where I would be going, and when I said "Essen" they had a most quizzical look. One finally said what they all were ...
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