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EDITORIAL – FALL 2007

Witchcraft

 

As this editorial is being written, Halloween is just around the corner. I don’t know about you, but Halloween always gets me to thinking about ghosts and goblins and all sorts of spooky things that go bump in the night. And witchcraft.

Witchcraft. Bubbling cauldrons filled with unspeakable things, figures in dark robes mumbling mysterious incantations, unfamiliar scents mingled with blood curdling sounds. Witches may cast spells using eye of newt, some powdered toad and a pinch of batwing to concoct all sorts of things, from healing poultices to love potions and all sorts of magical mystical stuff in between. We’ve experienced (second or third hand I hope) witchcraft in books we’ve read or movies on the screen or plays we’ve seen. (Who can forget the conjuring and troubling predictions of the three witches of Macbeth?) Wonderful and terrifying and fun. Now, if we concentrate on the wonderful and fun part, that brings us to games.

Game designers are, in their own unique ways, modern versions of wizards or witches. A key difference is their use of ingredients. No wolf bane or toad to throw into a cauldron. No mystical book of spells to consult. No ancient parchment filled with runes to unroll. Instead, from their own imaginations and visions, they turn to different ingredients – cardboard, wood, paper and plastic – to craft their own spellbinding creations to captivate, inspire, thrill and satisfy. You know their names. You look for new releases that bear their names. You seek out the next examples of their craft.

Of course, tastes can and do differ. Think back to the days when you donned a costume and went from door to door on a Trick or Treat mission and came away with a bag of goodies. Some were awful to your palate; they went to your sibling or were just traded away! Some were just so good, they were eaten with pure enjoyment or maybe saved to be savored later. It’s a similar deal with games. Some examples of the game designing craft get passed along, some hit the trade pile. But, when things work out just right, the artistry and magic of a particular designer of a particular game connects with you in a special and satisfying way to be enjoyed now AND savored later. With Halloween, it’s Trick or Treat. With games, the trick in bringing all the ingredients together IS the treat no matter which craft appeals!

In this issue of GA REPORT, we uncover some more magic as we search for Incan gold, get sheepish, travel through the ages, go to market and go uptown! Meanwhile, the usual suspects get busy as Pevans gets carded, Ben Baldanza stacks it up, Chris Kovacs is swept by the tide, Joe Huber digs up a new old game and Frank Hamrick goes zoo-crazy. And, of course, much more!

Until next time, Good Gaming! — Herb Levy, President


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Fall 2007 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy (Ystari Games/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45-75 minutes; $29.95) Over the last few years, game designers who have managed to come up with a successful and challenging gamer's game have challenged themselves to come up with a slimmed down version of it without sacrificing the essence of the original. Andreas Seyfarth followed up his Puerto Rico (Spring ...
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Witchcraft As this editorial is being written, Halloween is just around the corner. I don't know about you, but Halloween always gets me to thinking about ghosts and goblins and all sorts of spooky things that go bump in the night. And witchcraft. Witchcraft. Bubbling cauldrons filled with unspeakable things, figures in dark robes mumbling mysterious incantations, unfamiliar scents mingled with blood curdling sounds. Witches ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Gamewright, 3-8 players, ages 10 and up, about 30 minutes; $19.99) The search for the ideal party game is never-ending. Each year, many pretenders to the throne of supreme party game/ice breaker appear. One of the newest and best of the current crop of candidates comes from the roster of games published by Gamewright: Hit or Miss. Hit or Miss, as ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Sunriver Games/Funagain Games, 3-8 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; $19.95) A few years ago at the gaming convention commonly known as The Gathering of Friends, I played a game by Alan Moon and Bruno Faidutti called Diamant. The game involved entering mine shafts to uncover treasure, pressing your luck to bring back valuables before you encountered deadly dangers and ...
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Reviewed by Joe Huber (Queen Games/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45-60 minutes; $49.95) I do not think I shall ever forget my first game of Jenseits von Theben – the German title (which translates to “beyond Thebes”) of the original, small print-run edition of the game by Peter Prinz that has become Thebes. Dale Yu had caught my attention with his ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Playroom Entertainment, 2-6 players, ages 8 to adult, 30 minutes; $20) Some animals seem to lend themselves to gaming. Think of those lovable hedgehogs always appearing in the games from Doris und Frank. But lovability is not restricted to hedgehogs. How about sheep? Not too long ago, we did a feature on Wooly Bully (Fall 2003 GA REPORT). Sheep made another ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Portal, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 20 minutes; about 45 Euros) The world has grown smaller over the last few decades thanks largely to technological advances allowing communication between vast expanses to become both easier and quicker. Paradoxically, this "global shrinkage" has caused the World of Games to grow larger. Not only do quality games arise from such traditional areas ...
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Reviewed by Pevans (JKLM Games/Rio Grande Games, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $49.95) It’s impressive how quickly Phoenicia has become popular at my gaming group since its launch – we’ve had three games on the go at once on some evenings. And it’s a well deserved popularity as this is a terrific game. I’d better declare my interest, though. Phoenicia is published ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Educational Insights, 2-4 players, ages 6 and up, about 30 minutes; $19.99) Over the last few years, Educational Insights has become a formidable presence in the game market. They distribute Blokus (featured in the Fall 2002 GA REPORT) and several Blokus spin-offs (Blokus Trigon, Travel Blokus) and have launched a series of strategy games under the title of StrataGems. One of ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Playroom Entertainment, 2-4 players, ages 8 to adult, 35 minutes; $38) Setting up stalls in the bustling Portobello Market of Victorian London is the setting for the aptly titled Portobello Market, the new game designed by Thomas Odenhoven, and distributed here in the Untied States by Playroom Entertainment. Portobello Market comes with a mounted board showing lanes that can handle anywhere ...
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Reviewed by Ben Baldanza (Z-Man Games, 3-4 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; $24.99) Stack Market is a dexterity game designed by Susumu Kawasaki camouflaged as a business game. The primary component is set of 60 dice with side values ranging from zero to four. These dice are stacked onto each other to create up to four “businesses”, with the height of the business ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Czech Board Game Company, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 120 minutes +; about $150) Every once in a while, a game piques the interest of a small cadre of gamers and, like a herd of maddened bees, a buzz takes to the air. That phenomenon occurred with the release of Through the Ages, a new game out of the Czech ...
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Reviewed by Chris Kovac (Fantasy Flight Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45-75 minutes; $79.95) If you miss the pleasure of playing with those green plastic soldiers of your childhood then Tide of Iron is for you. Tide of Iron is a World War II squad level miniature game by John Goodenough, Christian Peterson and Corey Koniecza. When you open the box you will ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Funagain Games, 2-5 players, ages 8 and up, 30-40 minutes; $24.99) Funagain Games has long been known as one of the leading Internet sites for buying games. Recently, Funagain has broadened its reach by publishing games as well. The latest offering under the Funagain label is Uptown designed by Kory Heath. Uptown is a tile-laying game played on a 9 x ...
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Reviewed by Frank Hamrick (Abacus Spiele/Rio Grande Games, 2-5 players, ages 8 and up, 45 minutes; $44.95) Spiel des Jahres. The coveted German game of the year award conveys several things to a consumer. The components are of good quality. The design is polished. The design is solid. The game will appeal to a broader family market. The game will probably not be a front-line ...
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