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EDITORIAL – SPRING 2006 – VOL. 2 NO. 18

Weather? Whether or Not?

 

In the aftermath of the 2006 New York International Toy Fair, I found myself faced with two questions: Whether? and Whether or Not?

As the Fair opened this year, there was a lot of uncertainty as to its future. Some Fair participants had voiced a wish to move the Fair, which called New York City home for over 100 years, to a different venue. Weather was one factor. It gets awfully cold in New York in February. Cost was another. No one has ever accused New York of being inexpensive. But others argued that New York was the right fit for the Fair. This tug of war had been going on for quite awhile with a decision having to be made this year. On Friday, just before the Fair’s scheduled Sunday opening at Javits Center, a vote was taken. New York was again chosen to be the site for Toy Fair. Ironically, two days later, on Sunday, the opening day for Javits Center no less, New York was hit with the biggest snowstorm in its history – 26.9 inches of snow recorded in Central Park! Did someone call for a recount? In any case, the die was cast and the deed done. (And there was second level of irony here too. Turns out that this winter, despite the record snowstorm, was the fourth WARMEST winter in New York City history! Go figure.) Despite the snow and, forgetting for the moment my own personal bias as a proud New Yorker who wanted to see the Fair stay here, it really is the right decision.

New York City is THE hub. It’s still the financial center of the world. When money talks, it talks here! And New York is still the nation’s media center. Having the Fair here, guarantees publicity that money can’t buy. Do you think the Today Show or Good Morning America or The Early Show would do live features on Toy Fair, resulting in incredible buzz and interest if it was anywhere else? Don’t think so. So did weather do the Toy Fair in? Fortunately, no. Now what about “whether or not”?

As gamers, we enjoy spreading good news about games almost as much as we enjoy playing them. There was good news on that front too. Out of the Box Games and Rio Grande Games announced a partnership of sorts whereby Out of the Box would distribute Rio Grande Games into markets that had rarely (if ever) seen games like the ones we play.

I’ve always believed the huge American game market has been largely untapped. Sure, there is Monopoly and Scrabble in seemingly every household. But I know from my own experience that many assume that those are the only games in town. When people look at the wide variety and styles of games available, they are intrigued and amazed. I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard people say that they didn’t know these games existed! The Out of the Box/Rio Grande partnership means more exposure for a different style of play – and vive la difference! WHETHER OR NOT this move will bring more gamers to the table and create new ones is a question that remains to be answered but certainly this is an exciting move in the right direction.

In this issue of GA REPORT, we battle in the Roman Empire, build kingdoms in the cradle of civilization, railroad through Germany, crack codes and panic! Ben Baldanza heads to California and we get a blast from the past from Kban. We welcome first time contributors Chris Kovac (who visits Byzantium) and Jon Waddington (facing a twilight struggle). And, of course, much more. Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President


 

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Spring 2006 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy (TriKing Games/The History Channel, 2 players, less than 30 minutes; Starter packs - $12.99 each) Going back in time and playing "what if?" history is something that has appealed to people since forever! What if great warriors from the past met in combat against each other? A tantalizing question for which there is no definitive answer. But, in an unusual partnership ...
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(In our quest to find fresh and intelligent voices about games, we welcome Chris Kovac, a gamer from our neighbor to the north, Canada. Chris writes: "I have been a gamer since my University Days in the 1980's. Initially a wargamer, I was converted over to Euro Games by a friend when he introduced me to Homas Tour (The Bicycle Racing Game) in about 1992 ...
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Reviewed by Ben Baldanza (Abacus, 2-5 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes; about $30) Ah, to live in a mansion in sunny California! Everyone gets their shot at this dream in California, this new game from Michael Schacht. But the bad news is that the mansion needs a lot of work. Rooms must be renovated and furniture acquired and, of course, this means spending ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Hangman Games, 3-5 players, ages 12 and up, 90-120 minutes; $30) Alan Ernstein has presented us with several well received games over the last few years including Tahuantinsuyu (Summer 2004 GA REPORT) and Ars Mysteriorum (Summer 2005 GA REPORT). This time, Ernstein dips into his bag of tricks to bring out a "sparkling" game combining crystals and deal making in Crystal ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Warren, 2-6 players, adult, 30-60 minutes; $24.99) Whenever an intellectual property strikes a massively responsive chord in popular culture, you can be sure games based on that property will appear in its wake. We've seen this before with comic characters, TV shows and, certainly, with books turned to films (e.g. Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings). So it should be ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Lookout Games; 2-3 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; about $50) Ancient Rome in general and the quest to become ruler of the Roman Empire in particular, have long been popular themes for games. In Das Ende des Triumvirats, designed by Johannes Ackva and Max Gabrian, that theme is tackled once again with some unique and challenging twists. Das Ende ...
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Weather? Whether or Not? In the aftermath of the 2006 New York International Toy Fair, I found myself faced with two questions: Whether? and Whether or Not? As the Fair opened this year, there was a lot of uncertainty as to its future. Some Fair participants had voiced a wish to move the Fair, which called New York City home for over 100 years, to ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games; 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, about 45 minutes; $24.95) One of the most popular and respected creations of the prolific Reiner Knizia is Euphrat & Tigris, a true gamer's game that challenges the most hardened Euro style game player (and featured in the Spring 1998 GA REPORT). Euphrates & Tigris: Contest of Kings is Knizia's ...
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(With the Euphrat & Tigris: Contest of Kings card game getting feature treatment this issue, we though it would be a good idea to see how its parent game, Euphrat & Tigris, was received back when Kban gave it a good look in the Spring 1998 GA REPORT) EUPHRAT & TIGRIS (Hans im Glück, 3-4 players, 60-90 minutes) Reiner Knizia has been one of Germany's ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (MindtwisterUSA, 2 players, ages 6 and up, 3-30 minutes; $24.95) Some game conventions encourage you to sit down and play games. But the New York International Toy Fair doesn't quite work like that. While there are miles of aisles of displays and no shortage of people who will tell you how a game plays and demonstrate it for you, it's an ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Otero Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 to adult, about 30 minutes; $19.95) Abstract games are a genre of play that attracts devoted fans. One of the better new entries in this field is called Roundabout. As you might suspect from the name, the goal is to get your pieces around and about the board. Roundabout comes with four sets of game ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy SHEAR PANIC (Fragor Games, 3-4 players, ages 10 and up, about 45 minutes; about $50) I've written literally hundreds of reviews of games over the years consisting of a couple of million words. But I'm about to use a word that I have NEVER used in all those reviews over all that time. Adorable. The pieces used in Shear Panic are ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Days of Wonder, 2-5 players, ages 8 and up, 30-60 minutes; $39.95) Some companies have been fortunate in finding a game with the strength and popular acceptance to not only create a loyal following but serve as a springboard for variations on that game's popular theme. Mayfair has The Settlers of Catan (Fall 1996 GA REPORT), Rio Grande has Carcassonne (Summer ...
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Reviewed by Jon Waddington (GMT Games, 2 players, about 3 hours; $57) Nominally, Twilight Struggle is a wargame about the Cold War. For those too young or too distracted to remember, the Cold War was the conflict following World War II between the forces of capitalism (with the United States taking the lead for the West) and communism (with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ...
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