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EDITORIAL – SPRING 2007 – VOL. 2 NO. 22

BOOK TO MOVIE OR MOVIE TO BOOK

 

It’s interesting how this works. You go to the movies and see a film that captures your imagination, thrills you, excites you, gets those juices flowing. Do you leave that darkened theater to rush out to buy the book that served as the basis for that film? If you’ve just seen The Godfather or Harry Potter, you might. But, more than likely, you don’t. (I don’t think the sales of the collected works of William Shakespeare soared after Shakespeare in Love won a bunch of Oscars.) Generally, it seems to me that the interactive media river tends to run from book to film rather than from film to book if, sadly, “book” manages to get into the action at all! Which got me thinking about, of all things, Microsoft.

It seems that Microsoft, the computer giant, is getting into BOARD games in a big way. And no, they’re not starting up a label to publish the latest version of Monopoly or revving up to import a tidal wave of European strategy games, at least, not exactly. As has been reported in our Information Center and on other gaming news outlets, Microsoft has gotten the rights for an electronic version of Puerto Rico (Spring 2002 GA REPORT), one of the best of the recent crop of Euro strategy games. Reportedly, Microsoft’s interest hasn’t stopped there with more Euros such as The Princes of Florence (Fall 2000 GA REPORT) reportedly scheduled for similar treatment in the near future. It’s an interesting piece of news but what does it mean for gamers such as us?

The initial reaction is that this will reintroduce a whole generation of game players to board games, a genre of play that these gamers haven’t explored since their early days of chess, checkers, Monopoly and Clue. The hope is that players who discover Puerto Rico and games of similar quality will like what they see on their screens and seek out the original flesh and blood (or, to be more precise, original cardstock, cardboard and wood) version. I’d like to believe that but I’m far from convinced.

I suspect audiences transfixed by video games, even those based on Euros, have a very different mindset and very different expectations when it comes to their play, expectations board games are not designed to meet. While some (maybe many) gamers will move towards the electronic versions of the boardgames (as has been happening for years with online versions of boardgames), the river will not run in the opposite direction and an influx of electronic/video/computer gamers into boardgames will not materialize. On the other hand…

If Microsoft versions of Puerto Rico or Princes of Florence or other quality Euros are successful (and I certainly think they can be as the basic product is sound), a demand for quality games to make the leap from board to screen will grow. Of course, this could very easily create a flood of copycat releases of inferior quality. (Just think of what happens when a movie or TV show is a hit. You can bet the farm that, next season, a flood of similar – and lesser – entries will magically appear). But cream tends to rise to the top. This, in turn, will encourage the development of more games of originality and exceptional play value – both of the electronic and board variety – with an eye towards the pot of gold at the end of the Microsoft (and other video game developers) rainbow. And encouragement – whether it’s in terms of simple recognition or royalties or licensing fees – is something we all can use.

In this issue of GA REPORT, we march into Valhalla, get quirky, explore our murderous intentions and erupt! Meanwhile, Frank Hamrick goes into battle, Chris Kovac struggles in Rome and Pevans does some traveling. Plus the return of Game Classics and “The Gamer’s Bookshelf”. And, of course, much more.

Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President


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Spring 2007 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Frank Hamrick (Days of Wonder, 2 players or teams, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes; $70) The following review carries my name – but is actually a collaborative effort between me and my gaming friend – Scott Brooks. Scott is more of a hard core war gamer than me, while my preferences lie closer to typical Euro games (though I love conflict in ...
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Reviewed by Chris Kovac (Kosmos/Mayfair Games, 3-4 players, ages 10 and up, 90-120 minutes; $49) The first thing do be done in a turn is the starting player, who goes first in all phases, rolls the dice to determine what resources are generated this turn. Four resources are rolled each turn and the number has to be unique. If a seven is rolled, he gets ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Jax Ltd, 2-6 players, ages 6 to adult, about 30 minutes; $7.99) Games are generally categorized by genre and there are plenty of genres in the World of Games. You have your wargames, your sports simulations, abstract games of all kinds and, of course, this is merely scratching the surface. Somewhere, in this glut of genres, are dice games. But for ...
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BOOK TO MOVIE OR MOVIE TO BOOK It's interesting how this works. You go to the movies and see a film that captures your imagination, thrills you, excites you, gets those juices flowing. Do you leave that darkened theater to rush out to buy the book that served as the basis for that film? If you've just seen The Godfather or Harry Potter, you might ...
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GAME CLASSICS: TYCOON [Since our early days, we have enjoyed highlighting great games that, for one reason or another, only lasted for a relatively short time on the gaming stage despite exceptional qualities. In some cases, we've reached back decades to shed some light on great games but greatness is not the sole province of the distant past. Sometimes, it's much more recent - ...
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by Philip E. Orbanes (Da Capo Press, 262 pages with photos, $26) Reviewed by Herb Levy In the World of Games, no proprietary game has reached the pinnacle of success enjoyed by Monopoly. Which begs the question "Why?". Where did this phenomenon come from? Why did Monopoly, out of all the boardgames released into the marketplace, connect so strongly with generations of consumers? What accounts ...
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Reviewed by Pevans (Mind the Move/Rio Grande Games, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up, 90-120 minutes; $39.95) Like football (soccer), Hermagor is a game of two halves, as the saying is. Actually, it’s more a game of two parts since the two sections are anything but equal halves. The first part is a clever and highly competitive auction. The second a logistics/delivery challenge. Emanuele Ornella’s ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy HEROCARD: RISE OF THE SHOGUN (Tablestar Games, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 60 minutes; $24.95) Tablestar Games has come up with an intriguing concept: a series of games all using a battle/duel card game imbedded into a boardgame. Each game in this series use a different setting. In HeroCard: Rise of the Shogun, designed by Alexei Othenin-Girard, the setting is ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Temple Games, 3-7 players, ages 10 and up, about 40 minutes; $34.95) A decade ago, I reviewed the then new Cheapass Game of murderous intentions designed by James Ernest called Kill Doctor Lucky. In addition to the often interesting ideas to be found in the line, Cheapass Games were known for their, well, cheap presentation. Whatever the merits of their games, ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Z-Man Games, 3-5 players, ages 10 and up, 45-60 minutes; $39.99) You could make a convincing argument that the Vikings were the premier plunderers and pillagers of history. With a culture lauding battle and bravery, Viking warriors certainly impacted greatly on the shores of Europe. Those days of lusty combat are back as players become chiefs of various Viking clans vying ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (MindWare. 2- 4 players, ages 6 and up, 30-60 minutes; $25) A "gateway" game is one of those rare concoctions - a game able to introduce players with only the most glancing relationship to games to more challenging play while able to engage the more seasoned gamer. The desire for a definitive "gateway" game seems eternal and is certainly a ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Blue Orange Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 to adult, 20 minutes; $29.95) If you think you've been going around in circles, you may not be confused. You may simply have been playing Ringgz, the colorful abstract from Blue Orange Games. Ringgs is a pretty package, its large, square box filled with lots of wood: a sturdy wooden board, four sets of ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (SAS Games, 2 players, ages 8 and up, about 30 minutes; $29.99) The great philosopher Mary Poppins was quoted as saying, "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down". Although Mary is better known for her childrearing skills, there is little doubt that these words of wisdom ring true. As though inspired by those words, we came across a game ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 45 minutes; $29.95) The exotic South Seas provides the setting for Taluva, the new game from Marcel-André Casasola Merkle. Taluva represents a volcanic island and players, through the placement of volcano tiles, will create the island and attempt to successfully expand their presence by creating and expanding settlements to win ...
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