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EDITORIAL – SUMMER 2004 – VOL. 2 NO. 11

Shedding Light in the Dark Continent

 

In the 19th century, Africa was considered a mysterious continent, “dark” and unknown. Africa’s mysteries were intriguing for many and many explorers ventured into the uncharted jungles to uncover her secrets. European countries including England and France carved out empires while exploring. “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” was the phrase that made reporter Stanley famous as he tracked down the doctor in the deepest realms of the continent. Quests for fabled treasures such as the “elephant’s graveyard” kept treasure hunters busy. And, of course, African exploration was a fertile theme for games.

You had Source of the Nile, originally published by Discovery Games and later redone by Avalon Hill in the late 1970s and, more recently, Africa, a Reiner Knizia design published by both Goldsieber and Rio Grande Games (Summer 2001 GA REPORT), There was even a Dr. Livingstone, I Presume? game by Skor-Mor several decades ago! So while Africa became known to gaming, apparently gaming, at least OUR type of gaming, remains virtually unknown in Africa. Well, at least, I had a chance to shed some light on this amazing pastime of ours.

I was contacted by the producer of a talk show on Talk Radio 702 in Johannesburg, South Africa and invited to be a guest to discuss games! And, on July 17, 2004, I made some personal history as I was, in fact, on the air in Africa.

During my 25 minutes of on air time (I outdid Andy Warhol’s promise of 15 minutes of fame by a good 10 minutes), I discussed our types of games with the host and several callers. Everyone knew Monopoly and Clue (better known as Cluedo there). One lady called in to tell me about a game she enjoyed called Go for Broke, a vintage “roll the dice and move” game where, instead of making money, you try to lose all your money to win! (The caller seemed to think that the game was unusual but nothing unusual here except for the fact that the game enjoyed a long successful run. Go for Broke was first published right here in the US by Selchow & Righter in 1965, staying in print for a number of years and was even republished in a new edition in 1985. The Games Gang brought the game back yet again in 1992!)

I spoke about games that did not use dice, that were geared to adults, that challenged critical thinking skills and were fun! I mentioned game designers like Reiner Knizia, Sid Sackson, Al Newman and some of their games and others. My surprise was that THEY were surprised! For example, when I mentioned The Settlers of Catan, published here by Mayfair Games and featured way back in the Fall 1996 GA REPORT, and spoke of how the game involved settling an imaginary island and building settlements, roads and the like, the reaction was strongly positive, something to the effect that, “The game sounds like fun, especially since WE [South Africa] were once a colony!” Once again, you have a receptive audience for gaming if they only knew these games existed! And that’s why we have Gamers Alliance and GA REPORT – to spread the world, to share the pleasure and challenging experiences of gaming. By the time my 25 minutes was up, I knew that I had illuminated, if only a brief moment, the dark continent by shedding some light on a world of gaming that is there but unseen until now. And I look forward to welcoming into our fold new gamers from the “dark” continent.

In this issue of GA REPORT, we build palaces, explore a city beneath the waves, and try to keep our heads above water too! Larry Levy examines the game that defies pronunciation, Greg Schloesser gets his feet wet, Frank Branham goes to war and Mark Delano visits Saint Petersburg! And, of course, a whole lot more! Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President


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Summer 2004 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Herb Levy (Eurogames/Descartes Editeur, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 30 minutes; $19.95) In the days of my misspent youth, I would love to play pinball. I'm not talking about the video game simulations of pinball games. I'm talking about those man-sized, garish machines that flashed and clanged and assaulted the senses as a big silver ball bearing careened around bumpers and bounced ...
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Shedding Light in the Dark Continent In the 19th century, Africa was considered a mysterious continent, "dark" and unknown. Africa's mysteries were intriguing for many and many explorers ventured into the uncharted jungles to uncover her secrets. European countries including England and France carved out empires while exploring. "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" was the phrase that made reporter Stanley famous as he tracked down the ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Kosmos, 1-4 players, ages 10 and up, 30-60 minutes; $39.95) People do not always view games the same way and sometimes, gaming "attitudes" do not mesh well. You have your "serious" gamers (who look upon games as intellectual challenges and "serious business"), casual gamers (who play for "fun" with winning purely a secondary consideration) and non-gamers (those unfortunate few who wouldn't ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games; 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $32.95) Rüdigor Dorn, best known for Traders of Genoa and Gargon (Winter 2002 GA REPORT), has outdone himself with his latest offering: Goa. Subtitled "Destination: Spice Islands", Dorn puts players into the roles of Portuguese merchants who must grow their businesses to become the most successfulmerchant of them ...
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Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser (Mayfair Games/Kosmos, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, about 30 minutes; $36) I must admit that I wasn’t very enamored by designer Martin Wallace’s early efforts. Games such as Mordred, Sixteen Thirty Something and Der Weisse Lotus didn’t do much for me. Over the past few years, however, I’ve become increasingly appreciative of his efforts, with Libertè, Volldampf, Age of ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Phalanx Games/Rio Grande Games, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up, about 90 minutes; $44.95) Maharaja, marketed as Raja in Europe, is the latest game from the design team of Wolfgang Kramer and Michael Kiesling who gave us Tikal (Spring 1999 GA REPORT) and Torres (Fall 1999 GA REPORT) to name a few. In this offering, K&K take you to 16th Century ...
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Reviewed by Frank Branham (Days of Wonder; 2 players, ages 8 and up, 30-60 minutes; $49.95) Many years ago, Richard Borg had an idea to create a very unique simple wargaming system called Command and Colors. A few of us very lucky folks got to play the original game for a year or two before Hasbro/Avalon Hill published the civil war game as Battle Cry ...
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PARTY HEARTY! by Herb Levy [Getting together with friends is a great way to spend some time. And a good party game can be the catalyst in making a good time great! What works best can vary from group to group, from eye strain to brain strain to stunts and more. So, here are a few party games for your consideration as we cover a ...
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[In this issue of GA REPORT, we welcome another new voice: Mark Delano. Mark is no stranger to the gaming scene as he tells us in his bio: Descended from a long line of cardplayers, I've been playing games as long as I can remember. Introduced to wargames and rpgs by my older brothers, I went to college an avid player of both. There I ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Clementoni/Überplay, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, about 60 minutes; $39.95) Sunken City, the second game from the Wolfgang Kramer/Michael Kiesling design team to grace this issue, allows players to go treasure hunting in an ancient submerged city while trying to avoid the wrath of Neptune. The large box of Sunken City holds a large game board, 12 plastic buildings (numbered ...
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Reviewed by Larry Levy (Hangman Games, 3-4 players, 3 hours; $29) You would think, with the Internet and the current massive coverage of games, that the days of the sleeper hit would be over. But games are coming from more and more varied places these days, so it's still possible to be caught unawares. Sure enough, at this year's Gathering of Friends, there was a ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Eurogames/Descartes Editeur, 2 players, ages 12 and up, about 30 minutes; $34.95) I have a certain fondness for election games. Tyrus, the new release from Eurogames, combines an election theme concerning two warring factions competing for control of an ancient city with the simple mechanics of "rock-paper-scissors" to create an intriguing game of bluff and counterbluff. Tyrus is the creation of ...
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