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EDITORIAL – WINTER 2004 – VOL. 2 NO. 9

Raising the RED Flag

Since our beginnings back in 1986, we have always been on the lookout for the best games on the market. The idea has always been to spotlight those quality games so that our members could get the most out of their leisure time and money. Throughout the years, we’ve played, literally, THOUSANDS of games for thousands of days for tens of thousands of hours to achieve this goal. It’s been lots of fun. But, you know, it’s not always lots of fun.

Robert Heinlein said “90% of everything is crap.” He’s not far off the mark. Fifty games might hit the table before we find ONE worthy of inclusion in an issue. The Gamers Alliance philosophy, right from the first issue, is to encourage game creators and companies to bring their best to the gaming table. It’s hard enough to follow the creative process from idea to finished product to its end result. We enthusiastically support these efforts and we have never wished to undermine such enterprises with gratuitous criticism from kibitzers on the sidelines. But, sometimes, you just have to raise an alarm.

As we enter 2004, there’s no disputing that the releases of the last year were, on the whole, disappointing. Whether the root causes were failing to meet high expectations (caused by some of the great games released over the past few years), declining creativity on the part of quality designers, lack of necessary game development, or other factors…who knows? But it’s a fact: many recent releases have failed to meet standards that make them worthy of repeated play and, just as important, worthy of you spending your hard-earned leisure time and money on them.

In response to this situation, we are starting a new feature in GAMERS ALLIANCE REPORT: Raising the Red Flag. This feature will appear whenever we find ourselves with a game that promises so much and delivers so little. That’s when we’ll Red Flag them and tell you why you should think twice before making the buy. It’s your money; you can spend it anyway you want. But remember: you’ve been warned!

In this issue of GA REPORT, we bid and build factories and technologies throughout Industrial Ages and get whimsical with frogs! We welcome a new voice, Larry Levy (no relation), who digs into a clever game. Plus Greg Schloesser is on fire and still feels like a prince while Kban builds buildings! And, as long as we’re talking about classic game design, we focus on yet another gem in our “Game Classics” series. And, of course, much more.

Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President


 

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Winter 2004 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by K-ban ATTIKA (Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up; about 60 minutes; $32.95) Marcel-Andre’ Casasola Merkle is best known for authoring unique card games for German publisher Adlung. His 2 best Adlung designs, Verrater (see our Flashback this issue) and Meuterer, made novel use of a single deck of cards, as both played more like a board game costing ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy CHINA MOON (Eurogames/Descartes Editeur, 3-5 players, about 30 minutes, ages 12 and up; $19.95) It is a paradox often found in games from Europe that games offering critical thinking challenging for adults often come embodied with incredulous themes. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. Take, for instance, China Moon, the latest creation from Bruno Faidutti. As you might suspect from ...
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Raising the RED Flag Since our beginnings back in 1986, we have always been on the lookout for the best games on the market. The idea has always been to spotlight those quality games so that our members could get the most out of their leisure time and money. Throughout the years, we've played, literally, THOUSANDS of games for thousands of days for tens of ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser FEURIO! (Edition Erlkönig, 3-4 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; about $20) One of the joys of attending the Spiele Faire in Essen is discovering a game that flies under the radar. In other words, a game that is not being released by one of the major game manufacturers and isn’t receiving much fanfare, yet turns out to be ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy FISH EAT FISH (Out of the Box Games, 2-5 players, ages 8 to adult, 20-30 minutes; $19.99) Inspiration is found in many places. In Fish Eat Fish, Reiner Knizia takes a little bit of Sid Sackson's Focus (featured as our Game Classic this issue) and adds a twist or two to create something light and fluffy. Fish Eat Fish comes square ...
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[This issue features Attika, the new game by Marcel Casola Merkle. But this is not the first time Merkle's work has appeared in GA REPORT. Back in the Winter 1999 issue, we uncovered a wonderfully intricate CARD game that had all the heft of a boardgame. Here, from that issue, is a FLASHBACK to that game: Verrater.] VERRÄTER (Adlung Spiele, 3-4 players, ages 12 and ...
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[In this issue, we feature Industria, the latest creation by Michael Schacht who first appeared in our pages with his Web of Power game four years ago! Here, from our Summer 2000 issue, is our look at that classic game of political power in Europe, as seen by Kban] WEB OF POWER (Rio Grande Games, 3-5 players, ages 12 and up, 30-45 minutes; out of ...
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[Once again, it's time to revisit great games that are, alas, no longer with us. In the past installments of our Game Classics series, we have featured an incredible assortment of brilliant designs: Astron, Bantu, Broker, Can't Stop, Daytona 500, Holiday, Kimbo, Mr. President, Ploy, Rich Uncle, Square Mile, Stock Market Game (by Gabriel), Summit, Troque/Troke and Wildcatter. This time around, we focus our attention ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy INDUSTRIA (Queen Games/Uberplay, 3-4 players, ages 10 and up, about 1 hour; about $30) Michael Schacht, best known for Web of Power (Summer 2000 GA REPORT) where he delved into political growth and expansion, turns to exploring industrial growth and expansion in his new offering: Industria. Industria comes with a mounted gameboard, 60 industry tiles, 4 sets of color coded markers, ...
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Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser PRINCES OF THE RENAISSANCE (Warfrog, 3-6 players, about 2 hours; $44.95) Martin Wallace is gradually becoming one of my favorite designers … but this took a bit of time. I wasn’t overly enthused by his earlier creations, but his previous two designs released under the Warfrog label – Liberté and Age of Steam (Winter 2003 GA REPORT) – are outstanding ...
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[In the first installment of our new feature, we're offering capsule commentary on THREE games that had so much going for it but failed to make the grade for us. You make your own decisions but remember: you've been warned!] ANNO 1503 (Kosmos, 2-4 players, ages 11 and up, about an hour; about $45) This seemed like a dream title. Klaus Teuber who gave us ...
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In this issue, we welcome Larry Levy. Larry's gaming experience is extensive. Larry was wondering if the world was ready for TWO Levys. The only response is to quote from Mae West: "Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!". Larry writes: "I've been entranced with games of all sorts for most of my life. However, when I discovered the world of German gaming ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Parker Brothers, 2 or more players or team, ages 13 and up, about 45 minutes; Disc 1, 2, 3 and 4; $19.99 each) Success breeds success. Think about TV series like Law and Order and CSI and the flood of spin-offs that flowed from those sources. In gaming, a recent big success was the marriage of movies, DVDs and game play ...
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