EDITORIAL – FALL 2004 – VOL. 2. NO 12

Guilty Pleasures


Let’s face it. Sometimes, we enjoy things we shouldn’t. At least, we THINK we shouldn’t. And maybe that “forbidden” aspect is what makes the thing so much fun. You know what I mean: swiping the last piece of chocolate cake, watching Gilligan Island reruns, calling in sick to work when you’re really going to the ball game. We’ve all been guilty of one (or more) of these indiscretions. It’s human nature at its most elemental. These are our guilty pleasures.

Guilty pleasures.

And Gamers Alliance is one of MY guilty pleasures. This issue marks yet another milestone for Gamers Alliance: our 19th consecutive year of bringing news, views and reviews of games to the gaming world. This makes us the longest running, continuously published, English language gaming publication in the world! I have a blast playing games and writing about them and sharing my own views and the views of our contributors with our worldwide readership. Nineteen years is a long time. And yet, many of my non-gaming friends have NO IDEA what I do!

I’m reminded of something the great Academy Award winning actor, Jack Lemmon, once said in an interview. He was just starting out, struggling to make it, and found himself at a party. He was buttonholed by a fellow partygoer who had a dismal view of acting. To paraphrase Lemmon: “I can still see this guy’s face. We were talking and he asked me, ‘What do you do?’ I told him, ‘I’m an actor.” And the guy replied, “No, no, but what do you DO???”

I’ve hade similar conversations and they usually go like this.

THEM: What do you do?

ME: I play games. I write about them.

THEM: Children’s games?

ME: Sometimes. Gamers Alliance covers all sorts of games. But basically, games targeted for adults.

THEM: (with a knowing wink and smile): Oh, I get you. You mean, X rated games.

ME: No, no, no. Strategy games. Games of higher level thinking and social interaction.

THEM: Oh, yeah. OK.

And then they slink away, wanting to separate themselves as much as possible from the crazy person they were just talking to. Well, call me “crazy” (I’ve been called worse!) but I’ve having too much fun to worry about it. Games, Gamers Alliance – those are MY guilty pleasures.

Now, of course, this issue features its share of some of those gamer’s games we all know and love. But, in a celebratory, festive, 19th birthday spirit, we’re yielding to the temptation and throwing in some “lighter” games as a change of pace from our steady diet of brain burners: a gamer’s version of “guilty pleasures”.

In this issue of GA REPORT, we’re sorry but we still get revenge, explore a haunted house, build a Keythedral, buy words and trump the opposition on the road to riches! Meanwhile, Greg Schloesser is furious, Mark Delano flies in the skies, Ben Baldanza gets political, Larry Levy is electrifying and Frank Branham gets heroic! And, of course, much more. Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President

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Fall 2004 GA Report Articles


Reviewed by Herb Levy (Avalon Hill, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up, 2 hours or more; $45) Had you been a game player with an interest in war strategy games and active about 20 years ago, chances are you would have had on your game shelf at least one of the games in the Milton Bradley Gamemaster Series. These games covered such diverse topics as ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Avalon Hill, 2-3 players, ages 12 and up, about two hours; $49.95) On June 6, 2004, the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Europe was celebrated. Timed to that celebration was the release of Axis & Allies: D-Day, another member of the Axis & Allies family (which includes Axis & Allies: Europe [Summer 2000 GA REPORT] and Axis & Allies: ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Face 2 Face Games; 1-4 players, ages 8 and up, 30 minutes; $24.95) A Sid Sackson game is always something special. But when a NEW Sid Sackson game hits the shelves, then there really is something to talk about. That is precisely the case with BuyWord, the new Sid Sackson word game produced by Face 2 Face Games. BuyWord comes in ...
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Guilty Pleasures Let's face it. Sometimes, we enjoy things we shouldn't. At least, we THINK we shouldn't. And maybe that "forbidden" aspect is what makes the thing so much fun. You know what I mean: swiping the last piece of chocolate cake, watching Gilligan Island reruns, calling in sick to work when you're really going to the ball game. We've all been guilty of one ...
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[In kicking off our 19th year, we're pleased to welcome a new voice to our pages but no stranger to the gaming scene: Ben Baldanza. Ben has been playing and collecting games since playing card games with his family as a child. Ben plays regularly with gamers in the Washington, DC area, and also teaches introductory board game classes through local adult education programs in ...
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(In this issue, Ben Baldanza eyes Election USA, an English take on the US Presidential election. In our series of Game Classics, we've highlighted some great games that have brought the race for president to the gaming table. As the 2004 election approaches, it seems appropriate to "flashback" to TWO election games from that series: The Game of Politics and Mr. President. This is how ...
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(Sometimes it seems as if virtually every game company has taken a crack at reproducing the United States presidential election for our gaming pleasure. Some attempts were more successful than others. One of the most successful was done by Parker Brothers. The result? Another classic game: The Game of Politics. In our Summer 2000 entry in our Game Classics series, we took a look at ...
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AMERICANOPOLY: A VIEW OF AMERICA THROUGH ITS GAMES by Bruce Whitehill (Swiss Museum of Games, 132 pages in English, French and German, 8.25" square, over 110 color photos, $24) Reviewed by Herb Levy Don't let the name fool you. Although no book on American games would be complete without some mention of it, this is NOT a book on Monopoly. It is something much more ...
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Reviewed by Frank Branham (Hasbro, 2 or more players, ages 8 and up, playing time varies with scenario; $39.99) I miss plastic. After a torrid affair with German games and all of their prettily painted wooden bits, I have sensed a curious longing for massively overproduced Marvin Glass games in glistening plastic. Somehow the bright colors and that funky petrochemical smell bring back my childhood ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Pro Ludo, 2-5 players, ages 8 and up, 60-90 minutes; $49.95) Richard Breese seems obsessed with finding the key to unlocking great gameplay. As evidence of this, just look at the string of games he has designed and published under his own, privately printed label: Keywood, Keytown, Keydom (re-issued as Aladdin's Dragons and Morgenland), and Keythedral. Now, following in the footsteps ...
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Reviewed by Larry Levy (2F-Spiele/Rio Grande, 2-6 players, ages 12 and up, 90-120 minutes; $44.95) Everybody knows the story of the ugly duckling that grows up to be a swan. But how many times have you wished it could be true of a game? The game may play well, but is hard on the eyes and offends the aesthetic sensibilities. Sadly, games don’t grow up the ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Face 2 Face Games; 3-7 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes (or more); $16.95) In the long list of games designed by the legendary Sid Sackson, games of deduction hold an honored place. Sid designed Ellery Queen: Case of the Elusive Assassin for Ideal back in 1967. Sid then streamlined the play of that game to come up with Sleuth ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Parker Brothers, 2-4 players, ages 6 and up, about 30 minutes; $24.95) Parker Brothers has been quite adept at taking an evergreen and branching out. Take Monopoly, for example. Not satisfied with seeming to occupy a spot in everyone's home, that perennial has sprouted a ton of offspring including Rich Uncle (a vintage gem dating back to 1946 - and featured ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Parker Brothers, 3-4 adult players, about 60 minutes, $24.99) If we're talking about guilty pleasures, reality television should enter into the conversation. Watching people embarrass and humiliate themselves for money and prizes is something that people really shouldn't enjoy. Yet, judging from the TV ratings, it seems we all do. Oscar Wilde said "Nothing exceeds like excess" and reality TV proves ...
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Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser (The Ragnar Brothers, 3-5 players, ages 12 and up, 2-2.5 hours; about $50) A new game from the Ragnar Brothers, creators of such games as History of the World (featured in the Winter 1994 GA REPORT and Fall 2001 GA REPORT) and Kings & Castles … and the game carries a Viking theme. The result? A must-buy. After just one ...
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Reviewed by Mark Delano (Fantasy Flight Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 20 + minutes; $29.95) When I first heard about Wings of War - Famous Aces, I was skeptical. It was described to me as a card based game of World War I dogfighting. Part of my skepticism arose because I thought that I had my two games of aerial combat, and the ...
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If you enjoy games, then Gamers Alliance is right for you!