Menu

EDITORIAL – FALL 2005 – VOL. 2 NO. 16

20 and Counting

 

It really is hard to believe. I mean, after all, where does the time go? Can it really be TWENTY YEARS since Gamers Alliance Report published its first issue? Yes, it can.

I was always interested in games. Some of my earliest memories involve receiving a big Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley game as birthday presents. We played boardgames a lot in my neighborhood, often playing in the basement of my home. I remember a Monopoly game held there which went on for hours until, finally, there were only two of us. At that critical juncture, the phone in my house rang. Now this was well before the days of cell phones and our house had no phone in the basement. So, when I scrambled upstairs to answer the phone, I told another friend (who had been eliminated from play) to step in for me until I got back. When I got back (it couldn’t have been more than five minutes), my opponent, Brian, waved a fistful of money at me! “Look at all this money I have”, he boasted. It seems that Brian had decided on an unusual ploy. He SOLD ALL HIS PROPERTIES! The game quickly came to its inevitable conclusion as Brian soon discovered that he had to pay for everything he landed on. One of the strangest victories in my long history of game playing.

I was introduced to Avalon Hill games soon after when another friend bought a copy of D-Day. I never saw a game like it and neither did he. It was up to me to decipher the rules. We played that game so much, we could feel the sand in our shoes from Normandy Beach.

But, despite our enthusiasm, there didn’t seem to be an connection between our group and the rest of the world. Then, I discovered Games & Puzzles.

Inside an Avalon Hill game I purchased was an ad for this English gaming publication: Games & Puzzles. I signed up for it immediately. G&P was a publication unlike any I had ever seen before. It talked about games, featured articles on game strategy and, even more incredible to me, reviewed current games in their “Gamesview” section. Gamesview only ran for a few pages each issue but it was, for me, the best part of the issue. Unfortunately, after going through a bunch of ownership changes, the magazine folded. Bummer! Surely, some other publication would rise up to take its place. Surely, someone else would address gaming the way it should be. Surely… but no. It didn’t happen. So, by the time 1986 rolled around, I thought that if I wanted this done, maybe I would have to do this myself.

With the supreme confidence of the uninformed, I decided to give my idea of game reviewing a shot. Gamers Alliance began with the publication of the Fall 1986 issue of Gamers Alliance Report. It was a small issue, only 12 pages long, pounded out on a typewriter and mailed to a select audience. Primitive? You bet! But, you know, I’m still proud of it! It was the first step down what has proven to be a very exciting and a very long and winding road, a road that has become 20 years long!

Gamers Alliance has gone through a heap of changes throughout our double decade. We’ve gone from hard copy to cyberspace, from a “one man operation” to a team effort as we have been benefiting from contributions from terrific gamers full of insight and knowledge and an unselfish desire to share! And a lot of our original GA members are still with us! A tribute to their tenacity and love of games – and an honor for us!

In kicking off our 20th year, we’re looking ahead to more great games and great gaming. And in counting our years and counting our issues, we’re counting on all of our members (and those new members who will be joining us) to keep us company on this wonderful and exciting ride.

In this landmark 20th anniversary issue of GA REPORT, we supersize the issue to offer 20 reviews and features! We dominate, twist dungeons and conquer empires. Frank Branham operates and is horrified, Paul Sauberer plays ball, Kban gets dynastic while Rob goes robotic! In another first, Larry Levy becomes the first writer (besides me!) to offer an entry in our Game Classics series. Plus we play 20 Questions with one of today’s leading game designers: Al Newman! And, of course, much more.

Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President


 

Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.


Fall 2005 GA Report Articles

 

20 Questions: AN INTERVIEW WITH AL NEWMAN by Herb Levy (Al Newman is a game designer with an impressive resume. He's done computer designs, board games, card games and more. He's even graced the pages of GA REPORT with his own brand of insightful game reviews. As part of our 20th anniversary celebration, I played 20 questions with Al to get some of his insights ...
Read More
Reviewed by Frank Branham (Fantasy Flight Games, 1-8 players, ages 12 and up, 2-3 hours; $49.95 ) Fantasy Flight is on an interesting tack. Not only do they create their own totally non-Euro massive adventure games, but they have started on a journey to resurrect a lot of classic 80's and 90's adventure games. This is the sort of stuff that people are paying literally ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Avalon Hill/Wizards of the Coast, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 30-90 minutes; Starter set - $24.99; Booster Packs - $14.99 each) Back in the 1970s, Milton Bradley produced a few mass market wargames. (Anyone here remember Chopper Strike? Or Tank Battle?) Without a doubt, they are best remembered for their nicely molded plastic pieces. With the success of Memoir 44 ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Eagle Games, 2-6 players, ages 10 and up, 3-4 hours; $59.99) Over 20 years ago, Milton Bradley unveiled its GameMaster Series. These big beautiful games consisted of three titles: Axis & Allies (a game that has maintained a large following and spawned several spin-off editions), Broadsides & Boarding Parties (a game of pirates and plunder that did not find such great ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Patch Products, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, about 30 minutes; $22.95) In our world, there are two kinds of people: those who play games and those who do not. The question for many of the first type is: How do you get the non-gamers over to our side? Despite the wealth of games out there, the push from non-gamer to ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Asmodée Editions, 2 players, ages 11 and up, 45 minutes; $29.99) I hate to admit this but I am one of those old enough to remember when Dungeons & Dragons was new. One of the pleasures of those old adventures was what became known as a "dungeon crawl" where a band of stalwart heroes (often accompanied by some of the less ...
Read More
Reviewed by Kban (Jolly Roger Games, 2 players, ages 10 and up, 30-60 minutes; $21.95) If this were a court of law, I’d have to recuse myself for being friends with the author. Al Newman, along with GA President Herb Levy and I, are the heart and soul of LI Gamers, the playtesting arm of GAR. But truth be told, I hate playtesting any game ...
Read More
20 and Counting It really is hard to believe. I mean, after all, where does the time go? Can it really be TWENTY YEARS since Gamers Alliance Report published its first issue? Yes, it can. I was always interested in games. Some of my earliest memories involve receiving a big Parker Brothers or Milton Bradley game as birthday presents. We played boardgames a lot in ...
Read More
(In this issue, we feature Conquest of the Empire, a revised edition of the classic Milton Bradley GameMaster Series game. The edition features TWO versions of the game, one of which leans heavily on the game design of Struggle of Empires. Here is the game as we saw it in the Spring 2005 issue of GA REPORT.) Reviewed by Herb Levy (Warfrog, 2-7 players, ages ...
Read More
FLASHBACK: TETRIS    [No celebration of our 20th anniversary would be complete without acknowledging the contributions of legendary game designer Sid Sackson. Sid joined Gamers Alliance as a Contributing Editor quite early in our run and contributed regularly for years. (For more details, check out the GA Timeline.) His first column (titled "Sid Sackson Says") appeared in the Fall 1990 GA REPORT. Sid did THREE ...
Read More
GAMERS ALLIANCE GAME CLASSICS Hall of Fame One of the popular features that appear in Gamers Alliance Report is our Game Classics series. In this series, we feature quality games that, for various reasons, sunk into relative obscurity. These games were deserving of a better fate. Here are the 20 games (listed in alphabetical order with publisher, dates of publication and GA REPORT issue in which ...
Read More
(Reiner Knizia has carved out a reputation for quality game designs and plenty of them. But not all of them have made a big splash in the marketplace as they missed out on the recognition some of us believe they deserve. In this installment of Game Classics, Larry Levy sets his sights on one of the lesser known Knizia card games: Ohio. ) OHIO (Jumbo, ...
Read More
GAMERS ALLIANCE TIMELINE by Herb Levy 20 years is a long time to be publishing a magazine - ANY magazine. Given the track record of publications centering on games, in all modesty, 20 years is incredible! In looking back, we thought it would be interesting to see how we got from Point A to Point B. So, here is our timeline of events that have ...
Read More
by Paul Sauberer I am not a game designer, publisher, or developer. Now, however, I am a “Game Historian”. What unlikely series of events led to the creation of this term, much less my actually becoming one? Let’s start by turning the clock back to circa 1979-1980. Disco is dying and polyester leisure suits are mercifully falling out of fashion. Yet amid this cultural upheaval, ...
Read More
(In this issue, we are pleased to welcome Paul Sauberer to our pages. Paul grew up in Annapolis, Maryland and was a fan of Avalon Hill games back in the 1970s, when he first got 1776 at a local toy store. Once he got his drivers' license, he made frequent trips to the AH offices in Baltimore to buy games directly. Paul also played sports ...
Read More
Reviewed by Greg. J. Schloesser (Goldsieber, 2-4 players, ages 11 and up, 45-60 minutes; about $30) Stefan Dorra may not be as prominent as more famous designers such as Reiner Knzia, Wolfgang Kramer or Klaus Teuber, but through the years, he has quietly been producing some wonderful games. Included amongst these titles are such games as Tonga Bonga, Medina, For Sale and Zum Kuckuck (aka ...
Read More
Reviewed by Frank Branham (Avalon Hill/Wizards of the Coast, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; $45) "Sparkly!" That was how I greeted the demo kit Avalon Hill sent out at my local game haunt. In reply I received a forest of groans. When you look at the production of this hardcore s/f sort of mining colony outpost wargame is all looks quite...precious. The ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Tailten Games; 2 players, ages 9 and up, 30-45 minutes; about $40) Inspiration comes from many sources. For Murray Heasman, inspiration from Ireland's Celtic heritage and the patterns found in the Book of Kells has yielded Project Kells, a beauty of an abstract game. Project Kells comes with a board, 6 kings, 6 variant cards, an illustration sheet, a rules booklet ...
Read More
(In this issue, we welcome Rob Schwartz to our pages. Rob enjoys gaming in general and "game breaking" in particular. Rob has the knack of finding the holes in the system that enable him to either show why a game doesn't work or romp to victory or BOTH! In his first contribution to GA REPORT, Rob rallies around this new release from the new ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Queen Games/Rio Grande Games; 2 players, ages 8 and up, 30-45 minutes; $24.95) For some reason, there has been a flood of two player games appearing lately. Whether this trend is just an anomaly or the start of something big, only time will tell. In the meantime, one of the more interesting entries in this recent deluge comes from Stefan Feld ...
Read More
Reviewed by Herb Levy (Rio Grande Games/ Ravensburger, 2-6 players, ages 8 and up, about 30 minutes, $29.95) Sometimes a game surprises you. That's Life (aka Verflixxt in its original Ravensburger edition in Europe) arrived as a dice game. But a dice game with only ONE die?!?! Seems strange. But in the talented hands of Wolfgang Kramer & Michael Kiesling, the game takes on more ...
Read More

If you enjoy games, then Gamers Alliance is right for you!