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EDITORIAL – FALL 2009 – VOL. 2 NO. 32

When You’re Right, You’re Right!

 

By now, it’s not news that Dominion has won the prestigious 2009 Spiel des Jahres as Game of the Year. I make it my business to know and play as many new releases as possible so the best (and the brightest) of them can appear in our pages. When I first encountered Dominion, however, I wasn’t convinced.

My initial experience with Dominion occurred at The Gathering of Friends. An old and trusted friend (especially trusted in the area of games) named Mik Svellov came to me and said that I HAD to play this new game. It was still in prototype form but Rio Grande Games was very excited about it even though it didn’t even have a name! At that point, it was simply called “Game X”. Mysterious, for sure, but was it any good? We sat down to play along with two other gamers and the game was set up.

What’s this? No board? Stacks of cards? And the cards in the prototype were the most basic. No pictures, just words like +1 action, + 1 buy. In a rush of enthusiasm, Mik explained, you do an action, you make a buy, you discard your hand. When your deck runs out, you reshuffle the cards. Rinse, and repeat! Say what? Anyway, we dove into the game. Cards flew around the table as quick as lightning! It was dizzying – and I HATED IT!

But after leaving the table, the game dynamics stuck in my mind. This was something different about this and, the very fact that I was thinking over the play mechanisms convinced me that there was, indeed, something there and something worthy of a second play. So I did. I played it a second time – and it clicked! This WAS something special.

Mik, when you’re right, you’re right!

Not long after, the game was christened “Dominion” and released to the general public and to general acclaim! It was nicely produced with enough variety to ensure that the game remained fresh and fun. When the game netted an SdJ nomination for German Game of the Year, there was mild surprise that it even made the list. The general consensus thought it to be too different and, as a result, too difficult, to win the approval of the SdJ jury and, consequently, certainly deemed a longshot to actually capture the SdJ.

I have sometimes (all right, often) been critical of the Spiel des Jahres jury in its choices of Game of the Year. The range of chosen winners have gone from the sublime (Hare & Tortoise [1979], Focus [1981], El Grande [1996], Alhambra [2003], Ticket to Ride [2004]) to the ridiculous (2002’s Villa Paletti anyone?) But, you have to give credit where credit is due and the SdJ jury has come up with a true winner with its pick of Dominion as the 2009 Game of the Year. Dominion is interesting, intriguing and innovative, the kind of game deserving of such an award.

SdJ jury, when you’re right, you’re right!

In this issue of GA REPORT, we go right at more quality games. We experience the magical Middle East, pick up and deliver, foster a revolution, invade from Mars and pick up steam! Meanwhile Greg Schloesser goes for a ride, Chris Kovac goes underwater, Pevans stops to smell the roses (actually, tulips) as Joe Huber takes a giant step! And, of course, much more!

Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President


 

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Fall 2009 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue ALEA IACTA EST (Alea/Rio Grande Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 9 and up, 60 minutes; $39.95) Following the way showed by To Court the King and Kingsburg (Spring 2008 GA REPORT), side by side with Roll Through the Ages (Spring 2009 GA REPORT), Alea Iacta Est, from Bernd Eisenstein and Jeffrey D. Allers, is more than a simple dice ...
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Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser AUTOMOBILE (Warfrog/Treefrog Games, 3 to 5 players, ages 13 and up, 2 to 3 hours; about $70) While I often bemoan the reuse – over and over again – of similar themes in board game design, I am occasionally impressed by an original theme that I had either previously never considered, or thought would be far too boring a subject ...
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When You're Right, You're Right! By now, it's not news that Dominion has won the prestigious 2009 Spiel des Jahres as Game of the Year. I make it my business to know and play as many new releases as possible so the best (and the brightest) of them can appear in our pages. When I first encountered Dominion, however, I wasn't convinced. My initial experience ...
Read More
(One of the "Holy Grails" of gaming over the last few decades is a brilliant game of adventure set in the exotic locales of the Middle East. Rumors of its resurrection continually circulated and, in fact, a German language reissue of the game did appear in the 1990s. Now, with a new English language edition of this game finally released [and reviewed in this issue], ...
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Reviewed by Joe Huber GIANTS (Asmodee Editions/Editions du Matagot, 3 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes; $69.99) Setting up as a new publisher in the boardgame world is a tricky business. It’s certainly more accessible than setting up in some other industries – imagine the cost to set up as a new car manufacturer, for instance – but until a publisher has ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy LOOTING LONDON (Gryphon Games, 2 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 30 minutes; $24.95) London is under attack by criminal elements as no less than five rare treasures have been looted in a single night. But not to worry, the best sleuths (notice the familiar figure on the box cover?) are on the case, attempting to solve these dastardly crimes ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy MARTIAN FLUXX (Looney Labs, 2-6 players, ages 8 and up, 5-30 minutes; $16) The appropriately named Looney Labs often manages to come up with clever games with a humorous twist. Perhaps its most famous game is Fluxx, a wildly chaotic game of rules making and rules breaking (featured over a decade ago in the Summer 1998 GA REPORT). The game's success ...
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Reviewed by Chris Kovac RED NOVEMBER (Fantasy Flight Games, 2-8 players, ages 12 and up, 1-2 hours; $24.95) Red November is a humorous 2-8 player cooperative designed by Bruno Faidutti and Jeff Contier. This small box game is published by Fantasy Flight games as part of their Silver Line series of light gamer games. This game is set in a world ruled by gnomes who ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy REVOLUTION! (Steve Jackson Games, 3 to 4 players, ages 13 to adult, 60 minutes; $39.95) Throughout history, we've seen government change happen in different ways. Sometimes, a new leader brings a change through a landslide election. Perhaps the death of a royal ruler causes a change in governance. But sometimes, the political pot boils over as dissatisfied factions gather together and ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy STEAM: RAILS TO RICHES (Mayfair Games, 3 to 6 players, ages 12 to adult, 90+ minutes; $55) Martin Wallace has established himself as a name to be reckoned with in game design. Perhaps the most lauded game under his byline would be Age of Steam (featured in the Winter 2003 GA REPORT) which, for many aficionados of the genre, sets the ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy TALES OF THE ARABIAN NIGHTS (Z-Man Games, 2 to 6 players, ages 12 and up, 120+ minutes; $59.99) Some games appear, shine brightly for awhile and then disappear into limbo, never to be seen again. In some cases, they remain highly regarded and some even assume the status of a "Holy Grail" as knowledgeable gamers seek to obtain this gaming treasure ...
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Reviewed by Pevans TULIPMANIA 1637 (JKLM Games, 3 to 5 players, ages 10 to adult, 60 minutes; $28) The subject matter of the game is, of course, the first financial bubble—the runaway speculation in tulip bulbs in Holland in 1637, a phenomenon that has been repeated several times in the intervening centuries with other products and in other markets. However, before I get into the ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy VALDORA (Abacusspiele, 3 to 5 players, ages 10 to adult, 60 minutes; about $60) Exotic locations have long been used as settings for boardgames. But when you add to the locale the possibility of great riches to be found in gems, you've got the premise of Valdora, the latest design from Michael Schacht. Valdora comes with a mounted game board, 78 ...
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