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EDITORIAL – WINTER 2008

THE STRENGTH TO LEAD

 

If you want to get sort of philosophical, it seems as though you can divide people into two basic groups: leaders and followers. Some people like to “go with the flow”, following a trail already blazed, having full confidence that the direction to be taken is safe, secure and true. On the other hand, some people like to make the decisions, take charge and exercise control. What makes this so interesting is that often these roles shift depending on the particular situation, with leaders in one scenario perfectly comfortable in taking a back seat while followers traveling comfortably in the wake of someone else’s leadership will sometimes rise to the first rank in making key decisions in another arena. In gaming, both types are necessary and valued. But in gaming, it takes a certain strength to lead.

We have a lot of games coming to our gaming table. From my perspective, it is EXTREMELY important that the games are played the way the designers intended they be played. How else can you fairly evaluate them? For this reason, the role of the “game leader” is pivotal.

The game leader must be fully conversant in the nuts and bolts of the game play. He need not be fluent in the best strategies of the game. (The game is brand new; part of the fun is in discovering the best strategies of a game, strategies that are often not immediately apparent.) But he MUST be comfortable with the salient points of the game so that fellow players around the table can get into the ebb and flow of play with the least amount of fumbling. For that to happen, a leader must have a certain mental toughness.

By this, I mean that game leaders must go the extra mile to make sure that a game hitting the table has a fair chance to be experienced the way it was intended to experienced. For example, a game leader must:

1. Be able to explain the rules in HIS OWN WORDS so that fellow gamers can grasp them quickly. (It is, of course, fine to refer to the rules. No one expects a game leader to memorize a new game. On the other hand, sitting down to the table and reading the rules verbatim to the fellow gamers is not leading.)

2. Be prepared to bring to the session play aids that may be beneficial to smooth playing. (Card translations, should there be text in a foreign language, for example, is extremely helpful. Reproducing play aids that come with a game so that each player has their own set to help with the game play is another helpful example.)

3. Maintain control when gamers ask questions. Some questions can be answered immediately but sometimes, you’ll have to ask your fellow participants to wait just a little bit more as the answers to their questions will become apparent very very soon.

We are living at a time when boardgaming is riding a wave of quality. So many excellent designers, so many excellent game. So many games, so little time! But if we are fortunate enough to have strong game leaders, the time we have playing games can be well spent.

In this issue of GA REPORT, we bring to the table some more quality games. We garden in Babylon, travel to Cuba, sail the seas, join a league and run for President of the United States! Meanwhile, Al Newman hears dark whisperings, Chris Kovac goes into battle, Joe Huber digs up something new and Jeff Feuer enjoys a harvest while we flashback with Kban to a great game! Plus, we welcome first time contributor Andrea “Liga” Ligabue from his trip throughout the galaxy! And, of course, much more!

Until next time, Good Gaming! — Herb Levy, President


 

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Winter 2008 GA Report Articles

reviewed by Herb Levy (Z-Man Games, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $49.99) With 2008 being a presidential election year, it is only natural that the marketplace will find itself swell with games seeking to simulate the event. But rather than looking at the upcoming election, 1960: The Making of the President looks back to one of the closest elections of the last ...
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Reviewed by Joe Huber (Lookout Games, 1-5 players, ages 12 to adult, 30 to 2 1/2 hours; about $70) The ranking system on BoardGameGeek is fairly good at keeping new games from rising too quickly in the ratings – unless a game is a runaway hit. In 2005, Caylus (Winter 2006 GA REPORT) rose to the top ten in short order. In 2006, it was Battlelore ...
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reviewed by Herb Levy (Ystari Games, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 60-120 minutes; $55) Despite being a relatively new company, Ystari Games has, to its credit, released a remarkable series of very strong games. Ys (Winter 2005 GA REPORT), Caylus (Winter 2006 GA REPORT), Mykerinos (Summer 2006 GA REPORT), Yspahan (Winter 2007 GA REPORT) and Caylus: Magna Carta (Fall 2007 GA REPORT) read like ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Robot Martini Games, 3-4 players, about 20 minutes; $5.99) With 2008 being an election year in the United States, it is only natural that games with an election as a focal point would appear in the marketplace. And so it is with, Ballot Bots, a reworked version of a three player game called Treeo, published by Robot Martini Games (www.robotmartini.com) where ...
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Reviewed by Chris Kovac (Red Juggernaut Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 60-90; $49.99) Battue is a very thematic area conquest boardgame designed by Jim Long where you get to play competing barbarian hordes overrunning and looting a Roman city. The barbarian with the most loot (a combination of loot cards and controlling the high value building tiles) at the end of the game ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Eggertspiele/Rio Grande Games, 2-5 players, ages 12 and up, 75-120 minutes; $59.95) Suppose Puerto Rico (Spring 2002 GA REPORT) and San Juan (Spring 2004 GA REPORT) had a child. What do you suppose it would look like? Well, if the child was delivered by the design team of Michael Rieneck and Stefan Stadler, the same team who gave us Pillars of ...
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THE STRENGTH TO LEAD If you want to get sort of philosophical, it seems as though you can divide people into two basic groups: leaders and followers. Some people like to "go with the flow", following a trail already blazed, having full confidence that the direction to be taken is safe, secure and true. On the other hand, some people like to make the decisions, ...
Read More
(Z-Man Games, 2-5 players, ages 10 and up, 60-120 minutes; $55) One of the great games that has flown under the radar in recent years is Tycoon, a candidate for the Spiel des Jahres that received feature treatment from us nearly 10 years ago in the Summer 1998 GA REPORT (and reprinted in this issue). This brilliant game by the design team of Wolfgang Kramer ...
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(With the release of El Capitan, a revised edition of Tycoon featured in this issue - we thought it would be interesting to see the reception Tycoon received when it made its debut. So, we've "flashbacked" to Kban's review of the game from the Summer 1998 issue of GA REPORT.) (Jumbo International, out of print) As designed by Wolfgang Kramer and Horst-Rainer Rösner, Tycoon is ...
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Reviewed by Jeff Feuer (R&D Games/Abacus Spiele/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 8 and up, 60-90 minutes; $49.99) One of the things we love about Euro Games are those tiny little side rules and exceptions that go along with the basic rules. Some games are like Puerto Rico (Spring 2002 GA REPORT) and all the players need to know every last one of the rules ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy LEAGUE OF SIX (Czech Games Edition, 3-5 players, ages 12 and up, 60-90 minutes; about $50) The title sounds like a band of superheroes out to right the wrongs of villainous criminals. It's not. The title actually refers to six towns of the Holy Roman Empire that, in 1430 AD, joined together to preserve their commercial interests and protect their security ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (MOD Games/JKLM Games, 2 players, ages 12 and up, 45 minutes; $39.99) The time is England in the 5th century with Saxons and Celts clashing for control. In Macht & Ohnmacht (Power & Weakness), the struggle within the struggle is critical as not only knights but magicians too, operating in cycles, will determine which side will win. Macht & Ohnmacht (Power ...
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Reviewed by Al Newman (Adlung-Spiele, 3-5 players, ages 10 and up, 45-60 minutes; about $10) Adlung-Spiele makes nothing but inexpensive card games but over the last few years, several have emerged as genuine gems.  Verrater (Winter 1999 GA REPORT) and Meuterer (2000), both designed by Marcel-André Casasola Merkle, have become revered as classics and are highly rated at Boardgamegeek.com.  Quite a few others have turned ...
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[We welcome first time contribute Andrea "Liga" Ligabue, a well known gamer from Italy with a varied background, broad interests and a keen insight in gaming. As he says: "I was born in Modena in 1972 and since my childhood I really enjoyed playing and inventing games. My real "debut in society" was when I was 16 years old and I entered for the first ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Days of Wonder, 2-3 players, ages 8 and up, 30-60 minutes; $25) One of the most popular games in recent history has come from the talents of Alan Moon: Ticket to Ride (featured in the Spring 2004 GAMERS ALLIANCE REPORT). Not only has the game won many honors, it has also spawned a series of sequels in its wake including Ticket ...
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