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EDITORIAL – WINTER 2013

The Search for Intelligent Life

 

As a kid, I was fascinated by the stars. Back in those days (when dinosaurs roamed the earth!), a city kid could actually see the stars in the sky before pollution made that impossible. And the stars held such possibilities. More planets for sure and possibly different forms of life. Hopefully, life from an advanced civilization could bring great hope and prosperity to me and my fellow denizens of planet Earth.

Now that I’m older, I’m still looking for signs of intelligent life. Except this time, my gaze is not towards civilizations on other planets. This time, my sights on set on something much closer to home. I mean intelligent life as in gaming. Which games are the games worth playing? Which designers are the ones whose work is worthy of a look? Which games are the best?

When I started to get involved in gaming, I did lots of searching to answer those questions. I read and subscribed to various gaming publications. I listened to the opinions of my fellow gamers. I followed the nominees and winners of a slew of awards given out by various conventions, magazines and organizations. Sometimes, these sources proved helpful. Sometimes, well, not so much. And as the years passed, I found less and less satisfaction with the information I was getting and less and less satisfaction with the honors and awards being given out to games that didn’t hit the mark. So, after years and years of substandard nominees and dubious award winners, I began to lose faith in the whole “awards process” – and then came the International Gamers Awards.

What sets the IGA apart from the many gaming awards out there is significant. In their words:

“The International Gamers Awards were created to recognize outstanding games and designers, as well as the companies that publish them. The awards are truly international in scope, with committee members representing countries throughout the world. As such, it is our belief that these awards will truly select the ‘best of the best’ and come to be respected by not only hobbyists, but the general public at large. We hope that this will lead to greater exposure for these wonderful games to more and more people and help spread the word of the “wonderful world of gaming” on a global scale.”

For those of you who have been with Gamers Alliance for quite awhile (we have been around since 1986, after all), these goals may seem a bit familiar for these were exactly our objectives in starting GA those many years ago. So, when I was asked to join the IGA at its inception, I felt this was a natural fit and I was both flattered and honored. While the jury of the IGA has had membership changes in its existence, it has always been and still remains an impressive collection of some of the most knowledgeable and respected gamers from around the world. Unlike other awards that seem to consult a Ouija board to make their decisions, the IGA actually DOES what it says. Although I can’t say that I always agree with the final choices (if everyone agreed, the world would be a pretty dull place), in my mind there is no question that the games honored by the IGA are consistently worthy.

Groucho Marx is famously recorded as saying, “I refuse to join any organization that would have me as a member.” I have long been a fan of Groucho (and, in fact, ALL of the Marx Brothers) but in this case, Groucho and I will have to disagree. I belong to several groups that I am proud to be a member of and the International Gamers Awards is one of them. So if you’re in the same position now that I was in then when I started my gaming adventure, and you’re baffled by where to find the best in gaming, let me point you in the right direction. Gamers Alliance and the IGA are good places to find signs of intelligent gaming life.

In this issue of GA Report, the search for intelligent (gaming) life continues as we explore Mayan civilization, grab some pirate booty, and plunge into the wastelands of Siberia. A few of my fellow IGA jury members contribute their insights into the current crop of games as Greg Schloesser takes Manhattan and Andrea “Liga” Ligabue enjoys the seasons. Plus more intelligent insights as Joe Huber gets into “train-ing”, Frank Hamrick gets snowed, Ted Cheatham watches the sun rise, Chris Kovac enters the arena, Kevin Whitmore gets crude and Pevans unlocks with the latest “key”! And, of course, much more.

Until next time, Good Gaming!

Herb Levy, President


 

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Winter 2013 GA Report Articles

 

Reviewed by Kevin Whitmore (Stronghold Games, 2-4 players, ages 13 and up, 90 minutes; $69.95) I have enjoyed playing the game, McMulti a number of times. So it caught my attention when Stronghold Games announced that they had tracked down the long lost author of McMulti and obtained his permission to release an authorized 3rd edition of his game. For you see, there is a ...
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The Search for Intelligent Life As a kid, I was fascinated by the stars. Back in those days (when dinosaurs roamed the earth!), a city kid could actually see the stars in the sky before pollution made that impossible. And the stars held such possibilities. More planets for sure and possibly different forms of life. Hopefully, life from an advanced civilization could bring great hope ...
Read More
[In our Spring 2012 issue, we featured a cool game set in the wastelands of Siberia. With this issue featuring the card game spin off to that boardgame, we thought it might be useful to "flashback" to the original review of the game that sparked the new addition: Siberia.] (dlp Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes minutes; $70) When Cole Porter was writing ...
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[This issue features Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar. In that review, comparisons were made between it and Stefan Feld's award winning game, Trajan. To provide a better picture to our readers, we've flashbacked to the review of Trajan contributed by Joe Huber as it appeared in the Spring 2012 issue of Gamers Alliance Report.] Reviewed by Joe Huber (Ammonit Spiele, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up, 90-120 minutes; about ...
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Reviewed by Pevans (R&D Games, 2 to 6 players, ages 12 and up, 90 minutes; $59.99) This was one of my must-buys at Spiel ’12. I’ve been a fan of Richard Breese’s games – and the Key… series in particular – since he launched the magnificent Keywood and his imprint, R&D Games, back in 1995. Keyflower is a bit different, though, as it is co-designed ...
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(Asmodee, 2 to 6 players, ages 14 and up, 30-60 minutes; $49.99) Pirates and treasure - what could be more exciting? Well, how about divvying up the treasure? Now that's where interesting things happen. And that is the setting - and the challenge - of Libertalia, the new game by Paolo Maori, as players command equal bands of pirates while trying to be a little ...
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Reviewed by Greg J. Schloesser (White Goblin, 2 – 5 Players, 2 – 2 ½ hours; $59.99) It is sometimes difficult to believe that what is now the exceedingly crowded and congested island of Manhattan was once a virtually uninhabited wilderness. In the early 17th century, this wilderness was deemed by the Dutch as an ideal area for settlement, as it offered easy access to ...
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Reviewed by Andrea "Liga" Ligabue (Asmodee, 2 to 4 players, ages 14 and up, 60 minutes; $49.99) It is unusual nowadays to read game rules and say “Wow! This is really new! I have to check to see if it really works!” But this happened to me reading the rules to Seasons. The designer, Régis Bonessée, is already known for at least two games: Himalaya, ...
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(dlp Games, 2-4 players, ages 9 and up, 20 minutes; 14,90 €) You know how hit movies often spin off sequels (or prequels or "behind the scenes" documentaries)? And you know how often those sequels (or prequels or "behind the scenes" documentaries) are simply awful? Well, generally speaking, the same holds true for games. So it is a very pleasant surprise to find a welcome ...
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Reviewed by Frank Hamrick (Surprised Stare Games, 1 to 5 players, ages 10 and up, 30-90 minutes; $59.99) Snowdonia is a 2012 release from Surprised Stare games. Designed by Tony Boydell, this game flew under my radar entering Essen 2012. However, several good reviews and ratings by attendees caught my attention in the days following Essen. In Snowdonia, players are building a railroad track from ...
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Reviewed by Chris Kovac (Gale Force 9, 3 to 4 players, ages 17 and up, 150 minutes; $39.99) Living in ancient Rome meant living in a time when death, danger and intrigue was a way of life. The Starz TV series Spartacus brought this world back to life and, in turn, Sean Sweigart and Aaron Dill have brought that life to the gaming table with ...
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Reviewed by Ted Cheatham (Clever Mojo Games , 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up, 60 minutes, $49.99) It all started in a one room town hall. How could the city founders foster and grow a thriving metropolis and what would they call it? As the coldness of night approached the warmth of morning and the sun rose in the east, the city ...
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Reviewed by Joe Huber (Japon Brand / OKAZU Brand, 2 to 4 players, ages 12 and up, 45 minutes; $49.99) What is it about trains which make them the most popular means of transportation to use as a game theme? Oh, there are plenty of games about other means of transportation. There are lots of games focusing on cars, though most of them are focused ...
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Reviewed by Herb Levy (Czech Games Edition/Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, ages 13 and up, 90 minutes; $59.95) If you're reading this, then the Mayan prophecy of the end of the world back in December has failed to pass. Fortunately. For now you can sit back and delve into the workings of Mayan civilization at your leisure as the ruler of a Mayan tribe and ...
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