The explosive growth of the 300-person “megagame” | Ars Technica

Megagames have no strict definition, but here’s an outline of the (pretty typical) first one that I tried two years ago. Strange alien forces mass near the earth, alarming the world’s governments. Multiple teams of three-to-six players represent various nations, and teams take on roles like diplomats or military leaders. Each team plays its own straightforward game of economics to balance a country’s budget, fund the military, and direct scientific research.

Source: The explosive growth of the 300-person “megagame” | Ars Technica

A special board game about nonverbal communication / Offworld

And Then We Held Hands, by Yannick Massa and David Chircop, is a tabletop game about silently negotiating the emotions of a partnership. While a free print-and-play version of the 2014 jam game has long been available, the developers have successfully Kickstarted a brand-new, professionally-illustrated edition with a new mode and some enhancements. The art is by the talented Marie Cardouat, of Dixit fame, and backers have the option to support a musician who has donated musical accompaniment for players. It’s so exciting that Kickstarter funds will enable this deservedly well-loved, unusual board game to thrive in a market that tends to demand less sentimental or more explicitly-themed works.

Source: A special board game about nonverbal communication / Offworld

Bad Panda!

Let’s discuss Takenoko’s graphic design.  (Firstly, if it were my game – I would name it Bad Panda!)

This far too adorably designed board game along with its chubby panda figure, give a false impression that the panda is the protagonist in the game.  This is not the case.  He (or she?) eats yo bamboo while you try to maintain your land plots in order to win!

Everything about this game – the packaging, the graphics, illustrations, game pieces are done beautifully and with precision and detail.  This aesthetically pleasing board game may draw the attention of many potential buyers and players in the game aisle but it proposes one disadvantage…

VISUAL OVERLOAD.

I find the graphic design of the game – the packaging and the cards and chips – all very distracting.  Perhaps over time and practice, these variables fade out and one can focus on the goal of winning the game.  But this has proven difficult as the overwhelming rules, visual graphics, and many pieces can quickly deter one from staying in the game.

Imagine if the packaging and all its contents were simplified. Perhaps the use of color remains but the intensity of illustrations is modified. We may be able to play with better concentration if we were able to see the layout of plots and cards and game pieces with more clarity.  Game cards although quite simple, may be too simple.  There are no words, only visuals.  Could we possibly add some text to improve the game flow and experience?

All in all, visually appealing but I always say: LESS IS MORE.

A dicey proposition: why video gamers should also get into board games

The problem with video games is that there’s generally not much to show. Your Steam library may be massive, but it’s just not the same as owning something physical.Board games scratch that itch for something tangible.Forget those games of the past that look like they were designed by an accountant. Modern board games just look plain good.For around the same price as the latest AAA title, you can get an awesome box with all kinds of objects to play with: funky dice, colourful cards, beautiful boards and miniatures…so many miniatures.So while board games may not deliver the same graphical experience that video games do, they stand on their own as attractive physical objects.

Source: A dicey proposition: why video gamers should also get into board games

The mathematically proven winning strategy for 14 of the most popular games – The Washington Post

From Risk to tic-tac-toe, popular games involve tons of strategic decisions, probability and math. So one happy consequence of being a data nerd is that you may have an advantage at something even non-data nerds understand: winning.So how do you win (almost) every game in existence, do you ask? Here are 20 data visualizations that offer lots of insight into the most popular games in America, including chess, Connect Four, Monopoly, Pac-Man, “Wheel of Fortune” and much more.

Source: The mathematically proven winning strategy for 14 of the most popular games – The Washington Post

The Man Who Built Catan – The New Yorker

Teuber is still somewhat baffled by the popularity of his creation. “I never expected it would be so successful,” he said. Almost all board-game designers, even the most successful ones, work full time in other professions; Teuber is one of a tiny handful who make a living from games. “Going Cardboard,” a 2012 documentary about the board-game industry, includes footage of Teuber appearing at major gaming conventions, where he is greeted like a rock star—fans whisper and point when they see him—but seems sheepish while signing boxes.

Source: The Man Who Built Catan – The New Yorker

Suburbia board game: a simple, subtle economic simulation – Boing Boing

This game seems to lean heavily toward being a muliplayer solitaire puzzle at first glance, but once everyone is familiar with managing the feedback loops between reputation, population, and income, and with the scoring goals that are available, denying other players what you think they need becomes pretty competitive. Another nice mechanism is that tiles from the market can be played upside down as small lakes, which provides a cash infusion but also allows you to take a tile out of the game that’s useless to you but helpful to an opponent.

Source: Suburbia board game: a simple, subtle economic simulation – Boing Boing

The Benefits of Paper Prototypes in Games and Learning | MindShift

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Because paper-based games seem readily easy to make and modify, I wanted to learn more about the process. In August 2013 I had the opportunity to playtest a nondigital game called Socratic Smackdown. It is an “energetic discussion-based humanities game” called Socratic Smackdown (Institute of Play, 2014). Teams of four or six students engage in a gamified Socratic discussion. Textual evidence must be made to support claims. The game builds argumentative thinking skills—a Common Core State Standard for English language arts. Mission Lab at the Quest to Learn school designed the game in collaboration with teacher Rebecca Grodner. She even used it for her school’s “boss level” (end of trimester challenge) as a method for discussing dystopian novels in small reading groups. The rules were changed, with limits restricting what students could do or say. The remix was dubbed Socratic Crackdown, and hosted by Grodner dressed as the Hunger Games’s Effie Trinket. I was curious about how Mission Lab designed game-like learning experiences.

via The Benefits of Paper Prototypes in Games and Learning | MindShift.

10 Great Games for TableTop Beginners | Geek and Sundry

10 Great Games for TableTop Beginners | Geek and Sundry.

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Each of the games we chose for this list is easy to pick up, has a fairly short play time, and is guaranteed to produce smiles from winner and loser alike. After all, rare is the TableTop virgin who cut his or her teeth on a 60-day round of The Campaign for North Africa. Oh, and we should mention that we straight up nixed the holy trinity of gateway games (Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne) from this article. Those three are so popular that we can’t really consider them a harder sell than Monopoly or Risk anymore. On to the list!

Designing The Best Board Game On The Planet | FiveThirtyEight

Designing The Best Board Game On The Planet | FiveThirtyEight.

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Serious games — whether they be hobby games, boutique games or Euro games — are having a moment. Over the past five years, their market has grown an average of 15 percent a year, to $700 million in 2013. The Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride — popular gateway drugs of the genre — are the third- and fourth-best selling board games on Amazon.1 There’s more to these games than “roll the dice, move your mice.” Games in this broad category are typically characterized by deep strategy, an emphasis on skill and the lack of player elimination. In other words, they’re not Monopoly.

On BoardGameGeek, Twilight Struggle is ranked No. 1. Settlers of Catan: 138th. Monopoly: 10,441st.