What accounts for the success and longevity of certain board games? “These cross-generational games typically are enjoyed by those who are young and old,” says Mary Pilon, author of the recently published The Monopolists – a book about the history of Monopoly. Popular board games “have an element of role-playing involved and give us a context to do things that we can’t typically do in real life. ”
She also cites the game-design mantra of techno-pioneer Nolan Bushnell, “which I think applies to board games, as well … good games must be easy to play, but difficult to master.”
Ur (aka: “The Game of Twenty Squares”) has been around since at least 3000 BCE and took hold in ancient societies from Egypt to India. Try it out for yourself with the British Museum’s free shockwave version. Fair warning: it’s way more addictive than solitaire!
The format consists of hexagonal board pieces, which can be arranged horizontally and vertically for various terrains and board layouts. Character figures are currently available for Rust to Dust and dinosaur-focussed Miomon, described as “a Pokemon-like card game in early concept stage”. Those with access to a 3D printer can even get an early feel for the system with a handful of free file downloads.
Board games like video games have become simpler, with perhaps the exception of the 90s German designs. Games like Suburbia, 7 Wonders, Dominion, Small World, Imperial Settlers, Lewis and Clark, and Lords of Waterdeep really just use one two or three simplified mechanics, these are the hype and they are where the hobby is going. These days’ games like Puerto Rico and Caylus would be considered heavy euros rather than just euros. Games like Terra Mystica and Russian Rail Roads are now for a niche within the hobby rather than the general trend. In the more ‘AT’ side the main selling point of a game like Eclipse or Eldritch Horror is that it’s a lighter version of something else. We are now at a stage where someone who is not a dedicated hobbyist nerd can buy one of these games and possibly play it. An aside to this is, whilst rule books can still get better, they are significantly better as a whole in recent years than they were in the past. Some of FFGs rules from the early 00s were a real train wreck.
For 2 to 6 players, designed by Sid Sackson, originally published by 3M (now Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro). Acquire is the best-known game designed by one of the true giants of game design, Sid Sackson. When it was first published by Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing (3M), it introduced a new wave of strategy games to many adults. Acquire has been published in too many editions to count, in countries all over the world. It remains popular in strategy game circles, and I very much suspect that it
For 2 or more players, designed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, originally published by TSR (now Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro). Before Dungeons & Dragons, there was no real roleplaying game market. After D&D, the term “RPG” became forever a part of our culture. It would be difficult to overstate the influence that Dungeons & Dragons has had on pop culture. It’s the ancestor not only of countless tabletop games, but also numerous online games, such as World of Warcraft.
Magie lived a highly unusual life. Unlike most women of her era, she supported herself and didn’t marry until the advanced age of 44. In addition to working as a stenographer and a secretary, she wrote poetry and short stories and did comedic routines onstage. She also spent her leisure time creating a board game that was an expression of her strongly held political beliefs.
Magie filed a legal claim for her Landlord’s Game in 1903, more than three decades before Parker Brothers began manufacturing Monopoly. She actually designed the game as a protest against the big monopolists of her time — people like Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller.
This sounds insane, of course. As the world burned, Britain was devoting serious time and ingenuity to keeping have-a-go-heroes stocked with gizmos and trinkets churned out by a plucky bunch of garden shed types. It all makes a little more sense, though, when you take into account the sheer scale and complexity of the war that was being fought – and the number of soldiers who were being captured every day. Nutty as this statistic initially appears, in their gloriously angry history of European POWs, The Last Escape, John Nichol and Tony Rennell suggest that, by 1944, there could have been as many as nine million prisoners of various nationalities spread across axis territory. Nine million. By the end of the war, Germany was essentially a vast, unevenly distributed prison camp – a nation of wardens and cells and far, far worse.
And that’s exactly what the Different Play Patreon is for. Patreon has grown into something of a crowdfunding darling over the last year and it’s perfect for individuals, groups or undertakings that need regular subscribers to support ongoing work, as opposed to the one-off projects of Kickstarter. Different Play are confident that they can pay a fair rate for the writing, art and editing that each of the games they are supporting will demand. Having just broken $700 per game, they’re also able to commission art and spend more time on the layout of the work they publish. This money, combined with their own collective mentorship, makes way for the sort of games they want to see, both in terms of production standards and design, and it’s in discussing their design processes that Mark returns to that subject of particular importance to the team: emotion.
Welcome to Ludology, an analytical discussion of the how’s and why’s of the world of board games. Rather than news and reviews, Ludology explores a variety of topics about games from a wider lens, as well as discuss game history, game design and game players.
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Open your 2015 calendars, everybody, because Geek & Sundry has announced the date for the third International TableTop Day. It’s happening on Saturday, April 11, and it’s never too early to start planning.
What is International TableTop Day you ask? Simply put, it’s a day to celebrate games and was created thanks to Wil Wheaton’s series TableTop. You may appreciate games all the time, but it’s nice to have a special day set aside for the love of tabletop gaming. Geek & Sundry has celebrated the past two years by live-streaming gameplay on YouTube and getting game retailers and fans involved in the event. International TableTop Day events were held in over 80 countries in 2014, and people gathered to play games at libraries, universities, clubs, and all kinds of venues. Yes, it’s pretty darn neat.