Well the big news this week, at least for many, is the release of the Firefly Board Game. This puppy was hot at GenCon, but not all GenCon darlings maintain their temperature once outside the convention hall (hi there Quarriors). I’ll give you more of my thoughts about this game below, as well as thoughts on a few other games. Despite the fantastic weather lately, I’ve been choosing games over fish, so I’ve played a bunch and thought I’d give you my thoughts on them, starting with the gorram Alliance elephant in the room. Don’t expect the same next week as the upcoming weather looks too amazing to pass up.
Also, don’t miss our big anniversary party on Saturday, November 2. Big sale all day, party all night!
Mini-Reviews (with some snark, and links to the boardgamegeek page for more information. Just add shipping to the cost when you click on those cheap prices, or buy a few more games you’ll never play to get free shipping!).
Firefly, the Game: First off, if you don’t like or know the show, don’t even touch this game. Firefly is a fully American adventure style game, reminiscent of classics in the genre like Talisman and Betrayal at House on the Hill. At its core, it is a pick up and deliver game: go to a planet, pick up goods, deliver them for a reward. Along the way though you will risk encounters with either the Alliance, the Reavers, or both. You’ll also be forced to repair your ship, have the opportunity to salvage abandoned ships, or shop at various supply planets to pimp out your ship and crew. Very American, but strangely, with very little player interaction. I can’t honestly praise this game for its design, yet I still really want to play it again. Creating an awesome cast of characters with sweet equipment is fun, and mapping a safe route across the board with a load of goods is satisfying. But strategy game it is not. This is Talisman in space, so you’ll have very little control over your fate, which means you’ll absolutely feel like you’re getting by on the seat of your pants. Also, if you pick up this game, head straight to Ikea for an extra table, you’re gonna need it.
Dungeon Roll: Dungeon Roll is a sweet little treasure chest full of lovely dice and fantasy characters. Like Firefly, this is a box full of Americana. It’s a push-your-luck dice game, which usually implies that you’ll have only two choices to make each turn, keep rolling or stop, and the only way you screw up is by rolling up some bad luck. In Dungeon Roll though, you’ll have character abilities and various treasures that expand your choices each turn and actually create the possibility of playing poorly beyond just pushing too far. Great Fun, and the perfect way to pass the time while you wait for your roleplaying buddies to show up.
Strut: A dice and cards game that took about 10 tries to play correctly. Now, its a great game. You’ll have a hand of cards showing dice combinations, and your goal is to quickly call Strut! when you think the dice on the table match your card. With a mix of speed and tactics, you will not be sitting around waiting. Plus, we’ve found that it appeals to both casual gamers and hardcore hobbyists, well, not the hobbyists who don’t like a little noise.
Lost Legends: Designer Mike Elliot is back with another fantasy twist on a popular card game. Shortly after the release of the now famous Dominion, Mike Elliot’s Thunderstone hit the shelves with a dungeon crawl take on Dominion. Thunderstone was far from the elegant perfection of Dominion, but it was still a blast to play. Elliot’s latest game, Lost Legends, is a dungeon crawl version of 7 wonders, with card drafting to build your character followed by a battle phase to achieve experience points. Again, the game is a bit mathy and completely unbalanced, but still very fun as a dungeon crawly experience. Absolutely want to play this more.
Bruges: Stephan Feld has been a very productive designer of late, with at least 3 games released this year. Bruges is one of his latest releases and it is a unique and swift card game with some board elements. A set of dice will strongly influence your choices each round, and each card in your hand belongs to one of 5 suits and can be played in 6 different ways. One way to play your cards is add them to a cast of characters in your little piece of the city, who will then benefit you in various ways. Sounds a bit mind-boggling up front, but after a few rounds a rhythm develops and the game hums along. For an hour-long game, Bruges is an immensely rich and satisfying experience.
Clash of Cultures: Now that this game is back in print, I’ve had the opportunity to play it a few more times. Like all other civilization building games, you will start with a piddly settlement and try to become a full blown nation. Also like other civ games, you can focus on becoming a military powerhouse, a spiritual leader, an economic mastermind, a learned society, or any combination thereof. The rules are streamlined for a civ game, yet the replay depth remains. The technology advancement tree provides numerous possible combinations, and often your opponent’s decisions can strongly influence your choice of advancements. The map, which will be randomly assembled each game, has a major impact on strategy since the terrain will limit movement and resource collection. On top of all this, you have objective cards that encourage you to follow specific paths to grab some victory points, paths that often seem odd to your opponent. Then we have the action cards and event cards, all of which can hurt or help you or your opponents. Despite its long playtime, about 90 minutes per player, I’m always sad to see the game end because it does feel like you just got your civilization to a sweet spot and you want to watch it grow.
Through the Ages: Oh Vlaada, you are lucky you live so far away, because I would stalk you, I love you that much. Through the Ages is another amazing civ game that feels so much different than any other game in the genre. The biggest difference is apparent right out of the box: no map tiles. This game is all cards; every advancement, leader, and military unit is represented by cards and annoying little wooden cylinders placed on the cards (or rolling off the cards and onto the floor). Acquiring new advancements for your civ involves grabbing cards from an ever changing offer, and each age, the offer gets better. Now I’ve only played an abbreviated version of this game, 2 ages and no war, and even the short version provides an insane amount of variety across plays. With this game and Clash of Cultures, I may not need to play any other games in my lifetime, until another civ game gets released.
Cheers and happy gaming everyone!
Our August vacations, both planned and unplanned, are now over, and we’re getting back into the swing of things, just in time because the new games are flooding us. I’m going to try and talk a bit more about those on friday.
Right now though, I want to discuss 2 things: the change in feeling toward Kickstarter and my unexpected love affair with Krosmaster Arena.
So when this whole Kickstarter thing got going for board games, everyone was excited, including me. Alien Frontiers and Eminent Domain were two games that sprang to life via crowdfunding, and I still thoroughly enjoy both of them. In fact, Alien Frontiers is absolutely my favorite Kickstarter game to date. Trouble is, those two games were released over 2 years ago.
Since those releases, we’ve seen a few years of, in my opinion, pretty lackluster games. As a retailer, the past few years of Kickstarter titles are largely no-sellers, but even worse, as a consumer I have found nothing of value to fund.
While I grew increasingly bitter about Kickstarter titles during the past few years, it seemed like everyone else was frantically spending more than their paycheck on every title that popped onto the site, especially anything with miniatures. Even worse, my favorite podcasts were overrun by announcements for new Kickstarter games, and the podcasters were slobbering over how awesome a game looked. I heard almost nothing about how the games played though, largely because none of them were produced yet.
I have felt strangely out of place. I felt guilty about my lack of interest in new Kickstarter projects (which, by the way, was nearly one per day last year). It felt a bit like being in a sci fi or zombie movie where most people turn into slaves to some corporation or infection, but some are able to resist, just to feel very out of place and vulnerable.
Presently, the mood is shifting though. The number of Kickstarter projects that go wrong is increasing, and backers may not receive a refund on their investment. Also, many kickstarter products are finally hitting gamer’s tables, and more and more I am hearing a sense of disappointment after playthroughs. Podcasters are actually now encouraging listeners to hesitate on purchases, or just not fund games. One of my favorite podcasters has now vowed to stop funding games entirely. Even the organizer of a list of top ten Kickstarter titles sounded a little sad when he posted this:
“I am no longer keeping up with this geeklist. I am not interested in Miniature games and since the top ten has been taken over by them this list no longer interests me.” (Despite his disappointment, Kickstarter has positively changed the landscape of the miniatures game market by broadening our choices).
This mood swing feels dramatic to me, it has almost happened overnight. I expected the current attitude to take shape much earlier, but now I realize that it could not because no one had actually played the games they funded. Thousands of dollars had been spent by backers but they had no idea of the true value of their investment. Now many are discovering that they overvalued the products. The games they received are not bad, just maybe not worth the hype, and not worth spending that $10-20 extra per game to get a few extra fancy bits for a game that won’t get played much.
Many Kickstarter games receive high ratings, but I feel they are being compared only to other kickstarter games. A game may get a 7, but in the grander scheme its really a 5, and that 7 rating often just helps with the sense of sadness we feel for funding something we don’t want to play more than once.
The new attitude is healthy. I am not against Kickstarter, but it needs to be viewed and treated accurately. Kickstarter is primarily a tool for people with no professional experience to produce products. Despite the awesome graphics, cool minis, and sometimes flashy videos, the game designs are generally coming from amateurs, people ust like you and me. How many people at your game night have told you that they are working on a game, nearly everyone right? Well that’s who we’re funding. This isn’t a terrible thing, but I am glad that the current mood is shifting towards more serious contemplation before funding a project.
I feel we have some responsibility as investors to weed out the flops. The recent dissapointments and failures are making us better at this. I hope that we can reach, or even surpass, the level of scrutiny that publishers apply.
Having said all this, I am now smitten with a game that by all accounts I should never have purchased for myself. The game is Krosmaster Arena. It is a Kickstarted game, a tactical miniatures game, and a Japanime game, all serious red flags for me. But after playing the tutorials with Mrs. Cloud Cap during our unplanned stay in crappy motels, I am in love, and I will be recklessly adding expansions to my copy of the game. The rulebook shows off deluxe versions of the terrain and special critters used in the game, completely uneccessary, but I want them all because I really think it will add to the already awesome gaming experience.
The game is definitely tactical, but with the luck of dice. In addition to the gameplay, the colors and characters are extremely appealing. I have not yet played a full game, and it will be a pretty long game, but I cannot wait to pull it out.
Whatever your gaming tastes, I recommend giving Krosmaster a try, which will be easier once we get our rental copy. together.
Happy Gaming everyone!
Hey everyone, those of you who read my latest weekly shop update may have noticed my somewhat negative reaction toward the Z-Man and AEG games that were recently released at GenCon. More specifically, I stated that the games from both publishers were “largely forgettable”. Well, after reviewing the expanded info that has made its way from GenCon attendees to the greater digital world, I need to backtrack on that statement a bit, at least for the Z-Man games.
My reaction to the Z-Man games releases was largely based on what I was discovering about their flashiest title, Atlantis Rising, and quite honestly, my initial reaction to this game still stands. Atlantis Rising is a slightly unique cooperative game that uses a worker placement mechanic, which is actually a favorite mechanic of mine, found in games like Lords of Waterdeep and Agricola. But at its core, Atlantis Rising is really a generic cooperative game, bad things continue to happen and the players need to communicate about how best to deal with them while accomplishing a single goal, in this case to construct a cosmic gate to get the heck off of Atlantis. Now there is nothing wrong with the standard cooperative formula, games like Pandemic, Forbidden Island, and Castle Panic use the formula very well. But unlike these games, Atlantis Rising has a $60 price tag, so you are getting more of the same for about twice the price! That makes this puppy largely forgettable in my book, which is not to be confused with it being a bad game though, so definitely give it a go if you are a fan of cooperatives.
OK, so Z-Man’s next game at Gencon was Alcatraz: The Scapegoat. Here is a game with a nice new twist. Everyone is trying to escape the famous prison by forming partnerships to complete tasks, such as digging tunnels or creating shivs. But every turn one person is voted the Scapegoat and that player does not get rewarded as the other players do. The scapegoat, however, can use blackmail cards to mess with the others. There is much more to the game, but the unusual aspect of voting every round for a scapegoat brings something fresh to the cooperative game realm. This game also has a more reasonable price tag of $40, and plays in about an hour. So this game may not be as forgettable as I originally surmised, though it may still lose table time due to the hurt feelings that can develop during scapegoat negotiations.
Finally, Z-Man presented Battle Beyond Space, a very fast tactical space combat game. Originally this game looked like just a miniatures battle game, but the information coming from GenCon suggests much more. Now I’m picturing something like Kingdom Builder with a real theme. At its heart, the game is a combat game, you earn points by destroying other players’ ships, as well as by collecting tokens from the board or occupying specific locations. What makes this game fascinating though is its very limited rule set. Like Kingdom Builder, a very small set of basic rules can lead to some interesting fleet maneuvering choices. Also like Kingdom Builder, the addition of just a few special actions, and the fact that those special actions will be different every game, makes the whole of the game so much more than the sum of its simple rules. I am now actually looking forward to this game, especially since the price is a standard $50, less than I originally thought.
So I apologize Z-Man for being so harsh last week, and I apologize to the Z-Man fans. We’ll know much more about these games in a few weeks when they hit the shelves.
A few months ago a rep from Gryphon games visited the shop to demo some of their lesser-known titles, and one of the games I ended up taking off his hands was a loosely space-themed game called Charon, Inc. After many plays, this unassuming little game has captivated the interest of my gaming group, so I thought I’d give it a little press to honor its elegeance.
In Charon, Inc you play as a corporate space mogul attempting to turn one half of Pluto’s largest moon into a massive complex of factories and offices. Each building is worth a different number of points, so the best mogul will be the player with the most points, not necessarily the player with the most buildings.
Each player has a hand of building cards, and to construct buildings, you need moon resources in the form of gems scattered across the planet. There are 6 gem colors, and every round you will randomly seed the different regions of the planet with fresh gems. Now the planet is divided into multiple sectors, each with its own color of gem, and to collect the gems from a given sector you need to have the most influence over that region, and this is where the game gets very, very interesting.
See everyone has 5 flag pieces on the board, one flag on each of five different action spaces. On your turn, you simply remove a flag from an action space to place it on the planet. This continues until everyone has placed 4 out of their 5 flags; the final flags remain on their action spaces and determine what special ability each player can perform. Thus, every time you place a flag on the planet, you are also deciding not to use the action associated with that flag. For fans of worker placement games, this is a very nice twist on the mechanism.
Where to place your flag on the planet is also very fascinating. As I mentioned, the planet is divided into sectors, and flags can be placed on the lines dividing those sectors or in the sector itself. When it is time to tally who has the most influence over a sector, you simply count the number of each player’s flags within or bordering a given sector. If their is a tie, flags within sectors are more powerful than flags flanking sectors. Essentially, with every flag placement, you need to decide whether you really want to firmly influence fewer sectors, or spread your influence thinly over a larger region to try and acquire more gems. When making this decision, everyone I have played the game with groans in both frustration and delight. What appears so simple at first becomes a pleasantly challenging spatial exercise.
My gaming group and I highly recommend this game for its unique and interesting challenges as well as its nice play length, about an hour. If the game sounds at all interesting, we do have a copy in our rental library, so take it home and give it a try. Your brain may burn a bit, but Charon is far enough away from the sun that you’ll just walk away with a nice space tan.
Hello everyone, and happy sun. We have a great weekend coming up with both a Magic draft tournament (Avacyn Restored) and, drum roll please, previews of Descent 2nd edition! The wait for 2nd edition Descent has been long, but from what we’ve seen so far it has been well worth it. I was not a big fan of the original Descent due to its fiddliness, but I am excited to experience the story and campaign driven 2nd edition with a refined ruleset. So if fantasy is your thing, stop on by this weekend to geek out.
Speaking of fantasy geeking, Small World Realms released this week, but unfortunately we will not have it in our hands until next week due to the holiday shipping schedule. Realms is an add-on to Small World that brings modular map tiles to the game, as well as story-based games that rely on accomplishing specific goals rather than just grabbing up territory. Sounds very interesting, so more on that next week.
Game release news, however, is really dominated this week by two BIG re-releases: King of Tokyo and A Few Acres of Snow. Because of limited distribution, we are still trying to fill all of our preorders on these titles, but we should have a few extra copies of King of Tokyo for sale this weekend. Sadly, A Few Acres of Snow won’t be available until next week, and even then we’ll only have a few copies. If you would like either of these games let us know, because once this batch is gone we will likely not see them again until next year. Yes, these games are really that awesome! We have King of Tokyo for rent, and with an appropriate bribe I can pull my Few Acres off the private reserve shelf.
One new rental this week: Survive: Escape from Atlantis
Finally, our used game shelf is extremely thin right now, so if you have any games gathering dust, bring them in for some credit. See our web page for full buyback details.
Have a great weekend!
Well the heat is on folks. We’ll be hauling the heavyweight room cooler into the shop as soon as we get enough hands on deck. Until then, things might get a little swampy in the shop, but we’ll do our best to keep the breeze moving through. Now is the time to truly test your mettle at the game table. How well can you manage your resources when the heat is on?
Oh, before I forget, we will be open normal hours all next week. Independence Day does fall on a Wednesday though. Game night is still happening, but maybe we’ll end it a little early to go watch some light shows?
As for new product, we’ve got another slow week, thank goodness there are plenty of great games already. We did get in a new batch of Lego Minifigures though. Our restock of activity books also arrived with some perfect items for the summer travel plans: dot-to-dots for all ages, Sudoku books, and great adventure maze books.
On to the events. . . . .
Meaty Game Day: It has been a long month, but finally the last Saturday is here. So bring your heavy duty games to the shop tomorrow starting around 4pm. We know that sometimes it can be tough to decide which meaty games to play, so bring your favorites and maybe we’ll decide the winner with a game of CandyLand!
Descent 2nd Edition Previews: I was not a huge fan of the original Descent, mainly because I did not want to sink hundreds of dollars into all the expansions that truly made the game great. But I have to admit that I am pretty excited about the new edition since it packs so much more into one box, at a lower price, and with a refined rule set. If all goes well we will have a preview copy of the revised version by next weekend. We currently have organised games scheduled for Saturday July 7 and Sunday July 8 at 1pm. If you have any interest in fantasy adventuring, give this game a try. Imagine a board game version of Dungeons and Dragons, but with a really mean gamemaster!
Avacyn Restored Draft Tournament: Next Saturday, July 7, is Magic the Gathering tournament time. This will be the last tournament with the Avacyn Restored set before the 2013 core is released, so come throw some angels into battle!
So the fellow who gave us the wonderful game of Dominion released a surprising new game at the end of last year titled Kingdom Builder. Because Dominion was such a unique and enjoyable game, the release of Kingdom Builder was preceded by a fair amount of anticipation within the hobby gaming community. Well, upon its release, Kingdom Builder turned a lot of smiles upside down, and a small turbulent fire was lit on the online game forums, where the minority of folks who enjoyed the game desperately tried to defend it against the waves of trolls attempting to crush every copy in existence.
After the initial flames burned down, Kingdom Builder quietly crept into dark corners where the proud few stealthily huddled over it, hoping to avoid the ire of their serious gamer friends. The hard core forum trolls aimed their spray of venomous spittle at other new and exciting games, believing that they had obliterated any hope of Kingdom Builder making a lasting impression. Well, they were very, very wrong; Kingdom Builder was just nominated for arguably the most prestigious board game award in the world, an award that guarantees lasting international success: The Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year). So now, the forum flames burn bright again, but this time the trolls have lost some strength, for some of them upon playing Kingdom Builder a few more times have begun to recognize the game for what it is, a very interesting light strategy game that nearly anyone can play and enjoy.
The purpose of the Spiel des Jahres is to highlight recently released games (in Germany) that, above all, offer fun and challenging experiences for a very broad audience in a relatively short period of time. For your average German family or group of friends (who, I’ve been told, play far more games together than we do here in the United States of Electronica), the Spiel des Jahres award provides assurance that all will have a satisfying game experience. Really, without any knowledge of a game whatsoever, someone could purchase an award nominee or winner, then learn it and play it in a single social evening and have a great time doing so.
Kingdom Builder, I believe, is a perfect nominee for the Spiel des Jahres award. At its heart, it is an abstract area control strategy game. The basic rules are very straightforward: on your turn play the only card you have in your hand by placing 3 of your settlement pieces on the terrain type that matches your card. That is it folks, seriously, that is how you play the game, you play your only card and put 3 pieces on the board, and 45 minutes later you tally the scores. Now, not all spaces on the map are equally valuable, and this is where things get very interesting. First, some map spaces are near specific locations, which can allow you to do more actions on your turn. Also, the conditions for victory change every game, so different map spaces hold different potential values depending on the conditions in effect. Furthermore, your piece placement options during future turns will be dramatically limited by the pieces you place on your current turn, so some careful thought is required. Combine all of these implications for piece placement and you end up with a fascinatingly rich though confined set of choices. Oh, and let me repeat: to play this game you simply play your only card and put 3 pieces on spaces on the board that match that card. How awesome is that, best game ever to explain to new players!
Well, enough said. Absolutely give this game a try, we have it on our rental shelf to make it easy. And play it more than once, the first game often leaves players feeling that luck dominates. Like a nice pot of chili, Kingdom Builder thickens and grows richer over time. Even the trolls will be crawling out from under the bridges and eating humble pie once they play a few more games.
El Grande is a game I picked up many years ago after studying many geek lists and game reviews. In fact, it was one of the first modern strategy games I purchased for myself, and at the time I had no idea who I would get to play this possibly overwhelming game. Luckily, I found willing participants, the game was not so overwhelming, and I have enjoyed many plays of it, including a session just this week.
This game won the Spiel Des Jahres in 1996, just one year after Settlers of Catan, and for good reason: simples rules with interesting game play in 2 hours or less. As the dorky dudes on the front of the box imply, you play the role of a stuffy 15th century aristrocrat in a silly outfit, also known as a Grande. As a Grande, you seek to extend your influence across the whole of Spain, which at the time is a land divided by multiple ethnic groups and kingdoms. Through the cunning use of your power (in the form of numbered cards), you will decide when and how you want to employ your court of dapper aristocrats, called Caballeros. The largest point values come from controlling the most influential provinces, but seizing control of these areas generally means you are not able to send your Caballeros far and wide to influence a larger collection of provinces. The constant struggle between fighting for control of individual regions while trying to maintain a presence in many regions really guides nearly every decision you make as a Grande.
Despite the greatness of El Grande, the game has two features that can turn many off. First, the game is extremely dynamic. Wooden bits constantly shift around the board and control of any given region is eternally in fluxx. Every round has a new and randomly drawn set of actions, and players bid on who chooses actions first, so noodling out who wants what action and how badly they want it is how every round starts. For those who like to figure out a reliable winning strategy and pull it off nearly every time, El Grande is maddening. I, for one, really enjoy the dynamism of the game.
The second potentially frustrating feature of El Grande arises when one player gains a healthy points lead. This generally results in all other players trying their best to hobble that leader. I have heard an enormous amount of whining about this ‘get the leader’ aspect. Luckily, the whiners are just grumpy because they are getting picked on. In fact, I’ll bet that conspiring against a grande whose influence has grown too large happened regularly back in the day of ruffled shirt caballeros. So the metagame leader bashing that nearly always occurs helps enhance the theme of the game. A lot of games have rules that attempt to illustrate theme, El Grande goes beyond that by creating an unexpected form of interplayer interaction that helps players feel like they are actually wearing funny outfits.
Happy Mother’s day weekend to all of you bearing the title, and for those not bearing the title, hopefully you get to spend some quality sunny time with mom this weekend. But if you are like me, and your mothers have fled to the opposite end of the country, a game or two may help with the separation anxiety.
Maybe a movie about the board game hobby will help too, or if you are one of the lucky ones, bring mom along. This saturday evening at 8pm we will be showing Going Cardboard: A Board Game Documentary on as big a screen as we can find or construct. We also highly recommend arriving early to play a game or two, perhaps even while you soak up some sun in our improved back yard.
Speaking of clear skies, the stars are shining at night and putting me in the mood for a good space game. So, this Wednesday at the game gathering, I invite any who are interested to join me in a space-themed game. I’ll have a few displayed on the counter and see who bites, including Eminent Domain, Ascending Empires, and Alien Frontiers.
Finally, before I get into the lists, I want to highlight a drastic change to our regular schedule: Starting on saturday, May 19, The Pokemon League will be move to Saturday mornings from 10am-Noon. This means we will be opening one hour earlier on saturdays. This also means that the Family Game Gathering will move to the Noon-3pm slot on Sunday.
Happy Gaming everyone!
Pokemon Black & White: Dark Explorers: The latest Pokemon set is finally here, and darkness abounds!
MicroMonsters: Remember Tiddlywinks? Micromonsters is like that but your chips are monsters, and each army has unique special abilities. Looks very fun.
Sanitarium: This strange on should arrive later today, so have not had my hands on it yet. It is a card game that has tile-laying and exploration elements that you find in dungeon crawlers, as well as scenarios for coop, competitive, and solo play. But essentially, you are trying to escape the sanitarium before time runs out and you go absolutely scary nuts.
Welcome to Walnut Grove: From the publishers who brought you all of Uwe Rosenberg’s fantastic games comes this nice game about establishing a homestead on the prairie. A very cool mix of worker placement, resource management, and tile laying.
Had a rep from Fred Distribution stop by and got a few not-so-new, but new to us games at great prices. Here they are:
Bridgetown Races: Did not pick this up when it first came out for multiple reasons, but we have it now. And guess what, the game is designed by a Portlander, and you’ll be racing around our fair city!
Blockers: A simple yet strategic abstract territory control family game with a puzzly feel. Ask us for a demo.
Charon, Inc: Mine the heck out of Plutos largest moon in order to build yourself a fat corporate empire. This is a simple-to-play strategy game looks like a lot of fun and has some very interesting mechanics going for it.
After School Magic: Bring your cards for trading and playing at 4pm. Bring some friends and $5 and we’ll get a tournament started.
Pokemon League: Still Sunday at noon for one more week.
Family Game Time: Sunday starting at 3pm we’ll get your whole family up and running on some great games.
Wednesday Game Gathering: Join us for some modern strategy games from 6-10pm.
Movie Screening: On Saturday, May12, at 8pm, we’ll be showing the film, Going Cardboard, in the shop.
Battlestar Galactica: Join Admiral Mike and crew for this excellent game on our meaty game day, May 26 at 4pm. All expansions will be used, so expect a 3-4 hour experience. Ages 16 and up, seating is limited.
New Rentals: Bridgetown Races, Pizza Theory
Used Games: 7 Wonders, Lascaux, Trollhalla, Monopoly Lord of the Rings, 221B Baker Street, Clue, Would You Rather
Modern games are by no means cheap. While hobby gamers rarely blink at a $50-$60 price tag for a board game, most shoppers gasp loudly when they see our prices. We’ve heard such gasping many times in the shop, and because of this we have to continually convince ourselves that the games we carry are worth the price.
Typically when gamers defend game prices, they compare the cost of a game to the cost of seeing a movie with family or friends. Nowadays you’ll pay about $10-15 per person for a new release on the big screen, so a group of 4 will spend $40-$60 for a few hours of entertainment. Compare this to a similarly priced board game that can entertain a group of 2 or more people for anywhere from 2-30+ hours, and the game should be the better value.
But is the comparison between board games and movies really valid? A movie is a very and largely non-social experience, providing a few hours of often mind-numbing relaxation. A board game, on the other hand, requires some effort, not only to read and understand the rules, but to make challenging choices during the game and resist the urge to scream at your opponents when they utterly trash all of your plans for victory. We see movies to be entertained, the movie does all the work, and it could care less if we are watching or not. Games require that we do all the work, and the game breaks down if players provide no input. So, while a board game seems to provide more bang for your buck than a movie, the experiences are too different to compare, and for most people a movie is a better bargain precisely because it is a less demanding and perhaps more relaxing experience.
Video games are a bit more appropriate for comparison with board games. Both are games, and therefore require some user input. Both are similarly priced as well.Yet, despite the similarities, many households now have at least a shelf full of video games, and the expensive apparatus to run them, while a much smaller number of households have a shelf of actively played board games. So why does the $40-$60 price tag for a video game not bother as much as the same price on a board game? Again, I think it comes down to the amount of effort involved in playing a board game, video games still do most of the work for you, and you can largely just sit back and watch the show. Video games can also be played alone, allowing one to escape social reality for a while.
What activity, then, can we compare board games to if we want some accurate sense of their value for your dollar? I think sports actually provide a great comparison. Like board games, athletic games are active and social. Also like board games, many sporting activities have a high entry cost. Baseball, for example, requires the purchase of a bat, some balls, and some gloves. Even the casual soccer player needs a decent pair of shoes. Sports and board games both provide an escape from the sometimes overwhelming responsibilities of everyday life while still requiring social interaction. Both activities also challenge some aspect of ourselves. Athletic games challenge the body while board games stimulate the mind and foster creativity. Now this physical vs. mental comparison unearths the age-old high school jocks vs. nerds rivalry, which in large part still subtly exists in the collective unconscious. But if we grow up and accept reality, in terms of value, neither is better than the other, and both are vital.
Despite the similarities between athletic activities and board games, one major difference still remains – the barrier to entry. Sporting games generally make sense, take very little explaining, and don’t require reading a rulebook. Board games, on the other hand, are often confusing at first and require reading cryptic rulebooks. No matter what comparisons we make, this is where board games lose all value for many people, the effort required is too great, and too uninteresting. Sometimes it just feels too much like work. As far as entertainment spending goes, board games require more effort per dollar than really any other product on the market.
But the mental challenge and sometimes frustrating social interactions involved in playing board games are precisely why I, and many other hobby gamers, enjoy games so much. For us the effort of learning a game, the often painful brain-burning choices made during the game, and the social challenges are what give games their unique value. Board games are not for everyone, but they are anything but expensive when compared to other forms of entertainment. In addition to playing board games, I rock climb, mountaineer, fly fish, see movies, and play video games. And honestly, board games are insanely cheap when lined up with these other activities. I think ultimately, it is not just the price of the game that induces gasping, it is more the concept of paying any amount of money for entertainment that requires mental work.
Now the sales pitch: we try very hard at Cloud Cap to reduce the barrier to entry for board games, because we know that if that wall is breached, most people will find a very rewarding experience on the other side. So step into our demo room and let us help you learn a game. Or take a game home from our rental library, and if you don’t want to read the rules, watch a tutorial on YouTube. Better yet, come to one of our many game nights and learn from someone who really wants to teach you their favorite games. If you find a game you like and can play it for a lifetime with friends and family, you’ll discover that eventually, bang for buck, board games explode for just pennies.