Thursday, May 31, 2012

Every 100 Games Series - Qwirkle

My 3,100th game played was Qwirkle. Well, to be exact it was something like 3,098, but since I’d already reviewed Invasion, I went with Qwirkle. A couple thoughts I’ve just had. First, I should really finish my Geeklist that shows all these “Every 100 Games Series” reviews. Second, I should come up with a standard starting paragraph, now that I’m 31 reviews in.

Picture taken by toulouse on

My First Experience
My first and only play of Qwirkle came at the end of the 2012 Regional Warhammer: Invasion tournament. We were waiting on the tourney to end and so a few of us who had been eliminated, picked the game up, learned the rules and played. Since then I’ve downloaded Mind Feud on the iOS, which is essentially Qwirkle plus some double & triple scoring similar to Scrabble. So my plays of the game are somewhere closer to 12 or 13 if you count Mind Feud.

Picture taken by GeoSmores on
The Components
The game comes in a smaller white box, with a bag, and nice chunky wooden black pieces. There is no board, which I really like, so you just lay your tiles out on the table. These tiles probably should be called blocks instead of tiles. They are really thick, so thick in fact you can just set them on edge and display them in front of you, so that you do not even need a tile display that might come in a game like Scrabble or Rummikub. Each of these tiles has 1 of 6 different types of images that are in 1 of 6 colors. I believe there are three of each tile, so you have 108 different tiles. 

Picture taken by Angry Duck on
The Game Play
On their turn a player can do one of 2 things. They can trade out any number of tiles from their hand (which consists of 6 tiles) for that many tiles from the bag or they can play tiles. When a player plays tiles they have to be the played so they attach to a column or row that is already in play (think Scrabble here). They can play as many tiles as they’d like, but they all have to share either the same color or same shape.  When adding to the board, you cannot ever have the same shape & color appear twice in a row or column of six. So in other words, there cannot be two green circles in a single row or column. Players then score 1 point for each tile in a row or column they added to. If, they put the 6th tile in a row, then they get a “Qwirkle” which is worth an additional 6 points. At the end of their turn, the player draws back up to 6 tiles in their hand. The game ends when 1 person runs out of tiles and can’t draw anymore. That person gets a bonus 6 points.

What I Think
I was pleasantly surprised by this game. I knew that it had recently won the German Game of the Year award, despite being an American designed game from 2006. I also had some friends that had recommended to me. I figured I wouldn’t like it so much, with it being so much like Scrabble, if you hadn’t already gathered that from this review. However, I DO like it. The reason I like it much more than I like Scrabble are two fold. First, as I already mentioned, there is no board. You just build how you see fit. The added “board” in the iOS version actually is a detriment I think. The second reason and the biggest is that I don’t have to know some crazy, unheard of, and unique word that uses a “Q” & “Z” that lands on a triple score. I just make plays and try not to set my opponent up to make plays. But if I do set them up, at least they aren’t score a bajillion more points that I will be able to my next turn. I heartily recommend Qwirkle to any person, gamer or non-gamer, because I think it’ll go over well with family with young kids, gamers looking for a 30 minute experience, or old Aunt Milly who you can’t ever beat at Scrabble because she knew the word “quixotry”. I don’t even know what that means or want too.

Okay, if you look it up and want to tell me, I’d listen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Geekway to the West - 2012

Each year I go to three different conventions. IndyCon in March, Geekway to the West in May, and GenCon in August. All three are great fun, but for different reasons. IndyCon is great, because I'm so involved in putting it on. I feel like I "own" a part of it and enjoy seeing other people having a great time thanks in a small part to the work that I do in helping Dave organize the convention. GenCon is great, because of just the huge spectacle that it is. Crazy people walking around as zombies and Storm Troopers, with new release games, and a huge party of gamers. Then there is Geekway, where I get more gaming in over a four day stretch than any other time of the year.

I first started to go to Geekway in 2009, I knew absolutely nobody there, and had a great time. I've been coming back ever since. This year was the last year I'll have a place to stay in St. Louis, so next year I will have to make the decision if I should get a hotel room or not. I'm leaning towards, "YES!" If you enjoy board gaming, want to play a lot of games for cheap, and live withing a days drive of St. Louis I suggest you attend this event. 

Also, this event reminds me again of how awesome my wife is, since she lets me basically disappear for 4 days,  and never complains about it at all. She is awesome like that.

I put up a Geeklist about my Top 5 experiences at Geekway here: Geekway to the West #3 - With Pictures!

Here is the conventions website if you want to check it out:

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Guild of Thieves Update #4

It's been about 4 months since I last updated you on Guild of Thieves, the game I'm designing, or at this point I should say have designed! The game rules are pretty much in their final format, though I'm still open for suggestions and tweaks, and still have a prototype copy loaned out to a new blind play-tester. Well, he can see, it's just that he never has played before and I won't be there to explain.

The last time you saw me, I was trying to figure out if I'd leave the Jewels in the game, but now I know. The answer is yes, but not really. I'm changing the Feast to Jewels, because to me it seems much more likely for a thief to steal some jewels than a feast, unless of course it is a really fat thief, which means he is likely not the best thief. You see my conundrum. I'm then getting rid of the old "Jewels" which is the item that is worth more points the more of them you have. That will be part of the expansion "Prince Ali Goes Bad" coming in December 2012! I'm joking...or am I?

I was hoping to take a completed game to Geekway to the West next week for their design contest, but with the busy schedule of life, it just won't happen. However, I still might take a prototype that I have, even though it doesn't look very good. Jeremy, the artist and graphic design guy on this project, who has willingly given up his own time free of charge to complete this project is closer than ever with being done. He sent me some sent me some of the final version of the cards or almost final versions! Personally, my favorite is the Magic Carpet (though I think I just realized I probably should change the name to Flying Carpet, since all these items are supposed to be magical). I'll post them below, but please don't get so excited you wet yourself, this is just a game folks. A game that hopefully will be available for sale in June of 2012 through the Game Crafter.



Saturday, May 5, 2012

The 2011 Dice Tower Awards

One of the podcasts I listen to is called The Dice Tower, it is basically a weekly variety show on board games and the board game industry. With the demise of my favorite podcast recently, the Dice Tower currently holds the #1 position for a good gaming cast to listen while working or relaxing. One of my favorite things the Dice Tower does is a yearly award for a different games in different categories with the goal of becoming the Spiel des Jahres for the United States. I think this is a very admiral goal and one that I would like to support, so when they asked for bloggers to mention the Dice Tower Awards on their blogs, I thought it would make a good blog post to give my thoughts on their 2011 nominees. Also, as an extra mention, I really like that they give the games 6 months before they announce the winners, so that those games coming out late in the year aren't missed and they can see what games have staying power. So here we go with my thoughts on each category and there are a lot of categories!:

Best Game of the Year: I've played 7 of these 10 games that were nominated and overall I think the crew did a good job of nominating a variety of Best Games from 2011. If you read my 2011 favorite game list, you'll know that Eclipse was on there with one play even, so you won't be surprised that I think it will be the winner and should win. However, I'd also give a vote for King of Tokyo, which is a great filler game! Between the two, I'll likely purchase King of Tokyo, just because of it's play time and number of players, but either one deserve the game of the year.

Best Family Game: I'm afraid, I'm again going with King of Tokyo here. Why? Because I haven't played any of the others, except for Quarriors, and I was sorely disappointed with it.

Best New Designer: Jay Little, for Blood Bowl: Team Manager, not because I like the game (it's okay), but because I've played games with Jay and he is a really great guy. We played some Ascension last year at Geekway to the West. Also, because even though I'm not personally a big fan of the game, it does have a lot of fans in our game group and seems to have drawn a few straight Euro players over to it.

Best Game Reprint: Well, since Puerto Rico is my #2 game of all time, of course I'm going to say it. I've seen all but the Can't Stop & Evo reprint in real life and I still think that the Puerto Rico is the best. It has metal coins! Metal coins! It is on my would like to buy list, despite owning a copy already, because it just looks that good!

Best Production Values: I've not played any of these, though I have seen a few at conventions and game days. I'll go with either one of the D&D games, simply because I know Mansions of Madness had a few problems with the cards and the writing of the rules, which I consider part of production.

Best Small Publisher: I've only played two of the five games here. One was Rallyman, which I absolutely despised. I'd only suggest it to a hardcore rally race fan, because personally as a gamer only, it just didn't do it for me. I've also played Bears and I've got to say, it reminds me of playing Spoons with dice. I liked it and I can see getting two sets and having a great party game time. Also, Travis who is the owner of Indie Boards & Cards is a great guy, IndyCon sponsor, and makes quality games so Flashpoint is on my list of games I want to play. This is a tough choice category for me.

Best Party Game: I'm not much of a party gamer, but if I was choosing here, I'd choose...Bears! Yeah, I know it isn't from this category, but it should be. These are all games I'm not interested in (besides Dixit Odyssey should almost be in the reprint category). I've never spelled Odyssey before, sorta tough.

Best Expansion: I'm going with Small World: Underground here. For a couple reasons, first it is an expansion and a stand-alone game! Second, it does everything Smallworld does and makes it just better by adding even more variety to an already ever changing game. I've not been a huge fan of the Leaders expansion for 7 Wonders, though it's one redeeming quality is to make money more valuable in the game.

Most Innovative Game: I've played 2 of these games (Ascending Empires & Quarriors). AE was in my hands to purchase at GenCon, but I didn't. Almost, just didn't. It is innovative, with movement of your spaceships happening by flicking them across the board! Quarriors, is slightly innovative but it is mostly just a deck building game and not a great one at that. However, my vote goes towards Risk: Legacy, a game I've not even played, because in this game you actually permanently change your copy of the game by writing on the board, tearing up cards, and generally altering the game forever! How cool is that? I'd absolutely love to get a dedicated group of 5 people to play this with me once a month, so we could see our world change.

Best Artwork: I was disappointed that the Lord of the Rings card game was co-op, thus I didn't enjoy it as much as I would've liked, but the art on it is absolutely great! In true Fantasy Flight fashion, they really get the feel of the theme to come through in the game, which because it is LotR gets my vote over the other 2 FFG games in the category.

Best War Game: I've only played one and that is the only one I'm ever likely to play, so A Few Acres of Snow gets my vote. It is a very solid game and honestly is a "wargame" that I think just about any gamer can get behind.

Best Theme: Dungeon Petz wins this for me. I already am a fan of the universe because of Dungeon Lords and I like how they've taken a cartoony, funny approach to exactly how those horrible monsters the dungeon lords hires come about, by being raised and sold at market.

Best Digital Game: Ascension wins this hands down for me. As of writing this I've played nearly 60 games of it on my phone and will continue to do so. As matter of fact, I liked the iPhone version so much, I traded my physical copy of the game. The app is just perfect and works just like it should. I need to buy the expansion.

So that is it, my thoughts on the 2011 Dice Tower Awards, which have a LOT of categories and thus made for huge post. We'll see how it turns out, but I think they did a pretty good job with the nominees this year and hope this continues to do well as an award and maybe someday it'll mean similar sales & success figures as the SdJ does in Germany.