Friday, August 31, 2007

Weekend Coming

I'm happy that Nadine is back in the country. There's at least the potential for shabbat afternoon gaming again. She'll be away the next few shabbats, but we're planning an afternoon of gaming on the long three day Rosh Hashana weekend.

Games Day has been set to Sunday, Sept 30, 2007. If anyone is in or near Jerusalem, you're welcome to come. The point of our game group is to introduce people to new games, so don't feel that you have to know the games first in order to come. Games day is from 10 am to 10 pm and usually gets around 25 people of all levels.

My new blog on corporate blogging, Blogging Without a Wire, is starting up with fits and starts. I just posted a post with over 1,900 web 2.0 jobs. Check it out if you're interested.

d21 Gaming covers one of my favorite topics, gaming and etiquette, in this case the basic amenities and manners that should be around for game night. For more on the topic, see my article Gaming and Ethics 3.0: Game Groups .

While on the subject of ethics and gaming, Bill Radie hit a problem many of us experience while gaming, namely table talk that goes too far.

GameNews Weekly this week discusses board games from Germany and DVD board games. I can't get the article from their site, but Cross-Media Entertainment excerpts some of the article, Mixed Media Board Games.

The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics has many a scholarly article, some of which in every volume are about games. Here's one by John Wastlund from 2005 detailing his solution to the two-player game of single-suit Whist (in PDF format).

User Friendly has about the same thing to say about D&D's new edition 4.0 that I do.

Mancala aka warri aka oware is receiving some academic interest.

And my news of the week: Grandmothers of Alberta for a New Generation (GANG) have launched Scrabble fundraising activities in order to raise money for children in Africa who have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Session Report Up, in which we still have rules problems with Lost Valley

The latest Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club session report is up. Games played: Princes of Florence, Lost Valley, Modern Art, Bridge, Go.

Craftster magazine is running a contest to see who can revamp or reuse any old board game the best. Prize is mention in the magazine and a Veriflux full-spectrum lamp.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mattel Buys Games From Out of the Box

Mattel, recently in the news for recalling 19 million toys contaminated with lead, just announced that it is buying the rights to several games from Out of the Box Publishing, including Apples to Apples, Snorta, and Blink. (also on Forbes)

On the subject of games and art, Wired has an article that contends that games are better in the horror genre than movies.

The Daily News Journal touts games as useful educational tools for the classroom. One thing bothers me. They say that kids who play chess are more likely to be able to concentrate and plan and so on... Is that because the game helps them do these things, or is that because these are the type of kids who are drawn to chess?

Here's an incredibly convoluted article about games. I'm not entirely sure what it's about. On the one hand it says that today's toys are not like yesterday's toys. On the other hand, it says that yesterday's board games are still the most popular games. Hmmm...

You can now play UNO on your Blackberry.


Foxmind Israel

I had a little chat last night with Dror, one of the the co-owners of Foxmind, and director of Foxmind Israel. I wondered how Foxmind got to be so well represented in Israeli toy stores. Turns out that one of the co-owners lives in Israel.

The contact was made because Sekkoia (Blokus) was kind enough to send me a copy of Blokus Trigon to review (I wasn't promised anything when I wrote the article about them, by the way). Blokus is represented in Israel by Foxmind.

All of the traditions of who publishes what games change depending on which country you're in. Europe is one thing, America something else, and Israel yet something else.

In Israel, major publisher names on the better games in the stores include GameWright, Winning Moves, and Foxmind. The same games would have different publishers, and sometimes I think even reversed publishers, in some other country. Such is how licensing works.

Anyhoo, Foxmind publishes their own games as well as other publishers' games, and is also working on versions of online games. They have two up right now. If you take a look at some of the games in their catalog you'll notice a number that are not on BGG yet, as they've not been translated into English or distributed out of Israel. Dror hopes this will change, soon.

And by the way, their best-seller in Israel? Rat-a-Tat Cat. Despite the fact that some segments of the Israeli population won't buy card games with pictures of cats or rats on them.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

As Long As We're Linking 24

Here's my update on what's new on the board game blogging scene. I only track blogs and podcasts which actually update and contain topics of general interest (i.e. not blogs devoted to a single game or promotional blogs for a game store or publisher).

This month I did another big purge of the blog list, dropping around twenty blogs or podcasts which haven't been updating. If you're not on my blogroll, it means I haven't yet found you, or you don't match my criteria, or you haven't been blogging. Shame on you.

ARKade Christian Gaming - Someone called "Archangel", Chattanooga, TN. An introduction to "Christian games". Have at 'em, Greg, Tom, and all my other Christian readers.

Georgia Boardgame Association - John Marchant, Kennesaw, GA. Or maybe others from the group, too. Anyway, it's a general interest blog on board games.

Major Deluxe - Henry, Vancouver, Canada. New to Eurogaming.

OddBattles - No personal info other than it's a father playing games with his boys. Started as a war gaming blog but has drifted into board gaming.

Online board games - Also no personal info. Seems to be tracking board games with online versions. Only four posts, so I'm not sure if it will continue.

play2relax - Jeff Myers, location? All about how play is good for you. He also restarted the game carnival.

Roll Dice and Kick Ass - John McLintock, Glasgow, Soctland. Yes, I've only recently added his blog to my roll. All types of gaming.

The Core Worlds - David Dorward, London, UK. Looks to be mostly roleplaying, but we'll see.

The Games Player - Bill Dove, Cornwall, UK. Only one post so far, but Bill promises me there will be more.

Under the Table Gaming - Kale Vanquen, Georgia. Although he doesn't make his personal info obvious. About less-well known games that he discovers.

Just a Thought changed its name to Review For Initiative.

And someone started a blog called Shrieking Emu, which then disappeared. I'm trying to find out where it went.

I'm tracking around 138 updating general board game blogs and podcasts. This has held steady for the last year or so, I believe, although the ratio of podcasts to blogs is slowly rising. I'm not sure why that is.

In fact, I've pretty much stopped listening to podcasts, although that has something to do with the trouble involved in getting the audio in a form that I can play in my car. And that while it makes me less "game lonely" to listen to game players talking in my car, and I like the podcasters, I've never really heard any super must-listen podcasts.

Surely there are some podcasts discussing whether games are art, or new thoughts on how to integrate theme vs mechanics, as opposed to simply telling us which one they like more. Because most podcasts never really rise above saying: what they like, what they played, how it is played, what's coming up, or what used to be.

If there are slightly fewer blogs, it may have something to do with realizing that blogging is more work than anticipated, and the person pretty much wrote what they had to say.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Anyone Want to Guest Blog?

Say, here's a kooky idea:

If you have something to say about games, and you don't have your own blog, or you want a link to your blog from mine, would you think about contributing it here?

I'm interested in exploring hosting articles from guest bloggers. Any takers?


P.S. Don't worry; I still have lots to say!

The Guardian on Board Games

Today's Guardian has an excellent article on board games. Aside from hyping the repopularization of board games, he actually touches on addiction to board games.

Heh. It seems that something can't become popular without it also becoming addicting.

A BBC article took a look at using PacMan and a buzzer to analyze fear in the brain.

Someone unearthed a set of Tarot card drawn in a concentration camp during the Holocaust by a political prisoner. They're pretty realistic and gruesome.

The Epoch Times covers how board games raise your academic abilities.

LaunchPoker reports that electronic poker dealing machines are not replacing human poker dealers, because patrons feel it is too much like sitting at home playing poker on the computer.

A 100 year-old woman attributes her longevity in part to the card game Stupid.

Another card game shooting, but this time they tell us the game that was being played: tong-its.

A Mormon's perspective on his religion's ban on card playing.


Blokus Has a New Website and Online Play

Blokus's marketing manager Charlotte wrote to tell me about their new website and free online version. It's pretty nifty.

Loads of information about all the versions of Blokus, including a blog, forums, about the team, and so on. It would be nice to see some more information about how the game came about.

You can also play all the versions of the game online for free in several formats. And they're also soliciting new games from designers. Naturally, they're looking for games of Blokus-like simplicity and challenge.

I haven't tried Blokus Trigon, but I can definitely recommend the classic and Duo versions.

You can buy all of the versions of the Blokus games at .


Sunday, August 26, 2007


The following is a paid review.


I've turned down many review opportunities for sites unrelated to games, but I decided to do this one. After all, intellectual property is one of the sub-themes of this blog, what with my poetry IP codes, board and card game patents, and so on. And I really liked one of the features of this site, the Museum of Obscure Patents.

It's a weekly feed containing a ridiculous patent of the week, from disposable boxer shorts to a "beerbrella" to a "stick" for playing with a dog. Some of them are games, too, like the "skin-irritating game". A great read.

Intellectual Property

IPWatchdog is an information resource for all areas of intellectual property (IP). Its main contributor is a New York patent attorney named Eugene R. Quinn, Jr.

Interesting features include:

IP Articles: Hundreds of articles on intellectual property, including basic and advanced information on copyrights, patents including provisional patents, trademarks, and trade secrets.

Business Articles: Including information how to build a web presence, as well as IP issues, of course.

Invention Articles: Including information about keeping an invention notebook and invention marketing, as well as IP issues, of course.

The Museum of Obscure Patents, as noted above.

Other sections have recently been introduced and so don't contain much information yet, such as sections on the Internet, International IP law, IP cartoons, a user forum, and an Inventor's Hall of Fame.


There's not much to say about all these features except that they're good. It's a well done site, well organized, with useful information.

There are some minor navigational issues. Some of the menus are not consistent, which looks like an oversight; the menus were updated on some pages but not on others. Also, the fonts are a little wacky. A single article might change fonts and font sizes three times or more. It might be a Firefox issue, but I suspect the CSS needs some clean up.

Professional Services

Of course, what's a nice site without an offer of professional services. In another strange navigational issue, the professional services offered by the company behind the site are available only from the Site Map page. The services offered include help with business and inventions, as well as consultation and legal preparation of IP services.

I like that the promotional aspect of the site is low key, but surely they could make the link to their professional services just a little more prominent.

Star Trek X: Nemesis

Star Trek: Nemesis is the tenth movie in the series, and the last one ... so far. A new movie "Star Trek" about a young Kirk and Spock is being planned. I reviewed all the other films: 1-3, 4-6, 7, 8, 9.

In this movie, Riker and Troi are getting married, but first the Enterprise has to stop and pick up a disassembled prototype of Data, and then face a young clone of Picard, Shinzon, who appears to be allied with the Remus. The Remus are enemies of the Romulans, but currently control them.

Shinzon is up to no good. The Enterprise has to save the day.

Once again, what sets apart The New Generation actors from The Original Series actors is that the former can actually act. I didn't roll my eyes at the screen while they forced lines out of their mouths. The actors played the characters like they were supposed to.

So any faults in the movie lie with the director and screenwriter. The movie was enjoyable, but that's about it. It wasn't really engaging. The plot was something of a rehash of Wrath of Khan, but without any real emotion or meaning in it. The guys went in, faced some dangers, got out, and then there was a lot of shooting. Shinzon and Picard were supposed to have tension between them, but it was never really tense.

A movie is supposed to contain real drama and make you care for the characters. They should face transformations and real decisions. They should deal with pain and loss or battle inner demons. Nothing. It was completely unambitious.

So where did it all the art in the movie go? According to the Wikipedia entry, all of it's lying on the cutting room floor, having been cut out in favor of more scenes with special effects. Bah. Bad choice.

A couple of plot choices seemed a little strange, such as Picard beaming alone to the other ship, or the Enterprise having no security doors in the corridors to prevent intruders from simply walking around, and so on. But these weren't serious annoyances. Also, any discrepancies with the Star Trek "world" don't annoy me, as I don't really know about them, nor care.

The end result is underwhelming, but not annoying, which is still a step up from some of the other films. My ranking: 4, 9, 8, 2, 3, 10, 7, 6, (5 and 1 which are both the same and horrid)

More about Star Trek: Nemesis on IMDB.


Saturday, August 25, 2007


I just finished Polyominoes by Solomon Golumn.

Polyominoes are, of course, the general extension of what we know as dominoes. Where dominoes are simply two attached squares, polyominoes are any number of attached squares. The study of polyominoes is the study of how many different unique ways these squares can be attached given a certain number of squares, and how they can be used to cover certain areas or space, such as a rectangle.

If you're familiar with the game Blokus, the pieces given to each player in a game of Blokus consist of all unique polyonimoes from size one (monomino) through size five (pentomino). Arranging the twelve unique pentominoes into a rectangle is an age old puzzle with thousands of unique solutions.

The book is presented in its description and by the publisher as a math book. Yet, the first few chapters seem more concerned with basic explanations followed by long series's of puzzles and solutions.

Only midway through the book does it begin to start to feel like a math book, as it presents combinatoric theory, symmetry issues, and other kinds of mathematical studies. In fact, the book goes through a number of proofs that are heavy on the mathematical equations and much less interesting to the casual reader.

Instead, just the ideas of what type of puzzles you can play with are what makes the book interesting to me. These include, aside from the standard "how can you make a rectangle" such things as how you can make cubes out of three dimensional versions of the pieces, polyominoes beyond three dimensions, attached repeated shapes from other polygons, and so on.

It's not actually a long book, but it has some pretty cool puzzles and ideas. Surely Blokus isn't the only game that could benefit from using these types of shapes.

More on polyominoes at Wikipedia.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Session Report Up, in which we play too many powers in Cosmic

The latest Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club session report is up here. Games played: It's Alive, Caylus, Tigris and Euphrates, Princes of Florence, Cosmic Encounter.

Adam insists on us playing three powers each in Cosmic.

Technology Review talks about 10 years on from Deep Blue's victory against Kasparov in chess.

Kevin Bacon talks about the game "Six Degrees Of Kevin Bacon".

The Rania Experience is another luxury vacation experience (your own private island, yacht, etc...) which also provides you with a shelf of board games to use during your stay. I'm waiting to hear exactly which games.

A New Jersey man was stabbed during a card game. It doesn't say which game. News always leaves out the important details.


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Breaking News: Dog Breaks Free at Airport, Delays Plane; Woman Misses Flight

Ben Gurion Airport, Israel (exclusive to

Last night at around 12:45 am, a dog being sent via cargo from Ben Gurion airport to Toronto broke free of its cage and began running around the tarmac.

The owner of the dog, one Ms Rachel Adelman, had to get off of her flight and begin chasing after the dog "Ginn". Security services then began chasing after her.

In a scene reminiscent of many of Buster Keaton's Keystone Cops movies, the three ran back and forth across the tarmac in what onlookers could only describe as "hysterically funny".

"First they all went one way," said Mr. Noodleman, a baggage carrier, "dog, lady, and then police. Then they all went the other way. Then all three went different ways. Then they all met, did a double-take, and continued chasing each other."

Ms Adelman's plane eventually took off an hour late while she was still looking for her dog, who by then had completely disappeared. It is not known how many other flights were delayed by the theatrics on the tarmac.

Ms Adelman eventually left the cage to be sent to her husband, and boarded a flight to Toronto, connecting through Rome, at around 5:00 in the morning.

The Downside

OK, I'm making fun, but there's a lot of downside to what happened last night.

Firstly, our dog is now lost at the airport. She may eventually be discovered, recognized, and returned, but she may not.

Secondly, I had to say goodbye to Rachel, going on a nine-month post-doc at U. of T. I'll visit her in November, and she'll visit me in December, and maybe we'll see each other one or two more times. But it will be a long year.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Game Carnival #4

Welcome to Game Carnival #4 . This is a wrap-up of user-contributed blog posts and articles about tabletop and electronic games of all sorts: board, card, computer, and video games, from around the web.

There used to be another well-regarded blog carnival on games, but it appears to have stopped as of last April. Go figure.

And there are a whole bunch of other blog carnivals about games trying to make it big, including ones about game designers, game production, and video game blogging. Other carnivals start every month or so and peter out.

The best carnivals provide lots of links and receive lots of links. They expose people to new writers and new ideas, and they drive traffic between sites. This game carnival has the potential to be a Big Thing, but it needs your help.

Read the articles and link to the ones you like. Link to this carnival so that readers of your blog will find it. Let's make it a big carnival.

If you would like to host a future version of this carnival, send an email to the carnival organizer, gameguy.

On with the carnival:

General Gaming

Man Bytes Blog presents Ludology, Narratology, Poketology, describing how some people play the game play, while others play the theme.

Brettspieler discusses Spielerterminologie: Comeback-Spiel (in German), which I gather is his term for games he didn't originally like but warmed to.

SharpBrains gives a checklist for evaluating how to decide between Brain Training Games and "Games".

In Hidden Trackable, Dave Chalker writes about designing hidden but trackable elements into your game.

Board and Card Games

Present Tense introduces 1KBWC: Hours of DIY Fun for Less Than 6 Bucks. Otherwise known as 1000 White Cards, everyone makes up the cards before the game starts, and these are then dealt out to all players. The game can get rather silly, and, depending on the crowd you're with, perverse.

Average Girl Plays reviews the game Pounce. Pounce is a card game which is a lot like Spit crossed with Klondike.

Splitting Eights discusses A Most Impersonal Game Experience, which is playing a board game (Settlers of Catan) over the Internet. He also compares games to food, which is something I often do.

He then enumerates the 9 Favorite Games to Play with My Daughter. His daughter, that is, not mine.

gameguy reviews the old and tired Milton Bradley’s Operation Game. Now in different flavors.

And I posted my monthly post on game patents in July Board and Card Game Patents.

Other Non-electronic Games

Gnome gives us A CRPGer friendly introduction to the world of pen & paper Role Playing Games. Just as he says.

Speaking of Dungeons and Dragons, they've just announced 4e. Dave Chalker gives us The Case for Fourth Edition by listing some of the problems in 3e that will be fixed.

Bernie DeKoven of DeepFun gives us a poem, a video, and thoughts about bubble-making in Bubble Wars.

The Men's Gift Guide selects A Horseshoes Alternative, a game you can play that involves tossing washers in the backyard without having to dig a sand pit.

Electronic Gaming - Software

Gnome disputes the notion that the adventure game is old-hat with A Guide to the world of the Indy Adventure Game. It includes a lits of some his favorite games in the genre.

Andy Merrill gives us pros and cons in an All-Pro Football 2K8 Review. He also gives us a Hexic 2 Review. He, and his wife, seem less than thrilled with Hexic 2.

Football Manager Mania then tells us how he makes 200 million dollar a year Selling Players. Someone please tell me that that's virtual money. To start you out, he gives us some Very Useful Tips for Beginners 1.

Fugdale's Funhouse gives us the Ultimate Memory Game, which reminds me of those old tests where you have to spot the differences between two pictures.

Jessica DeCola reviews the first-person shooter game Prey, even though FPS are not her usual genre of choice. However, some of the graphics curiously disturbed her.

Then, in Technology > (Relationships|Food|Hygeine), she reviews her first game for the Wii, WarioWare: Smooth Moves, which seems to be a purposeful exercise in trying to reproduce a seizure.

Review Hookup reviews X-Men Legends 2: Rise of the Apocalypse.

CAE Gaming posts a list of games he's looking forward to, in Anticipated Upcoming Titles. Includes videos of trailers and game play.

The So-Called Me has been playing Harvest Moon, as she relates in Harvest Time.

Vat19 gives us 10 Great No Download, No Install, Minimal Learning Curve Online Games.

Electronic Gaming - Hardware

The Video Gaming Report passes on rumors of version 2 of the PS3 in PS3 Update v2.00 info (rumour).

Pocket Change tells us about the New Wii System Update, which happened automatically one night.

And Microsoft Getting Sued Over Scratching Xbox 360 Games, i.e. that the XBox game console is scratching the game disks. Apparently, Microsoft charges you $20 to replace a game disk that their console has scratched.

And more Microsoft XBox problems: Pajama Mommy had loads of problems with her XBox and had to go buy another, as she tells in XBox Updates.

Electronic Gaming - Other

Everyone Needs Therapy isn't kidding in his long article on how some people really lose touch with their real life while fooling around online, in THIS is love?

Super Punch gives us his Custom Smash Bros. Brawl Desktop Wallpapers.

That's it for the carnival. Of course, lots of other great posts and articles about games were published in the last two weeks. They're not in this carnival because no one submitted them. Don't you just hate when that happens?


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Israel and the Sudanese Refugees

The story is that Israel has been refusing Sudanese refugees crossing into Israel from Egypt, and in some cases sending them back. This story has legs, because the association is that Israel has Jews who were turned back as refugees when fleeing from the Holocaust, and therefore Israel shouldn't be doing the same thing to others.

My reaction

The first thing I want to say is that I reject the Israeli government's actions on this issue. They are, in my opinion, disgraceful.

Am I ashamed of being an Israeli or a Jew? No. The current Israeli government maintains an approval rating of less than 10%. In recent periods, it has dropped below 2%. The government doesn't represent the people. It long ago stopped doing what we want or answering to our requests.

So I expect nothing better from them.

Israel's reaction

The Israeli population continues to use legal means to bring the politicians to answer for their misguided decisions, with little hope of success. And we pray that the country won't disappear in the meantime.

While the government is doing it's thing, thousands of Israelis are protesting the decision, and many thousands more are providing food, medical assistance, legal assistance, and all sorts of other help to the refugees currently in Israel. Israelis are also providing medical and relief efforts in Sudan itself, when the government of Sudan permits.

The story you're not hearing

A few things about this sad story are being overlooked by the media, and bear pointing out:

It is Egypt that took in the refugees, not Israel. Egypt so badly treats these refugees, that they are trying to go on to Israel. Furthermore, Israel is not trying to return these refugees to Sudan, but to Egypt. Furthermore, Israel has already accepted over 3,000 Sudanese refugees.

While Egypt mistreats the refugees, and even murders them outright, all the media attention is focused on Israel's actions. Which seems a little odd. Surely Egypt should be shouldering some of this animosity. So reports Meryl at Yourish, one of the few bloggers tackling this topic (here's another).

On the other hand, the excuse that Israel is merely sending the refugees back to Egypt, who then bears responsibility for what happens next, is no more valid than the U.S. sending Jews back to France in WWII and then claiming that France is responsible for what happened next. According to a quote in Yourish's post, Israel is cognizant of this.

Israel is also struggling to deal with many other problems, including daily rocket attacks and terrorist threats, threats from numerous sources, and a struggling economy.

On the other hand, Israel just received a large military aid package from the U.S., which should be useful for something.


It's Alive Going Well; My Contest, Not So Much

It's Alive

My game It's Alive continues to sell well, and I calculate that the first run will be sold out within a month or two. Lucky for those of you who miss out on the first run, my one-man publisher is talking to a bigger publisher who may be interested in making a second, larger print-run.

Average rating on the Geek is 7.4, which would put it within the top 100 games if it got a few hundred additional similar ratings.

12 copies of the game landed last week in the brick-and mortar store Games Lore, and two already sold.

The Contest

It seems that I am incapable of giving away money. I received no entries to my contest, apparently because the questions were too difficult. Were you expecting to just be able to Google the answers?

For your elucidation, here are the answers, and how I expected you to be able to figure them out:

1. Name the six blogs to which I now have, or once had, official posting privileges.

You can get three of the answers from my About Me page: Yehuda (, Blogging Without a Wire (, and Good Neighbors (

Various links on my sidebar, and my Blogger profile, point to the other Game Blog that I used to write for, Gone Gaming (, as well as two other blogs which I have reserved but haven't written for, yet. The latter two would have been acceptable.

My Blogger profile, my sidebar, and every week I point you to the Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club session reports blog (

Looking at the titles from my archives would have found you this post from last year, New Blog: Topics from 192 Countries, where I announced that I was posting for a new blog ( I stopped posting for this blog after a few months.

2. Name one of the three posts on this blog that I wrote and then deleted.

If you searched my blog for "deleted", you could have found at least one: Are Games Mud?. Googling my blog for "deleted" yields the others.

3. Where on this blog do I use the phrase "Jew, Black, or Blue-eyed"?

Well, you can't Google this one, obviously. So the answer has to be either in a picture or in some other text that wouldn't show up under Google. To find pictures, you simply have to check out my posts labeled "cartoon". However, it's not in a picture.

I admit that finding text that doesn't show up on Google is a bit more challenging. In my case, the text is in a JavaScript alert box on this post. See the asterisk. You could have found the text by searching for the term Blue-eyed in any source-page that contained this post.

4. I am listed as a technical editor for the twelfth volume of what magazine?

AI Magazine. Searching Google for "berlinger volume magazine" would have found this for you, so long as you note that my name is listed as "Jonathan Berlinger". I've mentioned that this is my original English name many times in various posts.

5. What am I still waiting for you to figure out?

Text is in the cartoon of the post titled Still Waiting. I'm still waiting for you to figure out the "right move".

Too hard a task for $25? If so, I apologize. The next contest will just have to be $50. Sometime before Christmas/Hanukkah, I would imagine.

If you or your company would like to sponsor a contest with games or cash prizes on my blog, please email me.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Cosmic Encounter to be Reprinted, Take Two ...

Last October I quoted Peter Olotka who said in an interview that he was in discussions with FunAgain games to reprint the entire EON line.

Now a Fantasy Flight Games press release last Saturday night at Gen-Con (summarized here) indicated that they would be reprinting the EON line of games, including at least Cosmic Encounter, Dune (rethemed, since Herbert's estate won't give permission for using the Dune theme), and Borderlands.

Hope springs eternal.


Even My Youngest Daughter is Beating Me at Games, Now

On shabbat, I finally lost a game of Spit to Tal. Actually, I don't think it was my first loss to her, but it was the first loss while I was playing my best. And it was resounding, too.

To make up for it, she wanted to play Oh Hell, which I usually win handily. I lost that, too.

Parents: smackdown your children when they're young, because soon they'll be smacking you down.

If I hadn't been beating them when they were young, they wouldn't be beating me now. They wouldn't be playing with me at all.

The Competition

Speaking of beating me, no one has sent me an entry for my $25 Amazon coupon giveaway. Is the game too boring, too difficult, or the prize not good enough?

Save me from having to drink cheap beer.

Game News

The dangers reported about Chinese made toy products may result in an upswing in European made, higher quality and higher priced, components. Here is a contrasting opinion.

Recent news reports cover a few of the Nazi board games, some of which are up for auction this week.

Oddbattles turns his new blog about wargames in the direction of Eurogames with an article about the sociability aspect of modern board games vs video games.

MTV posts a long interview with Jonathan Blow, a video game designer, which touches on many aspects of games and art.

And the Games Scholar's Journal finds that M-rated games are now segregated behind the counter at his local Toys-R-Us.

The Bellingham Herald has a small piece on a local game shop devoted to Magic: the Gathering.

And the Financial Times reports on a plan by Harvard Law school to solve all the problems of the world, including teenage delinquency and world conflicts, by teaching everyone how to play poker.


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Right Message, Wrong Market

This is the label of an RC Cola bottle I saw at a wedding this evening. For those of you who don't read Hebrew, the little yellow banner says: No preservatives.

For the last three hours, I've been trying to think of a single person in the entire world who will benefit from this message.

Is there really someone who would not have drunk RC Cola, but now will because it has no preservatives? Or is "no preservatives" supposed to appeal to anyone already in the soda drinking market? You know, the one who will switch from drinking the cola brand he or she has always been drinking to drink this one, now that he or she knows it has no preservatives.

No preservatives. The ingredients are: Water, Sugar, C02, Food Coloring, Edible Acids, Natural Flavors, Caffeine, and Natural Stabilizers. But thank goodness, no preservatives.

What a wasted message.


Church Sermons Based on Board Games

What's the Bible Got to do with Board Games? You would know if you've been hearing the sermons at the Grace United Methodist Church lately.

Board games are also a popular activity to attract young people to church functions. Like here. And here. And here. And just about everywhere.

On a different topic, but still speaking of religion, the New York Times as an excellent long read on the intersection of politics and religion.

LifeLearning, a resource for homeschooling, has discovered some introductory Euros and is looking for more suggestions.

Rachel is leaving for Toronto this week; she and I will be visiting each other a few times over the next nine to ten months. Sigh. I'll be in Toronto Nov 1 until the Tuesday before BGG.con.

Kids are starting school. Life goes on.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Contest: Win a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate

Even though I'm unemployed right now, I'm in a generous mood. Can't say why. I guess I'm hopeful that I'll find the "right" job sometime soon.

Or it could be that I finally received my first payment from's affiliate program. I owe this payment entirely to your generously clicking on my affiliate links to Amazon and then buying junk from them. So I'm giving my first affiliate payment back to you. You earned it.

I'm giving away a $25 Gift Certificate to, and all you have to do is 1) meet the entry criteria, 2) be the first one to answer all of my questions correctly, and 3) follow the instructions.

1) Entry Criteria

You must fulfill at least two of any of the following:

a - Be subscribed to my blog via some sort of feed or email service.
b - Have commented on one of my blog posts.
c - Have linked to my blog from somewhere.
d - Have given or sent me a game as a gift.
e - Have donated to me, privately or using the Donation button on my sidebar.
f - Have bought or ordered my game, either as It's Alive published by Reiver Games, or The Menorah Game.

2) 5 Questions (all about me)

a - Name the six blogs to which I now have, or once had, official posting privileges.

b - Name one of the three posts on this blog that I wrote and then deleted.

c - Where on this blog do I use the phrase "Jew, Black, or Blue-eyed"?

d - I am listed as a technical editor for the twelfth volume of what magazine?

e - What am I still waiting for you to figure out?

(tiebreaker) - Send me a list of posts from my archives that you think should be in my highlights, but aren't.

3) Instructions

Email how you fulfill the entry criteria and your answers to me. You have until Monday midnight, Israeli time (5 pm Monday, EST).

If there is more than one winning entry, I'll pick the one who answers question (f) the best. If there are no complete entries, sorry. I'll spend the money on cheap beer (and I don't even like beer).

If you don't know what to buy with your winnings, I'll be happy to make some suggestions in the games dept. The winner must use the gift certificate by clicking through to Amazon from my affiliate link in the sidebar ;-) .

For the fine print, see the contest details in my 1000th Post.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Added 512 MB RAM and Cleaned Out the Dust

And I'm feeling no pain.

Entrepreneur talks about board games and the Board Game Barrister.

And I probably won't be back until after shabbat. See you on the other side.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Review: Pan's Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth, aka El Laberinto del Fauno on IMDB.

Synopsis: Pan's Labyrinth is two stories. One tells of a young girl, Ofelia, and her mother, newly married to a fascist Captain in Spain 1944. They arrive in the countryside where the mother is ready to give birth soon, and the Captain is mopping up the resistance hiding out in the hills. The Captain is brutal, the resistance is receiving some furtive assistance, and all is not well between the Captain and Ofelia and her mother.

The second story is of the fantasy realm Ofelia discovers in a stone maze behind the house in which she is staying. There she meets a faun who tells her that she is really a reborn immortal princess who needs to accomplish three tasks before the moon is full in order to reclaim her true parents and her immortality.

The movie is in Spanish with English subtitles (by the screenwriter, and not by some translating service, by the way).

Reaction: The movie is lovingly shot and well acted.

Unfortunately, both stories are essentially rehashed fairy tales with little in the the way of surprises, only shockingly immodest on-screen brutality and gore. Things that could have been powerful in subtlety are shot simply with full lighting: guts, bloody heads and faces, sliced open belled and mouths, etc...

The characters, with little exception, are one-dimensional and stereotypical. As cliché stories with one-dimensional characters who experience no growth go, the story is well-told.

Exceptionally good in his role is Sergi López as the brutal Captain. He manages to imbue a small amount of sympathy for his character, even as he tortures, kills, and destroys everyone around him. Indeed, his is the only character who experiences some slight growth within the story. Alas, not enough.

The fantasy story is the weaker of the two stories, as Ivana Baquero, though capable enough, doesn't manage to leave us with anything particularly memorable about her portrayal of Ofelia in her hellish situation. She plays nearly the same character as Stephanie Leonidas did as Helena in Mirrormask, but without exuding a sympathetic or captivating personality.

Incidentally, Mirrormask is a better movie. Naturally, Pan's Labyrinth is rated in the top 250 on IMDB, while Mirrormask languishes somewhere in the netherworld of well-regarded but not quite highly rated enough.

Ah, well. I'm looking forward to seeing Stardust (IMDB), anyway.


Don't Forget to Submit an Article to the Game Carnival

Get linked to by me!

Get read by both all of my readers!

Let the world know what you have to say!

Be part of the game blogging community!

Even if you don't want to submit your own articles, submit something you've found and want to share with others. Let's make this a great carnival.

Submit content for the game carnival here, or just email me. You have until the night of August 21.


Session Report Up, in which I give one of my long Puerto Rico game reports

The latest Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club session report is up here. Games played: San Juan, Lost Valley, It's Alive, Puerto Rico.

We enjoyed all the games this evening. I took complete notes during Puerto Rico, and give a full report.

The Naperville Sun discusses yet another couple who quit their jobs to push a locally produced game that looks terribly average (all theme). Some discussion on the difficulties in the game market are discussed.

The Denver Westwood newspaper blog talks gaming and mentions local game groups and Board Game Geek.

Reiner Knizia's games are not only going computer, they're going mobile, starting with Samurai. Knizia is a brand.

Cranium WOW just won, not a game award, but a graphic design award from Communication Arts magazine.

Mattel's toy recalls are beginning to make consumers question card and board games from China, too. I've seen a few stories with tangential references to this. I'll link if I find anything more concrete.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Real Cave of Zork (Colossal Cave Adventure)

Raph and BoingBoing both point us to the real caves that were the map for the original Adventure aka Colossal Cave Adventure aka Zork. They look scarier in real-life than they do in plain text.

In my continuing coverage of chess maniacs, the Russian serial killer was apparently trying to fill in all the spaces of his chess board with his victims.

Here's Games Day at the Salvation Army.

North Star Games' Wits and Wagers seems to be soaking up the spotlight, getting featured in Time Magazine and now carried at Target stores nationwide.

Jurors waiting for selection at the Northampton County Courthouse in New Jersey will now be offered card and board games while they wait.

You can also get board games on the deck of a Greenland coastal cruise, as well as a Sony Playstation with a widescreen monitor. Which may defeat the point, somewhat.

The Post Standard lists the Go books available at the Syracuse public library, as donated by the local Go club.

Technology Review has a long article marking the tenth anniversary of computers beating Kasparov in Chess, and what it really means for a computer to play Chess.

I've also lots more to say about Web 2.0, but further coverage about this topic will be on my new blog.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Boy Who Cried Wolf: A Metastory

Once there was a boy who wanted his whole family to see him in a play.

One day the town's theater put on a production of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which was to play for three nights. The boy auditioned for the part, but he didn't get the lead role. He got a position as understudy in case the boy who played the lead role couldn't make it.

One day, as a practical joke, he told his family that he will be playing the lead role in the play The Boy Who Cried Wolf that evening. His family was delighted, and they all went down to the theater that evening. When they found out that he wasn't the lead role, he laughed at them. They were all angry at the boy, but he said it had all been a good joke.

The same thing happened the next evening. The boy told them he was the lead, the family went to see the play, and they found that it wasn't true. Once again they were angry at him.

The next evening, which was to be the last evening of the play, the boy was run over by a car and died. No one liked the boy, so they all ditched the funeral and instead went to see the play.

It was great.


Necessary Invention: Stop Processing Key

I need a key, or an app which responds to a key, that will stop all application and network processing immediately. And I mean, immediately, drop dead, stop processing Now.

The biggest waste of my time on my computer is waiting for a window to come back to life: a video to stop loading, a clicked window to raise, and so on. Trying to cancel this is no use; even the Task Manager won't work until whatever it is relaxes.

Somewhere, some part of the processor refuses to stop until it hits a timeout or gets an answer. I don't want to wait a minute for this every five minutes, and I don't want to turn my computer on and off, and I don't usually need more memory.

This is in my top ten critical problems with my computer.


More on Game Museums

Games and Fun

While some kind readers have picked up on what I said about games and fun, many people commenting on sites where my article was cited haven't. Either I didn't explained what I mean well enough, or I'm fundamentally wrong, or (likely) they never bothered to read the article.

How else, after my statement that games can be an art medium entirely uninterested in whether people buy the game, whether they want to play the game, whether they are entertained by the game, and whether they enjoy the game, am I supposed to interpret comments such as:

"Well, I wouldn't buy a game that isn't fun."
"A designer who doesn't make fun games isn't going to sell many."
"Even is a game isn't fun, it still has to be entertaining in some way. Otherwise no one will play it."
"If I paid money for a game, it better be fun."
"Fun is subjective; you must mean that the game is fun for someone, but not for everyone."
"But if games aren't fun, they won't be enjoyable!"
"Art and fun aren't mutually exclusive."

Well, I mean ... yeah. So? Did ... did you read what I wrote?

As a result, I'm thinking that I'm just going to have to start the world's first games as interactive art museum. (And I don't mean the world's first games museum, as that would be this one.)

Perhaps it would demonstrate a little better what I meant.

I talked already about what an interactive games art museum would look like. Now a little more brass tacks.

To start the museum, I would want at least two experts in games and art to join me as board members.

First step would be to grab a domain and build a site. I figure it would start with:

- Entry page with doors into the museum.
- Pages organized by theme, by subject, or by artist (or all of the above).
- Each game alone on a page, with information about the artist and the work. Space on each page for commenting about the work.
- About the site, about games as an art medium.
- Sponsorship pages.
- Copyright and terms.
- Technical help and FAQs.

Now comes the question of how to acquire games for the site.

I think the museum should be a non-profit. Donations from patrons should be accepted for overall maintenance and for supporting new artist's work. Donaters receive certain gifts, of course, the least of which is a link and a writeup.

I'm tossing around ideas: Works of art an artist submits are evaluated. If accepted, a new artist is paid SUM for displaying the work on the site. This SUM comes from general donations.

Artists who have a work on the site must get commissioned for additional art by patrons who enjoy the artist's first work. The details of IP must be worked out, but at the very least, the artwork is licensed to be displayed on the site.

So what would a patron get for his commission? Name, information and link on the page. Revenues of any money made off the artwork, such as CD sales. License to display the work elsewhere. ... And of course prestige as a patron of the arts.

CDs or static items of particular artists, themes, or topics can be sold for overhead costs or as patron's revenue.

Ads on the site? On the art or artist pages it would seem rather squidgy, even if all the proceeds from those ads went to the artist/patrons. Perhaps on the main page, only, if at all.

What else?

Backlinks on Yehuda

I turned off backlinking on this blog, as spam links have been spiraling out of control. apparently provides no means of dealing with this as they do for spam comments.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Web 2.0 Research

For those of you not following my new blog, Blogging Without a Wire (which is all of you, apparently), my status is that I'm working 1 hour a day blogging small unimportant posts for one company. It pays me about what I'm making through ads on this site.

Which means, I'm well below income level, right now. I was hoping to already have a new position as a corporate blogger, but no luck so far. I was hoping I could do this before I had to take out my Keren Hishtalmut, but this seems inevitable at this point.

With my KH, and my pitzuim from my previous place of employment, if it ever arrives, I'll have another few months. Add my current salary, rental income, and blog income, and I have another month. If I get the Hebrew Apples to Apples done, and there is not too long a delay in getting paid, another two months, perhaps.

It's a tenuous life striking out as something new. Most "blogging" positions pay zero or maybe $5 plus theoretical ad revenue. I can't see how anyone can live on that.

I'm looking for work

I'm looking for an honest paid position, where I'm not only blogging, but working to develop a company's brand around the internet. Following threads, posting in forums, building a site and a company support policy, working with site design, working with customers.

These jobs are hard to find, because it's still a pretty new idea. But I'm willing to give it some more time.

The state of Web 2.0

Meanwhile, the higher paying blog positions require more extensive knowledge of Web 2.0. I'm researching a few thousand companies to see how they tick.

Some have open job positions (I've seen over 200 jobs available at Web 2.0 companies, so far, and I'm barely through 250 companies). Few have blogs.

Too many have sucky About pages, hidden About pages, or none at all. Some assume you know what they do before you use them, so don't bother to tell you. Some prefer to wax on with grandiose claims about the theory of the Internet and how they fit in - without ever telling you what they do. Of course, these turn out to be sites that do the same things as a dozen other sites.

And still: No Blacks or Latinos work on Web 2.0 sites. About 1 out of maybe 30 or 40 founders or managers are women.

Full details when I'm done. If you want my full research notes (or you want to fund my research) let me know.


Review: My Holden Tips (

The following is a paid review.

My Holdem Tips (MHT) is a community website devoted to the subject of My Texas Holdem poker. It differs from the previous poker sites I've reviewed in one important way: it's a web 2.0 site.

Previous poker sites I've reviewed contained articles and reviews by the site's owners. As a Web 2.0 site, MHT has all the familiar features you would expect from a community and social media site:
  • User logins - Sign in to the site, comment and email content.
  • User contributions - The content on the site was primed by the site builders, but the bulk consists of uploaded content from users.
  • Ratings - User's content is tagged and rated by the users.
  • Forum - User to user communication.
As well as Digg icons on every page, and so on.

User content contributions include videos and articles.


Videos on the site are currently divided into 8 categories. The videos include instructional videos, clips from online poker play, and commercials and music videos featuring video content. Videos can be sorted using the same techniques Youtube uses: by rating, most popular, most commented, etc...

The videos contributed by MHT itself are simple and useful. The basic ones are incredibly basic ("a deck of cards contains 52 cards ...") but the more advanced ones cover Holdem topics well.

Since the videos are contributed by the user, there's no guarantee that they're useful, helpful, or even Texas Holdem related. From what I could see, so far most of them appear to have something to do with poker.

As a result, some are salacious, covering topics like strip poker and such. Some of these include actual nudity. So be warned. Others are poker humor, commercials, and so on.


The articles follow the same categories and format as the videos; there are currently somewhat less articles than videos.

Some of the "articles" are simply notes someone wrote, while others are complete articles about strategy and so on. Some of these articles are from competing poker sites, complete with links back to their sites. ;-)


The forums are really basic, allowing you to enter a subject and text with smileys. If you're logged in, your user name is automatically applied to your post. Otherwise, the user information in the forums is divorced from the user information of the site, and anyone can post using any user name. And there is no way to delete or correct anything you've written.

Right now, the forums are empty of content, except for two of my test messages.


The Resources link on the navbar leads to a ten step lesson plan in Texas Holdem, integrating videos and articles from the site and instructions on how to slowly step up into serious poker play. These steps include creating accounts at other poker sites, so I didn't follow them through.

This content was all provided by MHT and looks pretty sensible.


Ratings are one of MHT's weakest areas.

Only 21 poker sites are listed, and there doesn't appear to be any way of adding any more. Each site uses only numerical ratings along ten or so categories. I'm not sure where the sum total ranking number of a site comes from.

Ratings are purely user based. On the other hand, like the other sites I've reviewed, it is obvious that MHT makes affiliate money from directing people to pay sites, but there is no disclosure to that effect or how it affects the site.

Terms and Conditions

Speaking of which, the bottom page of every site contains a blanket copyright notice, while the terms and conditions of the site specify that uploaded content is still property of the uploader. By uploading, the site can use it in any way they want, so long as the use is related to the site, until you remove the content.

The terms and conditions claim to also set out the privacy terms of the site, but I couldn't find any such terms.


If you are interested in joining a Holdem community, as opposed to simply visiting yet another guy's slick poker site, My Holdem Tips looks pretty nice. The videos are useful and/or entertaining. The site is smooth and easy to navigate, and the web 2.0 aspects are nice. With more users, it could become a hopping site.


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Yinsh With Saarya

Puerto Rico

Rachel and I played what might be our last 2-player PR game before she goes, although who knows what may happen over the next ten days.

I headed to Tobacco, Sugar, and Discretionary Hold, while Rachel took corn, Commodity Exporters, and eventually Large Business. She was slightly ahead in building and shipping points, but I had her edged with money near the end, and I was blocking boats against her Commodity Exporters while shipping extra barrels in the Hold.

It came down to my getting two big buildings to her one, but when the dust settled, she still beat me 62 to 60. A close game and a nice one.


Saarya and I played a game of Yinsh after shabbat ended.

We began with the rings packed together, and they stayed that way during most of the game. I noticed that a certain point on the board is inviolate if there are three rows of disks ending with a ring leading out from it along the three axes. That formation determined a lot of our play.

I offered to swap rows early with Saarya, but he tried to wreck mine, first. Eventually, I got a row off,followed by another one very soon that he simply overlooked.

When you're up by two rings to zero, you only care about winning and don't mind letting your opponent get his rows off. I did some setting up while Saarya took off one row, and then set myself up for a winning row as he took off the second. Unfortunately, I didn't notice that I was one disk short. He cut across, and we were now equal.

I thought I was in good shape, nonetheless, as his moves were forced and his disks piled up on the side of the board, but Yinsh in the type of game where a row of disks is dangerous for both sides, regardless of the color.

He swept out with a great move, leaving himself two pivotal points which I couldn't block - but neither could he flip: he had disks in the right area, but the lines terminated at the end of the board. Unfortunately for me, I was in a similar position.

And he had just the right freedom he needed to move into position for the last jump, while I didn't, without flipping one of his tiles for him and thus giving the game to him.

An exciting game and a great comeback for Saarya. And none of you could follow this description at all without seeing the board, which sucks.

Game News

The NY Daily News reran an old David Barry column on board games.

Scott John Siegel is trying his hand at "off the grid" game design for Escapist magazine. Here is his first go, Magic Numbers, a simple bluffing dice game.

Oh yes. By the way, this lovely Brazilian Belizean woman loves to play board games.

Maybe you should, too?


Friday, August 10, 2007

Electronic Arts Buys Rights to Hasbro Games

You'll soon be seeing Hasbro games done up fine and fancy on your video systems. Electronic Arts has reached an agreement with Hasbro to produce Monopoly, Scrabble, et al.

These are the games that were shrinking in popularity due to the onset of computer games, right? Being able to play them on your computer makes them better? Will you at least be able to play these over the Internet with other players?

Rahala is a trivia game covering 4000 years of Arab history.

New Yorker magazine has its own board game, too.

By the way, my last post came about as I'm in the middle of doing some extensive research into Web 2.0 companies. One other curious fact I've learned (I've studied more than 200 Web 2.0 companies, so far): almost no women anywhere are managing or founding these companies, and not a single black person. Lots of white males, Jews, Asians, and Europeans. If this trend continues, expect a longer blog post about it.

How to Create a Web 2.0 Brand Name

1. Choose one of the following:

A. Misspelled word OR two misspelled words
B. misCapitalize
C. Funny name
D. Punned Phrase OR joined phrase

A. Misspelled word(s)

a. Drop a letter from the word. Dropping an "e" is popular, e.g. Flickr. Or a vowel before a letter which sounds like itself, phonetically, such as "l" or "r", e.g. Vowl.
b. Double a letter, such as "r". Grrls.
c. Change a vowel sound into the appropriate number. Gr8!
d. Add an extraneous letter in front: iTomato, jDiapers, eSnoring, xFiles.
e. For two misspelled words, misspell one or both and concaten8.

B. misCapitalize

E.g. tUnes. MissPell. grbagE.

C. Funny name

Choose a color and an animal, e.g. Blue Octopus. Red Shellfish. Turquoise Tomato. Or try an alcoholic drink (or something that sounds like one), e.g. Blue Martini, Purple Jamaica.

D. Phrases

SingShot. PhoneHomey. SecludedSound. TVGlide. Human Textuality. BlahBlahBlah.

For best results, try to get a "hip" word into the name, like "click", "dot", "web", "share", "connect", etc...


July Board and Card Game Patents

The patent train is leaving the station. All aboard!

Quoit board - The game of Quoits isn't popular enough, according to this patent's claim, because the board is too heavy. Here's a plastic board.

Method of playing a card game - 3 card poker game with two rounds, one communal, and one individual vs the dealer.

Board Game - The game of Sevinpold, not terribly well-thought of by BGGers. The designers claim that the game combines luck and skill, and allows you to win with some lucky tosses no matter how far behind you are.

Game board - A design patent for a board of six 4x4 diamonds arranged in a hexagon.

Method of playing a poker-type wagering game with multiple betting options - Each player gets three cards as individual hands. They can toss one for free, and a second losing part of the bet after the first common card is flipped up.

Board game - A design patent for a board game called Compassion. The board looks a lot like the Trivial Pursuit board.

Slotted game board and gaming table - A games table that includes slots in the table surface to hold cards or dominoes.

Card game - A shedding game. Discard a card that is a multiple or divisor of the top card in the discard pile. There must be more to the game because I can't imagine how this could work.

Golf board game - From the description, an intentionally dumb board game that doesn't require the players to have to think, allowing more time for socializing.

Casino game with multiple playing modes and wagering options - A convoluted poker game called "Showdown Poker".

Game board - Math based game on a board that looks a lot like a Mancala board.

A light month.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Analyzing My Top Ten Games / 50% Off Rio Grande Games at Amazon

John Dextraze wrote to me as follows:
Your favorite games vs your top 10 important aspects of a game do not seem to correspond to each other in any great depth.
He asked me to make the comparison. And so I will.

A summary of my top ten board games:
10. Santiago
09. The Princes of Florence (Only $21.57 at Amazon right now, by the way; see more deals below)
08. Anagrams (link is to Scrabble set; just toss out the board)
07. El Grande
06. Tigris & Euphrates
05. Pente
04. Age of Steam
03. Cosmic Encounter (OOP, try searching eBay for Eon or Mayfair editions)
02. Puerto Rico
01. Go

A summary of my top ten important aspects in a game:
10. Not offensive
09. Limited decisions each turn
08. Heavy, without dragging
07. Multiple strategic goals
06. Randomness without luck
05. Interaction without much negotiation
04. Much depth
03. Extensibility
02. The game experience
01. Replayability for a lifetime

First Notes

I think the first thing you have to note is that my important aspects refer to "games", while my favorites list refers only to "board games".

When I made my favorites list for board games only, that was deliberate. In so doing, I left off a number of games that would have knocked off many of my lower ranked games. I would add games such as Magic: the Gathering, Bridge, some sort of generic RPG such as 1st edition D&D, 8-Ball Billiards, Air Hockey, and even Ultimate Flying Disc.

It all depends on how I set my list restrictions. Allowing only board games, I had to pick some games which are sub-optimal, because I haven't yet found ten perfect board games.

Common Matches for all the Games

All of the games fulfill criteria 10, in that they, and the companies that produce them, are not offensive to me.

As far as criteria 3, I've only tried to extend four of the games (Princes of Florence and the top three). But it wouldn't be that difficult to do for the other six. Add special effects for different locations, player powers, or missions. I just haven't played these games enough to bother, yet.

For criteria 2, only my top three games have the game experience extending beyond the confines of the game. You'll find that that's true for most board games, simply because the game experience is hard to find in them. Board games tend to exist only in the box, starting when they're taken out of the box, and ending when they're put back in the box. The game experience is more common in RPGs, CCGs, and some other games, such as Bridge.

And, of course, I feel that all of these games are replayable for a lifetime. I haven't got bored of them, yet, anyway, and I've played them all between 10 and 1000 times.

Which leave me to examine criteria 9,8,7,6,5, and 4 for each game.


Santiago has limited decisions each turn (9).
It is not that heavy, but definitely not light (8).
There are multiple strategic goals: spend a lot or save a lot, join fields or isolate your fields (7).
It is an excellent example of a game with randomness but little luck (6),
as well as interaction without negotiation (5).
It's pretty deep, especially as the game goes on (4).

The Princes of Florence

Princes of Florence has limited decisions each turn (9).
It is pretty heavy, but doesn't drag (8).
There are multiple strategic goals: heavy Jesters, heavy building, a mixture, or something unusual (7).
The only randomness is the card picks where you can choose one card out of five to keep, and the turn order (6).
Like other auction games, there is interaction without negotiation (5).
It's very deep (4).
Princes is one of the games for which I create an expansion (3).


Anagrams has a number of decisions each turn, but being a contest of speed, you can't utilize all your time trying to find all the possible decisions (9).
It's a light game, but a brain-burner (8).
Strategies include looking to form short words with the open tiles, holding in reserve words for which you're waiting for tiles, and protecting vs stealing words (7).
It is an excellent example of a game with randomness but no luck at all (6),
as well as interaction without negotiation (5).
It's pretty deep in a verbal manner (4).

El Grande

El Grande has limited decisions each turn, although the Intrigues give a few more decisions than most. Nevertheless, most of those decisions are easily pruned (9).
It is heavy, and can drag a bit, depending on who you play with (8).
There are multiple strategic goals: first place in some, or second place in many, and how much to use the castillo (7).
It is an excellent example of a game with randomness but little luck (6),
as well as interaction without negotiation (5).
It's pretty deep (4).

Tigris & Euphrates

Tigris & Euphrates has limited decisions each turn; although the board is wide open, most choices are easily pruned (9).
It is very heavy, but doesn't drag (8).
There are multiple strategic goals: isolate or expand, which colors, what types of conflicts, and so on (7).
It is an excellent example of a game with randomness but little luck, although it is possible to get hammered with some really bad draws for the strategy you're pursuing (6),
as well as interaction without negotiation (5).
It's extremely deep (4).


Pente has limited decisions each turn, because most plays will obviously lose quickly (9).
It is fairly light play, but heavy thinking is required (8).
There are multiple strategic goals: Five in a row, five captures, aggressive vs cautious (7).
It has neither randomness nor luck, but the game often diverges well after the first few series of moves (6).
It has interaction without negotiation (5).
It's very deep as your experience with the game grows (4).

Age of Steam

Age of Steam has limited decisions each turn (9).
It is very heavy, but doesn't drag (8).
There are multiple strategic goals: short or long routes, which roles to concentrate on, how to grow your networks, etc. (7).
It is an excellent example of a game with randomness but little luck (6),
as well as interaction without negotiation (5).
It's very deep, as are many god rail games (4).

Cosmic Encounter

Cosmic Encounter is the game that breaks its own rules, so I would expect it to break these, too.

It generally has limited decisions each turn (9).
It's pretty light, but good planning and negotiation can go a long way (8).
There are multiple strategic goals: choosing your allies and enemies, overt or covert wins, single or joint wins (7).
It's got a lot of luck, but so many random cards are drawn, that a lot of the luck can cancel out (6).
It's got negotiation; it's the only negotiation game I can handle, because it's just so funny (5).
It's not at all deep (4).

So yeah, it violates a lot of the rules, but CE has so many rules and so many exceptions, that it's always a blast to play, especially for a rules lawyer and variant maker like me. The game is extensible, we've added and changed many rules, and thousands of powers, cards, and other expansions have been added to the game.

And every game gives you the game experience, with great stories that carry over well after the game is put back into the box.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico has limited decisions each turn (9).
It is deep but doesn't feel heavy (8).
There are multiple strategic goals: shipping vs building, high score vs low score, and which goods to produce. (7).
It is an excellent example of a game with randomness but very little luck (6),
as well as interaction without negotiation (5).
It's very deep, especially as you gain experience in the game (4).

I've added many expansions to the game. And I spend time before and after games, discussing the game, how the game will be played, and how the game was played. It's an experience.


Go has limited decisions each turn, despite a wide open board, because most moves can be pruned after not much thought (9).
It is very light play, but very deep thinking (8).
There are multiple strategic goals: aggressive vs defensive, single territory, multiple territories, and many others that I can't begin to understand, let alone describe (7).
It has no luck, but the game often diverges well after the first few series of moves (6).
It has interaction without negotiation (5).
It's incredibly deep, especially as your experience grows (4).

Games are played on different sized boards and with or without handicaps. There are many variants available to try. The game requires much study before and after the game, and has a language and culture all its own.


So do they match? I think fairly well. For Cosmic Encounter, the humor and rules lawyering in the game adds a lot, but it's a very specific exception.

As to the lack of luck in Pente and Go, they are also exceptions, being abstract games played on large boards that look very different each time they're played. Other abstracts are also strong contenders, such as Yinsh and Dvonn (Dvonn almost made the list; Dvonn's setup phase feels very random).


While looking up the games on Amazon, I noticed some pretty good deals on a few Rio Grande Games (all around 50% off):

The Princes of Florence - $21.57
Yinsh - $17.79
Carcassonne - The City - $26.97
Elfenland - $22.60
Frank's Zoo - $6.45
The Traders of Genoa - $21.57
Around the World in 80 Days - $20.49
Pick Picknic - $9.45
Paris Paris - $20.99
Evergreen - $16.90
Adam & Eva - $18.69
Igloo Pop - $17.79

If you buy one of these games, you'll be happy, Amazon will be happy, and I'll be happy. What a deal.