Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Top Ten Board Game News 2006

Top events in the world of mainstream board and card games, as I see it:

1. Monopoly's new standard and Here and Now editions

Hasbro continues to beat this game into the world's collective brains through a combination of savvy marketing, licensing, PR, and national pride.

They released a new "standard" edition, preceded by months of voting for landmarks to be included, and followed by months of complaints from citizens of the least expensive properties to the municipality of Atlantic City.

They also put out their no-cash credit card edition, so that another generation can learn to trust the infallible computer.

(See my list of 1000+ Monopoly versions.)

2. Dominoes on ESPN?

After the success of Texas Hold'em, the next big discussion this year was how sedentary can we make the activity and still broadcast it on a sports network? The discussion centered around Dominoes which requires even less from a player than Poker, astoundingly enough.

3. Games That Made the News

War on Terror: The right game at the right time to cause controversy. The genral public was aghast at the idea of actually playing suicide bombers (but Nazis are ok?), while opponents of the governments handling the so-called war on terror were thrilled. For my part, I objected not to the theme, but to the attitude of moral equivalency on behalf of the designers on their web site.

Apparently, the game is not half bad.

Da Vinci Code (several games): Following the publicity of the book and the movie, several board games attempted to cash in on their success.

Sudoku (several games): This is a carryover from last year, but 2006 saw several new games for this popular craze.

Deal or No Deal: Yet another series of games based on a popular culture phenomenon, none of which are any good.

Your Best Life Now: A self-actualization game based on a popular book. Apparently, the game does not reflect the values of the book too closely.

GiftTRAP: A meta party game about giving and getting the right gifts.

Wits and Wagers: A trivia game where the object is not to know the most, but to bet on the answers given by all the players.

4. Headz Games in Nova Scotia

Headz Games, creator of numerous sports related board games, announced a new manufacturing plant in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, which was to provide 1500 new jobs. The plans sent the tiny town into a tizzy, but by the end of the year, the CEO had quit and the plans went on hold.

5. Chess shenanigans

In the wild and wacky world of Chess, grand master players fell to their death, committed suicide over their abusive fathers, punched opponents on the dance floor over a woman (who left with a third party), and leveled accusations of consulting chess computers in the facilities while on bathroom break.

Way to keep the sport noble, guys and gals.

6. Crowdsourcing board gaming

Around the world, and especially the U.S., thousands of people took to the streets to take the part of live pawns, playing board games using GPS systems and mobile devices.

7. World's largest Uno game

Mattel organized 330 players in West Virginia to simultaneously play UNO, in the world's largest gathering of UNO players. I'm not sure why that's important, but it got news coverage.

8. World's highest Scrabble score

As did two guys in a basement who played the world's highest single score (830) in a game of Scrabble, as well as the world's highest combined scoring game (1320), and most points for a single play (365, for QUIXOTRY).

9. Trivial Pursuit lawsuit

The old "some guy ripped off my game" controvery reared it's ugly head when the makers of Trivial Pursuit were served a lawsuit by some guy who said that they stole the idea from him after sharing a cab ride in the late 70's. This conveniently comes after the developers took all the risk, time, playtesting, and marketing required to actually produce and sell the game, as well as another 25 years.

10. Pink Scrabble Tiles

I don't know about you, but this makes my heart go boom. A completely pink game of Scrabble was developed, the proceeds of which are aimed at fighting breast cancer.

Surely that's more newsworthy than the various accounts of people killed as a result of Scrabble games over the last year.

11. Microsoft porting Eurogames to XBox

This may not mean much to mainstream gamers right now, but Microsoft announced plans to port three groundbreaking Eurogames to the XBox, including Settlers of Catan. The day will come when mainstream gamers are assimilated onto the true path. Resistance is futile.


Despite some great press reviews and lots of eager anticipation, Phillip's Entertaible, which is supposed to marry a touch sensitive electronic gaming table to physical components such as glass cubes, got some press, but hasn't made it to the public yet. We're still waiting and hoping.


P.S. Check out my 2006 Holiday Gift Guide!


Anonymous said...

Wow, these would make great gifts this coming Christmas. I'm sure the Deal or No Deal board game would also be a hit here in the Philippines.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

jhay: If you are a big fan of Deal or No Deal, and you must own this game, enjoy.

However, everything I have read has led me to believe that the games themselves are actually pretty bad.

I would suggest instead that you consult my Holiday Gift Guide for good game ideas this holiday season.


Anonymous said...

Wow what a list! It's amazing the new themes Monopoly comes up with, no wonder why they are in the money. My kids want the new LIFE game from Pirates of the Carribean(sp). I had no clue about the War on Terror board game, but I knew Sudoku was becoming popular...granted I've never played it.
My son loves Chess of any type and I think my daughter would really like the pink scrabble, that's one I haven't seen yet in stores.

Yehuda Berlinger said...

Homemom: I hope your kids grow out of Life soon! Games should be more than doing what the dice/cards tell you to do.

See my holiday gift guide for some better suggestions.

Yeah, I also think the pink Scrabble is cool, and it's for charity, too. I'm seriously thinking about (if I only hadn't bought so many other games this year!)


Anonymous said...

Monopoly and Scrabble had been the my fav all the time.I love those games apart form my video games.

I also got entry in darrens project.

And i am feeding your blog.There wont be another chance to meet so many bloggers

Anonymous said...

AN excellent list and a new blog I will read regularly courtesy of ProBlogger. Check out my recent post about the 11 best geek board games here:


It's had over 20,000 readers already since it was Dugg last month. I hope your readers find it interesting too.

Anonymous said...

Pink Scrabble, yay!


Anonymous said...

Oh wow, how interesting. I didn't know a lot of these things, actually. It's interesting to see how the game market is changing. We also participated in this project, stop on by if you get a chance!

Erica Douglas said...

If you play someone half decent, monopoly is fab...

Anonymous said...

My vote is for GiftTrap, even though I come from Nova Scotia originally and should be supporting the home team at Headz! GiftTrap is new and different AND their hearts are in the right place. 10% of their profits go to Right to Play.

- Dan

Yehuda Berlinger said...

To all of you supporting Monopoly: I'm sorry. I would really like to agree with you, but I can't.

Even if you play with the correct rules (no money for free parking, no loans, etc.) the game is still ridiculously long and presents almost no control whatsoever to the players. Pick the card, do what it says. Land here and pay the money.

The decisions about what to buy and what to trade are pitiful.

With just two dice, and no board or pieces, I can play twenty better games, such as Liar's Dice and Can't Stop. (Look at BoardGameGeek for rules.)

I want you to think carefully: was the "fun" you had when playing Monopoly because you liked the people you were with, or the beer, or was it with the game?

I beg you to try Acquire, Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride, or anything else on my Gift Guide and then compare to Monopoly.


Anonymous said...

oh wow! A blog on board games - I haven't even thought of looking for blogs in this kind of realm. I'll certainly be having a look around (found you through pro-blogger competition) I've been after a new - really good- game for quite a while now.

Coldfoot said...

Holy cow! Quite a few comments, and none by the usual suspects.

My problem with the War on Terror boardgame is that since it was released it has been virtually pointless to type "Board game" into the blog-search box in the upper left corner of blogspot blogs.

The search lists page after page of references to the "War on Terror boardgame" rendering the search virtually useless as a tool to find new game blogs.

It's not as bad now as it was a couple months ago, but try it. Type in "boardgame" or "board game" and hit "search all blogs".

Anonymous said...

That's a great list. I enjoyed reading about the complaints that Monopoly got from the less expensive cities. Funny. I love the pink scrabble, too. This is the first I heard of it. Thanks

I'm a first time surfer to your site; I came over from blogger.net.


Yehuda Berlinger said...

Welcome, and thanks for commenting, ashish, cameron, jennifer, mama duck, erica, dan, bec, and linda.

One of the main points of games is to enjoy them, so if you enjoy them, play (and don't let a snob like me who doesn't like Monopoly get in your way!)


Oh, and yes, Brian, WoT does seem to suddenly be dominating the news, even though I reported on it several months ago. It was only now finally released. Boing Boing, Digg, and others picked it up all at once.