Measuring The Ways To Win

Whenever I teach a game, there comes that inevitable moment where I’m explaining how to win, and 9 times out of 10, it ends with “and the player with the most points is the winner!”. The redundancy of that statement led me to start thinking about all the possible manners in which victory is or could be measured in a competitive boardgame. Points can’t be the only method, right?

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Thoughts on Spiel.digital and virtual boardgame conventions

Boardgame conventions and fairs are a celebratory event in the hobby and industry. Designers, publishers, printers, distributors, and fans wait all year for big gatherings like Gencon, Origins, UK Games Expo, BGGcon, GAMA trade show, Dice Tower Con, or Spiel… but in 2020, thanks to COVID-19, none of these, or the myriad of smaller local conventions, are happening.

Publishers have had to deal with production and shipping delays and adjustments, and figure out new ways to spread the word about their games that doesn’t involve gathering. For a hobby whose very existence relies heavily on across-the-table interaction, COVID-19 seemed mildly disastrous.

But the show must go on!

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High Society

Thurston Howell III: “Gentlemen. I am Thurston Howell III and this of course is my wife, Mrs. Thurston Howell III.”

Mrs. Lovey Howell: “Charmed.”

Igor: “Capitalist! Exploiter!”

Thurston Howell III: “Capitalist? Exploiter? I was wrong Lovey. They’re very friendly!”

– Gilligan’s Island

These days there are a few thousand new boardgames released every year. Most of us are not rich. I can’t afford the time or money to play anything more than the tiniest fraction of these titles. It’s easy for a game to get lost in the shuffle, even if you’re a well regarded card game from a well respected designer. Such is the case for me and Reiner Knizia’s High Society. First released in 1995 in German, it was the 2003 Uberplay edition that introduced the game to the English speaking world, and quite possibly the 2008 Gryphon Games edition that popularized the game in English. I had heard about the game many times, but it wasn’t until Osprey’s gorgeous 2018 edition that I acquired a copy. It was a full year later before I had a chance to finally play it, and fall in love with this game that let’s me pretend to be rich!

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Concordia

If you’ve spent any time reading about boardgames on Reddit, Twitter, or Boardgamegeek, you’re likely familiar with a game called Concordia, from designer Mac Gerdts. If you haven’t already played it, you’ve likely looked at pictures of the game and the box and questioned the sanity of fans. Unless you’re crazy like us, and get turned on by old maps and the colour beige, you’ve thought to yourself “Not in this lifetime!”.

Mac Gerdts has been around the block. He may be most famously known for his series of games that explore the rondel mechanic. A rondel is a wheel shaped mechanism, usually printed on the game board, with a variety of options and rules for movement. Gerdts played with this in Antike, Hamburgum, Imperial, and Navegador.

In 2013, he took a new approach with Concordia and used cards in place of the rondel, a twist he continued toying with in his 2017 follow-up game, Transatlantic. Concordia is still thematically a “trading in the Mediterranean” game at heart, but the cards and a minor twist in how they play and accomodate scoring was all Mac needed to create something fresh and exciting.

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The Finest… Boardgame Artists

Boardgames don’t generally have a great reputation when it comes to art. Some of the most critically acclaimed and most popular hobby boardgames have been adorned in some particularly horrible clothes. That doesn’t matter, we tell ourselves, because we’re in it for the mechanisms. However, in the automated, Twitter linked, high-definition, push-notification lifestyle of a boardgame fanatic… just having great mechanisms isn’t necessarily enough to capture the attention of the crowd any more. In a world that has over 2,000 new boardgames released every year… it’s no wonder art and design are taking on increased importance, even if many boardgamers can’t necessarily name the artists who are responsible for their favourite game.

Artists don’t just paint pretty pictures for the box lid (okay, some do), but every card, board, and rulebook also need artists to help put it all together, and when they do a good job, you might not even recognize that they’re there. This list examines artists who do it all, and do it with flair.

So, let’s take a minute to appreciate some of the finest in the industry. These are some of my favourite boardgame artists. They may not be the same as yours, but that’s not because you’re wrong… it’s probably just because… you know what? Let’s just jump in.

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