I came across this fantastic article about the history of Avalon Hill, published on a small Earthlink site called the Academic Gaming Review, by Peter L. de Rosa. By all accounts, this was originally written in 1998 and published here in 2002 (seemingly with some updates). It doesn’t appear to have been updated since then, so some of the information in the essay is aged. I reached out to Peter to find out if he could write an update and to get his permission to repost it… but I didn’t receive anything back. I hope he doesn’t mind my reposting it here, though if I hear he does, I will certainly take it down.
In the subsequent 15 years since the article, boardgaming has blown up. Ticket To Ride, Puerto Rico, Agricola, Dominion, Pandemic… all released after this was written. Comparing the boardgame industry/hobby from 2002 to 2017 is like comparing the airline industry in 1950 to today. There are now over a thousand new games coming out every year, from both major and minor publishers and through self-publishing channels. GMT has grown into the premiere wargame publisher, flanked by companies like Consim Press, MMP, Legion Wargames, Compass Games, and Osprey Games. Decision Games and Flying Buffalo, noted within the article as some of the stronger players in 2002, are also still active.
The story of Avalon Hill, which published a lot of important titles in the 70’s and 80’s, is a good one for interested gamers to know. Peter gives a thorough account of the messy details of what happened to the giant, as well as a bit of conjecture about the future.
Continue reading The Fall of Avalon Hill
I’ve joked a lot on Twitter and social media recently about how I simply have no time to play boardgames these days. Since the birth of my two and a half year-old son, it’s been tough to muster the time or energy to play games. It’s also been challenging to keep any kind of a group together. His mom and I used to play quite a few games leading up to the pregnancy, and even through the course of it, but once that baby boy dropped into my arms, I fell in love…
…oh, and all our free time disappeared. I mean, it literally vanished.
In this series, I’m going to talk about what I’ve learned and experienced on my short but ongoing adventure as a gamer dad. I’m not sure how lengthy this will be, or how often new parts will appear, but we’ll take our time and pepper these around. It’s a journey, after all.
Continue reading Oh, Baby : Part 1, The Rude Awakening
One of these days I’m going to make it to Essen to see Spiel first hand. Heck, one of these days I’m going to make it to any boardgame convention. What I’ll do in the meantime is continue my Naked Anticipation geeklist over at BGG, which is a reminder list of all the cool looking games coming out at Essen and beyond, into 2017.
There’s a lot of stuff on the list. Not all of it is coming out at Essen, and I’m obviously not going to add all these titles to my collection. I’ve become a lot more discerning about what goes in my collection, since games that enter it are usually slow to get played. Notable games premiering at Spiel are Guilds Of London, A Feast For Odin, The Colonists, and Great Western Trail. These are the perhaps the big boys of the con.
Lesser known, perhaps “fly under the radar” titles are Potions Brew, Railroad Revolution, Sagrada, and Tallinn. This is stuff I hope to see more of during the con via Twitter, BGG Live Stream, etc.
Check out the geeklist above and let me know what you think of some of these games, and let me know if there’s anything I missed over at Twitter.
I have a bit of gaming problem. I’m starting to fall in love with some pretty heavy games, and I don’t have anyone to play them with.
I won’t bore you with the details. It’s enough to know that I’m kind of low on free time and on accessible friends who are also fans of heavy games. If I want to play, I’m playing on my own. Yeah, I’m working on fixing this, but for now, that’s my sob story. The reality is that this doesn’t both me too terribly much. I view solo gaming much the same way as reading a good book or playing a video game. It’s just another single-person activity, but while there are a lot of great books and video games out there, I’ve had trouble finding many great solitaire boardgames with depth. I’ve pined for something to sink my teeth into, that would transport me to a new world and let me struggle through it, alone.
This is when I discovered the series of COIN games from GMT. I’d encountered the term “COIN” before. I’d heard whispers about the system, but I didn’t know much about the games themselves. I had them pegged as “just another type of wargame”. As a euro gamer, and even as a euro gamer who enjoys heavy games, I didn’t want to get myself mired in the thick porridge of wargaming. Too long. Too complex. Not especially fun. Right?
Continue reading A solo spin of the COINs
Back in the summer of 2013, Tim Fowers posted his Kickstarter page for Paperback, not expecting that it would pass it’s goal line for funding in four days and go on to fund at over 700% of it’s initial goal. It was a big hit in the Kickstarter world… and I missed it entirely.
Paperback (for those who haven’t heard yet) is a deckbuilding word game. If you’re familiar with Dominion (the granddaddy of the genre), you’re halfway to understanding how Paperback plays… you just need to substitute the knights and wizards on the Dominion cards with letters and letter combinations. It’s a genius mix – and it works beautifully.
Continue reading Paperback