The Palaces Of Carrara

When I was young I had a marble collection. Now I’m older, and I still like to collect marble… only now it’s marble made of wood. And it spins. On a disc. And it comes in a variety of colours and values. You use it to construct buildings in this game… this game that I just can’t stop talking about. Let me tell you about it!

In The Palaces Of Carrara, players spend their turns performing exactly one action. You’re either collecting marble, building buildings, or scoring. Sounds easy, right? That’s what I said too! Not so fast, Vitruvius.

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Robinson Crusoe

“It is never too late to be wise.”
― Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

That famous quote from Robinson Crusoe is a poignant in life, but it becomes a little less realistic in Ignacy Trzewiczek’s boardgame Robinson Crusoe: Adventure on the Cursed Island when you only have twelve turns to keep yourself from starving to death. This is a game that requires you to make wise decisions early on, and punishes you dearly for making incorrect ones. It’s a game that lavishes you with a variety of options, but teases you with the inability to select more than a meagre handful of them. Practicing your wisdom a little too late is how you die on this breathtaking deserted island.

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Niya

“Love is a game
of tic-tac-toe,
constantly waiting
for the next x or o.”
― Lang Leav

In the past couple of years Bruno Cathala has quickly become one of my favourite modern boardgame designers. He’s incredibly prolific. In the past year alone (and I haven’t played most of these yet) he’s released Five Tribes, Abyss, Dragon Run, Madame Ching, Desperados of Dice Town, Cyclades: Titans, and Haru Ichiban. You’d be forgiven if you missed one of his titles along the way.

So is the case for me and Niya, a little game designed by Cathala and published by Blue Orange Games, most famous for their line of Spot It! titles. Published in 2012, this small game flew right by my radar, but is it worth circling back and investigating?

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Finca

“To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean.”
― Elizabeth David

When I started in this hobby a couple of years ago, I had some gaming under my belt already. I’d been down the RPG path. I’d played a little Magic on the hallway floors of my highschool, but board games? Like… Risk? Clue?

I was yet to be indoctrinated in the ways of Euro boardgaming when I strolled into Snakes & Lattes in Toronto for the first time. This was a new world. When my wife and I sat down with her brother from British Columbia, we played Carcassonne, Tsuro, and then we asked the local guru what else we should play. He recommended Finca. We played it, and I bought it the same day.

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Going, Going, GONE!

I’ve been playing games for a long time, but my reintroduction to modern designer board games only happened in the fall of 2012. At that time, Agricola was the hot game, and when I finally picked up my own copy of the game, I went online to try and learn it. This was my introduction to Scott Nicholson, who ran a Youtube channel devoted to board games called “Board Games With Scott“. Beginning with a silly Ricola advert parody, Scott taught me how to play Agricola, step by step, and I immediately knew that this was a smart guy with a silly edge of wit.

Sadly, by that time, Scott had already moved on from his video channel, spending more time on his studies of transformative games and the process of gamification. He was also working on a game of his own.

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