Are there games you would never play?

This article is not about games I think am bad. Could do a post about why I loathe Steam from Martin Wallace (who is a great designer)… but not today. Today is about something completely different.

Who remembers the old computer game where you got bonus points to run over Hara Krishna followers?

Today I am going to write my ramblings about theme. Yes theme once again. Are there themes you would never play, or don’t you care? Have read many posts and heard many board gamers say that theme is not important. The game mechanics are important – nothing else…

Myself I love a good theme. Love the idea of building up a tribe in Stone Age, cultivating Wine in Portugal in Vinhos or hunting monsters for survival in Kingdom Death: Monster. Do not mind the abstract games though, but theme is important to me.

Lady Death by Brian Pulido swims in seas of blood, gores of violence and I love it.

In Comics almost nothing is sacred. Am a big fan of Lady Death, and they are quite explicit, but could this transcend to board games? Let me try this one out…

… would you play a board game where the purpose of the game was to kill as many people as possible in a German concentration camp during World War II? You were the camp leader and had to do resource management, build up the camp and tally up the death count – the game mechanics are innovative and fun – but would you?

… or would you play a game where the purpose was to produce the most perfect porn movie drafting cards with the best positions, the right angles and best shots (pun intended)? You would have card drafting and hand management (eh!), and the game mechanics would be fun, but would the theme affect you?

For me the answer is not obvious, because I would not play camp leader but would have a blast (as in laughing a lot) over the porn movie. I also have games where a part of the resources you use are slaves (Puerto Rico and Five Tribes) – games that later changed it to be immigrants and workers, so those games were affected by what is right.

Sons of Anarchy is a TV show about a motorcycle gang. Very explicit TV show. My wife loves Charlie Hunnam as Jax Teller. It is also a board game – run your gang as efficient as possible.

I will play games where the political correctness is not present, and it is my own subjective ethical perspective that decides what I want to play when I sit down at the table.

But what do you think? Is there a limit to theme and what the theme should contain, or would you game whatever hit the table? Either because you do not care about theme and only mechanics or because you thought it could be fun to explore a theme that you knew would raise eyebrows?

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The best of 2018

Will try and create my top 5 list of the 2018 games I have played. Will include the worst of 2018 as well just for the sake of it 🙂

Got some pretty cool games this year, and as you will see shortly one board game company really excelled in my opinion, but enough rambling – let’s go!

5. Here we find Ganz Schön Clever designed by Wolfgang Warsch who has been really creative this year. The game is a simple roll’n’write game where you try to combine different colours of dice with their pip value to maximize your score. Quite a brilliant game with a lot more depth than you think.

4. Another Wolfgang Warsch game finds it’s way in here. This time the game that won the prestigious Kennerspiel des Jahres in Germany. The game is Quacks of Quedlinburg. Where there was no real theme in the other game, we are now quacks trying to get the best “all curing” potions made and sold without them blowing up. Nice push your luck game with some bag building elements.

You really want those hapless victims to buy your useless potions that you fill with bird skulls, mushrooms and ghost breath.

3. Moving from a light entry game over to a light board game, and now into the heavy games with number 3. This game is from CMON games. They excel in creating games with cool minis, hence the name (Cool Mini or Not), but also games heavy on interaction. In this area control game you are the Shogun of your own army in Japan, and through negotiation and war you have to become the Shogun of all of Japan. The game is Rising Sun designed by Eric Lang.

Roxley Games rule my board gaming world atm. They are just out of everyone’s league.

2. And now for my top two. They are both from Roxley Games who create games in a league of their own. Top quality and game play. Late 2018 they released Dice Throne: Season 2 after a very succesfull Kickstarter. This game is a 1:1 game where you control a character that fights another for the ultimate glory. This is done through a combination of rolling attack dice, cards that either helps you right away or builds up your character to become even stronger. This game is fun, fast and what we needed this year.

1 Roxley also made the game for me in 2018. It is a remake of a classic game from designer Martin Wallace – the game is Brass: Lancashire. This game has a great theme where you work through the industrialization of England during that period of time. You build cotton mills, steel plants, coal mines and sell your goods either locally or on the international market. The game is heavy, and takes 2+ hours to play, and I will never turn down a play. This game is amazing.

Was just so dissappointed.

I had one game that really was just not me, but I so wanted it to be. The game is Architects of the West Kingdom by Shem Phillips and S. J. McDonald. Loved Raiders of the North Sea so much that I have backed their role playing game based on that universe, but this game was for me no fun. Will have to try it again because I know that it must be a mistake.

Board gaming is almost a full time job atm.

Genghis charged!

The Djengis Con came and went. It was a huge success again. Got to try some new games, and meet new interesting people. Even ordered one of them to the collection – Sagrada. Building glass windows in the world famous church.

Life sometimes surprises you

Sagrada
The beautiful glass windows

You know the feeling where life has ugly surprises, or you experience something that just drains all your energy? That has been my life. Do to take this as complaining over things, it has just been a bumpy ride.

Then I got an email from a very large international NGO. They had heard about my board gaming events, and volunteer work, and they wanted to me meet me to hear more. It will be this week, and I am looking forward to it.

It still surprises me that board games brings people together, and when you do something good it always come back. If you seek and share positivity life will reward you.

Do not know if you feel the same way? It has just always been the way I have experienced life. People who seek negativity will try and push it on people who are not negative, but positivity always wins.

So what is I do?

When doing the volunteer work with board games I always try to find games that fits the audience.

One example: Have played with people who suffered from Cancer and I brought games that had a positive twist, as sick people often isolate themselves I brought games that “forced” them to interact.

It works! They talk and share stories, they interact and have fun. I know that I cannot cure their disease, eliminate loneliness or solve all the issues people fight with. The few hours that they are “mine” they will however have a room filled with positivity, and if you have not tried to share your own interest in volunteer work I dare you to try – it is rewarding beyond belief.

Everyone has something to bring to the table

More than once when I have talked with both friends, or been a speaker at events people think that what I do is incredible (no self promotion intended), and I always tell them the same as written here “It is easy to participate, just bring your interest and passion and you will improve others lives”.

Share your story
Share, and get back tenfold

The reply always centers around them not having an interest as special as mine – trust me you do. It is not about the interest but the engagement and energy.

Recently a business connection took me on my word and asked me if I could connect him with an organization, because he wanted to assist with IT – which is an area where he excels. I did so, and he now offers his expertise and passion about IT to a large Danish NGO that could use some help in that area.

So please dear readers – share your passion, and let others benefit. If you can think of nothing contact me, and together we will make a difference.

Genghis is back!

So you are back?

Yeah – this post has two meanings:

  1. I am back – hopefully writing some more again… and yes I look like Ghengis Khan.
  2. Genghis Con (Djengis in Danish) is the name of a small board game con in Denmark.

#1 is a given, and I am participating at #2. Friday the 28th of April until the following Sunday will be with board games, board games and happy board gamers 🙂

Genghis Con

It has been approximately a year since I signed up to participate again, and I always look forward to this event. Of course it is because it is board games, but also because it is arranged by one of the nicest guys around on the board game scene in Denmark. He plans and executes this Con by himself, and arranges food, lodging, sessions and everything else for about 50 people.

This year I signed up to explain rules in three modules. Do this every year because I like to give just a little bit back to ensure the success of the Con, and this year it will be three very different titles.

  • Mechs vs. Minions. The game from Riot Games (yep – they make League of Legends) – fun miniature game with 100% coop.
  • Terraforming Mars. This game has so many good elements. One of the best themes (how cool is it to make Mars habitable?), card drafting which I love, and some great opportunities to block and interact with other players.
  • The Dwarves. Once more a coop game, where the Dwarves try to protect the land from the invading Ă„lfar, trolls and orcs.

My two sons joins their mad dad once again. They are 16 and 18, so I think this will be an all time last for’em, but how many can brag that their sons still wants to participate in something with the “old guy” aka dad?

We ARE not old sweaty, smelly men (well old perhaps but not sweaty and smelly)

There are a lot of outside opinions that these kind of events are for very fat sweaty men; it is not. You will see all kinds of men and women with one common interest – board games…

Community

Charging Khan
50 angry board gamers charging across the board…

… and that is one of the corner stones of the Con. People from all over Denmark, some who see each other often, some who only meet once a year, some who attend every year, and some that are brand new all just meet. I have been there four years I think, and not once have I experienced anyone who excluded others. There will always be some games, players etc. that you prefer, but none are excluded.

So if I will see you there I look forward to it. If you could not make it, there is always next year.

But is that all?

No – not at all. I am still arranging events for Save the Children Denmark, still work with  Men Against Cancer, and play once a month with young (and old and everyone in between) people in Grøønegadens Kulturcenter – next 12th of May, and you are more than welcome.

Wrote the Ronald McDonald foundation that runs a house for families with severely sick children, and they will get in touch when they see a possibility for gaming; they really liked the idea.

… so the old, round conquer of worlds Genghis is back, and since I failed to conquer this one I terraformed Mars. It is now livable – go there and see for yourself.

So until we see each other again…

Keep calm

Trading and using my influence in ULM

Wednesday following Spiel16, and the group was gathered to do some board gaming. Of course we had new titles on the table.

One table was playing the hyped Terraforming Mars, and the other where I was responsible played the lighter game Ulm. A game where you use your influence to become the most powerful house.

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Build up your own Kingdom in a 5×5 grid in a domino like way. The game is Kingdomino.

The game has a very cool mechanism where you have to draw your action blind from a bag, and then push it into a 3×3 grid to get two more actions. It plays over ten rounds in around 1 hour.

After the game finished we tried Red7, a fun card game where you have to win each round or you’re dead. The cars have a number and a rule written on them, one example is most even cards”, and the game is total magnificent chaos in a very controlled way.
It has been a busy week. Brought home a backgammon like game – Tatsu – and the family really loves that game. We also played a lot of Magecraft, a small bag building game where you use crystals drawn from a bag to cast spells at your opponent.

Yesterday we went to see my brother to play board games, and we played the one that is my favorite so far from Spiel16; the game Kanagawa is a game where you are a Japanese artist that has to do the most beautiful drawing. I really like the theme, and I love the game.

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Drum Roll from Artipia games is a wonderful game about running a circus early 1900’s.

But trying not to get carried away we brought out Drum Roll, and “older” game where you run a circus. It is also one of my favourite games, and again I love the theme. You travel around early 1900 century to do shows, hire performers, workers etc. to assist you in making your show the best in Europe.

Also got to play Kingdomino, a fast little game where you build a small province (5×5) by picking pieces randomly drawn.

So the week has been full of games, and on Sunday we will go play games with Red Barnet (Save the Children foundation), to play board games with kids who are feeling lonely, having a hard time in school and similar challenges. It will be the culmination of a great week.

Essen done… Final thoughts

Back in Denmark, and have been for some time now. We left Saturday as both of us did not want to go to a fully packed Spiel16. As we had already done our shopping, tried out the games we agreed that home it was.

Looking back I had one hell of a good experience, and came home with some cool games. There were some games that I simply could not find where both Kharnage and Aya were two of those; both games were games I really wanted to try out.

And when also looking back at my top 5’ish you might wonder how that came along. Not as I had planned 🙂 Have four of the games home with me, and tried two of them. When looking at Mystic Vale I thought I saw a solitaire board game with very little interaction. I might be wrong and it is still on my watch list.

Got to play Kanagawa and Tatsu. Both very good games. Also got to play a lot of other games, but no other games from the top 5 got played. Have the entire week off, so I think this week will see a lot of gaming.

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Tatsu: A Backgammon “like” game where your dragons have to outmaneuver the opponent.

Looking at the games I did bring with me home to the collection it is quite obvious that I prefer the fast games. Not a single worker placement game found it’s way into my heavily loaded Ikea bags. The opposite for my friends Thomas and Allan; they chose nothing but euro games, so the coming Wednesdays will prob. bring Great Western Trail, Terraforming Mars, Indonesia and similar to the table. And it will be fun.

Final thoughts on Essen. It was a very cool experience. I do not regret driving down there, and I do not regret how I went about it down there. Got to try games, see a lot what is happening, and what games will be released shortly. Did not get to see Mechs vs. Minions – that game looks out of this world.

Also I really like how they handle everything about the exhibition. Good at getting people in when opening, nice usage of space and placement of stalls and the people there are kind and smiling. One booth got all their money stolen tho’, but what does the community do. They back them in a Kickstarter campaign, the board game celebs make a video, and everyone just gets involved. How cool is that?

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New games to the collection. Yep; the toilet game is there.

Brought back “some” new games that I am so looking forward to trying out.

Will I be going again? I do not know actually. Why is that? Do not have the answer right now. I think I will go next year if the € allows it, but I do not know.

If you were there I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did? If not and you like board games it is worth the trip.

What is next in my board gaming life? Well – both an event with Save the Children, and an event with Grønnegadens Kulturcenter. And it is happening within the next 14 days.

The amazing continues – day 2

Tired feet and lousy bed in a very bad airbnb flat meant I was not at 100% energy this morning. Mood was still very much on the positive side. 

Were there when Spiel16 opened their doors for the public at 10. Not as planned as yesterday, but still knew what I wanted to see and try. “Try” is a rather hard word to use; with so many people all tables are full. We got to see all the halls again and just as cool as yesterday. So many games all gathered in one location  and the only thing missing is my wife. Been married less than 2 months and then I leave to play board games (thank you FaceTime, got to talk to her today).

But back to the business. Bought a few games and then we thought “let’s call it quits”. All done with the day early we decided to do something radical, we left at around 16. 

so we were done with the day a lot faster than yesterday… so what to do. 

Ulm. Great game and great components.

Well the solution was easy and straight in front of us. We’d play board games. 

Normally I am not that much of a euro gamer, but Thomas suggested that we tried out Ulm. It has a rather unique way of how you select your move. The game is just so very cool. Two more joined and we ended up playing three games. 

Just a point mentioning besides the games and Spiel16. The Atom Kebab dish we found at the best kebab restaurant in Essen must be the best ever tasted, and half the price compared to Denmark. Dinner two days running.

Got to try even more games and really enjoyed the evening with all different kind of games. 

Do not know what we plan tomorrow. As a Spiel virgin I have been told that the place will be packed during the weekend days. Fear it will become too warm, humid and almost claustrophobic. My thoughts go towards finding some more people to play board games with. 

If you are here in Essen I hope to see you and perhaps meet for a game or two.