Thursday, 1 November 2007

"Essen" Means "To Eat" in German

What can I say? I had my Essen editorial already in the can over at before the news about the Mayfair decision broke so I didn't write about it. Yet, somehow the rampant consumer feeding frenzy that always follows in the wake of Essen is still relevant in the discussion. Are Eurogamers willing to pay full price for CONTAINER, KINGSBURG, and fucking HAMBURGUM? Probably not.


MWChapel said...

See. My words rang true. Exactly why price fluctuation don't affect Amertards. You've already bought all the games you will ever need.

Ken B. said...

I don't own Age of Conan yet, Chappy. BY CROM'S BEARD!

Ken B. said...

And are you admitting defeat? Ameritrash games get more MPG than Euros?

You heard it here first, folks.

MWChapel said...

Only by years alone. I guarantee that I'll be playing Through the Ages, Age of Steam and Power Grid for as long as I've played Civilization, Dune and Axis and Allies. Just that the latter bunch came earlier. Euro's continue to come out with (very few) lifelong gems. The problem is AT just hasn't.

Ken B. said...

Pffft. In years to come, archaeologists will be studying our society by deeply examining remnants of cheap chess sets and leftover Munchkin cards.

Frank Branham said...

Regarding lifelong gems:

You do list three of the better Euros of recent years...

I'd put War of the Ring, Prophecy, Twilight Struggle, and perhaps Descent as classics.

One really telling bit comes from the Fairplay best games list:

Fairplay voters gave the following results (as we already know):

1. TRIBUN von Karl-Heinz Schmiel (Heidelberger) 1,6
2. AGRICOLA von Uwe Rosenberg (Lookout) 1,7
3. HAMBURGUM von Walther „Mac" Gerdts (PD/Eggert) 2,0
4. CUBA von Rieneck/Stadler (Eggert) 2,0
5. VOR DEM WIND von Torsten Landsvogt (Phalanx) 2,1
6. IM JAHR DES DRACHEN von Stefan Feld (Alea) 2,2
7. FILOU von Friedemann Friese (2F) 2,3
8. KINGSBURG von Chiarvesio/Iennaco (Truant) 2,3
9. AMYITIS von Cyril Demaegd (Ystari/Huch & friends) 2,4
10. DARJEELING von G√ľnter Burkhardt (Abacus) 2,4

The only of the old school classic Euro companies are Abacus, and Alea. It is all of the new companies that are getting the interest. Hans im Gluck and Kosmos are nowhere to be found.

Agricola and Tribune are games that seem to have a lot of AT-style bits hiding in there.

Michael Barnes said...

Thanks for an idea Frank...after the Mayfair piece and the Starcraft review, I'm going to do a "Lifelong games" thing for Gameshark.

You are right that the new companies are really getting all the interest, but it seems to me that those new European companies are springing up in response to Kosmos, HiG, Goldsieber, Amigo, et. al. failing to meet the demand for something other than mass market family fare. As a result, you've got smaller "boutique" publishers doing very specifically targeted games. That's a good thing, really...but I think the emphasis on those kinds of titles we see in most of the Essen coverage is just fundamentally uninteresting.

I just can't get with AGRICOLA yet...I mean, farming...but looking at the rules, it does look very themey and I do like Rosenberg when's doing interesting things...

Agreed on classic status for WotR, TWILIGHT STRUGGLE, and DESCENT. DESCENT is a game that is just going to grow in stature over the years as new folks get introduced to it. PROPHECY is great but it's still too derivative of TALISMAN and it really doesn't have that "X" factor charm that TALISMAN does. Maybe with expansions it will come into its own.

Even though you don't like it, TWILIGHT IMPERIUM is _definitely_ one of the modern classics and one that will be around pretty much from now on. Infinite replay value both in terms of in-game variability and possibilities for player interactions.

I'm not against new games. I'm not against buying new games or being intersted in new stuff, and I'm definitely not the old codger who claims that they don't make good games anymore. In fact, I think the last couple of years have seen some of the best games ever published and as Ken and others have pointed out, AT-style games are really better now than ever. But the tired old tropes, the boring/negligible themes and abstract influence/role selection/area control mechanics, that we see trotted out at Essen seem pretty antiquated to me.

MWChapel said...

Out of that list Tribun I am looking forward to the most. It does looks as the most original title to come out this year.

And believe it or not, I am more interested in games that have more innovation than the run of the mill.

I mean look how I campaigned to get Through the Ages for Golden Geek, and totally tried to dismiss AOE III. Why because AOE III is a total rehash, and was same ol'same ol'. I failed.

But every year, ESSEN does have the one or two GEM that make it all worth it.

You can't grow a single perfect apple, you have to have a tree full of wormy one's to find that perfect apple.

I agree ESSEN(fairplay) is starting to see that the smaller publishers are the most innovative. I've know that for a long time.

No I don't look at Kingsburg and say winner. I look at Kingsburg just like you and say "been there done that"..

But Agricola and Tribun look yummy.

Ryan Walberg said...

Chaps, if the 20 people who played TtA liked it, they would have voted for it. They probably did. Who were you targeting in your campaign, people who *didn't* play TtA?

MWChapel said...

"Chaps, if the 20 people who played TtA liked it, they would have voted for it. They probably did. Who were you targeting in your campaign, people who *didn't* play TtA?"

Actually was hoping to get more of the 320 people who played it to place it higher than AOEIII.

Both of which I played. Did you?

Andy said...

Why have I seen Race for the Galaxy favorably mentioned both at this blog and in this new Gameshark article? The COMPLETE lack of player interaction and the focus on purely trying to optimize your resource conversion abilities reminds me of another game even more than San Juan: To Court the King, Tom Lehmann's *previous* unplayably boring card/dice game.

Is it the space theme that has people talking about this? I mean, he even admits that it was just a rethemed Puerto Rico card game.

silentdibs said...

Is it me, or are the names of these games just getting stupid?

I mean, fucking CONTAINER? Come on. HAMBURGUM? Kee-rist amighty. I gots to get me one a'those right away!


Michael Barnes said...

Both of which I played. Did you?

Yes. TtA is a good example of how a Eurogame can be very thematic, interesting, and offer a lot of variety and replayabilty. I don't know that it's necessarily innovative, but it's definitely a great design hampered only by maybe a little too much spatial abstraction. AOEIII? The more I think about it, the less I like it. No one will be playing this game next year.

Why have I seen Race for the Galaxy favorably mentioned both at this blog and in this new Gameshark article?

Because it looks interesting and as a 45 minute card game with a good theme it might be decent. I haven't played it so I don't know about a lack of player interaction or even if I'm ultimately going to like it or not. Haven't even read the rules. But I'm interested in checking it out.

TO COURT THE KING...that was fucking worthless. I tried really hard to see what the appeal is, and all I can come up with is that Eurogamers get tickled by the novelty of playing a dice game. It really is Yahtzee with a bunch of needless, uninteresting crap piled on top of it. Every game I've played has been filled with people rolling dice and then spending five minutes trying to figure out what to do, staring blanky at ugly cards with tiny icons. Total shit.

Mr Skeletor said...

DESCENT is a game that is just going to grow in stature over the years as new folks get introduced to it.

Remember not too long ago when Barnes rated this game a 4 or something equally rediculos? Flip flopping bitch.

Can someone check Chapel's brain for me? He is actually using this as an argument:
You've already bought all the games you will ever need.
So the fact we have shelves full of quality games that are so good they will last us the rest of our lifetimes is a BAD thing? Yeah, I wish AT was like Euros where I want to trade my 35% off game after 6 plays...

Container - is that the Eurogame that there is a preorder system for? That has to be the dumbest concept I have ever heard - why the hell would anyone preorder a Eurogame when there are a million comming out each year anyway?

J de said...

Michael, you are a jaded crank

Frank Branham said...

A few of us did manage to kind of get TTA run through for the IGA awards. It took a bit of harrassing the publisher to come up with copies for the half for the half of the jury that hadn't played it.

I don't find TTA all that innovative. It really reminds me a lot of Saint Petersburg with a lot of extra bits bolted on. The nice thing is that the extra bits actually make you have to suffer if you screw up. Euros don't seem to like that much. (See Kingsburg).

The point is, it is harder to work out what a euro is. And those smaller Euro publishers are doing stuff that is starting to drift into AT lands. aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaav

Frank Branham said...

Wow. Linnea (or Simone, maybe) has a talent for hitting a precise bunch of buttons when walking on a keyboard.

Cash n Guns is probably another of those lifetime games, although I would happily put Puerto Rico on my personal list....

Michael Barnes said...

Remember not too long ago when Barnes rated this game a 4 or something equally rediculos? Flip flopping bitch.

Yeah, I did. I totally flip flopped on it. I _didn't_ care for the game at all at first and I still think the first couple of scenarios totally blow and I do still think that the pace is fucked up- a four hour game that represents maybe 2 hours of real time. And really, there's nothing in it that you can't get out of SPACE CRUSADE or MUTANT CHRONICLES. Yet playing with the expansions and more importantly with experienced players who really know the game makes a BIG difference and a lot of the depth isn't readily apparent. What can I say, it took a while for me to really appreciate it.

I guess it says something that I'm willing to go back and play a game like DESCENT 8-9 times even when I didn't really like it but I'll never play fucking PILLARS OF THE EARTH again after 2 games.

It's rare when I really turn around on a game...LOTR was another one. Sometimes it's just when/where you're playing a game, who with, and sometimes it's where you are in your experience with the hobby.

Mr Skeletor said...

It's rare when I really turn around on a game...

No it's not. LOTR was another flipper for you. Battlelore was a reverse flipper. Prophecy you seem to be cooling on.
Flip flip flip. But seriously it is good that you do go back and re-evaluate what you have said about games in the past. But you can still do more, I recommend going back and rating World of Warcraft at least an 8.

Ken B. said...

I think "flip-flopping" is perfectly healthy. If enough people who played Puerto Rico at first (as one of their earliest Euros) and went "WOW! A TEN! HOLY JUMP-A-MUM-MUM!" then...if they'd give an honest reconsideration, I'm betting ol' PR would drop a place or two.

How you feel about games is *supposed* to be a dynamic process. Otherwise, you're just shitting yourself.

Take Samurai Swords. Played it years ago. WOW, what a great game. We brought it out again late last year and though I still liked it, it was obvious I'd cooled on it some having played more games that gave you all the bloodshed and cool combat but in a tighter frame, and with more going on.

Both Twilight Imperium III and Samurai Swords take around 4-5 hours. Which one has more going on? Exactly.

So? I rated Samurai Swords down. Still think it's a great game, one of the finest in that line of games, but times have changed.

(I will say this--Samurai Swords does have one of the coolest combat systems ever.)

Still, Samurai Swords is good enough that even 20 years after it hit store shelves (as Shogun), it's still worth playing. There's stuff I'd rather play more, but if someone's got a table set up with Shogun/Samurai Swords, I'd be nuts to pass it up.

Will people be like that in 20 years with HAMBURGUM? TURD AND TAXIS? HANSA? I don't think so.

I keep coming back to Chappy's statement about "having all the games we'll ever need" and figuring out how that could possibly be an insult.

MWChapel said...

Will people be like that in 20 years with HAMBURGUM? TURD AND TAXIS? HANSA? I don't think so.

How about games like Settlers, El grande, Bohnanza, Medici, T&E, Through the Desert(I could go on)?.. I've been playing all those for over 10 years now. Half way there. And all those are still showing lots of plays on the geek.

Ken B. said...

So we've got great games on both sides. But if those you listed are so great, why are they not fulfilling people's gaming needs? Why keep up the endless pursuit?

Ken B. said...

And remember, I'm trying to get at the heart of why "you've already bought all the games you will ever need" could possibly be a disparaging remark.

If it's not about the games themselves, perhaps it's something about the gamers? Again, if a set of gamers is willing to mine games that they enjoy for years to come, that can't possibly be a bad thing.


Michael Barnes said...

No it's not. LOTR was another flipper for you. Battlelore was a reverse flipper. Prophecy you seem to be cooling on.

Hey, I said LOTR was problem with BATTLELORE had more to do with the fact that DoW/Berg completely fumbled any potential the game had. If it had really cool expansions that added something new to the system, it could have been good. I mean, it's Commands and Colours, which is a great system. They just fucked it up.

Cooling on PROPHECY?'s a really good game and I'm actually going to get the US version next week in anticipation of the expansions.

As for WORLD OF WARCRAFT...that one gets _one_ more chance to impress me and I'll give it a shot with the expansions. Launius was telling me last night that I've got to do it with BURNING CRUSADE to really bring it together. We'll see...I really, really don't like the system itself so I doubt my opinion will change.

Chapel cheated...he listed games that are, for better or worse, classics. He didn't say he'd be playing CASH A CATCH, AUGSBURG 1620, or ZOOLORETTO 20 years from now. Remember last year when everybody was babbling about how great TO CROWN A KING was? Who the fuck is playing that shit now? LOUIS XIV, where are you?

Ken B. said...

Meanwhile we have modern war and AT classics being released every year. Even in just the past five years, we've seen:

A Game of Thrones
Twilight Imperium
War of the Ring
Arkham Horror
Fury of Dracula
Hammer of the Scots
Bonaparte at Marengo
Nexus Ops
Twilight Struggle
Memoir '44

And others I'm forgetting right now.

In fact, it looks like its the Euro classics that are getting long in the tooth, not the other way around.

Ken B. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dan Daly said...


Samurai Swords kicks TI3's butt all over the place. Sure the game can go on too long, but, this happens a small fraction of the time. Usually, somebody is going to win either immediatley upon the first player elimination or very shortly there after.

Of course, I haven't played Samurai Swords in few years, but I don't see any reason for its greatness to have diminished. If I'm short on time and want a "Samurai Swords-lite" experience, I'll play Risk 2210.

TI3 on the other hand really, really disappointed me. It was a game that I researched extensively and was really excited about, but when I played was a big let down. I've been pondering the reasons for this, and should have a review put together in the near future.

Ken B. said...

Samurai Swords kicks TI3's butt all over the place.

I respectfully disagree my friend--and I own them both, so I'm not just talkin' out me arse.

But that's what makes F:AT great, man. No one is going to shout you down for loving one AT game over another.

Of course, you start saying that Alhambra is better than TI:3, well, the boys would like to have a talk with you out back.

Skelly? Bring the axe handle.

dan daly said...

I own both as well. Well I did own both. The end result of my troubled relationship with TI3 was that I traded it for a copy of Age of Renaissance. Samurai Swords still sits proudly on my shelf.

I've never owned or played Alahambra and have never really had the desire to do either.

And of course, as you say trash talking about games is handled much better here than BGG usually. No personal offense meant and none taken. I just had to defend the honor of all those little plastic Samurais. As atonement for the grievous sin of lowering your rating of the game, poke yourself in the eye with one of the plastic swords (some of the best game bits ever).

Ken B. said...

The ninja is probably hands-down the coolest gaming bit of all time, I'll give you that.

Samurai Swords is a sweet, lavish production. At its heart, though, it is a move n' attack system with a very limited economic system.

I just think TI does everything Samurai Swords does and then some, except minus the tiered combat (I do dig that long range/short range or the long range volley for defending against naval attacks.)

That gets you back into which theme is better--ninjas or spaceships? That question is for a better man than I to answer.

Michael Barnes said...

No my friend, that was a question answered by NINJA GALAXY.

Ken B. said...

And if you don't believe that, the designer will come to your house and repeatedly stomp on your testicles, helping you to see what a fool you've been.

jon said...

All games, across all genres, are getting more and more disposable. The Samurai Swords discussion is a great example of this: when it came out, you had a handful of good AT games to choose from, and SS was near the top of that small heap. Now, there are probably 50 titles that are all good games--how can one really stand out? The player base becomes too fragmented. And yet it's a decent enough market that next year there will be 15 new titles to add to that heap, and in 2015 there will be 250 deserving AT games, none of which are classics because no more than 50 people play any single title. And no one will be playing TI3, believe me, because there is a TI3-killer out there. It might even be TI4.

Multiply those (fabricated) numbers by 10, and there's euros. Divide by 2, there's wargames. Abstracts, about the same numbers as AT. I can't help but think of Alvin Toffler's concept of demassification, how the "mass" market becomes more and more fragmented and specialized, so everyone can find products that exactly fit them, rather than adapting to a limited set of mass-friendly products (that's not all it was about, but...germaine bits for this topic). Side effect: fewer touchstones, fewer classics (whatever that really means; in many cases I think it means lack of suitable competitor at the time).

Shryke said...

Ken, your gonna want to add StarCraft to your list. Definitely a modern classic imo.

Shryke said...

But that's what makes F:AT great, man. No one is going to shout you down for loving one AT game over another.


Have you guys turned into fanny pack wearing, royalty impressing pussies while I've been gone?

Dan Daly, your opinion that SS is better then TI3 is wrong, and your stupid for thinking so. Also, your mother was a whore.

PS - Your a scrotum-sucking necrophiliac.

dan daly said...

Personal attack! Personal attack!

Frank Branham said...

I am still quite fond of To Crown a King, and it is one of the games that frequently returns to my game bag.

It really wants the expansion.

Tom Lehmann is such an odd designer, because he's an RPG geek who designed purely AT games (Age of Exploration, Fast Food Franchise, and Mystic War) but jumped into pure Euros (Pizarro & Co. Feh.)

Race is still mostly Euro, but has a bit of agression and lots of chrome rules that make it kind of AT-ish.

dan daly said...

oh wait, that's "I'd like to report a concern".

Samurai Swords is mulitplayer, plastic army, battle royal at it's finest.

TI3 does do more than Samurai Swords- TOO MUCH MORE. In short, what I think is wrong with TI3 is that it tries to hard to do EVERYTHING and ends up not doing anything as well as it should. A game of galactic conquest should primarily be about conquest. When I win Samurai Swords, I know what that means- I have laid waste to my enemies and claimed the title of Shogun. When I win TI3, what does that mean? That I have 10 victory points. Well what does that symbolize? Nothing. They're just victory points. I could be almost wiped off the board, but because some law got passed or I researched some new technology (researched it! I don't even have to use my new- just having it can score me points) I get another VP and I win. TI3 tried to hard to be a cross over hit with people whose favorite games are Peurto Rico and Caylus and ended up selling it's ameritrash soul for some role selection and victory points.

Ken B. said...

Shryke, you're a cock-gobbling fanny bandit.


We won't shout you down, but that doesn't mean we can't give you mounds of shit over your favorite games.

Ken B. said...

And Starcraft do look good, don't it?

Shryke said...

Thank you Ken. I will be adding Fanny Bandit to my repertoire.

RE: TI3 vs SS

I see where your coming from. I think it comes down to what you want in a game. TI3 is NOT a Galactic Conquest game. At least, not a Military Galactic Conquest game. There's many avenues to extends your influence that don't include blow other people up and then crushing their corpses beneath your feet on your inevitable march to victory. It's what the game intends.

One is a game of Military Conquest, the other is a game of Imperial Dominance that includes military conquest. Different intents and all that.

I'd say StarCraft is a far better comparison, as it's a game purely about driving your enemies before you and hearing the lamentations of their women.

Michael Barnes said...

It do, Ken, it do. I played it last night and so far so good. It may be a little over-designed but there's a lot to like. Anybody who rates this game or reviews it after only one play is automatically full of shit- for one thing, it's a pretty unique system and for another there's a lot going on that is going to take a few games to really grasp. I've done a six player game and a two player game and I still don't feel like I have a handle on how to play well. It'll be a Gameshark review in the next couple of weeks.

BUT A WARNING- the first box I opened had a GROSSLY screwed up figure mix- like over half were wrong. But FFG has great replacement service, so don't let that deter you from picking up a great game. There are _NOT_ widespread reports, but there was at least one post at the FFG forum where someone had the same problem I did. Maybe a very isolated problem, but nothing to sqwak about. Just be aware that it's happened and make sure you account for the figures.

On Jon's comments about market dilution and the supposed decline in touchstone games- I completely disagree. There's plenty of games from the 80s that have been pretty much forgotten. There were plenty of games available then, but twenty years on the best of them have stuck around and the rest have dropped away. The same thing will happen twenty years from now- highly replayable and thematic games will still be around and all these flash-in-the-pan fad Euros will be long gone. The better Euros will still be with us, but the natural culling process will sort out what has longevity and what doesn't.

I don't think it's a function of marketplace variety at all. If there's five games available, then later on ten, out of those fifteen games the best out of those groups will still later on when there's twenty and so on.

Of course, what "best" means is up to you.

Juniper said...

Chapel cheated...he listed games that are, for better or worse, classics. He didn't say he'd be playing CASH A CATCH, AUGSBURG 1620, or ZOOLORETTO 20 years from now. Remember last year when everybody was babbling about how great TO CROWN A KING was? Who the fuck is playing that shit now? LOUIS XIV, where are you?

It takes time to work out which games are the true classics, and which are not. The immortal classics of the Euro genre will be:

- the pristine, flawless Knizia designs (THROUGH THE DESERT, RA, MODERN ART, and -- in a more just world -- QUO VADIS?), and

- the designs that were versatile enough to develop into immersive -- or at least expansive -- gaming worlds (CATAN, which is a perfect design to boot, and CARCASSONNE, which is imperfect, and still needs to have a backstory invented for it).

I think that ZOOLORETTO could still become an enduring classic, but only if it's expanded in interesting directions, and some sort of narrative is built into it. I claim that the design is sufficiently versatile that these things could happen, but they probably won't.

StephenAvery said...

Thank you Ken. I will be adding Fanny Bandit to my repertoire.

There goes Ken again with his ass fetish. Scrotum sucking necrophiliac was pretty funny though. Good Work there Shryke...

Michael Barnes said...

What happened to the friendly, intimate atmosphere we used to enjoy here? All this venom, bad language, and unhelpful attitudes! Holy jump-a-mum-mum!

neonpeon said...

I'm done buying games for a long time...I have too many games that I haven't yet thoroughly played. I may buy 2 or 3 per year just to keep things fresh, but no need to go crazy anymore.

jon said...

Michael, maybe you don't view game design as evolutionary; I do. The bar continually gets raised, and the pace accelerates. I think if you accept that premise, the rest follows.

Shryke said...

Game Design is evolutionary the same way music or writing is. Sure, it gets more complex and/or more refined and we learn from the past and such. But the older stuff is still just as good in many cases. Hell, most of the time it's got a better gem:crap ratio, since the crap has had years to fall by the wayside and be forgotten.

MWChapel said...

Chapel cheated...he listed games that are, for better or worse, classics. He didn't say he'd be playing CASH A CATCH, AUGSBURG 1620, or ZOOLORETTO 20 years from now. Remember last year when everybody was babbling about how great TO CROWN A KING was? Who the fuck is playing that shit now? LOUIS XIV, where are you?

That's because no one is taking my advice! ;) I didn't label any of those games classics, or would I. It takes time to see which ones will become "classics". I'll tell you what though, there are an army of games that we thought were bad ass in 1990 that we downright wouldn't play today.

Games that I think will be new classics:

Through the Ages
Power Grid
Struggle of Empires
Age of Steam
Puerto Rico

Yes, I can see me playing those in 10 years, just as much as El Grande. Or course I cannot prove that until the year 2012, when I stating that I'm still playing them after 10 years, just like I'm still playing Settlers after 20! Or that I'm still playing Titan/Dune after 30 years.

But I think you are looking at the overall mass barrage of games, instead of the small subset of real classics in the making. I have a ton of old games that don't come near to the list of "classics" you list.

Michael Barnes said...

Michael, maybe you don't view game design as evolutionary;

Oh no, I absolutely agree that game design is evolutionary. It has to be. It's why games can offer richer, more varied experiences now than they really ever have.

STARCRAFT is a good's a pretty daring piece of design and I'd almost say that it's fairly cutting edge. It really zeroes in on what works in AT games as well as Euros and it feels like something totally new. I think the design kind of pushes it a little too hard in places but it's not hard for anyone with any gaming experience to see it as the product of an evolutionary trend in design thinking. Even if you only go as far back as GAME OF THRONES, TI3, and WARRIOR KNIGHTS you can see how ideas there evolved into a more tuned, honed iteration in STARCRAFT while it has scrappy, kind of roughly drawn ideas in other parts that will eventually produce further evolutionary strands. The way the technology interacts with the card combat mechanic is brilliant and I think that's the main thing we'll see turn up elsewhere.

But like Shryke says, evolution in creative mediums doesn't necessarily foreclose on the value and quality of past examples. I think that now, with accessibility and availability at such a high level and growing in all creative fields we're seeing that currency isn't necessarily a barometer of value any more. People are listening to more older music, seeing older movies, and reading older books as part of an expanded menu of options provided by information age technology and zeitgeist. So we've got people that are going back to these older games that they may have never even realized existed and saying "Hey, MUTANT CHRONICLES really is a lot like DESCENT!"

A lot of it is contextual...even with SETTLERS, it's a different experience for someone to play it now than it was 10 years ago. Back then, it was like the entire gaming slate was wiped clean...these days people say "Hmm...maybe if I played it before PUERTO RICO..."

Frank Branham said...

Struggle of Empires is a definite.

Shogun seems a little bit flawed compared to Wallenstein.
That big, long map seems just bound and determined to screw the people in the middle.

And I'd put Game of Thrones over both of those. It feels more like a completed game.

jon said...

Michael, I think we may be in violent agreement, or aren't understanding each other. I'm just saying that the iteration time and the baseline quality both feel much faster and tighter than in the 80s and even 90s. I only see those trends accelerating. True differentiation is more difficult than ever.

And I absolutely agree it's contextual; it's central to my original post. Imagine if AGOT--an iconic Petersen game, with great ideas and iffy execution--came out in 1981. People would have raved, made alternate maps utilizing the system, etc. Now? Its lustre has already faded, and Starcraft looks poised to deliver the death blow.

I'm not at all suggesting that there aren't a few classics on the lists presented here. But they can't all be classics, can they?

Ken B. said...

The luster has faded from AGoT? Really? That's news to me. People still cite it as a great design. There's a lot of awesome stuff going on in that system. It will still be talked about in another five years' time.

Even if Starcraft "outdates" it (unlikely, as the theme, scale, and scope are radically different), it will still be cited as an influential design.

Ken B. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jon said...

Well, pick a different example then, as the larger point remains.

But re: AGOT, maybe I'm wrong, but with classics you can only tell many years later. I just think it has too much baggage already[1], so I'll be surprised if it, rather than its descendants, are what we talk about and play years from now.

[1] There was the early errata, the ports issue, the Westeros deck issues (which ensured that some games were simply...not fun), the fact that the board state doesn't vary much (either in game or from game to game), then people began to grok that what appeared to be a strategy game incorporating diplomacy was in fact just Diplomacy writ messy. I also wonder if any two groups play it the same way at all. The variants here feel much more like attempts to get the game to work, rather than enhancements of a reliably enjoyable base experience (a la Settlers).

And BTW, I like AGOT, and think it has many great ideas. I just don't think it works quite right out of the box, which isn't something I'd expect of a classic.

Fellonmyhead said...

Mr Barnes, your article totally misses the fact that 50% of the hall space at Essen was AT - more fool you, then.

Michael Barnes said...

Friend, I wasn't there so I'm just going by the reports...and I just don't see it. Most of the AT fare that was represented was already released elsewhere.

But still- assuming that you went and are giving us an eyewitness account- that's good news.

MrSkeletor said...

I think the fact people are still complaining about AGoT after all this time shows that it IS a classic.
Compare it to warcraft - that game has problems but no one talks about it anymore. I hear more about AGoT these days than even Marvel Heroes.

People complain about issues with the classics as well (titan downtime / player elimination anyone?) But that just shows that people are still playing it.

Random said...

Well, as a demo monkey, I can safely say that this "what are the classics" discussions are insular to the hobby gaming community. At Silicon, I met casual gamers who were still new to Munchkin and Apples to Apples (as well as Ingenious). Even at a local Eurogame club, some players haven't played Bohnanza or Arkham Horror yet. At FurtherConfusion, I'm going to demo FFG games, and need to have on hand some shorter games. Eurogames like Citadels and Colossal Arena should fit the bill, even if I've yet to win a game...