Posts Tagged ‘ David Sirlin ’

Deck-Building Game Reviews: Core Worlds, For the Crown, and Puzzle Strike

I talk about deck-building games fairly often, usually to complain that they copy Dominion while missing the point. There have been some clever twists, but only one real success so far. However, these days Dominion is a well-established part of the board gaming scene, and we’re seeing more and more innovation.

Here are reviews of a few other games I’ve been trying out. Admittedly, each one is at least a year old, so they prove that this innovation has been growing for a while. However, I’m heartened by both the successes and failures here. Even when these have problems, it’s not that they misunderstand the game they’re copying. I think that the most exciting times for the deck-building mechanic may be just ahead. Continue reading

Origins 2012 Wrap-Up

Another Origins Game Fair has come and gone. For me, it will be remembered as the first one I didn’t get to attend completely. Due to various issues back home (over two hours away), I left, came back, and then left early again. I only got to spend two and a half days at the convention, instead of my usual four and a half. Really, though, that made me realize what a big deal this is for me. Like a holiday, I had to make it back for that partial Saturday, not due to considerations of whether it would be fun enough, but because I simply had to have a complete event. Origins punctuates my gaming year.

It’s too bad I was gone, because in some ways the times I was there were my best ever. It never once took me more than a few minutes to find a game to play. The crowds at the Board Room are open and friendly, the people in the Rio Grande room proactively suggest things to me, and even my trips through the Dealer Hall ended up with more demos than normal.

Maybe this is because Origins happened a month early this year. I don’t know whether the attendance was really as low as it seems – every time, people compare their memories of last year’s busy Saturday to this year’s quiet Thursday – but I’m sure it was down. It’s too bad, because this is the first time in my six years of attending that Origins didn’t have to share downtown Columbus with another large event. It was great not to have rush hour traffic at 2:00 AM for once.

However, I definitely noticed a lack of exciting new games. There are plenty of exciting Summer and Fall releases lined up, but apparently the earlier schedule made Origins miss out on them. I’m not sure whether to blame the convention organizers for shifting the schedule, or the game publishers for not planning around something that had a full year’s notice. Either way, though, the only game with real buzz was Mage Wars, an upcoming constructible deck game that had the largest promotional push I’ve ever seen at Origins. I saw several groups discovering Lords of Waterdeep for the first time (which I’d played a few weeks before), and several more talking about Sentinels of the Multiverse (which I never got around to trying), but most years I’d end up putting those two in the “light buzz” category. This year, I have to abandon my pattern of sorting games by the buzz-factor, because there just wasn’t any.

Seriously, on Saturday afternoon I asked several people flat out “What should I buy?” I was leaving early, I still had a few hundred dollars in my pockets that I’d expected to spend on great new games, and I wanted to find something cool. But after asking almost ten people I trust, with a wide variety of tastes, no one could suggest anything. It’s not that there aren’t good games out there, but there really wasn’t anything new and exciting.

Instead, the buzz mostly centered around special guests Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day. Origins has celebrity guests every year, but this is the first time I’ve heard people truly excited about them, and also the first time that it sounded like the guests stayed to enjoy the convention instead of just cashing their check. My Twitter feed was filled with people talking to and about them, and it sounds like they hung out to try lots of games and actually visit people. The celebrities aren’t why I go to Origins, but I think this is an encouraging sign. Next year, it will be back to its more popular late-June date, and the organizers now know a new trick.

So with all that said, it’s time to look at the new games I learned. They are ordered from the best to the worst, at least as well as I can do for first impressions of such a variety of games.

Continue reading