Chris Norwood

This is a reworking of a review I wrote on BoardGameGeek not too long ago. I hope it can be useful to someone out there.

Just a couple of weeks ago at our boardgame night, I finally had the chance to play El Grande for the first time. That got me thinking about all the fantastic games out there that I still haven’t been able to actually see and play in person. Especially since I consider myself a true gamer, I almost feel a twinge of shame in writing this article, but I wanted to maybe open a dialogue about the “banner” games we haven’t managed to play yet. Plus, I thought it’d be good to spend a little time pondering what games need to be on my “top priority” list to play.

A couple of things I’ve heard and read recently got me thinking about the competition at the core of most games… To me, they both seemed to deal with the same basic idea or concept, which boils down to deciding what the true goal and focus of a game is, either winning (focused on competition) or fun (focused on the whole game experience). I thought I’d take a little time to explore this idea and share my thoughts about it…

As I’ve gotten more and more into the boardgaming hobby, one treasure trove of information and entertainment that I’ve found are the many podcasts floating around out there in the aether of cyberspace. These are some of my favorites, which I’ll give you my own little take on…

Tigris & Euphrates was an excellent game to serve as our first Game of the Month. It is a modern boardgame “classic” from one of the most well-respected and prolific game designers in the world, Reiner Knizia. Currently, it holds the #2 spot on the BoardGameGeek with an average rating of 8.3. More than that, the game also has an incredible depth of play, using very simple actions and mechanics but creating a gaming experience that is very entertaining and satisfying.

What exactly do I mean when I refer to luck and chaos in games? The distinction I tend to draw comes from where the “randomness” originates in the game:
Luck – randomness deriving from some game component itself, such as rolling dice, dealing cards, or blindly pulling tiles.
Chaos – randomness caused by the actions of other players that may or may not be predictable.

In recent months, I’ve jumped neck-deep into the world of modern “designer” board games. I’ve read all that I could on a number of blogs, listened to virtually every podcast out there, and spent hours and hours at BoardGameGeek trying to learn and understand everything that I could about this wonderful hobby. Not to mention, of course, that I’ve been playing as many games as possible this whole time. I thought that it was about time for me to “give back” a little and contribute to the wealth of information out there….