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The reviews of Dark Cults and Banana Republic were the highlights of the last issue of The Game Report for me, and have moved both games onto my "stuff to get" list. I wasn't aware that Dark Cults even existed. I also like the idea of the Book Report Column.
As "personal preference" dislikes, there were the Inklings and Crazy Talk reviews (I'm just not interested in party games), and I'd be very happy if I never saw another word about Magic: The Gathering or any related game. On the other hand, Random Draw was a waste: movie reviews are easy to come by elsewhere, and there was no "gaming perspective" there at all.
Rather than running Repeated Play Lists, I'd rather see short personal Desert Island lists and a separate "Worth Looking For" column. This would be for two-line overviews on either neat new games or neglected old ones, and any mention would imply a positive opinion. For instance: Rise of the Luftwaffe (GMT Games 1993) 2 - 6+ players, ~1/2 hour, card / wargame about early WWII dogfights, bombers & campaigns also included, Skill:6 Complexity:7
Finally, do you have (or have you played) Formule De? It's a racing board game from Ludodelire (France), with exceptional track graphics and not too complex rules. Games People Play and Games By Mail (Canadian mail order) have both had it for sale. Carl Schnurr and I liked it enough to do some re-development on it to smooth it out a bit, and I just mailed off our rules modifications to Sumo's Karaoke Club. We've also got a number of English game aids for Modern Art (symbol explanations), Um Reifenbreite/Demmarage/Homas Tour (cards and score sheet), and Formule De (gear sheet and game charts), all as PostScript files, which might be useful for other people.
Hope you find some of this useful.
Something of a mixed bag here, eh? I'm glad you found things which appeal to you, and I'm sorry other things were less to your liking. Some people enjoy social interaction / party games (I happen to be one of them), others enjoy wargames (I happen not to be one of them). Because I'm the editor of the 'zine, The Game Report will naturally reflect my interests. But I'm quite up-front about that, as I've always made it clear that TGR doesn't cover wargames or RPGs. I'm also open to making exceptions if people are especially interested in a particular game and someone submits a review or article about it. With all the hubbub about Magic, I'm not surprised you're sick of hearing about it! I'm a little tired of it myself, and I enjoy playing it. Still, I doubt we'll be seeing any more detailed reviews about future Magic products, although I expect to provide a full review of Vampire: Jyhad when it is released.
Random Draw is my indulgence as editor of the 'zine to discuss miscellaneous ideas, often outside of the gaming arena. Everyone who reads this 'zine is a game enthusiast, but that doesn't mean other things aren't also of interest. Through Random Draw, I hope to encourage dialog about non- gaming areas and to let you all know a little bit more about myself. And it's an easy way to fill a little more space when necessary. You try conjuring up 16 pages four times a year. Rest assured, I'm not sacrificing other content so that I can include Random Draw-- in fact, this issue it's even gaming-related.
I'd love to run Desert Island Games columns every issue. Problem is, I've already written and printed mine, so any others are going to have to come from you-- the readers. Please feel free to send 'em in! And if you have any games to recommend, do so! I can only print what I've got, and all contributions are welcomed. Submit! Tithe!
As for Formula De, I've never been a big racing game fan, but I finally had a chance to see this one in action at The Gathering of Friends. I hope to actually play it next year.
Yesterday we received your Winter 93/94 issue of the Game Report with a review of our game, Banana Republic. It's a very good review for us and we're very happy with it. German reviews differed very much on Banana Republic, not all really were positive and only very few were as good as yours. The gap between different people's opinions seems to be especially big with Banana Republic. Well, now, response in Germany was OK, it finished fourth place in Fairplay Magazine's vote for the best card game of 1992/1993, leaving over 20 games behind. But the way it reached its ranking was quite interesting. Voters were allowed to give 4 votes. The first vote was scored with 7 points, second with 5, third with 3, and fourth with one. Banana Republic had 2 first places (like the second and third place game, first was Sticheln which was far ahead and second or third was En Garde if I remember right), but Banana Republic did only get a few second and third places. That is, some people like it very much and some do not like it at all. The main problem of the game in Germany is its high price-- a big company would sell it for half the price. Anyway, MANY THANKS for your review!! Especially since not all German magazines send copies of their reviews to the game companies and you even had to send it this far way over the ocean.
But I can't resist to add some more comments / questions here. I'm impressed at the number of email addresses in your magazine. In Germany email is mainly the playground of universities and is still quite a privilege. Are we so much behind here in Germany?
Although I was not familiar with many of the games in your magazine (except for Alan Moon and his game, Airlines), I liked it's style and the way you wrote your articles. And I liked the letter of J.P.Trostle, he describes a problem we too face here [finding people with whom to play games].
And finally some information First of all, we had a big ZIP code reform here in Germany last year (causing a lot of chaos in the whole land, since a lot went wrong). Our address should now be: Doris & Frank, Obere Büch 24, 91054 Buckenhof, Germany. We have not gotten any Amercian orders [since the review in TGR], do you think a lot of your readers buy from Just Games in London? Postage to America would be very high of course. How do you get German games in the US? Thats a real problem, I see. We now participate on a sort of distribution system for small game companies and they try to get to America too. But it's a big logistical problem indeed.
We are going to publish a really big game (100 German marks or so) this May/June. It's a trading game in the medieval ages just around Columbus' time but located in ancient Germany mainly. Doris' artwork will be incredible (even better than Elfenroads), I think. And the rules, well they are from me, I like them :-)
Best wishes for your magazine from here.
I suspect many TGR readers do indeed order their foreign games from Just Games in London. Manager Mark Green goes out of his way to be helpful, making it a pleasure to order from him. Very few American stores import games from abroad. Games People Play in Cambridge, MA is probably the best known US store to do so. If people can't find European games at their local store, sometimes garage sales, thrift shops, and Net auctions can turn up the goods.
I greatly enjoyed reading your game reviews and the other material therein. I agree wholeheartedly with your opinion of Alan Moon, both as a terrific game designer and an all-around nice guy. We've been attending his Gathering of Friends each year now for several years, and have been very impressed with his efforts in organizing and running this event. Each time we go, I've noticed he goes out of his way first and foremost to make sure everyone there has a good time. Thanks, Alan, your efforts are greatly appreciated by a lot of people.
I haven't tried Airlines yet, but your review has persuaded me to try and find a copy. It sounds like a neat game! You've also talked me into trying to find a copy of Sid Sackson's book [A Gamut of Games].
Your section on Games We'll Never See was hilarious, and your movie reviews were well done-- I agree with your opinions of both films [Truly, a man of taste and breeding - Peter].
Desert Island game list? If I were fortunate enough to be stranded with five games of my choice and opponents who magically materialized whenever I set up one of the games, I'd choose:
Ok, so I Can't Stop at only five. All of these are games the Krissi and I play over and over without getting bored. Another strong contender (and a hidden gem, to boot) is Upbid, a nifty little game of financial risk management strategy from Minado, a small California game company. Ever play it? If you think your readers would enjoy it, I could write up a review for you.
I recall seeing Upbid mentioned in an issue of Games Magazine a while back. By all means, write up the review and send it in!
Maybe I'm missing the boat, but I really don't understand all the fuss over Mayfair's rail series (British Rails, Empire Builder, Eurorails, etc.). They all use virtually identical systems, the main differences being the maps and events. Otherwise, they're the same game. Which, I suppose, would be fine if the game were exciting. I found the game to be nothing more than simultaneous solitaire. And quite a long game of solitaire, at that. Player interaction is so minimal as to be virtually non-existant. If I'm going to sit down with four or five other people for a few hours of gaming, I want the game to get me involved in some way with the other players. With the xxxRails series, you can go to the bathroom, make dinner, jog around the block and not have missed anything when you return. Maybe I just don't get it, since lots of people apparently dig this series. Perhaps someone can explain the appeal to me.
Yes, I'm a game fanatic. Other than a preponderance of German games which are impossible to get, I enjoyed your reviews. Perhaps you could review some bad German games so I won't regret not being able to get them.
I was also a big Eon fan, and enjoyed your reviews of their line of games, may they rest in peace.
See my response to Frank's letter about getting European games. Since European games are difficult to find in the States, it's less valuable to discuss bad ones which many people may never have heard of. Far better to tell you about good games you've never heard of, don't you think? We'll talk about the bad games on occasion, but hopefully the good games will outnumber the bad.
Your articles are well-written, knowledgeable, and reflect your enthusiasm for gaming. If anything, I find some of the pieces perhaps overly enthusiastic. But in general, I appreciate what you're doing and I very much enjoyed last issue. It's a great idea, and very much needed. The newsletter has a very nice feel to it.
I [am particularly interested in] your reviews of Magic: the Gathering. It has received so much positive attention, yet I found the rules impenetrable. What am I missing?
I happen to be an abstract and family gamer myself with a penchant for simple rules, strategy, and less than two hours. My kids are now old enough (9 and 12) that we have a foursome and they are willing to play games like Santa Fe, Modern Art, Wildlife Adventure, and virtually any interesting card game. My wife and I play Marrakesh, Deal Me In, Palabra (a great two player word game), Mentalis (the best two player abstract game ever invented... do you know it?) most often. I like to play new games, but it's not so easy to talk the kids into something new. That's where Alan Moon's Gathering comes in. I have about 300 games, many European, many unusual abstract, but I quickly get rid of games I don't play. I don't collect for the sake of it as much as curiosity about new systems and what's out there (the great undiscovered game).
I am 44, a Professor of Environmental Studies, an avid basketball fan and player. I also enjoy most sports, hiking, gardening, reading, and jazz. I just finished writing a book, tentatively titled The Search for Ecological Identity (MIT Press) which is due out early next year.
I found the Magic rules to be fairly understandable, but then I learned the game from a friend who already knew how to play and only read the rules later. It's actually quite simple to pick up, but perhaps it's one of those games which is best learned by watching others play.
Palabra is fun, and was reviewed in a previous Game Report. I've never heard of Mentalis-- how about a review? And if you're interested in unloading any of your games, I'm sure some TGR readers will be interested.
Re: The Game Report-- excellent stuff. I like your writing style. Glad to see you carry on some of the great ideas from Games International and Sumo like Desert Island Games and the 5/10 lists.
Was amused, as I always am, about your comments regarding the Santa Fe components. Hey, don't you think I wanted wooden (or even plastic) track pieces? Of course I did. The problem is simply cost. Most people will never understand or believe how much it costs to produce a game unless they've tried it themselves. That goes double for producing a limited edition of only 1200 copies. If we produced 5000 copies, we could probably cut the production cost of each game by a third or even by half! But the risk is just too great. I'm not only talking about the increased cost of the larger print run. There's also the problems of assembly, storage, bookkeeping, promotion, etc. Besides, if a game bombs, I'd much rather have 1200 copies of the loser than 5000. So for now, it's limited editions (which I hope will sell out in a year or two) with the best components possible within certain cost restrictions. If I can ever sell the rights to Santa Fe to another company, however, I'll definitely try to convince them the game needs wooden or plastic track pieces.
Thanks for the fine words about me and my games.
And thanks for your kind words, Alan. I realize that cost was what ultimately dictated the use of cardboard for the track pieces in Santa Fe. That doesn't mean I can't wish for wooden pieces anyway!