The Games Journal | A Magazine About Boardgames

Hints from Hell, Louise Revised

Ray Smith

November, 2001

With all of the additional fixes, suggestions, and contributions to this column pouring in at a trickle, I thought I would throw in another query to the assembled masses.

I hope that I am not the only one who, when I'm feeling down or just in a quiet mood in need of a lift, goes to their game closet, pulls open the doors, and just stares and sighs. "Boy, is that a cool game. Gee, we really gotta play that one again soon. Oh man, I forgot all about that one. Ah, if only I could make a living gaming." Well, on one of these occasions, I pulled out my copy of Lords of the Renaissance by Sierra Madre. For me, this game has everything I'm looking for in a game - fun, interaction, theme, variety, cooperation, combat, unique mechanics, everything! So, why have I only played it twice?

Although it is a bit long to play, it is the components that are the immediate turn-off. Flimsy counters and cards, small board, mismatched colors, and over-complicated rules. Now, I am not knocking Sierra Madre. I knew what I was getting when I bought it. For the incredible research alone in making the game, it was worth the asking price. But, if it could be revamped to be more attractive and user friendly - Wow! Here is where my Hints From Hell skills were severely tested. Enlarge and redo the map, mount the counters on color coordinated cubes, laminate the cards and charts, rewrite the rules, etc., etc.? I really want to enjoy this game, but sorry, that's just too much.

This led me to ponder upon which other games are out there that would be smash hits if they could become "Germanized"? Incredible, wonderful games that have been sitting on the shelf for a while, you then pull them out, look at them (ugh), and put them right back. Yes, we are all now spoiled and prejudiced toward games with nice bits, and anything less is passed by with our spending dollars and gaming time. (This precludes games such as what Cheapass offers. I view this type as more of game kits, since they are easily Germanized by mounting the boards, adding pieces, etc. In fact I see it as one of the attractions to their games to see what I can do to improve them.)

So, which game would you like to see redone by Hans Im Gluck, Goldsieber, Kosmos, or even Avalon Hill?

- Ray Smith

GGA - Oh man, what a question. This very idea often plagues me as I consider completely recreating the components in certain games that I feel were less than adequate as published. (You can see several of the files I've deemed worthy of distributing on my personal page: http://pacificcoast.net/~greg )

If I had to pick one game that I'd like to see redone it would be Eon's Borderlands. In fact, I started working on an improved map some time ago but have not been able to come up with something I'm entirely happy with. I do understand that a "Germanized" version called Ascalion was released but that it also fell short quality-wise. I haven't seen a copy of it though and it remains on my wanted list.

I'm also holding out hope that Warfrog will revamp Mordred to their current, much improved graphic standards. This was a game that nearly everyone agreed was good but almost legendary in the poorness of its components.

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