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Letters - December, 2002

Mikko Saari: Another great issue. You know, today I kept reloading the page, waiting when the new issue would come online as I'm several hours ahead of your time. I think that's a good sign, when it comes to the quality of your journal.

Specialize! Diversify! was a very interesting article. I know I've been toying with the thought myself - there are some games I'd really like to play more. I've started Go; I thought I'd just learn a bit so I can play this classic of classics, but then I found out there's no way you can learn "a bit" - it's all or nothing. But it would be interesting to play games like Tigris & Euphrates (thus Stephenson's Rocket, a very similar game, is good choice too), Princes of Florence and Puerto Rico, to name a few, a lot.

But, I've always come to the conclusion that I don't have nearly enough time to play all the games I want to play so diversity is indeed much better.

What comes to Ray Smith's article, I must say now I've played it, I find Villa Paletti an excellent choice for the Spiel des Jahres, certainly the best from the top three. From family games viewpoint Puerto Rico is too complicated and Trans America is simply a very boring game (well, that's just my opinion). Villa Paletti, on the other hand, brings an interesting edge to an old classic nearly everybody knows, looks great and is very heavy on the adrenaline side. Talk about turn angst! When the game progresses, I'm literally afraid when my turn comes... Excellent choice from the Jury, unfortunately the Finnish game of the year jury wasn't quite as bright.

Peter Marchlewitz: I just read your review for Bang! I have a question for you... does the packaging allow enough room for the cards to be stored in plastic sleeves to help preserve them? I heard that the box is a double wide standard playing card box, so that might not be very roomy.

Also, I have been contemplating getting Munchkin for so long, but have been turned of by its high cost and less than spectacular reviews. Is it similar to Bang in that there are no location cards, but just character cards and objects ( monsters and magic items ). Why ( in a nutshell ) do you not like it? Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

GGA - Most card protectors are for Poker sized cards. Many games (including Bang!) have Bridge sized cards which are narrower. The plastic sleeves I have are far too big to fit in the Bang! box. I have heard that Dragonshields makes narrow card sleeves but I have not seen these in person. They're somewhat expensive and have coloured backs which I don't like but you may want to check them out.

I played exactly half of a game of Munchkin and have no desire to ever play again. I don't remember it all that well so I can't comment too precisely about it. I do remember that it seemed very obvious what my best play was each turn (or that it didn't actually matter what card I played) and that the game was going to go on for a while. I can handle a game that has very little skill involved but if the mechanics are uninteresting with a long playing time then I'm simply not going to bother. That, in a nutshell, was Munchkin.

Harlan Rosenthal: "The Container Store" just opened an outlet nearby. Among the huge selection of containers and shelves they have some nice corrugated boxes; just the right size for American-style game boards and other items. You can see pictures at: http://www.containerstore.com/browse/index.jhtml?CATID=60435

http://www.containerstore.com/browse/index.jhtml?CATID=60437

Richard Irving: I read this article [GGA - Specialize! Diversify!] and I had a few points to add:

- Presence of other players: If you play in a club specifically devoted to a particular game (or these days a website) or play in a regularly scheduled event (like a tournament), you are more likely to become a specialist. If you can't play a game regularly, then the is unlikely to become a "specialist" game.

- Wargamers are kind of a fuzzy category—they rarely play a single game in a specialist manner, but they the class of wargames to the exclusion to the exclusion of other types of games. In many cases that is because an individual wargame (especially if based on a historic topic) simply doesn't stand up for repeated play, whereas the same or similar games may be used to portray a different battle or war. It is worth noting the wargames that tend to have the most specialists: Advanced Squad Leader is the most obvious example, also to have multiple scenarios or are part of series with similar rules.

- I found it interesting, that you used the one multiplayer game that does generate a lot of specialist activity, Diplomacy, is used as an example of why multiplayer games often don't. Most of this community plays by mail or e-mail--less often as face to face. But it certainly exists. There exist archives of results in games, player ratings, variants, maps, 'zines', strategy articles,etc. in the Diplomacy that don't exist in the world of German games.

Jim Deacove: In response to Yirmeyahu Avery's request for more information about children's games [Letters - November, 2002], I would like to briefly toot my own horn. I have designed a few dozen children's games, many of which have won awards. You can visit my information site, www.familypastimes.com for images and descriptions and then if any tempt you enough for purchase, go the Funagain games site listed. Funagain carries all my games.

GGA - Mr. Deacove also wrote an article for us about his company which you can read here.

Henry Jennings: One of your archived articles [My Entire Waking Life by Kevin Maroney] mentioned a game by Peter Suber called Nomic. Apparently the game was about creating games or, more specifically, creating rules for games. I've searched through several web sites including Funagain, Boardgame Geek, and Abstract Strategy Games. I can find no information on either the game or its designer. Can you tell me anything about it?

GGA - I don't know anything about the game, perhaps one of our more enlightened readers will respond?

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