The Games Journal | A Magazine About Boardgames

Letters - October, 2002

Mikko Saari: Thanks for another great issue. I wouldn't worry about the lack of feedback. As a owner of a fairly popular web site, I've noticed that very few people actually send feedback, even though the server statistics say that the pages are read quite often. I can separate real readers and bots from each other; Googlebot is a common visitor, but I know real people read my web site too. I've tried to make it easy to send feedback, but few people send it. That's why I keep sending you feedback after every issue, it's the least I can do, "pay" my subscription this way. So, thanks! Don't get disappointed of the people who won't send you feedback, enjoy the feedback you get, that's my tip for you.

What comes to the content of the issue, I was most interested in the Groundrules for Gaming article. Protospiel article didn't matter much to me and I don't know and thus care about Gamemaster series. However, I do run a successful gaming group and am very interested to read about other people's attempts at the same. So, more articles about running gaming groups, please! I could perhaps write about it myself, but I lack ideas. If you have any suggestions on how to focus the article, I could share my thoughts on the issue.

I did enjoy the letters, the new game and the reviews. Especially the review of Ghosts was interesting to me. So, all in all, it was a good issue, yet again. Thanks!

GGA: I e-mailed Tom Jolly to enquire about his upcoming Fantasy Flight title, Cave Troll. He sent the following response:

Tom Jolly: Cave Troll will be a lot of fun to play. The mechanics are fairly unique, but not so far out as to be alien to most players. This is a zone-control game, with random scoring rounds that occur whenever a player turns up a "score" token. Each player starts with an identical set of tokens representing their adventurers and monsters to set against the opponent's adventurers. These are turned up randomly from their stash and introduce into the gaming board at various "entrances". They attempt to move into and claim zones on the playing board for their own (treasure rooms in this version, "digs" in the Old Bones version), each worth differing numbers of points. The trick is, no more than 5 adventurers can occupy a single room. Enemies can coexist, but whoever has the majority scores the room if a SCORE token appears. Getting to a treasure room first, or moving your monsters into position to scare off the opponents is of primary importance. Setting yourself up for the
unpredictable SCORE rounds can be pretty tense.

The game moves very quickly, as players have limited actions they can perform each turn. It has the appeal that you often want to do one more action than you actually can.

The Cave Troll (aka "Cave-In" in Old Bones) wipes out a whole space for the rest of the game. It's a tactical nuke.

I'm also pretty excited about Space Fight / Lightspeed game from Cheapass coming out this year. I'll make next to nothing off it, but it's a very cool game. I submitted a turn-based game to Ernest and he suggested making it a realtime game. Turns out it works incredibly well both ways. I'm really pleased with his suggestion and the way the game is turning out, but it will be a Hip Pocket release, meaning royalties will be zip, but I'm still happy to see him doing it.

And of course, the new Wiz-War is coming out this month, but that's old news. The fact that CodeFire bought all the rights to it is a little more newsworthy.

Games Magazine is actually doing a game of mine in their magazine, too, called Flip-Flop, but that won't be out for months. 

All in all, this has been a very good year for me!

Jim Deacove: In case subscribers aren't telling you enough, The Games Journal is an excellent publication. I can vouch that it is much read and discussed by our Valley Shavian Gamers (Shavian because it was George Bernard Shaw who said, "You do not cease to play because you grow old, but you grow old because you cease to play", and most of us are 40 and over and still play.) We are probably not alone as your "hidden" subscribers, because I have one subscription, make copies and hand them out Sunday afternoon to our gamers. You should also know that your reviews are very influential in regard to our purchases. You probably have too much power, something similar to the Broadway Drama Critic who can kill something with a bad review. But don't let it go to your head. There are times when you have led us astray with a good review of a game that we bought and tried and RIPed (Rested in Peace)
on our shelf.

Michael Evans: I found the article on repairing game box corners very interesting. I was wondering if you had any advice in dealing with musty-smelling games. What is the best ways of eliminating some of the smells of mold, mildew, smoker's homes, etc.? Any advice on this topic would be greatly appreciated.

GGA - I don't have much experience dealing with mold or mildew. I've heard that using diluted bleach sprayed on the inside of the box will help and then letting it dry in the sun. Also microwaving it for a very short period has been suggested but I haven't had to use either of these methods. I have had some games that just stunk of smoke though. Simply leaving them outside on a hot sunny day helps but often I've had to cover the smell up with a "neutralising" spray, the sort of thing you can find in drug stores. They're really just masking the odour but I found it better than nothing.

Robert Abbott: I very much enjoyed your review of the old Milton Bradley game Ghosts! I played it a lot about thirty years ago.

I'm pretty sure that the German edition, Geister, came before the Milton Bradley edition. The game was invented by Alex Randolph. The pieces actually do glow in the dark (a feature through up by Milton Bradley). You first have to charge them up with a bright light, preferably a fluorescent light. Then turn out the lights. If than doesn't work, then maybe the phosphorus doesn't hold up after thirty years.

Clay: Your series of articles on Gamemaster and its heirs got me, an old Axis and Allies fan, wishing I could try some of the others. Surely another game that deserves to be mentioned is Buck Rogers: Battle for the 25th Century. I have not played this game, but got a chance to admire the board when a friend from out-of-state bought it at a con. This has plastic bits and combat rules similar to Axis and Allies. A clever feature of the game is the way the planets move. The relative positions are tracked on a map of the solar system, and you must consider the changing distances when planning the timing of your attacks.

Brian Leet: I read the Protospiel article by Mike Petty with great interest. In some ways I think that aspiring game designers are yet another crucial subculture within the already small gaming subculture in our society. In any case, this is an event I would gladly go out of my way to attend in the coming years. Let me know if there is a way to register on a mailing or interest list to find out about the event in coming years before, not after, it occurs. Thanks!

Richard Huzzey: The piece on "gaming rules" was interesting and I was keen to see how other clubs' operated. While the suggestions outlined must, I'm sure, be very popular and acceptable with Jay's group, I think they're a little stricter than I'd personally subscribe to. Its always necessary to have an "expulsion clause" (i.e. allowing you to ban people and keep their membership fee if they trash the room or behave threateningly!) but the club I belong to seems to regulate game play (from "thinking time" through to the schedule of games or the proximity of drinks to people's games) rather more casually. I'm sure all clubs evolve traditions (such as playing Midnight Party at 12 or Mao as a finishing game, in our case) but I'd personally shy away from setting gameplay practice in stone within a rulebook. But, as I say, I'm sure Jay's gaming club gets on very well with the code of conduct he outlines and I can certainly understand the problems he seeks to address. Its just a tad more formal than I'd personally opt for.

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