The Games Journal | A Magazine About Boardgames

Letters - September, 2003

Jacob Lee: I enjoy reading the articles found on your website, although I am disappointed with how few game reviews there are. For example, you lack a review for one of the better-known games, Tigris & Euphrates. I've been contemplating buying this game, but it's pretty hard to find these days. So I'm content to find out what it's all about. But you don't have much info on this game!

Anyway, I would suggest focusing more on reviewing games. That's what I enjoy reading the most.

GGA - Several people have written in with similar suggestions. While I can understand this desire, I'm definitely not going to change the focus of The Games Journal to a review magazine. The reason is that there are already a great many sites out there devoted to reviews and I do not wish to re-invent the wheel. It is not at all difficult to find reviews of Tigris & Euphrates on the net and so I don't see our lack of one as that big of a problem. On the other hand, there does not seem to be many fora for feature length articles about board games in general and so our efforts here at The Games Journal seem best spent on this neglected aspect of the hobby.

Xavier Van Aubel: I read with interest the article Gotta Buck? by Dave Shapiro.

The article does say "Warning some people are simply not comfortable with playing for money.", but the author probably didn't realize that playing for money is, in many countries, 100% illegal no matter how private the gaming session is.

It is definitely the case here in Belgium, Europe, where you can't even play for $1 with your sister, and it is the same in other countries as well. I think I read on some occasions that it also was the case in some states of the USA. While many countries forbid this activity only for games of pure luck, others do not "restrict this restriction".

Since you reach a worldwide audience, I think it would be safer to publish a warning in your next issue stating that such an activity may be illegal depending on where the reader lives.

I really have no definitive opinion whether such laws are good or bad, but if the reader is warned, he can check and then decide whether he wants to transgress or not.

Dave Arnott: I've played this game and you can't just use any old cup or box. You need a specific Liar's Dice box that has an inside in which free dice can be "rolled" by shaking the box, an inner shelf in which dice placed there will not change orientation when you shake the box, and a secret compartment with a couple of dice (or other small objects) that makes the box sound like there are dice being rolled when you shake it, regardless of how many actual dice you've "frozen" in the shelf.

The game is just okay—I greatly prefer any version in which each player has their own cup of dice—but the special box is quite cool, especially to those who like neat bits and are, perhaps, prone to make their own versions of them ).

Marcel Sagel: It is an interesting question you ask in your editorial for this month's The Games Journal. Similar subjects are debated on various internet forums from time to time, but this one has an evil twist...

Despite the fact that there is a lot behind the (seemingly simple) question, I have no hesitation in choosing option A—I can play any game I like except my very favourite. I need the variety. Even so, there is this little voice inside my head that says "What, no more Puerto Rico ever? Impossible!" And while it is a good thing that it's only a hypothetical question, two or three years from now I may have a completely different favourite game (what happens then... would I then have to hide the new favourite in the basement and can I take Puerto Rico back out?). With so many games coming out every year, there are going to be several excellent games among them, and favourites will be recycled often. When I first played Settlers of Catan (1996/7 or thereabouts) I thought it was the most brilliant board game ever, then came El Grande, then Euphrat & Tigris, etc. Today it's Puerto Rico but what will it be next year?

I think one of the main differences between "These Games Of Ours" and some of the other games that you mention which have a much more fanatic following (Magic, miniatures, war games etc.) is that these other games require a lot more devotion to the specific game system. There are usually more rules to study, more things to keep up with etc. What you get in return for the extra investment is (usually) deeper gameplay, more options and a chance to customize your game (build a deck, create your own army etc.). I've been a fanatic Magic player for years and in those days I would probably have answered the same question differently. I could have imagined playing nothing but Magic and being perfectly happy with that. Heck, I still can imagine that - it's just that I don't want to spend the time and money needed to keep up with that specific community anymore, and the alternative—These Games Of Ours—has become a lot more attractive over the last five years.

Matthew Lanagan: Another great issue. I am continually impressed with the articles that you can pull together each month. Nice looking Space Hulk set. For round counters you could try here. About the same price as the pieces you used but not painted.

Have you tried using an arch/wad punch to cut circular stickers? Nor have I. The approach should work as they are designed to cut leather etc but may be more work than it is worth.

GGA: Yes, I have used the type of punch you suggest. It is the best solution I have come up with but it is not ideal. The problem is that such punches tend to be rather dull (for increased durability) and so do not punch paper all that cleanly.

Theo Blake: Thank you very much for the article To Boldly Go. I found it quite enjoyable and informative. I have a passion for gaming myself, and despite being humbly half your 50 years I found that I have actually played almost all of your benchmark games (except Cosmic Encounter) and many of the spin offs you have mentioned. I even went on Yahoo auction a couple of years ago and bought my girlfriend the original Acquire bookshelf game (because despite your opinion that the new version offers the "finest components", we think that the original plastic tiles and board offers the best durability).

Eddie Timanus: I thoroughly enjoyed Dave Shapiro's article discussing games of historical significance to the industry. Of course, he allowed that any such list is open for debate, but I couldn't help concluding there was a game that met his four criteria for altering the face of gaming that wasn't named. Trivial Pursuit hit shelves during a lull in the parlor game market and not only survived but is now on its sixth edition, not counting its numerous themed spin-offs. Many other trivia-themed games have followed in its wake, and, with the exception of some box versions of some TV quiz shows, I don't think there were any trivia games of note around before it. It isn't a strategy game in the strictest sense, but it has a board and bits. I would argue that it belongs in the company of such luminaries as Monopoly, Scrabble and all of Dave's other excellent choices.

Ron Hawaii: Shapiro's article on the modern history of board games was very interesting. It is welcome, indeed, an article that shows professionalism, even as the subject is regarded as only a hobby by most of the general public. Board gaming, nonetheless, is taken seriously, I'm sure, by the majority of your readers. I would call the people who immerse themselves in the activity of practicing strategy and tactic on the "checkered board"—a fellowship. I have seen over and over again on weblogs, plain slap-stick writings, by authors of the cyber journals who seem not too serious about their websites. Shapiro's article has both substance and the proper tone of a writer who knows what he is writing about.

Stefan Blobner: I really like the articles you publish, but since I don't regularly check the page, sometimes I miss a month—when I check the archive later, I don't know which articles have been published in the meantime and which are old. so I'd love to see either just the publish date next to the headline, or (my preferred solution) a second entry page to the archive that lists per month what articles have been published.

GGA - If you go to the archives and scroll down to the "Month" entry you can get to the front page of each issue. From there you can see what articles, reviews etc. were published that month.

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