Its hard to believe it but two years have come and gone since the first issue of the Game Cabinet hit the Web. In that time, there have been twenty-three monthly issues - I missed the April issue of this year - with over 500 articles. I feel like I should thank lots of people individually but the last time I tried that I left out poor Stuart! So a special thanks to Stuart Dagger and, of course, Mike Siggins and Catherine Soubeyrand who have been great about helping out whenever I needed them. All of the Cabinet Makers have added their own bit of scrollwork here or a new shelf there. Without them, the whole wouldn't have been as exciting. I hope we can all make it another two years! Thanks, again, folks!
As an aside, Mike Sanderson brought us the whizzy birthday cakes appearing on this month's cover. Thanks, Mike! By the way, Mike hates endless loops, too, but it is a birthday so a certain amount of fuss was appropriate.
This Summer we are witnessing the beginning of a German invasion of America. Mayfair has released a line of five new German imports, including many Spiel des Jahres winners from the past few years. Winning Moves has released Raj, an American edition of Hol's der Geier, an interesting little card game (though I must admit that I would be tempted to use the bits to play High Society, instead). 6 Nimmt has been released as Take 6. And there are more to follow.
The Mayfair series looks quite good. I could quibble about some of the production choices. I'm not a huge fan of their use of photography in place of paintings or drawings as in Settlers of Cattan. And I think leaving the card colors off of the board for Modern Art is a bit of a game play faux pax. But the simple fact is that all of the games in the new line are produced to a higher standard than we have become accustomed to here in the States. And the prices have been kept in line with or even lower than those we are accustomed to paying. Mayfair has done an excellent job and they've certainly earned the point position on all subsequent import editions.
Winning Moves has made a mixed start out of the gate. Raj and Priceless are certainly of interest. But the rest of the line seems to be marketed at the Victorian Parlour Game crowd.
Which reminds me: there has been a running discussion in Sumo as to what term should be used to refer to the sorts of games that are covered in The Game Cabinet, Sumo, and The Game Report. Clearly, some of the games fall into the category of Victorian Parlor Games. Taboo, TriBond, TalkSHOW, and friends descend from that tradition. But most of the games are fairly new and original both in form and substance. Collectable card games along with the works of Knizia, Sackson, Teuber, and others define a new genre (or genres) of games for which we have no easy label.
My suggestion (boy, I can really feel 'em flappin' in the wind now, boys): Cafe Games. These games tend to be short in duration - 1 to 1.5 hours tops. They're appearance is striking and, ideally, even beautiful. The individual components are of high quality - durable cards from Belgium, simple pieces made of wood, more sculpted pieces made of bright, durable plastic, boards mounted on heavy cardboard with waterproof coatings. The game play is dynamic and engaging with all of the players active as much of the time as possible. The social aspects are strong as players interact and have a good time. And the games appeal to a broad range of people - not just the fanboys and the spielfreaks.
I'm curious about ElfenWars, an obscure Alan Moon design mentioned in this month's Sumo. Anyone know anything more about it? Apparently copies have been changing hands at outrageous prices.
The Ravensburger/FX Schmid merger continues. Apparently, FX Schmid will be using the Ravensburger production facilities for boards, boxes, and the like while Ravensburger will be using FX Schmid's card production. So we can look for even higher quality editions from both companies! The plan for now is to operate both design groups separately. This seems like a wise decision as Ravensburger is strongest in children's games while FX Schmid is strongest with adult and family games.
Don't forget to check out Charles Vasey's article on Chaos Gaming. This one really struck a chord with the Sumo gaming world back when it was first published. And I wonder if Mr Siggins shouldn't re-read it in his endless quest to put the whole Settlers controversy to rest...
Newcomer Joe Celko fills us in on Chinese dominoes. Joe's articles launch what I hope will grow into quite a complete listing of domino games.
And last, but not least, I am now taking orders for the English rule books for New Games in Old Rome. I only have a very small supply but I'm offering them for $25 each inclusive of postage to the continental US and Canada. Drop me a line if you are interested.
The Game Cabinet - firstname.lastname@example.org - Ken Tidwell