Fair Means Or Foul/Adel: Much better than meets the eye, or the brain. This is the case for so much in the game world, that is, it looks crap but isn't. Airlines: Clever, simple, too simple for some perhaps. It has the best possible advantage that can accrue to any game -- I won first time. Assassin: Some people liked its antecedent, Eurohit (special rates for the States). In the tradition of Magic Realm, Blackbeard, Colonial Diplomacy, pick it up cheap and sell to someone whose first name is Forrest. Auf Heller und Pfennig: Very lightweight game that is suitable for all, in a heavyweight box that displays typical German build qualities (feels like steel, is in fact cardboard, twin forward-firing machineguns). Good fun, very playable. The wooden pieces are excellent as Dixie hit markers. Ausgebremst: Excellent game of F1GP racing that would have seemed better still had not Ave Caesar stolen some of its thunder. Is it good? Does Parkinson admire Botham? Avalon: Good for 30 seconds now and then. Backpacks & Blisters: Evokes the question `What is Innominate Tarn, what does he do?' in certain gaming circles. Excellent gamer's game. Blackbeard: poor game, questionable historicity, the game that denies some of the designer's opinions of early 18th century piracy. Roughly handled in Sumo. The dedicated General is a giggle, reminiscent of the Magic Realm issue in years past. Candidate: Okay game, dull subject. Where's `Special Prosecutor-The Game'? (keep your people in office despite sordid legal problems). Cathedral: A lot of depth in this one, where there's always a new surprise. Make sure the pieces fit tightly on the board. Different sized-blocks could have been profitably used in other games eg. Tal der Könige. Days of Decision: Looks great, but let's do it with cards like those I put in The Private but the dorks didn't understand. Dixie: The Battle of Bull Run. Smash hit game of the moment. Considerable design and simulation successes -- can it be repeated? I had wondered why Columbia Games did not clean up their wooden-block tactical module in this way years ago. For real gunfighters only, but the gentle Sumo reader will have a great time getting his bottom shot off by onesuch. Buy a full set from me. Drunter und Drüber: Well, I liked it. Played once or twice. Looks nice. Buy second-hand. Elfenroads: Another far better than a bigot might think. Will be played at regular intervals. I like putting a Panzer Division of Trollwagons in the mountains because they're crap there, which is an interesting reversal of the usual situation. En Garde: Mostly harmless, unless the brass bullets are used for black-powder duelling. Extrablatt: I have to say I have just found out that those ads are not for relief shepherds and shepherdesses at all. It could be streamlined a bit but no harder than Die Macher, with a similar amount of merit gamewise. Five Alive: Good, okay and simple. Not a good subject for `Gaming Charades'. Or is (was) that Man Alive? Der Fliegender Hollander: Clever, tough and interesting, probably not one for Blackbeard players. Formule Dé: Has its strengths. The bloke making the best last few die rolls will normally win, making the previous two hours redundant. Can be extremely boring played with one who needs more than a minute to complete a move. Freight Train: aka `Thomas the Tank Engine -- Behind Shed Doors'. Very pleasant to play, like Thomas you really want to get all your liquid manure carriers in a neat row. Guerilla: Excellent game that has been waiting to happen. You can shoot your own people if they are awful traitors, and -- stone me -- they always are! Teaches the kids that it is better to blow up the bank than the Presidential Palace. Hacker (fanfor): During the `Remove Terminal Dummies' phase I was asked to make the coffee. Had its good points but was a laboured effort. High Society: The upgrade of Hol's der Geier, and an upgrade in the most sweeping meaning as it involves components, gameplay, the works. My copy is on order. History of the World (TAHGC, not Ragnar/Gibsons): Entirely brilliant Avalon Hill development success. The other version was good but this improvement is all the more significant for that. Played consecutively the world over, everybody has a copy. Insider: Played, forgotten. Intrigue: again an idea that works better than a non-player could imagine. Has a number of supporters in the UK. Nicknamed `Bastardish Pursuits' by high-IQ types who like their adjectives to have proper endings. You've been warned. Jyhad: The rolegame Vampire: The Masquerade as a collector card game. Liked by those few who play it, the card set is very large and hard (=expensive) to obtain. My problem with all these efforts is that the designers appear to lack boardgame ethos. Karriere Poker/Great Dalmuti: The latter has really good graphics. The game is something of a stayer though I find it a bit of a pain to change seating. Okay for larger groups. Koalition: A great game but some doubt over the scoring system, as it is difficult for us to interpret the relevant part of the German rules which appear unclear on this point. Lords of Creation: Personally I found the idea better than the final incarnation. Laying out the world locks you into one smallish map, and this for example could be improved upon. Therefore it could use some more development, to ditch the redundant features. But as the owner says `all development must end someday.' Maharaja: A workmanlike piece of historical gaming, takes longer than Britannia, not so much for 3-to-5 players as for 3-decimal-5 players. Manhattan: Great combat game for the violent brigade, you can literally drop buildings on your opponents men. Hard to buy here as often sold out. Magic: Don't recommend playing by the `rules'. A random deal from the factory set works quite well, the designer admits certain undesirable elements which he attempted to solve in Jyhad. Suggests to me that good graphics can go a long way towards ensuring financial success. Modern Art: A staple of extremely clever design, so you gotta buy it. Mush: Tries, but fails in the end. It's amazing how many avalanches occur just in front of the finish line. Some good nickable ideas but the map seems very familiar after the second game. New World: Long and I don't like some of the game mechanics. Warrior Knights was good (and looong) but Carver games (eg Showbiz) seem to follow a unique logic that I fail to grasp much before turn five -- each time I play. And they're long (except Showbiz). Olympia 2000: Manchester's bid? No, at least not anymore. But what does the 2000 mean? I can t remember if there was anything new here, I think not. Outpost: A bit like Lords of Creation, this one went to press before development was complete. Phantoms of the Ice: The extreme simplicity grows on you after a while. I see why form for violence is such an advantage in the pro game. Quo Vadis: Really a very clever idea, not played for a while now. Perhaps a bit hard to overtake the leader as the game closes. It's not that easy to freeze one player out. Razzia: Played a lot, fun to play, and lots of sales of this one, personally speaking. The evident success is hard to explain if you ask `Why this one?'. The ease of play perhaps flatters the gamer into thinking he must be doing well. Its just that the winner does well well. Always. Republic of Rome: Assassination is the most powerful tactic, just press the sword into the hand of least able member of your faction (after making him `boss for the day'), and hopefully he presses it into the leader of the other lot. Usually the quiet player in the corner declares himself the winner after lots of interaction amongst his opponents. A very interesting endeavour, but I'll play copies belonging to other people. Rette Sich Wer Kann: Always it is best to play with those as know what they are about, here it's a requirement. A very amusing item if played so, otherwise its boring (probably). I am reminded of the Pirates in Asterix. Santa Fe: Beats Airlines by a short head on its own grounds of simplicity, speed and fun. Schlact der Dinosaurier: Lavaballs? No, not at all, more accessible than Battlemasters and as much fun. Good for tactical training, playing wargames with your little boy will suddenly become less of a cakewalk. Sherlock Holmes: He certainly does, repeatedly. What's he got at 221B, cocaine? Nice presentation, shame about the system. Played once or twice; however I admit my memory can fail -- to the extent that when playing Murphy I have accused characters not in the game! Silverton: More local colour and a sense of reality, rather than 1/2 inch counters in boxes, would be nice. I bet huskies could get through whatever the weather. 6 Nimmt: There is strategy, which depends on guessing what your opponents are likely to have, which is divulged by the nature of their previous plays. As any fule kno. Permanent fixture. Sticheln: Dr. Owen s favourite game. Whist, where all your cards are trumps except one suit, the suit which also counts against you if the others dump it on your winners. Stitching up your mates is hard but very funny when it happens. May as well buy a copy. Tal der Könige: I produced an apt nickname for this one by leaving off the Tal at the front and the Könige bit on the end. Can anyone be so dumb as to produce such a game? Well, yes, and others put it into production, bought it, and played it. Like Blackbeard I was hoping for something really smart on the subject and I got a five-minute design by a bank clerk. Tyranno Ex: Only TAHGC s second game on dinos, and a clever choice for the full development treatment which as usual works very well. Some brutish combat, and there can be a problem of total extinction but I guess this is realistic. The creature cards are not to scale, so if your Triceratops falls prey to a antediluvian budgerigar you can console yourself with the thought that maybe it was forty feet tall. Tutanchamun: Another very interesting simple game that is (was?) cheap enough to `buy first, play later' without worry. Not played as much as it might be (according to Kinsey). Vernissage: Typical German gamers game, probably would be considered very far out by normal people. If Andy Warhol were a game this would be it. Games such as this are analogous to `Mulsanne Specials' at Le Mans, they are very good in their little niche but haven't the all-round requirements to make it big. Waldesfrust: Could write this one off by putting `Nice tiles, zero flair'. Someone said the other day that a certain artist's best work was his sketches, done when he wasn't trying to impress anyone. There is no `by the numbers' method of producing a good Germanic game, and trying very hard probably makes success less likely. Was Sticht?: Another like bleeding Murphy, I keep forgetting what card I've drawn. An exciting game that converges nicely to a climax. We The People: Not wholly a wargame as the political element is such an integral part of the proceedings. However, it is the closest such in this list and of course the best way to crush a rebellion is as suddenly as possible. Berg and Herman have been on a roll in the wargame field for some time and this Herman design is extremely good. The General article that explains his design philosophy should also be purchased. Played to distraction. World Cup Football: (not Australian rules). Much loved by football-spectating non-gamers, I should like it based on my previously expressed criteria, plus the fact England won the Cup both times!! Quite enjoyable but not a purchase. Zankapfel: More clever ideas, it was slightly more complex than I was expecting. It's a good average game that a collector would be happy to own and most people would enjoy.
SWD: As one Mike said, the other Mike certainly started something with his article last time. In addition to this follow-up from Andy, there are two shorter pieces along the same lines that you will find in the letter column. It is typical of Andy to refuse to accede to the request for numerical ratings -- he has the natural bloody-mindedness of people whose surnames start `Dag' -- but I'd like to persist with this line for another issue. Mike says that lots of you are scribbling down lists, so why not send them in? I accept that my request for comprehensive lists was probably a bit much and since it is really the top end that we are interested in I shall now modify the rules. Just send me a list of those games to which, on a scale of 1 to 10, you would give the scores 8, 9 or 10. How many games you are entitled to vote for obviously depends on how many you have played. Use your own judgement, but be warned that anyone voting for more than about 15 will find themselves nominated for the Teresa Gorman Award for Good Taste and Discernment. Eligible games: those first published during the period 1990-94 (inclusive), together with major relaunches Bluff, Demarrage/Um Reifenbreite, Daytona 500 and Phantoms. I shall then give 4 points for each 10, 3 for each 9, 2 for each 8 and give the overall scores next time.
Giving 3 points to each starred game in Mike Clifford's article and adding in the lists of John Webley, Randy Cox, Peter Kretschmar, Steve Jones, Derick Green, Chris Dearlove, Mike Oakes, Rolf Wichmann and myself, here is the current top twenty:
History of the World 21; Elfenroads 20; Modern Art 19; Airlines 14; Demarrage, Santa Fe, 6 nimmt and Was Sticht? 12; Bluff 10; Drunter & Drüber, 1835 and Tutanchamun 9; Adel Verpflichtet, Ausgebremst, Quo Vadis and Silverton 8; Auf Heller und Pfennig, En Garde, Extra Blatt and Sport of Kings 7; with Days of Decision, Koalition, Manhattan, Republic of Rome, Rette sich wer kann, Sherlock Holmes Card Game, Sticheln, Tyranno Ex and World Cup Football just outside the list on the 5 and 6 marks.
6 nimmt is still new enough to be at the novelty stage, but the others at the top end of that list have now been around long enough for their position to be some sort of assertion of long term worth. Your move, and if you feel like sending me your responses to Mike Clifford's new challenge, I'll happily try to do something with those as well.