Sun. Aug 1st, 2021
Board Game: Dragomino

• On June 14, Dragomino from designers Bruno Cathala, Marie Fort, and Wilfried Fort and publisher Blue Orange Games won the 2021 Kinderspiel des Jahres, Germany’s children’s game of the year award, beating out Storytailors and Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels.

Commenting on the winner, the Kinderspiel des Jahres jury notes that Dragomino “shows in an impressive way how to transform a family game into a children’s game”, with “luck and deliberation being kept in an exciting balance”.

• Need an excuse to acquire more games? Perhaps you’ll be inspired by Anne-Laure Le Cunff’s essay “Building an antilibrary: the power of unread books“. An excerpt, which can apply to games as easily as books:


The goal of an antilibrary is not to collect books you have read so you can proudly display them on your shelf; instead, it is to curate a highly personal collection of resources around themes you are curious about. Instead of a celebration of everything you know, an antilibrary is an ode to everything you want to explore.

The vastness of the unknown can feel terrifying, which is why many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of accumulating books they haven’t read. But embracing the unknown is what drives discovery. As Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell once said: “Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science.” An antilibrary is a reminder of everything we don’t know.

• Sam March created his own electronic game board for Catan that rolls the dice, then highlights the spaces that pay out in resources. Man, you have to really love a game to devote that much time to creating something like this!

• In an essay titled “Review Drift” on The Splintered Mind, C. Thi Nguyen (BGG user rorschah) argues that game reviewers are failing to do justice to the material they cover. An excerpt:


Boardgames are, one might hope, made for hundreds and thousands of plays. One of the reason boardgames are such a good value proposition is that you can slowly discover the depths of the game over years of repeat play. But the community is now getting driven by popular reviewers, often on YouTube, and getting popular requires putting out frequent and regular content — multiple reviews a week. Which means the most dominant voices, which drive the market, are playing each game a couple of times and then reviewing. And that drives the market in a particular direction. It drives it away from deep rich games that take a few plays to wrap your mind around. The current landscape of popular reviewers seems to be driving the market towards games which are immediately comprehensible, fun for a handful of plays, and then collapse into boring sameness.

So: the structure of the online environment right now seems to demand that superstar reviewers put up frequent updates. Which means reviewing lots of products in rapid succession. But if you’re reviewing the kind of thing that is subtle, that takes a long time to really get to know, then the context of review has drifted really far from the context of use. So we’re evolving this perverse ecosystem centered around influential reviewers — but, where, to become influential, their review-context must be really far from the standard use-context.

One could counter that the reviewers Nguyen describes probably do match the “standard use-context” of their audience, which tends to play games only a few times before moving on to another new game — which means that the experience of the reviewer is the same as that of those players, so they’re doing a job that’s for their audience.

I’ll include my standard comment about reviewers: If they don’t tell you how many times they’ve played the game in question, they’re doing you, the reader or viewer, a disservice. I’m not saying that a reviewer must play a game X times before talking about it — but they should tell how many times they’ve played so that their audience can decide how much to trust their judgment.