On this Saturday, March 9, 2019, your mission, if you accept, will be to go to Epinal to discover the fun festival and come back with game reviews. Confident in our abilities, proud to receive this quest, we set out on a fun adventure. For the first time, I went to the festival Jeux et Cie d'Epinal, in France. Fortunately, to help me and support me in this heavy task, Barry (second time at Epinal) accompanied me and guided me in the pouring rain (as well as play the role of chauffeur).
After several hours of driving, we arrived at the site: the Congress Center. Easily found, rather well located when you come from far away and with plenty of available parking spaces, the mission seemed to be starting on a good track.
This is a free festival, which offers you the chance to discover new or old games in a good atmosphere and for all tastes. That's what the poster promised us. Once inside the room, we actually find ourselves in a family atmosphere, dare I say zen. The stands were quite spaced out, a lot of tables available, people were smiling, even very welcoming. On site, besides the games we found some service in terms of restoration (although I found the thing a bit expensive), games to bring back (wide choice in the local game stores). As for the types of games, the target audience is still family and children even if, here and there we did find games a little more focused on the expert public. The demonstrators and volunteers present were very good, friendly and quick to explain the rules with joy and good humor. A nice surprise for a festival this size. It is regrettable that some publishers did not make the trip or bring protos to test, while others were just not present. Overall it's really nice. Too bad it is a bit far, (a 3 hour plus car journey) if not with pleasure I would go back (especially in such a charming company). Especially since the festival only lasted for three days! Wow.
As for our original mission ... So we tried no less than thirteen games. Here are these titles with a (very) short summary and opinion. Plus we pick out our top 3 gaming experiences of the event.
Attention, these opinions are first impressions within the framework of a festival (noise/fighting for a table/rules not explained correctly/fatigue from continuous playing), as always in this type of events. These opinions can change by playing the game in other configurations, like at home or different player counts or after watching a Rodney Smith video =).
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Link to HOW TO YIPPEE-KI-PLAY (part 1)
Link to HOW TO YIPPEE-KI-PLAY (part 2)
Link to CHARACTER POWAA!
Link to WEAPONS TRAINING
Link to Facebook page
“What is the point in being a small reviewer when there are bigger reviewers who are swamping the web with reviews, interviews, top tens and (worst of the worst) box opening videos?”
It's a questions that depresses and angers me. I feel like the small kitten mewing from the bottom of the well, hoping someone hears me. Yet I continue to do what I do. Not for the fame. Not for free games. And not because I am the best at doing it. But purely for the enjoyment I get after publishing a video or a blog. A satisfaction that I have done the game in question justice. To it's publisher and to those who would be interested in purchasing a game like it. As I believe that gamers should not just click, click, click and buy every trick but rather spend their money wisely. As someone who just wanted it all, this obsession caused lots of problems at home. And I am sure that those of you who are reading this may relate to my story.
Spending money that you don't have or could have used to bring joy to somebody else, on a box of card and plastic that just sits on your shelf. Doing nothing. Just collecting dust. Or advertising to your visiting friends that you have “that game”, to make their jaws drop, is a waste in my opinion. For those of you that have buckets of money and more Ikea than Ikea itself, I am happy for you. Continue to do what you are doing, if it makes you happy. In fact, it is you chaps and chapettes that are keeping this industry alive, with every Kickstarter you back and every new game comes out from that great publisher, that you pick up. And I thank you for that. I hope this isn't sounding sarcastic because it's not my intention. I have friends that fit this category. They either go on to sell the games they don't like at a reduced price or give them away because they have been out dated within a few month. And that, I'm sure you'll agree, is great for their friends.
So back to my riddle. Why do I do what I do, when there is no chance of reviewing every game out there or making it a channel that everybody should watch...?
Simply, because I enjoy it.
So this is a thank you to you, who follow, subscribe or just in passing say “hello.” And to let you know that I will continue to do this thing I love, in my own time. As it helps you make that decision. I'm not saying that my word is final and you should like what I like. Always dip your foot in the pool at several locations as some parts may be hotter. Use me as a counter balance against those other reviewers, who don't like games because of art or review a game too soon, just for the clicks. Or those that like ass kissing because it fills holes in their Ikea. And the less I say about box opening videos, the better.
Regards and Respects
A section of the park was taken up by this free event, as joggers jogged by and mothers took their children and dogs for walks, gamers were gaming. Tents were set up in lines, publishers installed their games and the smell of fried chips filled the air. The weekend was a warm, yet windy one. A little sprinkling of rain made people duck in the cover of stand. But apart from that, a wonderfully calm vibe filled the tree covered area.
I was there on a purely observant level, not to play but to chat with publishers and friends about the festival and newness coming from their companies. So I'd thought I would document the event by walking around the stands and showing you a glimpse of what it was like. In the video below, you may see some Kickstarter projects that are coming, new games you never heard of, old games that have different publishers (as not all American games reach these shores) and you may see some beer too. Beer is an important part of the gaming culture in Belgium. It may be 10am, but you can crush your thrust with a fresh fruity flavoured beer...or a strong coffee.
This is an event that I will be attending next year. Not as busy as Paris est Ludique, but calm and dream like. Especially as I got to have a sweet weekend with my wife and taste a little bit of a different culture. Now I have wet my feet, that next time will have more news from me.
Marcel-André Casasola Merkle
ages 10 and up
Video review at the bottom
A different type of outlaw
But what about building to win a race...?
This is exactly what you will be doing in U.S. Telegraph. You are building an enterprise that is trying to be the first to connect two cities with your new technological innovation that will replace the Pony Express. No points. No scoring. Just a race to be the first. And being first will make you the winner. Simple, yes! The game shines with simpleness from it's rules, game play and theme. But does that simplicity help or hinder the game?
This town ain't big enough
Each of the buildings of your colour connect your telegraph wire across the vast deserts that filled John Wayne's career. A number of hexagonal tiles, depending on the number of players, are placed in the middle of the table. With a number cities placed around the outside of this dust filled plain. These cities are the objective for the players, creating a continues line of their coloured buildings that connect one city to another.
How the west was built
To draw or to construct are the choices available. It may not seem like much but as the game goes on, every action has consequences for you and the other players. The beginning of the game is a calm affair as you will be mainly drawing from your face down tiles, to see what you can build. This you can preform up to two times. If you decide to draw less than this amount, you get to draw a resource card. For example, you draw a tile and a card or you don't draw a tile but draw two cards. The latter is not really a good idea with this action, that you will see later...
area or you build it. Building requires you place it on an empty space, paying the resources from either your hand of cards or more practically, from the resources marked on the board adjacent this building. This is the start of your settlement and the commencement of your telegraph road. Starting a settlement somewhere else on the board will be a little more expensive, as you have to pay an extra wood, brick or whatever you wish, to do so. Connecting is cheaper and maybe free. If you build your viaduct (tile 61) next to your already constructed bridge (tile 60), you pay nothing.
wanted dead or alive
There will be times where there is a Mexican stand-off. The map has been divided into slices as you route of buildings start a one city but can't make it to another. This can be frustrating at times, as you have lined up a row of building that you could have placed on your next turn, but a border from another player cuts off you chance. And with the main board being one size, space becomes limited quickly, forcing decisions you didn't want to take at that moment of the game. But there is hope.
If on your draw action, you remove the last tile from a pile, you immediately get to add a hex tile to the main boards. Placing it wherever you wish, creating a trail that will permit you to build around this road block. Making the map bigger and giving other more growing space too. Strategically placing your buildings or settlements and joining them up at the key times to win is a trick that everyone is trying pull off. Because of the nature of these hex tiles, they fit nicely together like a tiled mosaic. Until you realise that the cities are a small space that creates a connection problems, like a horse shoe in a line of wagon wheels. Trying to build around the back of a city becomes interesting when the tile doesn't connect symmetrically but obscurely. Leave only one space touching another, limiting the route into the city. Creating another puzzle for you to solve. Timing and placement locations are part of the fun, but you won't be able to stop being get drawn into the Bingo frenzy. Drawing tiles until you have a full set of buildings, then gaining a worker. Helping to get your route complete.
Lucky Luke and the Dalton's
In fact, more players leads to a more intense race, as players are planing routes to different cities and you're never sure which they are. The free resources get eaten up more quickly and players settlements sprawl everywhere. Leaving a lot more of information for you to deduce their strategy and hiding route that you didn't see. The keen observers in the group will flourish.
Get off your horse and drink your milk
Not seeing your coloured tiles on the main board is another bug of the game, as the drab tile colours do nothing to pop out on the sandy tiles. Blue and green tiles are more distinct than the red and brown ones, that also share the same pallet as the buildings on these tiles. Where other games get around this by using bright, non thematic colours and 3D components that help locate you pieces, this feels like a missed opportunity. As this is just a re-theming of an older game Attika, and it looks like the same game. Although there is an art overhaul.
the video review
My BGG score 8/10
Combined score 8.5/10
Traveling around the world isn't like dusting crops. But I have done it. This time, for the very first time to go to a gaming convention.
This one was Gen Con.
From car to train to plane. So you could say "Planes, Trains and Automobiles."
Yes, beware this blog may contain film quotes!
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Coming to America is an experience and a half. The same heat, but it felt different. The street were packed full of Gen Conners and the food was BIG. Taco's and burgers for breakfast was one way to fill your stomach and everything was spicy, to keep you regular.
But I wasn't here to sample this other life, I was here to work. And maybe catch some online friends.
Our team of four were kept on our toes from dusk till dawn as the booth filled up. Which is great because it would make the longest day fly by. Players seem to really enjoy their experience and gave positive feedback.
For more info and images from the show, check out the video below...
Board Game Geek hosted a large room in one of them. Everywhere I looked, there was someone I knew. Lance Myxter, Joel Eddy, Rodney Smith and a bucket load of others (sorry if I forgot you). Played a few game with the shiny Keith Collins and attentive Forest Bower and the golden voice charmer Anthony Racano .
We played games like Gizmos, Dinousaur Tea Party and I presented an up and coming game, Badass Force.
But the highlight had to be the time that Burky meets Badger (I know, it should be Harry meets Sally) in the flesh. Hanging out with, playing games with and getting covered in cigar smoke with Kevin Burkhardsmeier, my podcasting buddy, was priceless.
And seeing his Game Toppers in most of the booth was like the Holy Grail. Elegant and comfortable.
more storys from gen con here...
How lucky I am to be invited to the wonders that are known as Gen Con, in Indiana?
The big side of the gaming world is having it's annual event and I will be there, all four days with Monolith. Once again, I will be helping out in the booth (2830), showing people how to play Batman: Gotham City Chronicles and Mythic Battles: Pantheon. On top of that, I will be demoing the next big game in the pipe-works, Claustrophobia 1643.
So while I am away, you may not see a lot of new videos pop up. I do have some uploaded and ready to go but am waiting for the "OK" from those publishers. So look out for new videos soon and some inside info on Monoliths new game.
Ciao for now, and I hope to see you there.
My latest blog/vlog is now posted. Find out if your a winner. Find out how the French do it. Find out what new games I have played. And find out what my beef is with flags...
***What is "the Monthly Video?" 0:20
***A Review of Reviews 1:46
Mythic Battles: Pantheon
Kung Fu Panda; the board game
LA: Vice Division
Apocalypses at Carson City Zoo
plus Burky & Badger's Board Game Babble
***First and the Last 14:52
Lords of Hellas
Freedom: The Underground Railraod
***Question Time 27:44
Flags flags flags
***The Monthly Giveaway 29:27
Win yourself a game
The heat is comfortable.
The wind blows genitally. Then a little more forceful, making cards fly off tables and frantic gamers scramble after them. Only to return to the table with a giggle on their lips and the game continues.
Yes, we are outdoors at a weekend festival called Paris est Ludique. Not "Gay Paris" but "Playful Paris." Where publishers from all over France come to demo their new game, classic big sellers and games for the future. First time and famous designers show up to to get reactions from their prototypes and maybe their signature on a contract. Also Belgium publishers get in on the act and somewhere, hidden away there is even an English one too.
But that is not what you see as you walk around the Pelouse De Reuilly. It's all the smiling faces from the thousand guests that are walking around. From the demonstrates, content to retell the story of why their detective is addicted to cigarettes or why it's important to save the animals in the zoo. Even from the security personnel, who are amazed to see some many gentle people having fun together. And these smiles reflect in the environment all around.
This is not the first time that I have been here and felt this ambiance. PeL (Paris est Ludique) is my local big event, where I get to catch up with friends and contacts that I have made over the years. It is the second best event that I attend every year, after Essen (nothing will beat that). And I enjoy every minute of the wondering and babbling that takes place there. It's family friendly exterior entices thousands of parent to sit down and have fun with their kids.
So I played as much as I could, so I could show you what is new and coming to our hobby. And maybe a be of that smiling has been captured on video and rubs off onto you. Roll on PeL 2019... =)
Overviews and interviews from Pel
Barry Doublet &
Act In Game
Blue Orange Games
Burky & Badger
Catch Up Games
Cool Mini Or Not
Czech Games Edition
Druid City Games
Fantasy Flight Game
Holy Grail Games
How To Play
Inside Up Games
Jolly Dutch Productions
Jumping Turtle Games
La Boite De Jeu
Lucky Duck Games
North Star Games
Paris Est Ludique
Sorry We Are French
Tasty Minstrel Games
The Flying Games
UK Gaming Expo
Yoka By Tsume