Belfort is in the top 500 Games of all time!

Yep, today we cracked the top 500, with Belfort now sitting at 492 and it’s still climbing.

For those that aren’t sure what I’m talking about – the number one site for board games is called boardgamegeek.com and anyone can register and rate games. Every game is given 100 ratings at 5.5 to even out the games a bit. This helps ensure that a brand new game with 5 ratings of 10 out of 10 isn’t rated as the number 1 game of all time. Now that all games can be rated by everyone, they can now list all the games in order of their ranking.

Belfort was 1537 about a month and a bit ago – Oct 24th, to be exact – right after Essen. On October 24th it had an actual rating of 7.62. On one hand that doesn’t seem too amazing, but consider the fact that the number 1 game of all time (Twilight Imperium) has a rating of 8.31, and you can see that Belfort’s rating is pretty impressive!

Here’s a cool graph that shows the climb in ratings of many popular Essen games, with Belfort being the line in green (third from the top by the end of the graph).

So thanks to everyone who’s played and rated the game so far! It’s definitely amazing to be in the top 500 games of all time. We’ve set the bar pretty high for ourselves for any future game we make!!

-Jay Cormier

Good Gift Game Guide for 2011, now with more Train of Thought!

Train of Thought makes the Christmas Wish List over at The Morning News’ Good Gift Game Guide (G4) for 2011. Huzzah1

The full list includes:

Survive: Escape from Atlantis!
King of Tokyo
Summoner Wars
Jab: Realtime Boxing
Airlines Europe
7 Wonders
Ascending Empires
Skull & Roses
Train of Thought
Thundestone: Dragonspire
Confusion: Espionage and Deception in the Cold War

So if you’ve got a gamer on your list, pick up a copy of Train of Thought – it comes highly recommended! If they’ve already got it, check out some of the other great titles on this well-thought out list.

~ Sen-Foong Lim

Adventures in Essen, Part 6: The Games

The most exciting thing about Essen is of course, all the new games! I got many of the new hot games and have had time with each of them already! Here’s a rundown of the games I grabbed:

Tournay: This is the next game from the makers of last year’s hit game Troyes. I love Troyes and so I actually pre-ordered Tournay to ensure I’d get a copy. It’s a bit more abstract than Troyes, and the rules are as confusing as Troyes, but once you become familiar with the iconography, it’s a fun game about using your workers (or ‘renting’ someone else’s a la Troyes) to make an efficient engine. It’s almost multiplayer solitaire though there are some ways to be a nuisance to your opponents, though it is limited. I’ve played 3-4 times and would still play it again.

A Few Acres of Snow: Not sure why I got this one. I’m 50/50 on Martin Wallace games, plus this is a war themed deck building game that’s only for 2 players. I guess I was motivated to buy it because I had the chance to get one of the 102 limited edition copies that were at the Fair. It’s a very lengthy game and has some interesting ideas added to the deck building genre (like putting some cards in your hand into a reserve pile to use later), but I’m not a history or war buff, so I’m not dying to play this one again.

Kingdom Builder: I was looking forward to this game from the designer of Dominion as it looked right up my alley. This is a simplified version of Through the Desert – and I mean that in a good way. It’s not as much of a brain burner as TtD is and the playtime is very short. The multiple boards that it comes with, along with the multiple victory conditions means you can play many times with each game having a slightly different feel. It is a bit chaotic – but it’s a great gateway game for non-gamers and families and one I’ll be playing many more times.

Eaten by Zombies: This new deck-building game was all the crazy on Kickstarter and now it’s out. It seems interesting in that players might turn into zombies themselves and turn against the other players. I’ve played it twice, but the terrible rule book made me not understand how to play some aspects of the game and it just wasn’t flowing for me. I’d play it again if I took the time to download the new and improved rules on BGG.

 

Tok Tok Woodman: This game is a lot of fun for the kids…and adults alike! You use a plastic axe to tap wooden bark off of a precariously balanced tree trunk. It’s fun and Jenga-esque.

 

 

Power Grid: First Sparks: This has a lot of similar mechanics to Power Grid but is its own stand-alone game. I’ve played it three times and due to very poorly written rules have just now figured out how to set the game up correctly. The third time was the most interesting, but I somehow couldn’t catch up after screwing up in an early round. Will continue to play it until I get it, though I’m not feeling a lot of love for it yet.

 

Last Will: I really don’t know much about this game but kept seeing it pop up in the top 25 list and I loved the art! After 3 plays I have to say that this is one kooky fun game. It has some worker placement and then some multiplayer solitaire as you’re building up your own engine. In this game you’re trying to get rid of your money the fastest – which adds some interesting aspects to the game.

 

Welcome to Walnut Grove: Was pitched as an Agricola kind of game when you don’t have time for a full Agricola game. Worker placement with some tile placement – sounds good to me! After 3 plays I do like it even though there are a few randomy things to it (initial turn order screwed me out of any possible move in the first round, plus the coins are valued 0 to 2 and are always drawn randomly). I will definitely play this again as it’s quick and is an interesting puzzle.

Puerto Rico: Special Edition: I’ve never been a huge fan of this game, but only because I played with people who were really good at it, but they weren’t really good at helping noobs – so I didn’t have a good time with it. But it’s always seemed like a game I should like so I’m going to give it another shot – now with a super amazing looking edition. I’ve played it once and am finally getting to understand the game! I will be playing this quite a few more times.

 

King’s Vineyard: For buying Tok Tok and Eaten by Zombies, I was able to buy this game for 10 Euros and ever since Bordeaux I’ve been keeping my eyes out for wine themed games and decided to grab this one too. One of the few Essen games that I haven’t played yet.

 

 

 

Carcasonne/Dominion expansion: 1 new set of Dominion cards called Carcasonne (the English variant is called Walled Village), which is a nice tribute to the hit game.  Plus I got another Dominion expansion called the Governor, which looks fun. Also got a new two tiled, 1 meeple expansion to Carcasonne, but it was in German so I’ll have to wait for English rules before playing.

7 Wonders Catan expansion: A new Wonder/starting board with an homage to Settlers of Catan. Neat. Haven’t tried yet. I did get it signed by Klaus Tueber though!!

 

Friday: A 1 player game from Freisse. It was getting some pretty good buzz and was pretty cheap. Haven’t tried this one yet.

 

 

 

Dungeon Fighter and Cryptids TV: Got these for Sen as it’s his birthday coming up! Not too sure about either, but Dungeon Fighter was constantly in the top 25 throughout the Fair. We’ll see what he thinks of each one!

Well, that wraps up all the stories I have from my Essen Adventures. It was full of fun and excitement and I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Here’s hoping everything works out so I can go again next year!

-Jay Cormier

Adventures in Essen: Part 5: Tips and Best Practices

Now that I’m not an Essen noob, I have some tips and best practices for those that want to visit Essen in the future. I’ll be sure to re-visit this post as next year draws near.

  1. Book your hotel well in advance. Stay close or at least on the metro/subway line. We spent too much money on taxis though there were 4 of us so we could split the fares. Next year we’re thinking of staying at the Atlantic hotel as it’s within walking distance.
  2. Pack a luggage within your luggage. If you’re planning on buying a bajillion games, then make sure you’re prepared to get them home! Most flights out of Duseldorf (closest airport to Essen) will charge you 50 Euros for an extra luggage, so factor that in you decisions about which games you should pick up. My rule was that if I could get it in Canada, I wouldn’t buy it at Essen, no matter how cheap it was.
  3. Bring an empty rolling luggage with you to the Fair. Carrying games around all day can get tiring. One of the Game Artisans of Canada was smart and brought a rolly suitcase and made it super easy to carry games around. There were many other ‘smart’ people who did the same. I used the bags provided by the vendors and had 2 paper bags rip on me in the middle of an aisle. Boo!
  4. Create a list beforehand of the games you want AND add the publisher name and booth number to the list. It’s not easy finding games if you don’t know the publisher – but it’s super easy if you know the booth number.
  5. Bring a healthy snack if you can. The food options at the Fair are the usual hot dogs, pizza slices and Nutella-filled crepes. And they’re not cheap either – so brings some edibles and come well-fed already.
  6. If you’re going to split up with your friends, make sure the meet up point is very clear. Some publishers have multiple booths so that can get confusing! We had a meeting with a publisher who said to meet him at the Snack Point in Hall 6. After 2 very crowded loops of Hall 6, we couldn’t find any Snack Points. Apparently there was one there last year and he was basing the location from last year’s layout!
  7. No one can tell you which games you should or shouldn’t get, but pay attention to forums and buzz to find out which might sell out before others and plan to get those sooner than later. I really wanted a game called Die Burgen von Burgund and since it was a game that debuted last year, I figured that there would be plenty – however it still has not been published in America so it sold out right away and I never got a copy.
  8. Travelling to Essen from the Dusseldorf Airport will cost you 50 Euros in a taxi or you could take a train for about 4 Euros if you know how to get where you’re going. I actually went a few days early and went to Paris – so I took a train from Paris to Essen and then a cab from the train station, which was only about 12 Euros. On the way out I decided to incur the cost of a taxi because I wasn’t sure of where I was going (poor planning) if I had to take the train, and my foot was sore with some sort of heel spur.

Following some of these tips will definitely ensure a more pleasant Essen-going experience! If you’re a designer then you’ll want to follow these tips as well:

  1. Contact publishers 1-2 months in advance of Essen to book appointments. Basically, the bigger the publisher, the earlier you should be setting up meetings. Email contact should suffice.
  2. Carry all your prototypes around with you – at all times. You never know when you’re going to need them.
  3. Always carry around a Sales Sheet for each of your games. If for some reason, you can’t or don’t want to carry around your prototypes – then at least always have a Sales Sheet on hand. I’ve definitely had to pull out a Sales Sheet at unexpected times at conventions.
  4. Make sure each game is individually packaged. I used a large baggie for each game. When we send a game to a publisher, we’ll always put it in a nice box, but at Essen I was carrying 7 prototypes with me at all times and there wasn’t room for each of them to have boxes. They all fit in my backpack once I put them each into their own baggie. Of course ensure each baggie is labeled with all the pertinent information: Name of game, your name and contact info and even the basic playtime, age range and how many players your game can support.
  5. Know the publisher before meeting with them. Actually you should know the publisher before you even email them. But when you’re in a meeting with a publisher and they reference one of their games, you should be familiar with it.

That should ensure you’re prepared for a solid Essen adventure of your own. Next up I’ll regale you with a post about all the games I got at Essen!

-Jay Cormier