I’m under no illusion that Babylonia is a perfect game. Far from it. The map has too much detail. Don’t mistake this for a nitpick. The only thing more frustrating than thinking you have one more hex with which to surround a city only to realize the hex in question is beyond the edge of the map is when you realize you’ve misapprehended whether you were looking into the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates or a patch of shadow on the riverbank. In a tile-laying game, these things matter. I might even go as far as to say the map would look better had it been barely illustrated at all, except that would make me sound like Don Draper mooning over a Hershey’s bar.
Everything else, though? Perfection. I’d even call it Reiner Knizia’s finest work. Let me tell you why.
It’s hard to imagine anybody improving on good old Tigris & Euphrates. At over twenty years old it still remains a monument of our hobby, a surprisingly fluid combination of setting and systems, simple enough to learn, incredibly difficult to master.
Yellow & Yangtze is Reiner Knizia’s attempt at besting his own classic. What’s there to change? A whole lot, it turns out. And much of it has to do with that staple of Tigris & Euphrates strategy, the monument.
Want to know the best thing about all these Reiner Knizia reprints? It’s that somebody else is doing the hard work of curating the good doctor’s 500+ games. Rather than picking through every last trifle, experiment, and flub, they’re all being sorted for the brightest, smartest, and most fulfilling of Knizia’s catalog.
The latest in this spree of curated Knizias — remade with gorgeous art by Osprey Games — is High Society. And much like its namesake, it’s elite, holier-than-thou, and oh so catty.
Modern Art is about so much more than just modern art. Oh, it’s about that too, and CMON’s latest edition of Reiner Knizia’s 1992 classic is lavishly produced with work by genuine artists, each with their own distinctive style that makes the identifying colors on each piece’s header almost unnecessary. Does it matter that Rafael Silveira is the orange artist when his portraiture is so unsettling? Or that Ramon Martins is designated by green when he has such a slick take on Asian traditionalism?
Maybe. Especially when Martins defies his oeuvre with something from left field. That’s the thing about Modern Art. It’s a game about maybes and could-have-beens and taste-making and guessing the value of a thing before it’s a Thing.
It also happens to be a sublime merger of play and theme.
In the inaugural episode of the Space-Biff! Space-Cast!, what do Homeland: The Game and Reiner Knizia’s classic Tigris & Euphrates have in common? Listen as Dan Thurot, Rob Cramer, and special guest Mark Henderson attempt to stretch these games like taffy in order to find out. Special thanks to Michael Barnes for changing the conversation about theme and setting.
I’d open with a historical anecdote, but unfortunately my knowledge of pre-20th century Japan basically boils down to the Total War series and that one time I read the first quarter of James Clavell’s Shōgun. Instead, I’ll point out that Samurai is another classic title from Reiner Knizia, along with Blue Moon Legends and Tigris & Euphrates, that has been given new life by Fantasy Flight Games. And much like those others, Samurai is so much more than it first appears.
Sometime in the 23rd or 24th century BCE, things weren’t looking great for the Sumerians. Over hundreds of years they’d built multiple city-states along the alluvial plains of the violently unpredictable Tigris and Euphrates rivers, formed a powerful religion with priest-kings and mudbrick temples as their bases of authority, and even had time left over to develop writing somewhere along the way. Then an usurper came along, conquered most of the city-states, took a name that literally translates as, “No guys, really, I’m a totally legitimate king, I promise,” and set up the Akkad Dynasty. It would last for about a century and a half before more usurpers, more invaders, more uprisings continued to transform the face of Mesopotamia.
It makes for gripping history, and it’s exactly what you’ll be doing in Reiner Knizia’s Tigris & Euphrates.
Age of War is possibly the smallest game I’ve played this year. So small, in fact, that I’m going to try and review it in a single breath. No cheating, I promise. Here we go:
Age of War is the latest from Reiner Knizia, and the first thing you notice about it is that it’s a mere seven dice and [count them later, can’t stop writing] cards. So it’s a small game, but perhaps it has a big heart. I don’t know what I’m saying I can’t concentrate. It’s pretty fun. I had fun with friends. I think it gets too
Ohmygoodness. Guess I’ll have to do a real review after all.
It’s become more popular to bag on Reiner Knizia over the last couple years, to the point that it’s increasingly easy to forget that he has some pretty amazing designs floating around. Case in point: Blue Moon, Knizia’s take on the collectible card game that turned out completely unlike any CCG before or since. It wasn’t even a real CCG! Psych!
Now Fantasy Flight Games has taken Blue Moon and all its expansions — just shy of a whopping 350 unique cards — and released the entire thing in a single box. It’s a lot to take in. So much, in fact, that I went through four major emotional stages as I tried to get a handle on why so many people have fond memories of Blue Moon.