Blog Archives

An Old Game About the New Thing

This image makes me hungry.

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.

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The Space-Biff! Space-Cast! Episode #1: Paranoid Cuneiform

Ahem. Leaders cannot be placed on river spaces. Podcast failed.

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.

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Samurai You Win, Samurai You Lose

This summer, the Japanese preoccupation with giant monsters continues with the dreaded katanakaiju.

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.

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Rock the Cradle of Civilization

Includes a real-life genuine picture of Reiner Knizia himself, plus beard, hat, earrings, and mild alterations to brow, nose, lips, and cheekbone structures!

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.

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War Express

If you look closely into his eyes, you can see that he's actually a very jolly fellow.

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.

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Blue Moon, You Saw Me Standing Alone

That stare is unnecessarily creepy. It makes me want to hide the game box.

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.

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