Home  »  News

Latest News 
News 2003
News 2002
News 2001
News 2000
News 1999
News 1998
Essen News

You will find older news through the links to the right.
Note that the Essen News have started (see link to the right).Mik

19. December 2004Christmas Gifts from Me to You
25. October 2004New Member of Jury Spiel des Jahres
21. September 2004International Gamers Awards 2004
20. September 2004Spiel des Jahres 2004 Ceremony
19. September 2004Quiz at MoD Games
18. September 2004Bonsai Games
13. September 2004Games International Issue #17
10. September 2004The Rebirth of Games International
8. September 2004Asmodée buys Descartes/Eurogames
31. August 2004Dave Farquhar 1955-2004
30. August 2004COUNTER #26 available!
17. August 2004Spiel der Spiele 2004
14. August 2004Mind Sports Olympiad 2004
13. August 2004Chicago International Toy & Game Fair 2004
12. August 2004Survey of the Catan phenomenon
11. August 2004IGA Finalists 2004
10. August 2004ALEX - the new media award
17. July 2004Catan Encyclopedia

28. June 2004Ticket to Ride Spiel des Jahres 2004
23. June 2004Hunters & Gatherers : Aurochs Rules Poll
18. June 2004SAZ approves Ravensburger Agent System
11. June 2004Role Cards for San Juan
5. June 2004Agent for submitting Games to Ravensburger
27. May 2004Soccer Game a succes for Amigo
23. May 2004European Boardgame Championships 2004
22. May 2004Nominees Spiel des Jahres 2004
21. May 2004Alex Randolph's Day in Venice
20. May 2004Cut-backs at JUMBO Spiele
13. May 2004Count-Down to the Spiel des Jahres
3. May 2004New San Juan Buildings and Roles
29. April 2004Condolences to Alex
28. April 2004Alex Randolph 1922-2004

27. February 2004Who wins the Spiel des Jahres?
26. February 2004Phenomenon of the Year 2004
25. February 2004Gamer of the Year 2004
24. February 2004Franz Vohwinkel has his own website
22. February 2004Catanbox soon available
18. February 2004Ravensburger Sales Figures 2003
17. February 2004Top Selling Games in Germany 2003
16. February 2004Invitation to join the Game Designer Guild
14. February 2004Congratulations Janet Niver & Alan R Moon!
10. February 2004Games explained in sound and sight
8. February 2004Changes in the Jury Spiel des Jahres
31. January 2004German Sales 2003
30. January 2004The Toy Innovation Award 2004
25. January 2004Puzzleball
20. January 2004Official change to Die Siedler: Städte & Ritter
15. January 2004Global Powers available again
9. January 2004The Columbus Factor
4. January 200430 Years of Kramer Games
3. January 2004Nürnberg News on Gamewire



Christmas Gifts from Me to YouSanta
The Dutch designer Han Heidema did a series of Christmas Card Games during the 90's. Alan R. Moon designed two of the titles and one of them has cute graphics by Doris Matthäus.
 
I have been given permission by all involved to publish the two games as PDF-files as a Christmas gift, so you all will be able to enjoy the holiday season with these two cosy little titles.
 
You can read about the games in my Games database: Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire
Santa Claus is Comming to Town
and download the necessary files from the Game Accessories
 
Enjoy the games and have a nice holiday!
Mik
19. December 2004UP


International Gamers AwardsUwe Petersen presenting Birgit Nössler
At the Spiel '04 fair in Essen did spokesperson Uwe Petersen present the newest member of the Jury Spiel des Jahres.
 
Birgit Nössler is a freelance journalist and a reviewer for the newspaper Leipziger Volkszeitung since 1990. The first member from the former DDR was also on the board for the Children's jury in the two-year session 2001-02.
 
The jury now has 11 members: Spiel des Jahres Jury
25. October 2004: www.spiel-des-jahres.deUP


International Gamers AwardsInternational Gamers Awards
The recipients for the General Strategy categories have been found, and as they are the two single games I have enjoyed (and played) the most this year, I am extremely happy with the results:
 
Sankt Petersburg
Best Multi-player Strategy Game 2004
Sankt Petersburg Memoir '44
Bernd Brunnhofer
Hans im Glück


Best Two-player Strategy Game 2004
Memoir '44
Richard Borg
Days of Wonder


It was a very close race. Near the end of the voting procedure did 3 titles had 6 votes each: Goa, St. Petersburg and Funkenschlag (Powergrid). But as we can only have one winner did the final votes fall upon the one game we could all agree upon.
Similarly was it a close race between Memoir '44 and Carcassonne: Die Burg in the two-player section.
 
The full list of nominated games can be found in the Award-section.

21. September 2004: www.internationalgamersawards.netUP


Spiel des Jahres 2004 Ceremony
Spiel des Jahres ceremony 2004
The winners of the 2004 German Spiel des Jahres award were honored by a ceremony in Nürnberg yesterday.
 
Bavarian Family Minister Christa Stewens gave a speech to the now famous celebrity Alan Moon (Mr. cool) and his sidekick Pierre Gaubil from Days of Wonder.
 
Jury spokesman Uwe Petersen then gave each of them the trophy, a large wooden pawn, and certificate.
 
The day ended with a party where everybody could try the games from this years list of Recommended Games.
20. September 2004: www.spiel-des-jahres.comUP


Quiz at MoD Games
MoD GamesAndreas Steding has made a quiz in which you may win a copy of his new game Scottish Highland Whisky Race or the new edition of the hit from last year Kogge.
 
Visit his website www.mod-games.de and see if you recognise the 13 game components shown. Don't forget to fill in your name and adress.
 
The quiz ends at 12. October 2004.
19. September 2004: spielbox.deUP


Bonsai Games
Bonsai GamesThe Italian publisher daVinci Games have begun a new line of games which have the common feature that they consist of just a single card, small enough to be kept your wallet.
 
One side of the card will feature the board, if needed, while the other will contain the rules. The cards are free and will given away at conventions and other events.
 
The first four games will be available at Spiel '04 in Essen: Wordfinger, Out!, Letter Poker and Lucca. The rules to the first have been published at the daVinci website, where you can also find guidelines (pdf) for submitting your own designs.
 
 Latest info is that the series will also contain game expansions 
- like a card for Viva Il Re!

WordfingerLetter PokerOut!Lucca
18. September 2004: Silvano SorrentinoUP


Games International Issue #17
Games International - issue 17
While we are waiting for the relaunch of the magazine that started the German craze back in the Eighties (see below) we can now enjoy the front cover, which also reveals a little bit of what to find in the (re)-premiere issue.
 
Not much reason for me to repeat what you can read for yourself: you can get an enlarged picture by clicking the cover to the left.
 
But unless the cover is changed at the last minute will the cover price be £3.99.
 
Subscribtions will become available at their website www.gamesinternational.biz (which isn't up yet) and in Essen, where you also will be able to browse this very issue before you buy it at the stand of the German magazine Fairplay.
13. September 2004: Brian WalkerUP


The Rebirth of Games International
Games International - the very first issueMy world changed significatntly when I bought the first issue of Games International in October 1988. The British magazine proved to me that I was not the only adult who enjoyed playing German family games!
 
Sadly the magazine succumbed to the fashion of the day, and computer games took over more and more space until the day in 1990 where it abandoned board games alltogether under a new heading Strategy Plus. While the magazine continued to be one of the best of its kind, it wasn't quite the same. There were so many other magazines about computer gaming and almost none about board gaming.
 
15 years later family board gaming seems to be growing in popularity, and the original editor Brian Walker have joined forces with his old production editor Ian Marsh to relaunch the magazine in time for Essen.
 
Conveniently skipping the name change of #16, the first issue will be #17. The 50 pages will be filled with reviews on board games with a separate section, On the Cards, for card games. Among the reviewers will be found two of the original names: John Harrington and Philip A. Murphy. The letter section Rebound and the gossip column Sniper will be back, and there will be a News section, on which I understand that Jennifer Schlickbernd will deliver news from USA, while Mik Svellov (that's me!) will provide information from the German scene.
 
All the old issues will become available as PDF-files on the website gamesinternational.biz once the magazine is launced, and you will also be able to subscribe to the new issues in either paper form or as PDF-files. Prices has not been fixed yet, but expect a cover price of about £4.50.
 
Sample articles from old issues is available at westpark-gamers.de who also has an interview with Brian Walker. And here is his report from Spiel '88.
10. September 2004: Brian WalkerUP


Asmodée buys Descartes/Eurogames
Anyone who visited Spiel '03 could not avoid noticing that something was up with Eurogames. Their usually large stand had been replaced with a small corner from which they sold stacks of games from the floor.
 
The reason was that their mother company, Excelsior, had been acquired by EMAP, but they had not been interested in the game company Jeux Descartes. Now on its own the people within the company had to find a way to finance new productions.
 
Jeux DescartesAfter a year's search for a new partner have the 25 year old French game company found a new home - at the much younger publisher Asmodée, who is mostly known for role-playing games and simple, chaotic board games. However, they are also the French distributor of games from Days of Wonder, so they are no stranger to Eurostyle games. However, it is still too early to say which games will survive.
8. September 2004: Bruno Faidutti / www.asmodee.comUP


Dave Farquhar 1955-2004
I didn't knew Dave, but his unusual name has been easy to recognise throughout the years. I first saw it on the Game Cabinet, where a search brings 40 hits of reviews, articles and letters. Read them, and you will get to know the man a little better too.
 
Later I discovered another side of him when I learned in the very first issue of Counter magazine that he was a playtester for none other than Reiner Knizia. He later wrote several articles on this subject, including »Testing Testing 123« in issue 2.
The article has been reprinted in issue 26, which is dedicated to Dave.
 
Dave Farquhar died of a repirator illness on the 23rd of June.
 
Tribute to Dave Farquhar written by Mike Siggins for Counter #26.
31. August 2004UP


COUNTER #26 is available
Counter #26 - and, as always, filled to the brim with wonderful articles: 79 pages of pure text plus a few adds to fill the rest of the 85 pages of the little, fat (A5) magazine.
 
The new issue has 4 main topics: first of all is is dedicated to the demise of fellow gamer Dave Farquhar (see News).
 
Secondly is it the last issue before Essen, which means it is time to think of what to look for - and how to resubscribe.
 
Thirdly is it also time to vote for the Hall of Fame, and as always will you be able to do it directly from my website in the near future.
 
And finally is has it all the usual features: lots of reviews, a ton of letters plus many very good articles: Interview with Richard Breese, How to organize a board game convention, Why Americans like "New England" plus Ivan Hanley's confession of being a Gaming Snob.
 
And in deep contrast to Ivan is Mike Oakes comming out as a complete prat confessing to enjoy one of the worst games ever made: The Official Tour de France by Kleo.
 
Reviews include: Atlas & Zeus, Australian Railways, Dicke Luft in der Gruft, Dos Rios, Goa, Indus, Lost Valley, Maharaja, Memoir '44, st. Petersburg, Tyrus, Versunkene Stadt, Viking Fury and Waz Baraz
 
Information about how to subscribe in my Library-section.
30. August 2004UP


Spiel der Spiele 2004
Spiel der Spiele Boxcover
Reiner Knizia has won the Austrian Game of the Year award for the second time in a row!
 
Einfach Genial (Kosmos), published under the
title "MENSA Connections" by Mensa, Britain in English, is an easy-to-play Domino-variant.
 
Best "gamer's game" became Sankt Petersburg (Hans im Glück/Rio Grande Games).
Full list of all 12 recommended games can be found in the Award-section.
15. August 2004UP


Mind Sports Olympiad 2004
MindsportsThe 8th Mind Sports Olympiad takes place 19.-30. August 2004 at the Manchester Conference Centre, UMIST.
Information on the entire event can be found at www.msoworld.com.
 
The organisers have his time created a smaller event within the event in the form of the Hobby Games Festival that takes place the weekend 27.-30. August 2004.
For £15 will you be able to partipate in the following tournaments: Acquire, Age of Steam, Carcassonne, Lost Cities, Puerto Rico and Settlers of Catan,
14. August 2004: Martin BurroughsUP


Chicago International Toy & Game Fair 2004
CHITAGBased on the succes of the Internationale Spieltage in Essen will you be able to play with and purchase toys and games directly from the publishers at CHITAG.
 
The second CHITAG will take place on the Labor Day weekend 4.-6. September 2004.
More information, incl. pictures from 2003, at www.chitag.com
13. August 2004: Mary CouzinUP


Siedeln.deSurvey of the Catan phenomenon
Sybille Aminzadah is running a survey on the German website www.siedeln.de in the hope of finding the key to the succes of the Siedler von Catan game series, and she needs your help!
 
If you take the time to the fill out the English questionaire before 1. October 2004 may you win a University of Catan hat or shirt.
12. August 2004: Guido TeuberUP


IGA Finalist 2004
International Gamers Award We have once again voted for the best games of the last 12 months, and the result can be found in the Award-section.
 
Two of my personal favorites, Global Power and Kogge did unfortunately not make it, but the list is still pretty impressive and I am confident that I will once again be happy with the final winners.
The final verdict will be announced late September.
11. August 2004UP


ALEX - the new Media Award
SAZ The German Game Designer Association SAZ have created a award to acknowledge the work of game journalists. The award, named after the late Alex Randolph, will be accompanied by a purse of 1000 Euro to be distributed by a jury of 3 media people and 2 members of SAZ.
 
The award is focused on media in German language that presents the social aspects of Designer games in new or unusual ways to a broad audience.
 
Chairman of the association, Alan R. Moon will the present the award for the first time at the 24. Spieleautorentreffen in Göttingen on 4. June 2005.
10. August 2004: spielbox.deUP


Catan Encyclopedia
Encyclopaedia CatanicaPeter Gustav Bartschat & Reiner Düren have created two FAQ's in book form called »Encyplopædia Catan«.
 
The first volume covers the board games Die Siedler von Catan, Der Sternenfahrer von Catan and Abenteuer Menschheit while the second volume covers the card games Die Siedler von Catan Kartenspiel and Sternenschiff Catan.
 
Both volumes works as fully-fledged reference books will a complete index and numbered entries. And in covers everything from rules questions to background history.
 
Only available in German at the moment, the 500 page large work can be freely downloaded from klausteuber.de, which incidentally have been given a facelift with new graphics and incoporating his other websites: Prof. Easy & Catan-GmbH.
17. July 2004UP


Abenteuer Catan Website
Klaus Teuber has now collected his various websites (Prof. Easy, Catan-GmbH and Teuber.de) under an umbrella called Abenteuer Catan.
16. July 2004UP


Ticket to Ride Spiel des Jahres 2004
Spiel des Jahres BoxcoverAlan R. Moon's great train game Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder) has been voted "Game of the Year" in Germany.
 
The award for Best Children's Game went to Geistertreppe (Drei Magier Spiele) by Michelle Shanen.
More info in my Award-section.
28. June 2004UP


Hunters & Gatherers: Aurochs Rules Poll
AurochWe have just missed a competion at Hans-im-Glück in which they asked for suggestions to the use of Aurochs in the game. The 5 finalist can be found at www.carcasonne.de together with some of the suggestions that didn't made it to the final.
(I have placed a translation on the Geek).
 
Which of the 5 entries that should become official is up to you to decide:
 
Der Auerochse stärkt die Tiere
The Aurochs strengthen the deer.
Each Deer in a meadow with at least one Aurochs is worth 3 points instead of the usual 2. Deer are eaten by Tigers as usual. Aurochs have no effect on Mammoths.
 
Der Auerochse verjagt einen Tiger
The Aurochs chases a Tiger.
When an Aurochs is added to a meadow will it immediately scare a Tiger away. Cover one Tiger with a green marker. This Tiger will eat no Deer. A Tiger must be present at the meadow at the moment the Aurochs is added for it to have effect. Tigers added to the meadow later will have normal effect.
 
Die Auerochsenherde
The herd of Aurochs.
The more Aurochs there are present on a meadow, the more points are they worth individually. A single Aurochs is worth 2 points as before, but 2 oxes are worth 3 points each and all 3 together will give 4 points each. In a more intensified version could a single Aurochs be worth 0 (zero) points with the same progressive scale.
 
Der Auerochse als Reittier
The Aurochs as a riding animal.
As an exception to the normal rules may a Hunter be placed on a tile with an Aurochs even if the meadow is already occupied.
 
Der Auerochse vertreibt einen Jäger
The Aurochs drives a Hunter away.
After having placed a tile with an Aurochs may this player remove one Hunter from that meadow. The pawn is returned the owner´s supply, and it may be used again during his next turn (normal rules apply).
 
Simply select your chosen favorite on the here and click the button
"Diese Regel und keine Andere!" (This rule and none other!)...
23 June 2004UP


SAZ approves Ravensburger Agent System
The Game Designers Association SAZ have issued the following statement:
 
Ravensburger, the largest game company in Germany, has announced that beginning on 1 July 2004 unsolicited games and game concepts (hereafter referred to as prototypes) will no longer be evaluated in-house at Ravensburger. Instead, these prototypes will be forwarded to the freelance agency Pro Spiel. For this service, Pro Spiel will charge a fee of at least 65 Euro to the person submitting the prototype.
 
SAZ understands that evaluating unsolicited prototypes has cost Ravensburger a lot of resources and money over the years. We also acknowledge that the 65 Euro fee will only cover part of the actual costs and that the agency work by Pro Spiel will be additionally financed by Ravensburger.
 
We appreciate that Ravensburger, as part of their new policy, wish to give constructive feedback to the designers of unsolicited prototypes, which will help the designers improve the development of their existing and future concepts. We also acknowledge that Ravensburger wishes to encourage game designers to become more professional.
 
It is our hope that Ravensburger will evaluate their new policy after the first year and provide the results to the public – either through SAZ or by publishing them themselves. At the same time, over the next year SAZ will collect feedback from our members and use this to check whether Pro Spiel (and Ravensburger) have actually provided the constructive feedback to designers they said they would. We will show particular interest in asking if the promises made related to the submission fee will be kept.
 
We wish that editors from the Ravensburger R&D Department will be present at the most important designer meetings (for example: Spieltage in Essen and the designers’ meeting in Goettingen). At meetings such as these, we wish that Ravensburger editors will be open to and interested in looking at prototypes from all designers.
18 June 2004: www.spieleautorenzunft.deUP


Role Cards for San Juan
John Cudmore have made some very nice role cards for my San Juan variant.
Visit www.viennamob.com for the graphics.
11 June 2004UP


Agent for submitting Games to Ravensburger
Ravensburger is the first German publisher to use an agent for reviewing new games. With 1500 games submitted by aspiring designers every year it has simply become too costly for them to search through them all for a possible rare gem.
 
In the future must all designers (without direct contact to Ravensburger) submit their games to Christian Beiersdorf at Pro Spiel.
 
To cover the cost of reviewing the game must a designer pay 65 Euro if mailed as letter or e-mail. Submitting a full game cost 100 Euro for Europeans and 150 Euro designers from the rest of the world. If you send an e-mail and later need to send a full prototype do you only have to pay the difference.
 
For the money will you receive a full professional examination report of your game within 8 weeks. If rejected will the paper state the reasons for the refusal which may help you understand how to improve your ideas. If approved can your game either be given to Ravensburger or the agent may help you getting in contact with other publishers. If published will you receive 60% of the royalties while the agent receives 40%.
 
Christian Beiersdorf (54) has been in the German business for 20 years, have designed 9 games and developed several hundred games - including three winners of Spiel des Jahres: Auf Achse (1987), Adel verpflichtet (1990) and Bluff (1993) - all for F.X. Schmid. Since 97 has he been responsible for Ravensburger's child games.
5 June 2004: spielbox.deUP


Soccer Game a success for Amigo
Löpman & Wetter's small card game Die wilden Fussballkerle may not have received the best reviews, but it doesn't need it either. Sold as merchandise to a popular series of children's books the game has sold 40,000 copies and the 5th edition is currently at the printers.
 
With both the European Championships in Soccer and the Olympics taking place this summer, with the German Soccer Association celebrating the first German WM championship in 1954 - and with the 12th volume of the children's book at the #1 spot on the bestseller list in Germany, I guess Amigo have opted for a large printrun!
27. May 2004UP


European Boardgame Championships 2004
The EuropeMasters tournament is celebrating its 5th anniversary with a great programme of 5 games to be played at Spiel '04 on Saturday 23rd October 2004.
 
EuropeMastersThe 5 games are:  Maharaja (Phalanx)
Hansa (abacusspiele)
San Juan (alea)
Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder)
Media Mogul (JKLM Games)

 
The Tournament is played by teams of 4 players which are found through qualification heats in national competitions in Germany, England, The Netherlands and others.
 
Should there not be any qualification heats in your country may you enter your team directly at the www.euromasters.org website. More info on the website.
23. May 2004: www.euromasters.orgUP


Nominees Spiel des Jahres 2004
 
Nominated for best FAMILY game:
Dicke Luft in der Gruft by Norbert Proena, Zoch-Spiele
Einfach Genial by Reiner Knizia, Kosmos
Raja by Michael Kiesling & Wolfgang Kramer, Phalanx
St. Petersburg by Michael Tummelhofer, Hans im Glück
Zug um Zug by Aan R. Moon, Days of Wonder
 
The full list of Recommended games and the Children's nominees can be found in the award-section.
 
It is difficult to anticipate which game will win this year. I don't think the Zoch game has a chance, but the other 4 games are all good candidates. My order of favorites is the exact order above - in reverse!
 
The winner is expected to be announced at a press conference a month from now,
probably Monday 28. June 2004
 
22. May 2004: spiel-des-jahres.comUP


Alex Randolph's Day in Venice
 
Dear Alex!
We miss you a lot and to take comfort we are organizing a gathering
to commemorate you all together.
 
The appointment is:
Saturday the 12th of June at 15:30
"Scuola dei Calegheri"
Venice- Campo S.Tomà
 
The city of Venice will be officially present with
Mara Rumiz, President of the City Council.
 
After a few quick speeches, we will have some hours to play all together your games and really we think this to be the best way to commemorate you, the one you would like best.
 
ALEX'S FRIENDS AND FANS ARE INVITED
 
At your disposal for any informations
informazioni@venice-connection.com - phone 0415211029 - fax 0415240881
 
The Venice Connection's friends
21. May 2004: Leo ColoviniUP


Cut-backs at JUMBO Spiele
Popular European classics such as Stratego and Pim Pam Pet will soon be produced in Asia. The Dutch company Koninklijke Hausemann & Hötte NV, known for their brand names Jumbo games and Falcon puzzles, have decided to move the production of all their steady sellers to a country with lower wages.
 
The move was taken in March when the company came into acute cash flow problems due to very disappointing sales, especially in Germany where the turnover suffered a loss of 25%. Part of the solution is to close their offices in Germany and England, and to reduce staff in Belgium and Holland. A total of 70 people (40%) is expected to lose their jobs, which include selling the Dutch manufactoring plant.
 
In the future will Jumbo concentrate on the development and sale of games, leaving production to others. However, they expect to have their line of more fad-sensitive games (such as the Dutch edition of the TV game Who Want's To Be A Millionaire) produced in Europe, preferably at their old plant if they can find a suitable buyer.
20. May 2004: NRC HandelsbladUP


Count-Down for the Spiel des Jahres

The SdJ-organisation have announced that the nomination lists will be made public on Sunday the 23. May 2004.
13. May 2004: spieldesjahres.deUP


New San Juan Buildings and Roles
Captain alea's card game seems to beg for variants, and although nothing has been decided yet may we see an expansion at some point.
 
Have you ideas for new Buildings should you fill out the form at Die Pöppelkiste before 15. May 2004.
 
Ideas for new Roles should be sent to Mik.
I will publish them in connection with my variant for 5-8 players.
 
To play this variant do you need to buy a second copy. I have already done so for several reasons: (1) I reckon that I will wear out the cards in a couple of years anyway, (2) I need extra cards to play with more players, and changing the cards mean that they will be worn evenly, (3) chances are that an expansion will be printed on paper (like the expansions for Puerto Rico and Knatsch), and by buying an extra copy now am I sure to have identical cards in my deck.
3. May 2004UP


Condolences to Alex
Leo Colovini has created a Book of Condolences. Should you care to send a final message to Alex Randolph am I sure it would warn the hearts of his family and friends.
 
Leo's own words was expressed on the frontpage of venice-connection.com and has been translated by Frank Branham:
 
Goodbye, Alex
Alex's great heart has stopped this night.
For all the world, not only for game players, this is a terrible loss.
 
Here in Venice, where he has now lived many years, we owe him great affection and recognition -- particularly from we who loved him like a father, but everyone who has had the honor and the joy to seeing his name on a game box directly or indirectly owes him a great deal.
 
Millions of people all over the world have played and will play his games in the future, and in the world of games he is a true legend: the Altmeister (Old Master), as he came to be called, is considered to be the inventor of the concept of the inventor of games.
 
Leo Colovini
Venice Connection
29. April 2004UP


Alex Randolph 1922-2004
Alex Randolph on the cover of his most famous game
The father of modern board gaming passed away last night, just a week before his 82. birthday on 4th May.
 
Together with Sid Sackson did he pioneer the type of games we play today, and as the first world famous game designer did he fight for the rights of all designers. He was the first to his name on the front cover of a box, and through SAZ (The Game Designer Association) did he work hard to ensure that all designers should have the same right. In recognition he was made an honorary member.
 
 
Born in USA Alex Randolph had his first game Pankai published in 1961 and already in 1962 did 3M Games publish his biggest hit Twixt. Since then have he had a multitude of titles published across the world.
 
Alex spoke several languages and considered himself a Citizen of the World. The last 30 years did he live in Venice, Italy where he formed Venice Connection.
 
»What fascinate me the most about games is that they are never finished. They can always be changed even further so that you get the feeling they are alive. Usually I invent new game mechanics, the theme is of less interest to me as I prefer the aesthetics of the abstract.«
 
We will never forget you, Alex!
28. April 2004UP


Who wins the Spiel des Jahres ?
Knut-Michael Wolf has once again rigged up for the annual Spiel des Jahres Toto at spielbox.de. The German Game of the Year is decided by a jury at the end of June, but which game will they select? You cannot vote for the game, but at least you can try to see if you can predict their decision!
 
The competition starts 1st March 2004 at 0:00 CET where the needed form will be available at the above link. To participate you must give your name and adress and state the title you think will win.
 
Note all games available in Germany within the last two years are eligible, but that the jury usually selects a game from the current season Essen 2003 and Nürnberg 2004.
 
Also note that in the later years have the jury gone for lighter games - although that could change this year as they have taken two new members on board.
 
First correct entry will win a complete boxed set of all the self-assembly games from Spiele aus Timbuktu - curtesy of their designer Michael Schacht.
 
Only one entry is allowed per person, and the competion ends the day before the announcement (usually at the end of June).
 
The form will not be available until the competition starts on Monday (CET).
27. February 2004: spielbox.deUP


Phenomenon of the Year 2004
The American website ICv2.com, which is a pop culture magazine, gives out a couple of game awards each year - mainly within their target group: role playing and CCG's.
 
But European Board Games has been given the Phenomenon of the Year award for the growing sales of German games in the United States:
 
»The holiday season of 2002 was when sales of European board games in pop culture stores in the U.S. really jumped, and they've continued to increase throughout 2003. In the process, they've picked up attention from mainstream media (see "Washington Post Covers Euro-Board Game Surge" and "New York Times Notices Board Game Phenomenon") that has further reinforced the trend. Almost everyone we talked to described board games as the most exciting part of the games business this holiday season. Rio Grande (Carcassone and Puerto Rico, among others) and Mayfair (Settlers of Catan) are the strongest producers in the category.«
26. February 2004: spielbox.deUP


Gamer of the YearGamer of the Year 2004
Klaus Teuber, designer of the international hit Die Siedler von Catan (aka Settlers) has been elected Spieler des Jahres (Gamer of the Year) by the Austrian game magazine Spielewiese.
 
 
The award is given for Klaus Teuber's adaptation of the PC-game Anno 1503 - not as much the game itself, but rather the impact the game have had on the German media world, where the huge amount of "free advertising" have drawn a large number of computer players away from the screen and onto the table to discover the joys of face-to-face gaming.
 
And the former dentist makes it the other way too: Settlers will soon be available for play on mobile phones, and MicroSoft is planning a new online version in USA.
25. February 2004: spielwiese.atUP


Franz Vohwinkel has his own Website
Franz Vohwinkel websiteArno Miller from the Austrian game magazine Spielwiese announced in his latest newsletter that the much admired German graphics artist Franz Vohwinkel (known from the original Siedler games, Tikal, Puerto Rico and many others, have finally received his own website.
 
Go to www.franz-vohwinkel.com to see examples on his wonderful graphics. The site is in English.
24. February 2004: spielwiese.atUP


Catanbox soon available Cardgame box
Visitors to the Spiel '03 fair in Essen could see a Dutch company presenting nice carrying cases in wood and black velvet for the Siedler von Catan games.
 
Produced in China the boxes will soon be available and a website is now up and running at catanbox.com. The cardgame box will cost 35 Euro and the board game box 45 Euro.
 
Each box is available in either dark or light wood and they have compartments for most, but sadly not all, expansions.
22. February 2004UP


Ravensburger Sales Figures 2003
Germany's largest toy manufacturer have had a good year with a increase of 2.7% to 257.6 million Euro. Of this the game section is resonsible for 214.2 million Euro, an increase of 3.6%.
 
King Arthur Their bestselling game was the children's game Lotti Karotti, which sold 400.000 units, but they are also very happy with the sales of King Arthur, which surpassed all expectations as the 60.000 units were sold out in just 6 weeks when it was released shortly before Christmas.
That's pretty good for a game with a retail price of 60 Euro!
18. February 2004UP


Top Selling Games in Germany 2003
As written earlier (31. Jan.) were 5 games among the bestselling toys of 2003.
I don't have the actual sales figures, but thanks to Arno Miller from www.spielwiese.de am I now able to bring the TOP 10 Bestselling Games in Germany 2003:
Listed by turnover.   Last years placing is listed in the Family game extraction.
 
All Traditional Games 2003
1.Monopoly Standard
2.Lotti Karotti (400.000 units)
3.Dr. Bibber (aka "Operation")
4.Der Palast von Alhambra (SdJ winner 2003)
5.Original Scrabble
6.Tabu
7.UNO
8.Laser Light Tennis
9.Carcassonne
10.Risiko (aka "Risk")
Family Games 2003
1.Monopoly Standard (1)
2.Der Palast von Alhambra (-)
3.Original Scrabble (4)
4.Carcassonne (3)
5.Die Siedler von Catan (5)
6.Risiko (6)
7.King Arthur (-)
8.Spiel des Lebens (aka "Game of Life") (8)
9.Risiko Herr der Ringe (-)
10.Original Rummikub (10)
17. February 2004: spielwiese.atUP


SAZInvitation to join the Game Designer Guild
The German SpielAutorenZunft is the alliance of game designers to further their common interests. Founded in 1991, SAZ has becoming increasingly international after Alan R. Moon became chairman.
 
The annual fee of 60 Euro will give you free access to the support and expertise of hundreds of established game designers, free access the to the Nürnberg Toy Fair and many other large game events, contacts to company representatives, protection of your rights and much more.
 
To learn more about the guild visit the SAZ Yahoo!Group and the SAZ website.
16. February 2004UP


Congratulations Janet Niver & Alan R. Moon
Valentine MoonSad news for girls all over the world as the game scene's most famous batchelor has finally been struck seriously by cupid.
 
In 1981 did Alan Moon announce in The Avalon Hill General:
"my only real goal is to find a gorgeous female gamer (age 18-45)."
 
He has finally found her, and I wish all the best for the happy couple, Janet Niver and Alan R. Moon, who are being married today, Valentine's Day 2004.
 
Pre-marriage pictures of the couple: Gulf Games and Gathering.
14. February 2004UP


Games explained in Sound and Sight
Spielregelshowspieleberater.at has once again begun their annual Spielregel shows where they explain games in short 3 minute lessons. Made in Powerpoint each lesson contains about 10 pictures with accompanying explanation in German or English.
 
San Juan (alea) is the first of the new games available in English, but you can also look at the pics in the German lesson about Hansa, (abacusspiele).
10. February 2004UP


Changes in Jury Spiel des Jahres
As always did the new board of jury members constituted themselves at the Nürnberg Toy Fair. New spokesperson for the jury is Uwe Petersen with the previous chairman, Synes Ernst taking seat as 2nd chairman.
 
Two of the founding fathers, Jochen Corts and Berward Thole have both stepped down from active service within the jury. Dr. Thole will continue as director of the Deutscher Spiele Archiv and has been appointed honorary member of the association.
 
Two new members joined the jury in October: Stefan Ducksch and Bernhard Löhlein, and it will be interesting to see how these young men (both are in their mid-thirties) will affect the nominations.
 
A new procedure for the announcement will be used for the time this year:
 
5 titles will be nominated for each of the two main categories (family & children). In addition will the jury publish a detailed list of recommended games, which will contain more titles than the previous list. These will be published in the end of May.
 
With a new entensive list of recommendations is the jury responding to wishes from the professional consumers, ie. librarians, educators and social workers, who need guidelines for which games to buy for their institutions. Both in the range of children's games as well as family games will the new list give broader and more diffentiated game recommendations.
 
The winners will still be announced at a press conference in Berlin in the beginning of July, whereas the gala-evening will in the future be held separately in the early autum.
 
8. February 2004 UP  Background  Jury  


German Sales 2003
Once again has the game+puzzle segment lost ground in Germany. Despite an overall +12.4% increase for the whole segment, did it see a decrease of -4.7% without the CCG's (collecting card games).
 
However, despite these economic difficulties did they still manage to have 5 Children (c) and Family games in the Top 20 list of bestselling toys in 2003: Monopoly, Lotti Karotti (c), Dr. Bibber aka "Operation" (c), Alhambra and Scrabble.
31. January 2004: Fachgruppe SpielUP


The Toy Innovation Award 2004
TOY Innovation Award 2004The award is presented for the first time with the aim of pointing out new and innovative designs the visitors of the International Toy Fair in Nürnberg.
 
An independent jury of market-oriented experts have selected 8 winners from over 100 applications:
 
Toy InnovationAward 2004:
CategoryItemManufacturer
CreativityPuzzleballRavensburger Spieleverlag GmbH
FunSkatekartSkatecart Neva Products Int.
ExperienceBlue MoonFranckh-Kosmos Verlags GmbH & Co.
World in MiniatureDinosaurs in the IceGeobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG, Playmobil
Team GameDisney Train AdventureErnst Paul Lehmann Patentwerk
LearningCameleon StonesRecent Toys Int.
TrendKick-O-ManiaRevell GmbH + Co. KG
TechnicalTerex-Demag Caterpillar CraneConrad GmbH

No award was given in the categories of Best Friend and Dexterity. Although the products entered included interesting new products with a high play value, the jury felt that the degree of innovation was not sufficient for an award.
 
The Puzzleball won in the Creativity category, as this form of puzzle is a start in a new dimension, the material is of high-grade plastic and cannot be bent. This means the ball is extremely robust. A large choice of subjects is possible and the ball gives a fine puzzle that can also be hung up. The jury assumes that new target groups can be developed with this product. Ravensburger offers many themes like Egypt, leopards, parrots, fruit (540 parts, ca. 35 Euro) or the smaller version (240 parts) with themes like penguins, bear family, horses, cats and sunflowers for ca. 19 Euro.
 
The winner of the Fun category was the Skatecart. As ideal successor to skaters and scooters, it encourages exercise for children and is a mental and physical challenge. It will certainly also be rated “cool” by the envisaged target group of children. The innovative control with the feet can be learnt intuitively and makes the Skatekart the new trendy fun leisure article. This product is therefore a definite extension to the outdoor range of products in the toy segment. Aprox. 60 Euro.
 
The new card game Blue Moon won the Experience category, with the jury regarding the experience here as the stimulation of the imagination. Kosmos has combined various fantasy worlds in a card game in a convincing and high-quality implementation. Blue Moon is no classic role-play, but a strategic challenge, as each player “plays” a tribe. The game will be successively extendable and therefore increase in complexity, which leads to various levels. The basic game is available for approx. 15 Euro, with each additional tribe set costing approx. 7 Euro.
 
The interesting world of Dinosaurs in the Ice clearly leads the World of Miniature category. Playmobil has therefore proved itself as master of the World of Miniature and created a multi-faceted range of toys in time for winter and ice. The integration of the dinosaur/skeleton theme is new and is in line with the children’s interest. The arctic world is systematically thought out. The play value is rated highly, as the definition of a story is without major restrictions and there are many possibilities for extension. This is strongly supported by various play possibilities from action and fantasy to role-play. The basic pack will cost approx. 40 Euro and the extensions start at 7 Euro.
 
Disney Train Adventure won the Team Game category with the totally new combination of model railway with various play worlds. The imaginative game is suitable for young and old, promotes team spirit with lots of action and is the first game in which a train performs concrete functions. The railway theme is also made accessible for children in an attractive and playful way. This team game will return lone railway fans to the shared experience of games. A successful concept that brings the railway closer to young target groups. The price is approx. 200 Euro.
 
Cameleon Stones headed the Learning category with brain jogging for the whole family. It is quick to learn, suitable for several persons and also attracts adults. The innovative idea here is the permanent colour change function of the playing cubes, which must be placed in the correct sequence. Cameleon Stones promotes cognitive skills and not only attracts children, but is a mental challenge for young and old. The game costs approx. 30 Euro.
 
King Football struck again in the Trend category with Kick-O-Mania. The 30-cm tall original figures of well-known footballers, which have joints for full movement and can kick, are the industry’s trendy answer to the approaching football mania of the European Championships 2004 and the World Cup 2006. In the jury’s view, Revell has recognized the trend in good time with an interesting product for both playing and collecting. The idea is of international design and appeals to all age groups. The authentic set of replicas of the football idols is obtainable for approx. 30 Euro.
 
In the Technical category, an outsider – the Terex-Demag Caterpillar Crane – convinced the jury. The extremely accurately scaled and functional replica is a master achievement by Conrad in terms of technical model construction. The jury was delighted with the ingenious implementation of the components and the attention to detail. The model impresses with its high-standard design. It is a dream come true for technical fans! The “toy” at approx. 470 Euro is also a collector’s item.
30. January 2004: www.toyfair.deUP


Puzzleball
Puzzleball - click to enlargeThe Puzzleball is Ravensburger's new series of 3D puzzles where the bits are almost flat pieces of unbreakable plastic. When assembled will the puzzle form a very stable sphere in which the pieces hold each other in place without glue (same technique as used when building arches and domes).
 
The puzzles are available in two sizes 540 pcs for 35 Euro or 240 pcs for 19 Euro - with 10 different topics like the Earth, Egypt, animals, flowers etc.
25. January 2004UP


Official change to Die Siedler: Städte & Ritter
The German designer Klaus Teuber has issued the following changes to the rules of the Settlers-expansion Cities & Knights:
 
Robber"When playing with Cities & Knights, the Robber will not leave the Desert until the Barbarian ship has reached and raided Catan for the first time. When you roll a 7, the Robber is not moved and no card is stolen from another player. Check only if a player has more than the allowed number of cards in his hand. These players must discard half of their cards as usual.
 
The Robber is not moved in any case, so you may neither use one of your active Knights to move the Robber, nor use a progress card that allows you to move the Robber (such as the Bishop).
 
Same is true for all instances if playing with the Pirate ship
(except that it does not begin the game in the Desert).
 
It is also important to note that it is not unlikely to roll a 7 and the Babarian ship together. If the Babarians first attack is on a turn when a 7 is rolled, the Barbarians attack first. Since they have already attacked when the resource roll is evaluated, the Robber can be moved on this turn for the first time."
20. January 2004: Catan Newsletter & Mayfair Rules GuruUP


Global Powers available again
One of the best games to come out of Essen last year was the game about political influence and world power. (Review)
Unfortunately was the game only released in 200 pcs., but now is a second printrun of 200 copies available.
Ask you regular retailer or order it directly from the publisher: www.eggertspiele.de.
15. January 2004: www.spielbox.deUP


The Columbus Factor
Novgorod
When Age of Renaissance was republished by Eurogames in 1999 had Jared Scarborough planned a number of improvements to his game. Unfortunately was many of them not included due to lack of time.
 
5 changes, including a couple of changes to the board, have been collected in my Variant-section together with a variant that allow you to discover the New World a little earlier.
9. January 2004UP


30 Years of Kramer Games
The German designer Wolfgang Kramer can celebrate his 30th anniversary next month as he had his first game published at the Nürnberg Fair in 1974.
 
Since that abstract bidding game Tempo (ASS) has he had 150 games released in various forms. You can find the complete list on his website www.kramer-spiele.de where he also brings brief descriptions of the new games to be published this year.
 
Apart from a few children's games are they all described at Gamefest.com, so I will only add a few notes: only two games are mentioned for the Autum release, and both are remakes. However, one of them will receive extensive changes so it really is a "new, simple and fun boardgame".
 
When I wrote my review of Versunkene Stadt I didn't know that the game had been in the making since 1997 when Kramer & Kiesling developed ideas from the game for their hits Tikal and Torres (both winners of Spiel des Jahres). But first now have they been able to get the Sunken City theme to work. So it is slightly ironic that Torres, which is much harder to play, won the SdJ when this new game is really more suited for casual gamers.
4. January 2004UP


Nürnberg News on Gamewire
Welcome to a new year!. When I first began my site I quickly realised the need for a place where you could read about the new releases from Nürnberg and Essen. But our hobby has grown a lot since then, and today is information in English readily available from many sources.
 
Gathering and translating the information is hard work, and I have always said that I would only do it until someone better qualified would take over. During the last year have my friend Rick Thornquist and his sidekick Patrick Korner made a brilliant list over new releases called Gone Cardboard and they also have descriptions of many of the games at their news section Gamewire, both hosted on the commercial site gamefest.com.
 
I am therefore quite happy to leave the work to them. I will instead concentrate on the odd games not listed by them, plus the games I know from personal experience. Hopefully this should leave me with more time for making reviews and translations of rules and player aids. So check out their Nuremberg News.
3. January 2004UP

© Mik Svellov 1997-2004editor@brettboard.dk 19. dec 2004