Mark Johnson's occasional & opinionated podcast about family strategy boardgames

Sunday, May 30, 2010

BGTG 105 - Games of the Decade (with Dave Arnott)

Now that the first decade of the new century & millennium is past, Dave & I reflected on what that ten-year span meant for boardgames. Back in late 2007 he & I recorded a "decade+1" retrospective for episode #75, but that had a little different focus. For that earlier show, we tried to talk about our own introduction and growth in the hobby, like what games we first learned about & played, how we used for scraps of information, the importance of Sumo magazine and The Game Cabinet website, etc.

For this show now, we're talking about a different time period (somewhat), and about the games themselves that are notable. What do the titles that were successful in the "oughts" tell us about the direction the hobby is going? Sales figures might be the most important data for this sort of discussion, but those aren't available. Instead, I drew from critical & popular reaction, as evidenced by Boardgamegeek ratings and boardgame awards (especially Spiel des Jahre).

I came away thinking there was a pattern emerging, especially in the latter half of the decade. I'm seeing a resurgence of some deeper, more analytic and longer duration games that took a back seat while publishers chased the commercial success associated with a family-friendly Spiel des Jahres winner. (I imagine even the games that were nominated for an SdJ get a healthy boost in sales. Don't they still get to put that recommendation sticker from the SdJ jury on their boxes?) Maybe some of the other game awards that reward deeper games have had an influence, or maybe the continued growth of the Spiel at Essen and its increasingly international new publishers can be credited.



Anonymous davebo said...

Glad to see a new podcast up, I'm halfway through it already, and really enjoying it.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Jeff Myers said...

I'm enjoying it as well. Dave's Pandemic game sounded terrible. I didn't realize you could die so quickly. We've always had at least a few turns.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous John R. said...

Great podcast. I agree with most of the games listed and I certainly respect their impact on the gaming community (I was converted by Puerto Rico way back in 2004).

One element that was mentioned but not really elaborated upon was the proliferation of expansions within the last decade. Anymore the moment a base game is out an expansion is announced, sometimes more than one. Not unlike the amount of trilogies produced by Hollywood today, which by and large follow the rule of diminishing returns.

I own very few expansions (exceptions for CCA and AoS) and see little need for them as they often seem to be made out of discarded ideas from the original game's development. They're slightly better than all those Monopoly boards masquerading as variants but very few enhance the original game to the point of purchase and even less exceed the base game itself.

If you haven't done a podcast on expansions I think it could be a very interesting conversation.

Anyways I really enjoyed the podcast and look forward to the next one.


5:56 PM  
Anonymous Neil Siddons-Smith said...

Hi, This is Neil Siddons-Smith. Having just heard your podcast i thought it was very good and i agree in part with the changing of games.
I personally feel that they are more accepting now and although along way off to computer games are heading in the right direction.
I was surprised that when talking about card games you didn't mentio about through the ages. I know you mentioned about it and how meaty it is, i was just surprised. I don't know if the economy has affected this as well with the playing of games and it being cheaper in the long run to going to the cinema and such.
You mentioned that Pandemic doesn't have a successor but it has one which has either jsut come out or is about to called defenders of the realm.
I know you mentioned about fantasy fight games and in fact just come back from a three day gaming event wher dominion was played alot as well as magic the gathering. But also fantasy flight games. What i personally have noticed with these games is that they blend the "American themes" with some euro mechanics. Even Twilight Imperium uses this with the role selection similar to Porta Rico although this is an older game in the last decade. FF games also published Citadels which came before Porta Rico. You also mention yourself that dominion uses the ideas of magic the gathering with deck building but take away the collectablitiy of it. Fantasy flight games has brought out the living card rule set that is there way of using the collectablity of MTG but not the huge expense it has and how you feel being cheated. I my self have love hate relation ship with MTG. The collectablity and the fact that Sometimes it was more about how much money you had compaired to the deck building. FF games way is to make 40 card chapter packs with all the same cards in it so that you know what you are getting as well as more likly being able to play on a level playing field. You also mention about Race for the Galaxy which i feel is a good game and i wish i played it more. Of cause this is a card game.
I feel due to the internet and that games seem to be made by people who want to play games the games they make that they do seem to be better and the designers don't seem to mind either taking previous ideas and putting them in there game or adapting them.

I personally am looking forward to seeing what is going to be coming out over the next 10 years although i'm sure i'll still be playing my favorates.

cheers for a great podcast


2:44 PM  
Blogger Ian said...

Another excellent podcast Mark- I can't disagree with any of the games you mentioned. It was good to hear Canal Mania, one of my favourite games, getting a mention in passing.

I think we are currently on the crux of a major step-change in the hobby with the advent of the Ipad, and devices to come, potentially opening up a whole new marketplace for the games that we hobbyists currently love. Some, such as Reiner Knizia, have already spotted the potential. It will be interesting to see whether this does materialise over the next year or two.

4:27 AM  
Blogger heccubus said...

Mark, didn't El Grande win the SdJ for Hans im Gl├╝ck before Carcassonne? And if so was it not important for them?

9:10 AM  
Blogger Mark Johnson said...

Lincoln, you're right! How did I miss that?! In fact, it wasn't so many years before that El Grande won the big prize. I think my more general point still stands: the Carcassonne franchise with a SdJ win must've been enough to give great success and financial stability to a smaller publisher. Now HiG is part of the Schmidt empire, though, so what do I know!

2:54 PM  
Blogger Bang Potential said...

Great show, thanks. I've been trying to decipher the BGG lists and rankings, gone to google, and have listened to most of the podcasts, but still feel I need an IDIOTS Top 5 or 10 party games list. Any old posts, yours or friends, that you could recommend. A dilettante, I own SofC, Carcasonne, Dominion, and Pandemic, should Ticket to Ride be next? Agricola might be too heady for my folks/friends. I like the looks of the HHRBaseball.

9:54 PM  

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