The Game of Gaming

Top 10 Games: That Need 2-Player Rules

Posted by Eisley on 10th January 2010

If you’ve read my blog, you’ll know I really like  good 2-player games.  They don’t need to be 2-player only, just so long as they play well with 2 as it’s too often a great game plays poorly with just 2 player.  This is often because what one player does, the other player counters or reacts to.  Alhambra is a great example of a game that plays superbly with 2 players (in fact, I think the fewer players the better with Alhambra).

I recently entered the Krakow competition to create rules for a 2-player game and it got me thinking about the other games I would really like to be able to play 2-player.  So, here’re the top ten games in my collection for which I’d like to be able to play a 2-player game…. Read the rest of this entry »


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Review: Mow

Posted by Eisley on 8th January 2010

 Mow (pronounced Moo as it’s the noise cows make in France) is a simple but active card game with good player interaction as each tries to obstruct the other players. 

The game consists of two decks of cards – one deck is used for 2 to 5 players and the other deck is added for 6 to 10 players.  Each card shows a cartoon cow and has a number on between 0 to 16, plus each has a number of flies on it from 0 to 5.  Flies are bad and the players want to avoid collecting them.

Each player starts with 5 cards.  On their turn, a player plays a card to the centre of the table so that a single row of cards builds up and these will be in numerical order.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Alea Iacta Est

Posted by Eisley on 8th January 2010

Alea Iacta Est is a dice rolling and allocation game.  For any gamer who rejects games where dice are central, please read on as you may miss a really enjoyable game.

The game consists of several rounds where players are trying to score as many points as possible.  Players start each round with 8 dice of their colour and provinces.  Players take turns rolling their remaining dice and allocating some (or all) of them to one of the areas on the table for which they may get a reward at the end of the round depending upon what other players place in the areas too. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview: Emanuele Ornella (Part 2)

Posted by Eisley on 5th January 2010

This is the second part of our interview with games designer Emanuele Ornella whose games include:  Assyria (2009), Martinique(2009), Byzanz (2008), Hermagor (2006), Il Principe (2005), Oltre Mare (2004), and Fantasy Pub (2003).

[This is a follow-on from the first part of our interview with Emanuele Ornella.]

What influenced you to design Assyria?  Did Assyria start with theme or mechanics?  How do you create a board with so many different icons and know it’s the best layout?
Ema: As I mentioned, Assyria started from Evo. In Evo you have a board with hexagons in different colors. These colors are the possible terrains where dinos can survive in a specific round. I started with a similar approach but tried to have separated hexagon tiles, as in Catan. That element was removed when I discovered that some combinations of hexagons (with similar symbols close to one another) would be too powerful, plus when I realized that the food cards added enough randomness. The best layout was one where symbols were equally distributed and where no two similar symbols were on adjacent hexagons. That came out after several playtests. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview: Emanuele Ornella (Part 1)

Posted by Eisley on 4th January 2010

Today’s post is very special as it’s the first in what I hope to be an on-going set of occasional interviews with game designers.  I’m always intrigued by the game design process so these interviews will focus on the game design process and the game of designing.

Emanuele Ornella is an Italian game designer who has designed many games in recent years.  His games include:  Assyria (2009), Martinique(2009), Byzanz (2008), Hermagor (2006), Il Principe (2005), Oltre Mare (2004), and Fantasy Pub (2003).

Hi Emanuele. Thank you for talking to us about your design approach and experience. Seven game designs in seven years – that’s a very productive track record.  Where did it start for you?
Ema: Well I always had a passion for games in general. I started to design my first videogame with Commodore 64 in the mid-80s. Then I started to play Heroquest and Magic the Gathering. At the end of 90s, I found boardgames again. I attended Lucca Game contest in early 2000s and I won the first place two years in a row.  That make me to decide to try the way of Essen.  Read the rest of this entry »

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MetaGames Returns Monday January 4th 2010

Posted by Eisley on 3rd January 2010

After a good break, the MetaGames blog will start up again on Jan 4th.  I am really pleased to announce that the first item will be an interview with game designer Emanuele Ornella (designer of Assyria, Martinique, Il Principe and many other games). 


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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Posted by Eisley on 19th December 2009

During the Christmas break, I’ll be making the occasional post (I hope to post one on Cuba tonight or tomorrow) but it will will be a lot less than the usual review every day (and depends upon the connectivity where I’ll be).

Thanks to everyone who has read and/or commented on my blog.  I am looking forwards to continuing as usual in the New Year, as well as adding some new items, features and surprises.

Have a great holiday break wherever you may be.


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Review: Ingenious – The Tile Game

Posted by Eisley on 18th December 2009

People seem to have been very interested in Keltis the tile game (Way of the Stones) so I thought I’d review another tile version of a Renier Knizia game.  This time Ingenious gets the tile treatment.

The original Ingenious game is a superb abstract game where players place double-ended tiles (like dominoes consisting of 2 hexagons with coloured symbols on each end) on a board.  When you lay a tile, you score points for the rows of matching symbols created.  It’s incredibly simple, very tactical (almost cut-throat at times when blocking others) and plays well with 2, 3 or 4 players.  Also, the scoring system is very neat – players score points for each of the 6 symbol types separately and a player’s final score is equal to their single lowest score.  So, it’s important to develop all of your scores equally plus delivers tactical play as players try to score symbols they are weak in (or block their opponents). Read the rest of this entry »

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Review: Keltis – The Tile Game

Posted by Eisley on 18th December 2009

Keltis won the Spiel des Jahres 2008 but it seems to have had a luke warm response.  So, it would be easy to dismiss “Keltis: Der Weg der Steine” (Way of the Stones); however, this smaller, simple but different Keltis game is actually a really good filler game and should not be dismissed just because of its larger and older relative.

Keltis: Way of the Stones purely comprises of 55 tiles which are stones with numbers from 0 to 10 in 5 different colours on their fronts.  In addition to the colour and number, a few stones have a celtic symbol, a few have bonus points, and a few have wish stones on them too.  At the start, all the stones are placed face-down and mixed together.  Players then take turns when they can either (a) reveal a stone and keep it, (b) reveal a stone and leave it face-up where it is, or (c) take a face-up stone that was already revealed but not taken.  If a player takes a tile with a celtic symbol on it, they immediately take another turn. Read the rest of this entry »

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Top 10 Games: Very Portable 2-player

Posted by Eisley on 16th December 2009

Taking lots of games away whether on holiday or business trips  can often be a problem due the size and weight of games; yet, many small games don’t deliver enough punch to warrant being carried.  Over the years I have assembled a bag of excellent 2-player games which has been updated as new games have appeared.  I usually have 5  or 6 of the following games fitted neatly into a single cloth bag.

Note that these portable (easy to transport) games aren’t to be confused with travel games (easy to play on-the-move/whilst travelling.  (Check out my Top Games for a Family Christmas too.) Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Board Games, Top Games | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »