Board game

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Posted by motoman 03/20/2009 @ 15:09

Tags : board game, games, leisure

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Board game

A game in progress of the board game The Game of Life.

A board game is a game in which counters or pieces that are placed on, removed from, or moved across a "board" (a premarked surface usually specific to that game). As do other form of entertainment, board games can represent nearly any subject.

There are many different types and styles of board games, including those, at the most-basic level, that that have no inherent theme—such as Checkers—as well as more-complicated games with definite subjects, or even narratives, such as Cluedo.

Many board games are now available as computer games, which can include the computer itself as one of several players, or as sole opponent. The rise of computer use is one of the reasons said to have led to a relative decline in board games. Many board games can now be played online against a computer and/or other players. Some websites allow play in real time and immediately show the opponents' moves, while others use email to notify the players after each move (see the links at the end of this article).

Some board games make use of components in addition to—or instead of—a board and playing pieces. Some games use CDs, video cassettes, and, more recently, DVDs in accompaniment to the game.

One way to categorize board games is to distinguish those based primarily upon luck from those that involve significant strategy. Some games, such as chess, are entirely deterministic, relying only on the strategy element for their interest. Children's games, on the other hand, tend to be very luck-based, with games such as Sorry!, Candy Land and Chutes and ladders having virtually no decisions to be made. Most board games involve both luck and strategy. A player may be hampered by a few poor rolls of the dice in Risk or Monopoly, but over many games a player with a superior strategy will win more often. While some purists consider luck to not be a desirable component of a game, others counter that elements of luck can make for far more diverse and multi-faceted strategies as concepts such as expected value and risk management must be considered.

The third important factor in a game is diplomacy, or players making deals with each other. A game of solitaire, for obvious reasons, has no player interaction. Two player games usually do not have diplomacy, with Lord of the Rings being a notable exception where players compete against an automatic opponent (see cooperative games). Thus, this generally applies only to games played with three or more people. An important facet of Settlers of Catan, for example, is convincing people to trade with you rather than with other players. In Risk, one example of diplomacy's effectiveness is when two or more players team up against others. Easy diplomacy consists of convincing other players that someone else is winning and should therefore be teamed up against. Difficult diplomacy (such as in the aptly named game Diplomacy) consists of making elaborate plans together, with possibility of betrayal.

Luck is introduced to a game by a number of methods. The most popular is using dice, generally six-sided. These can determine everything from how many steps a player moves their token, as in Monopoly, to how their forces fare in battle, such as in Risk, or which resources a player gains, such as in Settlers of Catan. Other games such as Sorry! use a deck of special cards that, when shuffled, create randomness. Scrabble does something similar with randomly picked letters. Other games use spinners, timers of random length, or other sources of randomness. Trivia games have a great deal of randomness based on the questions a person gets. German-style board games are notable for often having rather less of a luck factor than many North American board games.

Although many board games have a jargon all their own, there is a generalized terminology to describe concepts applicable to basic game mechanics and attributes common to nearly all board games.

Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 286. (May, 1992), pp. 1-5.

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A Game of Thrones (board game)

A Game of Thrones is a strategy board game created by Christian T. Petersen and released by Fantasy Flight Games in 2003. The game is based on the A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series by George R. R. Martin. It was followed in 2004 by the expansion A Clash of Kings, and in 2006 by the expansion A Storm of Swords.

A Game of Thrones allows the players to take on the roles of several of the Great Houses vying for control of the Seven Kingdoms, including House Stark, House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Greyjoy, House Tyrell, and as of the expansion A Clash of Kings, House Martell. Players maneuver armies to secure support in the various regions that comprise the Seven Kingdoms, with the goal of capturing enough support to claim the Iron Throne.

In 2004 A Game of Thrones won the Origins Award for Best Traditional Board Game of 2003.

The goal of the game is to be the first to control a specific number of cities and strongholds, determined in advance by the number of players, or to control the most cities and strongholds at the end of ten turns.

The game is played on a board that divides the continent of Westeros into several regions. Most regions have at least one icon representing a city, a stronghold, a support barrel, or a power icon, and some key locations have multiples of such icons. Each player randomly selects a starting House card, and then places starting units, such as Footmen, Knights, and Ships, on the board as indicated on the card, places House markers on the Support and three Influence tracks, and then takes the hand of seven House characters to be used in battles.

At the beginning of the game, the players with House markers on the highest positions in the Iron Throne, Fiefdoms, and King's Court Influence tracks will start with the Iron Throne, Valyrian Steel Blade, and Messenger Raven special tokens respectively.

The three Westeros decks are shuffled, and placed off to the side where all players can see.

Starting with the second turn, at the beginning of each round, the top card from each of the three Westeros decks are revealed, and their effects carried out. The Westeros decks can allow players to muster new forces, cause players to reevaluate their position on the Support track, have all players bid for positions on the Influence tracks, provide restrictions on orders, or cause the Wildlings to assault.

The distinctive feature of A Game of Thrones is that players place orders tokens to every region with a unit that the player controls, outlining the basic actions units in that region can perform. All orders are revealed once all have been placed, requiring players to strategize and outthink their opponents. In addition, players only have a limited supply of each type of order token, limiting the number of various actions that can be planned.

There are five types of orders. March orders are used to move units from one region to another and initiate battle if an enemy unit is in the new region. Defend orders provide bonuses to units that are attacked in the region. Support orders allow some of the units in a region to participate in battles that occur in neighbouring regions. Raid orders allow a player to remove certain opponent orders from neighboring regions. Consolidate Power orders allow a player to collect more power tokens, which can be used to later bid on positions on the Influence tracks. Each player receives three of each order each turn, however one of each type is marked by a star. In addition to the limit of three of each type of order, a player is limited to playing a maximum number of starred orders determined by his position on the King's Court Influence track.

The Messenger Raven special token, held by the player in the highest position on the King's Court Influence track, allows a player to change one of his placed orders for an unused order after all orders have been revealed.

Orders are executed in a specific order, with each player alternating executing an order of a particular type. The order of play follows the order of House marks on the Iron Throne Influence track. First, players alternate executing any Raid orders in play, and then players alternate executing March orders. If a player uses a March order to move units into a region occupied by another player's units, a battle is initiated.

During a battle, each player totals the strength of all of his non-routed units in the disputed region, which may be modified by values on an appropriate March or Defend orders. Players may then solicit help from any units in adjacent regions, controlled by any player including those involved in the battle, who have placed a Support order this round. Finally, players select an unused House card from their hand to represent their leader in the battle. House cards have various effects on the battle, which may include strength increases, extra damage, negation of damage, or other unique effects. The player with the highest total wins the battle, and the losing units must leave the region routed, or possibly removed entirely if enough damage was inflicted. Ties are won by the player with a higher position on the Fiefdoms Influence track. Once per round, the player holding the Valyrian Steel Blade special token can add a +1 bonus to either side of a battle.

Finally, players can claim more power tokens by executing any Consolidate Power orders remaining on the board.

Other than during battles, if at any point a tie occurs, such as when bidding for positions on the Influence tracks, the player holding the Iron Throne special token determines who wins the tie.

The expansion A Clash of Kings was released in 2004, and added several variant rules that can be used with the base A Game of Thrones. Additions include House Martell, a new unit type (Siege Engines), rules for ports, a second possible set of 7 House character cards for all six Houses with a wider variety of effects, and new unique special orders for each House.

The expansion A Storm of Swords was released in 2006, and adds more variant rules to be used with the original A Game of Thrones, either with or without A Clash of Kings. Additions include Tactics cards, Ally cards, new sets of House character cards, new Westeros cards, new units, and a new gameboard for a standalone game, representing a focused view of the Trident region of Westeros.

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German-style board game

Puerto Rico, a popular German-style board game

German-style board games are a broad class of games that generally have simple rules, short to medium playing times, high levels of player interaction, and attractive physical components. The games emphasise strategy, downplay luck and conflict, lean towards economic rather than military themes, and usually keep all the players in the game until it ends. German-style games are sometimes contrasted with American-style games, which generally involve more luck, conflict, and drama.

German-style games are usually less abstract than chess, but more abstract than wargames and train games. Likewise, they generally require more thought and planning than party games, such as Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit, but less than strategy games, such as chess and Go. Their rulebooks are typically four to twelve pages long and playing times are on the order of 30 to 120 minutes. These games appeal to a wide range of ages, though generally not very young children. The audience includes casual gamers, who play with family and friends, as well as more serious hobby gamers.

Not all German-style board games are German, and not all German-style games are board games. As a result, various other names have been offered for the class. Eurogame is a common, though still imprecise, alternative label. Because most of these games feature the name of the designer prominently on the box they are sometimes known as designer games. Other names include family strategy game and hobby game. Shorter, lighter games in this class are known as gateway games, whereas longer, heavier games are known as gamers' games.

Early examples of German-style board games, such as Acquire, appeared in the 1960s. However, the genre as a more concentrated design movement began in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Germany. Germany publishes more board games than any other country per capita, hence the name. Today the phenomenon has spread to other European countries such as France, The Netherlands and Sweden. While many games are published and played in other markets such as the United States and the United Kingdom, they occupy a niche status there.

Settlers of Catan, first published in 1995, paved the way for the genre in the United States and outside Europe. It was neither the first "German game" nor the first such game to find an audience outside Germany, but it became much more popular than any of its predecessors. It quickly sold millions of copies in Germany, and in the process brought money and attention to the genre as a whole. One of its most famous and successful follow-ups in the genre was Carcassonne.

As far as generalities can be made about such a large and diverse group of games, German-style games are usually multiplayer and can be learned easily and played in a relatively short time, perhaps multiple times in a single session. A certain amount of socializing might typically be expected during game play, as opposed to the relative silence sometimes expected during some strategy games like chess and go or restrictions on allowable conversations or actions found in some highly competitive games such as contract bridge. German-style games are generally much simpler than the wargames which flourished in the 1970s and 1980s from publishers such as SPI and Avalon Hill but nonetheless often have a considerable depth of play, especially in some "gamers' games" such as Tigris and Euphrates.

German-style games have themes (i.e., are not abstract, but are about something)—more like Monopoly or Clue, rather than go or backgammon. Themes are often very loose — unlike a simulation game, the theme of a German game is often merely suggestive. It is somewhat common for a game to be designed with one theme and published with another, or for the same game to be given a significantly different theme for a later republication, or for two games on wildly different themes to have very similar mechanics. Combat themes are uncommon and player conflict is often indirect (for example, competing for a scarce resource).

While many titles (especially the strategically heavier ones) are enthusiastically played by gamers as a hobby, German-style games are, for the most part, well suited to everyman social play. In keeping with this social function, various characteristics of the games tend to support that aspect well, and these have become quite common across the genre. For example, generally German-style games do not have a fixed number of players like chess or bridge; though there is a sizable body of German-style games which are designed for exactly two players, most games can accommodate anywhere from two to six players (with varying degrees of suitability). Six-player games are somewhat rare, or require expansions, as with Settlers of Catan or Carcassonne. Usually each player plays for himself, rather than in a partnership or team.

In keeping with their social orientation, numbers are usually low in magnitude, often under ten, and any arithmetic in the game is typically trivial.

Playing time varies from a half hour to a few hours, with one to two hours being typical. In contrast to games such as Risk or Monopoly, in which a close game can extend indefinitely, German-style games usually have a mechanism to stop the game within its stated playing time. Common mechanisms include a pre-determined winning score, a set number of game turns, or depletion of limited game resources. For example, Ra has limited tiles to exhaust.

Another prominent characteristic of these games is the lack of player elimination. Eliminating players before the end of the game is seen as counterproductive. Most of these games are designed to keep all players in the game as long as possible, so it is rare to be certain of victory or defeat until relatively late in the game. Some of the mechanics, like hidden scoring or scoring at the end of the game, are also designed around this avoidance of player elimination.

Balancing mechanisms are often integrated into the rules, giving slight advantages to lagging players and slight hindrances to the leaders. This helps to keep the game competitive to the very end.

These games are designed for international audiences, so they are not word games and usually do not contain much text outside of the rules. Game components often use symbols and icons instead of words, reducing the amount of text to be translated between localized editions.

Some publishers design games that contain instructions and game elements in more than one language, e.g. the game Ursuppe comes with rules and cards in both German and English; Khronos features instructions in French, English and German, and a Swiss game, Enchanted Owls, provides French, German, Italian and Romansh rules. However, this is usually not the case if the rights to sell the game outside its country of origin are sold to another publisher.

English editions are often available in specialist shops, but most of these are published in the USA and usually cost more than original German editions in other countries. Even when non-localized versions are unavailable, it is not uncommon for players outside of Germany to buy German editions of these games and download rules translations from sites such as BoardGameGeek.

A wide variety of often innovative mechanics are used, and familiar mechanics like rolling dice and moving, capture, or trick taking are avoided. If a game has a board, the board is usually irregular rather than uniform or symmetric (like Risk rather than chess or Scrabble); the board is often random (like Settlers of Catan) or has random elements (like Tikal). Some boards are merely mnemonic or organizational and contribute only to ease of play, like a cribbage board; examples of this include Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence. Random elements are often present, but do not usually dominate the game. While rules are light to moderate, they allow depth of play, usually requiring thought, planning, and a shift of tactics through the game and often with a chess- or backgammon-like opening game, middle game, and end game.

Although not relevant to actual play, the name of the game's designer is often prominently mentioned on the box, or at least in the rule book. Top designers enjoy considerable following among enthusiasts of German games. For this reason, the name "designer games" is often offered as a description of the genre.

There are many German companies producing board games, such as Hans im Glück and Goldsieber. Often German producers will try to establish a line of similar games, such as Kosmos's two-player card game series or Alea's big box line.

The rights to sell the game in English are often sold to separate companies. Some try to change the game as little as possible, such as Rio Grande Games. Others, including Mayfair Games, substantially change the visual design of the game, and sometimes the rules as well.

The most prestigious German board game award is the Spiel des Jahres ("game of the year"). The award is very family-oriented. Shorter, more approachable games such as Ticket to Ride and Elfenland are usually preferred by the committee that gives out the award. In contrast, the Deutscher Spiele Preis ("German game prize") is often awarded to games that are more complex and strategic, such as Puerto Rico. In many years, however, there is one game with broad enough appeal to win both awards.

Xbox Live Arcade has included popular games from the genre, with Catan being released to strong sales on May 13, 2007 and Carcassonne being released on June 27, 2007. Lost Cities soon followed. Alhambra was due to follow later in 2007 until being cancelled and Puerto Rico is also a rumoured addition.

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Source : Wikipedia