The high spots included scoring an inexpensive copy of Santa Fe Rails at the flea market, attending the game design contest awards, and playing two games designed by friends: Dylan Kirk's Genji, and JC Lawrence's Corner Lot. I also enjoyed a three-player game of Silverton (only the second time, I believe, that I've beaten Helen fair and square) and our first five-player game of Union Pacific, which confirmed our opinion that it is a great game.
Genji is a game about competitively wooing Japanese princesses by writing beautiful poems. I purchased it because I know the author (via Web) and, well, because it was cheap. Now that I've played it, I consider it a great bargain, because it's delightful. We're looking forward to more plays. The designer also did the artwork, which is thoroughly Japanese in style and theme and very lovely. It's almost worth owning the game just because it's so pretty. Unfortunately the publisher had some production problems and we had to ask for a replacement copy. One was given to us instantly, and we're happy now; but I hope the game gets republished soon with better quality.
Corner Lot has not yet been published, but if JC pursues it, I think it will happen before long. It's a card game with a theme of acquiring and developing real estate. The goal is to finish with the most money, which you accomplish by collecting sets of cards. The heart of the game is the unusual auction process by which you acquire the cards, and the tight budgeting that JC has carefully designed in. I liked it a lot.
I attend the game design contest every year, even though I don't always enter a design of my own. (I didn't enter this year, partly because I won last year, and partly because my current design is already being evaluated by a publisher.) But two games designed by friends were entered: the aforementioned Corner Lot, and Candy Weber's Coronets.
Both games fared well. The contest director was full of praise for Coronets, saying that she always looked forward to Candy's designs and that this was the best yet. They had a couple of nits to pick (no game gets away without a few nits being picked) but they found nothing wrong with the game that couldn't be fixed, and even the couple of things they recommended changing are not necessarily wrong. Corner Lot was judged to be "Knizia-like" (which is a compliment) and publishable, needing only a good player aid.
The winner was an abstract two-player game called "Kiva" with a really innovative idea. Its only real flaw seemed to be that the innovative idea makes it very expensive to publish, so finding a publisher willing to take it on will be difficult. I'm not going to specify the innovative idea because I don't know if the designer wants it broadcast on the Internet. But it looked very cool, and I'd like to try it myself.
The next post will include a bit of news about the progress of my own designs.