Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Bruno Faidutti

The best games of designer Bruno Faidutti...
Just missed the cut:
Also nominated:
There are no comparison results... we didn't have this category in 2002.

Yes, this is the first category where the Apple Pickers chose to pick only four top favorites.



Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...

A voting note: the Pickers are allowed to register one or more "no votes" in a category, which are tabulated along with the rest of the votes. This is the first (but certainly not the last) time that "first no vote" edged out a game for position.

The game it edged out, Queen's Necklace, is my pick for the crown jewel of Bruno's designs. It esp. shines with 3 players. (It's also kind of neat to realize that it was one of the first games from Days of Wonder.)

Bruno tends towards the chaotic in his designs, which translated into less support from the Pickers.

7:44 AM  
Blogger David Fair said...

I am very happy to see Boomtown Up there, It is a great game and the bidding/payout mechanic is unique. It was almost 18 months ago that I played a game of Boomtown with a prototype expansion that Larry Whalen toted to the Gathering. It was fantastic, and addressed the few very minor quibbles I had with the game, aven made it just slightly longer (a good thing in this case).

I have been jonesing for that expansion ever since. Sigh.

In other news, I fully expect Mission Planet Rouge to be in the top 5 next time. the delay in an English version has hurt it's exposure, but it is a great game, taking all the best parts of Citadels and making something actually fun to play out of it. there is some luck of the draw in it that some won't like, but it has not bothered me yet.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous henry rhombus said...

I really enjoy Mission: Red Planet as well, and it should make my dime list this year. The game plays quickly, has lodes of interaction, and is fun. I'm happy the English edition is on the way as I've lost one set of role cards and spilled water on another. Zut alors!

8:41 AM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

Again, I only voted for one game - Mystery at the Abbey. Bruno's just not my guy, I think. I've played many of his games and my reaction has ranged from visceral dislike (Democrazy, Castle) to acceptance (Diamant), so at this point I usually just don't play his games. Citadelles as a weird case, in that I think the game is really awful if you aren't careful about the configuration. Too many players can make the game absolute torture, and the Soldier can cause problems, so the Fantasy Flight version which gives you some variant roles help too. When its in the zone, it's good filler, but when it goes too long, it's excruciating.

Mystery at the Abbey, though, I rather like. It's still got the Faidutti trademark of meaningless and gratuitous randomness, but it's still a clever spin on classic deduction games, it's got a very nice theme (sometime his games mistake powerful, random special power cards with flavor text for theme), and it's a Faidutti game I genuinely liked.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Kevin_Whitmore said...

For me and mine, Citadels has been Bruno Faidutti's most successful game. But I vastly prefer it as a 2-3 player game. With a large group Citadels starts to drag, and the ability to lose one or more turns in a row during a slow game is frustrating.

I like Mystery of the Abbey, it is lavishly produced, it harkens to the movie, "Name of the Rose", and despite the chaos there is some deduction to be done.

I enjoy Knightmare Chess excatly because of the chaos built into the design. Chess is so rigidly tied to player skill that a variant where luck and unanticipated events dominate is refreshing. However, I think Knightmare Chess is best enjoyed using a common deck. The instructions for deck-building demand a pre-game activity and make you take the variant too seriously. Just draw cards from the common deck and jazz up your game.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Shannon Appelcline said...

I'm unconvinced of the usefulness of listing less than 5 winners. In particular I think that "no votes" covers three orthagonal meanings for pickers: "I haven't played enough of these games to evaluate the remainder", "I don't think there are 5 deserving games for this author", and "I think there are 5 deserving games, but can't bring myself to vote because some of them weren't nominated".

Among Bruno's games, I wouldn't have included _Mystery of the Abbey_, and I'd be interesting in hearing if anyone has had long term success with the game. My general impression is that every game comes down to random guessing when people have figuring things out 80-90% of the way. It looked like an aberration the first time I played, and so I could rate the game higher, but it's now happened every time I've played (3 or 4 times), with different groups.

Dragon's Gold is the game that I would absolutely have put in the top 5. It's one of the best negotiation games on the market, period.

11:13 AM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

A reasonable group. Boomtown is my favorite Bruno; the theme is fun, it has some clever mechanics, and it has a nice mix of skill and luck. I also rather like the two DoW titles, Fist of Dragonstones and Queen's Necklace, with the former featuring the innovative fairy gold system. I also voted for Dragon's Gold (even though it only got played a couple of times) and Diamant (which is nice for big numbers of players, but pales in comparison to Can't Stop as a push-your-luck game). In the nominations, I left out Diamant and included Vabanque.

Citadels is probably one of my least favorite truly popular games. I'm sure it doesn't help that I've only played with six or more, where the downtime is crushing, but I doubt I'd be much of a fan even with smaller numbers; psychological guessing games are not a favorite and the randoms acts of violence from the thief and assassin are even more of a turnoff. It just doesn't match up well with my preferences. I avoid Mystery of the Abbey as well. I love deduction games and this always felt like the "Deduction Game for People Who Don't Like Deduction Games". The card swapping seems to overwhelm the deductive aspect and the bells (literally) and whistles do little for me.

Of the other games, Bongo is a good real-time game. I haven't played Castle or Knightmare Chess. And based on the comments here, I should give Mission: Planete Rouge another try. My first game was very unexciting, despite solid mechanics and a very attractive theme.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

Shannon, you may well be right about the long-term replayability of Mystery; it wouldn't surprise me. I haven't played it that much.

Mystery won me over by the combination of good theme integration and the fact that it just wasn't as hard as most deduction games, so I could play it and enjoy it without frying my brain, but at the same time it was challenging enough to be interesting. It was the first Faidutti game that I could come away from saying, "yeah, that was really fun". Maybe not completely without issues - the cards still jerk you around too much in my opinion - but still fun.

To be honest, long-term replayability is not generally a feature of Faidutti games, at least not for me.

1:53 PM  
Anonymous estoote langobarden said...

I am in agreement with Mark about Queen's Necklace being my favorite Faidutti design, even though I hardly ever get to play it. It seems to me this game would shine as the players got to know it better and better; unfortunately, playing a game over and over isn't the way most of us approach our games nowadays, so I mostly see the potential in Queen's Necklace without having had much chance to experience it.

I am in agreement with Shannon about how voting for fewer than five games means different things from different voters. The "No Award" implication which Mark is counting as the primary one might, I can see, often be secondary to the "I don't have enough experience to choose" implication. The "Sorry, wrong nominees" implication is there sometimes, too, I'm sure. In the case of Faidutti's games, I expect we've got mainly a mix of A and B. Maybe things would be clearer with a choice among "No Award," "Abstain," and "Reject." But maybe it wouldn't help much to have things that clear.

I am in agreement with Kevin that Citadels goes on longer than my interest in it.

I am in agreement with David that Boomtown seems to be worth playing again. I've only had one chance at it, but that was enough to put it on my list of votes.

I am in agreement with someone, I'm sure, though I couldn't say who, that Diamant holds no interest.

I do cherish some hope for Vabanque, a copy of which has fallen into my possession, a game for which I have heard a reasonable amount of enthusiasm expressed. But again, it's a game where guesswork is deliberately at the center of the design, and this can only succeed if a good fun factor emerges in play.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Erik Arneson said...

I would (and did) include Dragon's Gold in the top 5 -- as Shannon said, it's an excellent negotiation game. And Mark is right about Queen's Necklace deserving a spot, too, although for me it's not the "crown jewel" (nice pun, Mark!) of Bruno's ouvre.

5:28 PM  
Blogger Womzilla (Kevin J. Maroney) said...

I voted for only four games, only one of which finished in the overall top four--Citadels. I considered voting for Queen's Necklace, but I decided that the fact that I had never felt the impulse to play it again after the first playing meant that it really wasn't that compelling.

4:32 AM  
Anonymous josh miller said...

I voted for Diamant and Citadels, and included Citadels only for lack of better choices. I would play Boomtown or Queen's Necklace, but don't particularly like either one. Faidutti's design style and my tastes apparently have very little intersection.

Boomtown is almost a good game. The bidding system is a terrific idea and the mayorships provide interesting incentives and disincentives to selecting certain colors. But the production dice rolls overwhelm the tactics of the bidding, the mayorships are too powerful, and I'm put off by some of the more egregious "take that!" cards.

Queen's Necklace is another game I wanted to like, mostly because of the large splendidly-illustrated cards. But it felt very light on decisions, and I found the constant adjustment of the cards' prices to be way too much fuss for a light game like this.

Citadels I will play so long as there are five or fewer players, none of whom are the sort who overthink light games. I want to say that I like it best as a three player game, but it has an annoying quirk in that configuration. Each round, every player will know with 100% certainty that two specific characters were chosen by someone else, making the assassin and the thief too powerful.

Diamant fills a useful niche because it plays very quickly even with a large table of players. It doesn't exactly thrill me, but it is the one Faidutti game that I would recommend to almost anyone.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous BobT said...

I'm way behind in my reading of this fine project, but I felt I had to make a comment about Mystery of the Abbey.
I can't stand this game. INSANELY fiddley (ring the bell or else you go to the 'bad boy' closet.)
At first it looked like Clue with some nice additional layers of complexity added in, but then all of that is thrown "higgldy piggeldy", to quote Milo, with all the card passing. Lovely bits and art, but just too much chaos.

9:54 PM  
Anonymous Kurt Adam said...

vcA reasonable selection of games (albeit missing the very fun Bongo (yes, I realize fun and Bongo don't always go together for some people) and Queen's Necklace. I realize that Bruno is a polarizing designer, but I concur that letting a "no vote" take a spot seems a self-defeating propostion apples-wise. If we're trying to come up with the Best X games from a designer, then we should be listing that many. If some of them fall below the line as far as garnering votes from the Pickers, then it could be noted, but what happens when those that enjoy the designs of a certain designer are at odds with those that want to throw the entire category out? Which game should they try after the 4th when a 5th isn't on the list? All of the also nominated? None of them? What does it mean that the list is incomplete? Personally, I chose to fill out the list of every category as much as possible, barring complete unfamiliarity.

7:34 AM  

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