Monday, September 11, 2006

Stefan Dorra

The best games of designer Stefan Dorra...

Also nominated:

For comparison, the top five games from 2002:

The Apple Pickers were split evenly in their preference of Linie 1 and Streetcar.

Note: there are a number of differences between the Ravensburger edition of For Sale (which is now OOP) and the Uberplay edition of For Sale (which is still in print). We'll be asking the Apple Pickers to state a preference for one or the other in a later Apples category.

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20 Comments:

Anonymous Erik Arneson said...

Wow. I'm honestly shocked that Intrigue / Intrige didn't make the top 5. The other voters must be much nicer people than I am.

8:13 AM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

Hmm. Only two of the games I voted for (For Sale and MarraCash) made the top five. I have no quarrel with Die Steven Siegal!, since that's a solid card game, even though it's just about disappeared from our game table. Streetcar is a good family game--not a huge favorite, but not one I mind playing. Zum Kuckuck, though, has never clicked with me.

I'm disappointed that Intrige didn't make it again this year, even though I recognize it's not for everybody. But it IS the nastiest game ever designed and you'd think that would count for something! I'm more surprised that Kreta didn't make the Top Five. Lots of people have included that in their list of favorites from last year and I thought it would get more support. The fifth game I voted for was Tonga Bonga, which I think is a tremendous family game, but there's a good chance a lot of the voters have never played it.

Still, I'm happy because For Sale made it (not that there was much chance of it missing out). This remains my favorite super-short filler, despite heavy competition from newcomers like Geschenkt, and is just a brilliant design. And I won't wait to make my preference known; I much prefer the original, Ravensburger edition.

8:20 AM  
Anonymous Kurt Adam said...

If I had had my way, Intrigue would have been in the top 5, Erik. ;) Guess I didn't give the other Apple-ites a big enough bribe. Oh well, the island is particularly lovely this time of year.

8:22 AM  
Blogger Kevin_Whitmore said...

Personally I hate backstabbing diplomacy games, so Intrige had no chance with me. I played it once, and will avoid it forever more.

I am a big fan of Linie 1, and love the conflicting goals inherent in the game.

Otherwise, I am not a huge fan of Stefan Dorra's game catalog. Oh, I'll play them. Nothing much wrong with them, but his games don't elicit the good response from me that our first author, Klaus Teuber, garners from me.

8:26 AM  
Anonymous Dave Arnott said...

I included Kreta in my inital seven, but, when push came to shove, I didn't include it in my top 5. I like it, but only with the leader(s)-can't-score-right-away variant... which knocks it down a peg for me.

Of course, bear in mind, I was hoping Olympia 2000 made the cut. I really like that one, for some reason. Oh, and if you're one of those Gnadenlos! people (cough)Mark Jackson (cough) think Olympia 2000 scratches that same itch, but better.

Full disclosure: I like Gnadenlos!, too.

And put me in the Intrige-is-just-too-nasty camp. Maybe if they spelled it correctly :) It is cool to know, however, that this makes me a nicer person than Erik Arneson, as if it were possible to be nicer than Erik.

Oh... and pfffft to all you Tonga Bonga people!

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Jonathan Degann said...

I had neither Sieben Siegal nor Zum Kuckuk on my list, and instead included the meatier games Kreta and Medina.

Kreta is "just another area majority game" - but one which is extremely tense and hard fought. Unfortunately it was never published in the U.S., perhaps out of fear that it would be seen as an also-ran. But Medina was published by Rio Grande, has fantastic bits, and most important is extremely original. It may have been dinged because of its nim-like quality which makes you NOT want to make a move in many cases - and so can be a little frustrating. Too bad.

Interesting that so many of the Dorra games chosen are lightweight or in other ways itty bitty. Zum Kuckuck, For Sale, and Sieben Siegel are all on the fluffy side.

Good to see the middle-weight Marracash make it. Also a very original design and one of the better integrated themes out there.

9:20 AM  
Blogger Shannon Appelcline said...

I'm also surprised to see so many light-weights in the Dorra winners.

Kreta should have been on that list, and would have been if it had an American publisher.

9:26 AM  
Anonymous Nick Danger said...

I am a bit disappointed that Medina dropped off the list from last Apple picking time. It is by far and away my favorite Dorra game.

I can't explain Turn the Tide showing up. That choice jumped out and kick me in the crotch as I went over the top 5.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Tery N said...

I really disliked Intrige in my one playing of it, but we had someone playing who was trying to demonstrate that the game was broken, so perhaps I'd have a different opinion of it on second playing. Our copy has gone missing, though - a bit of intrigue right there!

10:10 AM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

Well someone most have voted for Turn the Tide! I know I didn't :) I think it's OK, I just find it very long, and because so much of the game is tied up in everyone playing every hand, you can't just quit after X hands like you can many card games, you have to go the full distance, which is an hour or so if I recall.

I think we're seeing the Lowenherz factor at work again with MarraCash. MarraCash is an interesting game, but in my opinion it doesn't quite work - it ends abrubtly and is too heavily focussed on getting single large payoffs, which tend to be a bit lucky. I like it, I think many of the individual processes are fun even if the overall game isn't quite there, I still own it, but it doesn't get that repeat draw. I drag it out every few years, we play it, it's fun but it never seems to click as well as it seems like it should, nobody every requests it again, so it goes in hibernation for another 3-5 years.

(I should admit here that I nominated both Turn the Tide and MarraCash, but considered them weak nominations. One thing about nominating 7 games, you're going pretty deep into a designer's ludography unless we're talking Teuber, Knizia, or Kramer - the Dorra nomination list only had 25 games. I think both MarraCash and Land Under are decent games, but I didn't seriously consider voting for them in the final round).

I admit that I am shocked to see Medina drop off the list. Unlike MarraCash, when I've broken out Medina, it usually hits the table again immediately for a few sessions.

Intrige is a brilliant little game, but I'm not as surprised to see it drop :) Negotiation games are a tough sell to begin with, something as brutal as Intrige is always going to have a hard time. I like it is sort of the same was as I imagine other people enjoy car wrecks.

10:31 AM  
Blogger David Fair said...

Well I am happy with the results here. I voted for all three of the card games that are on the list (including Turn The Tide which is excellent for teaching people that winning trick-taking games is NOT about getting cards). The only game I wish had made it is Kreta. Oh well, I can pretend it missed by just 2 votes...

11:21 AM  
Blogger David Fair said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Dave Arnott said...

Hey, Chris,

This is a little nitty soapbox of mine, but...

You didn't have to nominate seven games, you had *up to* seven. Similarly, you don't have to vote for five best from the nominations list, just no more than five.

We had two categories last time, for example, that only yielded four results (I'm assuming because of "no votes"), so your "weak nominations" for Turn the Tide and MarraCash are entirely on you, my friend :) You are not being asked to go that deep into shallow water, only as deep as you want to go.

As for the Lowenherz factor: I agree... but I don't think it applies to MarraCash (at least not for me), but rather to Turn the Tide/Zum Kuckuck. I voted for it, but have not played it in a while. And after reading your points, I've actually reconsidered and would take back my vote if I could.

I don't mind that MarraCash ends "abruptly" - for me, if it went longer, there would be too many big payouts and therefore less “game” management. But, IIRC, Joe Huber and ??? bought a third copy of MarraCash just so they could split up the pawns so that each of them would have an extra 1/2 and could extend their games.

12:02 PM  
Blogger Aaron D. Fuegi said...

Well, I voted for Zum Kuckuck and am proud of it. I actually think it would be my 2nd choice after For Sale. I find the play every hand mechanic extremely interesting and pretty unique.

12:48 PM  
Anonymous estoote langobarden said...

My Stefan Dorra winners would have been Tonga Bonga, MarraCash, For Sale, Kreta, and Die Safeknacker.

Tonga Bonga is my favorite Stefan Dorra game. I first sought it out because I was looking for good racing games -- but what I found was thoroughly unanticipated. I've introduced it to dozens of people over the years, and about 80% of them immediately go out looking for copies of their own. The other 20% just don't get it.

The same dilemma of not being able to help yourself without helping another player shows up in MarraCash, which is another of my favorites. Its economy is more complex and more detailed than the system in Tonga Bonga, making it a more serious but no less perverse game. As for the people who think MarraCash should go on longer than it does -- I understand your puzzlement, but after a game or two I learned that I was just going to have to plan for a quicker ending than that, and now I wouldn't change a thing.

Intrige, which I understand also pivots on players paying each other for favors, might win a vote from me if I ever played it, but I haven't.

I'm also a big fan of Kreta and, to a lesser extent, Amazonas, which I think of as being more recent Dorra designs where he's taken familiar game categories -- the area majorities and the route-building genres -- and concocted tight games in the modern style, 45 minutes of playing for small advantages.

Another one that particular charmed me was Die Safeknacker ("The Safecrackers") which, like For Sale, involves running once through a deck of cards and seeing who can wring the most points out of it. But the way you do it is pure Dorra. This was revamped into last year's SdJ nominee Seerauber and still retains much of the charm of the original though, in my opinion, is a bit needlessly complicated.

The Dorra designs which fall short of charming me include Zum Kuckuck, which I find technically interesting but boring; Die Sieben Siegel, which has a nice challenging premise but doesn't close the deal; and Alles im Eimer, which is so light that it never quite engages me.

For Sale is a classic, badly treated by its new American edition.

Medina is a solid design which I seldom play because others in my usual group firmly dislike it.

I'm a little surprised by so much support for Streetcar/Linie 1, another solid design but one I'd expect many to find too light. But it's another I'm happy to play.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

Dave -

I understand what you're saying, and it's possible I overreached a little in my previous comment in beating up on Land Unter and MarraCash, which aren't bad games :) There are certainly many categories I've nominated fewer than 7, down to as few as 1 or 2, either due to ignorance or due to too few really good games to nominate. And there was one final vote category in which I voted for none at all (if I tell you it was a "designer" list, there is no prize for guessing which).

But from the rules of the game, is seems clear that there must exist a category of games which are nomination-worthy, but not final-vote-worthy. And Steffan Dorra seemed to have more games that fell into that category, as the designer of many rather good but few great games (in my opinion). I rate both Land Unter and MarraCash a 7 on BGG; good, but not spectacular. I was comfortable nominating them, but even then I knew they were the two that would get dropped from my final list, if it came up.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It'd be interesting to also see what the BGG top five for each category are, so the "apples" winners can be compared to the preferences of the BGG community at large.

Just an idea,

Mark Wilder
Chicago IL

11:03 PM  
Anonymous Dave Arnott said...

LOL, Chris,

I hear ya. I, too, had a designer category last time (maybe more than one) in which I nominated only 2 or 3 titles, and voted for only 1. I was really just using you as springboard - soapboxing, in other words - to say to all pickers that it's okay to *not* vote for five games if you can't find five you feel are "worthy."

As for the Geek:

Someone else can do this in the future, but, okay... one time, because I, too, am curious...

BGG Ratings for Stephan Dorra
7.30 For Sale
6.99 Medina
6.83 Kreta
6.80 Die Steven Siegal
6.76 Turn the Tide/Zum Kuckuck!

Just missing the cut
6.67 MarraCash
6.53 Pick Picknick, etc
6.49 Intrige
6.37 Linne 1/Streetcar
6.34 Alles/Bucket

That doesn't look too far off, but, as Chris pointed out, Dorra's catalog is not that deep. As you might expect from the Geek, the meatier Medina ranks higher, but Linne 1 drops a bit, for some reason.

Oh, and Tonga Bonga remains low, where it should be. Perhaps if all those people who got copies due to Stven would just log on...

:-)

9:00 AM  
Anonymous kurt adam said...

I'm not shocked that Intrige didn't make the list, but I am saddened. Surprisingly, I have found that it is only nasty in a joking, lighthearted way. I've never seen anybody suddenly turn furious when they got backstabbed like they would in a hard-fought game of Diplomacy. Tery, next time you, me, Alan Ernstein and Bill are in the same location we can give it another whirl for you. I think you'll probably have more fun.

As for Tonga Bonga, I'm in the camp of people that didn't find it enjoyable. I've only played it once, so I should perhaps give it another shake, but I haven't had anybody ask, so it hasn't come up.

I'm a big fan of tile laying and connection games, so Linie 1/Streetcar are enjoyable to me. I just wish the end game was a bit better. I like the idea of it; it's just the implementation that doesn't always satisfy.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous josh miller said...

Intrige's omission doesn't surprise me; it's a very polarizing game. It didn't get my vote. Kurt sees it as a lighthearted game, but unlike him I have seen the game lead to angry feelings. Mostly though, I just don't enjoy games that require/encourage you to act like a jerk.

I would have been surprised if Kreta had made the top five. Yes, it has good ratings on BGG. But it struck me as an average-ish game that vanishingly few gamers will be playing a couple years down the road. For me it didn't even earn a second play.

The one that really did surprise me was Land Unter/Zum Kuckuck/etc. I've played this two or three times, and found it to be overlong and uninvolving each time. Perhaps it appeals to the avowed luck-avoiders more than other games in the genre, since most of these simultaneous card play games are very, very chaotic.

I voted for the only five Dorra games that see regular table time around here: Die Sieben Siegel, Marracash, For Sale, Medina, and Hick Hack/Pick Picknic. Linie 1 also sees a bit of play, and would have been my next choice.

11:13 AM  

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