Thursday, October 26, 2006

Innovative

This time I asked the Apple Pickers to choose the board & card games which were major innovations in game design. (I added the following note: "We're looking for games that changed thehobby, re-wrote gaming history, opened the doors for whole new arenas of gaming. While CCG's & RPG's have shaped the hobby in numerous ways,we will be focusing on board/card games.")

Just missed the cut:

Also nominated:

For comparison, the top five games from 2002:

Labels:

14 Comments:

Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...

Some notes on nominations:
- as this was a subjective category, the Apple Pickers each had 7 nominations to use. Those results were compiled and everything that got 3 or more votes was nominated.
- since there was no "campaigning" or discussion between the Apple Pickers, it's amazing to me how uniform their choices were.

Some notes on voting:
- You'd be surprised what got dissed (E&T only got one vote) and what was just out of the running (the next four games after LOTR were Bohnanza, El Grande, Monopoly & Tactics II).

2:17 PM  
Blogger mark aka pastor guy said...

Here's a list of the games that received two nominations for "innovative game":

Apples to Apples
Attika
Careers
Citadels
Crokinole
Elfenroads/Elfenland
Frisch Fische/Fresh Fish
Kohle, Kies & Knete/I'm the Boss
Medici
Nacht der Magier
Pit
Polarity
Risk
Roads & Boats
Scene It?
Scotland Yard
Scrabble
Ticket to Ride

2:19 PM  
Anonymous estoote langobarden said...

I'm amazed that nobody else nominated Hol's der Geier. Wasn't that the first game to feature the system where everybody gets an identical set of cards and picks which order to play them in? Have we seen that used in a hundred different titles yet?

4:14 PM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

I think if one clever mechanic was sufficient to allow a game to make a most "innovative" list, we'd be awash in "innovative" games.

For what it's worth, I think this category really says more about the voters than it does about anything else in particular. "Innovative" can mean so many things to so many people, all this really does is tell you what kinds of games the voters play. Which might be helpful; then again it might not. Again, in my opinion.

6:02 PM  
Blogger huzonfirst said...

I deliberately disobeyed Mark's instructions. To me, "innovative" does not mean "games that changed the hobby" (I'd call those "influential" or "faddish"). So I went with games I thought were innovative.

Given that, I'm a little surprised that two of my picks matched the winners; maybe I wasn't the only student to ignore teacher's instructions. I went with Diplomacy (a staggeringly innovative game--remember, it came out in 1958) and Cosmic (which was both innovative AND influential). Both Acquire and Settlers are reasonably innovative, although I suspect they were chosen more for being influential. I DID follow Mark's directions about choosing board/card games, so I didn't pick Magic. (If we'd ignored that part, obvious choices for the definition would have been Magic, D&D, Trivial Pursuit, and maybe Monopoly and Settlers).

In addition to the two selected ones, I went with Civilization (very innovative and could have been chosen for its influence--after all, nobody is pining for a Diplomacy card game or a two-hour Cosmic), San Marco (pie-splitting, anyone?), and 1829 (grandfather of the whole 18xx genre). My nominees were Dip, Civ, San Marco, Careers (which I think was an incredibly innovative design for its time), Borderlands (Bruno Faidutti calls it "the forgotten father of Settlers"), Roads & Boats, and Schnappchen Jagd. This would have been a tough category under the best of circumstances, but having to deal with a term that didn't match its definition really made it hard.

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Dave Arnott said...

> I'm amazed that nobody else
> nominated Hol's der Geier.

Stven, this was what I wrote to Mark when we voted...

"The problem here is this: often the 'innovative' game isn't necessarily a great game. So what are we doing? Are we trying to steer people towards great games? Or give them a history lesson (albeit filtered though our point of view?)

Raj [Hol's der Geier], for example, is the game I think of as pioneering the whole everyone-has-the-same-set, second-guess, cards-cancel mechanisms. That's THREE cool inventions in one game... but... I don't really care for the game. In fact, many other games came afterwards that utilized some or all of these mechanisms better.

That doesn't mean Raj wasn't extremely innovative, though.

But it just isn't as fun (or as interesting) to me as, say, Bohnanza - a game which made this category last time, and probably will again... but, really, when you think about it, isn't that *innovative.* Yes, it's very *different* and quirky, but that's not the same thing. What other games did Bohnanza influence? What doors did it open? None, really. But I love it, and am glad it's in my collection, and I think it definitely is one of those games that should be in everyone's collection.

Raj probably had more impact, though. And yet won't get many (any?) votes.

FWIW, I went with games I really like that just felt different from everything else when I first played them. If they also seem innovative, that's just a bonus."


The vague categories have always bothered me. Though many of them can yield interesting results, I'm never quite sure what those results *mean*, making them feel kind of pointless, in my opinion.

And, Larry, Careers was on my 7.

(I also had Battleship in my Fillers list:))

10:23 PM  
Blogger Nick Sauer said...

I agree with Chris's comments which I feel precisiely sums up the "what does innovative mean?" complaint that everyone else is giving voice to.

Anyway, having looked at the list now, there is one game that seems conspicuous by its absence in the runner up list. That game is the MB version of Axis and Allies (actually the whole original Gamemaster series). While the game mechanics themselves where not terribly innovative the packaging had a tremedous impact on our hobby which is still being felt to this day. Of course, I have to point the finger at myself first here as it wasn't on my initial list if seven either.

6:06 AM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

If we're going to talk about grevious omissions, in my opinion the most egregions omission is Monopoly. I mean, Monopoly is the game that really kicked off our entire branch of the hobby! In Parlett's Oxford History History of Board Games, he talks about Monopoly as being the first "themed" game to get wide distribution, which would eventually lead us to Settlers and Caylus.

That some of the stuff in the "nomination" and "two voters" list was considered innovative by a couple people seems to me to be truly bizzare. Then again, some might find the fact that I nominated Ambush! and Beowulf bizzare. But ... I guess that's my whole point. In all honesty, I didn't spend a whole lot of time thinking about this one.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

Nick wrote:

While the game mechanics themselves where not terribly innovative the packaging had a tremedous impact on our hobby which is still being felt to this day.

This is actually precisely the reason I ultimately didn't vote for Magic: the Gathering: because at the end of the day, I decided that Magic's innovation was sales and marketing related, not game related (I'm not entirely sure that judgement is fair, but that's what I went with). The Middle Earth CCG on the other hand was on my list, because I felt that it was the one CCG that managed to blend boadgame and CCG sensibilities, and really break the mold of CCGs into a crossover product that would appeal to both boardgame and CCG players, but possibly even boardgamers primarily. Since the group of voters is heavily boardgame-centric, and specifically euro-centric, I think from that point of view MECCG was tremendously innovative while Magic perhaps wasn't as compelling, again from the point of view of a boardgamer.

I'm not sure I'd buy in to the A&A case in general, though. Risk, yes, and I realize again in retrospect that is another horrible omission. But again, we voters are eurogamers, and I think ultimately the voting was circumscribed by euro sensibilities.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous estoote langobarden said...

Let's see, four out of five games on the most-voted-for list are American games... and Chris Farrell is once again arguing that the Apples Project can't see its way past its "eurogame sensibilities."

How many times are you going to trot out this baloney, Chris?

I voted for Monopoly, too, by the way. I didn't think of Careers, but it's a deserving choice, too, and a game we still play three or four times a year.

Enjoy,
Stven Carlberg

10:48 AM  
Blogger Chris Farrell said...

I didn't really intend the "eurogame sensibilities" thing as derogotory, but look, all the games are "hobbyist" games and most of them aren't too far from mainstream euros - Acquire and Settlers are clearly euro-type games, and Cosmic and Magic aren't too far away.

But the point was that areguably much more groundbreaking games - Monopoly, Risk, Scrabble - didn't make much of an impression, and that's because we all play euros. "Innovative" was viewed through the prism of what we play.

I don't think there is any problem with there being a heavy euro bias in these proceedings - that's what most of us are familiar with - but I feel like we should be clear on this point when we talk about these huge, sweeping categories.

11:00 AM  
Anonymous josh miller said...

It's hard for me to take this category seriously when Risk wasn't even nominated.

5:09 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

I think some of the confusion in this category stems from the fact that Mark asked for "innovative" games, but defines "influential" games parenthetically (sorry Mark.) Innovative and influential are two different things, so it kind of depends on which directions you followed. I agree with Dave that Bohnanza is very innovative, but not influential.

5:59 PM  
Anonymous estoote langobarden said...

I never said it was "derogatory" to suggest someone had "eurogame sensibilities." My point is that the "eurogame sensibilities" in this group of Apple Pickers AREN'T overwhelming the rest of our sensibilities. There's obviously a great appreciation of the American games in our common heritage (and our current catalog), too. Come on, we've got HeroScape and Acquire and Cosmic Encounter and Diplomacy and Magic: The Gathering and numerous others in our top fives. That doesn't happen if we're blind to the world beyond Europe.

Good point about the distinction between innovative and influential. What I thought we were looking for were games that qualified on both counts, which is why Diplomacy, Monopoly, Hol's der Geier, Hare and Tortoise, and Acquire all looked like naturals to me.

1:15 PM  

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