The Lord of the Rings is not a story of war. At its core, it’s not even a story of orcs, elves or magicians but one of sacrifice and friendship. Knizia’s adaptation of the literary classic is the only game I’ve played that truly recognizes this fact. Through its mechanics, it reflects the difficult journey of the novel and how only cooperation could overcome such dire odds.
Videogame and board game reviews by game critic Erik Twice. What does he think about the game of the year? And what about that forgotten classic? Read about it here!
Reiner Knizia is not a designer known for his strong themes. Most of his designs feature only the flimsiest of justifications for their settings and are rightly regarded as abstracts. And yet, there’s a satirical side to him. In his 1995 classic High Society, we take the role of twenty century socialites willing to waste our riches in the pursuit of status, clout and appearances.
There’s a thrill in presenting an opponent with a choice. No game embodies this better than Hanamikoji, which is built entirely on this principle. By carefully selecting the cards we present to our rival, discarding the ones we don’t want to share, and keeping one as a secret gift we attempt to gain the favour of seven geishas.
Lost Ruins of Arnak combines several popular mechanisms into one game. It has a bit of deckbuilding, like Dominion, a bit of worker placement, like Stone Age, and has a scoring track like a variety of other eurogames. It’s a well-made design, even if it cannot shake off the limitations that define it.
Before deciding to write this review I played Cryptid half a dozen times. Yet, I found myself having to go back to it because I couldn’t remember what kind of impact it had on me. It’s a one-dimensional game, devoid of emotion or agency. In it, I didn’t find an exciting hunt for a mythological creature but a cold mathematical exercise.