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Boardgaming Retreat [Aardvarchaeology]

Monday, November 14, 2016 6:57
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This past weekend saw my seventh annual boardgaming retreat: 43 hours in good company at a small hotel (in Nynäshamn for the first time), all meals included. My buddy Oscar organises everything. This year we broke the attendance record, with 28 participants, mainly guys in our 30s and 40s. Before Sunday lunch I left early and went to the release event for Karin Bojs and Peter Sjölund’s interesting new book on X-chromosome haplotypes, Swedish male-line descent and genealogy: Svenskarna och deras fäder, “The Swedes And Their Fathers”.

I played thirteen sessions of ten different games in Nynäshamn. To give you an idea of how popular each individual game is, I’ve included its current BGG rank. For instance, Scythe’s 10 means that right now there are only nine boardgames that the largely US-based users of Boardgamegeek.com rate more highly. And they have rated tens of thousands of games!

  • 4 Gods (2016). Ranked 4059. Players simultaneously lay a kind of jigsaw puzzle together and put little plastic dudes out to claim land areas. Bit stressful!
  • Ave Roma (2016). Ranked 3226. Intricate cube pusher / worker placement ostensibly about the Roman Empire. Interesting worker / initiative mechanic but little to make you care.
  • Deception: Murder in Hong Kong (2014). Ranked 289. Mashup of Werewolf, Resistance and Clue. Good with large groups.
  • Detective & Co. (1984). Ranked 1329. An early design by Wolfgang Kramer, who won the first of his five Spiel des Jahres awards for this game and went on to design El Grande, Tikal, 6 nimmt and many more. In the deceptively simple Detective & Co, you only know the colour of your own playing piece and anyone can move any piece around the board.
  • Glory to Rome (2005). Ranked 117. Intricate card-based logistics game by Carl Chudyk who later released the excellent Innovation. Good fun, not too long!
  • Love Letter (2012). Ranked 154. Minimalist card game with few components but a lot of depth.
  • Meeple War (2016). Ranked 3381. Light and varied worker placement / war game.
  • Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu (2016). Ranked 639. A re-skin of the 2008 hit Pandemic, with Lovecraftian horror added. Both versions are good and you only need one.
  • Patchwork (2014). Ranked 38. Competitive tile-fitting game for two. Elegant! This is the game I’m most keen to play again of the ones I learned at the retreat.
  • Scythe (2016). Ranked 10. Intricate cube pusher / worker placement / mini war game in the dieselpunk world of amazing Polish military painter Jakub Rozalski. Not enough interaction for my taste.

The Nynäsgården conference hotel has an interesting history that I got wind of when I used the basement service corridor. Its walls are hung with really good 1970s art prints, some of which deal with themes of Labour movement nostalgia. A senior staff member explained that the place was built as an old folks’ home in the 1920s and converted into a study-course facility by the Workers’ Educational Association in 1971. The art was donated to this organisation and was eventually sold to the current private owners along with the whole building. This stuff’s message is not what the current owners want to project (cf. the removal of the statue of the ideal working-class family from in front of Vår Gård in Saltsjöbaden), so they’ve put it in the basement.

I’ve blogged before about the retreats in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. In 2013 I was recovering from pneumonia and teaching my first term in Umeå, which may be why I never wrote that one up here.

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