Games for the Ambitious

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The engineer Charles Darrow lost his job in the stock market crash of 1929. After spending some time unsuccessfully looking for work, he created a board game based on ambition and property speculation, which were popular issues at the time. He originally intended it to be marketed by Milton Bradley, popularly known as MB, or by Parker Brothers, two of the most important board games brands of the era. The directors at Parker turned down the game, considering it to be long, boring and with unclear rules and objectives. Luckily, Charles Darrow refused to give up and brought out 500 copies of the game himself, which he sold at Wanamaker’s department store in Philadephia under the title Monopoly. They soon sold out and the managers at Parker changed their minds and decided to market it themselves. Since then, Monopoly has become one of the biggest selling board games in history and a pioneer in terms of board games as cultural consumer products. And it was also the first of many games designed for the ambitious, in this case in the context of the most savage form of capitalism.

Like a Russian doll, the history of Monopoly is marked by layers of ambition and a lack of scruples. It is itself an evolution (you could say a copy) of The Landlord’s Game, a board game created by Elizabeth Magie in 1904 with the educational purpose of showing people how capitalism impoverished the general population while enriching landowners. In Risk (Albert Lamorisse, 1957, Hasbro), another 20th century classic, ambition takes the form of a nervous itch that presents itself when you realise that you are close to victory and that to attain it you need to wipe out your weakest rivals. At the end of the last

7 wondersAt the end of the last century there was another board game revolution, spearheaded by Catan (Klaus Teuber, 1995, Devir). In this case, you are the colonisers of an island and must be the first ones to win ten points by founding towns and building roads. To do that you need to dispose of certain materials that can only be accessed by those who can acquire them or by those who are ambitious and barter them with other players or sell them at prices that are worthy of being described as usury. The issue of ambition is also present in 7 Wonders (Antoine Bauza, 2010, Asmodee), another recent prize-winning game. In it you have to build a wonder by combining the arts, the sciences and industry while, of course, imposing oneself militarily on one’s adversaries.

Twilight Struggle-bodegonOne of the most fertile fields for the ambitious is politics and there are many games that deal with it. For example, in Campaign Manager 2008 (Christian Leonhard and Jason Matthews, 2009, Gen-x Games) we can choose whether to direct the campaign of Obama or McCain, while in Cold War (Sébastien Gigaudaut and David Rakoto, 2007, Edge Entertainment) and Twilight Struggle (Ananda Gupta Jason and Matthews, 2010, Devir) we must control the Europe of the cold war period. In the game 1714: el cas dels catalans (Ivan Prat, 2014, Devir), political ambition drives us to support one of the powers carving up 18th century Europe. A different case is that of Coup (Rikki Tahta, 2013, Zacatrus), since the gameplay is based on dialogues and political intrigue takes on a new dimension since the players have to betray themselves in order to achieve their goals.

Juego de tronosIn recent years, board games have allowed the fans of series to live the experiences of their heroes. One of the most obvious cases of that is A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Christian T. Petersen, 2011, Edge Entertainment), in which one must take control of the houses of Westeros in order to obtain the prized iron throne. Luckily, not all great successes are grounded in ambition. Moreover, the good news for the unambitious is that we are now living the third revolution in board games, encapsulated by a powerful storyline that goes beyond a game and cooperation between players.

This article was published in RAR, a newspaper supplement of the Diari Ara

 

La arena de Tash-Kalar

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La arena de Tash-Kalar amb una imatge de la Luisa Vera

Tash-Kalar, és un joc d’estratègia creat per Vlaada Chvátil i editat al nostre país per Zacatrus. A més de la seva originalitat en el plantejament, destaca que l’explicació del joc és a la mateixa primera partida. Al suplement Estils de vida de La Vanguardia hi vaig fer la meva anàlisi.

Urbanització

Paper i llapis

Hola a tots!, quin mon aquest de les urbanitzacions… De fet, fent un volt amb bicicleta per les urbanitzacions del Baix Llobregat nord vaig quedar-me parat de com s’incrusten en el medi sense cap escrúpol i es que ho sento, però em declaro ferm defensor del medi. Això si, jugar m’encanta, i segur que us agradarà aquest joc tant senzill que no deixa de ser una variant d’un joc molt conegut que consisteix en fer quadrats. Aquest es diu precisament urbanització.

L’estany de les granotes

Paper i llapis

Sé que és dur la tornada a la rutina després de gaudir d’uns dies de vacances, però tots sabem que no hi ha més remei i que realment, tornar-hi és del millor que ens pot passar. Dit això, i per remarcar aquelles coses petites que tant valor tenen us vull parlar d’un joc que va ser la sobretaula del dilluns de mona passat. En acabar el dinar copiós vam agafar un paper i un llapis i ens vam posar a jugar a l’estany de les granotes.

Trio

Paper i llapis

Molt bon dia! Estic molt content perquè ha arribat la primavera!, i es que amb el bon temps m’encanta sortir amb els amics a les terrasses per fer uns beures i, perquè no, unes partides a algun joc ben fàcil i senzill.
El que us explico avui és un joc super ràpid per poder jugar on sigui amb una altra persona. Sembla molt senzill, però quan aneu agafant el truc, veureu quin mal de cap alhora de col·locar números.

Zoquete!

Paper i llapis
Hola a tothom!! Aquests dies de pluja ens han deixat, si més no, retencions de tota mena al transport públic. Sort que vaig preparat amb alguna cosa al cap per fer-ho menys pesat…
El cas és que esperant un bus (no direm la companyia) vaig coincidir amb un gran personatge amb el que vaig compartir algunes classes a l’institut. Ell fa la seva en el món comercial bancari i quan li vaig explicar a que em dedico va demanar-me un joc per suportar l’espera i recordar aquells jocs de paper i llapis que fèiem de més joves. Un zoquete per recordar vells temps.

Duolitari

Paper i llapis, Per jugar

Hola!! El cansament mental m’ha portat a buscar parella de joc per fer una molt bona adaptació del joc del solitari. Es tracta d’un bon repte competitiu on penses l’estratègia i l’altre jugador ha d’intentar aconseguir fer la mateixa. I és que reinventar els jocs clàssic barrejant-los entre ells porta a un sempre porta a un resultat sorprenent.