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Svarog's Den - Board Games

Watch The Hobby, Celebrate a Triangle, and Admire a CATAN Crafting

by W. Eric Martin

• In late January 2024, The New York Times published an article from Deb Amlen titled “How to Turn Your Catan Game Around“, which — contrary to my expectations — does NOT tell you how to rotate your CATAN game board without the hexes slipping out of the border tiles. (Answer: Use a lazy Susan.)

No, instead this article offers advice on how to play better. The info might not be new to you, dear reader, but people discover CATAN all the time, so it’s interesting to see an article like this in an international newspaper.

• Speaking of CATAN, check out the skill of TikTok user hesswoodwork in the creation of an all-wood laser cut and stained version of the game. Truly fabulous woodworking skills!

• The 2024 South by Southwest film festival takes place March 8-16 in Austin, Texas, and one of the films debuting during the show is “The Hobby“, a work directed by Simon Ennis that bears the following description:

From the World Series of Board Games on the Vegas strip and dating back to ancient Mesopotamia, “The Hobby” is an affectionate, character-driven portrait of the massive and diverse subculture of board games. With a fascinating cast of charming subjects — including the “Roger Ebert of board games”, a rock-climbing board game philosopher, and a birdwatcher who created an unlikely smash hit – players share personal stories of competition, compulsion, creativity, and connection. “The Hobby” explores the value of leisure time and uncovers the deep meaning found in “meaningless” pursuits.

You might have deciphered some of the film’s subjects from those descriptions, but in case you haven’t, the film features Daryl Andrews, Dan Corbett, Irving Finkel, John Hague, Elizabeth Hargrave, Eric M. Lang, C. Thi Nguyen, Tom Vasel, and BGG’s own Candice Harris.

Promo image for “The Hobby”

• When you check out a small award, you sometimes discover a wide range of games that don’t show up on other “best of” lists that feature the same titles again and again. The Ali Baba Spieleclub in Germany, for example, has over nine hundred members in eleven regional associations across the country.

Each year, the members compile a list of recommended two-player games — here’s the list for 2023 — then they announce the winner in a ceremony at the Nürnberg location, where the club was founded in 1991, to coincide with the Spielwarenmesse toy and game fair in late January. The winner of the DuAli 2024 is Caper: Europe from designer Unai Rubio and publisher Keymaster Games, with Feuerland Spiele having released the title in Germany in 2023.

Ali Baba Spieleclub has already started a list for its 2024 nominees, with Patterns: A Mandala Game being the only candidate to date. (I concur with the recommendation, as I did for its predecessor Mandala, which won the DuAli in 2020.

• Another Spielwarenmesse 2024 event was Ravensburger‘s celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of its blue triangle logo, which was registered with the German Patent Office on August 14, 1974. Here’s an excerpt from a press release about this milestone:

Why triangular, blue, and bottom right?

The choice of colors and shape was no coincidence. They reflected the company’s philosophy: A triangle stands for clarity, stability, and harmony. Blue is not only the favorite color of most Germans, but also symbolizes reliability, calm, relaxation, and security. The placement is no coincidence either. The bottom right corner is considered the “grabbing corner” for game and puzzle boxes when they are pulled from the shelf, or the “leaf corner” for books.

• I’ll close with a bit of ridiculousness that dates to October 2023 at SPIEL Essen. While walking the convention hall on Wednesday prior to the fair opening and taking pictures of everything I’d never seen before, I spotted this booth:

The art style of the top image calls to mind Aza Chen, the designer and artist of Bubble Tea, Cat Box, Cat Tower, Shiba Inu House, and other adorable games.

Is this a new publisher licensing Chen’s games? Is it yet another new publisher releasing a boba-themed game? I’ve never heard of Label7 before? Is this a new Swiss publisher?

I tried to search online, but had no coverage, so I took a picture and moved on.

A couple of days later, I was in that hall again.

And the booth was now open…


Turns out that Label7 specializes in attending conventions and running food trucks, not publishing games. *sad trombone*


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