Blog: Opinionated Gamers

The new web site about boardgames with interviews, reviews and “opinion” articles


The Art of Design: interviews to game designers – #25 Paolo Mori

Here I’m again after a long stop. Organizing PLAY: The Games Festival becomes years after years more time demanding and dry up all my free time.

I hope to be able to start post again with regularity on Opinionated Gamers. Here my interview to Paolo Mori, a friend and on of the most interesting Italian designers. Paolo ha designed more than 10 games starting with UR in 2006. The three best rated Mori’s games are Vasco da Gama, Libertalia and Augustus, that got a nomination in the 2013 Spiele de Jahres.

Paolo is an Italian designer colleccting ispiration both from German and American designing school. I’m not sure hot to collocate Paolo, he told me “while a great mechanic can stand and live without a good theme, the opposite is not true” but also “there are several themes I really like, so as soon as I have a mechanic in mind, I try to match it with one of these themes I would love to dive into“.

On my interview to discover Paolo Mori’s designing style! Continue


Super Fantasy: A New Star in the Dungeon Crawling Genre?

It looks like the Dungeon Crawler genre is an endless mine for game designers. From HeroQuest (next year will be the 25th anniversary) to Warhammer Quest, real milestones, and the most recent Descent, Dungeon Venture or Mice and Mystics.

Of course the full list will be really long and it is not the intent of this article. What I think it is still missing is a real introductory game that can be played by kids but also challenging and enjoyable for adults/gamers. LEGO gone in this direction with the HEROICA series but, unlucky, decided to stop the production and anyway the rules were too much simple and lucky-driven for be real of interest for gamers.

Red Glove will present this year Super Fantasy, a game from Marco Valtriani, that try to fill this gap between complex Dungeon Crawl and too much simple roll-and-move. They idea is a game that can be scalable in complexity having some introductory scenarios but also challenges for real gamers. It will be a success ? Who knows … Red Glove is very provident in offering information about this game. Here something from the official (Italian) facebook.

What Super Fantasy is ? Imagine the classic fantasy dungeon crawler, with heroes, monsters and a mission to accomplish … now imagine hordes of monsters that invade this dungeon, hundreds of them, while your characters acquire awareness and extreme coolness. Mix everything with magic, special abilities, and you will have as a result of the first hack’n'slash table 100% Made in Italy.

News from Italy: Asterion Gaming Days and much more

Since BGG News is starting his usual pre-Essen rush I decided to move here for a while my News from Italy Column. I’ll try to post twice every months updates and comments on what’s happening here in Italy: events, new releases, previews, small reviews and everything I find enough enteresting also for an international audience. This first issue is mostly about Italian events. The next one will be on Essen releases.

Asterion_400BAsterion Press, one of the most active Italian companies (you can look here their impressive catalog and the planned releases) organize the first edition of the Asterion Gaming Days, a three days convention all about Asterion games.

For the Italian market it is really something new. The convention will take place in September from Friday 13 evening to Sunday 15 at the Admiral Park Hotel, near Bologna. All the gamers attending the Con will get special gifts (promo materials from Asterion).

The access to the event is free (of course you need to pay the room and food if you want to sleep/eat at the Hotel).

Father in the Messe: Top 10

Here we are with our last report of the Father in the Messe series. We really hope you liked mine and Caterina report of this convention. If you are a father gamer I really suggest you to think about attending a Convention together with your sons. Maybe it could be Vienna Spielefest or PLAY: The Games Festival (in this case you, for sure, will meet me and Caterina!).

Of course me and Caterina play games all the year and I hope to be able to post some more reports and reviews of the games (bought or received from publishers) we played: here, if something of interest for all or somewhere else (maybe on my blog or BGG) if something already seen here.

It is now time of lists, results, GeekBuzz, Fairyplay … so here our top 10 (actually my top 10 and Caterina top 7 … asking why she says “this are the games I would like in my top 10″ and I wasn’t able to change her decision, not asserting that, usually, a top 10 is made of 10 games … anyway in the end I added the 3 games she ranked higher during the Messe … but only the first 7 are really in Caterina’s top 10! Crazy!).


Father in the Messe: the day after

Hi all,

me and Caterina are back home safe. Was a great Essen 2012. Of course we are been able to only scratch the surface of the iceberg of the Essen release and we have still a lot to play.

Tomorrow we will publish our Essen top 10.

I have also edited the past articles adding titles and making some small editing (but don’t worry, they are still wrote in Ligish and not in real current English!)

Father in the Messe Day 1
Father in the Messe Day 2
Father in the Messe Day 3

Despite the fact I write about games for, the Italian greatest portal and web-site about sci-fiction (here my preview article of Essen sci-fiction releases) I wasn’t able to play any sci-fi games during the Spiele because Caterina really likes Fantasy but she is not interested in sci-fi … too bad!

Father in the Messe: Day 3

Dear gamers, our story in Essen is come to the end.

Tomorrow (Sunday) I and Caterina will have to take our flight back home (if we will be able to store all the games in our suitcases!).

Maybe we will be here again next year. If you liked this report and would know a more detailed opinion about this games and/or other games write us at or drop an email to Dale (my editor here in and ask about me!

Card City – Ludibay

It was the last day but I and Caterina really played a lot, starting from early in the morning when you went to Card City booth. The game is a strategic game about the building of a town where you have to build commercial areas (to earn money) and residential areas (to earn VPs) as much bigger as possible.

During your turn you have to draw cards from a deck twice the number of players in play. Then you have to arrange in stacks of two cards each and the player to the left will start to choose. The buildings (cards) have to be placed on your city that could occupy a hypothetical 5×5 grid. There are some easy to learn rules: you need Industries to make big cities; commercial areas will give you money and residential points. There are also Leisure cards (needed to evolve residential and parking cards.
The evolve phase is the core of the game: if you have more Leisure adjacent to a residential area than the actual number of cards in that area it evolves and you can add a residential to the area. Commercial do the same with residential. Finally you need to build orthogonally to an already evolved building.

Father in the Messe: Day 2

(Italiano) Hallo gamers. Here we are with the report of our second day of gaming. Today I have had to attend both the International Gamers Awards Committee lunch and also the presentation, so we are not been able to play as much as we (especially Caterina) would like but I think we got a good performance anyway.

The real problem is that Essen is also the opportunity for me to meet peoples I’m using to see just once every year and sometime (too often, according to Caterina point of view) I stop gaming to talk a bit.

Twin Tin Bots – Flatlined Games

Today I also discovered there is a kickstarter project I was not aware of, Twin Tin Bots: it is a new Philippe Keyartes game resembling RoboRally and since I’m totally crazy for RoboRally it looks promising. I know the kickstarter campaign will end the 15 of November so I’ll rush for it as soon as I’ll be back in Italy. Eric from Flatlined Games told me that the game will see the light anyway but without reaching the needed money with Kickstarter it will take more than one year. If you light the idea of a Philippe Keyartes game with robot and programmed movement that can be easily played in just one hour this one is for you!


Father in the Messe: Day 1

Today we wake up early to be able to be in the Spiele at opening time, 9:00 for press-tickets owners. First all we make a quick tour in the press room to take our press kit: the usual book and some press information including a list of personalities attending the fair.

Trivitia – Trivitar

We started with Trivitia by Trivitar. A game mixing dexterity and trivia. You have some wooden piece to place on a wooden basement (different basement’s shapes for different games). During your turn you just roll a die. On 1-4 you have to answer a question from a card. (Every card has 4 questions and the number you roll indicate the question). If you get the green face is like you got the right answer and if you got the red face is like giving the wrong answer. This make you place one of your pieces or have to place someone else piece, building a sort of tower/pile. When the pile collapse the player with less piece still in front of him is the winner. A nice variation of trivia but, still a trivia: I think could be nice for people liking trivia games but I’m not in this group.

Father in the Messe: Day 0

Here i start a series of articles published on about the experience with my daughter Caterina at Essen Spiele 2012

Father in the Messe: Day 0

Here again with my Father in the Messe story: my special report about being in Essen with a kid (actually a 11 years old daughter).

Me and Caterina finally arrived in Essen. Too late to play something or to access the fair for the wednesday show … just the time to eat something at Istra Restourant (really close to the Jung hotel where we are lodged) and than ready to sleep.

Microfigure Gandalf The Hobbit LEGO Games

Essen Preview #33: HEROICA Ilrion and The Hobbit (LEGO Games)

I’m continuing in this previews of games that will be released at Essen or close to Essen. I’m not sure if LEGO will attend the spiel this year but I’m sure there are two new LEGO Games in the market: HEROICA Ilrion and The Hobbit: an unexpected journey.

As most of you already know LEGO is releasing sets related to Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit licenses and one of this set is a new LEGO Game.

HEROICA: Ilrion, on the other hand, is the 5th chapter, in the HEROICA saga.

Since I’m working as consultant from LEGO Italia from September 2010 I have got both games as soon as it was possible and here is my impressions. For Italian speaking people there are already the two video tutorials available on


Essen Preview #32: Tahiti and War of the Ring: Lords of Middle Earth Rules Preview

I know that we are all in the Essen frenzy, trying to read rules, previews, reviews, press-release in the desperate need to understand how to best spend our time and money in Essen with the (sadly) absolute certainty to not be able to go back with everything we want, the (sadly) awareness will be back home with much more inutility than needed and with the fear to miss the game all other gamers will have and talk about in the next weeks.

People not attending Essen can live this day with a big amount of ill-concealed envy and much less stress.

Here my quick impressions, just reading the rules, of some games: hoping it could help other gamers in their choices.

To optimize the time here the list of the games I’m talking about in this article: so you can just go beyond if not interested:

Tahiti from Minion Games
War of the Ring: Lord of Middle Earth from Ares Games

Opinionated Gamers

Essen Preview #10 – Games from Italian companies part 2

Here the list in alphabetical order of the other Italian companies offered my some delights on their Essen releases. You can read the first part of this list here. Of course, I’m sure, there will be some misses but some publishers are not so happy to share their secrets or are not sure gamers are so thirsty of news about the Essen release to be able to orient in the huge amount of Essen novelties.

Opinionated Gamers

Essen Preview #9 – Games from Italian companies part 1

As member of a Memoir’44 minor country (Italy) I’m lucky enough to have the possibility to have contacts with almost all the publishers and be aware of almost all the Italian release scheduled for Essen. I’m starting with publishers because, luckily, a lot of Italian designers are in theese days publishing games also for foreign companies.

In this first part of my huge preview I’ll just post the list of games Italians companies are going to release with some informations and the level of details I will able to offer in the next articles. So it is an introductory/index article.


The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #19 – Donald X. Vaccarino

(Italiano) Donald X. Vaccarino, per chi non lo conoscesse, è l’autore di Dominion, gioco da tavolo che nel 2008 ha davvero spopolato aggiudicandosi tantissimi riconoscimenti internazionali tra cui spiccano, nel 2009, lo Spiel des Jahres (SDJ) e ll Deutscher Spiele Preis (DSP), e i due maggiori riconoscimenti nazionali, il Best of Show (BoS) e la nomination trai i 10 titoli de La Ludoteca Ideale.

Dominion è il gioco che ha avuto il pregio portare nel mondo del gioco da tavolo un meccanismo già noto da anni nel mondo dei giochi di carte collezionabili, ovvero quello del deck-building (costruzione del mazzo). Ogni giocatore inizia la partita con un mazzo di carte che man mano cresce: ogni turno i giocatori pescano carte dal loro mazzo e possono fare azioni in base alle carte pescate. Di fatto la costituzione del mazzo (quante carte e di che tipo) determina le possibili azioni che un giocatore può fare ne proprio turno di gioco. La strategia sta tanto nell’utilizzare bene le carte che uno ha in mano quanto nel costruire, durante la partita, il proprio mazzo.


Andrea Chiarvesio

The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #18 – Andrea Chiarvesio

This time it was less than a month from my last interview and I’m also working on 3-4 more interviews. Of course the number of designers working on the game market since long time willing to be interviewed is not so huge and I’m starting to have problems finding new victims for my pencil. Of course Italians are much more easy for me to find and they have less possibility to avoid my long-winded curiosity. So, today I’m going to present you Andrea Chiarvesio, a really talented Italian designer that captured world-wide attention in 2007 with Kingsburg release but that was working in the game world long time before.

Antoine Bauza

The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #17 – Antoine Bauza

It was really a long time I was missing here on opinionatedgamers with interviews and reviews. The reason was that I was much busy in organizing PLAY: The Games Festival, the Italian greatest gamers event with more than 20,000 visitors in two days and really an huge amount of events, publishers, associations and things to manage.

In the meanwhile I was able to start some interview: here the one to Antoine Bauza, probably one of the new raising stars in the boardgames designing with really impressive releases in the last years like 7 Wonders, Takenoko, Mistery Express and Ghost Stories.

The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #15 – Vlaada Chvatil

Hi, here I’m with the 15th installation of this series. As the series is going on I’m becoming more and more demanding with the designers. Luckily Vlaada seems to be a real gamer and sustained my hits with a stoical patience. He told me that his satisfaction come from “how do the players like and enjoy them”, so, I think, he has to be really satisfied. Vlaada is absolutely not a German designer, as you can see from the rules of his games. He told “I always try to prefer the ways that seem to fit the theme best.” and that’s is, for me, great and also he told that he has “[...]a slight tendency to overcomplicated things” that is also true, but the final results are really good! In the end of the interview he also says “I am sure more a geek than an artist” … if you are interested enough you can go on with the interview! Continue

Italians at Essen Messe

I remember the first time I was in Essen, many years ago. The fair was really smaller than now and not so many foreign publishers (foreign means non German) were there. Italians, both publishers and gamers, were isolated. StudioGiochi, with Leo Colovini, dV Giochi (actually DaVinci) and few others. I remember Emanuele Ornella first debut with Fantasy Pub and the first time for Angelo Porazzi, with me in an epic travel across the alpes with the caravan full of Angelo boxes. Mik Svellov Brett’n Board was one of the fews lights for english speaking in the darkness of great number of German publishing available only in German and, It seems impossible nowdays, BGG was just moving the first steps.

It seems I’m talking of other ages but it was just less then 10 years ago … Continue

The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #14 – Niek Neuwahl

Here I’m with the 14th interview. This time I gone to ask about the art of design to Nicolaas (Niek) Neuwahl. Niek is a long time designer with an huge amount of games produced, mainly abstract games. Niek has also a long militancy in the SAZ, the greatest world wide association for games designers, now with the role of management questions about Games Advertising.

Of course, since his main production is in abstract games, Niek works most on the mechanics but discovered how peoples approach differently if a game has also a “theme”. Continue

The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #13 – Sebastien Pauchon

Sebastièn Pauchon is a Swiss designer and, at least geographically, collocated close to both German and French. Talking about his games Sebastièn says “I guess they are more “German games” than anything else, maybe because as stated I start with the mechanics…” and than again “Nah, I honestly think my games are German all the way“. Actually the only French reminescence is in the look and in the artworks.

So, Sebastièn looks like a real German designer with strong interest in the developing of the mechanics.

The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #12 – Friedemann Friese

In this interview I’m going to ask about art and design to Friedemann Friese, a designer that absolutely is trying to characterize his games with a common style and mark. Green and F are not the only things common in his designs. Friedemann told me “One of my main parts in designing games was, that I really enjoyed the ameritrash games for their themes and the euros for their mechanics and I always tried to combine this, to take the best of two worlds.” and also, “Art is coming from a strong energy inside of you and has do be done, because it has to be done, for no other reason.“. Friedeman Friese is another designer that work in the great creative space that lies between “Ameritrash” and “Euros”, trying to cathc the best from both. Here my interview: Continue

The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #11 – Ignacy Trzewiczek

(Italiano) Here my new post for The Art of Design series. This time I’m gone to interview Ignacy Trzewiczek. He is not yet a long-time designer like others I have interviewed before but he is one of the rapresentative of the new schools are coming from east europe and also a designer with a strong personal style and some innovative ideas. “It takes few months of gathering pictures, ideas and emotions.” told me Ignacy talking about the design process and also “In a future, I’d love to be known as this guy who makes games so strong and deep connected with theme.” … great! Here the interview: Continue

The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #6 – Reiner Knizia

(Italiano) Today I’m going to interview Reiner Knizia, probably one of the most prolific game designers and one of the icons of “german style” design. Reiner, like Martin Wallace interviewed recently (insert the link to the interview) made of his art of design his full-time job. Now (actually from 4th of April), you can also follow Knizia also on Twitter. You will discover that for Reiner “designing games is an art, not a science” but later also says “I am certainly a scientist who reduces redundancy by condensing the game into a few fundamental core principles” that could really well identify the style of Knizia production. The interview will end with a really nice parallel with the Platonic ideas theory … here we are! Continue

The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #5 – Michael Schacht

(Italiano) Today I have had the opportunity to interview Michael Schacht, one of the big names in the games world with more than 100 games designed. Michael, like Knizia and Colovini, is part of the “german style” school and the mechanics, more than the theme, are his principal focus: “short rules but maximum of gameplay” is a common “sign” in his designs. Michael is really great in developing gateway games (like the SDJ winner Zooloretto) and he always aims to “make the game as easy as possibe without losing the fun“. Now we can start with the interview… Continue

The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #4 – Martin Wallace

(Italiano) Here I am again with “The Art of Design”. Today, I’m managed to catch Martin Wallace, one of the most prolific game designers in the last years with a truly excellent portfolio – including award winners like Age of Industry and Age of Steam. Martin’s games are well known not only for good mechanics but also for a strong connection with the theme. Martin says “the challenge of designing a game is how to capture some of the feel of the theme” and also “I try to match the mechanisms with the theme“. I think this could really give us an idea of Martin’s “sign”. We can start the interview now… Continue

The Art of Design: interviews to game designers #3 – Angelo Porazzi

(Italiano) Here I am with the 3rd interview in my series “The Art of Design”. After Colovini (German Style) and Angiolino (Italian Style), today I am here with Angelo Porazzi, a good representative of American Style and one of the greatest Italian self-publishers. Actually, as you will discover during the interview, Angelo is really something more than a simple self-publishers and “The Art of Design” really make sense talking about his production. Angelo is also a good friend and the 1st designer I have interviewed in my old BGN series “Cosa Bolle in Pentola?” Since Angelo is also a professional illustrator, he told us about the signature of his games: “[I] think is given mostly from my illustrations, from my artwork” and also Angelo says he like “simple, interactive, games that may put together a family, a classroom, a group of friends in a funny and intelligent way”. Continue

The Art of Design: Interview to game designers #2 – Andrea Angiolino

(Italiano) Here is another interview about The Art of Design. Today I’m going to interview Andrea Angiolino, another of Italy’s big names. Looking on BGG, he has more than 40 games published starting from 1985 but, of course, Andrea is best known for his Wings of War series.

Angiolino told us “I love simplicity, clean games with steamlined mechanics that at the same time are very consistent with setting and chrome” — something we can call “The Italian Style”, that is between German and American games. Inside the “school” Andrea aims to use mechanics with “hidden complexity“. Let’s go! Continue

The Art of Design: Interviews to game designers #1 – Leo Colovini

(Italiano) Hi gamers! Here I am again with a new series of interviews. Since I really think designing a game is an art (if you could understand Italian I would recommend you to read “L’arte del gioco” from Emilano Sciarra, the designer of Bang! – published by Mursia), I will try to discover the style, the “sign”, of famous designers by talking with them about their games. Of course, since I’m quite patriotic, I’ll start with the Italians but soon I’ll move around the world. So, if you are a designer, behave! Someday you could find an email from Liga in your box! Continue