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Spirit Games evolution – an explanation from Phil.
Games we play - a belated update
Games we play - a belated update 2
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Our Top-Selling Games of 2015
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Phil's Christmas Suggestions 2014
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Spirit Games evolution – an explanation from Phil.

With involvement in the games industry going back to the Seventies, we are to many people dinosaurian, and while we share some characteristics, we do not intend to become extinct just yet. And as I head towards the dotage for which I have been so obviously practising, young Sally has made it clear that I need to be looking after her, not vice versa, so I have to keep the brain functional.

With costs ever rising and market share falling, it was apparent pre-covid that something had to give, and the lock-down helped to clarify the situation. Until a couple of years ago we seemed to have found a niche offering help and advice amidst the bewildering display of new games, but recently more and more people have been just going for the latest on-line sensation, ignoring the shop. Competition for on-line sales has massively increased, though strangely, our on-line sales have held up well. Loyal customers around the world have stuck with us, while local customers have increasingly gone elsewhere, or are simply broke, or have already bought so many games from us that they really, really don’t need any more. Some have done their absolute best to support us throughout, and they have my heartfelt thanks.

The upshot of this is that mail order will continue as normal, and we will continue to have a local presence, albeit at arm’s length, which is alas the way of things these days anyway. Collections can be arranged by phone (usual number) or e-mail, from our house near the ex-shop. We hope to run a mini Beer & Pretzels eventually, and will be helping with the running of Raiders of the Games Cupboard in, hopefully, September. Until then, keep in touch, and stay lucky.

Games we play - a belated update

It cannot be denied that we live in strange times, and the board game scene is as confusing as the rest of the world. Over the last two years there have been over 16,000 new games published, yet precious few have stood out from the crowd, and many are reprints of games that are way beyond their sell-by date. At the same time, fewer people are coming in for advice, attendance is way down at local family-friendly events, and games cafes come and go. Finally, with so many games being produced, individual print runs are smaller, everyone through the distribution chain has to be a bit cautious (imagine the warehouse space required these days!), so anything that does hit the spot runs out in no time. Or it may only be available through Kickstarter. By the time a reprint can be arranged and put on a slow boat from China, the game may have already been forgotten, buried under the continuous avalanche of new offerings – or may be eagerly pounced upon, swiftly running out again. Rinse and repeat.

So, what were we playing last night? Road Hog, a nice lightweight game, briefly around in 2017 and not seen since. Via Nebula, which came and went in 2016, we could have sold more of that if only Days of Wonder/Asmodee had printed more, and it remains a favourite here. New Frontiers, which came out at the beginning of this year, went down well and has just resurfaced; one of several developments of Race for the Galaxy (2007). Then Splendor, still going strong after five years, but with some worthy challengers more recently, especially Azul and Gizmos, and finally Dragonrealm, a 10+ children's game that is also an excellent lightweight adults' game. Two that we nearly got out were Colt Express and Flamme Rouge.

Going back a week or two, Clank remains a firm favourite and has been played several times by players old and new, some new players have also been introduced to the perennial favourites Concordia and Oddville. Bosk has become established as a good early evening game, alongside The River, totally different but similarly short but satisfying. A surprise hit has been Tank Chess, I must import more of that one. A less surprising hit has been Era: Medieval Age – a re-working of Roll Through the Ages, a favourite from nearly a decade ago. Although twice the price, and four times the size, having 3D pieces with which to build your city gives it a satisfying feel as well as adding a spatial puzzle element.

Evolution sprang onto the scene back in 2015 and is still a regular choice for a fairly quick game for up to 6 players, alongside the enduring 7 Wonders, which handles 7 players happily. This year's big (and well deserved) hit, now available again after frequent shortages (see above) is Wingspan, for 1 – 5 players, often on the table.

I must mention that we had a game of Strat-ops recently, the game that started Spirit Games off all those years ago. And despite its obviously antique design, everyone enjoyed it!

I have concentrated on games of modest length and complexity, but Terraforming Mars deserves a mention as probably the most played of the longer games. Every so often a group of enthusiasts will settle down to an evening of Gloomhaven – a big hit but filling a rather specific niche and costing well over £100. Next week or so will see the arrival of some of the Essen Show releases, and the eagerly awaited Tapestry, so I will endeavour to put finger to keyboard again then with first impressions.


Spirit Games (Est. 1984, Lefglow Ltd) - Supplying role playing games (RPG), wargames rules, miniatures and scenery, new and traditional board and card games for the last 40 years

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