Thursday, July 22, 2010

Books into Board Games: Ken Follett's Historical Fiction

Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth was a board game before Oprah chose the book for her book club.  It tells a unique story's hard to describe due to the amount of depth in the story.  If the struggle between nobles and clergy during the building of a cathedral in England is the core of the story, there's still a bit of back story, but it's all interesting.  It's a tome of a book, so I'll understand if you don't take my word that it's worth your time.  If you have cable, you can sample the story this Friday, when Stars airs the first of its eight-part Pillars of the Earth miniseries.

Photo from BoardGameGeek user Artax

Anyhow, I've gotten off track--Pillars and it's sequel World Without End have inspired some good games.  I'm a fan of the The Pillars of the Earth board game, which has the unique round-counting tool of a cathedral under construction.  After six rounds, the cathedral is built, and whoever has the most points wins. Mechanics-wise, Pillars is a worker placement game, where each player has the opportunity to place their workers on sometimes limited numbers of spots, earning either a bonus for themselves or the optimal number of resources to convert to victory points on their turn.  Listen, the game is as hard to describe as the book--it's complex and economically challenging.  I'd rather recommend someone else to explain the game to you--I'll link to librarian/gamer/professor Scott Nicholson's video review at the end of this post.

The World Without End boardgame was published this year and it received a Spiel des Jahres Plus award.  The Spiel des Jahres, or German Game of the Year, is the closest thing to the Oscars for boardgames, and the Plus is a special honor given to a game each year.  I didn't get to play World Without End on my recent Origins trip, but my friends picked up a copy, which suggests that they liked it, although they have something of a board game habit, if you get me.  As I'm completely unfamiliar with World Without End, having neither read that 1000-plus page brick of a book nor played the game, I'll also recommend someone else to tell you about the game--this time, a video review from prolific game reviewer Tom Vasel.

Photo by BGG user Base the Bass

Even if you're not (or not yet) a fan of Follett's historical fiction, these games will appeal to you if you've enjoyed other economic strategy games. 

I'm trying something new today.  I recently read that hyperlinks may be distracting when placed in the text of a blog post, so I'm putting them all below.  Hopefully, this made the post easier to read, and if anything really grabbed your interest, you should be able to find a useful link below.

Check out The Pillars of the Earth from the library:
Book on CD

IMDb page for The Pillars of the Earth Miniseries

BoardGameGeek page for The Pillars of the Earth game
Scott Nicholson's Video Review of The Pillars of the Earth

Check out World Without End from the library:
Book on CD

Wikipedia page for the Spiel des Jahres award

BoardGameGeek page for the World Without End game
Tom Vasel's Video Review of World Without End


Jon Gorman said...

Hi Brian,

Been enjoying your game reviews and info, but then again I'm a board game fan myself.

I can attest that Pillars of the Earth is pretty good game even if you haven't read the books.

It's kind of an aside, but I'd just thought I mention that most of the people who I've seen moving links down to the bottom still provide a link in the text, but usually more like a citation that takes the person to the

Pillars of the Earth [1] is completely different from Cosmic Encounter [2].

and then later have the links


I haven't tried the readability plugin for firefox yet, but it does something similar from the screenshots I've seen.

Brian said...

Hi, Jon. Happy to hear you've been enjoying the game series of posts.

I was wondering about the footnote idea last night, and I'll be applying your suggestion in my next post. Thank you for the excellent idea.

Anonymous said...

Previous Ken Follett books have covered such vast terrains the next book Fall of Giants will also likely leave me tired, but can't control myself, have to read it