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Board Games by Martin Wallace

Wallace worked for a while at Games Workshop, then started designing games in earnest in the early 1990s, his first DTP game being Lords of Creation. Eventually German companies picked up a few of his games, such as Und Tschüss, Volldampf, and Tempus. He has also published a number of games through his own company, Warfrog. These include such titles as Struggle of Empires, Princes of the Renaissance, and Age of Steam. Wallace is now a full-time game publisher and designer.

Wallace is the founder and chief designer of Treefrog (former Warfrog) Games. Wallace is known for designing complex strategy games that depict a variety of historical settings. Two themes he has frequently used are the construction and operation of railroads, and the rise and fall of ancient civilizations. He has developed a reputation for blending elegant European style game mechanics with the strong themes that are more typical of American style games. Many of his games feature economic systems, incorporating rules for income, taxation, and debt.

Martin Wallace's most popular game, Age of Steam, was the winner of the 2003 International Gamers Award, and is one of the top twenty rated games on BoardGameGeek.

Brass: Birmingham board game
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Rank: 21
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Brass: Lancashire board game
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Rank: 132
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Railways of the World board game
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Rank: 408
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Age of Steam board game
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Rank: 428
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Steam board game
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Rank: 445
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A Few Acres of Snow board game
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Rank: 566
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Discworld: Ankh-Morpork board game
London Second Edition board game
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Rank: 622
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Wildlands board game
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Rank: 705
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AuZtralia board game
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Rank: 729
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Forum Posts

Legacy of Martin Wallace and How Kickstarter Transformed the Board Game Industry image
Legacy of Martin Wallace and How Kickstarter Transformed the Board Game Industry [Brass: Birmingham, Age of Steam, Steam, Brass: Lancashire]Like| 0 comments | [+]
Kickstarter Ending (4/12 - 4/19) [Papillon, District 9: The Boardgame, The Ultraviolet Grasslands, Beer Bash: A Skill-Based Drinking Game, Kiwis Versus Morality 2.0, Catakombes Dark Re...]Like| 4 comments | [+]
11 Upcoming 2021 Board Games On My Radar image
11 Upcoming 2021 Board Games On My Radar [Root: Militants Expansion, Roll Player Adventures, John Company (Second Edition), Burncycle, Weather Machine, Terraforming Mars: Ares Expedition, Radl...]Like| 168 comments | [+]
Board Game Meets Wildlife - How Catherine Hamilton Illustrated the Evolution Series image
Board Game Meets Wildlife - How Catherine Hamilton Illustrated the Evolution Series [Evolution: Climate, Evolution, Evolution: Flight Expansion, Evolution: The Beginning, Oceans: An Evolution Game]Like| 5 comments | [+]
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User Activity Feed

#Railways of the World has that big, make a route and deliver feel to it. 

#Catan Histories: Settlers of America Trails to Rails takes the idea of Catan and adds some new twists (we've played it with 2, but it's meant for 3-4).

#Whistle Stop I haven't played, but is worth looking at.

#First Train To Nuremberg by Martin Wallace has a lot of what you're looking for, and is for 2-4 players.

These would be my picks…

Scott Almes: I have played a few of his Tiny Epic Games, but I would have to go with #Claim. This trick-taker keeps the player on their toes due to each suit (race) having a different ability. With each expansion/standalone the variety and replay ability increases.

Ted Alspach: I would go with #Castles of Mad King Ludwig (#Suburbia is second for me). Nothing like bidding on the next crazy addition of this work in progress castle. I’m sure I am not alone when I say I can’t wait for a deluxe version of this.

Antoine Bauza: #Ghost Stories. My favorite co-op. Love the theme and its brutal difficulty. Damn those hopping vampires.

Bernd Brunnhofer: probably best known for #Stone Age, but for my pick I would have to go with the engine/tableau builder #St. Petersburg. The last time this was reprinted by ZMAN which added some extras (like the market), but I would have loved to have picked up the older version with the artwork that was closer ascetically to the time period when the game was set.

Richard Borg: Honestly, I haven’t played many from Borg. I owned and played the rummy variant #Wyatt Earp and #Thunder & Lightning. I no longer own either.

Inka & Markus Brand: Lots of admiration goes to this power couple. For my money, #Village is their best. What other game allows you to kill off your workers? People say Euros are not thematic, I say check out Village.

Tony Boydell: #Snowdonia hands down. It is one of the few games where the dummy player is not limited to two players. Plus the weather mechanic is nifty. I admit I wanted to like #Guilds of London, but the iconography made it a bear to learn and teach.

Richard Breese: Can’t think of a standout here.

Bruno Cathala: Strangely I feel that this designer does his best work with others. For my pick it would have to be #Abyss which was co-designed with Charles Chevallier. Aside from the artwork, the game does have a lot of neat mechanisms attached to it (press your luck, hand management, and set collection). I will say the game needs the #Abyss: Leviathan to cover what I feel is its weakest points (monster track).

Matthias Cramer: #Rococo which Kind of cheating because it was a co-design with Stephan and Louis Malz. Deckbuilding with area majority. My masculinity is not threatened by dress making. I kinda of regret getting rid of my first printing, but grad school is expensive and I have kids to feed. I did pick up the deluxe version.

Carl Chudyk: I feel like every one of his designs attempts to be like #Glory To Rome. Glory to Rome was the first game after playing CCG/TCG that got me hooked. Every card in this game seems overpowered and the lead follow mechanism is brilliant.

John Clowdus: Known for his small card games, which often seem a bit too similar in my opinion. I will have pick #Omen: A Reign of War. Game is a tug of war race that feels close to a CCG/TCG.

John D. Clair: I’ve played two of his designs: #Mystic Vale and #Space Base. I played a lot of vale via app. I did think it was a gimmicky deck builder at first (card crafting), but the press your luck aspect of corruption is quite fun. I will say that Space Base fixes what I hated about Machi Koro.

Rüdiger Dorn: #Istanbul (not Constantinople). Pick up and deliver mixed with wheelbarrow racing. Favorite aspect is the family member that is constantly incarcerated.

Stefan Dorra: Probably best known #For Sale. For my pick I’ll go with the abstract #Medina (second edition). Basically the most interesting thing about this is how each player plays a game of chicken regarding claiming parts of the city.

Phil Eklund: Haven’t played a ton from him, but I do like #Pax Porfiriana. The Eklunds have a knack for building games that can make a historian swoon.

Steve Finn: King of the fillers. #Biblios is my favorite here. Mix drafting and an auction and you get this game. Will note that is the first game I played with my (now) wife before we started going out. This game also made me realize that I am terrible at teaching rules.

Stephan Feld: I am a stickler for multi-use card games like #Bruges, but for this I have to go with #The Castles of Burgundy. Probably my favorite dice placement game and the very definition of point salad. Genius of how every aspect is so integrated.

Friedemann Friese: To be honest, I was not a huge fan of #Power Grid. Maybe because I was tired the first time I played it, maybe it was the people I played with. Played #Friday quite a bit. Honestly, I don’t think I ever won a game.

Jacob Fryxelius: n/a

Mac Gerdts: #Concordia. Honestly when this pandemic is over with I can’t wait to play this and Ra.

Hisashi Hayashi: Only played a few, but will have to say #Yokohama is our favorite. It is kinda like worker placement mixed with a mancala.

Steve Jackson: #Munchkin. I haven’t played a game of it in years, but I will say that #Munchkin Cthulhu is the best because of its alternate win/end condition. Game does have the tendency to go on like a bad rash.

Wolfgang Kramer: #El Grande. Pound for pound the best area control game. Needs 4 people to be playable.

Reiner Knizia: #Ra. Such a clever auction game with press your luck and set collection. This is a hard one for me as Knizia has a bunch of great designs.

Michael Kiesling: One of my grail games is #The Palaces of Carrara btw. I haven’t played #Azul enough, so my pick would be #Vikings. Haven’t played it in a bit, but how the auction wheel will move as tiles/Vikings are bought.

Richard Launius: I’ve played #Elder Sign a lot, but nothing else from him. Part of the appeal is the Lovecraftian lore (I am from RI after all). Co-op #Yahtzee is what this is. Game does need either the omen expansions like #Elder Sign: Omens of the Pharaoh Expansion or the #Elder Sign: Gates of Arkham Expansion to shine. Probably the only games we house rule as well. Game is technically over when all of the investigators die. Yeah, not doing that…

Scott Lang: Haven’t played enough to pick here.

Vital Lacerda: I own #Vinhos Deluxe, but have yet to play it. Mainly bought one of his titles due to Portuguese pride to be honest.

Daniele Tascini & Simone Luciani: #Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar. I was ready to chalk up the gears as a gimmick, but they are really an ingenious way to plan when and what a worker will get.

Thomas Lehmann: Much like Chudyk, I feel like most of his games are tableau builders like #Race for the Galaxy. I will say that this game works best with 2 and requires a bit of a commitment to get good at (I’ve played this over a 1000 times and I still suck at it). Common complaint about this one is its iconography.

Paulo Mori: #Via Magica/ #Rise of Augustus. Bingo with a little extras. First game I was able to play with our 2.5 year old.

Corné van Moorsel: Will have to go with #Habitats. Probably his best known title to begin with. Honestly it is an easy tile laying game that requires a little planning. Who does like building their very own ecosystem? Also. If you have the 1st printing, you have those cute handmade ceramic animals as well… or you can do what I did and buy some Red Rose Tea figurines.

Shem Phillips: I own #Raiders of Scythia, but haven’t played it yet. Can’t pick a favorite here.

Alexander Pfister: #Port Royal since I haven’t played #Great Western Trail trail yet. Port Royal is a simple card game with press your luck.

Uwe Rosenberg: Hard choice here as well. #At the Gates of Loyang followed by #Caverna: The Cave Farmers / #Agricola (Revised Edition).

Vladimír Suchý: What I love about this designer is that he rarely designs expansions. I haven’t played #Underwater Cities enough to say that it is his best. I have played #Last Will will a few times and will say that the theme and gameplay are unlike anything else. The entire premise is to blow all of your money to win and the ways that you can part with that cash is outlandish.

Andreas Schmidt: Own #Heaven & Ale, but haven’t played it yet aside from solo. N/A

Reiner Stockhausen: #Orléans. Not sure if this was the first “bag builder”. Orleans is kinda point salad. Probably favorite aspect of this is the travel aspect that reminds me of another favorite, #Village. One expansion can also make this a solo or co-op game as well.

Jamey Stegmaier: #Viticulture: Essential Edition w/  #Tuscany: Essential Edition. Very simple and streamlined worker placement. I used to help my grandpa (Avo) make wine so this always reminds me of him and that time. Lovely production quality.

Ignacy Trzewiczek: I would pick the #51st State: Master Set over #Imperial Settlers. They are similar, mainly because both were modeled after the original #51st State. I think where state has the edge is how the game will end at a set point value. Almost every game of Settlers ends with a blowout and has a set amount of turns.

Justin De Witt: The only game I really played from him is #Castle Panic. The game is akin to those tower defensive games. Simple co-op that is a great entry point into the genre. The game does feel like the #Castle Panic: The Wizard's Tower expansion should have been included from the start. Was curious about the failed kickstarter that was going to be a deluxe version.

Martin Wallace: Only played a few from him, but I would pick #London Second Edition.

Cole Wehrle: N/a

Got a good variety of plays in this week!

  • #Cartographers: A Roll Player Tale:(physical, solo): This time with coloured pencils.  :)  This is one of my favourite roll and write games and I reviewed it recently...err, I can't seem to find the review on the site. , was it that bad? ;)
  • #AuZtralia (physical, solo): This is a quirky Martin Wallace games with a mix of economics, combat, Australia, and Cthulu!  I don't have anything else quite like it in my collection.  See my review here: R0land's Rambling Reviews: Auztralia | Board Game Atlas
  • #Tales of the Arabian Nights (TTS, Multiplayer): First time playing this game.  It's more or less a story generating engine loosely in game form but it was quite enjoyable for an evening.  I was a bit tired so it was a nice and relaxing game to play.
  • #Welcome to... (Board Game Arena, Multiplayer): Got two games in.  This one is a fun roll & write game.  It's a bit more straightforward than Cartographers, which I prefer, but it's still quite fun and a quick filler.
  • #Marvel Champions: The Card Game (x2) (TTS, Multiplayer): Got my game group to give this one a shot online.  Imported my deck in to the TTS mod for that authentic feel.  It was nice to get that multiplayer synergy going.  Solo is still fun, albeit it a bit swingy, and it's like having 2 really different games in one package.  I also reviewed this one here: R0land's Rambling Reviews: Marvel Champions | Board Game Atlas  (I promise that's the last one!)
  • #Gaia Project (x2) (Physical, solo): Got a great deal on it and it arrived on Friday.  Two solo games so far.  Haven't won either but I really like the system they are using for solo.  Now I need to spend some time really thinking my moves out instead of the system.  Absolutely love this game!  The game is tight but there are tons of paths to victory.  The puzzle of expanding your empire, while having to work around other players, and scrounging up resources to do the things you need, all the while looking at the round and end game objectives is just sweet!  Especially when you pull a plan together that works really well.
  • #The Search for Planet X (TTS, Multiplayer): First game of this.  I'm not a huge deduction game fan but this one I really liked!  The puzzle of searching broad vs narrow, not spending too much time relative to other players, and trying to guess what they are going for is really nice! I might just have to pick this one up myself!
  • #Brass: Birmingham (Physical, solo): I used solo rules I found online.  The solo rules are really smooth so I think I'll be playing this one solo more often.  If you've never played Brass it's another game that I have never quite seen anything like it.  Players build and network among other players, often using the other players resources which helps out both parties.  It's often a question of being able to make the big plays at the right time and making sure that you get more out of the bargain when interacting with other players.  It's hard to explain if you haven't seen it in action but it's well worth checking out!

Good week!

Edit: Looks like the missing review was due to user error!

This reminds me of something Martin Wallace commented on in this designer panel. I believe he mentioned something along the lines of how a player's preferred mechanisms align with their personality or with their desires.

I like asymmetry and variable player powers. Always enjoy learning new strategies so that's my thing. Area control complements this well. I also like engine-building and recently bag-building because it highlights the push your elements in a way that I like. I enjoy the adrenaline factor behind the big rewards/consequences.

Mechanisms I don't particularly enjoy as much are negotiations and bidding--this has way more to do with the fact that I'm not good at it haha (yet? ) 

Co-ops can be a great experience but it's so dependent on who I'm playing with. I'm pretty sure it would go well with my wife so I'm thinking of trying Forbidden Island with her. One last one is take-that elements which I tend to have a lot of fun with but I just can't do it or have fun if it's not with the right group. If there's someone in the group I know will take things personally then I end going for moves that aren't the most optimal. 

This does look cool. Never knew that Martin Wallace designed a trick taking game. 

I haven't played any of these:

  • #Underwater Cities - It was the talk among the various communities for a while
  • #London Second Edition - First time seeing this but it looks wonderful. It's also designed by Martin Wallace
  • #Res Arcana - It's placed on many people's "top" lists for one of the great 2019 games

#Wildlands has been on my list. It just looks so good and I'd like to get a Martin Wallace game in the collection

#Clank Legacy. Super excited to get this one. The whole C! series is a favorite of ours!

#Champions of Midgard. I've heard so many good things and am trying to get my group into more worker placement games. 

I am still on the hunt for a kickstarter game to back! I am intrigued by the Martin Wallace title, Rocketmen so we will see!

Martin Wallace mentioned something similar when I interviewed him a while back. Kickstarter has transformed the industry to allow new designers to enter the scene and what was "enough" back then isn't anymore. It's not simply about having a great game with adequate visuals, but every single designer/publisher has to go above and beyond (including online marketing/establishing social media presence) to even have a decent shot at making profit.

I've also said before that it reminds me of the Switch. Lots of supply coming in from the indie side with the lower bar of entry, which opens it up to some big surprises or disappointments. I like the increased competition and supply and high quality products coming out, but it's a tough world for designers these days!