Designer: John-Michael Gariepy
Cover Artist: Gordon McAlpin
Year Published: 2022
No. of Players: N/A
Playing Time: N/A
Did you ever wonder:
♞ What makes Clue the best movie based on a game franchise?
♝ What does the doubling cube in backgammon do?
♜ How trains are even supposed to operate in Ticket to Ride: Antarctica?
♛ How the designer of the board game Pandemic feels now that he’s living through an actual global pandemic?
♚ Whatever happened to the Monopoly game show from the 90s?
Based on Ranker’s poll of almost 400,000 votes, these games define us. From multiple-award winning masterpieces of the past decade, to indestructible classics still going strong after 5,000 years of play, these are the games you must play before you die. Well, except for Sorry!. That game is a blight upon this list and mankind as a whole.
Excuse me. What I’m trying to say is that I wrote this book about games, and I thought you might like it.
Winning streak is a book, not a game, not a book-game, a real book. It’s a book that talks about boardgames in the broad sense.
QuelqunQui’s take on literature:
Before I go into detail in reviewing Winning streaks I need to admit that I haven’t reviewed books in the past (about board games or anything) although I reviewed art at some point in time which might explain why the art style and art direction of a boardgames is so important to me.
Not being a literature specialized author, I’ll go on with my approach to books. I tend to sort books in 5 categories, that are from my own and wouldn’t hold in any library, I know J.
First, you’ve got all the essays that want to discuss a society problem, most of the time trying to drag real science facts into it, my favorite being “La Faim du Tigre” (the tigre’s hunger) from René Barjavelle, although the science used to back the fact is bogus, and wasn’t’ even state of the art in 1966.
Then you’ve the books that tell epic stories, all together, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K Rowling, Pierre Bottero, Douglas Adams, H.P. Lovecraft … Those books form the “Story-book” category, and yes I now I matched up YA, Horror, Sci-Fi, Epic novel and romance into one single category, but that’s how I see books.
Somehow opposed to the storybook category you’d have the Great Literature category, those are the books that one might read for school. The books in this category are most of the time from dead authors or Nobel literature prizes, when not both. Although one of my favorite authors is Albert Camu, and “L’étranger” is one of the few books I have read more than twice, we all have to agree that Balzac, Camus and Stendhal ‘s books won’t ever make Blockbuster movies.
The fourth category is what I internally call “non-book” books, and you’d find in it everything that is not designed for leisure or pleasure like Atkins, De Paula and Keeler ‘s Physical Chemistry, which was one of the most interesting books I had to read and study, but who in this right mind would do that for pleasure ? Don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical, I think I know enough teachers that would J.
And at last the fifth category is “all the rest” and that’s the one that is interesting for Winning streaks. This category could also have been labelled “beach literature” but it sounds condescending and that’s not the purpose at all ! For starters, I would put all my non-scientific articles (like the one you are reading right now) in that category as well as most summer bestsellers. I agree, it’s not fair to put me, Marie-Claire’s articles and Guillaume Musso in the same category but I just did anyway.
Addressing the elephant in the room : you most likely don’t have the same reference as I do in literature, more on that later.
The cultural Gap
So now, back to Winning Streak. Winning streak’s idea is to take rankers 40 best game of all time and to give the readers inside about what makes them special or a piece of trivia about the conception of said games. And the problem, for me started there already. What is ranker ? I had never heard of it before, well I had never search for a ranking site either so I just moved on to the trivia part about boardgames.
And although the book is written in a pleasant and easy to read fashion, the cultural gap I felt just thickened page after page. I’m a children of the 90s, raised in the French speaking part of Belgium, syndication of a monopoly game show that only aired in the US in 1990 is difficult to grasp. Out of interest I googled what TV syndication was, because there is no such thing as syndication in Europe. The same idea goes for how clue the movie, that hit the movie theaters in 1985, was important to the carrier of a specific US actor I had never heard of.
Of course those are only 2 of the boardgames of the list, that share places with Ticket to Ride, Operation and Go. But the list itself is also part of the problem because of cultural differences and what ranker is for a US citizen, Rankers was allegedly in the top 50 of the consulted sites in the US at some point, out of interest I consulted the top 50 website in the US of July 2021. From 50 Website, they are 21 I never heard of and 34 I’ve never ever visited. I did the same for Belgium and for France, to see if I was just out of sync or if the cultural gap was the reason. From the top 50 in Belgium (and France) I‘ve never heard of 1 (1) and I’ve visited 4(7).
Now that it’s established that the origin of the list is a trans-Atlantic cultural issue, I would also like to address that the list as such contains so much variety that the whole story might lack an audience, but I might be wrong, I feel like a casual gamer won’t really bother reading a game about boardgames on the one hand, and on the other hand that people that are more interested in heavy and/or modern game might not want to hear about children’s games like Operation or Battleship.
Now you have it, that’s the cultural gap addressed in full.
Who said gap ?
The authors writing is similar to a Magazine or what you could hear your favorite Vlogger say, light and easy to follow which makes the journey more delightful and you can always skip the chapters that talk about games you don’t care about.
And if you are a US citizen born in the 70s or the 80s there is a high chance that all the things I marked as “cultural” gap would resonate with some sweet nostalgia for you. I wouldn’t say winning streak is a bad book, I’d just say it has to be distributed to an appropriate audience to fuse with its reader, but who could blame it ?
PS : Yes, the use of French authors (that are actually my favorite) in the introduction was a deliberate taste of cultural gap to illustrate my point.