Women's History Month:
A Joy of Gaming Tribute to
Women Game Designers
Stefania Niccolini (with partner...spouse?)
ZhanGuo is a worker placement and hand management game. ZhanGuo means "Warring States" (at least according to the game), but what I loved was that Drive Thru Review called it "Mandarin for Brain Fry." It is in fact, a very thinky (Euro) game that will challenge your mind as you develop strategies and build up regions on the board. You're playing one of Emperor Ying Zheng's emissaries and you are supposed to unify the empire. Through five rounds players use their hand of cards to develop that peace and prosperity. By the end you want to have earned the emperor's favor and whoever makes the most contributions to the emperor's cause of forging a lasting peace will be the winner of the game and the emperor's most appreciated emissary.
Stefania Niccolini is an Italian game designer who focuses on designing fairly heavy euros. She has several games to her co-designing credit. What I thought was interesting was that it seemed like she was going around the world with her game themes, but that just might be me looking for creative connections. I couldn't find much on her as a designer. I found a Vimeo run through of the game in French, but my background in language is a bit more on the German and Spanish side. I am going out on a limb here, after looking extensively into what I can access on her, and say that she is married to Marco Canetta. At the very least they seem to be partnered beyond the realm of game design. Marco Canetta is the co-designer on all of her games. Either way, Niccolini is a designer to keep an eye on for those thematically interesting Euro games that cause the gears in your mind to grind.
If you want to see more about the game, Joel Eddy's walk-through is, as they tend to be, excellent.
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