Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Missing Franz-Benno Delonge

It’s been about ten years now but I still get bummed when I think about Franz-Benno Delonge passing away.

It’s not just because he designed a number of games that have really done well for me. It’s because he was only fifty so I really have to wonder what else he could have made. It’s very sad when a creator dies at an old age and you have a sense of completed body of work but it’s a different sad when they die young. (I feel the same way about Roger Zelazny)

I honestly don’t know much about the man but interviews make him sound pretty friendly. Plus, he was a daddy which gives him points in my book and makes his passing even more sad.

I have not played all of his games, even though he didn’t make that many of them. Of the ones that he played, they pretty much break down to either games that I want to play again and games that I haven’t quite enough of.

I’ve played TransAmerica, TransEuropa, Fjords, Dos Rios, Manila and Hellas, which is actually about a third of his game catalog. And I do admire designers who manage to create huge numbers of good games. Reiner Knizia and Sid Sackson are two of my heroes. But every game I’ve played from Delonge has been just super solid. 

And someday, when I have both the opportunity and the time (oh boy, the time), I want to play Container at least once.

I think that Delonge’s legacy will be TransAmerica. That is a game that will be still be getting played twenty years from now. I don’t know if it his best game from a ‘game’ standpoint but it is so simple and accessible while still being so fun and interesting. You can teach it to just about everyone but even seasoned gamers still enjoy it.

Delonge definitely belonged to the German Family school of game design. Simple rules, complex decisions, lots of interaction, no player elimination and relatively short playing times. It doesn’t seem to be as trendy as it used be but I still think it has a lot of staying power for a wide audience. And, as I already said, I think Delonge will be a great example for decades to come.

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