Board Games

Publisher Spotlight: Splotter Games

When you go into Target or Walmart, there is a specific expectation on what to find in the board game section: Catan, Monopoly, Risk, Pandemic, and Cards Against Humanity. You’re not going to find games by small Dutch publisher Splotter Spellen like Roads and Boats, Food Chain Magnate, and Indonesia.

Splotter Spellen was founded in 1997 by Dutch designers Jeroen Doumen and Joris Wiersinga as a side project. They originally founded the team with four people, but now it has shrunk down to the two designers as they continue to playtest, design, and innovate in the Netherlands. Their 1999 game Roads & Boats was one of the first games with a Splotter Otter (their logo) on the side to be a hit at the market. Roads & Boats is all about building transportation networks to deliver goods along a production chain.
Rave reviews began to roll in about the game: “If you take the best games ever, maybe you’d have #1 Puerto Rico, #2 El Grande or that stupid Catan game. Well, Roads & Boats is game #0 – the game that can never be beaten.”

Splotter got famous making “deep, complicated strategy games” and has seen universal praise and recognition for the innovation they created in game design. What makes Splotter Spellen games so unique, though, is that the complication of the game does not necessarily come from a plethora of rules. The complexity of their games come from trying to crack what your opponents are up to and whether or not it is worth it to you to try to
disrupt their plans.

Of course, this is all grand, but what is the appeal of these economic games with cutthroat player interaction? The appeal is that you can play them how you like. I love Splotter games because Splotter games allow the players to be the centerpiece of the game. When the board game fades into the background, the mechanics and player interaction become the focal point. This offers a unique experience where I can accept that if my donkey leaves a hex with two geese and a paper on it, the void will consume my precious avian friends. Yet, it also gives me the power to be a jerk to my friends when I steal their gold, which is hysterical. So I posit you this question, reader: How do you want to play your games?

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