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Hilinski Brothers Tribute

January 13, 2007

After reading so much about Crokinole on BoardGameGeek, I finally decided that I had to have it. I read countless threads to research where to purchase a high quality board, and came up with a list of four possibilities. First, there's Wayne Kelly's (a.k.a. Mr. Crokinole) boards. Second, there's Willard's boards. Third, there's Miracle Venture's boards. Finally, there's Carl and Stan Hilinski's boards. While all four retailers had received high praise on BGG, I finally settled on a Hilinski board because the idea of owning a unique, one-of-a-kind board was just too great too pass up. I not only really liked the slideshow of past boards created by the Hilinski brothers, but I also liked the attitude of their website, about how they make boards for fun. I decided that I really wanted to patronize their business, and am glad that I did. I opened my new Hilinski board on Christmas morning, and despite my exceedingly high expectations, it has surpassed everything I hoped for. I've played it an astounding 42 times in the 20 days since I got it, and absolutely everyone I've introduced to the game has loved it. The Hilinski boards truly are works of art, rather than merely a game, and I'm currently figuring out where to hang my board on the wall. Here is a list of all of the photographs from the BGG image gallery that are identified as Hilinski boards in their captions, including a photo of the board and name of the board.

Stan and Carl Hilinski

Cimarron - I obviously really like my board. It's American cherry stain on birch, with a black cherry stained ditch, and a chrome center. I had trouble deciding if I would rather have a dark playing surface with a lighter ditch, or a light playing surface with a darker ditch, and ended up deciding on the latter as you can see. I also like the relatively plain center. While I think some of the pieces that the Hilinski brothers use for centers are really innovative and interesting, I'm glad to have something clean and simple. I'm now in the process of figuring out where to hang my board on the wall so it can serve as both a great game and nice decoration in one.

Adulation - Adulation is walnut burl on an oak ditch. I think the playing surface of Adulation may be the most gorgeous Crokinole board I've ever seen personally. I know that everyone has different tastes, and this board is obviously the inverse of mine so it's strange that I like both so much, but I can imagine just staring at this board for hours, getting lost in it.

Almost Home - In contrast to the dark and textured surface of Adulation, I'm also really fond of the really clean look of Almost Home. The surface might look plain to some, but I think of it more as pure. It looks very slick, and I think the very dark ditch really complements the board very well.

Northstar - Ahh, Northstar! The image of this board is burned into my brain after seeing it on here so many times. It's got to the ideal that other boards are compared to in many ways. I'm not sure how distracting the star would be to actually play on, but I do know that it sure does look fantastic. It does also look very functional, as if it would work well for gameplay too, but even if this had to just sit on my wall, I know I'd be happy (as long as I had another board to actually play on).

Raindrop - Raindrop is the only three-player board I've ever seen. It's natural maple with a blue ditch, and only 6 pegs instead of the usual 8. While all of the Hilinski boards are unique, Raindrop is truly unique, as far as I've seen. I do enjoy playing 3-player on my board, just having 2 on a team against the other one, but this board would make 3-player even more fun. I can't believe that one person actually owns two of the best looking and most unique Crokinole boards I've ever seen photos of.

Frenzy - Frenzy is Birch with a Candlelight stain and a Brass center. This is the board that most reminds me of my board, and for that reason, I obviously think it looks great. The colors are very warm, and I have a feeling they'd go well with the furniture in the living room where it's likely stored, complementing the coffee table or entertainment center well.

Surveil - This board is on of the most striking I've seen. The impressive colors have definitely got to grab the attention of any passers-by during a game. I'm not sure if it's the type of board I'd personally want to have for myself, but I'd definitely like to have a friend with Surveil so that I could play on it any time I wanted.

Homefield Advantage - Homefield Advantage is the first of two Hilinski brother boards owned by the same person, the other being Glide below. As you can see, this is another really interesting and different board, but in a very different way than Surveil. I like the concept, and I also like the use of the metal posts to complement the green surface. This is another board that I may not want to buy for myself, but would definitely like to know someone who had it so I could give it a try sometime.

Glide - I think it says a lot that 4 of the 12 boards on this list are owned in pairs by the same people. One person was obviously willing to shell out the big bucks again to pick up not only Northstar, but also Raindrop, and another person also returned to the Hilsinki well to add Glide to his collection along with Homefield Advantage. They're clearly making a fantastic product if they're able to drum up repeat business in a field where repeat business is probably far from the norm, what with the cost and lifespan of these boards.

Thunder - Thunder is another nice warm colored board like Frenzy that I think would go great with most living rooms as a fun game and a piece of furniture, as the Hilinski brothers refer to their boards on their website.

The Geek - I know a board with this image was available for everyone to try at BGG.CON, and it was partly as a result of hearing all the stories of people having fun discovering the game at the convention that inspired me to get a board for myself. From the photos it looked like the BGG logo on this Crokinole board turned out great, I'd love to see it sometime.

Mercy - This board is named after the Sisters of Mercy church, which Stan and Carl attended as children, because the grain of the board reminded them of the grain on the church's ceilings. I do like the look of the faded colors. The Hilinski brothers actually seem to make a surprising number of boards with green as the dominant color, which isn't something I would have thought would be common and isn't necessarily something I'd want for myself, but some of them turn out surprisingly well. There were actually a couple boards with a green ditch available when I got my Cimarron, and I can't say I wasn't intrigued by the prospect, but I guess I wasn't daring enough in the end to get something with color.

(See this GeekList for this article plus additional comments on it)