Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2014 Resolutions: Theology, Board Games, Life

Sometimes I like to make resolutions in order to not keep them. So here are those resolutions by category. It’ll also give me a good blog to write next December on how I failed. 

1. Read Mere Christianity again. It has been a very long time since I’ve read this book and so I want to give it another read.

2. Memorize Colossians 3. The whole chapter. Colossians, along with James, is one of my favorite books in the Bible. This might be the toughest of all these resolutions.

3. Create a small study of the book of Jude. I don’t know much about the book, tucked right in there before Revelation, so perhaps creating a small study on it will help me know it and understand it more.

Board Games
1. A couple years ago I attempted to play each of my games at least one time. I nearly succeeded, only having 2 or 3 small card games not get played.  I’m not doing that again. It was horrible. This year instead I’m going to attempt to play my 10 favorite games at least 5 times each. You can see my current favorite games here: Top 25 Games of All Time - 2013 Edition. It is possible this list will change in March/April, in which case that new 10 favorite will become this resolution.

2. In 2012 I “published” my first game via The Game Crafter. Guild of Thieves was fun and enjoyable to design and publish. Now I want to get moving again on another design. I’ve got two different games, one of which, I want to publish via a print on demand service by the end of 2014. Bad Bass Fishin’ and City Builder are the current working titles.

3. Win a Netrunner tournament. This year I played in several Netrunner tourneys and was able to win a couple. The taste is in my mouth. I need more. So I’m going to resolve to win just one Netrunner tourney this year, but that tourney must have at least 8 participants. I don't want too small of a goal.

1. Currently I’m sitting at 88 found geocaches. I’d like to be at 125 by the end of the year. That is 37 new caches. This is a good goal, because more often than not, when I’m geocaching I’m doing so with my family. So good family time.

2. What would a New Year’s Resolution list be without a health goal? Nothing! That is what. So here is mine. For the first 90 days of the year compete in a “health challenge” against myself and perhaps my wife. The results of this health challenge being losing 10 lbs and more energy.

3. I want to take Kaylee fishing at least 3 times this year. She already has been bugging me about going to the pond across the street in the woods. So I am going to make sure I take her at least 3 times whether it is there, the Fischer Lake near my parents, or the river. If you’ve ever fished with a 4 year old, you know this isn’t an easy task. Especially for a guy who likes to fish like me.

Happy New Year everyone! What resolution are you doing? Perhaps resolving not to resolve anything? (Mind Blown)

Bonus: Not have a beard all year long. Okay. This isn't real. I love beards.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The 10 Best Games of 2013

Hey Folks! 2013 is almost over and here are the best new to me games I played this year. I once again played over 50 new to me game this year, so even though these all might not be my all time favorites, they still are doing pretty well to be in the top 1/5 of games that hit my table for the first time in 2013. As usual, I'll also give my "Dust Award" out to my least favorite game for the year. As usual thanks to all of you for playing these with me! Especially my wife his is a great gaming partner. Games are great, but the people you meet and interact with while playing them are better. You can find the previous year lists here: Top 10 Games from 2012 and Top 11 from '11.

10. Glory to Rome. I had a tough time deciding on this 10th slot. There were several that could've filled in here such as Bora Bora, Love Letter, Palaces of Carrara, Magic Labyrinth, and Loopin' Louie. However, I'm going with Glory to Rome, because it is an enjoyable game that I feel has great deepness in it, but quick game play. It is a card game where players are selecting roles, to build various Roman buildings, get resources, and eventually turn all that into points for the Glory of Rome! The big thing holding me back from purchasing this game is the art. The old edition is ugly as all get out. The new edition is pretty expensive and out of print.

9. Sheepdogs. A game where you try to herd your sheep to the top of the hill for the highest scoring. A unique theme got me interested in this, plus the designer is local to Indianapolis, plus I knew it would be a "mean" game. It is a very good 3 player game. You can really control what is happening, make those decisive moves to screw your opponent, and take the win. With more players than that though I've found it a bit too chaotic for my tastes. The pieces in this game are just huge, which makes it fun to see set up!

8. Viticulture. I got a chance to play this wine making game with the designer and then once again later in the year. It is a very solid worker placement game, though it doesn't do a whole lot different than other worker placement games. There is a two-season phase of the game, which makes it fun trying to determine what workers you want to play in what season. I traded my copy of this though for what I consider a much better game, so though I liked it, it won't be joining my collection right now. Though I'd take it if I could find a good deal or trade.

7. Ginkgopolis. This game has been a real big hit with my wife. It is a tile laying game where players draft cards in order to choose what tiles they get to lay, which then continues to give them more benefits. The game itself is really nice looking with great chunky tiles and beautiful art on the cards depicting a "one with nature" architectural vibe. I've played this game well over 10 times since May alone. I think I probably played it close to 10 times in just May as 2 player games with Krista. I think of this as the next step up from Carcassonne in the tile laying genre of games.

6. Terra Mystica. This game is expensive. Thus I've only played it once, because I haven't purchased it. I'm sure I'd play it more if I owned it and there is a good chance it would rise in my rankings here. It is a deep euro game with lots of options, that has a fantasy theme on it. I really enjoyed all the special player powers and how everything interlocked with each other such as the temples and the power cups. For sure one I'd like to play again.

5. Takenoko. Probably the cutest game ever. At least in the league with Shear Panic. Players are building a garden for a nice panda to go around and eat bamboo. When building the garden though players want to be sure it takes a certain shape, has a certain look, and that the panda eats the right kind of food. This is an excellent family game and one that gamers would pull out too. I'd put this on the same level as Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride as far as gateway games go.

4. Mascarade. I discovered this game on accident. I was waiting for a demo of Takenoko at GenCon and was told to play this first while they finished up the current demo of Takenoko. I'm glad I did. It is a crazy game of hidden information and guessing who is who. Sometimes guessing who you are currently based upon the card you have in front of you. Sometimes you are the king, the queen, the jester, a peasant, and all the time you are trying to make the most money. This game really shines when you get 8-13 players and there are fun surprises at every turn. Other than Avalon, probably my current favorite "party" game.

3. Bruges. I would've bought this right at GenCon, but they'd already sold out by the time I played it. It is a Stefan Feld game that is essentially a card game that uses the cards for everything. They are the buildings, the people, who you avoid the plague, and how you get money. I am glad our main gaming partners bought the game and so I have the chance to keep on playing it. Is it Feld's best game? Probably not, though it might be his most accessible game. Zero theme though. Since our main gaming opponents own this and come over nearly ever weekend to play games, I don't see an absolute need to add this to my collection.

2. Omen: Reign of War Olympus Edition. If you've followed my blog at all, you know that I love 2 player card games. This one I'd heard about, but it still really took me by surprise when I played it. It plays very quickly, usually 20-30 minutes, but offers lots of combos and crazy moves for players to make with the cards. It isn't just a straight forward math game like many 2 player card games. The art is very good in this as well, which really adds to the game for me. My wife likes it as well, which is great that I can play a bit more of a thematic card game with her, without having to pull out Invasion or Netrunner.

1. Suburbia. Have you ever played SimCity? The original one? You know the one that was on Nintendo with the squares that had just R or C in the center to represent what they were.Suburbia is basically that game on the table. It can be a little fiddly, but it is so fun to watch your city grow with factories, airports, housing projects, and fast food restaurants. As more and more people come to your city, it becomes harder and harder to keep your efficiency up, which just makes the game challenging. I've played this quite a bit in 2012 and I'm sure I'll continue to play it in the future. Such a great game!

Dust Award - Blood Bound. This game is just horrible in many ways. The art work on it is questionable and best and extremely tacky at the worst. The game is supposed to be this fun and exciting hidden information game, but turned out to be really boring for those who didn't get selected, which meant you could not be playing for quite awhile. Don't even bother with this one and instead pull out The Resistence, Mafia, Mascarade, or any other hidden role game.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Every 100 Games Series - Coin Age

My 4,700thth game played was a game of Coin Age drawn on a paper napkin in the cafeteria at work. While eating a $5.45 meal that consisted of 3 chicken strips and some french fries. That is it for $5.45!

Game Play
Extremely quick and simple. Players take coins, shake them up in their hands, and then SLAM them down on the table. Any coins that land with your side (heads or tails, duh) face up are used for actions. If all 4 coins are on your side you can place up to 3 of them on the map, but have to pay 1 to your opponent if you do place 3. If 2 or 3 show your side, you can place 2 of them on the map. If only 1 is showing your side, then you get to place it and move a coin on the map. If none show your side, then you get to remove a coin from the map and move a coin. That is it. Coins are valued from 1point (dimes) up to 4 points (quarters). At the end of the game, you get points for your coins on the map, and also can get bonus points by controlling regions on the map.

This game was just funded on Kickstarter, so it'll have more official components, but it really is just a single card. Plus 20 coins. That is it. For my game I just drew on a napkin. This is micro game of all micro games. I really wish I'd taken a picture of the napkin we played on to show you, but you'll just have to live with these pictures. Simplest component game ever.

Strategy & Tactics
There is actually a decent amount of strategy in the game. At the end of the game, you really want your quarter controlling a spot on the map. Which is worth 4 points. However, quarters can't be placed on top of any other coin. So it needs to be a sneak play in order to be sure you get it on and your opponent doesn't have time to cover it up with any of the other denominations of coins. Then there are the region bonuses. Where if you control all the territories in a region, the points you score are doubled in that region. There is plenty of room for tactical and play in this game.

Honestly, I like deeper games. This was fine, but not the greatest thing ever. However, bang for your buck can't be better. I really did find it innovative (not the game play as much as the simplicity of components to get that game play). It only takes about 10 minutes to play, so it isn't one I won't ever play ever again, but I probably would rather play a few other 2 player games that last 10 minutes or at least mix them up a lot. It is tough to say anything negative about this game, as it does exactly what it sets out to do, what it sets out to do isn't my favorite type of gaming though.

Anyone & Everyone - This one is available for print & play. So why not try it? You don't even have to print anything off. You can just look at the map and draw it quickly like I did on that napkin. Then just get a $1.56 in change and control that napkin!

2-Person Lunch Groups - I only get 30 minutes for lunch at work, so some of the longer games out there wouldn't fit. Coin Age fits perfectly in that time and is easily portable in my pocket or lunch box. A solid game for lunch time with one other person.

Time and Money Strapped Game Hungry Fellers (or Gals) - It's the holidays. Everyone is really busy. Target gives your credit card out and you lose all your money. Well, get that change you never use, make this game, and play. It won't take any time or credit cards.

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here: Every 100 Games Series Reviews.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Every 100 Games Series - Martian Dice

My 4,600th game played involves Martians, humans, chickens, cows, and 13 dice from Tasty Minstrel Games. Will you be interested in it? Read below to find out.

Game Play
Players are Martians coming to snag some earthlings and take them home. It is a push your luck dice game where you roll the dice and must keep any tanks you roll. You then get the option of keeping one other type of dice such as death rays, cows, humans, or chickens. By the time you end your round you need as many death rays as there are tanks, if not you bust. If you don't bust, you score 1 point per earthling you've captured and a bonus 3 points if you collected at least 1 of each. Game play continues until you reach a set score. 25 points in the rule book, usually 15 or 20 points for us.

The "box" is basically a sturdy toilet paper roll with the rules and 13 dice in it. The dice are very nice custom dice with 6 sides. Two of the sides are death rays. One each of the remaining sides is split among cows, chickens, humans, and tanks. That is it. Nothing else in the game.

There isn't a lot of strategy in this game. It is a push your luck game with a little bit of decision making. At least slightly more than say Farkle. This is one of those you should play if you don't want a bunch of brain burn.

Martian Dice is a game that has grown on me. I won it at a convention and since it doesn't take up hardly any space it has stayed on my shelves. It is a quick filler and that is it. It is only a quick filler though if you play with 3 or so people and only play to 15 or 20 rather than the rulebook's 25 points. I am glad I've kept it though, because now my 4.5 year old daughter has started playing it with me. She never knows when to stop rolling, but she has a good time, understands she needs to get the earthlings, and it gives us another game to play together. I'm all about that.

Push-Your-Luck Fans - If you love Can't Stop, Incan Gold, and Zombie Dice type games than you might find one you like here. Though personally, I'd play Can't Stop more than I'd play this for a push your luck dice game. Farkle perhaps a bit less so. Except for the name, love the name Farkle.

Dice Game Fan - Here is my favorite dice games in order real quick so you have an idea where this fits: A Fistful of Penguins, Yahtzee, Martian Dice, Farkle, Zombie Dice. It's just average.

Alien Lovers - Do you like aliens? Do you want to play the little green men? Pick up Martian Dice. It is cheap and doesn't take up a lot of space and might tide you over between big games of Invaders from Outer Space.

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here: Every 100 Games Series Reviews.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Every 100 Games Series - Puerto Rico

I'm surprised I haven't reviewed this game yet. Puerto Rico (the cool 10th anniversary edition) was my 4,500th game played. I've played it well over 100 times, at least 50 times in the past 6 or 7 years, and I'll tell you right up front that this is going to be a positive review.

Game Play
Each player has their own board an island and a city to build in. Players get plantations, build buildings, get goods to ship back to the Old World. What really sets Puerto Rico up though is the role selection. Each round players select roles such as the Captain or Settler. When they select that role everyone gets to do the action, but the player who selects the role gets to do a bit more. For example, if you take the Captain you get an extra point with your first shipment.

The regular Puerto Rico game has components that are honestly pretty boring. In 2002 they were fine, but they aren't cutting it now. However, I'm lucky enough to own the 10th Anniversary game which I just found out is currently going for $179 on Amazon (I only payed a 1/3 of that price). The components in this edition are very very good, with metal coins, extremely thick cardboard, art on the buildings, and even simple explanations on the building which really helps new players. The components in the regular edition are functional. The components in the 10th Anniversary Edition are not only functional, but are more functional that the regular edition and looks way better.

This has been discussed over and over by people much smarter than me. However, because it has, you know that there is a lot of strategy in this game. The only luck in the game is what types of plantations come out. Other than that, this game is pure strategy. Everything you do and what order you do it in effects later turns for both you and all the players. This is one of those heavy hitters on the strategy categories.

I love this. This is a game I bought in 2005, one of the first few games I'd purchased once I got back into gaming, and it has been an absolute staple in my collection since. I like it enough that we've purchased the anniversary edition and actually own two copies of the game. I've taught this game to many players and have even successfully used it as a gateway game with some people, though I don't recommend doing that. It is still my Top 10 games of all time, you've read about it on this blog plenty, this is a great game.

Serious Board Gamers - If you haven't played this, you owe it to yourself. You may not even be an Euro game fan, but this game needs to be one that you've played in order to call yourself a serious board gamer.

Too Serious Board Gamers - Don't play this with me at least. This game does have such player interaction that a new player can accidentally and even unknowingly ruin a good players game. Don't get all serious about it and upset. It is a game.

Families of 3, 4, or 5 - If you have kids 12 years old or older and you have multiples of them, even up to 3, then I think this is a great game for you. Sometimes playing a new game each family game night isn't the best thing and this game rewards multiple plays. It also plays very well with 3, 4, or 5 players.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Every 100 Games Series - Chaos in the Old World

With the crazy amount of Netrurunner I've been playing, my time for blogging has waned, while my total amount of games has sprinted ahead. So please be prepared for several Every 100 Games reviews coming your way. Based upon my records, Chaos in the Old World, was my 4,300th game played. So here is what I think about it.

Game Play
The game is set in the Warhammer Fantasy universe, which is a pretty dark and violent place. Players are playing as gods trying to destroy this fictional world by sending their minions to ruin it. However, they of course also hate each other, so they fight against one another while they are at it. It is possible (I've not seen it happen yet) for the game to beat all the players. Usually however one player will reach victory by either getting the most points or racing to the end of a fancy dial.

Each player has a deck of cards that are all different than everyone else. In order for each player to advance their dial and race towards that winning condition, they have to do something different. One player has to kill another player's unit, other players need to drop corruption in various ways. Corruption is what actually ruins regions, at which point players will get points for having the most corruption in a region. You also get points by having more power (units + cards) in a region each round.

Just like any Fantasy Flight games, the components are for the most part top notch, however there are a couple issues. I have had a few of the staffs of units break. Each player has unique units, molded to fit their player, which is pretty awesome. I also own the Horned Rat expansion, which have my favorite molds of rats. There are a few typos on the cards, which is annoying, but the biggest typo is one of the player aids. This I think was fixed after the first edition, but it really messed  up our first game and made that player far too powerful. The board itself is pretty gory looking, but other than that there isn't a lot art in the game.

The game play in this game is very asymmetrical. What is good for one player isn't necessarily good for another player. You have to play to your special powers. With 2 ways to win the game, this also adds another depth to the strategy. Finally, because certain powers focus on certain areas, a lot of the strategy comes in the game from player interaction and working together to control the current leader or at least the perceived leader of the game. There is plenty of strategy in this game.

I love this game. With a full compliment of 4 players (or 5 players with the expansion). It has so much of what I like in board games. Area control, direct player interaction, unique powers for everyone, cards to change those powers, alternate win conditions. Plays in about 2 hours. I first played this game at Geekway to the West a few years ago and have been hooked ever since. When I got the chance to trade for it, I did so quickly, and am very happy that I did. Now that I've said all that, I should address the theme. This isn't a game I'd play with everyone. I think this is a game where 1 Corinthians and Romans (being as I also discuss theology on this blog) really apply. No need to force this theme down someones throats. If they aren't comfortable with it, then don't play it. There are a lot of games out there. Play those.

El Grande (or other area control games) Fans - If you want a bit more 'Trash in your game. If you want that dice rolling, smashing, super powers tweaking the game, then I suggest trying this one. I really enjoy El Grande and I find I get a lot of similar feelings out of this one, but with more luck and swings. Which is okay sometimes.

Children - The game box says 14+ and I agree. Because of the theme and because of the somewhat complex card play added to all the negotiation that can happen with this game. So if you want a family game night, then go choose something else.

Warhammer Fantasy and 40K Fans - I honestly don't know. I think this might be a good game for you to get, since you are familiar with the lore, but only if you are wanting to get into board games too. It doesn't give you the same feel at all as a miniature games. So maybe my recommendation is for a board gamer to use this to hook in one of their miniature gamer friends.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Never Giving Up Always and Forever Love

This is a post I've been meaning to write for awhile. Sometimes I like to right about theology, try to wade into the deep end of thoughts about God, and see how much my brain will hurt. However this time is theology for my children. Over the past several months I've been trying to read the Bible to my children a couple times a week. Not King James, year 1611, going all Ye crazy on their heads. Rather, The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones.  We finally finished about a month or so ago and have started over again.

It's funny how sometimes as parents or teachers how we can get more out of what we are parenting or teaching than our children. Sometimes, I try to over-calculate or over-theorize about things, instead of just looking at the obvious. The past several months reading this 348 page children's Bible to my kids has done me some good. It has pointed out that despite all my theology (right or wrong), despite my selfishness, despite my anger, despite my contempt for others, despite my idolatry, despite...okay, you get the idea. There are a lot of "despites" in my life. God still loves me. It is Romans 5:8 screaming out to me: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I want to leave you with this, a quote from the kid's Bible. This is what I want my kids to know. This is what I want you to know. This is what I want attempt to copy in my own life, even though I know the failures will be there. This is Zerchariah (John the Baptist's daddy) singing.

Because God loves us with a Never Stopping,
Never Giving Up, Unbreaking,
Always and Forever Love -
Heaven is breaking through!
He is sending us a Light from Heaven
To shine on us like the sun
To shine on those who live in darkness
And in the shadow of death
To guide our feet into the way of peace

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Best of the Alea Big Box Series

One of the first games I fell in love with was Puerto Rico. Turns out it is #7 in a series of games called the Alea Big Box Series (ABBS). When we got more serious about collecting and had played a few games from the series Krista encouraged me to collect all of them. So our quest began to get them all and so far we have all 15 of them, with the last one just becoming available here in the US in the past month. Here is how I rank them and a quick three sentence review of each.

1. Puerto Rico #7 - My Plays: 51*
Not only the best game in the ABBS, Puerto Rico is one of the best games of all time. In the game you select roles such as Settler or Builder, everyone does that action, but you get a little better benefit as the person selecting it. As you build up your island with plantations, your city grows with buildings, and you ship tobacco and indigo back to the old world. This one is so good that we bought the 10 year anniversary edition at GenCon '12 and play with that one. Which means the box with the #7 on the side just sits there looking pretty to complete my collection.

*I played dozens of games of Puerto Rico before I started tracking my plays, so I'm guessing this is actually over 100 plays. Just ask Derrick and Renee. I'm pretty sure one 4th of July we played it 4 times in a single day.

2. Ra #1 - My Plays: 29
This game is probably my favorite auction game. Players each get 3 or 4 sun tiles with numbers from 1-16 on them. It is a once around auction and once you spend a sun tile, then you are done with it until the next round, so you will only ever buy 9-12 "lots" a game. It is plays absolutely great with 3 players as you collect sets of various tiles. The best part though is forcing your opponent to take something they really don't want to take, because if they don't, then you'll get it for much too cheap with a small sun tile. Also, I have fond memories of facing the gauntlet of Ra where players push their luck trying to get the most stuff before the round ends.

3. The Castles of Burgundy #14 - My Plays: 18
Maybe the ugliest of the ABBS, this game still backs a punch in game play though. Players roll 2 dice every round, select actions with those dice, and build up their countryside. Where this game really shines though is as a 2 player game. It still gives a lot of situations there just isn't enough actions for you to get done what you want to get done, which is the mark of a great game in my mind!

4. In the Year of the Dragon #12 - My Plays: 27
This game was once described to me as "trying to hit yourself in the head with a hammer, just a bit less than everyone else". That is an accurate description of fun! I love this game. Players are trying to make it through a very tough year of bad events that keep happening to them, while keeping their buildings and people safe. You just got to come to terms with the fact that you will lose something and just brace for it. The only downside is that the Double Dragon first turn, which is a gauranteed 24 points, I feel is a bit over powered, which has taken this to #4 instead of #1.

5. Taj Mahal #3 - My Plays: 16
Taj Mahal is essentially an auction game. Players are building palaces in Victorian India (is that even real?). What is so great about it though people can get into a pride race. What I mean by that is very often players will just go all out in a single round, spend a lot of their cards, and then still don't get the item they are trying to bid on. This is an excellent game and one that plays well with 3,4, or 5 players. However, I think my favorite spot is 4 players.

6. Macao #13 - My Plays: 18
There is essentially zero theme here, but it you want some fun and unique decisions with dice, this is a good place to go. The real draw for me in this game is the wheel that turns. You need a lot of dice, but if you take a lot of dice, you have to put them further down the wheel, so you won't get to use them for several turns. Manipulating your dice, using your cards to get a system going, and fighting for position on the wall and to be the first deliver goods makes this a solid game. It is also plays well with 2 players, so you can't go wrong there.

7. Notre Dame #11 - My Plays: 23
There are rats in this game! The plague keeps coming at you, you have to keep defending it off. The board design is really cool looking and looks different (plays exact same) for the different player counts. I like the quick play of the game, with the ever present rat threat. One faster playing games in the series.

8. Princes of Florence #4 - My Plays: 11
Players build neat little buildings in their courtyard to try and get cool artists, mathematicians, etc to visit them. In order for this game to shine, I think you have to have all experienced players and you need 4 or 5 people. Probably 5 people. The problem with the game is that those conditions don't often happen, which has lowered this on my list. It probably would've been a couple levels up a few years ago.

9. Bora Bora #15 - My Plays: 3
The newest edition to the series. Players are doing things in Bora Bora, just not sure what exactly. You have to balance the men and women you get, buy shells, jewelry, get tatoos, all kinds of things going on. Which is why I have it ranked so low right now. There is an absolute ton of stuff in the box though and I can see liking it more as I play it, but right now, it ends in the middle of the pack.

10. Mammoth Hunters #8 - My Plays: 5
I really like the theme, but it doesn't play out as well as it should. I'm one of the few people that I think enjoys this game. There can be plenty of luck in it, but also some good screwage too. When it comes to area control games though, there are plenty out there, which means this one doesn't often see play time.

11. Traders of Genoa #6 - My Plays: 4
This is one that takes the longest in the ABBS. Usually clocking in at 2.5 to 3.5 hours, which is why it doesn't see the table. It has really unique negotiations as players encourage the person who is currently in control of the "cookie crumbs" as I call them to go to the various stores they need to be at. I've had good success playing this game, only losing once I believe out of my 4 plays, but I've owned the game for 4 or 5 years and only played it 4 times, so it is not exactly on the table a lot.

12. Rum & Pirates #10 - My Plays: 5
This game is lightest game on the list in my opinion. Players are pirates going about and trying to collect sets of various things for points. The problem is the game takes about 2 hours, when it should take about 1 hour. I really do like the pirate captain mechanic where each person can spend pirates to get to spots on the board, but it is about the only redeeming quality. I'll play it, but not often.

13. Chinatown #2 - My Plays: 9
This one is set in the 1930s or 1940s Chinatown New York City. It is a negotiation game where you are trying to get different stores built like a jewelry store or laundry mat. My wife used to really like this one and probably at one point called it her favorite game, but I don't like that you know exactly how much a tile is worth. Which takes away the negotiating portion of the game for me and thus drops it so far down on this list.

14. Adel Verplicht #5 - My Plays: 3
I just don't get this game. It is sorta like rock, paper, scissors it seems. Perhaps it could be fun with a full amount of players, but my plays haven't made me want to go back to it. Mostly you are just racing around the board and trying to be the first to get to the end.

15. Fifth Avenue #9 - My Plays: 5
This game is horrible. I would absolutely not own it if it wasn't in the ABBS. The game is boring, doesn't seem to have flow, and even though I like the theme, I wouldn't suggest it to anyone. I can't believe I've actually played it 5 times. I doubt if I'll ever play it again, unless I once again do a quest to play all the ABBS games or all my games in general.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Essen Resolution

As you will undoubtedly remember, last year in October I made a resolution.

What? You don't remember it! How could you dear reader. I'm hurt. Well, let me remind you. I said in my It's Been Awhile post that I'd decided not to increase my board game collection size by only trading games or purchasing games with money received from selling games. I said I could only purchase 2 games and 1 expansion beyond that, calling it my "Essen Resolution" since Essen Spiel was occurring and it was on my brain.

So this is a report of how I've done. Well, I didn't keep track of my total collection numbers, but I think it did grow. However, not because I broke my resolution! It grew because I won some games as prize support at various conventions. I actually ended up $75 in the black for the year when it came to buying and selling games (not counting Invasion as was my rule)! That even includes buying 3 core sets and all the data packs for Netrunner. I'm pretty proud of myself for doing this. 

Will I continue this experiment? Well, no. You see, I moved. Bought a few shelves (Ikea is pretty impressive and wasn't part of my resolution). I now have more room and don't have to stack my games on the ping-pong table or the floor, so one part of the incentive not to get more games is gone. The other incentive though is still there, the other two incentives actually. I will continue to keep track of money spent on board games. That is basic budgeting and I do it anyways. As for playing the games I have, I feel I do an okay job of that, though I do admit more of my gaming time is spent on Netrunner now and less on board games. So perhaps I'll just resolve to just play more games. That seems like a good idea. Yeah, I'll go with that. 

Anyone want to come over and give Bora Bora a spin?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Every 100 Games Series - Mr. Jack Pocket

Mr. Jack Pocket was my 4,400 game played. I actually played it 4 times in a row with my friend Annie while at GenCon. I had played the original Mr. Jack a couple times before this, but it had been a long time, so I really was coming into this not knowing what to expect. Other than it would be a two player game, with one player playing as Jack trying to escape and the other would be the detectives trying to catch Jack.

Game Play
There are 9 large city tiles that are placed in the center of the table in a 3x3 grid with roads running through them in various ways. Then the four investigators (Holmes, Watson, Lestrade, and Toby) are placed around the city. According to where they are at, they can see down the roads and possible see the suspects that are printed on each city tile. As each round is played and the detectives move and the tiles rotate their view changes. At the end of the round, the Mr. Jack player declares whether he can be seen or not. If he can be seen, then all suspects that aren't seen get flipped over, narrowing down who Jack could be. If he cannot be seen, then those suspects that are in the field of view for the detectives get eliminated from the suspect list. There is a little more variation on what happens each round, but that is essentially it, the detectives are trying to trap Jack before he lasts long enough to get away and win the game.

Everything is card board in this and has nice light-hearted art. The game is extremely small, probably why they added "Pocket" to its name. The whole box would seriously fit in your pocket. It isn't that much larger than my wallet or one of those huge flat cell phones people refuse to call a tablet. The card board is all top notch in the game and there is no way to complain about the game lasting or being cheaply made.

This game seems to have a lot of strategy to me. I was impressed with how much they shoved into such a small game. It is all about forcing the other person to do something worthless or something they don't want to do on their turn. You can just get absolutely burned if the actions don't come up your way (they are randomly done each round), but there is enough depth in this game to make it thoughtful and yet still quick.

I really liked this game and it is one I'd be happy to own, even if my friends already own it, because of its quick 2 player nature that can be played just about anywhere. I'm not a deduction game fan, but I do tend to enjoy slightly themed abstracts, and that is the camp I'd put this in. It didn't feel like I was trying to figure out who Jack was, but rather I was trying to capture the Queen Bee in Hive or checkmate my opponent in Chess, but in much less time than the latter and more thematically in the previous. From what I remember of the regular Mr. Jack, I personally would play the pocket version every time over it.

Chase Game Fans - Those of you who really love Letters to White Chapel, Fury of Dracula, Scotland Yard and the others in this genre might not get our fill here. However, those games take a big time commitment, where this doesn't. So even though you might not get that huge glass of milk with Oreos you normally prefer, you could count this as a bit sized Snicker bar.

Abstract Aficionados - I'd say get it. This for me fills in with Robotory, Hive, The Duke, and any other non-classic abstract game. There is some slight luck, but overall it is all about forcing your opponent into a corner.

Theme Sensitive Folks - The game is about a horrible murderer from the late 19th century in England. If you are going to take that too seriously, then this might not be for you. There isn't any blood, everything is cartoonish, I just know some people are sensitive to that in the original Mr. Jack and thought you'd be aware. 

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here: Every 100 Games Series Reviews.

Monday, August 19, 2013

GenCon 2013

I wrote a geeklist about my GenCon experiences this year. It was a very long convention for me, being sick most of the time, but I had a great time still. I've now been going since 2004 (missed 2005) and so next year will be my 10th year at what I call my favorite "holiday" of the year. Hopefully soon I'll have time to post about our Minnesota vacation, a new board game review, and an interesting thing about a sociological phenomenon that I think about occasionally.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

One for All and then One for All

Recently I've been reading in Romans, which if you are into theology, is where much of the basis for the Christian faith's finer points of theology comes from. Not saying the other books in the Bible aren't sources, I'm just saying that so many times Romans is cited, specifically justified by faith. Something though recently caught my eye...Adam.

Nope, not talking to myself, but with a name like Adam, sometimes I feel responsible. Adam was responsible for bringing sin into the world. Because of him we all needed a savior. This seems rough. First, why would my parents name me after such a person? Second, seems overkill to have one guy be responsible for the downfall of the world.

However, what is important to understand, is just as sin came into the world through one man, it was defeated by one man! I like this equality, this balance, this fulfillment. It makes sense to me from a logical standpoint.It took one guy to ruin it and it takes just one guy to fix it.

I didn't go into all the complexities of original sin, justification, substitution, grace, and all the other "christian terms" that could go with this post. Just wanting to share some thoughts I was having this week. It took single guy, in a moment of trying to be the guy, to bring the downfall of all mankind. But it took one man, giving himself to live and die for all, to provide the fix.

I like how The Message puts it in Romans 5:18-19: Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.

Also, Adam is a good name, after all that is what God chose to name the first person created in his image. I'm glad my parents didn't name me Benedict or Poop-face or Jezebel.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Every 100 Games Series - Ginkgopolis

I've now played my 4,200th game session and it was Ginkgopolis, from Z-Man Games. A relatively new purchase for my family, it has received quite a bit of play recently and so this is one I'm glad I get a chance to review.

Game Play
Players take on the role of city planners trying to build a more futuristic and environment friendly city. There is a 3x3 grid of tiles laid out at the start of the game. On your turn you can: 1.Play a card that will give you tiles, resources, or points. 2. Play a card to build over an existing building. 3. Expand the city outwards by playing a card. That is it. Pretty simple and straight forward. However, as you build the city you'll create more and more special bonuses for you to do a specific type action, thus giving you more tiles, points, and resources to build the city more.

The pieces in this game are top notch. There are a ton of building tiles, about the size of your typical game tile, but really thick. I liked that they made the backs of the starting tiles different than the backs of the regular tiles so you can quickly distinguish them. The cards of solid quality, the rules are as well, and the wooden tokens and player shields are the typical Z-Man products. The art on the game is really cool, though it doesn't really have much of a theme in the game play. I like the somewhat futuristic characters on the box and the cards. The buildings also look very nice and "one with nature" as they should for the theme.

This is much more of a tactical game than a strategic game, though they is plenty of strategy as well. I've played it a few times with 4 and 5 players, in which case it becomes very chaotic, and thus strategy goes out the door. However, in a 2 or 3 player game, there is plenty of trying to position yourself to get that specific bonus card or control the big blue area where you'll get the most points at the end of the game. This strategy has become more apparent to me the more I've played the game and learned a bit more about what cards go with what buildings and what kind of bonuses there are for end of the game. At first I thought this game would be completely tactical, but I've found myself thinking several turns ahead trying to get in the best position to win the area majority at the end of the game.

This game is a very good game. I've now played it 13 times, which is quite a bit considering I only first played in 2 months ago. That is more times than I've played some of my favorite games including Dungeon Lords and Hansa Tuetonica, so that has to mean something. I do think that playing a card by itself can be a bit weak and you'll want to avoid doing so if you can. I've tried a couple times to go heavy in that strategy and it just didn't seem to work as well. This is one that'll stick around awhile though in my collection and I think I've really got my $35 out of it already in two months.

Carcassonne Fans - I think this is the next step for Carcassonne fans. It has that tile laying aspect, but allows you to build up as well as out. It is probably slightly longer (thanks to set up time), but if you like Carc give this one a try.

Drafting Fans - The card drafting in this game, though while somewhat interesting, doesn't really have a lot of effect on the game play since a new card comes into the system each turn. In a two player game it matters more, but as you get more players it matters less and less. If you think this is the next 7 Wonders or Fairy Tale, think again.

Players Who Play Pink - I know there has to be some of you out there. This is a must buy. There are pink player pieces.

Typical Euro Player - I wouldn't call myself a complete Euro player, but I play them the majority of the time and this has a place in my collection. I think it is different enough that it'd be worth purchasing and thus taking up a spot on your shelf. Even if it means getting rid of another game (I'm looking at you Masons).

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here: Every 100 Games Series Reviews.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Guild of Thieves: There is an App!

It has been nearly a year now since I "published" (read made available for print on demand and print and play) my game Guild of Thieves. Since then I have come up with a few new cards for a potential expansion that I've play-tested a little bit. I've also considered, even now, changing the point value of a card and changing the movement of another card. I'm not going to though, because I imagine, the game will never truly be done. There will always be something I think I can tweak or improve and so I have to just leave it be unless I get a real publisher.

Speaking of a publisher, Cards Against Humanity, a game that has done well recently ran a contest for new designers to enter their game in a type of game tournament for GenCon this year. They'll pit these games against each other and finally declare a winner that'll get a bit of money towards having their game professionally published! I entered Guild of Thieves. I hope with its short play time, relatively cheap components, and ease of learning, that it will do well in the short period they have at GenCon to determine a winner. If so, next year will be a really busy year for me!

Finally, there is now an app for Guild of Thieves. Okay, well this is an app for those phones that connect to the internet, via a web browser and just play the game online. I still think it counts. A local Indianapolis gamer, Jeff Huter, does online versions of various board games at www.slothninja.com, where you can play asynchronously with people from all over. He offered to put Guild of Thieves up there, for which I'm extremely grateful, so go and try it out. I'm going to try and play 3-5 games of it at a time and would love to play any of you readers if you'd like. Let me know your Sloth Ninja user name once you create an account and we can get a game going.

Maybe I'll get that bug of designing another game again soon and can flesh out City Planner or Bad Bass Fishin' in the next year... 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Regional Season

It has been quite awhile since I posted anything, but I thought I'd write a little bit about where I've been spending my weekends the past couple months. Normally April, May, and June are all about fishing for me, but this year I decided to spend them playing in Regional Tournaments for Android: Netrunner and Warhammer: Invasion the two card games I try and play competitively.

Invasion - Blue Grass Magic Shop - Louiville, KY
This was a fun trip down to Louiville with Patrick, Julia, Brendan, Emily, and Sean. We brought 6 of the 15 participates to the tourney from Indianapolis! 15 people in an Invasion tournament is pretty impressive, considering they only had 20 at Worlds last year and only 16 at GenCon. I made the top 8 as the #8 seed and then somehow came flying back and took the tourney against Brian. You can read about it here: Regional Report #1.

Netrunner - Saltire Games - Indianapolis, IN
I've got to say this was the worst tournament experience I think I've ever had. Though my first year at Worlds for Invasion was pretty bad. We didn't start until 45 minutes after the start time, because the organizer didn't show up or call. The guy who ran the tourney really didn't know anything about Netrunner. It was advertised poorly, so that only 10 people showed up (which seems low for Netrunner) and in general it just didn't go so well. I finished 6 out of 10, but did enjoy the actual playing of the games. You can read about it here: Regional Report #2.

Netrunner - Games Preserve - Indianapolis, IN
Ah yes, this was really fun. Extremely well organized, everything went really smooth. My only complaint on this one was the room is so small and gets quite crowded with 20 gamers in there. I was 1 point away from pulling 2nd place and just a card or two away from getting first if I remember right. It was fun to play with both Jeremys (my two main Netrunner opponents) in a tourney. Ended up in 3rd place. You can read about it here: Regional Report #3.

Invasion - Something2Do - Louisville, KY
This time it was just Brendan, Emily, and I making the trip. It was great to get to know them a little more as 4 hours in the car will do for people. Also fun, having a Subway right across the hall for pop all day and Brendan trading me his Invasion mug that I now have at work with my two trophies. I made the Top 4 again, but this time was beaten by another Brayherd deck, which makes the 3rd consecutive Louisville Regional won by a Brayherd deck. You can read about it here: Regional Report #4.

Thanks to an awesome wife, I have had a cool first half of the summer when it comes to my card games. Up next is the North American Championships at GenCon, where I hope to place well in Invasion, but probably will fare poorly in Netrunner.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Every 100 Games Series - Wyatt Earp

4,100 individual game sessions. That is where I am at now. I recently purchased Wyatt Earp, not because I was looking to own it, but because I wanted to support Miniature Market for sponsoring IndyCon. Turns out my wife learned the game, taught me, and then we played it. I'd played this game back in 2007 one time, so it wasn't completely new to me, but it might as well have been. So what do I think now?

This is essentially a card game, so there aren't a lot of components. There are 8 real-life outlaw boards. These boards represent various villains like Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane, and Bob Dalton (my favorite). The game also comes with some nice card board money tokens in $1,000 and $5,000 denominations. Then there is a deck of cards that not only have the outlaws represented, but also have some special action cards, including the namesake of the game, Wyatt Earp. Other than that, not much else in the game. Except it does have a cool #5 on the spine showing its place in the Alea Small Box line.

Game Play
Basically this is a rummy variant game. On your turn you get to draw a card and play some card or cards. There are outlaw cards which are essentially the colors of the outlaws that you play in a set of 3 at first, but then can add to your own set our your opponent's set to try and get the most in those outlaws. Why do you want the most in a given outlaw you ask? Well, as you play these cards, money is being added for the "capture" of that outlaw and the player who has the highest value of those outlaw cards in front of themselves when the game ends gets the money. Person with the most money wins the game! There are other sheriff cards that give special actions for players as well, which add spice to this rummy play.

Just like in many rummy-style games, this one is all about trying to be the one to go out first, and thus control the who wins each outlaw's reward. There is some touch and go with the various action cards, blocking players, adding to your pile, and generally trying to be sneaky. The game however isn't a huge thinking game and really shouldn't be one that taxes your brain so much.

500 Rummy Players - Yes, I'd say get this one. It isn't pure rummy, but it is pretty close. Plays quickly and I think has more decisions that Rummy does.
Western Fans - Again, I'd recommend this one. The artwork is cool. The Western theme isn't that strong (have yet to play a game that it is) but it is there. It is one that would be good to add if you like that theme.
2-Player Gamers - I don't recommend this for you. With two players only this game seems to lose something to me. Since a lot of the game is about fighting over the outlaw rewards, it seems more fun to fight over those rewards with multiple people.

*Every 100 Games Series - Back in March of 2006 I began tracking each session of the various board and card games I play. I soon got the idea to write a review on every 100th game I played, one because I like writing reviews, and two because it is interesting to see what game I review next. You can find a list of all of them here: Every 100 Games Series Reviews.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Every 100 Games Series - TocToc Woodman

Wow. I've now played 4,000 games since beginning to log game plays in March of 2006. That is a lot. My number of plays has even been increased recently because I've been playing a lot of shorter card games and much more kids games, one of which is TocToc Woodman and the subject of this review.

The game comes with several core pieces, that have slots for 4 pieces of bark to be slid on them. You then stack all of these pieces on top of each other to make a trunk of a tree. The only other thing the game comes with is a plastic ax.

Game Play
Probably the simplest game you're ever going to come across. On your turn you take the ax and tap twice (toc toc...get it?) on the wooden tower. You are trying to knock off the bark from the tree, but not the center pieces. Each bark piece you knock off gets you a point, but each center piece you knock off gives you negative 5 points. Once all the bark is knocked off the tree, players add up their score, declaring the best lumberjack out there.

Toc Toc Woodman is a fun game. However, it is more of a fun game with 4 year-olds than it is with adults. Currently this is Kaylee's most requested game and since it plays very quickly we play it two or three times a session. The pieces are very good, the price is cheap, and it is one that will be sure to draw a crowd and can be played with a lot of people.

Jenga Players: I'd say go elsewhere. Jenga is just cool. It takes more skill. It doesn't bounce completely all over the place like the light plastic pieces of Toc Toc. You probably won't enjoy Toc Toc Woodman.

Parents of 4-8 year olds: Get this game. It gives you a great opportunity to play with your kids, but at the same time is over very quickly if you want or need it to be. It also is one of those rare games where they'll be just as good as you at it, so they won't be as discouraged.

Lumberjacks: Umm...sure...get this game...if you like to play like you like to work.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Geekway to the West 2013

It's been a long time since I wrote here. I spent 4 night in St. Louis gaming this past weekend, so I thought I'd write about it. However, I wrote about it here: http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/157191/my-2013-geekway-to-the-west-experience-with-pict, so please just go there and read about it. It was such a great time, I came home with 6 more games than I left with, which means I need to make room on my shelves again. I hope to at least write a review here soon, but my other hobbies have been taking up my blogging time. If you have never gone to a board game convention, I suggest trying it out!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Man or Muppet?

I have a song that is quickly becoming my favorite song of all time. It is Man or Muppet from the latest Muppet Movie. The reason I love it so much though isn't that it is such a great song (yeah, but it is though), rather it is because both my girls have grown to love it at separate times. Kaylee was 2 when the movie came out, we watched it, and then I downloaded that song. We sang it together all the time, watched the YouTube video over and over, and enjoyed it together. Well, fast forward to now and Ella has now fallen in love with the song. She insists we sing it to her when we put her to bed and calls it "Daddy's Song"  with her new found words. We watch the YouTube video again, they have their part (the Muppet's part of course) and I have my part (the Man part for those of you struggling here).

I think I need to start playing this song for the baby in Krista's belly (Galadriel if a girl, Meriadoc if a boy). Here is the video for those of you who need to hear it, and for those of you who should here it, and for those of you who will hear it:

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sting from Dune

I see look-a-likes all the time. Sometimes it is with famous movie stars, sometimes with just us regular folk, but for some reason people remind me of other people. For instance, I have a friend who reminded me of Hiro from Heroes when it was on. There was that time when I was eating lunch and I pointed out to my buddies that the lady sitting behind us could've been Laurence Fishburne's long lost sister. I'm serious. Absolutley, positively, probably was. I'm going to go google him to see if he has a sister that lives in Indiana. (Okay, I'm back) However, my most prominent look-a-like I've ever crossed paths with is Sting from Dune. There is a gentlemen that works in the same building as me, that 5 years ago when I saw him for the first time, I thought "Hey, that is Sting from Dune!" and I've thought that ever since. Matter of fact, him reminding me of that movie actually got me to watch that movie, because I'd never seen it. (Don't watch it, it sucks.)

Now I'm not talking about any Sting like this one:

I'm talking about Sting from Dune: 

My co-workers don't think he looks like him, but he does. He meaning this guy I see in the halls of the building and who he looks like is specifically Sting from Dune. I don't know how it started, but now whenever I happen to walk by him in the hallway, I try to say something about Sting or Dune. I'm wondering if he is catching on, perhaps he is, but I'm still doing it. Sometimes it is tough to get a Dune or Sting reference plugged into a normal conversation but sometimes the spice just flows (see what I did there?). Occassionally, though I'll just blurt out things like, "Harkonnen! Sand Suits! Sting! Arrakis!" and whoever I'm with will just have to try to understand the situation, realizing that perhaps somethings are best left unsaid. 

Maybe one day, I'll actually get to meet this fellow, who I'm sure is a way better guy than Sting was as Feyd-Rautha, but until then (and probably after), he'll always be known as Sting from Dune. Next time you are walking down the street and see someone that might in a slight way remind you of someone else, perhaps you should shout out something like "The Spice must flow!" and see if they notice.

Now let me tell you about Zombie Guy...