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...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Top 25 Games of All Time - 2013 Edition

Here it is for the 3rd straight year (2011 List & 2012 List), my Best Games of All Time list! Yeah, I see that exclamation point, I like doing the list even though you might not be that excited. I went ahead and made a link out of every title, so you can quickly see more about the game should you be interested. I even put a picture of every game in, which is just going way over the top, so next time you see me you can give me hugs (not really, I don't like hugs). Also, the numbers next to the games show you how many spots they moved towards the top or dropped.

Something I'm noticing more and more. Some of my absolute favorite games that I only play two players. Seven of these games are that way.  I have 4 new games on the list this year, 3 of which I played for the first time in the past year, all of them 22+ times, so I feel they deserve a spot. The four games to drop off the list are Ra, The Pillars of the Earth, Keythedral, and Crokinole. All games I still really like, but right now, just barely miss the list.

Remember though this is only my Top 25, which is less than 5% of the games that I've played, so these games are games that I really enjoy and so even though there is a difference between #1 and #25, there isn't much. Have fun gaming with you friends and family. It'll bring you closer together.

25. Battle Cry (New)
This one has surprised me how much I've enjoyed it. I'd played it for about a year before I made last year's list, but it didn't make it. I'm surprised, because I think I would probably like other versions of the game system better, but I haven't played them enough. I've gotten quite a bit of play out of this simple war game and had a lot of fun doing it. It isn't a simulation, but I still have learned about the various battles from the scenarios and really enjoyed a campaign I played against a friend. The version I have is a pretty cheap, I think I got it for $10, so you should be able to find it and play some fun two player game action about the American Civil War.

24. Fairy Tale (-3)
The theme and art on this are pointless. The art and graphic design actually make the game harder to play. Despite all this though, I love this game. It plays super speedy, maybe 15 minutes or so. The whole game is a draft of cards, it has been quite popular with both my gaming friends and my family, and deserves a spot on this list.

23. El Grande (-3)
When I think of "elegant" games, a word that we in the hobby like to throw around, this or Endeavor is the game I think about. It gives great player interaction, has the surprises of the castille, and just makes for a simple yet very tactical experience. Many new gamers have played this one and enjoyed it and it is the oldest game on my list, being nearly 20 years old.

22. Dungeon Lords (+1)
Great theme of being an evil Dungeon Lord hiring monsters and imps to do your bidding, but all in a very humorous and fluffy way. That theme though hides a very deep and brain-burning game. It is worker-placement game, but also a planning game, where you have to decide where you are going to place your workers before you actually place them. This makes you not only play the game, but really play the other players. The only problem with this game is that it really only plays with 4 players and so it makes it more difficult to get out, because you have to have exactly 4 players and 4 players that want to play the game.

21. Gheos (+3)
Players play as gods who are gaining followers and getting points for those followers when a scoring tile comes up, but really this is a stock game in which players can take control of and completely destroy the investments of other players. It plays very quickly and while is okay with two players, it really shines with 3 or 4 players. Probably a game that doesn't have enough popularity to be reprinted, so if you see a copy and can handle having your followers destroyed in the movement of the land, then pick it up!

20. Tikal (-2)
Each year I think that this game might drop off more, but each year it doesn't. I only play it maybe two or three times a year at the most, but I still find it very satisfying to explore the jungle with 3 other friends and claim temples while discovering treasures. The biggest problem with the game, is it can bog down a bit with the wrong group, that is why it was the subject of the very first saying of "This is light and fluffy Euro game."

19. The Resistance: Avalon (New)
I've always played a bunch of Werewolf/Mafia, but the biggest problem I've found with it is the player elimination. The Resistance gets rid of that, but keeps all the great fun of lying to your friends! There are two teams, players don't know who is on whose team and mayhem happens. I love it! You've got to try and play this one if you haven't and for groups of 8+ players I can't think of any other game I'd rather play.

As a 3 or 4 player game, I doubt this makes my top 25, but as a 2 player game it is in. The game, once you get past the math for scoring, is quite simple. However, the decisions you have to make and how you control what your opponent can do is not simple. For some reason this game reminds me a bit of a card game version of Chess. It is very abstracted, the theme is about pointless, but yet it looks nice and the theme does help explain the game. If you like set collection games, this one is a good one to try out.

The first collectible game on my list, where two players bring constructed decks to a match and compete against each other. There are a few reasons I put this on my list, but a big reason is because of how well it integrates the theme into the game. If you are the corporation, you feel the annoyance of the runners and how you want to crush them with your ICE. If you are the Runner you feel the pressure of not making a mistake as you try and hack your way into the Corp’s servers to steal the agendas hidden there. I really do enjoy the game and know I’ll play it for a long time, the main question remains though whether I’ll be able to keep up with the continuous expansions released.

16. Endeavor (-2)
Probably the most popular “long” game in my game group. It gets played very consistently throughout the year and it deserves that play. Players are colonizing the world, trying to become governors of various regions, battling each other for spots in those regions, and generally improving their 4 different tracks on their player board. I like the variety in this game. Even though it is the same buildings and the same tracks, each game feels different to me on how to best proceed. The art in the game is top notch and really gives an old and quality feeling to it. The biggest praise I can give this game though is that it is the smoothest flowing game ever. Everything just falls right into place as it should.

15. King of Tokyo (New)
Last year this was one of those games I’d just played, maybe 3 times, when I did my list so it didn’t make it. This year you can see how far it shot up the list. There are several games on this list I’d recommend to specific groups of people, but not to everyone. Not so with King of Tokyo. I recommend this game to any and all. Doesn’t matter if you are 6 years old or the most die-hard gamer out there, you’ll have fun playing this monster & dice game. I only have the base set and honestly, don’t even see the need for an expansion, though I’m sure I’ll eventually get it.

14. Hansa Teutonica (-2)
The highest game on my list that for some reason I don’t own a copy of. I don’t know why I don’t though, it is readily available, but I think because a lot of my friends own one I haven’t felt the need to get one.  There isn’t any theme in this game at all, so if you are looking for that look elsewhere. However, if you like some conflict in your games and like quick actions every turn, this game is a good place to come. I like trying to find the right balance of what tracks to improve on, whether it is getting all my book actions up really high or making sure I have the best bag action or seeing if I can win by only freeing up one other action on the action track. Excellent game, even if it is devoid of theme.

13. Founding Fathers (-2)
Beautiful art (Josh Cappel is easily my favorite board game artist) and fun game play make this came a solid member of my Top 25. I like the back and forth of the Assembly and even though you may want a specific bill to pass you don’t want it to pass without some opposition so you can try and get control of the committee room. I like that they made each card a delegate, which really keeps the theme of the game going for me. I also enjoy that it plays well with 3-5 players, with 4 being my favorite player count. This is a game that 12+ year olds should play in their US History class.

12. 7 Wonders (+1)
Other than perhaps the Resistance: Avalon there isn’t another game out there that is better with 7 players in my opinion. I like this game best with 3 or 4, because I know I’ll see some of the cards I first passed to my opponents, but I still really enjoy it with 7 players as well, because it takes the same amount of time. I do own the Leaders expansion and think it is okay, but it isn’t a must buy in my mind, as the base game does its job very well.  If you haven’t tried this, you at least owe it to yourself if you like games at all, to give it a go.

Though this game has fallen out of my top 10 favorite games of all time, I still believe it deserves it spot here. Probably one of the more complicated games on my list, with everything that comes in a CCG, this game still is great fun and exciting to play for me. The biggest problem, just like any other dead CCG, is finding opponents to do so. The reason I love it though, beyond the deck building aspect as you see from 3 games on my list, is the amount of strategy that goes into each game. Trying to set your Shadow up or your Fellowship up for the win, perhaps by bluffing and not playing a single card after a Fellowship move. This is a game I wish was continued and still being produced.

10. Glenn Drover's Empires: Age of Discovery (New)
Known by me as Age of Empires III, I played this game for the first time in August, and it immediately shot up into my top 10! What have I been missing these years? How about excellent pieces, direct conflict, cool theme (I loved Colonization and enjoyed Age of Empires on the PC), and a strategic feel. Players are attempting to colonize the new world and to do so they get specialists such as merchants, missionaries, soldiers, and captains to help them do so. You have to get trade goods to make income and build merchant ships to supplement that income, all the while trying to edge your opponents out of the spaces they want and need. Though this game isn't for everyone, this game is for me. I've got to get the expansion soon.

9. Small World (-3)
This game gives a lot in a 75 minute time frame for a 5 player game. Variable player powers, direct conflict, big decisions on declining, and most importantly Dragon Ratmen! My like for this game only increased once I got a couple of the smaller expansions, adding more races and powers. I think this is a game that those Risk players out there might like. I haven't played Risk in a very long time, because I can play this game, which gives me the feeling of attacking my friends, but in half or a third of the time. The two player iOS version of it is really good as well and I suggest you start there if you want to see what it is about.

8. 1960: Making of the President (-1)
The first of 2-player only games to make it into my Top 10, this game is just excellent historical fun. The game plays out the election of 1960 with Kennedy vs Nixon. Players play cards that not only help themselves, but sometimes help their opponent, trying to gain the crucial electoral votes of the country and take the presidency. I'd suggest this game to anyone 12+ years old, especially those currently studying American history, as it not only provides a fun game, but has taught me quite a bit about that election.

7. Puerto Rico (-5)
What!? The greatest game of all time has fallen this far?! Well, yes, but this far really isn't very far in the scheme of nearly 600 games played. Puerto Rico is still absolutely great, even better with our purchase of the 10 year aniversary edition. The past year also introduced us to a two-player variant that is very well done, so that still gets plus for that. I've just found that even though I love PR, I also love the below games, and if push came to shove, I'd choose have to choose the ones above, but I'd do so with hate and malice in my heart. Puerto Rico, if you haven't played it, do so. Love it.

6. Dominion (-2)
If you are even slightly interested in board and card games, but haven't played this game, you must do so. There are obviously 5 other games that I like just slightly better, but they are more gamer games. This game is for anyone 10 years old or older. We own 3 or 4 of the expansions, which gives the game more variety, in a game that already has a lot of variety. The game doesn't take very long to play, plays really quickly turn to turn, and gives me some of the "deck building" enjoyment as an actual game rather than preparation for a game. As for expansions, I would suggest picking up Seaside or Prosperity for your first expansion.

5. Agricola (-1)
I think the biggest plus about this game is that it just makes sense. You plant some grain, you get more grain at harvest time. You put a couple cows together and along comes a baby cow. You kill that cow and cook it in a fireplace for food (yeah, beef!). This is one of those games, that though I like to win, I find myself just satisfied playing. I like how my personal farm grows, fences protect the livestock, my home gets stone walls, and children are born. For sure not a simple game, but it is a game that new players pick up on quickly, because as I said it just makes sense (okay, new players understand the rules pretty quick, by I dominate all over them in score).

4. Sid Meier's Civilization (+3)
This has continued to climb on my favorite games of all time list. The computer game series that it is based on, is without a doubt my favorite computer games of all time, and now the board game is made it into my top 5. I like it for many reasons, but probably the number one reason is the technology pyramid in the game. Instead of making a really complicated tech tree, that is great electronically but not so much in card board, they just made it simple. Build two level 1 techs and then you can build a level 2 tech. Build two level 2 techs and then you get a level 3. This makes the game playable quickly and helps new players get in. I've played this 2-4 hour game 20 times in the past couple years and it'll continue to get more plays as it is great with 2, 3, or 4 players. Perhaps this year I'll finally try it with 5 players and see how that plays out.

3. Warhammer: Invasion (+6)
This is a tough one to put this high, because it is hard for me to separate the game from the system of a living card game. However, I think this game deserves to be this high on my personal list. I've played it more than any other board or card game and not by just a few plays, but by hundreds of plays more than my second most played game of Dominion. The game, for an LCG, is very simple and quick to learn. It is extremely fast (games take 15-20 minutes) and most important it makes you make tough decisions of where to place your cards, because they do different things in different areas. If I was going to teach someone a CCG or LCG, this is the one I'd teach them for simplicity and quick play time.

2. War of the Ring (+1)
We all know I love the Lord of the Rings (by we I mean myself and my wife and the one other person that reads this blog), so this game gets an automatic bump from that. It holds its own though as a game. Each player rolls their action dice, then selects what order they want to carry out the actions on them, in order to attempt to win the game. I've painted my whole set (which was my most popular blog by the way) which just adds more to my love for this game because of the labor I put into it. The game drips with theme and usually ends with edge-of-your-seat tension as you discover if Frodo succumbs to the power of the Ring or is able to melt it in the fires of Mount Doom!

1. Railways of the World (0)
Boardgamegeek officially changed the name of this game to Railways of the World in their database, but this will always be Railroad Tycoon to me. Still holding the top slot, this game continues to just be fun. I still haven't played the Railways Through Time expansion and there is a Railways of North America (read: Canada) coming out this summer that I'm excited to see and try. This my "next level" game that I like to get people into after they've experienced Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, and others. It has a great theme, looks really cool with all the plastic pieces and hexagon track tiles, and the huge board just impresses people. If you are ever around me and would like to learn this one, just say so and we'll be shipping goods in no time!