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.