Monday, April 28, 2014

100th Geocache

So normally I post about Every 100 Games that I've played. This time I'm going to post about the 100th geocache we found. It'll only take a couple more years for my 200th one. Geocaches are more rare in my house than board games.

We went out for an evening of geocaching as a family. It is a bit hard to get 3 kids in and out over and over again from a van, but we were able to find 4 caches and had a DNF (Did Not Find) on one cache where it looked like the fence row had recently been cleaned out and thus probably caused a cache casualty. The 100th find for us was Heavy Metal out in McCordsville. It is on a metal bridge over a creek. Just a simple car key magnet stuck to the guard rail.

I like bridge caches, perhaps not as much as my wife likes the actual bridges, but I do enjoy them. However, my favorite caches are cemetery ones, where you can wonder around and see all the grave stones and think about the lives those people led and search for the oldest stone. Those caches tend to be nice and peaceful, though I've found a couple near a busy road that weren't so much.

The geocaching adventures continue and I need to find 24 more to meet my year goal. I'm hoping to put out my very own cache soon and also send a few more travel bugs into the wild this year. The picture below is after our 101st find, which was out at the McCordsville Cemetery.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Top 50 Board Games of All Time - 2014 Edition (Part 2)

If you haven't already seen it, please give Part 1 a look. I really enjoy doing this list each year and find it interesting. Something I didn't mention last time, but wanted to be sure I emphasize, is that this list is my personal taste. It also probably could change according to how I'm feeling on a given day. I think that I could probably add/remove about 10-20 games from the list (at least the lower portion) and still be satisfied. I also think I could probably reorder them as well and be satisfied. Just as a reminder, the number in the parenthesis is the highest that game has ever been on my Top Board Games of All Time lists!

25. Battle Cry (#25)
In the same spot as last year, this is a wonderful game. I really probably should pick up Memior '44 and see if it replaces Battle Cry, since it is the same system, but I like that this doesn't have any expansions. It is just a simple war game. I recently read Shiloh, 1862 by Winston Groom and it has really got me wanting to play this one again. I want to experience, in a very abstract and fun way, the Hornet's Nest in Western Tennessee and attempt to route the Rebels in that battle!

24. Ra (#19)
For games that take at least 60 minutes, I'd say that Ra is in the top 5 of the most played games at my game group. It is an absolute classic game that has been out for 15 years this year. 15 years of making the excruciating decision of when to spend that tile to collect the lot. 15 years of running the gauntlet and pushing your luck trying to get as many tiles as you can into your greedy paws before the final Ra tile comes out! Such a great game!

23. The Castles of Burgundy (New)
This or the next game below probably are the ugliest games on the list. However, the game play is beautiful. This is a game that has been eligible for a couple years, but hasn't made the list yet. The more I've played it though, the more I've realized how much I like how dice rolling has been combined with good strategy as I build my own board up with buildings, fields, and ships. Stefan Feld's best game and one that is really good with two players. Also, really fun to say the German version name, which I own. Die Bergen Von Burgund!

22. Hansa Tuetonica (#12)
The highest ranked game on this list that I don't own. Not exactly sure why I don't own it. It is a great euro that doesn't have once thread of theme, but is liked by the group well enough, so would be played. I just have never got around to purchasing this one. I think the thing I've liked best about this one is the "group think" of it. I've played with several different groups of players and what one group thinks is way over powered, really isn't, and another group does something else that they think is weak. This is an excellent game with lots of strategy.

21. Endeavor (#14)
A game about building and shipping in the colonial age. Basically the same theme as Age of Empires III, but much much less of an epic feel. Endeavor is one of my wife's most requested games and is one that I'm really happy to own and play. It is odd though that I don't get to play it nearly as often as I'd like, since on our game days Krista will often play it while I'm watching the kids, and we rarely play the same game twice in a single day. I need to get this to the table soon!

20. Lord of the Rings Trading Card Game (#9)
A dead CCG that I still enjoy about once a year. I wonder though, as I've done before, if this game and a couple others are on the list because of they type of game they are, rather than the specific game that they are. I just like the idea of two people customizing a game and then playing it against each other. This one is LotR so it gets a huge bump and it still is a great game as I experienced twice at GenCon this past year.

19. Traders of Carthage (#16)
This game has been on the list since the beginning and will continue to be. The way each card does simple things, but at the same time does everything in the game makes it so cool. If it wasn't for the weird scoring mechanism, I think this game would be a great gateway game. However, because of that, I usually reserve it for my wife and I on a quiet evening.

18. Omen: Reign of War (New)
This game is so cool. The art is great. The game play is great. The options of how to play it are great. It is a two player battle card game that takes about 25 minutes to play. It allows for all kinds of CCG like abilities, but doesn't have the collect-ability of a CCG. They only made 500 copies of the version I own and I don't think they are making more, so if you are interested look on eBay. But you should look on eBay. Seriously. Look. Now.

17. King of Tokyo (#15)
This is now my go to gateway game. Anyone and everyone can play this one. If you are six years old or up you'll play it and you'll love it! So says I. Especially since Yahtzee is such a well known game, which makes this so easy to teach, but opens up the thought that there is much more out there than Yahtzee. I always prefer to play the Kraken. So I can yell, "RELEASE THE KRAKEN" as I smash your monster's face.

16. The Resistance: Avalon (#16)
I used to love playing Werewolf/Mafia while I was in college and also on youth trips with highschoolers. I never play Mafia anymore. The Resistance does all that in a shorter time and without player elimination. The absolute lying and manipulation of the game give tension to it. Even though you think you can trust someone, there is always that slight doubt in the back of your mind they are just playing you and ready to double-cross you up for the win.

15. Dominion (#5)
I've really cooled on Dominion recently. Even with owning 4 expansions, it doesn't have the draw to me. However, I still enjoy the game. Also, I've played it well over 200 times, so it deserves a high spot on this list. This is still the best deck-building game in existence and the only one that makes my list. I also think this is a great gateway game for new players.

14. Suburbia (New)
Not only is this game new to the list this year, but I've now got the expansion too. This is a tile laying game of city building. You build parks, government buildings, subdivisions, and stadiums. People come and go from your city as your reputation rises and falls. The game plays very well with 2 or 3 players and is still quite enjoyable (though a bit more chaotic) with 4 players. If you want SimCity the board game, this is what you should play.

13. Puerto Rico (#2)
A very classic Euro. I think the decline in this is simply the games I get most excited about now days have more theme and more card play. I still love PR and still play it on a regular basis and I don't see it ever dropping out of my Top 50. It is a game that should be played by anyone that calls themselves a gamer and will always remain in my collection.

12. Small World (#6)
Combos and replayability. That is what I think of when I think of Small World. It's great fun having the Flying Giants attempt to corner the Wealthy Halflings. This game has been played a ton and perhaps that is the problem with its very slow decline, but this is one that I still love and the best part is that it plays very well with 2-5 players. Lots of expansions too.

11. 7 Wonders (#12)
A card drafting game where you build a civilization. Probably one of the more confusing light-weight games I play. This game has had great success with the game group, but not so much with the family. People seem to like it, just not understand it. Even though there isn't any confusing text or crazy combos. The art on the game is really good though and when you've finished the game, with all the cards spread all over, you feel like you've accomplished something.

10. Founding Fathers (#10)
I don't get to play any of my top games as much as I'd like, but this is the highest ranked one that I really feel that is the case. This one hasn't reach out and grabbed other people as much as it has me. Perhaps it is the theme, which for me is awesome, but for others seems really boring? Players attempt to become the most remembered constitutional convention participate by voting and playing cards to different areas of the board. This needs to be played more!

9. Android: Netrunner (#9)
I'm all in this one now. I've bought all the cards, have participated in store championships, regional, national, and world tournaments. I participate in a bi-weekly league. Sorta like church softball for geeks. It will quickly become my most played game sometime this year. The biggest downside to Netrunner is two decks need to be brought to tournaments, which drains a bit more time than my other favorite collectible games.

8. 1960: The Making of the President (#7)
Card-driven? Check. Two-player? Check. I feel like these are two elements I've come to really enjoy in games and 1960 has it. This is a tug of war game where you try to win the presidency as either Kennedy or Nixon. Fighting over the electoral votes, making sure you lead the issues to get momentum and destroy your opponents chances. That is what this one is all about.

7. Agricola (#4)
The slight fall might just be some slight burn out on my part. However, Agricola is one my Top 10 most played games and will always be one I absolutely love. Though some my find the farming theme dry, I find it so well implemented that I do feel like I'm farming. This also makes teaching it relatively easy, since it makes sense to those here in the Midwest that I'm teaching. I played Caverna this year for the first time, which is a sequel to this one, but for myself, Agricola continues to be my game of choice.

6. Sid Meier's Civilization (#4)
This is CivRev from the consoles brought to board games. I've now got the second expansion (not yet played) for it. I think my only complaint about this game is the learning curve for new players. This makes it tough to pick up new people, but usually I find once we do, they are hooked. Individual player powers, a cool tech pyramid, and watching your civilization grow keep me coming back for more in this wonderful game.

5. Chaos in the Old World (New)
This game has raced to this position for me. The theme will turn some people off, which I understand, but if you don't mind the theme this game is amazing. It is the perfect blend of chaotic dice rolling attacks, area control, and balanced card play. I've purchased the expansion for this during the year and it gives more of the same with more asymmetrical play that draws me to this one. This actually won the Game of the Year award for my game group this past year, competing against all the other "new to us" games.

4. Age of Empires III (#4)
There are just some games that click with me. By click I don't mean I'm good at them, but rather I mean that I just enjoyed it immediately. There is fun worker placement, some fighting, some player special abilities. If you enjoy any of those things, I suggest this game too you. Our group has a solid contingent of players who will play this anytime, so that helps me a lot in getting this to the table.

3. Warhammer: Invasion (#3)
This game was "cancelled" this year by FFG. Basically they aren't having any more expansions come out, but will still print what they've already produced. I probably have played in my last tournament of Invasion, but still have all the cards and will be keeping them. I love the fast in your face play. I like the art on the cards. I like the feel of the board game style play, with different regions to attack and play your cards. The best collectible game I've ever played.

2. Railways of the World (#1)
Yes, it dropped one spot. This game is still awesome though with expansions, but dropped for me just because the base map is pretty much only good with 5 or 6 players. There is a map for every player count that works well though and I own several expansions. Laying track, connecting cities, and delivering goods makes you really feel as if you are running a railroad company. This game keeps the fun in railroad games, while not sacrificing the strategy. I consider this a "tier-two" level game. So if you like Ticket to Ride and want to experience more I'd suggest this one.

1. War of the Ring (#1)
Yes. It has become my number one game. Each time I play it, I think it couldn't get better. There isn't any game that I feel so immersed in the theme. The game many times comes down to the final sprint to Mount Doom as the Shadow grows across the board. This isn't a game for the faint of heart though. It does take 3-4 hours to play. There are a ton of rules that can be easily missed. However, the game gives you a ton of satisfaction. The action die selection is amazing, the card play is very important, and knowing where to spend your dice in order to at least make your opponent take time to prevent a city from falling or to at least put a few dice in the hunt pool. Play this game. Play this game with me. I'll teach.

If you've made it this far, then thanks. I appreciate you reading and hope you got an idea to try a new game with your friends and family!