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He Said, She Said

Back when we discovered BGG in 2004, my wife Robin (helenoftroy), and I, started recording plays and posting session reports under "The Honeymooners" moniker. It's hard to imagine eight years have passed since! Therefore, feeling nostalgic, I'm bringing "The Honeymooners" back and adding our two precocious boys, Bailey and Jakob, to the roster. This blog will record sessions and comments regarding our current game play and how we're introducing gaming concepts to our children. Enjoy!

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HIVE Tutorial and Game Play Video with Son

Robin
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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For my technology class I am taking this summer, I needed to create a video where I was teaching something, so I created a video about HIVE.

Enjoy!

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Sat Jul 26, 2014 7:34 pm
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Mother's Day Gaming

Robin
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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On Mother's Day, we had a quiet afternoon at home. Hilary was spending the bulk of the day making Kentucky Burgoo from my new Kentucky Cookbook I got for Mother's Day, and we played games.

We decided to start with a game my oldest son selected and much to our surprise, he picked the DC Comics Deck-Building Game instead of Castle Panic. After he thoroughly read each hero's special abilities and chastised his younger brother for selecting based on the character rather than the abilities, he decided on playing Green Lantern because of the 3 + bonus for playing three cards of a different title that cost 1+. As we played, he learned that this was a very good decision. He was knocking out Super Villains quicker than I could get enough points to much of anything. It is also interesting to see how quickly he can calculate his points.


photo courtesy of Dan Kerr

He was somewhat upset when the game ended and that we would not let him free play the game. He likes to pretend the characters are figures and make them attack each other.

Then, he played three games of Hive with me. We quickly reviewed the rules, clarified when the queen bee must be placed and reviewed how placement of the insects cannot touch the opponent's pieces. I won 2 out of 3 games, and my little one got to free play the game like he wanted.

Later that afternoon, we played a three player game of Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre with my youngest son; he's 8. After looking at the game, my husband's stealth purchase, I really wasn't that thrilled. It didn't seem like the most appropriate family game to play with my son. The art was very cartoony and unnecessarily gory. One of the player cards was called, "Pisster the Pissed Wizard" and other cards include lovely things like vomit, decapitation, and blood and guts.



It was like a kids' game gone wrong. However, it was also very reminiscent of Adventure Time, and well ... boys are kinda gross anyway. Besides, my son didn't seem to be bothered by the art. Why should I be? I ended up playing Princess Holiday, who reminded me of Princess Bubblegum. I even found a fire elemental card that looked like The Flame Princess. Actually, the entire premise of the game reminded me of one of the wizards' duel episodes of Adventure Time where the last wizard standing got to kiss Princess Bubblegum. I'm thinking I probably watch more cartoons with my children than I realize.

Much like the cartoon, players select a wizard to play and try to be the last wizard standing. The construction of the spells was quite inventive. The spells were made of three parts: a source card, a quality card, and a delivery card. These cards would connect together. If there was a missing component, a wild card could be played. The words instead of banner on the different cards are to be read together as one spell.


photo courtesy of W. Eric Martin

The game was easy to follow because the cards would simply explain what was done during your turn. The absolute absurdity behind the game really made the game enjoyable. I forgot who won. We played three rounds, collected the crazy treasures, and read our three part spells proudly.
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Wed May 14, 2014 12:31 am
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Gaming with the Boys

Robin
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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I hate to be the parent who forces their interests on children, but when you have a child with Autism, sometimes you have to force social interaction through new activities like boardgames or the child will isolate him or herself in single person activities.

For example, my son is limited to one hour of computer time during the week days. On the weekends, we have a one hour on, one hour off schedule when it comes to computer and electronics. When we are not consistent with this schedule, my son gets upset with people for interrupting him and does not recognize how much time has passed.

Yesterday, after dinner was over, my husband got the boys playing the dice game, Pirates vs. Ninjas. It was the perfect time because there was a natural transition and the boys were not involved in a new activity yet.


Photo courtesy of Surya

Then, we played a four player family game of King of Tokyo. Our 10 year old won! Hilary came in second. I was in third place, because I always do poorly at this game for some reason. Our 8 year old lost, but he kind of threw the game in hopes of teaming up with his older brother. The last two times we played, our 8 year old won both times. But yesterday, he decided to control Tokyo for too long.

Our 10 year old won by picking up a Borrow card that destroyed Hilary as he vacated Tokyo. My Kung Fu Panda could not make any healing rolls and was eliminated not long after one turn in Tokyo.

Then, we played Castle Panic as requested by our 10 year old. Castle Panic is his all-time favorite game, and we really hadn’t played for a while. We ended up separating the Wizard's Tower expansion because we forgot how to use it.


photo courtesy of jeston

As we played, our 10 year old started designing his own Castle Panic FLUFFY expansion. Fluffy is his special blue plush fidget. In between turns, Fluffy was battling the little triangular shaped orc and goblin tokens. We sometimes try to keep Fluffy involved to keep our son involved. On many hiking trips, we make a point to take photos of Fluffy.



I was really happy that we didn’t have to bribe or require a game session, and the boys were urging us to continue playing.

Maybe next time, we'll try another round of Smash Up.
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Tue May 6, 2014 4:50 pm
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On a Card Game Kick

Robin
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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Lately, Hilary and I have been on a card game kick.

We played two games of Ascension. During our first game, I got a little confused about the constructs. I kept discarding them up after one play and shuffling them back into the deck. I also kept destroying instead of discarding my constructs when Hilary would play a power card against me. After losing my 8 point construct, I reviewed the game terminology in the rule book. There is a BIG difference between destroying and discarding. I won both games.

After somewhat bribing our 8 year old son, we played a couple games of For Sale. Hilary bought me the game as a joke because I've been watching the housing flip and Love it or List it shows lately and because I mentioned we needed more short filler games. For Sale fit the bill perfectly. Our son won the first game and I won the second.

Today, we played DC Deck Building Game which to me was almost identical to Ascension except for the superhero theme. The locations card were a lot like the construct cards from Ascension. Wonder Woman beat Batman 60 to 49.
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Sun May 4, 2014 3:14 am
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Second Game of Castles of Burgundy

Robin
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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Photo courtesy of W. Eric Martin

Hilary and I played our second game of The Castles of Burgundy today. We ended up using the new map and quickly realized that if we had the ability to place in areas, it was easier to collect victory points for completing areas. Most areas were two to three hexes long.

Early in the game, I completed all three mine areas on my board and received the five victory point bonus for completing all the mine hexes on my map. I also racked in the points for having an eight hex farm with large groups on animals on the hexes. I tried to stick with one grouping of animals but Hilary stole the chickens, forcing me to diversify my livestock. I had eight sheep, three pigs, and seven or eight chickens. I tend to make the most of the farm scoring.


photo courtesy of (kilroy_locke)

After our first round, Hilary ended up stealing first player from me by monopolizing the boats and scoring off the sales from the trade goods.

The game did not take as long as our first play because we easily recalled the game play. However, we did have to double check the knowledge tile abilities. Since we rolled at the same time, strategies were developed during the opponents' turn. Both of us were eagerly prompting each other during our turns. Prompting is, of course, a nice word for rushing. I could not imagine playing this game with more people. It was hard enough waiting on Hilary's turns.

I can see why the first player position is so important. Even though I had a 20 point lead throughout most of the game and Hilary was afraid I was going to lap him at one point, I was still upset when he took the last mine and stole my chickens. It can be nerve-racking watching someone mess up your plan; however, it would be fun to see how this plays out with more players especially considering more tokens are added with more players.


photo courtesy of (thatmadgirl)


We really zipped through the five phases. Again, like I said in our first game post, the graphic organizers make it easy to follow the phases and rounds. If something interrupts the game, we could look down at the goods track and know exactly what round and phrase we are on.

I ended up winning 186 to 158.
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Sun Jan 12, 2014 2:24 am
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Holiday Gaming

Robin
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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Hilary and I played quite a few games over the holiday break.

For Christmas, I bought him The Cave which we got to the table this week. In this game, each player’s speleologist ventures through the cave in a tile laying game similar to a dungeon crawl. Each speleologist must insure all the supplies are equipped to move into a particular tile. The rope laying mechanism is a great way to create the descents of the exploration. I like how the scores are calculated; much like life, the scoring is based on the quality of the adventure represented by photo opportunities and wonders encountered rather than whether the speleologist collected a particular item or explored a particular length.



While both of our speleologists made it back to the home space, my speleologists was a bit more timid about descending deeper into the cave because she did not bring adequate amounts of rope but Hilary’s speleologist accumulated depth markers throughout the game which resulted in a win. While it does not compare to touring through the breath-taking Mammoth Cave, The Cave is a fun survival game through the unknown.

Thanks to my wonderful Secret Santa, Hilary and I were able to get Castles of Burgundy to the table. While we are already big fans of Notre Dame and Bora Bora, Castles of Burgundy after one play was an immediate new favorite.



I also see this game hitting the table much more often because of the playing time and the memorable, straightforward, and meaningful rules. Like other Feld games, graphic organizers built into the boards and the player estate boards explain the player actions, tile abilities, and the scoring. Each player is building an estate; scores are calculated based on how the players choose to build their estates. I ended up raking in the points because of my chicken farm.

Our new filler game, Blueprint, also hit the table this week. Even though I lost miserably, I found this filler challenging and fun. Each player is given a blueprint of a particular building which is built using a selection of dice rolled at the beginning of the game and placed at the center of the table.


photo courtesy of (Nini la nicoise)

The player selects a die, places on the blueprint, discards a die, and rolls two more to place at the center of the table. The building is scored based on the placement and selection of dice. Each die color presents a particular material and is scored differently. For example, a clear dice are scored based on the number rolled, the green dice are scored based on how many are in the building, and the black dice are scored based on height. There is a graphic representation of the scoring on the players’ building screen.

While the players are trying to score the most points for the building, there are also other victory conditions such as having the most structurally sound building presented by only using one color to build the building or having a straight or having four of a kind.


photo courtesy of (diddle74)

Much like Castles of Burgundy, Blueprints will hit the table often because it will be a great family game for everyone including my 8 and 10 year old boys because it is a great simple building game with little set up. I look forward to seeing Bailey winning often. This is the kind of game he can really wrap his mind around.
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Sat Jan 4, 2014 4:26 am
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Circus Train 2nd edition - thoughts after our first play

Robin
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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We ended up ordering the 2nd edition of Circus Train because it quickly became a personal favorite after one play. It reminds me a little of Power Grid and Empire Builder. After the end of September in Circus Train, I felt like there should have been two or three more rounds because I had more actions I wanted to take which is the same feelings I have after playing Power Grid and Empire Builder . . . "if only there was more time I could have done this, this and, this" which is why I love Circus Train so much. Every decision must be carefully chosen. The decision to make one action, then, directly impacts your ability or inability to make another action. Such is life really.

The second edition by Victory Point Games is nicely done. I like the puzzle piece board. The cardboard pieces are nice and sturdy after we wiped down the edges.


photo courtesy of chas2203

What I love the most about Circus Train is the theme. Each player is traveling around to the different areas, collecting performers, and performing in areas where their is a demand for entertainment based on the interest level in a particular type performance. For example, players land on a circus tent where they can choose to perform. The circus score is based on the numbers inside the performer type icons.

Players also must ensure that performers are eventually paid. Like any worker, if they do not get paid at the appropriate time, circus talent is lost. Money is collected based on the color of the tents of the circus which is discovered after the performance when the tent counter is flipped over.


photo courtesy of photo courtesy of chas2203

Collecting points is fairly unique in the game. Points are based on who has the most performers of a given type and whether the player has performed the biggest most prestigious performance. There is also end game scoring based on number of performances, ability to pay wages, the most money, and the most performers of a given type at the end of September.

I also like that the reputation of the player's circus plays a role as well. With each performance, the number grows based on the bonus number from every previous performance. This aspect of the game meshes the theme and game mechanics well.

The game turns are based on the weeks in a given month, and at the beginning of each month, an event occurs and effects the game. For example, during our game, I had to discard my horse performers because the animals were sick. Another event card allowed players to switch horse performers for Big Cat performers.


photo courtesy of photo courtesy of chas2203

Overall, it was a nice reprinted edition of a game I already loved. Because, who doesn't love a CIRCUS!

I won 35 to 23. My highest performance rating was 90 to Hilary's 60ish. I ended up hiring a variety of performers quickly before Hilary could get to them and performed at a high value 2 week long performance during the last weeks of September.

I had a good variety of performers with the most clowns. Clowns are good ways to rack in the points without losing too much money to wages. Hilary had the most acrobats which allowed him to receive bonuses throughout the game, doubling the acrobat points because of his famous performances.
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Sun Oct 20, 2013 10:39 pm
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First Play of O Zoo Le Mio

Robin
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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I gave my husband a hard time because we haven’t played all the games we received last Christmas. If we wanted to participate in this year’s BGG Secret Santa, we better show appreciation to those who gave us gifts by playing the games we received which was my way of reminding him that we haven’t played O Zoo Le Mio, a game I know he was not as interested in playing.


picture courtesy of cbrua

However, I love the theme. I love zoos and the zoo building theme. I’m a big fan of Zooloretto, and, even though I’m not a big fan of video games, I played Zoo Tycoon. (Nothing against video games, I’m just not very good. I even struggle with IPad boardgames). My hope for O Zool Le Mio is that this will be a new family favorite, especially considering how difficult Zooloretto is for our youngest.


picture courtesy of dougadamsau

Before we get the kids, we played a quick two player game. Each player picks a zoo that they will fill with zoo tiles in order to attract the most patrons. Players are also trying to collect benches and trees. The zoo tiles have animals, trees, and paths.

Like Carcassonne, the player is attempting to connect the paths. When paths create an enclosure, the player gains a bench. The player with the most trees gains two trees and the player in second place gains one tree. The animals on the tiles have different color stars that represent the popularity.

The player who has the most stars of a given color gains two meeples of the stars’ color, and the player with the second most stars in an enclosure gains one meeple of that color. The game is made up of five rounds representing five years.


picture courtesy of Geosmores

During the five years, the players simultaneously bid for the tile individually using the coins they receive at the beginning of the game. Each year, there are five tiles up for auction. After a player wins the bid, the winner loses the coins, the loser keeps the coins, and the winner places the tile in their zoo.


picture courtesy of jupiterchild

At the end of the year, players score their zoos. For the first year, they get one point for each meeple, tree, and bench in their zoo. The second year, they get 2 points for each meeple, tree, and bench and so forth. The boys will enjoy trying out their multiplication skills while scoring their zoos. Also, the players receive coins based on the number of tiles in their zoo after each round/year.


picture courtesy of Gibbo

The game is pretty straight forward. I’m sure the boys will love it. I won 210-127. While I enjoyed the game, I do believe there is a runaway leader problem. For example, I won some bids earlier in the game and received a tile with three blue stars, another colored star on one side, and three trees. It was quite a score. I ended up getting more tiles, scoring more, which resulted in receiving more coins for the following year’s auctions. Since I had more, I was able to win more tiles, continue to build my score while also building more coins for future bids. Although, the losing bid never had to relinquish their coins, so the player never lost the money which could be a successful way to address the runaway leader problem. But, was it enough? I don’t know. I don’t think the issue is enough to break the game for me. Plus, I imagine the game will change a bit in future sessions.

And, I think my youngest will enjoy that this game does not take as long as Zooloretto and there are fewer choices to make. And, my husband wants a rematch!
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Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:46 pm
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Crappy Birthday with the Family

Robin
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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This past weekend, we played an impromptu game of Crappy Birthday with my dad and his new girlfriend. She was telling us about this game she played with her daughter called Pass the Pig when I suggested Crappy Birthday. I tried to give an overview but I wasn’t doing a great job explaining, especially since Jakob, my seven year old, also wanted describe some of his favorite cards in the game. To help with my explanation, I got the game out to and suggested a couple of rounds.

However, once I started showing the cards, Bailey, my nine year old son, my husband, and my dad joined in. The game was easily explained in a couple of sentences. In each round, one person is celebrating their birthday. The other players select the appropriate gift from their hand of cards for the person. The person celebrating his or her birthday selects the best and worst gift. The person who played the card gets point or the card, depending on how the group decides to calculate the score.

After two rounds, I felt everyone understood the game pretty well. I asked if they wanted to continue to a specific number or if they wanted to keep going. We ended up going through the whole deck of cards. It was great fun. I don’t think I have played a game with my dad since I was a teenager.

I also learned some interesting things about our little group. I think Bailey has never seen a port-a-potty and may believe it is a small playhouse or a magical teleportation device. I’m not sure, but we were all surprised when he chose it as his favorite. My dad is terrified of heights, roller coasters, and other adventurous activities depicted on the cards. My dad’s girlfriend likes creepy crawly things. I played the “bug art” card that makes me feel itchy just looking at it and she selected is as her favorite. While I was happy with my point, I had to ask why. She once had a pet scorpion and likes bugs . . . huh, strange.

Bailey won with 19 cards, I came in second with 18 cards, and Jakob was third with 17 cards. The other players had around 6-8 cards.
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Thu May 2, 2013 1:54 pm
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In a Star Wars State of Mind

Hilary Hartman
United States
Wilmore
Kentucky
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With all of the hoopla surrounding Disney's acquisition of the Star Wars franchise, my own fascination with the Saga has come full circle. Where once I had been awed by the adventures of Luke Skywalker and company, I was thoroughly and utterly done with the series at the end of the new trilogy. For all I cared, Star Wars had been a great--nay, monumental!--series better left to a long time ago in a decade far, far away.

And then the Mouse House acquired the rights and started hiring folks like J.J. Abrams to move the series in a new direction, relegating Jedi Master George to the role of Creative Consultant where he could do the least amount of harm to the series he had created. That's right, I said it: George Lucas derailed the series from what it could have been with the disastrous prequel series featuring Jar Jar Binks, midi-chlorians, and a horrid love story which had hoped to illustrate the epic beginnings of the Skywalker clan.

All of that being said, I am really, really stoked for seeing how the series turns out. It could get worse, but somehow I doubt such is possible unless Disney really sets about milking the franchise any further. Disney would never do that, right?

So, this weekend, I found myself surrounded in Star Wars gaming goodness. First, I've been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG. I've been playing MMOs off and on since 1998, and was even part of the beta for Star Wars Galaxies. I've played UO, EQ, AO, WoW, E&B, and so on, and I personally think that SWTOR is the best. Not only does it have all the trappings of traditional MMOs but an individualized story for the player, too. At least in the game I feel like my character's journey is special, something I haven't felt in any of the other MMOs I've played. As of now, I have a 15th level smuggler, and a 6th level Sith, and both of them are a hoot to play.

Yesterday, Robin and I played the quick start rules to Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game. I thought we might want to give it a go, especially seeing how I'd ordered the Millenium Falcon and Slave I expansion packs. Yeah, it's a very simplified version of the rules. So simple that it's boring. Even with the John Williams' A New Hope score blaring in the background, the game moved at the speed of a Hutt. Later, Robin and I both admitted we'd hoped that the other would blast us out of the sky. Instead, like Wings of War: Famous Aces, we ended up maneuvering back and forth while not hitting each other as the fun ebbed slowly away. Finally, I pulled out the victory, and while I jumped for joy at having won, I also leapt around trying to get feeling back in my butt from having sat so long at the table.



We also own Star Wars: The Card Game, but I'm a little worried that bringing it to the table today would make Robin seize me in some pseudo Force Choke as she Force flings me across the room. Surely, it has to be better than Star Wars Customizable Card Game, right?

Finally, I can't possibly imagine the reaction she would have to Star Wars: Edge of the Empire, seeing as tabletop RPGs are not her favorite games to play. Robin's a good sport and really tries to enjoy the RPGs I do bring home, especially if I drag out miniatures for them. But a Star Wars RPG? I think it would go over like Bantha Poo-Doo.

Regardless, I've had a good weekend and have gotten to play one of the games I'd bought within the last year. I admit: I bought it because the 10 year-old in me wanted the tiny starfighters that I'd grown up with since sitting in that darkened theater in 1977. For a few brief moments, with the soundtrack playing in the background, I was in the cockpit of the X-Wing and fighting the good fight for the Rebellion. That, friend, is what gaming is all about.
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Sun Mar 3, 2013 11:22 pm
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