The Casual Christian Female Gamer

My opinions on games from my point of view as a fairly casual gamer, a Christian, and a female. YMMV.

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The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac

Selah Fairport
United States
Allen
Texas
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Game: The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac

Overview:
Indiana Jones meets a light dungeon crawl, with a touch of Yahtzee snuck in. Your adventurer explores a temple, which doesn't want to be explored. Walls slowly close off the entrance corridor, the lava room threatens to kill you with one misstep, on old rickety bridge asks if you feel lucky today, while a waterfall holds you hostage until you survive by paying the ransom. Oh, and a boulder is racing you to get to the exit first, to trap you in or run you over. All this while you're busy gathering treasures to try to be adventurer with the most treasures who escapes alive.

The Good:
This game has great components, a strong theme, and has a nice "compete against the game" feel. The board has variability in tile placement, speed of the boulder, speed of the walls closing, and speed of the players (the more treasures you carry the harder it is for you to move around). Strategy is light, the luck aspects are fun, and if you die you have the option of starting a second player.

The Bad:
Layout seems intimidating the first game or two. It is hard to figure out the starting location for the walls. The adventurer minis tip over easily but have great detail. The game looks harder than it is, which is nice for casual gamers but will disappoint more serious strategy lovers.

The Verdict: Purchase
Purchase for casual gamers (also those looking for two player games). More advanced players may enjoy it once, once in awhile, as filler.

Additional:
I found this game on deep discount, and then found the painted minis on deep discount too. I don't think I would have bought the painted minis if I had been looking at full price. But I decided to splurge the $15 since this game fits my usual gaming participants well. I do wish Lea didn't look quite so topless, and will be painting a small camisole to make her less "L@@k at my -*BOOBS!*-" I do wish the painted minis had a larger, more stable base, and will be gluing on metal discs or coin-like objects to keep them upright. I also used the variation cards (The Adventurers Variety Cards, version 1) which I think will make this a very replayable game for my family and friends.
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Mon Aug 22, 2011 6:57 am
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Oh, Really! (A party or family game)

Selah Fairport
United States
Allen
Texas
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Game: Oh, Really!

Overview:
"Oh, Really!: The Lively Game of What Matters Most" is a perfect title for this party game. Five cards are drawn, and then players attempt to rank order them from most to least important. Depending on the variation you select, you can play in partners (did I predict their answers), free for all (can I pick who most matched my answers), or follow the leader (everyone tries to match one person's rank order). Ranking is done by setting out tiles with symbols (&, #, !, *, +) which match a card slot on the board. Your tiles are placed in order of most important on the left moving to least important on the right. Then you reveal your ranks and score points for your matched answers.

The Good:
Up to 8 individuals or teams can play. The words you have to rank run a wide variety from "deodorant" to "optimism". My first play the cards seemed too easy to rank, how do you even begin to argue that "religious freedom" are less important than "toothbrush." I split the cards up, almost in exactly half, of light/concrete words versus more heavy/complex ideas. We then played the game with six people (no more than two players already knew each other). We started with the lighter words for one full lap around the table and then did another lap with the heavier words. It was a great ice breaker, started some conversations when "Oh, really!? You ranked hair more important than paramedics!?" situations arose, and the cards being split up helped make the game get more difficult the more we played (nice ramp-up effect).

This game could also be great for families and other groups who want a closer bond if they take time to discuss and understand why people voted a certain way, instead of rapidly playing with little time to share and reflect.

The Bad:
I really do wish the words had been separated into two decks of different face or font color so you could have the ability to sort or shuffle as best meets the needs of your group and ages playing. I will probably end up putting a small dot on the back corner of cards to be able to sort out light versus heavy topics in case deck gets shuffled again.

The Verdict: Purchase
The players in the group felt that this game was on par with Apples to Apples and Dixit. It was preferred over these two because the words are easy to understand (no famous names or places to content with). Some felt that this created better communication opportunities, especially with strangers. There is also little risk that someone will be embarrassed that they don't know something (Apples) or aren't creative enough (Dixit). With 200 cards, there is quite a bit of replay available.

Some examples of "light" terms: cops, teeth, hotels, paper, spoons, video games, parties, shoes, breakfast, underwear.
Some examples of "heavier" terms: the Bible, self esteem, sense of humor, respect, pleasure, space exploration, peace, truth, sight, conformity.
Again, this is a sort I did on the fly, the game cards are not sorted for you.

Disclaimer:
I was provided a copy of this game to review. I have no other connection to the game, the publisher, nor the creator.

Professional Note:
As a mental health counselor I do see the potential to use this game in counseling sessions or group environments with the included cards and even specific homemade cards. There were times in ranking items that I had to question, and even change my own ranking, so this game does make you think. There is something powerful in asking people to rank words like "self esteem, intimacy, wealth, fame, conformity" or to ask couples to see how they compare with words like "financial stability, spontaneity, children, religious beliefs, career growth" in a concrete and tangible way rather than just talking about these ideas.
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Sun Aug 21, 2011 1:53 am
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Ticket to Ride: House Variations

Selah Fairport
United States
Allen
Texas
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We have played hundreds (if not already into the thousands and it's feeling like thousands!) of games of Ticket to Ride. I actually leave the state once a month to have TTR weekend marathons with friends! Since we have played the heck out of the game, here are some variations we have found useful to keep the game interesting by making it harder.

Ticket to Ride: Europe:
- No stations

Ticket to Ride
- Everyone must keep one coast to coast ticket.

Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries
- No 3 cards equals a locomotive option.

Ticket to Ride: Switzerland
- Remove country cards.

For any version:
- Each player must keep one long distance ticket.
- Each player must keep the first 3-5 tickets they are dealt.
- Super evil: Pick three of the first five tickets dealt to you and then pass them to the next player to the left. Everyone starts off with these three forced tickets.
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Sat Aug 13, 2011 7:15 am
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Second Life: Can't Stop, En Garde, and Frootcake (aka No Thanks)

Selah Fairport
United States
Allen
Texas
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I got involved with Second Life almost two years ago. one of the first things I fell in love with was the huge gaming community. My very first month in I entered a month-long game triathlon that used three of SL's best board games. I was amazed to find out that not only were these games wildly popular, and you could earn SL money in tournaments, but that these games were all ports of real life board games (according to the game designer he even had official permission even to create these).

The first one I fell in love with was Can't Stop. The stop sign board is built as a table, that spins to face each player. A heads-up GUI display shows you what columns/numbers you can work on based on your dice roll. Sounds highlight your zonks, column nabs, and your win even has fireworks exploding over your chair. I had to buy the game in real life, which sadly doesn't have the cute sounds or the fireworks, but I still love to play. I am glad to see this game is going back into print, and hope that a lot of the Second Life players have helped keep this classic popular. From all the electronic versions I have seen, the SL version has the best layout and graphics for the board and dice options by far. If an iOS app ever gets made, they really need to talk to the designer of the SL game!

The second game I learned was En Garde. Of course the fencing game comes to life since you are playing as a full-sized avatar with epees, and actually battle each other. I did not know this was a real board game until just recently. I would love to play this as an iOS game, since on SL there is an ELO ranking system that has people afraid and sometimes unwilling to play newbies or other people with lower rank. And of you go too long without a game on record your rank disappears and you have to start all over, which usually happens to me.

The last game I really enjoy playing, but is harder to play because it's more difficult to find the minimum number of players, is Frootcake. I just figured out tonight that Frootcake is really No Thanks! The shocker here is how much more of a theme the game has in SL compared to the real game! In SL the game is played at a grouping of tables. The center table pops open to reveal a cake with a number on it, which represents the weight of the cake. Your goal is to get stuck with as few total ounces of fruitcake as possible. Stacks of consecutive sized cakes magically only equal the weight of the highest (lightest) tier. The person with the smallest total weight of cakes at the end of the game wins. I don't know how the SL designer got cakes out of the nonexistent theme in No Thanks, but it totally works. It's also created a slew of funny sound clips players use when trash talking during the game like "Cake Jacker!" and "Take the cake, go on, don't pass it around, just eat it!" and shouts of "Extortion!" when we are all paying to avoid a large cake that someone actually needs for their stack. Again, if an iOS version were to come out,I would hope it would mimic this awesome design!

You may never find yourself in the huge worlds of Second Life, but if you do, you'll find these three great games and a lot more waiting for you! And if you stumble across a cockatiel wearing butterfly wings sitting at a game table, that just might be me!
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Thu Aug 11, 2011 7:37 am
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Dixit 2: Letdown? Some dislikes, some cards banned.

Selah Fairport
United States
Allen
Texas
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Dixit 2 finally arrived and today we finally got to play. We decided to play only with Dixit 2 cards so we could test them out. Three of us have played 2-5 games of Dixit, and were comparing the artwork of the original to the expansion. The unanimous opinion was that Dixit had better, more useful as a storyteller, more in-depth cards than Dixit 2.

Of the first set, many cards were commented on as "Oh I'd love to have that as a print or screensaver" and only one got thrown out of play as being offensive or creepy based on a religious point of view.

I only heard one card get the "I want this to keep!" type comment today and five cards got thrown out for offensive, creepy, or unplayable.

I'm hoping Dixit Odyssey takes us back to the joy and wonderment of Dixit's original artwork.

For those considering skipping Dixit to just order Dixit 2, please reconsider. I think the art in Dixit is better for newbies playing this game, and think Dixit 2 really will be better when mixed in with Dixit.

EDIT: Here's the pictures that have gone over poorly:

[geekurl= http://boardgamegeek.com/image/696476/dixit-2?size=original]Dixit Art Pictures[/geekurl]

Sorry don't know how to do in-line image links.
Ok here's a mega grid of the Dixit 1 and 2 cards.

The ones we pulled from play at player(s) request:
Dixit 1:
Line 4 #2 "Demon Dice"

Dixit 2:
Line 7 #12 "White Robe Eye"
Line 8 #13 "Blood Chalice"
Line 9 #3 "Huge Red Eye"
Line 10 #7 "Bishop Bird"


Ones we all hated as storyteller, and these usually ended up being trashed when no other cards matched the target story.
Dixit 1:
Line 4 #13 "Yellow Hairband"

Dixit 2:
Line 7 #8 "Nuclear Power Plant"
Line 8 #2 "Earth-ish"
Line 8 #9 "Spit-Fire"
Line 10 #1 "Donkey Dude"
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Mon Aug 8, 2011 2:02 am
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Sleeve Newbie

Selah Fairport
United States
Allen
Texas
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I don't like sleeves. They add bulk and slipperiness that make cards harder to handle. I have also never owned a game that I thought would get destroyed beyond playability that I couldn't replace.

Dixit is the first game that has made me want sleeves. I sleeved them with the Mayday Magnum Gold sleeves. Yes, the stack is now bigger. Yes, I've already had the slippery deck jump out of my hands and all over the floor twice now. I hate that. But I think the artwork is a vital and necessary part of this game. Also, since it's a party game it may be in a lot of hands around food, drinks, and other card destroying substances. Therefore, the slick as bat poop sleeves are necessary evils for this game.

I'm still not a fan of sleeves, and hope to never sleeve another deck. But Dixit was worth it. Thank you, Mayday, for making sleeves for this game!
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Sat Aug 6, 2011 10:18 pm
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Boom-O and Sorry Revenge

Selah Fairport
United States
Allen
Texas
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Game: Boom-O and Sorry! Revenge Card Game

Overview:
Both are hand management games. Boom-O allows up to 6 players and has an almost party game feel to it when played with the right crowd. Sorry Revenge only allows 4 players.

Both have indicator cards which show how close you are to the end condition of the game. In Boom-O you objective is to not blow up the three booms in front of you. In Sorry Revenge the goal is to be able to flip your pawn cards from the "start" side to the "home" side. This is accomplished by best managing your hand and the sequence of cards you play.

Both have a "race against the clock" or "don't go over this number and bust" objective. Boom-O has a clock that you don't want to go past 60, and Sorry Revenge wants you to not past21.

Both feel similar to UNO and have special action cards. This, however, is where the two games differ. In both you have cards that affect the current count either up or down, and cards that switch game play direction.

Boom-O shines in having cards that can be used in a mean, attack, or aggressive way. Such as cards that force the next player to play two cards which has a high chance of making them lose the round if the clock is at it's limit. Or a card that makes everyone blow up a bomb if they can't play a safety card; but if everyone plays a safety card than the person who played it blows up their own bomb. Knowing when to play these special cards is where the strategy comes in.

Sorry Revenge is like Boom-O without the bite. The special action cards only affect you, and there are not cards that act aggressively against other players. It feels like Mom has stepped into the room and told you to play nice with your sibling when you really aren't in the mode to play nice.

The Good:
Boom-O plays better with adults, and Sorry Revenge plays better with kids. Boom-O can have a lot of laughs and trash talk with the right group, giving it a party game flavor. It's best as a beer and pizza night type game.

The Bad:
Boom-O was never really marketed, that I remember. Which meant it died a quick death, was sold off to UNO, still not marketed well, and has gone out of print. It's a shame. I might have liked Sorry Revenge slightly more if I hadn't felt like it was a nicer watered down version of Boom-O.

The Verdict: Play, possibly Purchase Boom-O, especially for casual groups of gamers who have a slightly competitive and goofy streak;
Pass, possibly Play for Sorry Revenge, especially if with kids who like Sorry the board game.
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Sat Aug 6, 2011 8:34 pm
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Skip-Bo Mod (& Spite & Malice for iOS)

Selah Fairport
United States
Allen
Texas
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Game: Skip-Bo and Skip-Bo MOD

Overview:
Skip-Bo is almost like conjoint Freecell where you are playing with shared supply, discard, and build stacks. You only have control over your own tableau for "hold cards" and proper use of that is the real strategy. There is advanced strategy of watching the other person's tableau in order to they to leave them without being able to utilize/unblock cards (for example, I may play one fewer card at the end of my turn if that card would have allowed you to get cards off your tableau).

Skip-Bo MOD adds a dice roll to each turn and reduces the number of cards needed from 162 to 112. This allows the game to fit into a wonderful travel case. The dice can speed the game up if it's working in your favor by giving you wilds or numbers you actually need to build upon. I keep a set in the car for spontaneous games at the coffee shop or lunch stop.

The Good:
Has the potential for older kids and adults to play together. Good beginner type game to learn hand management, pre-planning, and learning to pay attention to your opponent to learn strategy.

The Bad:
Moderate to serious gamers will be bored by this. This is more of a card game for fans of traditional cards games, is best with two players, and is probably most enjoyable playing with an AI opponent electronically.

The Verdict: Play, maybe Pass
If you like card games like tableau card games like Soliaire, Freecell, or Spider, and easy hand management/sequential strategy card games like UNO, then Skip-Bo is something you'd probably enjoy. If you bore easy, this will probably best be passed.

iOS: Spite & Malice
Spite & Malice has three levels of difficulty, which really helps you learn basic to advanced strategy to keep up. The Achievements in the game are fun to earn, and encourage that you play all three difficulties. Probably in my top 5 iOS "only have a few minutes to play" games.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/spite-malice/id302981385?uo=4...
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Sat Aug 6, 2011 7:45 pm
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Tsuro (& Pathology HD for iOS)

Selah Fairport
United States
Allen
Texas
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Game: Tsuro

Overview:
Tsuro is a tile placement game in which your goal is to be the last man still on the game board. Each time you lay a new tile on the board you must follow your newly extended path until it ends. You are not allowed to purposefully send your own man off the board unless that is your only option. If players cross during play, they are both eliminated.

The Good:
This game allows up to 8 players, and can be a very quick game. It feels light, with minimal strategy and planning having to take place between turns, which allows for socializing. It also allows non-gamers to feel comfortable and equally able to win. No reading is required and the game is simple to understand, making it playable for kids as well.

The Bad:
It almost felt too short at first compared to the game durations we have grown accustomed to. It was a really nice shift between a purely social game to a more strategy intensive game however.

The Verdict: Play, possibly Purchase
I think some people will find this game too short, and not enough strategy. Therefore I recommend you try it first before you add it to your collection unless you know you have room for filler games. It might also be a good game for kids who are in that transition stage where they feel too old for kid games but don't have the skill, patience, or interest in adult games.

iOS: "Pathology HD"
Found a version for the iPad called "Pathology.". It plays well, and is best when playing against 4+ players. I enjoy playing with 5 AI players. You get points for forcing others off the board, and based on how far you traveled in the game. Unfortunately, at this time, your stats are not saved. Your game state is saved though, so you can switch apps. Pass and play is an option for up to 6 players.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/pathology-hd/id364872118?mt=8
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Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:19 am
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Eleminis

Selah Fairport
United States
Allen
Texas
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Game: Eleminis

Overview:
A card game for 2-8 players were you try to collect one of each five elements first. You have the ability to sabatoge other player's collections with duplicates or "trash." You can even get special acionncards which allow you to steal, move, or discard cards from any collection. Sounds fun and mischievous. I really really wanted to like this game. It's hard to find games for 5+ players. But this game just isn't clicking with adults. It's too easy and short-lived.

The Good:
Simple to learn, only cards are needed to play, simple to understand artwork, and supports up to 8 players. Most satisfying when playing with people willing to be a tad bit vindictive, because the game is most fun when you sabotage each other.

The Bad:
Based on the times I've played this with adults, I think kids and preteens would enjoy this the best. Adults would most likely find the game too simple if they aren't playing it just to play with the kids.

The Verdict: Play
Try it once, you might like it or have the perfect group that could enjoy this game. Don't be afraid to make up house rules (actually encouraged on the game instructions!) to help make gameplay more difficult or more balanced (such as limiting collusion/targeting) to suit your group's desires. One house rule we find useful is not using the Wild cards, or making them act as a "discard something from your own collection if you wish" card. This helps the game last longer because it is more difficult to finish your collection.
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Tue Jul 26, 2011 4:00 am
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