New to the Table

Tales of a guy who just started gaming--his adventures, misadventures, dicey days, wild solo nights, and confused questions all told with too many words, Oxford commas, and not enough pictures.

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New to MY Table#3: May Roundup

Patrick Cox
United States
South Saint Paul
Minnesota
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Here's what I did in May, divvied up by New to MY Table, Highlights of the Month, Game o' the Month, and What's on Tap Next Month.
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Fri Jun 4, 2021 11:00 am
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Gaming with Kids #2: The Game That Makes Me Cry

Patrick Cox
United States
South Saint Paul
Minnesota
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I’ve posted about The Game that Made My Son Cry. Now it’s my turn.
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Thu May 20, 2021 10:52 am
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New to Gaming #6: Who's that at my table?

Patrick Cox
United States
South Saint Paul
Minnesota
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Whew! Long time, no blog. Been a bit busy.

So what's new and noteworthy in the life of SoloGamingDad? I just played a game with another adult!

One of my missions this Spring has been to find some other gamers in my area. Like a group. It seems like there are many people around here who game, but I got into the hobby during COVID and none of my friends were into gaming at all. Solo has done me well and will continue to, and my children are delightful, but I’ve been hopeful of expanding my gaming circle and finding other adults to play with.

But how does one go about this?
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Tue May 18, 2021 12:38 pm
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Review: Mining Colony Solo Mode

Patrick Cox
United States
South Saint Paul
Minnesota
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Hi folks. I never planned on reviewing games in this blog or anywhere else, and I don't plan to do many more. I think there are enough reviewers and reviews on BGG and I don't really have anything different to add to that "conversation." But then I found myself with a brand new game that doesn't have any reviews posted for it (there are Kickstarter previews--aka promotional material--of prototypes but no reviews of the finished game) so I have rather brazenly decided to fill the void. Here goes!

This past month has seen the release of the four newest games from designer Steve Finn at one-man shop Dr. Finn's Games. Two of them contain what seems to be only the company’s fourth and fifth solo modes, according to BGG: Mining Colony and Biblios: Quill and Parchment. As I’m a solo gamer, these are the only two I bought. Here’s what I thought of Mining Colony in solo mode.
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Mining Colony with Biblios: Quill and Parchment still in shrink wrap
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Tue May 11, 2021 11:00 am
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New to Gaming #5: Do I Need to Play the Classics?

Patrick Cox
United States
South Saint Paul
Minnesota
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You hang around on this site long enough and you start seeing certain things happen over and over.

1 Tom Vasel seems to like everything.
2 All reviews follow the same formula, are mostly positive, and publishers seem to like that.
3 That “’Report’ Option is now Available in GeekMail” seems to always be headline news.
4 There are certain games that are older but still get mentioned all the time. Carcassonne. Catan. Lots of games by people named Uwe or Knizia.

These games are what Matthew Arnold called “cultural touchstones,” the basis of comparison for everything else. Arnold compared new poetry to older poetry that still deserved praise. In gaming, people do the same: there are games that get brought up as comparison all the same. “It’s like Carcassonne but with a tweak… Think Agricola but on a slightly different farm…” Board game touchstones aren't all classics in the sense of “old.” In the forums, blogs, reviews, and podcasts I see games like Azul and Splendor come up just as often as the aforementioned gems. (In fact, until I was drafting this, I has always thought Azul was about 20 years old from the way people talk about it!)

But I’m new to gaming. I’ve never played Carcassonne or Agricola. Or Azul. Or Splendor. Not even Splendor: Marvel All those comparisons people make don’t mean very much to me. But does it matter beyond that? Can I learn all I need to know just from reading about those touchstones?

Put another way: why do I need to play these dumb ol’ games anyways?
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Sat May 8, 2021 12:36 pm
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Dicey Discussions #3: Party Planner

Patrick Cox
United States
South Saint Paul
Minnesota
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My gaming groups fall into two categories: I play games with my kids, and I play games solo. (See my name? “Solo Gaming” and “Gaming Dad.” Get it?) I love these groups, but I would like to add some adult game players to my limited circle. I haven’t because I started gaming seriously during COVID and I believe in science.

Even pre-COVID, though, I didn’t know any gamers, so it’s not the case that when we all can be together again I will have a gaming group ready to get back to the table. I get a little jealous when I hear of people whose groups are planning what their first sessions after COVID will be like, what games they’ll play and so forth. I’ll be starting from scratch. (And in the Twin Cities area, all my fellow Minnesotans looking for a new group member!)

I do have non-gaming friends who are aware of my new hobby. When the group texts go around that begin, “What’s everyone up to this weekend?” they respond with what appears to be interest in the pictures I send of whatever I’m currently playing. Had quite a conversation about this guy the other day.
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It led to my friend saying he'd like to try this game, but only if he could be "the Kaiser." I think I'll let him hold on to the inaccurate name, just to get him to play the game.

So I got a little ostentatious, as I do, in late March (that’s what Spring does to me) and figured, “Now that I’ve played games with children for a month or so, I’m capable of planning gaming parties and introducing total newbs to a rich a hobby I’m barely familiar with myself.” What could go wrong?
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Fri May 7, 2021 11:05 am
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New to Gaming #4: Now we play the waiting game...

Patrick Cox
United States
South Saint Paul
Minnesota
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...and then we wait some more.

Anyone remember this?

I'm about to bust out the Hungry Hungry Hippos

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Tue May 4, 2021 11:00 am
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New to MY Table #2: April Roundup

Patrick Cox
United States
South Saint Paul
Minnesota
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What did you do in April? I played a lot of games. A whopping 198 plays, in fact, spread out over 29 different games! I never expected to play that much. That’s my most ever in a single month. My previous busiest month was March with a now puny-seeming 83, so this was quite a jump.

Though surely my most significant act of the month was starting this thread: Go BGG yourself! Just search for your first name in the BGG database and post a picture of what you find! I found this:
Board Game: Zombicide Survivor: Patrick


My month included large solo endeavors and games with my kids, but contributing heavily was a small games buying spree I began in March that continued into April and the fact that I spent a lot of time alone. I’ve been looking for small games to play with my kids as I thought they’d appreciate a break from lots of rules, small games for me to play when time is short, and solo games that are small enough for me to travel with when the pandemic allows me to resume the heavy travel schedule of my job. My thirteen year old and I have wound up playing Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion and my seven year old and I have begun our own campaign in Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated. I guess I’m the only one who wanted small games after all.

So what did I play? Well… Read more »
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Mon May 3, 2021 11:00 am
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New to Gaming #3: Thematically, Solo Just Makes More Sense

Patrick Cox
United States
South Saint Paul
Minnesota
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We’ve all heard the critique of many Eurogames that they are merely multi-player solitaire games. The people cry out, or so some designers seem to believe, for more "player interaction." On the other hand, we also know that for many people multi-player solitaire isn’t a problem. For me, it’s just the start of the problem. The problem with "one player solitaire" isn't the lack of player interaction; it's that the entire premise of the game collapses.
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Sat May 1, 2021 11:00 am
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Dicey Discussions #2: Ugly in the Box

Patrick Cox
United States
South Saint Paul
Minnesota
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The Great Heartland Hauling Co.A while back I started on a conversation in the forums called Great on the table, ugly in the box. It was just a very brief mediation on games with awful packaging. I wanted to highlight one moment in the overall experience of playing a game. I love that board gamers think bigger than just wins and losses and remember things like aesthetics and the tactile feel of components. (Check out fellow bloggineer
John Shepherd
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Ovington
Northumberland
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on a little meeple sliding into a little car in the latter half of this post. It’s nothing like the visual cacauphony of colorful cubes in caustic cars that my seven year old may enjoy, but you know the satisfying physical feeling of sliding that meeple into that little mooncar is so much nicer.)
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Fearmobiles from Final Flight's Monsters on Board. They're an upgrade!

I was trying to highlight as part of the gaming experience the moment when the box is opened. We all like to spout opinions about the art on the box (using subjective words like “beautiful” as if it’s objective) and people love to talk about everything inside the box from the writing in the rulebook to the thickness of the cardboard. But there’s a moment right in between, after everyone at the table has been drawn in by the striking cover art...
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...which is then removed to reveal...
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Blah.

It felt like an opportunity was being missed to draw people further in, to heighten expectations, to delight, maybe even to inform. (This, by the way, is exactly what I see my role is as a blogger. I’m a blogging box, blogging on boxes.)

And so I posted my post and got back the very intelligent response that inserts are designed for shipping, not for table appeal. Which I’m sure is a very informed response. But still.

At one point, games were boring and boxes were boring and then people did better. I say designers can do better! And so I open for you a few boxes and invite you to listen to the ensuing “Oh!”s of delight and “Ewww”s of just pure disgust. And I bet, gentle reader, you know what I’m talking and I hope you’ll share some examples, too.
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Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:00 am
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