Matt's Board Game Back Room

Join me in my cozy little back room filled with games! Ooh and ah at some new releases. Learn about some more recent games. Or, look back at some older and classic games. From Euros to Ameritrash, kids games to grown-up games, easy to intense - nothing much is ignored in Matt's Board Game Back Room! (Updates will be cross-posted from my blogspot blog - click my Blogger microbadge to go there now)

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JUST GAMING AROUND - Political Hijinks - Drafting Dinos and Veggies

-matt s.
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First, a slight digression into politics. Or rather, my lack of political veracity.

Story 1: My son joined a new scout troop last year after his previous troop disbanded. One of the many parents seemed familiar for some reason. He was only there occasionally and usually was quietly in the background. I never spoke to him until just before summer. He was going to be teaching the Communication Merit Badge that my son had signed up for. I decided to introduce myself: "My name is Matt. I'm not sure I know your name," and put out my hand to shake. He paused briefly then put out his hand and said "Chris Edwards". We discussed the merit badge and the summer class briefly. Later I was thinking that name sounded familiar. I did a search in the parking lot before leaving and 'discovered' he was a former member of the House of Representatives and a former State Senator!

Story 2: Yesterday (Tuesday), I attended a Habitat for Humanity groundbreaking ceremony for a new 12 house development being built in a local city. I arrived a few minutes before it was to start. I had to park about a block away. There was a lady that got out of her car across the street from me and we ended up walking side by side in the same direction. I asked her if she was going to the groundbreaking. She said she was. "Have you ever attending a groundbreaking before?". She said she had. We proceeded to discuss the organization a bit in our short jaunt to the site. As we arrived several people immediately gathered around her. I quickly realized she was the mayor of the city!

No comment.


On to gaming!

Draftosaurus is a terrific little filler that is filled with 5 dozen tiny dino meeples designed by Antoine Bauza (love his designs), Ludovic Maublanc, Corentin Lebrat and Théo Rivière! When at a local game day in July it was being played at a table next to us. They looked like they were really enjoying it. When I found out it had dinos and involved drafting, I knew I had to have it. I've played it 10 times so far with a variety of people. Invariably they want to play it again immediately.

Sushi Go has always been a family favorite although we haven't played it in a while. This fits a similar bill as you start each round with 6 dinos drawn randomly from a bag. You choose one, reveal simultaneously and then place it on your board into one of 6 pens, or the river for 1 point (if you don't have any better options). The pens have placement requirements such as all of the same type, all different types, or couples (pairs). There is an additional restriction each turn as dictated by a die roll which might force you to play to only certain areas of your board.

Each game has two rounds of drafting 6 dinos. After 12 total turns (12 dinos on your board) the game ends and you count up your points! There are also 2 sides to the board with different placement requirements to give some additional variety. You can also play two games, one on each side, then add up your scores from both to determine an eventual winner.

From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


I love this game as its quick (typically 10-15 minutes per game), easy, keeps everyone involved, and is cute and fun without being dumb.

The one slight downside is that you must pass the dinos 'secretly' and keep them hidden in your hands the entire time. It works, but I felt it would be great to have some kind of cup or dish to hold them in. My wife found the game Fluff (a Liar's Dice variant) at a thrift store. They have really nifty small dice cups with lids. And when I saw them I knew I needed them for Draftosaurus. I got them to fit into the box and they have been working faaaan-tastically.


Point Salad is another great drafting game from Molly Johnson, Robert Melvin, Shawn Stankewich. Great game for a first one published. Drafting is done in a slightly different manner - there is a field of 6 veggies available for you to pick from. (Ha. Ha. Ha.) You may pick 2 veggies. OR, you may take one of 3 goal cards available. Taking a goal card reveals a new one. However, taking veggies flips over the top goal cards to the veggie side of the cards to fill in the gaps. The cards are two-sided! Point goals are on one side and veggies to score for the point goals on the other side!

The choices become agonizing because you often want BOTH a goal card AND some of the veggies. Or worse, that goal card you really want quickly disappears as someone else takes a veggie causing the goal card to go away. A couple of nifty twists are that you can take a goal card and flip it to a veggie card - either right away OR later in the game (or the end) if you think it will help you more as a veggie.

The only way to score points is with the goal cards you obtain. You are looking for the best combos since one veggie can count towards multiple goal cards. Some goal cards score for specific veggies, some for combinations of veggies, some give you NEGATIVE points for certain veggies. So its trying to find the best balance of positive and negative.

From gallery of tasajara


This is another nice filler that only takes 15-20 minutes to play and is easy to play multiple games back-to-back. This is a new family hit that will be seeing more table time in the future.



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Wed Oct 23, 2019 12:00 pm
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GAMING THOUGHTS - The 'Playing Games Wrong' Syndrome. What is the impact on the gaming experience?

-matt s.
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At some point I was reading the forums for The Castles of Burgundy and the question asked was what defines a 'Turn' during the game because you can only buy a black tile once per Turn...

This game has 5 'Phases' with 5 'Rounds' for each Phase where each Round consists of all players rolling their 2 dice at the same time (plus someone rolls an extra die and places a good) then each player takes one 'Turn' each where you can take 2 'Actions' (one per die), plus maybe one extra 'Action' but its not called an action, its actually just called: 'buying a black tile' for 2 Silverlings.

Their confusion ultimately came from not understanding that you use BOTH dice together as one 'Turn' - they were going around the table using 1 die, then once around the table again, so they weren't sure if they could 'buy a black tile' during EACH die usage. Makes total sense since, in that case, each 'Round' they were getting 2 'Turns'

Reading the rules again for myself, if you look at the definitions it should be fairly clear what a Turn is and what you can do with the dice, except they leave off the one-time buy until the END of the rules and not in the 'Turn' section.....

This got me thinking about a general 'problem' with games that is not really discussed much, if ever - what I'm calling the 'Playing Games Wrong' Syndrome. And, when I say 'Playing Games Wrong' I primarily mean playing the game INCORRECTLY without realizing it, although it can also be 'confusion' (where you aren't sure if you're playing correctly) due to lack of clarity of how the rules should work.

When you run into this 'syndrome' it can have different impacts on the game:

- Sometimes playing a game wrong can have good consequences (a new/fun/better variant!)
- Sometimes playing a game wrong can be bad (boy, that game was really terrible!)
- Sometimes you don't even notice (hey, I think we played this one part wrong! oh well, it didn't matter much...)
- And, if things REALLY go wrong, more than one of those situations might happen.

Now, if playing a game wrong makes it more fun for you, there's absolutely no reason why you can't keep playing it that way. One of my good gaming buddies played Quarto wrong for years without realizing. And, they never wanted to go to the 'correct' rules once they found out since they liked their rules better!

This is one great thing about playing games FTF (Face to Face) rather than electronically - if you don't like the rules or want to take back a move or make some other sort of adjustment, you can!

This, of course, leads into the related discussion of 'house' rules. House rules are fine but can create problems when gamers come together that have different rule sets they use. If it isn't agreed ahead of time it can cause conflict when that moment comes. Generally, it is resolvable but it can sometimes mess with your strategy if you expect the rules to be something different.

And, this brings me back around to my point again - playing by the wrong rules can change the game and how it is played. It can CHANGE THE GAME EXPERIENCE.

Fundamentally, this makes sense. However, if you don't realize you are doing it wrong and it changes the game in such a way that it is no longer enjoyable the way it is being played, the game can suffer as a result.

Why is this important? Well, if a game cannot be understood and played correctly, people will likely have a bad experience and refuse to play it again.

If the rules were written poorly, are too complicated, are too open or are just ambiguous and open to interpretation - this can cause the game to suffer and possibly fall by the wayside in light of other easier to understand/play games.

If the rules to a game are difficult to understand (or just easy to confuse/forget) and they are interpreted incorrectly it can dramatically affect the perception of the game.

Ok, so that's a lot of talk....what are some examples?

Below are some games that suffer from rules confusion and can easily cause people to play them incorrectly.

Initially, I thought it would be difficult to track down some good examples, but reading through my owned games list, I would try to remember the rules and if it was a game I knew I'd always have to go back and read the rules again, no matter how many times I'd played, I knew it would fit this list.

Many of these games I've either printed player aids to ease the confusion, made my own player aids, written/compiled an FAQ, or in some cases, flat out re-written the rules into language I understand for myself.

MANY MANY EXAMPLES....

ALADDIN'S DRAGONS - The magic card usage is confusing in that when you 'activate' the ability to play magic you can play magic as much as you want for the rest of the round. However, you may not play magic again the rest of the game. This is very powerful but also limiting at the same time. Also, turn order/reactions to other cards played is not clear. I tried to go back and figure it out just now and got frustrated again! I *really* like this game but the confusion around magic really makes me anxious about playing it again.

Its also easy to forget you have to properly bribe the palace guard before you can do the palace actions or else YOU DO NOT GET TO DO THEM AT ALL. Frustrating if you forget (which is easy to do with everything else happening) This is more a rules 'forgetting' issue though (i.e. feature of the game) not really a 'playing wrong' issue (unless EVERYONE forgets the requirement)

ATON - The order of revealing and using the cards is very important but a little ambiguous. I ALWAYS have to re-read how it works because I can never remember. Playing it incorrectly can really change how you play the game.

BISON - This is a Kiesling/Kramer game that doesn't get much attention. It is an interesting game, but how scoring works is very confusing and not well written. It is, ultimately, fairly straight forward once you figure it out, but extremely difficult to parse in the rules. This is really a great game, but having to spend 20 minutes every time I play to re-figure out the scoring kind of kills it for me.

BARGAIN HUNTER - This is a really neat trick taking game as it is somewhat counter-intuitive. And, how scoring works is confusing and VERY opaque if you haven't played before. A very interesting mechanic that I need to figure out a better way to explain (i.e. make a player aid so I can remember each time I play)

BURGER UP - We played with the wrong number of customers and the game went on WAAAY too long and ended up having a terrible time as it dragged on. We were thinking "this would be better if it was shorter". Then we re-read the rules and found out it was supposed to be shorter.

I think this can happen in many games - getting the setup wrong and the game drags on or falls short.

THE CLIMBERS - Determining the end of the game and how to keep track of when it will end is problematic, how to use the ladders can be confusing (how far does it actually reach? can it go across gaps? etc), and what is and isn't allowed when taking your move isn't always clear. This game can seem very 'simple' and it almost looks like a kids toy, but it is very open in what you can do, and once you start realizing how to play to 'win' it gets nasty and rules disputes are inevitable if they aren't agreed upon from the beginning.

CLUE Last year I decided we should play Clue as my kids (15 and 18 at the time) had never played it!

I was reading through the rules and wow, it was different from what I remembered as a kid (haven't played since I was a teen). First, you MUST move on your turn, you can't stay in a room you moved into previously and made a Suggestion in. However, if someone else pulled you in you can stay there. Then we realized if you go into, say, the Conservatory and the door is blocked (you can't move through other players' space) when you try to leave, then you MUST take the secret passage to the Lounge.

The more shocking rule was this: When you make a "Suggestion" you don't direct the question at a particular person. It starts with the person on your left and if they have one of the room, weapon or suspect, they must show you one of them. BUT THEN IT STOPS! We always played you would go around the table to everyone and each must show you one if possible. But that's not how the rule is written! (at least in the 1982 version).

Also, there is a distinction between making a "Suggestion" vs. making an "Accusation". Suggestion must be done in the room you're in. You pull in the suspect and weapon, then go around the table as per above. An Accusation can ALSO occur on the same turn as a Suggestion. And it doesn't have to be the same as the Suggestion. You also can be ANYWHERE to make an Accusation, even not in a room. For instance if you figured it out between your last turn and current turn and can't get to a room to make a suggestion, you can still guess with an Accusation to see if you win!

Wow, how many times over years did we play it wrong? But, did we still enjoy it the way we played it? Ultimately, yes we did! But it definitely was a different game than what the rules spelled out - it was easier to make "Suggestions" and find out information the wrong way.


FLEET - The rules are actually pretty good for this game, but there are two things that cause much confusion in the game:
1. You must have a license to launch boats of that type. BUT, having the license gives you a special ability regardless of whether you have boats for it in play or not. In other words, you don't even have to have boats in play EVER during the game and you still get the benefits of the license. Thematically it doesn't make sense so causes confusion in that regard.
2. How you set up the License deck is confusing as written and makes it easy to set it up incorrectly. This can have a huge effect if you have too many Premium Licenses coming out early - if one person gets a decent License and everyone else is stuck vying for the Premium Licenses (which they can't pay for in the first couple of rounds) the game can get lopsided very quickly. This happened the first time I taught it and no one much liked the game as a result. Subsequent plays with correct setup were much better.

FRESH FISH - Figuring out what is and isn't legal for creating pathways is extremely confusing and very easy to overlook. And, getting it wrong could really screw you over if discovered too late. The new version of the game seems to address this (and other issues) so I'm interested to see how it plays now.

EL GRANDE - The Veto action is very powerful - but how it actually works is often mis-understood (it took me a couple of readings of the rules to figure it out): you can Veto an action at any time including IN THE MIDDLE of someone else's turn special action (not their regular placement action). For instance, if they are taking their special action and are moving cubes around and you agree with their first movements but not subsequent movements you can veto right there, thus allowing the first part of their move but disallowing the remaining part of their move. Timing is very key on this and is easy to get wrong - they have to announce each part of the action they are doing before they do it - then the person with the veto can stop them or allow it. Its a great/important ability but easy to mishandle. This is the reason it is missing from the online game on Yucata as there is no good way to implement it in a turn-based environment.

They even had to put together a special 'rules clarifications' document by the designers on how to properly handle certain actions, and over half the document deals with just the special Veto action: New rules of action cards confirmed by W. Kramer.pdf

GUATEMALA CAFE - Everything is confusing about this game. Just....everything. shake It is a terrific screwage game - what I call a 'nasty, NASTY game' or an 'evil game' (i.e. one where everything you do causes evil giggling to ensue). I completely re-wrote the rules incorporating all of the clarifications (I still need to finish it and upload it ). It is another great game beaten down by its confusing rules. It is difficult to NOT play this game wrong.

HABITAT - This game has 'live' gameplay where everyone is playing at the same time and a little bit of 'going around the table'. I think. Maybe its the other way around. Its not entirely clear in the rules. Excuse me while I go read them again...

HANSA TEUTONICA - There is one rule I *always* forget AND, I know its there but I can never find it and waste 5-10 minutes looking for it every game. I finally just marked it in my rulebook and wrote a note to myself. I HATE writing in my rules books, but it clearly saves me time now. It is the rule and scoring regarding how the network that traverses the board from one side to the other works. Luckily this one isn't a game breaker though.

Actually, there is another rule that is confusing - I know because I had played this game many times and, after many games teaching/playing wrong, realized I've been counting Networks incorrectly when scoring. When you count up a network, you are counting the number of OFFICES (Kontors) in CONNECTED cities. Thus, 2 kontors in one city and 3 in a neighboring city for one player is 5 * key multiplier. I used to count that as 2 (cities occupied) * key multiplier. GAAAAH!!! Luckily it didn't ruin the game for me (still a 10) but now I see the game completely differently.

HELVETIA - There are two things that are easy to get wrong or get confused on. First, the setup requires you to put an action disc onto neighboring players' boards. The other players do NOT get to use those discs - they are used to encourage marrying into the other players' villages; when you do that you can pick up your disc and subsequently use it in future turns. However, it IS legal to grab someone else's disc that is in another players' village (i.e. one that is NOT yours) but you just put it into your OWN village to encourage that other player to marry into your village. Confused? Now you understand. It is also confusing because you think that somehow discs end up back in other players' villages later in the game, but they don't - once you get them that's it. The way it is worded it is very confusing and, if played incorrectly, can really mess with how you play the game.

Scoring is also confusing because your score is not 'cumulative' but re-counted every round. It CAN go down - think Settlers where you are constantly checking scores. But, unlike Settlers, you COULD possibly get to a 'winning' score, but if you don't keep it at that level by the end of the round, you still don't trigger the game end and 'win'

JAVA - When moving your surveyors, you may NOT move on the board surface, only on TILES that were previously placed on the board surface. Playing this incorrectly really changes the game. I think we played it incorrectly the first time I played. I recently played it again with the correct rules and it seemed much better. Also, the face up festival card ONLY changes when that card is actually taken/drawn into hand by someone which is also really important when scoring festivals.

RUSSIAN RAILROADS - Some of the special orange round shaped tiles are confusing (ok, that sounded confusing too). Actually, most are pretty much ok. The most confusing one is the one showing the two cards on it - you get one each of BOTH card types - one for instant resources and one for end-game scoring purposes. We completely missed that the first game.

Also, its easy to forget to put the special action tile that only goes on the board ONCE the entire game - only for the last round. I now try to stack it with the last engineer so I remember. It doesn't kill the game if you forget it, but its an important action to be able to do.

LEWIS & CLARK - Fantastic game and overall very good rulebook. However, how the multipliers work with Indians on cards varies slightly depending on how the cards work. Most make sense, but there are a few special cards that are used slightly differently. This (and a couple of other things) really need to be put into an official FAQ as not knowing the proper way to use them can either make them way overpowered or way under powered.

MACHT & UNMACHT - This is a bizarre mind-bending game and, overall, the rules are not TOO difficult to get through. The most difficult part is that every round switches between two different piece types where one is active and one is passive. You are generally only allowed to work with the active pieces for that round BUT sometimes the passive pieces come into play. But not always. Both players have some active pieces and some passive pieces and what you do in one round might affect what you can do in the next round if you save some of your special action tiles.

Also, one set of pieces has adjacency based on the actual adjacent locations of the board. The other set of pieces has adjacency by special symbols that are randomly placed on the board each game. Good variety, but difficult to wrap your mind around.

And, scoring each round is ONLY based on the current ACTIVE pieces so you might be doing good with one piece type but if you don't win and the other player is even stronger on the next round with the other piece type, they might win instead....It is extremely confusing to see how everything interacts. It is a brilliant game that is super opaque even though it is a perfect information game. Its almost like chess on steroids. With really really weird and confusing twists that make it easy to get the rules wrong.

Interesting to note this game was designed by the same designer as Hansa Teutonica (which is way more accessible and just as brilliant)

MEDINA - The bonus tiles for the corner towers can be confusing and understanding how they work is crucial as they often are the deciding factor in the game - timing of getting them near the end is very important.

The key thing to remember in this case is that each palace, once claimed, can only control each tower ONE time during the game. If you gain that tower token then lose it, you can never get it back with the same city - you would have to claim some OTHER city touching a wall connecting to that corner.

Of course, reading the forums mostly supports this same interpretation, although one discussion says it can be claimed twice, once per each wall that ends up touching the palace. Apparently the online version of Medina at BSW uses this rule.

Interestingly, the 2nd Edition of Medina completely changes the rules so that ANY time you build a wall next to your palace gives you the tower scoring card. But they also tweaked other rules for balance.

MILESTONES - One of the more confusing parts of this game are the black pieces that form an intersection and two roads. You really have to think of using 3 pieces (circle and two straights) as "one" piece that are all connected together where the round piece is like the elbow joint of an arm and the 2 roads the upper and fore arm. Reading the rules can be confusing but, in practice, it makes sense once you start doing it and figure it out based on the diagrams.

Another rule that is easy to get wrong/have confusion about is when moving around your player board you MUST always stop at the castle. This takes an action to stop there! AND, you are then forced to lose a worker (the king steals them away). Frankly, I love the ever-changing rondel but it can catch you off-guard forgetting that you MUST lose a worker each time around. Its a great mechanic, but you are constantly NOT wanting to do it so its easy to 'forget'.

MONAD - This is a really interesting, brain-burning Sid Sackson game. There is a particular action called a JUMP that lets you get extra cards by performing a special action. It is easy to get excited and keep trying to do more than one jump on a turn, but you can only do it ONCE. Doing it multiple times breaks the game and you can super-combo your way along if done right (in this case 'right' is 'wrong).

MORELS - I can never remember how the Destroying Angel card works. It feels like it should be something REALLY horrible. Depending on when/if you pick one up (we rarely do) it CAN work to your advantage. But it is hard to see that since the rules for handling it are not very clear. I actually think the Destroying Angel is an important card/action if you get stuck with your hand, but it sounds so BAD that you never want to do it. Really, its not so horrible and sometimes necessary to discard cards (since you are not allowed to discard otherwise). Although, I STILL haven't ever felt like I had to do it.

I ended up making my own player aid, mainly for the Destroying Angel mushroom, but also to make it easy to teach and play the game in general without having to flip through the rulebook. It is NOT a difficult game but the rules seem to drag it out more than necessary.

NEXUS OPS - I ALWAYS forget when you get the various cards and when you can play them exactly - there are also limits such as only being able to play one RED point value mission card on a turn. Universal Head made an awesome player aid and this helps a lot: Universal Head NEXUS OPS Rules Summary but I still get confused. I just now read it and have already forgotten. I also just noticed another rule I always forget - that you can discard cards to get Rubium (i.e. money). Fantastic game but I need to get those card rules down....not getting cards when you are supposed to can really hinder your play.

NINJATO - Ninjato is actually a pretty easy game to play once you learn the rules. The hard part is actually learning the rules - the way they are laid out, the details are buried in paragraphs of text so if you need to look up how many of this or that, you have to READ the paragraph to find out (as opposed to a quick skimming). Also, the rulebook uses its own terminology which makes it hard to quickly parse the rules. Once you get the game down though it flows nicely.

The most difficult part of the game is how to correctly manage an invasion of a clan house - one known guard is there visible and the rest are 'surprises'. If you defeat the main guard and then all of the subsequent guards, they all go away. However, if you fail or decide to stop without defeating all guards/getting all the treasures, you discard all guards EXCEPT the initial guard - he recovers and stays there. Also, one new treasure comes out. It is easy to get this wrong without reading the rules carefully. Also, there are 'elite' guards that only come out when you set off the alarm and managing them correctly is tricky to understand as well. We played the first game or two incorrectly until we closely re-read the rules and finally figured it out.

ON THE UNDERGROUND - Movement of the traveler is tricky and there's no good way to 'check' yourself - you just have to try tracing several paths and counting each one, especially if he is far away from the destination. Granted, this is part of the fun in the game, trying to puzzle that out only to discover you mis-calculated when you made your move. Otherwise, this is a fantastic early Bleasdale (of Keyflower and Black Fleet fame) with some interesting/different mechanics.

PACRU - This is an abstract game (I generally love abstracts) and there are actually 3 sets of rules, each with a different name for the game: Azacru (easy), Shacru (moderately difficult) and Pacru (advanced). The first two are pretty easy to play, the 'easy' one is almost a little too simple. Shacru is fairly easy to understand but challenging to play well. Pacru has some very different mechanics and it is difficult to 'see' the board well and understand all of the ramifications. Think Chess with only one piece type but multiple possible move combinations depending on position of the pieces to each other. This is another game where the opaqueness of the rules probably holds it back - the descriptions are overly complicated. I've worked on re-writing the rules for my own consumption but never quite completed it.

PIRATE'S COVE - Timing of playing the cards gets a little crazy - each card really has its own timing and mini ruleset of when and how you can use it. This makes the game much more difficult than it needs to be and always drives me crazy - when we haven't played it for a while, I think "it can't be THAT bad" and then I will play again after many months and realize "yes, its very annoying". I cannot play this game without having to refer back to the rules for something (and not just the card play, although that's a guarantee for me). Sometimes it just doesn't feel worth the effort.

NOTE: I recently played this with 'gamers' and it went pretty well. I also used the Universal Head player aid and that helps a lot, along with another card reference sheet. For non-gamers I think it still will be a bit of a drag for me.

POWER GRID - All those steps are confusing as to when you start them, when you stop them and what you do in-between them. This is fantastic game that just needs a little help/tweaking to make it perfect. According to Friedemann's BGG video at Essen, it looks like they tried to address these issues in the new version, so I'm very curious to see how successful they were.

QWIRKLE / QWIRKLE CUBES - The patterns can't be THAT difficult to make sure you're following the rules, right? Well, we invariably have someone mis-play and not notice until at least a couple more turns are completed. Then we have to backtrack or deal with it somehow. For the record, I much prefer Qwirkle Cubes as I love to be able to have the option of re-rolling my cubes to improve my options for placement. In standard version sometimes you're just completely stuck. The same issue exists for both versions though.

RAPTOR This is a really great 2 player game and most rules are easy to understand. The two rules that cause issues are: Mother's call where the mommy raptor calls her babies - they must be able to get to the same TILE - this means they must have a clear path to the tile, not just 'teleporting' there. Also, it becomes confusing when the mommy raptor is on the L shaped tiles as they are near the edge, hard to access, and give little room to maneuver.

In addition, one game end condition involves eating all scientists ON THE BOARD. Note this is NOT the same as what we initially thought - eating ALL 10 of the scientists. If not all the scientists are deployed to the board, you don't have to eat them, you just have to clear the ones that are on the board!

ROADS & BOATS - The prayer track for turn order is confusing in how you manipulate it. Once you get it, it makes sense and totally works, but I have to read the rules closely EVERY TIME I play the game. I'd relay that information here but - I can't remember. Most everything else is pretty straight forward as it is logistics and resource management which is much more intuitive.

RELIC RUNNERS - Some games there is always that 'one thing' that you forget to do (draw up to x cards, discard cards, move a marker, etc). In this game, that 'one thing' you tend to forget is placing the idols on the board. Our first game we did fine most of the time, but the 2nd time we forgot to place ALL the crystal skull idols for some reason. It really changed the result of the game when we remembered. We still had fun though, but it would have played out differently if done properly. I'm trying to figure out how to remember when to place the idols.


SIENA - I love the idea of having a game board based on a piece of art. The problem is letting the art dominate the board with no regard for allowing the players to see how the game is played on it. In other words, this board is cool, but it needs some graphics to support gameplay.

Also, the rules in this game are terrible! There are many many niggly rules that you have to remember - special rules for special circumstances. Which is most of what the game is - lots of special rules and nothing to help you remember them. Nothing will kill the desire to play a game again more than having to wade through too many rules exceptions.

One other thing to note - this game has a great concept of switching from one role to another mid-game. Deciding when to do this is crucial to being successful. And, if you don't do it soon enough, you might lose automatically because of it! This is a great concept, but sometimes you can get stuck and not be able to make the transition, and then you're screwed. Especially since this is a 3+ hour game, getting screwed is particularly harsh.

SNOWDONIA - I started writing this blog post a long while ago and decided to finish now. Way back when, I had Snowdonia on the list noting that setup of the coal and scoring of contracts was important and easy to mess up. I recently played this game and it is definitely still an issue. Coal is very scarce and ensuring the right amount of coal is available is an important part of the game. Also, the scoring of contracts and understanding what they mean is crucial. We ran into this again as at least two people misunderstood what they needed to accomplish and it definitely affected endgame scoring and would have changed how they played the game.

Also, an important note: DO NOT buy a train engine in the round prior to the likely drawing of an event cube that triggers having to pay maintenance for the engine if you don't have anything to pay the maintenance cost. It might set your game back by immediately losing said train (and related resources spent on the engine purchase)

SPLENDOR - For some games the setup is critical to the game being challenging or interesting. In Splendor, you sometimes forget that you don't always use all of the chips and bonus tiles - it varies by player count and is important to keep the game tight.

TAKENOKO - This game seems like a great entry level game for families. And it IS! But it can also be so (indirectly) MEAN! Eating other people's bamboo. Placing a tile that kills your landscape goal! Completing multiple goal cards on one turn to end the game unexpectedly! Which speaks to one rule people tend to forget (and I constantly try to remind others) - you are NOT required to play goal cards when you have completed them. Reaching a certain number of completed goal cards triggers the end of the game. If you hold back and play several all at once you'll probably catch at least one person off-guard. And they'll probably be mad and not want to play again.

Also, it is easy to forget that tiles need to be watered to count for goal cards (including the landscape goals!) And, when tiles are first watered, more bamboo will grow on them. It is an easy rule to overlook. Forgetting to automatically grow the bamboo can change the game a lot by not having enough bamboo around, especially for the higher point cards.

TOBAGO - Tobago has a lot of ambiguity in the rules - the game is very open and lends itself to this. On top of that, the Amulet tiles that allow for additional actions (with some limits) also contribute to the ambiguity/confusion. Some common rules to overlook or get wrong are:
* You can drive your truck through water.
* Moving in the same landscape anywhere costs 1 movement point.
* During REGULAR movement you CAN pick up an Amulet for 'free' for each movement point (although getting more than 1 or 2 is unlikely)
* When you spend an Amulet to move, you CANNOT pick up more Amulets. This is CRUCIAL, otherwise someone can grab all the Amulets by continuing to spend them after they get them. This happened our first game and it really sucked.
* You can spend as many Amulets on a turn as you want. You can even spend an Amulet that you picked up on a 'regular' movement (Action B)
* You can use an Amulet to play an additional clue card (we always forget you can do this!)

Check this file for better understanding the order of actions and what is allowed when: Tobago Turn Sequence flowchart
This FAQ is great too: Tobago FAQ

ULURU/PELICAN COVE - For speed games it is crucial to get the rules correct and make sure everyone understands them. When the symbology is confusing to even the rules teacher during explanation, the game is going to be that much harder under time crunch with no chance to ask questions. The original Uluru game has some iconography that is difficult to interpret. The Pelican Cove version is much better (hence the reason I picked it up instead)

Yspahan - Overall, Yspahan is a very smooth playing game with clear choices. However, the camel track is not so clear and people tend to forget about it - until someone starts scoring tons of points and cards from placing cubes on it. It seems so innocuous and cute! The other confusing part is that its use varies with different player counts and really should have different versions of the board to clarify this. This is the one sticking point for me in an otherwise excellent and unique game.

Actually, there's one other small but crucial rule - you can spend 1 card to get 1 additional gold/cube/camel with selecting dice. AGH! This is frustrating me even now as I know it could have helped me at some point in a game I played in the past!

WALNUT GROVE - This game is actually pretty simple in terms of gameplay once you get the rules down. The hard part is some of the details that are easy to overlook such as how movement works (once per round you get ONLY ONE action as you move clockwise around the board) - this means you only get 8 actions in town per game! (well, you do other stuff too, but not in the town). Players tend to remember that you can use coins as entry into a building but you can also use them to pay for winter costs. You CANNOT use them in trade at the markets or to pay back Neighborly Help tiles.

Most importantly, it is easy to forget that the Neighborly Help tiles are not "minus 2 points" for taking one - unless you take a second one while already holding one. This means you can immediately pay off the Neighborly Help tile with 3 cubes, then take another one if necessary, etc (say if you were short 2 cubes in winter, you could effectively use 6 of some other resource you have too many of). It is really a cube conversion mechanism even though it isn't really sold as such in the rules. This is one way to gain an edge on other players and can really change game play.


I have covered many games where 'playing it wrong' is easy to do, mainly from overlooking rules or having unclear or ambiguous rules. There are a TON more games that I see having various rules issues that can directly impact how a game plays. Even one small rule that is played incorrectly or neglected can really change the way a game plays. It can make the difference between a 'good' game, a 'bad' game, and an 'excellent' game.



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Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:00 pm
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THE CREATIVE GAMER - Colt Express - How I fit all the expansions in one box!

-matt s.
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I love Colt Express. I'm not even sure why I love it so much! Wait, I know why - its fun!

Well, I've continued to acquire anything and everything that goes along with Colt Express:
* Colt Express: Horses & Stagecoach
* Colt Express: Marshal & Prisoners
* Colt Express: The Time Travel Car
* Colt Express: Cursed Loot
* Train Station
* The Rock Promo
* Original cardboard loot and landscape pieces (plus some random plastic green flamingos that got added to the game at a convention a couple of years ago)
* Upgraded Meeple Source wood tokens - people, landscape pieces, horses, and all loot (recently got all the loot and landscape pieces)
* 3D Printed meeples (Twinples) https://www.trictrac.net/actus/twinples-colt-express (got these before the Meeple Source wood ones were available)
* Plus all the cards from all the expansions (at least a couple hundred cards)

I also have the large rubber playmat but there's no way that's going in the box (its rolled up and on a shelf), but that's fine!

So, all of what I had used to fit into the box if carefully arranged, up until I got the Marshall and Prisoners expansion for Christmas. I didn't want to remove the existing insert if I could help it as I love the artwork, but I knew it was a problem and it definitely doesn't all fit with the original insert.

Sadly, I decided I had to take it out, but then discovered -- tons of space! After playing around with arrangements I found a way to get it all in, including a small plastic plano type box I got at the Dollar Tree for $1 (duh)! It holds the wood loot pieces and keeps the various types separate and will make setup easier.

However, I *did* re-purpose the insert by creating a couple of dividers to make the spacing more obvious and protect things from banging around too much, and also lined the inside of the box to keep the art there and give it the original insert feel. Its not 'perfect' but looks really nice overall.

Anyhow, I could go on and on, but the best way to see what I came up with is to just look at the pictures....

All the stuff, and showing my main trick - putting the cards into the trains! Sort of an integrated deck box!
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


Add more train cars and also the loot bit box:
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


Utilizing the same trick of cards in the train cars. Then, added the engine, prisoner car, stagecoach and time machine car:
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


I previously had set aside the core base cards to put underneath the train station for support (otherwise it sits unevenly).
Note I removed the station stand pieces and set them next to it:

From gallery of tasajara


Also, I earlier forgot to add the original meeples and horses (in baggies) inside two of the train cars (another of my tricks from packing the original insert):
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


All the rest of the bits added around the train station. Then The Rock and player boards on top:
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


And finally all the rules and setup printout sheets:
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


A closer peek inside the box:
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara



It was a bit of work to get it all in there, but now I can take everything with me in one box (just the way I like it!)

Next steps will be to add a sheet that shows how everything fits in the box for future reference, and maybe some stickers or a sheet for how the bits fit back into the bit box.


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Wed Jan 3, 2018 1:00 pm
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JUST GAMING AROUND - Christmas gaming

-matt s.
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Over the holidays (primarily starting Dec 16th with an all day game day, then some Christmas holiday family gaming) I got in a good number of games.

Board Game: NMBR 9
Board Game: 12 Days
Board Game: Carcassonne: Winter Edition
Board Game: Villages of Valeria
Board Game: Medici: The Card Game
Board Game: The Fox in the Forest
Board Game: Abyss
Board Game: Azul
Board Game: Clank! In! Space!: A Deck-Building Adventure
Board Game: Cubist
Board Game: Fabled Fruit
Board Game: Flip Ships
Board Game: Shakespeare
Board Game: Survive: Escape from Atlantis!
Board Game: Sushi Go!
Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy
Board Game: The Cat Game
Board Game: The Quest for El Dorado
Board Game: Ticket to Ride
Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails


 9.0   NMBR 9 x5
 7.0   12 Days x3 NEW!
 6.0   Carcassonne: Winter Edition x3
 7.75   Villages of Valeria x3
 9.0   Medici: The Card Game x2
 7.0   The Fox in the Forest x2
 7.0   Abyss
 9.0   Azul
 9.0   Clank! In! Space! NEW!
 7.75   Cubist
 7.0   Fabled Fruit
 7.0   Flip Ships NEW!
 6.75   Shakespeare
 7.0   Survive: Escape from Atlantis!
 10.   Sushi Go!
 10.   The Castles of Burgundy
 5.0   The Cat Game NEW!
 10.   The Quest for El Dorado
 8.0   Ticket to Ride
 9.0   Ticket to Ride: Rails & Sails



Some HIGHLIGHTS for me:

NMBR 9 - This was my most played over the holidays. It is a fun little puzzle game where you have tetris-y shaped number pieces that you are trying to place in such a way to layer them higher for better multipliers where: level X number = points. There are numbers 0 thru 9 and you will get each number twice, but in a random order.

So everyone is trying to outplay each other. Yes, this is one of those simultaneous multi-player solitaire games. I LOVE this type of game. And this one makes you think a bit, but plays very quickly. Usually you end up playing twice in a row because you just want to try to do better!


12 Days - This is a trick taking/set collection/majority game played over 12 rounds. It is lightly themed around the 12 days of Christmas so it makes a great holiday game. The deck is comprised of one 1 card, two 2 cards, etc - just like the song! Oh, and there is Santa and Mrs. Claus; They are both 0 but they always win! Except you have to gift the card you won to someone else.

I sucked the first 2 times I played, then switched strategies and was finally able to crush everyone else on my third game. Looking forward to this coming out every Christmas!


Clank! In! Space! - We LOOVE the original Clank! I really wanted to own this version too and got it for Christmas. Just like in the original you are trying to get in and steal an artifact, then get out before getting killed due to drawing too much attention to Lord Eradikus (the Dragon in the original).

Only in this version the board is configurable which lends itself to a bit more variety. Also, you must hack into the computer system before you can get into the storage vault section where the artifacts are stored. The ending is a bit different as well where you don't draw so many cubes for damage on your turn, and it can keep going for more than 4 rounds. There are a number of other differences, but overall, I loved this version as much as the original Clank, and loved the Sci-Fi jokes (or at least recognized them more than the Fantasy ones).

There are definitely differences like the need of being forced to explore more to do the hacking, along with having 'factions' on the companions required to activate some abilities, blue data crystals to activate some abilities, and a couple other variations, so it feels 'similar' but 'different' enough to warrant having both and playing one or the other depending on my mood.


Azul - This was one I was excited to own and happy to have it now. I played it recently and loved the drafting of tiles element, with some puzzli-ness but also some nasty, nasti-ness happening where you can really screw someone over if you plan it correctly (queue evil chuckling) - or you yourself can really get screwed over (sad whimpering). Who knew tiling a wall could be so EVIL!?!? Played this only once 2p with my dad - it was still really good with 2 players. And he CRUSHED me!!!! (whimper)



THE JURY IS OUT:

Flip Ships - LOVE the art! HATE the color choices (my dad who is color blind couldn't tell the difference between the player ship colors)! LOVE that the color choices don't matter much (phew)! HATE that the rules are a little ambiguous how you use the launchpad! LOVE that it plays like some cross between old-school Space Invaders, Galaga, and --various games with large boss at the end--! HATE that multiple plays seem like it might get a little same-y/lackluster! LOVE that each player has different ship abilities!

Overall LOVE it! But hesitant I might only LIKE it! Needs a bit more plays and maybe some rules tweaks/clarifications. I think maybe my expectations were a bit too high going into it. Still...we'll see how it goes over my birthday weekend gaming....



ONE LOW-LIGHT:

The Cat Game - this game is a take on Telestrations/Eat Poop You Cat and Pictionary mashed together. You get a card with different CAT-egories related to 'people', 'movies' and 'something else I can't remember at the moment'. You select one item (or others tell you which type to use) then you grab a couple of cat figures and place them under a plastic sheet on a drawing board, then you must use the cats in your picture.

This could/should have been a winner, but it wasn't, at least for my family. It took WAY too long to go through the picture drawing process (everyone sitting waiting and waiting) then the picture was revealed and you quickly guess the movie/person, etc, over and over and over again. Couldn't wait for it to be done! However, it COULD be funny (and was a little) but too much downtime for too little fun.

We are going to try the team version next time where you have to quickly grab cats, draw and immediately start guessing (more like Win Lose or Draw maybe) to minimize downtime and increase funtime. Hopefully.

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Tue Jan 2, 2018 7:06 am
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JUST GAMING AROUND - My current tendancy towards Good + Short + Small games

-matt s.
United States
Eugene
Oregon
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I've really been into small, shorter games with some interesting decisions.

Here are some current favorites from the past year or so:

Board Game: Sushi Go!
Sushi Go! - The theme of Sushi Go is great, the art is fantastically cute, and everyone has fun no matter if they win or lose. It is a quick and easy drafting/set collection game with some interaction/planning. It has become my go-to game with the kids before bedtime - we can usually burn through a full game in 10-15 minutes (or less) - we played twice tonight in about 20 minutes.

Board Game: Star Realms
Star Realms - This game snuck up on me as it was published in 2013!? but didn't notice it until I saw a post about it in July 2014 as a great small deck builder. The space war theme didn't completely excite me, but looking at the artwork closer really started to draw me in. I kept looking at it and I finally bought it without trying it and boy did we love it! I taught it to bobm174 who loves Dominion and he got super excited about it to the point of writing me a note the next day about how much he liked it. I taught Count Von Luckner the following game night and that's all we played all evening - 4 or 5 back-to-back games! That NEVER happens with a new game! My son and Dad also really enjoyed it. You'd think it might get boring but so far, not for me! Some games it really comes down to the wire (although sometimes its a blowout). I even made some score counters to make scoring easier!

Board Game: Love Letter
Love Letter - I've played this off and on over the last couple of years and it really kind of helped explode the trend of small, simple, fun games. I remember playing it with 4 dudes at a local con and had a great time playing it. My son, daughter, son and even wife enjoy playing it. Yes, the decisions are simple but this one really shines because of the meta game - from round to round, can you guess what the other players are going to do? Can you get in a lucky guess for the win? Cheers, groans, laughter and fun always seem to accompany this game, and isn't that what gaming is really all about?

Board Game: Valley of the Kings
Valley of the Kings - This is another game I heard about around the same time as Star Realms. I love the Egyptian theme. Its a great deck builder that plays with 2-4. The game always ends the same way with the deck running out and all cards being used in some manner. It effectively is a set collection game but the interesting this is all cards can be used as money OR an action, and can eventually get you points. The key, though, is you have to 'entomb' a card to get points for it which means removing it from your deck into your tomb where you no longer have the points or money value, so there is a balance you have to achieve of WHEN to entomb. You also need to get them in the tomb in sets (mostly) to maximize points. Really nifty game. It plays a bit longer until you get the hang of it and learn what the cards do (each is a little different so you have to parse all the cards until you learn them), but definitely fits the good, small criteria.

Ok, thats it for now. There are some others that I might write about later.


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Mon Jan 5, 2015 1:00 pm
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TIMELY TOPICS: Happy New Year! Here's to more gaming in 2015! Congrats for BGG supporter drive (SOOO CLOSE to 11,000!!) and my item Winner Announced...

-matt s.
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Happy New Year!

First, I got in nearly 400 FTF games in 2014 (394 that I logged at least - I think I missed a few though) and a ton of online gaming on Yucata.de as well. Here's to more good gaming in the coming year! I have so many games I haven't played yet that I own - I'm hoping to get more of them to the table this year!

Well, the BGG supporter drive easily cleared the goal of 9000 and nearly broke 11,000 supports in December (short by 9!! doh!!) Way to go supporters. I really love this site and truly appreciate it enough to support it each year. I am on it literally every day, several times a day! Its hard to stay away!

The main reason I love this site is there are so many great people on here that keep it generally positive. There are pockets of negativity which is still frustrating but probably unavoidable entirely. But it spurs healthy discourse so in that regard it has its place. The key is the swearing/shouting and general crappy behavior of people is usually kept to a minimum unlike so many other sites out there where people just yell at each other in the comments, call each other names, etc.

Also, there are just so many positive things that I love including insightful reviews, important rules clarifications, game designers and publishers interacting with gamers, useful files, fun contests and events, geeklists, the ability to sell and buy games that are otherwise hard to find, etc.

In past years I have only supported the site by contributing on January 1st so I could immediately get the the latest supporter badge. However, I felt like I was missing out on helping during the December supporter drive. So this past year I changed it up so I could do both - I contributed both on January 1st and in early December after the drive started so I could help then as well. And, I still am able to have adblock and all the other benefits even with splitting it.

I also contributed Snowdonia: The Daffodil Line as an item in the Item for Geeklist "2014 BGG Supporter Badge Drive / Rummage-O-Rama Give-Away - Free Games (some with Free Worldwide Shipping)" and just pulled the winner as:

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I will send a GM shortly (or you can send me one as well if you notice before I get to it)

CONGRATS!!!



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Thu Jan 1, 2015 7:56 pm
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JUST GAMING AROUND - My son helps push to a 'most games played in a month' with Dominion, Diamonds, Love Letter and Splendor

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This was a good month of gaming for me. I got in 54 FTF games this month! The last time I did that many (exactly in fact) was August 2013. And my son definitely helped reach that goal as he really wanted to play games a lot.

The month started out at Lebanon-a-con, a smallish local convention run mainly by two gamers in Lebanon, OR. I got a few solid games played, mostly longer, but definitely good.

Key games for me were: Madeira (which as pending for many months for me), Lewis & Clark(btw, don't play this game 5 player unless they are all VERY fast players - slooowwww snore), Tzolkin (always a fav), and Five Tribes (nice game, might need to pick it up), and Würfel Bohnanza (yet another interesting dice game) among several others.

Then, another friend that goes to Essen every year had a game day and I got a few more good (NEW) games in. Yay! One of my favorite times of year. Games played were: Aquasphere (I messed up one important part teaching - opps!), La Isla (definitely will pick this up), Colt Express (played 3 times! great fun!), and Deus (great civ building game that plays smooth and relatively quickly)

But the primary gaming for me was driven by my son. Almost every day for at least 2-3 weeks he was asking to play a game. Most are shorter but we had a great time playing all of them.

The games were mainly:
Splendor - played a couple of times - he seems to really like this and even plays it at scouts when camping.

Dominion - he has always 'liked' this game, but for some reason he just asking to play it over and over, sometimes 2-3 times in an evening! We mostly just use my a phone app to randomly choose sets (I have all Dominion expansions so we have a lot of variety to choose from). He or I will keep generating sets until we get something that looks interesting, maybe tweaking it a bit. He consistently plays well and he LOOOVES the attack cards. Anything that gives a curse to me and other players is a total joy for him.

I have tended to win more than him, but he definitely holds his own and it is interesting to see his unexpected strategies work for him - he also loves picking up lots of coppers - he will frequently 'buy' them if he has nothing else to buy. He had at least two games where he had 30-40 coppers in his deck! Ill-gotten gains is one of his favorite cards.

We have also had some interesting sets where we randomly ended up with a bunch of cards that make you look at the top of your deck in various ways with interesting effects. We have also had others where most cards trashed other cards and/or generated cards and we ended up with a Trash full of dozens of cards.

Dominion continues to amaze me on how many different interesting interactions and combinations can come about. I will say, though, there are definitely some terrible, horrible combinations that drag the game out for WAY too long no matter how hard you try!

Love Letter - For some reason he is really taken by this game. We've played a couple of times with my daughter and had a great time. But mostly it has been 2 player. This game isn't necessarily the best with 2, but there's still something fun with it, plus its quick. There are a couple of 'better' variants for 2 but we haven't tried them yet - vanilla is still fun for us and tends to generate at least a few good laughs every session.

Diamonds - This has also been a pretty decent 2 player game for us. We have also played 3 player with my daughter and 4 player with my friend Bob (who got us started on it). We don't actually own Diamonds (yet) but have been played with a Clubs deck, using similar plastic gems (large and small in clear rather than clear and red - works better my opinion) and we use the player screens from Rampage which lends it an interesting thematic twist - instead of putting gems into your vault you they are being guarded by your monster/dragon instead. Actually, in Rampage everything behind the screen is 'in the stomach' of the monster so we tend to think of it as the dragon eating the gems for permanent protection

(Side note: Here's a good memory trick for remembering the suit action: Diamond is easy because you get a diamond behind your screen. Clubs is easy because you are hitting another person over the head with your 'club' and stealing a gem Heart you love the diamond so put it in front of you so you can look at it. Spade you are shoveling the diamond in front of you into your vault (or stomach in our 'themed' version)

Anyhow, 2p definitely plays differently since you play 2 cards every trick. You have to play differently than in a 3 or 4 player game because you HAVE to follow your own suit - you can set yourself up nicely sometimes and sometimes you are just stuck. The passing becomes even more important in trying to set yourself up.

Well, we've had a lot of fun with this game as well.


So, overall it has been a great month of gaming, even if many games were with my son playing shorter games - sometimes the interactions in the game and the fun, joy and laughter of my son and myself is what makes it all worth it. AND we're spending time together and keeping him away from his video games and youtube zombification.


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Wed Nov 5, 2014 4:48 pm
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CLASSICS CLOSET - There is more merit in older/classic games than you might expect

-matt s.
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Sometimes the older or classic games are just what you need. The rules can be read and learned in 5 minutes. The game play can be relatively quick. And they can just be fun for that time you are playing. You may not want/need to go back and play them 10 times in a couple of days, or every day for a month, but you definitely can get some quality enjoyment out of them while they are on the table.

This weekend I had taught a couple of new games to my parents when they were in town visiting for the usual birthday for my son and father's day, plus the added bonus of 'graduation' from elementary to middle school for my son and from middle school to high school for my daughter.

I taught some more recent games including Morels, Love Letter and Qwirkle Cubes (my preferred version of Qwirkle). We also played Carc with a couple of expansions (Catapultand Princess & the Dragon - my son's choices, a couple of his favorites).

But, I could tell that all the new games were burning my Mom out a bit as she wanted something simpler.

I looked through the cupboards and found Sharp Shooters - a more 'classic' sort of game from 1994 (hmmm, thought it was older) along the lines of Yahtzee or Can't Stop. I originally thifted it for $2, mainly for the plethora of dice it has (and maybe the dice tray)

To play, you roll 5 dice to try to match patterns on a shared board for the current round. If you are the person that completes the last die of a row you get that amount of money/points (or lose points in some cases if it is a negative row). You roll 5 dice and MUST place at least 1 die if possible; your turn is over if you can't play any. If you match exactly one you must place it. If you match more you can place any/all of them. You could possibly even fill out a full row in one go or one turn if you rolled the dice for it. After placing you can stop or keep going to try to place more dice.

The trick is determining when to push your luck, when to stop to make it harder for others to complete lines, and what to place to avoid leaving too many lines open for completion for the other player(s).

I thought it might be a bit dull, but we actually had a great time playing with groans when the dice failed you or cheers when the dice rolled your way.

This reminded me that games like this are sometimes all you need for a bit of fun and entertainment. A great way to get together and interact without requiring a ton of effort or heavy thinking.

It also started me thinking about how many people write off games like Yahtzee. But, as I recall, the last time we played it we had a great time. Same with Pictionary last year - my kids had never played and we had a blast. It reminded me of when I was a kid myself playing it with my family and friends in the evenings or during lazy summer days.

(And remember: King of Tokyo is really just an update of Yahtzee but with a few more features and different sorts of 'patterns' you are trying to match depending on your 'goals' - a classic made better, but the same sort of tension just applied in a different way)

This weekend we also played Pictureka- it is a kids game where you are searching for specific pictures of items across a series of 9 boards (sometimes you bid to see who can find more, sometimes there is a specific picture to find, sometimes you must find a certain amount of a type of item). I thifted a copy of it a couple of years ago and had a great time playing with the kids and even took it to a scout overnight event and they enjoyed it as well.

My son and I got my Mom and Dad to play. My dad tends to hate speed games (which is what this is) but he genuinely enjoyed it for the 20-30 minutes we played. We had a lot of interaction, a lot of laughs, and it didn't require any electronics of any sort. Just good old fashioned fun.

Recently, a couple of us local thrifters have been trying to play some of the older games we've been finding (see this list for some of the plans and results: Eugene Thrifty Games To Try). Surprisingly, many of the older games we've brought to the table have been great fun (or at least entertaining and somewhat interesting).

My favorite was Situation 4 from 1968. It is a game that involves quickly solving a puzzle in a speed game with another person (you could also play in teams). One twist is that each team has a different version of the same puzzle but each starts on an opposite edge. You must place connecting pieces and try to complete features and place flags on them to gain the points for that feature. The additional twist is it is somewhat of a war game in that you can infiltrate the other person's side of the board with tanks and paratroopers giving you the ability to interfere with what they are doing on their side, or protect your own side from invasion.

It is a really clever and interesting game and we had a blast playing it.

Anyhow, the thing I got out of this weekend was remembering how good the older games can be - just as entertaining as many of the more modern creations, and often not so difficult to learn to boot. It is easy to write off a game because it is old or a classic, but that doesn't mean it can't be good.



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Tue Jun 17, 2014 3:00 pm
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TIMELY TOPICS - The future is now! 3D Printing Game Pieces for Morels

-matt s.
United States
Eugene
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So, last year a friend of mine introduced me to Morels. I had seen it before but never played it. I really enjoyed it and picked up a copy direct from the publisher. Unfortunately, it didn't have the nifty hand-crafted foraging sticks and plastic pans that came with the original Kickstarted versions:

Board Game: Morels
Board Game: Morels


The wood foraging sticks were originally made by hand by the designer, Brent Povis! Hundreds and hundreds of them! I missed out

My version came later and just had the cardboard chits:
Board Game: Morels
Board Game: Morels



I had thought I would make fimo ones like others had made, or make my own wood ones, possibly like these:
Board Game: Morels
Board Game: Morels


Then, last October, I saw these nifty little pans 3D printed by someone with access to a 3D printer at work:
Board Game: Morels


That wasn't QUITE what I wanted out of mine, but it definitely inspired me to look into 3D printing further. I started reading more about 3D printing and online 3D modeling applications.

Then, I started out playing around with TinkerCad and really found it intuitive and easy to use (note that I used to do CAD, including some 3D, many moons ago, so perhaps was more intuitive to me than for some, but I have heard of kids using it fairly easily, so it really isn't THAT hard).

There are many 3D drawing applications out there and available. The thing I liked most about TinkerCad was it had a really innovative way of making things where you didn't worry so much about dimensions but more about choosing basic 3D shapes from a palette, crossing and merging them together to make new shapes, then adding in other shapes as 'holes' to create void space! Merging holes and solids together caused it to calculate and draw all the intersecting faces and such for you automatically. Really REALLY neat piece of software!

BTW, there's this other amazing application that is quite fascinating to play around with called Shapeshifter - try both this and TinkerCad, you'll really like them! Both applications are actually owned by AutoDesk, makers of AutoCad and such. They actually took over TinkerCad last year when it was about to be tanked by its owning company - I'm really glad they kept it alive!

Well, after getting up-to-speed with the tutorials, I then started on my project by first creating the pans which were relatively straight-forward, although I took a non-traditional approach and intersected a large parabola (well, two actually) with a squat cylinder to make the pan, then merged a long round ovoid piece to make the handle. Not much detail, just playing around a bit.

First 'cut' before merge:
From gallery of tasajara


Second 'cut' before merge:
From gallery of tasajara


Final version:
From gallery of tasajara


And, this is how the printed version came out:
From gallery of tasajara


Then I started messing with the sticks. I wanted to have a 'carved' feel to them, just like the hand-made ones. So, I started with a simple long, thin cylinder, then added two more smaller ones to make a 'Y'. Finally, I used a series of individual and grouped parabolas and cylinders of various sizes to 'carve out' areas along the edges.

Here's a late step of doing some of the final 'cuts':
From gallery of tasajara


This is a detail - see the dark areas on the orange stick? Those are the areas being 'cut away' when I do the merge:
From gallery of tasajara


The dark shaded areas are object 'holes' that, when merged, 'remove' material from the 'solid' object.

This is the final 3D model:
From gallery of tasajara


And, here's the final printed stick:
From gallery of tasajara


Because they are white its hard to see all the detail - I tried to highlight it against the dark pan and you can see some of the detail there.

These are how they look sent directly to me after printing at Shapeways which is an online 3D printing service where you can print in a wide variety of materials (depending on the size of the object, and the depth of your pocket book) ranging from plastic to chrome to gold to multi-colored ceramic, plus a variety or other metals and plastics. The great thing is you generally only pay for the amount of material used, plus shipping! (The shipping is the gotcha unfortunately when only printing small, cheap items). I paid close to $30 for my 12 sticks and 2 pans. OUCH!

BUT, I did it at Christmas time during a special promotion and got a $10 credit for future prints. AND, I didn't have to shell out thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of time to build, test, and calibrate my own 3D printer. In all honesty, it was truly a proof-of-concept for myself to see what it looked like, felt like, and what the entire process was, so was definitely worth it for me to get that experience.

I should note that Shapeways does a really great job of checking your work for holes or areas that are too thin and sending you feedback if there are problems. I should have started out right off with their recommended tools to check myself though - would have saved me a bunch of time 'debugging' my pieces in terms of thickness. They post all of their tolerances for each material type and you MUST look at those and figure out what the requirements are or it won't be printable.

As to the pieces themselves, the plastic has a sort of rough feel to it (which works well for these items) although they have some plastics that are smoother (or they put them in a tumbler to smooth them later). It can be painted which is my plan for these in the near future so the sticks will be in the brown/tan range. I may add some highlights to the pans as well to give them a more metallic look.

Well, that's my first look at 3D printing. I have been wanting to write this piece for a few weeks now and, because I JUST today received my 3Doodler it has got me thinking about 3D printing and the future that it holds. The 3Doodler is certainly NOT going to produce anything like this, but I think it may have some other applications such as with storage or simple custom on-the-fly made pieces. I'm also looking forward to just creating some neat 3D art pieces in general.

Hopefully I'll get it to the table soon and then show what some of the capabilities of it are in a future post.

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Thu Feb 6, 2014 1:30 pm
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STATE OF THE BACK ROOM - Time to clean up and clear out - Why is it SOOO Hard? (Plus, SUPER FAST AUCTION link - 2 days left!!)

-matt s.
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In 2012 I sold a good number of games to clear some stuff out. I actually went from 700+ games down to 400 I think. Well, I'm cheating a bit on that - I removed all the kids games and put them on a different account (except a couple I happen to really like) which dropped the count by 71. Out of sight, out of mind, right? (Besides, they only take up a couple of cupboards in the family room...they aren't REALLY there because you mostly can't see them....)

And, I removed many of the smaller expansions (there are still many on the list). Actually, I just checked - I 'own' 544 games, but excluding expansions brings it down to 471. That's still 73 expansions ferreted away somewhere. Most times I combine with the base games which helps with space. Right?

Regarding the SOLD games, the Marketplace shows I sold 118 games. I've also traded a number of games, but that didn't actually help with the totals too much (in fact, probably went up a tad as a result). Oh, I *did* also sell some games on ebay....but not sure how many. I'm sure it was a lot! Really! whistle

Oh, and I donated a bunch of games - to a couple of local schools and also to a Scout camp.

Again, I'm cheating though - because of my thrifting I don't always list those as 'owned'. In fact, I have quite a few now that I 'own' but are not listed. If I decide to keep them then I'll own them....later. So, many donations and sales were thrifted games. But many WERE games I decided to get rid of, even ones that I sort of, kind of, liked and ones that I actually liked.

It was a real struggle to get myself to sell off some games the first time through, but the more I looked and was honest with myself, the more I realized I didn't like them as much as I thought, or I just wasn't that interested in playing them, or no one ELSE wanted to play them.

The interesting thing is, once I started finding things to sell and they ACTUALLY STARTED SELLING, there was a bit of an adrenaline rush and I kind of wanted to find some more to sell!

Lately, I've been thinking of selling more off. Again. So I finally did it, I pulled all the games from the shelves, re-sorted them, weeded out a few, and put them back on. Well, the REAL problem I was having was games were starting to pile up everywhere including all over the game room table and I couldn't even play in here! I would think "Gosh, I really ought to go in there and clean it up so I can have some friends over again".

Well, last week I invited my friend Bob over. That was the motivation I needed. I had already 'cleaned up' earlier in the month for my birthday gaming weekend, but cleaning up meant 'setting up a table in the garage and stacking everything on it that was in the way so I could see and use the top of the DAMN TABLE AGAIN!!!!'

And I'm yelling because I'm overwhelmed - it's the problem of gamers like me who like a lot of different types of games and so I buy and buy and trade and buy some more until I'm OVERWHELMED with the sheer volume of games! There are SO MANY GOOD GAMES! And I want to play them ALL!

But you know, you don't have to OWN them all to play them all. At least thats what I tell myself. And then I look at each game and try to assess it. Have I played it? Will I play it again if I have? Do I want to even play it if I haven't yet? When did I last play it? Is it worth money? Is it worth a LOT of money?

All these things roll through my mind as I look over each game. And I desperately want to play them - ALL OF THEM. And then I slide slowly into the trap of thinking about how much time it would take to learn and play each and every game that I haven't played yet. Then I think about playing ALL of them - every SINGLE game I own. And I keep sliding into that time pit, that gaping hole of time that is required to get them all to the table! And my mind explodes! And I'm sad. Sad that I may not even get to play them all. May NEVER get to play them all. But I MUST keep them because I *might* play them again. Sometime. Very soon. I JUST KNOW IT.



AUCTION BREAK! Please help me out of my dire situation! Buy a game! Please!

[CLOSED] SUPER FAST AUCTION - With Global Shipping OR Pick up @ EGG in Eugene, Oregon [ENDS JAN 30TH]

(ok, I know its only 12 games - a small dent - but its a start ---- again)

Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game
Villa Paletti (Zoch Verlag 2002)
The Settlers of Catan (Mayfair 2007)
Fresh Fish
Silverton
Empire Builder
Ever Green
Mykerinos
Sagaland (original 1st edition German version of Enchanted Forest)
Platoon
Cathedral WORLD (resin version with nice architectural pieces instead of simple blocks)
Yacht Race (rare/hard to find)




Anyhow, I have climbed out of pit of despair. And I'm happy again. Because I look around and I'm surrounded by games.

Look, here's what my game room looked like in May 2011...
From gallery of tasajara


then August 2012....
From gallery of tasajara


...and finally this is today. Now. January 2014.
From gallery of tasajara


Well, I'm cheating again. Because it actually looks like this:
From gallery of tasajara


Or rather, like this:
From gallery of tasajara

From gallery of tasajara


WHY IS IT SOOOOOO HARD? Oh yeah, because they're fun!


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Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:30 pm
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