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)

Archive for -matt s.

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ADVENTURES IN THRIFTING - Thrift Report #4 for 2014 - Quicksand (fail?) and Inside Moves (aka Camelot...by George S Parker)

-matt s.
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I stopped by the Seneca GW last Friday as I was heading to Funagain (the local Eugene store - THESE GUYS ARE AWESOME BTW!!!!!! If you're ever in town, you have to go visit them!) to pick up Rampage stickers for the meeples that fortuitously appeared in a shipment the day after I asked if they had them available! WOOT!

Anyhow, I went into GW and first spotted Quicksand. It looked interesting, but maybe a little sucky. Looking up on BGG confirmed it wasn't rated high. I was still intrigued....but I passed.

I roamed down the shelves and didn't see too much. I wandered by the Hot Wheels to look for something for my son. I spotted a couple that looked decent and a stock car for me for The Stock Car Championship Racing Card Game that I've been collecting cars for. But, I was just in an 'iffy' mood and usually I don't pick up the cars unless I find something bigger of interest. And I didn't really need another stock car. But I held on to them and went back to grab Quicksand.

While deciding if I was dumping my 'finds' or not, I went to the back end-cap near the board games and spotted Inside Moves on the top shelf. It looked like a potentially interesting abstract. The box was terrible condition (water stains and such). I was still iffy.

I decided to pass. On everything. I dumped the cars and Quicksand and left.

But Inside Moves was still nagging at me. Sitting in my truck I did a quick search on my phone (lord knows why I didn't look while in the store....I'm funny that way)

It turned out the alternate name is 'Camelot' which is a tweaked and republished version of the original Chivalry game - the first official game designed and published by George S Parker, founder of the Parker Brothers company was back in 1888! Hmmm, my interest immediately went up! And, the BGG rating looked pretty good too.

Drat!

Back into the store I went. I grabbed everything including the Hot Wheels.

The 'haul':
From gallery of tasajara


Lovely.



Board Game: Quicksand

Well, Quicksand is 'ok' but kind of a bust even at $0.99 (half off) - I tested the timers and only 2 of them work properly - the rest look like they're working but I left them set up for several hours, came back and........well, they still hadn't emptied.

From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


TWO...HOURS...LATER:

From gallery of tasajara


FAIL!!!

Not sure why I even grabbed in the first place. Such is the life of a Thrifter I suppose.



Inside Moves proved to be a bit better (well, because of it's rating). The box still sucks:

From gallery of tasajara


The game pieces are nifty except it is missing one small light colored piece. The board is ok.

From gallery of tasajara


I can't decide if that woman on the cover is hot or frightening....




Well, it was an 'ok' thrifting day. I'll give it only because of Inside Moves (aka Camelot). But that may go down after I play it......at least I'll have some unique/interesting pieces for displaying if nothing else whistle


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Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:30 pm
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ADVENTURES IN THRIFTING - Thrift Report #3 for 2014 - Hits & Misses: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, Capsela 400 and Pig Mania (aka the Makin Bacon game)

-matt s.
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Last week on Wednesday I made a stop by the Greenacres GW and found a couple of 'maybe' items including a Star Wars Clone Wars Monopoly and a Pirates of the Caribbean Life. However, I decided to pass...I've got a bunch of Star Wars stuff already I need to deal with and it didn't seem worth the effort for value. The Pirates game had some nice plastic pirate ships but at $2.99 didn't feel worth it just for those. I guess I'm going all soft.

I did notice a 'vintage' Capsela 400 (building toy, not board game) which immediately put me into NOSTALGIA mode since I had a set almost exactly like it when I was a young boy (why does it make me feel old thinking toys from my childhood are 'vintage' now.... ). And yet, I wasn't sure I was interested....until I checked for potential value on eBay and saw they sold pretty consistently and for $20 (low) to as high as the mid $50 range (and possibly higher) making it a potential HIT.

I was a bit worried since the box was bulging and one of the metal axles had migrated out of the partially opened box, but held in place by the GW added shrink....

From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


Still, it was worth taking a chance so I picked it up for $2.99.

Once opened it was a bit of a mess, but not bad really.

From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


Its missing a couple of connectors and the battery case is corroded and needs some cleaning, but I think its definitely workable/sellable.

So, I got it counted out, then sorted....
From gallery of tasajara


And finally back together properly:
From gallery of tasajara


Just need to do cleanup on the battery pack and test it out a bit to see if it works before selling. No, I'm not keeping it for me or my kids - there's some nostalgia but not enough to keep it at this point.



For some fun, thought I'd mention a couple of MISSES other than the two mentioned earlier.

Board Game: Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon

First was Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon - I thought this was just a fun pastime (ah, more NOSTALGIA) but, no, they actually made it a board game (read the wikipedia link - pretty interesting actually)! If it was NEW in SHRINK it might sell but, other than being a fun novelty....not something I need cluttering up my game room. Sorry Kevin, I still love you!



(Personal side note: Our pastor at the church I attended as a teen took our youth group to see Footloose!)



Board Game: Pass the Pigs

I also spotted Pig Mania, another NOSTALGIA item for me. Funny, I've found several Pass the Pigs versions in the past year, but not Pig Mania which is the actual version I had as a kid. It is (as far as I know) the only one to have the 'Makin Bacon' roll where if the pigs are touching you have accomplished this. Get it? HA! Its in the 3rd column on this image of the box back:

Board Game: Pass the Pigs


As kids we thought that was HILARIOUS!

(Oh, Piggy Back is pretty funny too! Oh dear!)
Board Game: Pass the Pigs


Later versions renamed 'Makin Bacon' to 'Oinker' which isn't nearly as funny! They also got rid of the 'Piggy Back' roll....darn censors!

Anyhow, I mentioned Pig Mania being my favorite in one of my Pass the Pigs Thrift List posts last year and someone was kind enough to send me their Pig Mania version!!! Love the Thrifters in this community! Anyhow, I didn't really need another copy of it. I suppose maybe I could have passed it along to someone else but decided to, erhm....PASS.




Well, that's it for this report! I think my hit is pretty solid but all the misses/passes distracted so I'm giving it a


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Sun Jan 26, 2014 12:30 pm
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ADVENTURES IN THRIFTING - Thrift Report #2 for 2014 - Pokemon Master Trainer and Villa Paletti

-matt s.
United States
Eugene
Oregon
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Last Wednesday, Jan 15th, I made another thrift run, this time to the GW in the opposite direction on Greenacres road. This is one of two primary sources of good games.

It was the first one I would visit in my area as it is directly off the freeway I would take to work. So, it was an easy target and perhaps my 'favorite' due to a large game section AND a large toy section, plus I also like perusing the 'wood' aisle (all manner of wooden bowls, boxes, display cases and such) and also the 'frames' aisle that has various sorts of picture and wall art frames in a large variety of choices...perfect for my (non-existant but in-my-thoughts) projects - I *really* do have projects in mind, but never seem to get to them.....

Anyhow, this particular day was pretty good. Here's a quick peek at the 'haul'

From gallery of tasajara




First up, I spotted a Pokemon Master Trainer game for $2.99.

From gallery of tasajara


I am not much into Pokemon but my kids are. I thrifted a pile of discs from this game late last year (thinking they were something else) and gave them to my kids. I also later learned that this game can be somewhat valuable (much to my consternation after having passed on it in the past)

Looking inside it was a bit of a mess with the cards, but the tokens were mostly sorted properly:
From gallery of tasajara


Well, this copy is probably not so valuable - it has obvious fading on the right side of the box (a light yellow/white Pikachu....) and it is missing 1 token, 5 character cards, and a few other cards. Drat!

Here's the game after my sorting and cleanup:

From gallery of tasajara


The components are actually in really great shape, including the board, so hopefully I can eventually complete it....or maybe it will have to go onto the 'project' pile. Whatever that means...




Next up is Villa Paletti for $2.99! And its the German version!?

From gallery of tasajara


It ALWAYS surprises me when I find good games on the shelves. Its that excitement it generates that keeps me coming back. This game was no exception. I saw it and it was an immediate grab! I'm thinking: "I'm sure it's missing something since it is taped shut and the lid is protruding up higher than it should - maybe its just stuffed full of kids blocks or somethings..."

Well, looking inside and checking it out in detail shows it, in fact, is NOT full of kids blocks but actual game components.

From gallery of tasajara


It actually has ALL of the game components! Well, all but one lesser important one - it is missing the wood block (aka 'Seal') that is used for tracking the current 'leader' during the game. Yes, its 'important' but, it's not 'critical' to actual game play in the sense that it is something I can easily make a substitute for! Woot!

I still need to make the replacement block, but at least it wasn't a missing pillar or floor.

All-in-all, this was a solid thrift day:

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Tue Jan 21, 2014 3:30 pm
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ADVENTURES IN THRIFTING - Thrift Report #1 (First Finds!) for 2014 - Blokus, Scrabble x2, Statis Pro Baseball, and Yin Yang

-matt s.
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Eugene
Oregon
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So, on Tuesday I went thrifting. I've only been a couple of times so far this year and turned up nothing.

Tuesday did the grocery shopping, then stopped by the vet. It was near the thrifts. Of course I had to go!

This is what I found as my first finds for 2014:
From gallery of tasajara



BLOKUS for $1.99
It was bagged! A good sign. Turned out to be complete and used, but still usable. It will be donated to my wife's school.
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


SCRABBLE X 2 --> for $1.99 each
So lovely. Lovely smooth older tiles. Yes, they will sell and hopefully pay for everything else and then some. Nice!

From gallery of tasajara

From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


This is how I count them quickly. Too bad I'm slow anyhow.
From gallery of tasajara


Tagged and bagged!
From gallery of tasajara


Now to list them for sale....


STATIS PRO BASEBALL for $1.99
A collectible classic. The sales slip inside says it sold for $20.00 way back in 2003! It looks complete but.....
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara

(oops, its sideways - sorry!)

From gallery of tasajara


....it has Rubber Bands. Rubber Bands are bad. BAAAAAAAAD!!!!! Its so sad soblue But I was able to save the cards and other stuff. Yea!
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara

From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara

(except that one above - it got a little mangled - but it survived!)

From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara

Ewwww, they're like dried up little worms!

I got it cleaned up and its now ready to go!


YIN YANG for $1.99
I took a chance because it was cheap looking - very cheaply made. Yet it is lovely. A co-op abstract from 1983! Imagine that!
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


Clearly I don't have enough time on my hands.....
From gallery of tasajara


It was a GOOD thrifting day!


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Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:30 pm
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JUST GAMING AROUND - Escape: Curse of the Temple and Relic Runners

-matt s.
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Happy New Year! Its the start of a new gaming year! I'm hoping to get even more good games to the table, get some foam core box inserts created, and get more of my unplayed games actually played. Oh, I also plan on starting a geek list of all the games I've thrifted through the year.

To kick off the year are two games dealing with adventurers and running - lots and lots of running.

Ironically, I did lots (well some) running around outside today with the kids playing 'watermelon' - a form of 500 that my kids play where someone throws a football up in the air and you try to catch it/get it for some points, trying to get to some designated point total first. Well, that's not a board game so no more about that other than to say - that's the first step in my goal to get more physical exercise.

Anyhow, lets get started!




RELIC RUNNERS
Board Game: Relic Runners


This is one of the new games out in September 2013 from Days of Wonder. Production values are excellent - actually superb in terms of art design and production, in particular these nifty game pieces and miniatures:
Board Game: Relic Runners
Board Game: Relic Runners


You play a 'relic runner' who is exploring the jungle finding temples and ruins and excavating them to gain points, special abilities, end-game scoring abilities and the ability to explore more trails (i.e. make them 'known' to you)

In addition, there is a special action board for each player. As you navigate the rivers you advance on this action board that gives you different abilities you can use once, then is reset. You can have up to 3 toolboxes that may give you up to 3 abilities (although you can only use one per turn). There are also 3 tracks you can advance abilities and you and can advance all toolboxes on the same column or different in any combination.

Besides uncovering the items in the jungle, you are also trying to make as my trails known and connect them together to form continuous paths that will eventually let you travel faster and also eventually pick up relics (the miniatures) as they are uncovered. Once a certain number of relics are picked up among all players, the game ends.

We played 2 player for our first game. I found it interesting to a point, but not as dynamic as I thought it might be. I chalk this up a bit to being a first play and not knowing what we were doing. However, I don't see a ton of depth here, so this is definitely a family-friendly game. I would not call this 'light', but maybe 'medium-weight' for families unless they have a lot of gaming experience with Euros.

For me it was pretty light, however, I can see a little bit of depth to it as there are more than one, er, paths to victory. It also helps that the actions, abilities and bonuses vary from game to game as you randomize 2 or 3 levels of them during setup, as well as where they are located on the board. This is not going to change the game wildly, but at least leaves open a bit of discovery and puzzling out of potential optimal paths. The variable end-game bonus points will also help in this regard as well as the 'advanced' version that gives your character a unique special ability of some kind.

Overall, my dad and I enjoyed playing this. It isn't a game that I am desperate to get to the table but it was pleasant enough to definitely play it somewhat regularly for now to see how much more it has to offer.




ESCAPE: The Curse of the Temple
Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple

This game came out in 2012 by Queen who, as you would expect, puts a tremendous amount of quality into the game components, box and, in this case, audio CD.

Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple


I had seen the game early on and was definitely interested in it, then saw it being played a couple of times but never quite made it into a game. Well, my son received this for Christmas and we finally got it played on December 31st at 9:30pm (or so)

The main idea is that all players are working together to escape a temple. You must roll dice (and roll dice and roll dice...and roll and roll and roll) to do everything - get certain pairs to explore and move. Get certain sets of symbols to discover magic crystals and to eventually escape. There are also black masks that lock your dice and golden masks that unlock your dice (or someone else's dice if you are in the same room)

Board Game: Escape: The Curse of the Temple


A soundtrack is provided (on a CD) which you play as a timer. The game takes exactly 10 minutes once you start playing and you have 2 intervals mid-game where you must return to the start tile to avoid losing a die permanently (NOT a good thing) and by the end of the game you have to escape the temple completely. EVERYONE must escape successfully or else you all lose.

In the basic game I played 2p with my son, we dilly-dallied a lot trying to get to 10 keys or torches (i.e. all our dice) to get to 3 gems on the activation tiles. Really, we didn't need to and we held out at 2 on 2 of them. However, after the 2nd mid-game interval we realized we needed to haul it out of there. We were down to 2 gems left which meant it should be pretty easy to get out. Unfortunately, we had well over half the tiles in the temple to explore to find the exit! Luckily we finally pulled out the stops and found it, unfortunately my son was half-way across the temple from it. I was able to get out and gave him one die (as per the rules) and he quickly made it to the exit. Unfortunately, he just couldn't get a 2nd key to make his escape and the door slammed shut before he made it!

It was actually pretty fun and exciting. However, I can see that it could get a bit 'dull' after a few times through with the base game as-is since there's only a couple of different types of activities to accomplish in the game - discover gems and get out.

As such, I'm very happy to see they have included 2 expansions already with the game - I think they are definitely needed. Yes, this is a bit of a luck/dice fest, but the time element makes it shine, at least for me and I'm looking forward to trying the expansions. Despite the luck, I think there's still some decision making to engage in - do you stay together or split up? Do you work longer to get another gem or move on quickly? I'm hoping the expansions add a bit more decision making and/or options as well.

No, this is not a heavy game - anything with a 10 minute timer isn't intended to be. But, I find it to be a lot of fun for something quick and relatively easy to set up.

My son definitely likes the game although the 'spooky' soundtrack seemed to bother/distract him a bit (he's 10). I discovered this awesome Android Timer App that I've installed and will definitely use next game - it removes the spooky part and just has the mid-game and end-game bongs/door slams and drumming. It also eliminates the overrunning of the timer track into the next timer track (sometimes it's hard to hear the transitions).

I really enjoyed my first play, as did my son, and although I was hoping for a bit more, with the included expansions and more expansions available or on the way, it should hopefully keep us entertained for a long time to come.

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Thu Jan 2, 2014 5:05 am
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ADVENTURES IN THRIFTING - Cardboard Tidal Wave +POLL ABOUT THRIFTING GAMES

-matt s.
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I am awash in games. Not just 'new' games but also games I have thrifted. The garage is filling up with them. It is a cardboard tidal wave. Sometimes I'm ok with it, other times I feel like I'm drowning.

A while ago, when a 'friend' suggested thrifting was fun and a good way to sometimes find some interesting games, but I was skeptical. Well, at some point I decided to go. I felt a bit anxious going in - thrift stores had a sort of stigma in my mind for some reason that it was all just junk. I'm not sure why because my grandfather used to go all the time - he was a machinist and found all sorts of interesting things...I guess I never really realized that back then as a kid, but he got all sorts of expensive tools and machinery for a bargain, plus he could fix broken stuff most times so probably some REALLY good deals as a result.

Anyhow, I don't remember specifically the first time going, but I did find my first thrift list post:
Item for Geeklist "Your Thrift Store / Bargain 6 - 12 December 2010" - Clue with the painted miniature figures (instead of dumb pawns like in the version I had as a kid) for the unbelievable bargain of $1.99!

Also, I posted from the same trip a Netrunner starter pack SEALED for $1.00 (Item for Geeklist "Your Thrift Store / Bargain 6 - 12 December 2010" ). This was before the reprint so it was a really great find (well, still is, but perhaps not as valuable now)

And a 1960's double deck of standard cards but with really nifty Native Amercan/Asian inspired artwork by Heraclio Fournier Vitoria for $0.99 (Item for Geeklist "Your Thrift Store / Bargain 6 - 12 December 2010" )

Pretty neat stuff!

I'm pretty sure those weren't my first finds though. At first I didn't really record/post what I found but I'm pretty sure prior to those posts I'd actually found a variety of other games, nothing hugely exciting, but stuff I was interested in at least and it was all cheap!

Anyhow, it was all very intoxicating and I bought a lot of stuff I didn't really need or want, so I learned after a while I couldn't buy EVERYTHING. I also came to realize later that for some reason, the area I live in is a hotbed of thrifting goodness attributed to the Pacific Northwest in terms of games - other areas of the US are not so fruitful unfortunately. But when you have a lot of choices it is easy to go overboard, at least at first...

Eventually, I learned to 'pick and choose'. Ok, that's a relative term - I still tend to pick up stuff I have no idea what I'm going to do with it.

Fortunately, some games I can re-sell for a tidy profit which helps fund future thrift purchases and nets me a lot of 'free' games when factoring in what $$ I get out of some games. So, what games have I sold?

My best deal was buying Crossbows and Catapults for ~$2.99 and selling it a year later (after playing with it first) for ~$180! Nothing else has garnered that much, but other stuff has done really well such as Heroquest and one of its expansions, Civilization (mostly unpunched), For Sale (in shrink), Qwirkle, Smess, Scrabble Deluxe turntable, vintage Bridge boards, Survive and more!

On the other hand, many have become keepers such as Sid Meier's Civiliation, Star Wars Epic Duels, Heroscape, Netrunner, 10 Days in the USA & Africa, Trans Europa, Pit (various versions), Scrutineyes, Big Boggle.

But many, MANY games have just piled up and piled up. I am drawn to many games for a variety of reasons if not for monetary value. Sometimes it is nostalgia, sometimes it looks like fun to try, sometimes it is the artwork or the look, sometimes uniqueness (it isn't in the BGG database or needs more pictures) and sometimes it is 'just for the cool bits'

All those different varieties of Monopoly that most gamers pass on? I often look at the different versions to see if they have interesting pewter movers, different house pieces, interesting artwork, etc. Those movers can really be appealing and interesting. Lets just say I have my fair share of them now. More than I care to admit.

But now I have lots of 'cool bits'. And dice. I have LOTS of various bits. I SWEAR they will be useful. Someday.

I've filled up a jar with a wide variety of dice (and have many more lying around). Its pretty neat to look at. And the kids always want to play with them...........

Luckily I have some space in the garage to keep the thrifted games. And, I have also purchased organizer units to store all the cool bits. One was given to us for free, but one I purchased. Ironically, it was not thrifted (although it wasn't too expensive either)

Those piles of games and bits get a bit overwhelming sometimes and I wonder if its worth it. I really enjoy the hunt of thrifting and finding some great treasures, sometimes by sheer luck (instinct?) other times because I've read up on what is valuable and what isn't. I think its that joy that keeps me going back - finding something amazing, or even anticipating finding something regardless of if I actually do or not. Perhaps its the caveman in me - hunting for that big prey...

I also enjoy reading the thrift lists and seeing what other people have picked up - they find really interesting games and great deals on some amazing games. For those that don't know, there is a new list posted each week that starts Monday and runs through Sunday - the most recent is here: Your Thrift Store/Bargain Finds 9 - 15 December 2013 (or do a search for 'thrift list' under geeklists to find the most recent).

I never have time to read through much of the list - I usually just 'look' over items near the items I've posted when I find stuff.

Hmmmmm, this has got me thinking so I'm curious to know how many people go to thrift stores looking for games themselves and, if they do, do they post them to the thrift lists here on BGG?

Perhaps a POLL is in order. Please take a moment if you are so inclined (and post a comment for some of the 'other' items if you want - or to give an idea of what/why if you don't want to take the poll). (OH POOP! I put numbers on each question but it automatically numbers the questions for you - as you can tell I'm a poll noob... blush )

Poll: Thrifting Games Poll for Board Game Back Room post
Whether you think you are a thrifter or not, take a few moments to answer 6 short questions, please?
1. 1. Where do you go looking for game deals?
2. 2. If you go hunting for game deals/thrifting, how often do you typically go?
3. 3. What are you looking for when shopping for deals/thrifted games?
4. 4. Do you ever find anything worth getting?
5. 5. Do you post stuff you find to the Thrift Lists?
6. 6. If you do post, why do you post to the Thrift Lists?
      53 answers
Poll created by tasajara


Now, get out there and thrift some games!!!

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Mon Dec 16, 2013 12:00 pm
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THE CREATIVE GAMER - To Trash or Not to Trash Inserts PLUS My New Obsession with Foam Core Inserts

-matt s.
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Lately, my family has been re-visting Carcassonne quite a bit - my parents picked up a copy last year and have been playing it off and on along with Carcassonne: The Castle a little.

When playing at our house, when we pull it out I'm surprised how much stuff we have crammed in there. In addition to the base game we have the River, the River II, Inns & Cathedrals, Traders & Builders, The Catapult, The Princess & the Dragon, The King & the Scout and, I think, one other mini expansion. ALSO, very early on I also added more sets of meeples from http://www.meeplepeople.com - I think we have 10 different color options including Pink, Macaroni (i.e. cheese colored orange), naked (natural wood), brown, purple, and white. Each has the giant meeple, builder, pig and a few extras of the regular meeples.

Its a challenge getting all that in the box, but somehow it fits. However, its a big mass of baggies, mini cardboard boxes (that come with a couple of the small expansions) and various other bits.

In the past I've posted a lot about my storage solutions using a variety of plastic boxes, plano boxes, baggies, etc. But I don't think a plano will solve this problem and plastic boxes for everything start taking up too much space. The baggies let me smoosh them in.

Take a look at this mess:
From gallery of tasajara
From gallery of tasajara


This gives me angst. A LOT of angst. (And NO I'm not buying the whole thing again as the Big Box version)

After all my previous work on how to more efficiently use the inside space of my game boxes, for some reason I never thought about creating an actual WHOLE NEW INSERT for a game.

Recently I've taken to reading the geek lists that show home-grown insert solutions using foam core (aka foam board). I'm somewhat familiar with foam core as we used it extensively when I studied Architecture in college to build models, but it never occurred to me to use it in my game boxes.

My initial interest was with Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar as I was obsessed with it and even painted my gears in a lot of detail.

From gallery of tasajara


Someone came up with a neat storage solution supporting the gear/board pieces to minimize warping/damage when stored:
Homemade insert to keep the boards secure

Board Game: Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar


That got me looking around and since then I've been following a couple of lists of certain gamers that have created multiple foam inserts for their games.

In my poking around I discovered there sure are a lot of geeklists about game inserts in general...

Game inserts that are awesome:
Games that got the inserts and storage trays right.
Best Inserts
Putting it all together: the best box inserts EVER!
Don't throw that insert out!
Games with good inserts
Naked & Exposed - The Great List of Box Inserts (well, this one is somewhere in-between)

Game inserts that suck:
Inserts, huh, yeah! What are they good for?! ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!
Games with Problematic and/or Useless Inserts [Please Add]
Worst box inserts
Horrible Box Inserts
A few games that I threw out the insert to and why
Games with bad inserts
The Awful Generic Plastic Insert

Interestingly, some games are on both the Good AND the Bad inserts lists. Go figure.

Game inserts custom made using foam core:
My DIY Foam Core Box Insert Projects
28green's Collection of Foam Board Inserts
Walsfeo's Box Inserts & Storage Solutions.
O Foam Core, how do I love thee
Photojenic's Collection of Amateur Foam Board Inserts.
Modding Game Storage
My Foamcore Inserts
DIY Foam core insert master list

When I first got into gaming I kept everything religiously. The inserts. The extra papers/advertising. EVERYTHING. Well, I usually tossed recycled (I'm from Oregon you know) the cardboard sprues after punching the pieces out, but other than that, nothing left the box.

After a time, I started to realize that was ridiculous for many games. There are a few games I keep the inserts for because they look nice, are reasonably functional, or are part of an expensive/valuable game. It literally used to made me feel sick/sad for tossing the inserts, but after I got over my initial fears, it became easier and easier.

When I first started gaming, baggies were my primary method of storing bits and cards. I bought them by the hundreds (thousands?) from http://www.boardsandbits.com. Then, adding plastic boxes, planos, etc, became the norm.

Here's a pretty nifty foam core insert from 28green's list for Lords of Waterdeep that I really like:
Board Game: Lords of Waterdeep


Now, I'm fascinated with foam core and the possibilities. I'm on the verge of being obsessed. In fact, I recently bought a pack of foam core boards off of Amazon for a decent price. I also found a great mat cutter for a reasonable price as well - not for foam core initially, but I came to realize later it will cut the foam core very nicely.

NOW, I just need to get working on it. Along with all my other gazillion projects.........

What will be first? Probably Tzolkin. Maybe Carcassonne. Looking through the lists I mentioned previously it made me realize how many games I have that are in desperate need of help. DESPERATE. NEED. OF. HELP.

Oh, here's another...
Keyflower (and, the expansion is on the way - shipped today! - so need to figure out how to cram it all into one box if I can!):

From gallery of tasajara


So here's my initial list of possible projects:
Tzolkin (required for protecting the gears)
Kingdom Builder (required because finding the right tiles each time is annoying)
Keyflower (I struggle getting this in the box and sorting/setting up each time is a bit of a pain with baggies)
Lords of Waterdeep (original insert is neat...but annoying)
Big City (mine didn't come with the plastic inserts and is a pain to set up every time)
Wasabi (There are currently a LOT of baggies I'd like to get rid of)
Micro Mutants (It's a pain to get out the right pieces every time)
Taluva (This is a tough one as I 'like' the insert and the game has value, but I store it vertically and the tiles always scatter when on the shelf)
Oregon (The tiles need some help, but not a huge issue yet...)
Carcassonne (TOO MANY BITS!!)
Dungeon Petz (ALSO TOO MANY BITS!!)
Civilization (Just because...)

Ok, so I'm off to go obsess about my first project...

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Wed Dec 11, 2013 11:00 am
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TIMELY TOPICS - Enhanced Play Logging with Bookmarklets!!!

-matt s.
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Ok, I just discovered this nifty little tool recently (YESTERDAY) that makes game play logging WAY easier. WAAAAAAAAAAAY easier. It uses 'Bookmarklets' to enable better Play Logging. Basically, it is a set of 2 bookmarks with code behind them.

What it does is two fold:
1. It provides a Player and Location manager interface where you can create a list of places you commonly play and a list of players you commonly play with.

From gallery of tasajara

Manage Players and Locations v3.1

You can go in and update all of your information at any time and it will remember it. However, it appears to store it locally so you will have to enter it separately on different computers OR use the export/import option to transfer the data (just email it to yourself as its just text)


2. It provides an enhancement to the play logging feature either from a search results page (when you click in the Plays column and get the dialog) or from the game page itself (you don't even have to scroll down and click on the Play section).

Each location and player you entered with the Manager (above) will appear as a clickable button/area that will automatically populate the dialog with the relevant information.

This is especially nice for the players as there is no more having to click New Player for each one, or remember their BGG username, etc!

From gallery of tasajara

Enhanced Record Play Dialog v3.5


Information about this nifty tool can be found in a number of places, but here's the current 'good' locations to go:

Play Logging Bookmarklet: Code Repository

Taking Play Logging Improvements into Our Own Hands (which also has tutorial information)

The tutorial is nice, BUT very detailed.

Here's the easy way to do it:
1. Go to the Bookmarklet page
2. Drag each of the 2 bookmarks to your bookmark bar (in Windows - other platforms you will probably need to copy the link, then create a bookmark, edit it and paste the link in - see the Tutorials if you need details)
3. Run the Location and Player Manager by clicking the appropriate bookmark then saving your location and player information.
4. Go to log a play and click the Enhance dialog bookmark. Voila! Magic buttons! Just click them to enter your location and basic player info. That's all I normally do anyhow (other than changing number of plays) so works perfectly for me!

Wow, so much easier!

Be sure to give to:
Jesse C
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if you like the bookmarklets

AND:
kat costa
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if you like the tutorial information.


Now go log some plays!!


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Tue Dec 10, 2013 1:00 pm
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JUST GAMING AROUND - Snow = Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries?! (x2)?!

-matt s.
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It snowed where I live last Friday. A LOT (at least for us). From 2am to 5pm we got 6 inches of snow! Yea! Well, that's what my kids said. My cats said YIKES! And my wife was happy for the snow, but not happy for wet and freezing kids after playing in it, but was happy I mostly dealt with them and got them cocoa and such.

The following Saturday afternoon and evening turned into a gaming bonus for me! My daughter and I played Morels after she completed her homework. Then, my son and I played Pecking Order (x4) before he went to bed.

Here are Quick Reviews of each:



MORELS
Board Game: Morels

Take a walk through the forest collecting Mushrooms. Cook them up in your pans for points, or sell them for digging sticks that might help you find more mushrooms. But watch out for the Destroying Angels as they may make you sick for a few turns! Keep a lookout for those Morels - get a proper amount and cook them up for some big points!

I taught this to my wife's friend last week on Thanksgiving. Then, I taught my Dad and my daughter (13). My Dad seemed to enjoy it and proceededto beat me his first game! My daughter really took to it although she hasn't picked up fully on strategy yet. We've played it several times since then and she's getting better, learning from her mistakes.

The fun in this game is three-fold:
1) You cannot go over the hand limit. Initially it is 8 but can be expanded by putting baskets into play. The hand limit creates angst in what to pick up - if you get too much variety you can't cook anything up and are stuck with hand of garbage. Focus too much on low point sets and you'll earn few points for a lot of work. There is great hand-management in this game.

2) The timing of what turns up in the forest and the 'decay' is tricky and you can easily miss out on what you need if you aren't careful. This combined with the hand limit are key to getting the timing correct. Also, timing of Destroying Angels can be problematic because they can 'taint' the Decay (cards that pile up and eventually move out of the game, or allow you to get up to 4 cards at once). But they are also useful if you get stuck with garbage in your hand since they allow you to discard when you normally can't - but at a potential high cost.

3) There is enough variety in the card distributions in the deck that every game plays quite differently depending on how the cards come out and what choices the players make. I see myself getting a good amount of mileage from the game (and already have)

The art is fantastic and the gameplay actually feels like you're walking along picking up mushrooms, cooking them up, etc. The gameplay is simple and the fun factor is high as the decisions can be very tough. Once learned it is quick to play and often you desire to play more than one round in a sitting. Love it! Oh, and it just made the Games 100 list as well!



PECKING ORDER
Board Game: Pecking Order

Place your birds on the various platforms and branches such that you earn more points than your opponent and become the top bird! Use bluffing and carefully timed attacks to scare off your opponents birds and steal those points away.

Pecking Order is a Richard Garfield game which never got a lot of attention. This is understandable to a point as the game is very simple and quick. It is the ultimate 2 player filler. My kids and I can play multiple games in 20-30 minutes so it's a fantastic 'quick game before bed' option that isn't boring.

To play, you have a stack of bird 'cards' that number from 1 to 12, plus you have a Jaguar. You mix your deck and draw 1 card and play it, taking turns until all cards have been played. There are branches worth from 1 to 10 points that you can place them on, face down. If you place your bird on the same branch as you opponent, you 'attack' them. They turn theirs over and you state whether you 'won' the battle or not (higher value is better, ties go to the defender). The lowest branch allows you to ALWAYS win ties, the #3 branch lets you peek at one of your opponent's face-down bird, and the there are two '8' point branches when, if you capture both, you get a 3 point bonus. The Jaguar scares off the opponent's bird but he also leaves (you don't earn points for it)

As you can see, the rules are simple but there is some amount of bluffing and deduction going on (you can figure out face-down bird values depending on what battles you lose, what birds you've already seen, etc). It is simple enough that young kids (even 4 or 5) can play and enjoy the theme, but interesting enough to keep you thinking. And it plays so fast its a great 'quick' game before bed, before (or during) a meal, etc. Fun game, definitely enjoy it.




Well, I have one more game to discuss - the one in the title for this post:
Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries
Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries


I have not played a game 2p with my wife in a long time. This night I said "I don't suppose you'd like to play a game tonight, would you?" and she, surprisingly, said "Ok, sure!" Funny thing is, I was sure it would be a "No" as usual and didn't have ANY particular game in mind. It was later - 10:30pm - so I knew she didn't want to learn anything new at such a late hour.

I threw out the standbys - Flowerpower, Balloon Cup, Carcassonne, Pirate's Cove (2p variant - we have yet to try it), etc.

She suggested, "How about Ticket to Ride?"
"Hmmm, which version?"
"Since its snowing, how about the snow one?"
"Nordic Countries?"
"Yes!"
"Ok, let me get the table cleaned off and set it up"

I quickly got it ready and checked the rules (I always have to verify the specifics for each version - which reminds me I keep meaning to make a good summary card that shows all the minor differences in rules between versions)

She sat down, we reviewed and were off!

Board Game: Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries

Image by Camdin

The first game she got stuck mid-game drawing and drawing blindly to hopefully get a Locomotive (we call them rainbows) for a link she needed to complete a couple of her long routes. Meanwhile, I kept drawing more tickets and placing trains as I always seemed to get the right routes and have the right cards. My routes ran through the middle and then out to the side while hers were along the tougher west coast.

I think she should have been saving up to complete the 9 card, 37 point link while looking for the rainbows but she hadn't even considered it being focused on her high point routes. This particular game had very little interaction/conflicts between our routes.

She was tired and at first didn't want to play another, then reconsidered after we discussed what happened and offered to play again! Woot!

The second game went much better for her. And, there was more interaction. She started out more quickly and near 3 of my closely clustered endpoints on the south east side, so I was forced to put down some trains and get them connected to ensure I wasn't cut off from Tallinn (which is like Las Vegas on the US map - only one way in and out).

I then extended out a bit and she immediately jumped on the single ferry in the middle of the board making my easy straight shot to Narvik a problem. I decided to go around on the West coast instead as I had more cards collected for that way than around her, plus they were longer for more points. She then proceeded to draw tickets at least twice more.

It finally came down to me playing my last trains to end the game or draw randomly for a rainbow to complete a 4 point route. Ultimately, I decided to end it hoping I'd catch her with a missed ticket as well, but she only needed her last play to finish her last route. She ended up with most tickets bonus and the overall win by a wide margin since I neglected drawing more tickets having to deal with the long Western route and few extra trains.

I really like this map - it is very tight but you're also forced to draw more tickets to score enough points to win because so many of the links between cities are very short and not worth a ton of points by themselves. There is also the added risk with the tunnels causing you to plan for and spend more cards to complete the links. I also like that the rainbows/locomotives are very valuable and, at the same time, easy to pick up since you aren't restricted to just picking up one from the display like in most versions. There's enough interesting twists and a sparse, risky map that ratchet up the tension for 2 or 3 players (which is all that it plays)


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Mon Dec 9, 2013 11:00 am
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GAMING THOUGHTS - Of Civilization and Card Sleeves and Time and Maps

-matt s.
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Today I received some wooden tokens I ordered from Mayday during one of their Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales. I am going to use them as replacements for the cubes in Walnut Grove (which I love and have wanted to pimp out so couldn't resist the sale)

But Walnut Grove is not on my mind at the moment. I also received a pack of standard Euro card sleeves. I don't normally sleeve cards so was surprised to see the pack. I didn't order them!? Free!? Hmmmm. What can I use them for?

I checked their website and looked at the spreadsheet that shows you which sleeves go with which games.

These ones (59mm x 92mm) fit a variety of games. The ones I own that I *might* consider putting sleeves on are:
Agricola: Farmers of the Moor
Agricola: The Legen*dairy Forest Deck
Aladdin's Dragons
Atlantic Star
Balloon Cup
Blue Moon City
Civilization (1981 Avalon Hill)
El Grande Decentennial
For Sale (Uberplay 2005 Ed)
Jambo
Kingdom Builder
Le Havre
Princes of Florence
San Juan
Stone Age
Taj Mahal
Times Square
Torres
Troyes
Yspahan

I was a bit surprised to see they would fit Civilization! It was the first 'real' game I owned. I was 11 when I bought a copy of the 1st edition of it after it was part of the Games 100 in Games magazine in 1982 (or thereabouts - I did a couple of quick searches and it seems that's the year). Not sure what intrigued me about the game - perhaps the map. At some point in my youth I plastered my walls with National Geographic maps as I was fascinated by them (don't worry, I had a half-naked girl on the back of my closet door, too) But, yes, I was a game geek and a map geek way back then...I think that's why I've always been interested in war games - more for the maps than for the actual game play. I'm definitely a Euro die-hard, but I am still drawn to war games for some reason, even though I suck at fighting games and generally never play them. Ah, those maps are beautiful though....

Well, interestingly, I have a mostly unpunched copy of Civilization I'm in the process of selling so I had it on hand. I pulled it out and tried on a sleeve - nice fit although a bit long. Well, I wasn't putting it on THAT copy since I'm selling it. I have a COMPLETELY unpunched 2nd edition copy that I received from my Secret Santa 2 years ago that I've not had the heart to punch yet (sorry SS!) He got it to replace my long missing 1st Edition that I've pined since getting back into gaming.

But I keep thinking about that unpunched copy. I've been very close to punching it lately. VERY close. I really want to play again. Now I have sleeves for the Civilization cards which are a pain to deal with by themselves so I'm thinking the sleeves were meant to be....to get me to punch the darn thing and actually get it played!

No, I'm not planning on buying sleeves for the trade cards. Well, not yet....(nice marketing hook by the way - send card sleeves to get you thinking about buying more!)

Well, Civilization only needs 72 sleeves so I'll probably use the rest on Kingdom Builder terrain cards since there are only 25 of those and my Dad and I love playing it.

Anyhow, Civilization - I want to get it to the table again soon, but it takes a lot of time to play. 6+ hours (probably a lot more depending on number of players). Plus I'll need to re-read the rules if I want to run a game of it.

A friend ran a game with Advanced Civ a couple of years ago that I enjoyed immensely. You definitely need someone to drive it. That game took 12 hours to complete (and I think we decided ahead of time on an earlier end point)

But, I want to play the original game without Advanced Civ. That may be sacrilege for some gamers, but its how I want to experience it - in its purest form like when I was a kid...which, ironically, I don't think I ever actually played a full game way back then as I didn't have that many geeky friends. I just loved looking at it and reading the rules and I think I even played a partial game by myself. I don't recall exactly, I just knew I loved it. Funny, I bought The Civil War 1861-1865 around that time as well but probably only played a partial game by myself of that as well. Another map game I suppose....

Well, I think its time to get that unpunched Civilization box out and punched soon. I'll get those sleeves on the Civ cards and look for some player aids. And maybe, just maybe, I'll find a way to get it to the table and played soon...or at least to look at the map...


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Sun Dec 8, 2013 10:14 am
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