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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TIMELY TOPICS - Chess in the Wolf Den

-matt s.
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Eugene
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My son is in Cub Scouts. He is in the Wolf Den. And I am the Den Leader this year. So far all the boys have pretty much achieved their Wolf badge for the year (and received them recently at the Blue and Gold dinner/award ceremony). So, they are now working on Electives, Belt Loops and other special achievements for the rest of the year.

Once of the belt loops they can earn is for Chess. For this belt loop they need to be able to identify the chess pieces, show how they move and then play a game of chess. Not too difficult, right? These are 7-8 yr old boys and I figured learning the pieces and moves wouldn't bee too difficult, at least the basics.

I remember being around 7 yrs old when my dad taught me how to play chess. I seem to remember it took me a few years before I could beat him (without him letting me win).

Anyhow, I called one of our Pack leaders and had her bring her 2 sets. With those and my 2 sets I figured that would be enough for if all 6 boys showed up and some ended up playing with their parents, etc.

Once we got there we had a total of 3 boys. I figured the easiest way to get started was to get only one set out and work from there. I first asked them if they had played chess before and they all said they had! Ah, so quizzing them seemed to be the best starting point.

We got out one of the scout leader's nice wooden chess boards - apparently a board passed down in the family. It has nice carved wooden pieces although the King and Queen are difficult to distinguish - they look pretty much the same but the King is taller. Otherwise, a fine board to learn chess on!

First question: Which way does the board go to start setting up? One boy knew which way the board went (correctly) but I asked him HOW he knew that. He said "Because the fold goes across the board". Ah! I hadn't even thought of that! I had always learned/remembered to put the 'white' (light) corner square on the right side (white on the right). I mentioned this as well because not all boards have a fold in them.

Next question: Can you set up the pieces on the board? It was interesting watching them decide which pieces went where. Ultimately, they got everything pretty much correct (although my son initially started putting the pawns on the 3rd row instead of the 2nd row for some reason). The biggest question was if they would get the Queen and King positions correct. Initially they set them up such that the Queens weren't directly across from each other so I talked about how the Queen always goes on her own color and they both start out across from each other.

The next set of questions involved the various pieces: What is this piece called? and How does it move and capture? We proceeded through the different pieces. Not all of the boys understood how the pieces actually moved but eventually 'remembered' / picked up on them for the most part. Of course, actually playing the game I knew would help reinforce the movements.

Read more about what happens next...
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Thu Mar 3, 2011 8:21 pm
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THE CREATIVE GAMER - Game Bit Storage Obsession (aka Are You OCD Like Me?) - Part 3/3

-matt s.
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(This is the final installment in my 3-part posting of my Game Bit Storage Obsession)

Still sticking it out with me?! There are some really interesting boxes and ideas here, so don't leave now!

SMALL CARDBOARD CRAFT / JEWELRY BOXES
Acquired from: Michael's craft box section
Not only have I found a variety of interesting plastic boxes at Michael's, I also found some nice cardboard boxes as well.
First, when I was looking to pimp out Twilight Struggle, I ran across some cardboard jewelry boxes. I bought them hoping they would fit in the box and they did! Well, they ALMOST fit. Length-wise they fit fine, but they were a little too tall. The lid itself was actually small enough but not the bottom. So, I set about cutting the box base down.

Then, I needed a way to separate the components so I cut some extra pieces of thin cardboard I had (actually, I think it was the backing from a pad of paper) and glued them into the boxes as dividers.

Here is the final result:

From gallery of tasajara

Plain white jewelry boxes used to hold Twilight Struggle counters.

From gallery of tasajara

A look inside.

Eventually I will decorate the outside of the boxes with a printout of some sort. I'm thinking a player's aid inside the box lid might also be a neat idea. Yet another project to complete!

PHOTO BOXES and TRIVIAL PURSUIT BOXES
Acquired from: Michael's craft section (photo boxes), Goodwill (Trivial Pursuit boxes)

Back in November 2010 I decided I was tired of having to all haul all of the Dominion boxes around. I had read that Dominion cards fit perfectly into Trivial Pursuit trivia card boxes. So, I went to the local Goodwill (GW) and picked up a nice looking copy of Trivial Pursuit: Genus Edition + Expansion cards box (which gave me a total of 4 trivia card boxes).

I then took all of the cards out of the card boxes and moved all the cards into the boxes and they fit very nicely! I then started looking at how to possibly arrange the boxes within the Dominon box by itself. They sorta fit in there ok, but obviously they were too tall for the box. I thought about maybe putting some foam rubber in the top of the lid to protect the tops of the cards but it just looked silly hovering above the bottom box section and it was difficult to haul around as it wasn't very stable.

So, I was a bit bummed. I loved that they fit into the TP card boxes and saw that this would save a ton of space, but I just couldn't figure out how to put it all together.

In the mean time I put together a file for dividers for all the cards borrowing bits and pieces from different graphics and files on Board Game Geek. Then, I printed them out, laminated and started cutting them out. Believe me there is a LOT of dividers that you need to make.

Then one day I was looking at our book shelves and realized the photo boxes we we stored our 'old' photo prints in were pretty tall. So, I grabbed one, and tried out the TP boxes with Dominion cards and dividers inside - and it fit perfectly! I immediately went to Michael's and bought a beige photo box and a black one.

Here's the one I ended up using:

From gallery of tasajara

Photo box from Michael's

Board Game: Dominion

All of the cards and components in the photo box.

Yes, I have the following crammed in to this box: Dominion, Intrigue, Seaside, Alchemy, Prosperity, all the promo cards, all the extra treasure and VP cards (in the back), all the tokens and all the player boards (on the right and in the back)

Read more (see closeups of the dividers, plus storage solutions for Fresco, Age of Steam and others)
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Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:00 pm
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THE CREATIVE GAMER - Game Bit Storage Obsession (aka Are You OCD Like Me?) - Part 2/3

-matt s.
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Eugene
Oregon
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(This is the 2nd installment in my 3-part posting of my Game Bit Storage Obsession)

Ok, I'm back. And I'm still obsessed. Are you ready for some more? Good!

CARD STOCK CARD BOXES
Acquired from: www.amazon.com (card stock), printed from www.boardgamegeek.com, www.createforless.com (paper punches), Michael's paper craft section (scissors)
Another game I made card stock boxes for is the Catan Card Game. This game has a variety of expansions and they all fit in one box but sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference between the decks when you just use Hugo's Amazing tape to hold each deck separate.

There are several files on BGG (here is one example) that you can print out to card stock, cut out, fold, and glue together to make nice custom-sized card boxes. If you take your time to ensure clean cuts, score the lines and fold carefully, they come out very nice. I even used a 1/2" paper punch to cut a clean half-circle finger hold to make opening to box easier. It actually looks fairly professional when complete!

From gallery of tasajara

All card boxes and components in the box.

From gallery of tasajara

A total of 9 boxes are needed for all of the expansions.

I will say cutting out the boxes can be a bit tedious. If you try it, I suggest you invest in a nice set of SHARP scissors that are designed to cut paper. I found a nice set that has a large pair of scissors for doing the bigger cuts and a small pair for doing the smaller detailed cuts. Ultimately, it was well worth the time. BTW, be sure to let the glue dry COMPLETELY before inserting the cards into the boxes if you make them.

JEWELRY MAKING / BEAD STORAGE SYSTEMS
Acquired from: Michael's bead section, www.wargamedepot.com (counter trays)
Many of the boxes I'm showing in this thread have come from the bead section of Michael's where I've found all sorts of interesting storage options. Between the 40% and 50% coupons that are often available and the sale prices that frequently come through, you can usually get pretty good deals on them, too.

Here's another type of storage box I found:

From gallery of tasajara

Plastic storage box with 24 separate round bead boxes inside.

Each small box has a screw-on lid. When I bought this I wasn't sure what I might use it for, but I had a coupon AND it was on sale, so I figured I'd pick up a couple. If anything, I could use it for an art project of some sort.

Well, for Christmas I signed up for the Secret Santa gift exchange. My Santa was PARTICULARLY awesome in that he sent me both Civilization in UNPUNCHED condition similar to one I had in my youth (and which I still haven't had the heart to punch yet) and a used copy of Samurai (an older Avalon Hill war game) which I knew nothing about.

Samurai was used and had a ton of chits all mixed together. I sorted them out into baggies and labelled the baggies. I know there are also war game counter trays but I didn't have any at the time. Later, I remembered I had this box and decided to try it out. It seemed a little strange, but why not?

Here's the filled container inside the box:

From gallery of tasajara

Bead containers holding Samurai chits.

Read more....

(3 part series will include Plano boxes, hand-made boxes, thrifted boxes and more!)
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Fri Feb 25, 2011 4:30 pm
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THE CREATIVE GAMER - Game Bit Storage Obsession (aka Are You OCD Like Me?) - Part 1/3

-matt s.
United States
Eugene
Oregon
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In the last year I've been having fun pimping out games, upgrading them and looking for better storage solutions depending on the needs. In the course of doing this I've actively been seeking out a variety of game bit storage solutions, in particular small boxes of different varieties, plastic and otherwise.

I should back up a BIT and say that I'm OCD about game bit storage. As soon as I get a game and punch it I always have to bag each player's pieces separately, then bag all of the various chits, cubes, meeples, etc, separately as appropriate.

And, I'm one of those people that has to come to the rescue of a friend who comes over with a game and doesn't have it 'properly' bagged. I will pull out my box of baggies (yes, I have a special box just for baggies) and my Hugo's Amazing Tape (for keeping cards together) and get them all set up. Ahhhhhhhhhhh! Nicely organized!

From gallery of tasajara

The box of baggies!

What irks me more than anything is doing a trade or purchase of a used game, have it shipped to me, and have bits and cards all mixed together and floating around in the box! Don't any of you other gamers care about your bits like I do?!

<breathe in, breath out, breath in, breath out....phewww>

Alright, I'm ok now. So, let me show you how far I go to get my games organized.

BAGGIES
Acquired from: www.boardsandbits.com
First, here we have the standard array of baggies that I'm sure you already know quite well (and if you don't, well, look CLOSELY, this is important):

From gallery of tasajara

Common sized baggies + Hugo's Amazing tape

The key is having a variety of baggies for different sizes and amounts of components. You can never have too many sizes. In the picture above, in front from left to right we have: 2"x3", 3"x3", 3"x4", 4"x4", and 4"x6". I find these sizes are usually sufficient for a majority of bagging needs. Also, you can see two rolls of Hugo's Amazing Tape (1") - one in blue and one in purple - that I use mostly for holding decks of cards together. Hmmm, I'm getting low, I better buy some more!

Baggies in use:

From gallery of tasajara

Stone Age components, each in appropriate sized baggies.

Games like Stone Age are really good to use baggies in - there are a good number of components but not too many of each. Setup and cleanup are pretty easy with baggies for this game.

SMALL PLASTIC CONTAINERS
Acquired from: Dollar Store (via friend)
So, baggies got me by for a long time. However, one day my 'friend', Chris, gave me about 30 nice, clear, plastic containers that he found at his local Dollar Store - 10 for $1. Rectangle boxes! And round boxes! With nice snap-on lids! I was hooked! Or rather, I soon would be. (Yes I blame him for my game bit storage obsession, although I probably would have stumbled into on my own anyhow. It's always nice to have a scapegoat...)

From gallery of tasajara

Round and rectangle bits containers.


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(3 part series will include Plano boxes, hand-made boxes, thrifted boxes and more!)
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Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:04 pm
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HOT BOX - Haggis (What's in the Box?)

-matt s.
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Eugene
Oregon
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Hello! You're here!

Have you seen Haggis!? I've been really interested in this card game for a while. I've played and enjoyed Tichu but it requires 4 who want to play which isn't always possible. It has been said that if you like Tichu you will also like Haggis, but the advantage is that you can play with 2 or 3! There is some dispute as to how similar it is to Tichu. Frankly, I don't care how close it is as long as it's a good game. There appear to definitely be similarities which certainly begs comparison.

Anyhow, I picked up Haggis from the Jack Vasel auction. Wow, I just checked and it had 543 items, has brought in over $30,000 so far, and has another $7,000+ left to collect! Amazing!

Well, Travis Worthington sent me my copy of Haggis (2nd printing) which I received earlier this week (before anyone else got it!). Thanks Travis!

Haggis was designed by Sean Ross and is published by Travis's independent publishing company Indie Boards and Cards . They also publish Triumvirateand The Resistance, the latter of which was very popular at the EGG convention a couple of weeks ago. I'm considering pre-ordering copies of both from the next print run.

In anticipation of Wednesday gaming I opened the box and took some pics. I was hoping to get a game in Wednesday, alas, it didn't happen. I'm hoping to get it learned and played within the next week.

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Fri Feb 18, 2011 9:07 am
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EGG (Eugene Games Gala) 2011 - My EGGxperience (Part 5)

-matt s.
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Eugene
Oregon
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This is my final installment for EGG 2011. I had a great time even though I missed out on part of Saturday. I hope Lorna continues to run EGG for years to come. I think it's really starting to come into it's own and beginning to attract some good attention.

Between some of my turns I made sure to get up and take some pictures of other games going on around the convention. Here are some shots of what I saw...

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Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:06 am
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EGG (Eugene Games Gala) 2011 - My EGGxperience (Part 4)

-matt s.
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I forgot to mention yesterday that on Saturday I missed out on the game giveaways! Lorna contributes some games of her own for the drawing and FunAgain also provides some games. Early Saturday tickets are distributed and then throughout the day they were drawn from a cannister. If yours is drawn you get to go pick any game you like! My friend Bob got a copy of Onirim which he was very excited about. Three years ago I won a copy of Hoity Toity. Unfortunately I still haven't played it yet

Speaking of three years ago (2008) apparently that was the first year of EGG as a full 3-day convention! I had thought EGG had been running for longer than that, but apparently it had only been 1 or 2-day sessions up to then. SO, I can proudly say I was an inaugural member of EGG!

Sunday, Feb 6th - 8:00am
Despite getting home late and going to bed even later, I managed to pull myself out of bed at 8am. EGG started back up @ 9am and with it being the last day and having missed out on most of Saturday, I wanted to make sure I got started early.

One small issue this morning - I woke up with a headache, probably from not enough sleep and possibly not enough hydration. I took some Advil but never quite was able to shake it the whole day. I hate gaming with a headache, but nothing was going to stop me today.

Because I hadn't really played any of the games at the top of my 'to play' list I had resolved to only playing new games as much as possible.

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Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:07 pm
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EGG (Eugene Games Gala) 2011 - My EGGxperience (Part 3)

-matt s.
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Day 2 - Saturday, Feb 5th - 7:00am
One the 2nd day of EGG I got up pretty early after staying at EGG until midnight, then driving home, doing a bit of preparations for the morning, winding down a bit, and finally heading to bed. Pretty much a normal day for me actually (except the EGG part)!

Anyhow, our Scout Pack back in November rescheduled the snow day trip to HooDoo near Sisters, OR, to Feb 5th, 2011. At the time I didn't have my calendar with me as the online service we track our family calendar on no longer worked with my older phone, and so I didn't (couldn't) object. Little did I realize until later that this fell smack dab in the middle of EGG! Well, by the time I realized it was really too late to veto that weekend. Grrrrrr. Ah well, I will know better for next year.

And, because we had such a great time last year I knew I couldn't suggest backing out. Being a Den leader doesn't help in this regard either. There is this really nice snow park just before you get to HooDoo ski resort with this decent sized hill that drops about 50 feet at maybe a 35-40 degree angle, then has a gentler slope at the bottom and a berm at the end to help slow you down.

There is no cost other than the snow pass for parking. Last year the weather was bright and sunny with a nice fresh layer of snow - perfect for sledding!

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Sun Feb 13, 2011 9:09 am
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EGG (Eugene Games Gala) 2011 - My EGGxperience (Part 2)

-matt s.
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Ok, that was a bit too long of a break. Sorry, it's been a busy week. Gaming and all - no time for writing. Oh, and a little travelling.

Day 1 - still....
Anyhow, about part of the way through Terra Prime I was hungry for lunch. My usual lunch time is in the 11am-12pm range and we started in the middle of that range already so I was definitely hungry.

Now, here's something important that I've learned about myself and conventions. I know that if I don't eat regularly, it really starts to affect me and I cannot think properly or function well. Some people can go all day without eating. Not me.

Therefore, I have learned to make sure I have food available and not to rely on anyone else. I had made 2 PB&J sandwiches and also brought some crackers and a banana when I left from home. I kept this in an insulated lunch bag with ice packs in it. I find 2 does just swell - keeps everything nice and cool. Those ice packs you can get from the grocery store for 99 cents are REALLY GREAT! Not those cheap pillowy looking ones but the ones that look like little rectangular water canteens like you see on the back of a jeep. They keep things cold all day long! Perfect for all-day gaming!

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Sat Feb 12, 2011 9:59 am
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EGG (Eugene Games Gala) 2011 - My EGGxperience (Part 1)

-matt s.
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Eugene
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Hello! Glad you could come over today to the Board Game Back Room. I was worried I'd be a bit tired today but I seem to have recovered well from gaming all weekend (and going on a scout snow trip to the mountains). Yesterday was the last day of the 3-day EGG convention here in beautiful Eugene, Oregon and when I got home I was pretty tired, plus I had one of those wake-up-with-a-headache-due-to-too-little-sleep days - the kind of headache that sticks with you all day despite taking Advil every 2-4 hours. But nothing was going to stop me from attending of course! But, that was Day 3. I should start with Day 1.

So, let me tell you about the convention! In fact, let me take you along!

DAY 1 - Friday, Feb 4, 2011 - 11:40am
Arrival at the Red Lion Inn! In through the lobby and down the stairs to the underground convention room. Just outside the door is the traditional EGG sign.

Yes, you have arrived.

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Tue Feb 8, 2011 10:28 am
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