Grimwold's Musings on Games

Just some musings on boardgames and maybe videogames
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Luncthime Gaming

United Kingdom
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I work in a pretty small firm (less than 50 employees), and most lunchtimes a group of about 4 (very occasionally 5) of us get together for some gaming. I'm the only boardgamegeek in the group.. the others I'd probably class as occasional gamers, but they certainly enjoy the games that we play!

The group started out when one of my colleagues asked me about learning Mahjong (since she knew I had played)... so between us we asked around to see if anyone else in the firm was interested, since we had to try and get a 4 together. We recruited a few other people, so one day I took my Dad's old mah-jongg set and I spent a lunchtime teaching the game. For a few months then we'd meet up a few lunchtimes a week and play... At that point we actually had more than 4 people, so we'd rotate who played.

Now Mah-jongg is ok, but it's not a game I enjoy playing very often... so gradually I started to try a few other games out with the group. I admit I was clutching at straws a bit to begin with as I had no idea what games would work well in the lunchtime environment.. there were some misses (Although good fun, Bohnanza took too long; Fiji was simply too random; Ra and Blue Moon City were a bit too deep), but there were a few big successes... Saboteur went down really well, and we played this a lot in the early days. Ave Caesar also proved to be a big success, with plenty of screwage.. but it took longer to play than the other games. Give Me the Brain! was also very well received and quick enough that we'd be play 2 or 3 games in a lunchtime.

Sadly our enthusiasm for GMTB waned, and when a couple of our group left the firm, it became harder to get saboteur to the table. I tried to introduce a few more games... Breakaway Rider was popular for a while.. the group especially enjoyed the fact that if you forgot to pick up it was tough! Circus Flohcati was also popular for a short while... but our next big hit was Guillotine, which quickly became our #1 game with it's ideal balance of short duration, lots of screwage and high level of replayability. Indeed it is still very popular today, even though we have played over 350 games.

I definitely burnt out on Guillotine a lot sooner than the others in the group, so I renewed my search to find other interesting lunchtime games... BANG! and Landlord! both seemed like they would fit the bill, but in the end both took a bit too long for our limited timeframe.. and Bang also suffered because we were now down to just 4 players. I also tried Family Business, but we all agreed it was not a very interesting game, despite the level of screwage.

The next hit was The Bucket King, especially since I introduced it with two variants to add more screwage... firstly we played to the death instead of ending the game prematurely as in the basic rules, and secondly we played with the direction reversal variant listed in the rules.. This meant you could change direction of play by equalling the current total, which is great for screwing the guy before you. Sadly enthusiasm for this game waned quicker than some of the other games, while Guillotine continued to be very popular.

The most recent game that has been popular is Coloretto, with it's simple set collecting, but with a good deal of screwage (present also in Zooloretto, but not as easy to 'spot'). Having played and enjoyed other 'retto games in my other game groups, I picked this shorter and simpler version up off a chain of Generosity and since then, it has been almost as popular as Guillotine (thankfully) and we now tend to play 1 or 2 games of this before finishing off with a game or two of Guillotine... Ave Caesar still sees the occasional play, especially since I had printed a set of the old tracks, which make for an even tighter game.

On occasions a couple of the other guys won't be able to make it, so my colleague and I play either Cribbage, Backgammon, or more recently 2-player Coloretto.

Naturally, I'm still on the lookout for good, short games with plenty of screwage... Check out my series of Lunchtime Gaming Reviews for more detailed discussion of some of the games we've played.
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