Stuart Burnham(vk1980)United Kingdom
How is it the end of March already?
It just seems to have been one thing after another after another and, before you know it, a quarter of the year has gone!
With that in mind, and with me having a few days off work, it seems an appropriate sort of stage to take stock of the games I've played so far this year.
As the title implies it's been a bit (but only a bit) tougher recently and that has had an interesting effect on my gaming. I've found myself not able or even interested in playing anything above 'medium-light' complexity and that has, actually, been really enjoyable rather than a source of frustration.
Azul has been played quite a lot, and with a variety of players. Interestingly, given that it's such a light and straightforward game, I've found myself having to correct players who've made rules errors initially and have continued to play "wrong".
There've been those who've ended the round after all tiles have been taken from the discs (leaving any left in the centre!) and then those who've allowed tiles taken to be split across multiple rows on your board, and some who've disobeyed the "only one tile of each type per row/ column" when playing on the reverse of the board! Tut, tut, people!
Needless to say all who've been re-educated have discovered that the game has a bit more bite than they initially thought...
It's superb and I love it. I imagine that it'll get 30+ plays before the year is out as it's an ideal evening game and also (despite the above evidence to the contrary) simple for new players to learn in the groups that I frequent.
I've been rounding up Memoir '44 expansions (just the Overlord and a couple of Battle Maps left, although I'm only interested at "sensible" prices, I'm not a completionist) and have played several games with sons Charlie and Billy. I'm toying with the idea of some annotated and illustrated battle reports for the game. If and when I get around to that I'll post a link here. Suffice to say we love the system and it's such a delight when I get home from work occasionally and find that Charlie has set up a scenario ready for us to play after dinner. We've kind of flitted between the various theatres so far because it's such a treat to have access to all these different units and extra rules but we're hoping to settle down into a campaign soon (a PDF of the first campaign book professionally printed by Mrs B at her work is just begging to be started).
Ah, Viticulture Essential Edition, a game I bought, enjoyed, but sold on after Mrs B had one play and said she didn't like it. Last year I played it again with a friend and found myself being won over again. And it has made into that rarest of categories in a collection "games you sold and then repurchased".
This time round it's been joined by Tuscany Essential Edition and Viticulture: Moor Visitors Expansion. I've enjoyed it at 2 with Mrs B, I've loved it at 4 in games groups and I've even enjoyed (and won!) playing it solo.
It is a light and straightforward worker placement game and it does have a little too much "luck of the draw" with the visitor cards for some people's taste but, at the moment, this is *exactly* the type of game I'm looking for.
(This past week at Games for a Laugh I played and loved (and subsequently ordered) Raiders of the North Sea, which also fits perfectly into this strata of gaming.)
Caverna: The Cave Farmers was a Sunday afternoon affair for Mrs B and me a while ago, and this illustrates perfectly where my gaming head is at the moment; I haven't played a single game of Agricola (possibly my favourite game) this year, not even on my iPad, I've just not felt like that much of a challenge. I know that 'Gric is far from the heaviest of games and I know the game pretty darn well, but it's just not what I'm craving at the moment. Nevertheless, there was a little itch and so we played it's slightly simpler, stupider, younger brother. And it was a little bit too much, you know? A little bit too long, a little too much to consider, not enough reward for the effort in all honesty. But we still like the game a lot, it's just not where we want to game at the moment, let alone climb a few more rungs up the complexity ladder!
I picked up (via an auction on this site) a copy of Jambo, which is one of those 2 player only Kosmos titles that, whilst not being what people term a "grail game" for me, has certainly been something that I've had a little candle lit for. And....it's fun. Nothing amazing, but we liked it, certainly enough to keep it and say "oooh, let's play that again" (we haven't, yet!) every now and then. Two player games, or games that are fun at two, that are 30-45 minutes long are absolutely ideal for the meat of our gaming fare at the moment.
Given all the Azul love we've had I went and pulled an older Kiesling title out from the loft, Sanssouci, which does feel very much a forerunner of the flavour du jour. It has a couple of steps too many for it to be as brilliant as Azul (the card and tile draws which, whilst adding some desired restrictions, can be frustrating) but it is quite a tight and fun little game. We've only ever played this as a couple but I'd been keen to try it with a full table and see how it goes.
There's also been a few games of Ticket to Ride which is, genuinely, one of my all time favourites. An especially pleasing play was one where Charlie's girlfriend joined us for her first go at a "modern" game and a full table of five on the original USA map was an absolute delight. I came spectacularly last, but it was probably the most fun I've ever had in my many plays of the game!
The biggest surprise of the year so far has been T.I.M.E Stories. I thought I might not enjoy it, Mrs B thought it looked "sterile" and Billy has been thoroughly "teenage" of late, so it was with not a little trepidation that we embarked on the first mission a few weeks ago.
And we all loved it. L.O.V.E.D.it!
We made two "runs" that first afternoon and then had to wait until the following weekend to go again (successfully as it turned out) but it was deliciously agonising trying to remember what we'd learned the previous week (we had decided against taking notes).
I'd wondered about playing this with just Mrs B but having played with three (and there's no way Bill isn't getting in on the action again) I've zero interest in doing so and, in fact, I think it's probably even better with a full four at the table. The key to the entire experience is the telling of what you see at your location (card) - you are not supposed to read the text verbatim but it is vital that you describe what you "see" as there are a lot of visual clues. I can totally understand that this would be a source of major frustration for some, as the person who "sees" the card might not understand that something could be important or link to something "seen" elsewhere but, for us at least, this was the best part of the game. And when we'd completed the mission, going back through the deck and looking at the cards we hadn't seen (individually, I think we went everywhere) was a brilliant, revelatory, debriefing session that was as much fun as the game itself.
An absolute treat, and it's just as well that I'd snaffled up most of the expansions over the last year when I'd seen them pop up for £10 here and there!
Aside from all the above there's been, naturally, plenty of others but I didn't take pictures and I may (no promises!) write about some of them soon.
Hope you're doing well and that, hemisphere permitting, you're looking forward to some warmer, milder weather coming as much as I am!
See you around.
A daily blog about games, family and occasionally random other things. Well, it gives me something to do, and you something to read doesn't it!?
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