In celebration of Christopher Columbus and Santa Claus
Matthew Cordeiro
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
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If you're lucky enough to work for the government or a bank here in the States, then Christopher Columbus is your patron saint of October. Every second Monday of October, we honor Columbus' "discovery" of North America with a day off from work. Nevermind the fact that other explorers had already landed in North America. Or that there were already people living here. Columbus is the guy who gets the credit, and I thank him for the long weekend.

This year, I traveled with my wife and son, along with my wife's family, all the way to Santa's Village, which apparently is not at the North Pole, but in Jefferson, New Hampshire. We did the same trip last year, but in December, when the rest of New Hampshire was closed for business and only crazy people would visit an amusement park in the mountains. We wised up this time and went early enough in the season to enjoy other activities and not freeze to death.
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1. Board Game: The Bridges of Shangri-La [Average Rating:6.78 Overall Rank:1198]
Matthew Cordeiro
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
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New Hampshire has lots of covered bridges, or as my son calls them, tunnels. We walked through one and drove through another. I really don't get the appeal. I mean, it's a bridge with a roof. And since they're made of wood, they seem to burn down a lot. Of course, the new bridges are also made of wood.

"So, I built a third one. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the swamp."
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2. Board Game: Get a Letter [Average Rating:5.40 Unranked]
Matthew Cordeiro
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
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One of our hobbies is letterboxing. It's like geocaching, but without the GPS coordinates. Instead, you have to follow clues to get to the box. We found a letterbox beneath one of the previously mentioned covered bridges.

Note: When you're standing underneath a wooden bridge and a car goes across, it definitely sounds like you only have seconds to live.

www.letterboxing.org
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3. Board Game: Rocky and his Friends Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Matthew Cordeiro
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
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We rented a house through Home Away. This is the second time we've booked a house through that site, and both houses have been great. Though, at times, we heard a mouse scurrying about the attic. We informed the owner, and she replied, "It's not a mouse. It's a flying squirrel." Oh, my mistake. In that case, never mind. Sorry for bothering you.

The house keys were in a lock box outside the front door, and the combination was 1234. When I put in the combination, I accidentally opened the planet Druidia air shield.
 
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4. Board Game: Don't Let the Leaves Fall [Average Rating:5.90 Unranked]
Matthew Cordeiro
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
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Before visitng Santa, we took a fall foliage train ride. My son loves trains, and this was the first real train he had been on. Of course, he fell asleep 15 minutes into the ride.

By the way, do other parts of the country make special trips to see colorful leaves, or is this just a New England thing? And how is this even a thing to do? Maybe I just take it for granted because I've always lived here. When I see the leaves change color, the only thing I think is, "Great, now I have to go to the hardware store and pick up about 30 yard waste bags."
 
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5. Board Game: Munchkin Santa's Revenge [Average Rating:6.81 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.81 Unranked]
Matthew Cordeiro
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The highlight of our trip was a visit to Santa's Village, located in the middle of nowhere. I mean, seriously, who's bright idea was it to stick an amusement park in a rural town up in the mountains? Did they realize they could probably triple their attendance if this place was anywhere near civilization?

That being said, I'm used to living in Rhode Island, where traveling more than 30 minutes is a big deal. So, maybe driving 4 hours to No Man's Land isn't a big deal for most people.

Oh, and yes, Santa's Village was great, and everyone had a good time. What do you think my son's favorite part was? The rides? The reindeer? Meeting Santa? Nope. It was the Elphabet game, where parents pull their hair out trying to locate all 26 lettered elves scattered around the park. His second favorite part was decorating gingerbread men, an activity I can do in my own kitchen for a fraction of the cost. Vacation!
 
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6. Board Game: Little Italy [Average Rating:5.69 Overall Rank:10013]
Matthew Cordeiro
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
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And of course, we also brought more games with us than we could possibly play. Just before the trip, I picked up Little Italy in an auction. I arranged for a local pickup and had the pleasure of meeting

C/o Alejandro Guzman
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
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Nice guy, and very gracious to work out a local pickup for a $6 game on short notice.

We had the chance to play the game 3 times. My wife's family grumbled a bit about the theme. They're Italian and don't appreciate being associated with the mafia. Hey, if you want to brag about being Italian, you have to take the good with the bad.

The game was a hit with everyone, especially my son, who was in charge of rolling the dice and moving the cars. His little side game was trying to roll the dice on top of the cars and knock them off the board.
 
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7. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.66 Unranked]
Matthew Cordeiro
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
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Instead of hauling my 3200-count box of Dominion cards up to NH in an already stuffed car, I decided to pack just some of the cards into a smaller box. I picked out the sets of kingdom cards in advance, using all the expansions. It was a bit of work initially, but once we were ready to play, it was as simple as pulling out a stack of cards and playing. I brought 5 pre-made sets of cards, and we were able to play all 5. Yes, we played 5-player games. No, I don't want to hear your opinion on why it stinks with 5 players. I'll take 5-player Dominion over no Dominion any day of the week.

I only won once, but I had a lot of fun in the process. We all made an effort to try the new Dark Ages cards, with varying degrees of success. I have a habit of overthinking my strategy, and I had a few of them totally blow up in my face. My mother-in-law is the Occam's Razor of Dominion, playing safer, less exotic strategies. On an evening when everyone was trying everything under the sun, she kept it simple, winning twice and scoring the most overall points.
 
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8. Board Game: Catan: Seafarers [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked]
Matthew Cordeiro
United States
Cumberland
Rhode Island
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In a game usually dominated by my wife, I managed to pull off an upset and grab the win. I took the initial lead and stayed ahead of the pack for most of the game, thanks to early upgrades of both of my settlements. I also benefitted from a lack of competition on one of my starting islands, allowing me to expand to the coast and build a shipping route to a new island. My mother-in-law took a brief lead with longest road, but I sealed the deal by taking it from her at the end of the game.
 
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9. Board Game: Dixit [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:198] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Matthew Cordeiro
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Rhode Island
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The last game of the weekend was Dixit (with the Dixit 2 cards). I did a pretty good job of finding that sweet spot where the clues are not too hard, yet not too easy. I was never the victim of everyone/no one guessing my card, and I coasted to an easy win.

Dixit has become my wife's favorite party game, and it's seeing a good amount of play time with larger groups. I bought her Dixit Odyssey for Christmas, so it looks like this will be the successor to Apples to Apples for those extra-large groups.
 
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