ThoughtHammer: A year's addiction
Nick Witchey
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Over the years my game library has waxed and waned through various life altering/affirming events including moving from state to state, graduate school, having a strawberry eating daughter, loosing jobs, gaining jobs, working, and so on and so forth. Finally, after achieving some stability in geo-location and disposable income, my game library had the opportunity to grow over the last year.

In July of 2005 I started buying games on-line mainly through ThoughtHammer with the goal of boosting my library. Unfortunately, what started out as simple "experimentation" has grown to a full blown addiction. I just couldn't stop buying games from ThoughtHammer because I need my monthly game fix!

Over the last year I've placed at least one order per month from ThoughtHammer. This list represents the twelve orders I've placed where each entry represents the game that I enjoyed the most out of the order.

What does "enjoyed the most" mean? Well, most of my game time is spent with my daughter who is 3.5 years old. So many of these games reflect my time with my daughter; however, others represent the games I've had the chance to play with my game group. A warning: if you are not into lists about playing games with little kids, you might want to skip this list.

I have no affiliation with ThoughtHammer other than being a happy customer. Other on-line sites also helped my library grow including Boards-n-Bits, GamesSurplus, and many others including.

Enjoy!

Feel free to add your ThoughtHammer addictions as well!
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1. Board Game: Polarity [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:2094]
Nick Witchey
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July 2005

Games Ordered:

Polarity
Call of Cthulhu - Arkam Horror
Robo Rally
Ricochet Robots
Dungeoneer: Tomb of the Lich Lord

Polarity was definitely my favorite out of this set because my daughter (2.5 years old at the time) was able to participate right away. She and I place all but eight disks in the playing area. Then we take turns rolling the remaining eight disks into the playing area to see who can "capture" the most disks! Beyond playing with my daughter, I also enjoyed playing this game with many of my friends and other family.

I tried getting my wife into Ricochet Robots thinking the game had a simple set of rules to follow; however, I was quite wrong. The lesson I learned regarding my wife is that simple rules are not the issue, is the mental gymnastics and depth of thought required in the game. As you will see later in the list, this lesson has been well learned creating many more gaming opportunities with my wife on more appropriate games.
 
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2. Board Game: Carcassonne: Expansion 3 – The Princess & The Dragon [Average Rating:6.73 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.73 Unranked]
Nick Witchey
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August 2005

Games Ordered:

Through the Desert
Power Grid
Age of Steam
Blue Moon
Carcassonne: King and Scout
Carcassonne: The Count
Carcassonne: The Princess and the Dragon

My daughter is a princess through and through. If one more Disney or Barbie princess enters our house, I'm liable to turn into a dragon myself just to slag the whole bunch! Naturally, I wouldn't really do this because she enjoys them so much. Luckily she also enjoyed playing with "the princess and the dragon."

She mainly enjoyed putting all the tiles out to create the kingdom, then having the dragon chase the princess around the playing area. In the end, the dragon became good friends with the princess. To this day, they are still living happily ever after.

Now, we have plenty of fun playing together; however, AoS is definitely a great game to play. For some reason, playing AoS for several hours (although fun) just doesn't compete against playing P&D with my daughter. Go figure.

I figured she would be interested in Through the Desert because of the candy-colored pastel camels, but they just didn’t engage her like the princess did. Mattel and Disney have really keyed into a strong marketing message with both their princess product lines. Wish I had thought of it.
 
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3. Board Game: Fearsome Floors [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:935]
Nick Witchey
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September 2005

Games Ordered:

Blokus
Alhambra
Mexica
Coloretto
Fearsome Floors
Pirate's Cove

My daughter loves Fearsome Floors and frequently requests that we pull it out of the game closet to play "princess and monsters." For some reason she identifies the pink-snot monster as the princess; no doubt due to its pink-ness. The princess and the monsters perform a lovely dance around the "dance floor" and occasionally slip on the bloody smears.

Even though Fearsome Floors is the game I'm enjoyed most because of my daughter, I've enjoyed playing Blokus quite a bit. Blokus represents the game we can pull out and play with a group of non-gamers quickly. Many of our friends have enjoyed playing as well, and then bought the game. I guess you could call me a “game pusher” since I’m spreading the addiction.

The pirate theme also played well with my daughter and extends into Pirates of the Spanish Main, Sword and Skull, and others. As Pirates of the Caribbean II approaches, the call for pirate games from my daughter increases due to the all the adds on TV.

By the way, I’ve had Java and Tikal for years so Mexica completed my set of the mask trilogy (I also have Torres).
 
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4. Board Game: Niagara [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:1130]
Nick Witchey
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October 2005

Games Ordered:

Fjords
Louis XIV
Niagara
Ra
Bang!
Parthenon
Gloom

By now you must be tired of hearing about my daughter playing games. Unfortunately for you, then, that this entry also represents playing games with my daughter. Her favorite part about Niagara is filling up the canoes with jewels. Once all the canoes are full, she likes watching them go over the water fall. She's a real chip off the old block on that front.

My guess is that her fascination with this game is mainly the jewels because the jewels relate to princesses at some level. We've tired playing with Ra, but it just doesn't capture her imagination as much. Frankly, I don't think she's up for Parthenon just yet.

To tell the truth, I really wanted to enjoy Gloom, but just couldn’t get into it. The production quality was terrible. Many of the cards were scratched, hard to read or just plain broken. Also, the game feels forced as opposed to free flowing.
 
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5. Board Game: Dungeoneer: Den of the Wererats [Average Rating:6.33 Overall Rank:3860]
Nick Witchey
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November 2005

Games Ordered:

Dungeon Twister
Runebound
Descent
Jambo
Blue Moon: Flit
Blue Moon: Khind
Dungeoneer: Den of the Wererats
Dungeoneer: Haunted Woods of Malthorin

This is weird. I haven't played a single one of these, with or without my daughter. Hmmmm.... I guess I'll just have to correct this problem.

I've enjoyed just "owning" these games, but I would have to say that Den of the Wererats is the one I've enjoyed the most simply because I've set up the game and read through the rules. How weak is that? My daughter should love the minis in Descent so I should at least get it out for her to see and play with the minis.

I got Jambo due to the “wife factor;” but we haven’t gotten it out yet. Also, I’ve wanted to play Runebound for quite some time, but just haven’t had the opportunity.
 
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6. Board Game: Railways of the World [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:96] [Average Rating:7.69 Unranked]
Nick Witchey
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December 2005

Games Ordered:

Carcassonne: Traders and Builders
Carcassonne: Inns and Cathedrals
Railroad Tycoon
Citadels
Princes of Florence
Traders of Genoa
Siena
Oltre Mare
Duel of Ages: Worldspanner

Wow! I remember making this order thinking I should bolster up my collection in the medieval themed games. Perhaps this effort was over done considering I enjoyed playing with Railroad Tycoon the most. To keep with the theme of this list thus far, you guessed it, my daughter loves the trains! It's interesting watching her place red trains all over the board.

This is the one game where she will actively try to get the game by herself without asking me first. She is extremely respectful of my games so it is very unusual that she would do this. Even so, she treats the game with respect. That's impressive for a 3 year old!
 
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7. Board Game: ZÈRTZ [Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:507] [Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
Nick Witchey
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January 2006

Games Ordered:

Runebound 2nd Edition: Artifacts and Allies
ZERTZ
PUNCT
GIPF
PitchCar Expansion
Caylus

Oddly enough the game I enjoyed the most out of this set is due to playing with my daughter and actually playing the game itself. Zerts has been fun with my daughter because she loves to roll the marbles around the floor and creating obstacles using the circular board pieces. She seems to love the way all the GIPF pieces feel, more so then wooden pieces of other games just like her dad (in most cases anyway).

Playing Zertz has also been fun because of the ever shrinking board. The reduced board imposes as sense of urgency or tension that I find enjoyable in games.

If I had ordered Pitchcar in this set, it would have easily been the most enjoyed game; however, I ordered Pitchcar through Games Surplus over a year ago so it didn't make this list. In addition, the expansion hasn't seen the table time that Zertz has.

I get the hype over Caylus and have enjoyed playing it with friends; however, it’s more of serious game. When I play with the Zertz set with my daughter, there is strong sense of freedom and innocent creativity that’s just plain fun. Besides, have you seen how high the Zertz marbles can bounce on a tile floor? Very cool!
 
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8. Board Game: Pickomino [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1088]
Nick Witchey
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February 2006

Games Ordered:

Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition
Blue Moon: Emissaries & Inquisitors - Blessings
Tempus
Blue Moon: Emissaries & Inquisitors - Allies
Runebound 2nd Edition: Crown of the Elder Kings
Blue Moon: Terrah Expansion
Blue Moon: Mimix Expansion
Blue Moon: The Aqua
Blue Moon: Pillar Expansion
El Grande Decennial
Pickomino

Hmmmm.... This was a big order in terms of games and also reflects two issues I've encountered when placing orders that you have no doubt noticed as you’ve read through this list. The first issue is that I appear to be a "set whore." Notice the Runbound decks and the Blue Moon decks creeping into the orders as well as the very “set whorish” qualities of the previous orders (Mexica comes to mind). I find it "enjoyable" to have complete sets sitting on the shelf next to each other which causes me to spend more money than I would otherwise. The second issue is placing "pre-orders." As you all know all too well, neither Tempus nor El Grande have been released yet; however, ThoughtHammer was kind enough to ship my order without those games. Consequently, this leads to me actually enjoy playing Pickomino the most.

As I mentioned before regarding learning a lesson about my wife’s tastes in games, my wife actually loves games similar to Pickomino. She likes Pickomino because she was able to learn the rules quickly and play within a few minutes’ times. She'll play more complicated games; however, she does not enjoy working through the rules to figure out which moves make sense. The ironic part of her lack of interest in more complicated games is that she usually wins (even while baking cookies or other attention stealing activities).

I almost listed Tempus as the entry for this month as opposed to Pickomino because I have really "enjoyed" the anticipation of the release. Let's hope that "anticipation is NOT greater than realization."
 
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9. Board Game: Tongiaki: Journey into the Unknown [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:2271]
Nick Witchey
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March 2006

World of Warcraft: The Board Game
Tongiaki
Mystery of the Abbey
TAMSK
YINSH

Ahhh, the set whore in me shows up again as I complete the GIPF series of games. For the purists out there, my set is not yet complete because I don’t have the two GIPF expansion sets (yet).

However, I enjoyed playing Tongiaki over all the other games from this month. It seems that a lot of BGG'ers are not too interested in this game, which I understand. For me this game is enjoyable because to move your boats you also move other player’s boats to further your cause. Moving the other player’s boats also allows for sending the other players off to their deaths at sea if need be. Tongiaki isn't the greatest game in the world by a long shot, but still I've had fun playing it.

WoW also has been fun, but feels more like I am playing by myself even when playing with others. Still, my daughter enjoys playing with all the minis too.
 
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10. Board Game: Euphrates & Tigris: Contest of Kings [Average Rating:6.08 Overall Rank:3374]
Nick Witchey
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April 2006

Attika
Keythedral
Maharaja
Clans
Hacienda
Dungeon Twister - Room Kit Replacement Pack
Euphrates & Tigris Card Game
Runebound 2nd Edition: Relics of Legend
Runebound 2nd Edition: Terrors of the Tomb
Runebound 2nd Edition: The Dark Forest
Runebound 2nd Edition: The Scepter of Kyros
Icehouse: Playing With Pyramids

Here's another "set whore" order as I complete my set of decks for Runebound (not including the class decks).

Now, this is a strange entry because I've played most of the games from this list and enjoyed them, but Euphrates & Tigris CG is the pick for this entry because I've been thoroughly trounced every time I’ve played. For some reason I've just not grokked this game. The whole reason I put it in this order was to actually learn how the game worked so my friends would have at least a little challenge when playing with me. Having said this, I still haven't gotten it out to work out the details yet. So, the main reason I picked this game as the one I enjoyed the most is because it represents a challenge for me. One of these days I'll get some time together overcome the challenge.
 
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11. Board Game: Gulo Gulo [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1003]
Nick Witchey
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May 2006

Carcassonne: The City
Goa
Gulo Gulo
Hive: Second Edition
Masons
Reef Encounter

Gulo Gulo has been the most fun because I actually get to "play the game" with my daughter as opposed to "playing with the game" with my daughter, if you get what I mean. She actually understands and plays by the rules. Although she is only three, she regularly beats me which causes me to enjoy the game even more. Her tiny little fingers can grab any of the eggs without much difficultly while my "big daddy fingers" can't seem to grab any egg without knocking down the damn egg alarm.

Frankly, when I play this game I kind of feel like I’m back in high school taking those “what should you be when you grow up tests” where you place square objects into round wholes. My dexterity has not improved since then even with my +5 gauntlets of daddy-hood.
 
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12. Board Game: Ingenious [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:340]
Nick Witchey
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June 2006:

Games Ordered:

Byzantium
Thurn & Taxis
Return of the Heroes
Fifth Avenue
Palazzo
Ingenious

ThoughtHammer combined the available items from this order with May's order which is one of the things I love about them. If they have the opportunity, they will combine orders automatically when appropriate, especially if you have pre-ordered items.

Notice this order also has "set whorish" tendencies as evidenced by Fifth Avenue and Palazzo. I'm not really trying that hard to create a complete Alea set, but I figured why not? Yes, there are other games that are worth playing more; however, it's just fun to build up the set over time.

Also notice Thurn & Taxis has not yet been released. For those keeping score, I’m still waiting for Goa, Tempus, El Grande and now Thurn and Taxis. The anticipation is exquisite!

Still, the most enjoyable game for me has been Ingenious for several reasons. First, my wife, again, loves these straight forward games that don't take hours to play. She's also quite good working through the strategies in the game and enjoys the look and feel of the tiles. Another reason I enjoy this game is because our daughter can actually play the game with us.

Ok this part is important for those of you with little kids, so pay heed! It may sound strange that a three year old can play Ingenious, but it's true. Now, she doesn't play by any strategy, but she does understand how to place a tile on the board correctly, albeit without understanding how to score the tiles. Her scores are always low so she is not competitive; however, as she plays her tiles she completely hoses my strategy and my wife's strategy. So, my daughter represents an obstacle that we both must battle against equally. I strongly suggest playing with a much younger player in a group of three or four because it brings a new, random element to the game. They also seem to enjoy playing with the adults.

Thus concludes a year's addiction to ThoughtHammer. For those interested, the addiction will continue until my wife tells me to stop, I run out of room in all our closets, my daughter graduates from high school, or I die.
 
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