The Summer Of Fun
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I have four children, three girls and a boy, and they're all off school for the summer break. They don't go back until early September. So, what to do with them until then? I came up with The Summer Of Fun, which involves playing boardgames and keeping track of who wins what, so we can have an overall winner. Hopefully, my wife will take part as well, but I doubt she'll do so as eagerly as the kids will.

I've decided to use the Avalon Hill AREA system for keeping track of the points. Not for any particular reason other than it exists, and I know how to use it (hopefully).

I've also set the kids the task of designing a game each that we shall include in The Summer Of Fun. Quite what the end results will be shall remain a mystery until we sit down to play the games.

So, the protagonists are as follows....

Michael, 12, female. Likes Evanescence, Vampires, and ignoring what Mum and Dad say. Dislikes chores. Her main strength is that she likes to join in with stuff and generally do her best, but this can also be her biggest weakness as sometimes she doesn't take the time to think of her best move.

Robyn, 10, female. Likes being the centre of attention, singing and ignoring what Mum and Dad say. Dislikes chores. Her main strength is her mind - she seems to have an understanding of rules and game situations beyond her years. Her biggest weakness is yet to be discovered.

Calvin, 9, male. Likes running, shouting, being smelly, getting dirty, playing sport, shouting, annoying his sisters and ignoring what Mum and Dad say. Dislikes chores. His main strength is stomping weaker opponents in to the ground. His main weakness is concentrating too much on destroying his sisters' chances of success at the cost of his own.

Aidan, 3, female. Likes colouring in and Despicable Me. Dislikes bedtime. Not really sure what her strengths or weaknesses are, but I doubt she'll be in many of the games so it probably doesn't matter.

Me, 42, male. Likes sport, rock music and board games. Dislikes peanuts. My main strength is that I am the kids' Dad, so they probably don't attack me as much as they should in games. My main weakness is that I am the kids' Dad, so I probably don't attack them as much as I should in games.

Elaine, age undefined, wife. Likes spending my money, dislikes spending it on me. Her main strength is the ability to get me to do what ever she tells me to, and she has no weaknesses at all.
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1. Board Game: The 3 Commandments [Average Rating:5.50 Overall Rank:13061]
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Full game report is here.

To summarise, Calvin and I completed our rituals, Michael and Robyn failed theirs, and there was lots of running involved.

1st: Calvin
2nd: Me
3rd: Robyn
4th: Michael

AREA points
Calvin 1800
Me 1600
Robyn 1400
Michael 1200
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2. Board Game: Beggar My Neighbour [Average Rating:2.50 Unranked]
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The session report got declined through GeekMod, so here it is in full.

I wandered in to the kitchen to see what my kids were up to, and Calvin and Michael were shuffling a pack of playing cards between them. When they saw me, they asked if I could remember how to play Beat Your Neighbour. "Of course I can," I said, "it's very simple." I took the cards and dealt them out. Calvin went first, and we started the repetitive process of taking it in turns to place cards face up until a picture card or ace turned up. Michael seemed to do well, as the deal had given her two Jacks in a row, causing a quick build-up of a power pack. That's the term we use for when there are several picture cards together. Calvin's hand seemed to be made up mostly of cannon fodder, the normal cards that have no effect on play, and so he was the first to fall by the wayside. My random selection of cards held their own for a few more turns, but Michael's power pack eventually put paid to them, and so she won the game.

Although the game itself isn't very exciting, I enjoyed spending a few minutes playing with my kids. I guess it goes to show that almost any game is playable, provided the situation is right for it.

AREA points
Me 1590 (-10)
Calvin 1560 (-240)
Michael 1450 (+250)
Robyn 1400
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3. Board Game: The Awful Green Things From Outer Space [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1623]
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Full report is here here.

Short version is that my crew beat Calvin's Green Things quite convincingly, losing only four people.

AREA scores:
Me: 1688 (+98)
Calvin: 1462 (-98)
Michael: 1450
Robyn: 1400
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4. Board Game: The Awful Green Things From Outer Space [Average Rating:6.48 Overall Rank:1623]
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Game four, just Calvin and me.

Full session report is here.

Short session report - After a reasonably good start, Calvin's crew quickly realised they had no decent area effect weapons, so decided to evacuate the ship. The 1st Officer set off the self destruct, and all escaping crew members made it back to Snudl-1 safely.

Calvin wins.

AREA scores:
Me: 1577 (-111)
Calvin: 1573 (+111)
Michael: 1450
Robyn: 1400
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5. Board Game: Balloon Cup [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:907]
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Another game involving just me and Calvin. He had the upper hand for most of the game and came out on top. Full session report is here.

AREA scores:
Calvin: 1673 (+100)
Me: 1477 (-100)
Michael: 1450
Robyn: 1400
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6. Board Game: Top Team [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
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Another two player against Calvin, this time I was victorious, winning the match 4-1. Full report here. Maybe the fact that this game is pure chance helped me out.

AREA scores:
Me: 1587 (+110)
Calvin: 1563 (-110)
Michael: 1450
Robyn: 1400

Maybe the girls will join in again soon.
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7. Board Game: Carcassonne: Winter-Edition – Der Lebkuchenmann [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
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The girls finally rejoined the competition, and we got in our first play of the game. Full report is here.

My uberfield won the game, with Calvin just pipping Robyn for 2nd, and Michael brought up the rear. Aidan made a brief appearance, but only as an observer.

AREA scores:
Me: 1681 (+94)
Calvin: 1591 (+28)
Robyn: 1374 (-26)
Michael: 1354 (-96)
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8. Board Game: Intruder [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:4453]
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Once again, it was just me and the boy. He handed my head to me really quickly. Literally. Walked all over me, chewed me up, spat out the bits, then jumped up and down on them, just for good measure.

Full report is here.

AREA scores:
Calvin: 1696 (+105)
Me: 1576 (-105)
Robyn: 1374
Michael: 1354
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9. Board Game: Star Force Terra #1: Contact! [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:7847]
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Calvin and I took up arms once again in a battle that almost made it down to the last card. Calvin won, of course, and the full report is here.

AREA scores:
Calvin: 1790 (+94)
Me: 1482 (-94)
Robyn: 1374
Michael: 1354
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10. Board Game: Catan [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:279] [Average Rating:7.23 Unranked]
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All three kids joined in for a game of Settlers. I managed to win despite getting a rule wrong which meant I delayed my win for three turns. Full report is here.

Final order was me, Michael, Robyn, Calvin.

Calvin: 1672 (-118)
Me: 1582 (+100)
Michael: 1396 (+42)
Robyn: 1350 (-24)
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11. Board Game: Kalah [Average Rating:5.86 Overall Rank:3456]
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Robyn noticed she was in last place, so challenged Calvin to a best-of-three game of Mancala in the hope she would take a bucketload of points from him. She beat him 2-1 and even wrote up the session report.

AREA scores
Me: 1582
Calvin: 1556 (-116)
Robyn: 1466 (+116)
Michael: 1396
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12. Board Game: The World Cup Game: Expansion Set 2 [Average Rating:7.57 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.57 Unranked]
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A four player replay of the 1934 World Cup in Italy, full report is here.

The results were close to what actually happened all those years ago in The Mediterranean. I won, beating Calvin in the final. Michael beat Robyn for third place.

AREA scores
Me 1676 (+94)
Calvin 1586 (+30)
Michael 1370 (-26)
Robyn 1368 (-98)
 
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13. Board Game: Go Fish [Average Rating:3.58 Overall Rank:15336]
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Not an exciting or interesting enough game for me to be able to write a session report. And no photos were taken either. The game was played between my eldest daughter, Michael, and myself, in our caravan at the campsite for the Festival of History at Detling in Kent. Michael won.

AREA scores
Calvin 1586
Me 1561 (-115)
Michael 1485 (+115)
Robyn 1368
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14. Board Game: Backgammon [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1088]
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Another game over a bit too quickly to write any details down. It was Robyn's first ever game of Backgammon, and I won.

AREA scores
Me 1651 (+90)
Calvin 1586
Michael 1485
Robyn 1278 (-90)
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15. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:368]
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Sorry about the lack of detailed session reports at the moment. I'd had a hard day fighting the English Civil War and was in no position to worry about this geeklist. Just be happy that I kept track of the score. I won on 32, then Robyn on 25 and then Michael on 23. Nice close game.

AREA scores
Me 1654 (+93)
Calvin 1586
Michael 1384 (-101)
Robyn 1376 (+8)
 
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16. Board Game: Backgammon [Average Rating:6.53 Overall Rank:1088]
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Michael wanted to learn how to play, having seen me playing Robyn the day before. I won by a gammon.

AREA scores
Me 1740 (+86)
Calvin 1586
Robyn 1376
Michael 1298 (-86)
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17. Board Game: The World Cup Game: Expansion Set 3 [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.64 Unranked]
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Robyn, Calvin and myself got together for a replay of the 1950 World Cup, the full report is here.

Calvin exited early but he had a poor set of teams to start off with. I managed to get almost all of my teams through to the final round and made reasonably short work of Robyn's last team. Victory was mine!

AREA scores
Me 1827 (+87)
Calvin 1485 (-101)
Robyn 1390 (+14)
Michael 1298
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18. Board Game: Bohnanza [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:368]
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The final game for The Summer of Fun. Full report is here.

Some weirdness from Calvin and some excellent trading from Robyn and Michael, but I still won, with Michael second, Calvin third and Robyn last.

Final AREA scores:
Me 1906 (+79)
Calvin 1453 (-32)
Michael 1344 (+46)
Robyn 1297 (-93)

So there you have it. I expected Robyn to have finished second, then Calvin, then Michael. So it just goes to show no matter how well you know your opponents, they can still surprise you.
 
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