Games for a Winter Beach Week
Joshua Hall
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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I spent a week after Christmas on the Outer Banks of North Carolina with my wife's family. They are not gamers, but I brought my stash with the hopes of planting the seeds which would bear fruit of much future gaming during family visits.

I stacked up all my games on a table in the living room of the beach house. Here's what was chosen and played... and how it went.

This is my first ever GeekList... how exciting!
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1. Board Game: Blokus [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:519]
 
Joshua Hall
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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I actually received Blokus for Christmas from my wife's family, so this became the gateway game. Since they bought it and watched me open it, I think they felt some attachment. I ended up playing around 10 games of this during the week with nearly every member of the family. They were hooked... and the high point was that after the first 3 games, I never won again!
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2. Board Game: Rat-a-Tat Cat [Average Rating:6.19 Overall Rank:2453]
Joshua Hall
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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My sister-in-law absolutely loved this game. Therefore, we ended up playing it nearly every night. I, however, do not like this game so much... probably because I almost always lose. I tend to always think I have the best hand really soon and am usually mistaken. And I get distracted easily and forget at least one or two of my four cards. But playing this game is still better than playing no game. And it provided a nice gateway into games I do like better...
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3. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Joshua Hall
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Durham
North Carolina
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This was the greatest success of the week from a gaming prospective. We played the first night and my wife and I dominated because it had not sunk in to the newbies the importance of drawing more tickets late in the game.

However, the next day at breakfast, my wife's sister tells me that we have to play Ticket to Ride again that night because she had been thinking strategies up in her head ever since the game ended. I know what she's talking about... it happened to me and I've seen it happen to other former non-gamers the first time they were exposed to a game that actually has some depth and interesting decisions.

We played again that night and it was a very tight game with my wife claiming the victory... but by a narrow margin. This game ended up drawing a big crowd as people gathered around and began conjecturing on where each player seemed to be trying to go. I never knew Ticket to Ride could be a spectator sport!
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4. Board Game: Blockhead! [Average Rating:5.44 Overall Rank:13582]
Joshua Hall
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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This is one of the rare games that has the benefit of being obvious. If a non-gamer walks up to a table where Blockhead is being played, they instantly know how to play. Put a block on top... don't knock it over. And this game draws lots of attention. Blockhead was a great way to get people over to the gaming table and in the mood to play more games!
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5. Board Game: Cribbage [Average Rating:7.03 Overall Rank:555]
Joshua Hall
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Durham
North Carolina
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During those common moments of downtime during a week at the beach, my wife and I would often pass the time with a quiet game of Cribbage. I insist that it is a total game of luck... she beat me 4 out of 5 times...
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6. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:391]
Joshua Hall
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Durham
North Carolina
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After introducing numerous non-gamers to No Thanks, I've learned there are several categories of players. There are those who really latch on to the "take other players for everything they're worth" strategy, there are the "sure I can fill in a gap of 7 numbers by the end" playeres, and there are those players who just can't resist a big ol' pile of chips regardless of whether it is strategically a good play.

All of these player types were represented with my in-laws. I will say this game led to the most laughs.
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7. Board Game: Phase 10 [Average Rating:5.08 Overall Rank:15297]
Joshua Hall
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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This was a game I did not want to bring because it drives me crazy. It feels totally random based on which cards are dealt. However, my wife snuck it in because her family loves Phase 10. So I conceded one night and played with my wife, her sister, and brother-in-law. This game led to the only fight my wife and I had during the whole trip.

I had just completed a phase and was trying to get the cards needed to go out. My wife obviously needed 4's and 7's to get her phase. It became known I had a 7 but I kept discarding other cards. The following exchange followed:

Wife: You know I need a 7. Why won't you give me one?
Me: Because then you would get your phase. That would defeat the point of the game.
Wife: Why are you so mean to me?!
Me: You wouldn't give me the card I needed if the situation was reversed.
Wife: I would too. I just don't play the way you do.
... this argument literally continued for 15 minutes after the game ended and everyone else had gone to bed.

I never wanted to play the game in the first place!

So for the rest of the week we kept following my wife around exclaiming: Why are you so mean to me??? I don't think she'll live that one down for a while... but hey... her family takes Phase 10 seriously.

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8. Board Game: Carcassonne [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:139] [Average Rating:7.43 Unranked]
Joshua Hall
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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After the rousing success of Ticket to Ride, I was poised and ready to drop the Carcassonne hammer and hook my in-laws for good. Didn't work out that way. This game sort of flopped. My wife and I played with my sister-in-law, who loved TtR, Rat-a-tat, and No Thanks. Though she definitely "got it" and was making good decisions with her tiles by the end, she didn't have nearly as much fun as the other games and had the sense it was much more complicated. Also, several other family members passed by while we were playing... were intrigued by the bits, but ultimately decided it looked too complicated. I was a little sad... but maybe next time.

I've introduced other non-gamers to Carcassonne who had the same reaction my sister-in-law had to Ticket to Ride... instantly hooked and quickly obsessed with thinking about tiles and meeples. Not the case this week.
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9. Board Game: Blink [Average Rating:5.94 Overall Rank:3574]
Joshua Hall
United States
Durham
North Carolina
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We went into a kite shop one day and they had several card games for sale. I can never pass up purchasing a game from a store I didn't expect to have games. Probably because I haven't mentally prepared to tell myself no. So I purchased Blink because my wife and I are always looking for good 2-player games. We gave this one several tries (which doesn't take all that long) and I won every time. So that ended that.
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