A 40th Birthday Gamestravaganza: 40 Hours of Gaming, 40 Games (and more!)
Lori
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Last Monday was my 40th birthday. My inspiration for how to celebrate it came many months ago, when I read this forum thread: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/130457. I read about Tim's 40 hours of gaming and thought, Wow, what a great idea! I'd like to do something similar for my 40th birthday.

So the thought had been in the back of my mind, and as the occasion drew near, I started to make definite plans. I decided on the dual goal of trying to play for 40 hours (not continuously, but over the course of a long weekend) and play 40 games. Here's how it turned out.

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1. Board Game: Pick Picknic [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1433]
Lori
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The Gamestravaganza began with my usual Thursday night gaming with Lori, Jerry, and Christopher. Of course I had manipulated the schedule so that it would be my turn to choose the gameage this Thursday, and the theme was animal games.

I hadn't played Pick Picknic in nearly a year, and it was as fun as I remembered, but even quicker to play. It really zipped along. Jerry arrived late and only got a cursory rules explanation, but it didn't hold him back from winning the game.

Having tried this and Razzia (similar mechanics, different theme), I don't think either is perfect, but for various reasons I like Pick Picknic better. Later in the weekend I bought a copy for myself.

 
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2. Board Game: Monkeys on the Moon [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:3207]
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"Sure, it was very clever of the green monkeys to master the use of the pogo stick. I would be the last to wish to diminish their accomplishments, but I think their civilization clearly pales in comparison to that of the purple monkey tribe. Do you realize that the purple monkeys now know how to PLAY the BANJO?!?!?!"

This is a silly but strategic game, with some of the most comical rules around. Jerry became a fierce partisan in the lunar tribal rivalries, and thrashed us all despite being scorned by several hostile tribes.
 
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3. Board Game: Zooloretto [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:607] [Average Rating:6.86 Unranked]
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The trickiest part of this game, and one of the biggest differences from Coloretto, is the money actions. It's usually a struggle to amass enough money for what I need to do, but even more of a challenge is the timing, since you have to do financial actions before taking a sled of tiles.

I managed to eke out a victory here through some good luck at the end of the game. First, people took partially filled sleds, causing the game to end one round later than it could have. Then in the last round, I had to let the sled with the perfect tiles for me sit there unclaimed so I could do a financial action. I held my breath, but fortunately no one else wanted it, so I was able to claim the last kangaroo and fill up my zoo.
 
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4. Board Game: The Penguin Ultimatum [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:5094]
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Another strange but jolly game from Eight Foot Llama. This is one of those games that always seems to end before you have quite accomplished all your projects. Nonetheless, I reaped some bonuses and won handily. We hadn't played this or Monkeys on the Moon in quite a while, so it was nice to get them back on the table (or in this case, back on the iceberg).
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5. Board Game: Elk Fest [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:2488]
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At this point Lori and Jerry had to take off, so we turned to the 2-player portion of the program. I'm the odds-on favorite at this game, but Christopher has pulled off an upset victory once, so I'm always vigilant.
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6. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:672]
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Hard to believe I hadn't played this since November 2006. The penguin theme was a big part of this game's initial appeal, but I think we found it less fabulous than expected. Coming back to it now, though, I found myself really enjoying it, and can't remember what might have been disappointing about it before. My penguins staked their claim to most of the fish.
 
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7. Board Game: The Bucket King [Average Rating:6.34 Overall Rank:2161]
 
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At this point we recruited Luann to be a third for Bucket King (and, as it turned out, the rest of the evening). We always play with the variant where ties reverse the direction of play, and the player starting a round may choose to begin in either direction.
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8. Board Game: Elk Fest [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:2488]
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Luann's moose put up a fight, but mine skipped to victory. This is a lot of fun for such a simple game.
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9. Board Game: Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus [Average Rating:5.79 Overall Rank:6225]
Lori
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Another game I hadn't played in some time--since May 2006--and this time it seemed less fun than I recalled. But it's probably at its best with more players, since a lot of the action involves matching cards played by others.
 
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10. Board Game: Tsuro [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:774]
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Much like the one in the picture, our game ended in simultaneous destruction for all. With the last tile, Christopher and Luann collided in mutual annihilation, and I zoomed off the edge of the board. I suppose technically it was a 3-way tie for first, but it felt more like a 3-way tie for last.
 
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11. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:135]
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This was actually the first time I've ever played Ra without Ian Mahuron's excellent player mats (similar though not identical to the Portuguese version pictured here). Luann has an older German edition that also doesn't have the markings on the tiles to differentiate which ones are discarded at the end of each epoch. I appreciate the aids, but I could also appreciate the old-school attitude that finds them unnecessary.
 
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12. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:672]
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Last game of the evening was another round of Hey! That's My Fish!, this time with three people. I think the dynamic in this game is interestingly different with different numbers. In the 2-player game, I had been able to attack and neutralize one of Christopher's penguins right away, but with fewer penguins I didn't have the penguin power for that sort of thing. Christopher was victorious this time. This was our 12th game of the night, which was more than I'd hoped to accomplish on the first evening--a good start on the way to 40!
 
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13. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
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Friday I took the day off work to play games. (Now there's a sentence I wish I got to use more often!) None of our other gaming buddies seemed to be free during the day, so Christopher and I were looking forward to a day of 2-player gaming; my plan was to play a bunch of shorter games and get well ahead in number of games.

So we settled down at the game store with a heap of games, and I grabbed Lost Cities off the stack. This is actually the game I've played the most over the past couple years, and although I've worked to expand our 2-player repertoire, I'm not a bit tired of this. It played out much as usual, with one of us leading in the first round, the other in the second, and the third round deciding things.
 
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14. Board Game: 10 Days in the USA [Average Rating:6.46 Overall Rank:1793]
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I told Christopher it was his turn to choose, and he picked 10 Days in the USA. The 10 Days series is a perennial favorite, and we think it plays best with 2 people. My first draw this time was Hawaii, which I rarely go to because it's a bit inconvenient, but being able to begin my trip there and look for a plane to come back on worked out nicely. Christopher made it around the USA before I did, though.
 
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15. Board Game: Odin's Ravens [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:1068]
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This is a groovy game that I always feel we don't play often enough. We hadn't played it since last May, so I was happy to see it again. Christopher took an early lead, but I won this one, largely through strategic use of the Magic Way, and despite several egregious blunders. I'd like to play this often enough to get better at it.
 
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16. Board Game: Tally Ho! [Average Rating:6.12 Overall Rank:2479]
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Christopher's next choice was a game we hadn't played in even longer, more than a year. This isn't an especially well-balanced game, because so much depends on the random tile layout, but I always enjoy it. I feel much more sympathy with the animal side, and love to send one of my bears on a successful rampage. I'm not sure if the Dutch title on this box cover means what it sounds like in English, but I hope so.
 
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17. Board Game: 10 Days in Africa [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1618]
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Next I chose 10 Days in Africa. It's hard to say, but this may be my favorite of the 10 Days series. The map has a bit more interest than just the plain old USA, but isn't so exotic that I can't find where anything is. It has a nice open layout, and uses cars, which are more versatile than boats. They're all good, but I like this one a lot.
 
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18. Board Game: Ricochet Robots [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:571] [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Lori
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I heartily approved of Christopher's choice of Ricochet Robots. I was rubbish at this game when I first tried it, but in the several times we've played I feel that my brain is getting more in tune with how it's done. I might need to add this to my collection eventually.
 
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19. Board Game: Ubongo [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:830]
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Since we were already in puzzle mode, it seemed like a good time to introduce Ubongo. I'd played this once, at a gaming con last fall, and had been wanting to try it again. Ubongo is very well-produced, and I like the look of it. And I enjoy doing the puzzles that are the core of the game. But I really think the whole scoring mechanic is pretty badly done. With this play I made up my mind that I don't need to add this to my collection. This was a relief to Christopher, who hated the game.
 
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20. Board Game: 10 Days in Asia [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:1798]
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Next Christopher chose the latest entry in the 10 Days series, which we had played several times when we first got it, but not since. Clearly we need to play this more, because--although I won't embarrass myself further by saying which one it was--I had a heck of a time trying to find a certain Asian nation. I won the game, though I must admit I didn't end up going to that particular country.
 
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21. Board Game: Hey, That's My Fish! [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:672]
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Even though we played this twice last night, I added it to the stack this morning because I was really enjoying reconnecting with this jolly game.

Also, check out this image, which I think is completely brilliant. The caption is "Penguin Cinema." The penguins look exactly like they're at the movies, and don't you appreciate now how much the box cover looks like a slapstick comedy with penguins?
 
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22. Board Game: 10 Days in Europe [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1595]
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Christopher chose 10 Days in Europe, which I won despite his (and the tile deck's) evil efforts to force me into the Baltic states.
 
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23. Board Game: Trans Europa [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1171]
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Next I decided to stay with the Europe theme and chose TransEuropa. This was fun, but seemed to take a long time to play, because every round was so close. Probably more likely to happen in a 2-player game. And I don't get why Plymouth is even an important enough city to be featured in this game, much less why I had to go there every darn time.
 
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24. Board Game: Metro [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1453]
Lori
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I was quite happy when Christopher chose Metro, which I'd been wanting to play again for some time. I initially thought of this game as similar to Tsuro, but the more I play them both, the more I realize how different they are. They share the tile-laying, path-making aspect, but in Tsuro there's only one path, and in Metro there are many. And in Tsuro, the tile you play must always move your own piece; in Metro you have much more leeway, and can play tiles to benefit yourself, thwart others, or (ideally) both.

Metro has one more big advantage to me, which is that I used to live in Paris. So even if I'm getting stomped in the game (not the case this time), I can still enjoy the memories it brings back. And I love the art in this game, which is very reminiscent of the classic Art Nouveau look of the Paris metro.
 
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25. Board Game: Mr. Jack [Average Rating:7.07 Overall Rank:412]
Lori
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I interrupted the proceedings at this point to buy some games. (Ever so convenient meeting at the game store!) That last play of Metro (with the store library copy) was the last straw in my conviction that I should have this game for myself. I also picked up another item from my wishlist, Mr. Jack, so that we could give it a try. I had played a couple times before, but it was new to Christopher.

Christopher chose to play the police side, and ironically (why does this always seem to happen?), Mr. Jack turned out to be disguised as Sherlock Holmes. Sgt. Goodley is really formidable! Things went well for a while, but in the next-to-last round or so, someone leapt up out of a manhole and tagged Jack just as he was about to escape. By the end of the game, I felt like my brain was melting.
 
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