A Geektacular Weekend : Feb 29 - Mar 2
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What a weekend - so many new games crying out to be played, so little time to play them in. Since my husband Tahndur (Tim) broke his leg a couple of weeks ago, he really hasn't been feeling up to playing much of anything, until this weekend. Finally, with his new cast on his leg, which brings along a huge increase in his comfort level, he was finally able to sit at the gaming table again and play away the hours with me and the rest of the family. We had made a huge game store run last weekend, and we were dying to try out the new goodies!

Here's a run down of what we played, what we liked, and what we can't wait to play again. I hope to create one of these each monday, as the weekends are specifically set aside for gaming, a passion we share.
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1. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
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Within 5 minutes of the official start to the weekend, my husband had pulled out a new game we had picked up last weekend, but never got to play. This was a fantastic start to the weekend. Fast, furious, very intense, and only took 45 minutes to play. I was the Scientist and my husband drew the Medic. We invented some disease names for the cubes, just to make it a little less abstract. We played an easy game (only 4 Epidemic cards) and almost immediately, we were getting overrun with Red Death (the red cubes) in the East. We cured the Blue Willies early into the game, followed by the Black Plague. Through careful planning, and judicious use of our special ability cards, we JUST managed to cure all four diseases. We'd maxxed out the Infection level, and we were 1 outbreak away from losing the game when I cured Yellow Fever and on the very next turn my husband cured Red Death. *phew* That was a close game, and we both felt a real sense of accomplishment when we were done. We never did get to eradicate any of them - that'll be a goal the next time we play.
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2. Board Game: Viktory II [Average Rating:6.93 Overall Rank:2670]
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After the frenetic pace of Pandemic, it was time to settle into something a little calmer, and competitive. We'd been admiring Viktory II for a while, and to perk up my husband after his accident, I ordered it from the designer on the sly. Again, since the kids were off doing their own thing, we played a two-player game on the two-player size map. We shuffled the hexes and drew up what turned out to be a really nifty map. We each had a land mass of our own, and we were cut in half by water, except for a single hex land bridge. The randomness of the map is the jewel of this game. We placed our capitals, and went for each other's throats. Thanks to a couple of lucky rolls, I managed to take one of his cities rather early into the game, and started to build a formidible force against him. He had a couple lucky rolls himself, and managed to prevent me from taking his capital the three times I tried, effectively wiping out my forces each time. By the time he had only one city and his capital left, with no room to build, he asked to surrender.

Lots of fun, but the next time we play, we'd like to play a two-player game on a three-player size map. This will give us more room to develop our forces before battle begins. The terrain rules and line of sight rules added a good dose of strategy to the game, and it was great fun exploring the map with our troops, seeing what we had pulled out from the tile bag. We'll definitely be playing this one again too.
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3. Board Game: Smugglers of the Galaxy [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:13143]
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Along with Viktory II, I also got Tahndur "Smugglers" as an "I'm-sorry-you-broke-your-leg-but-here's-a-new-game!" cheer up present. This one is just ridiculously fun to play! We stuck with the rule set that came with the game, but have printed off the expanded rules from the designer's website, which will add lots of new fun things in our next game. We had a three player of this one - my husband, me, and my 11 year old son. I drew the Smuggler character, Tahndur was the Merchant, and my son the Gunner. We decided not to pursue the Korinth run, rather the first player to make it to Brix and drop $5000 would win the game. The game has been criticized as being too much of a dice-fest and too random, but honestly, the randomness of the dice rolls kept the game interesting, and the unexpected results of our Destiny cards we had to draw each turn kept us on our toes. My son took his gunner role very seriously, and proceeded to try and blow both my husband and me out of our ships and into escape pods. He very nearly suceeded, too. I focused my efforts on purchasing illegal goods and smuggling them to various planets, while my husband upgraded his ship to a highly maneuverable cargo ship and made a number of successful deliveries. We didn't get a chance to finish (dinner got in the way) but when we finished my husband was in the lead with over $1200. I can't wait to play this one again, and the next time we play, we want to try a full 6 player game. The more the merrier in this one!
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4. Board Game: Rummikub [Average Rating:6.31 Overall Rank:1552]
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Surprise! I wasn't expecting this one at all, but Tahndur picked it up for us this weekend at the toy shop. A classic game that I had never played before that turned out to be a whole lot of fun. We had a few 4-player hands of this one, and we all thoroughly enjoyed playing. It is a whole lot more fun than just playing gin Rummy with playing cards. The mixing and matching of the played tiles kept everyone interested, and was easy enough for my son to learn very quickly. We didn't play up to a set number of points, as time was running short, and we wanted a chance to play a game with the kids in mind, but this one will come out again when we want something fast and fun without a lot of set up time or deep, critical thinking. Not all games have to have a great deal of depth to be fun
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5. Board Game: Tiki Mountain! [Average Rating:5.65 Overall Rank:11430]
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After seeing a good video review of this one, we picked it up last weekend and brought it out for everyone to play, from ages 9 through 42. We played a full 6-player of this one, and while it was wonderful to have everyone gathered around the gaming table, it also led to a lot of down time between turns. Granted, this was our first game of it, and there aren't all that many different cards to pick from, so I think the next game we play will go faster. There wasn't a whole lot of skill to this one, but everyone had fun laughing at each other as we stole one another's items, switched places, backtracked to avoid newly placed obstacles, and trembled in mock fear when the Angry Volcano God wreaked his wrath at the end of each round. I was the lucky little Tiki who got to hurl herself into the volcano, but it's still up in the air whether that made me the winner, or just the gullible one who really thought throwing themselves into lava as a sacrifice was a Good idea. The kids liked this one, and it is a fantastic family game. If the downtime could be reduced some, this game would play in about an hour for a full table of 6. As it was, my youngest (my 9 year old daughter) and Tahndur's youngest (his 16 year old daughter) really wanted to finish, but the clock had ticked to midnight Saturday night and they just couldn't do it. The younger kids are going to try it again on their own this week, as just two players.
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6. Board Game: Battlemist [Average Rating:5.91 Overall Rank:6963]
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After a great deal of good gaming over the weekend, my husband and I were very happy to be playing again. We game every weekend, and we had really missed it when he was feeling so horrid. To cap off the weekend, we pulled out the copy of Battlemist we had picked up last weekend for a two-player match. If you have ever played the game for the PC "Heroes of Might and Magic" you might have a feel for how this game plays. The set up of the map was quick and fun, and provides a different game every time. Unfortunately, by the time we had read the rules, completed set up, and were ready to go, it was the very wee hours of the morning, and we only had time to try one turn each. That's okay though, as we're all set to play more next time. There's a few things about the game that threw us off a bit, such as cards that assign an ability to one unit in particular, but there's no way to mark the unit as being the one that has the ability. Same with your heroes - they take damage, and there is no mechanic in the game that provides you a method of tracking their hitpoints remaining. We wound up using the chips included with the game that were meant to represent the magical stars we had to collect to win (we placed them under each hero chit), and used bead counters as the stars themselves. One thing I'm doing today while I'm at work is I'm popping into the Battlemist entry on the Geek and see if I can find a solution to these issues. Other than that, this looks very promising as a long, deep, strategic, and exciting fantasy war/explore/magical/rpg kind of game. When time allows, we can't wait to try it again!
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