The Play's the Thing: or How I Gamed My Summer Vacation.
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
Washington
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My wife, Jeannie, and I and our two children journeyed south for a double vaction.

For our children the vacation was spending the better part of a week with their grandparents in Junction City, Oregon.

For Jeannie and I the vacation was leaving the children and continuing south with her brother and his wife to Ashland and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

I had packed a few games. But I really didn't know how much play any of them were going to get.

As it turns out gaming was the frame for the vacation.

--

This is my first geeklist. I hope you enjoy it.
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1. Board Game: Scrabble [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:1504]
Mike Smith-Stoe
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Maple Valley
Washington
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It's a long and quiet drive from Maple Valley, WA, to Junction City, OR. We like to stay pretty focused. So I spent some time trying out a solo-scrabble run. It's a bit dry. Pulling 'bad tiles' just makes me feel like an idiot. So I took over the driving.
 
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2. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2543]
 
Mike Smith-Stoe
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Maple Valley
Washington
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Finally at the grandparents' house, there, in the living room, was a foosball table (not this living room and not this table). I was pleasantly surprised and should have taken it as a sign of good things to come.
 
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3. Board Game: Mahjong [Average Rating:7.02 Overall Rank:617]
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
Washington
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I quickly dropped off my wife and our children at the grandparents' house. And I headed back out to the local GW. Trust me. This is not unusual.

I found a set of Mahjong tiles like the set pictured for $5. It has 147 tiles (above the 144 needed); but it's still not quite complete. Dang. It has white dragon tiles and blank tiles. So I can substitute a blank tile for the missing 4 circle tile. Woohoo.
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4. Board Game: Scrabble Duplicate Crossword Game [Average Rating:6.40 Unranked]
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
Washington
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I also grabbed this for $2, even though it is essentially the same game that I had been playing in the car.
 
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5. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
Washington
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After a nice dinner and evening our children and their 2 cousins went to bed. Jeannie and I settled into to teaching her parents, Dan and Laura, Ticket to Ride. I've read several times on bgg about first time players winning. Well this time was no different. I had gotten overly confident with my taller stack of destination tickets and drew again. So I started my point count by having to move backward 22 points for the 'Seattle to New York' ticket I didn't complete. In the end the victor was Dan who had just squeaked past Jeannie to win by 2 points with the longest train bonus.

*edit*

I don't know how I forgot to add this; Jeannie and I didn't sleep well that night. Train tracks run straight through Junction City. Trains run through town often at night, blasting their horns (1) as a warning to the one person out and about who doesn't realize it's 3am, and (2) as a warning to everyone else that it's not a good idea to live in Junction City unless you really like trains. This night the trains were switching cars as well, blasting the horns even more than usual. Maybe if I had completed that 'Seattle to New York' ticket another route would have opened up; and we could have had a better night sleep.
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6. Board Game: Blokus [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:519]
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
Washington
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Wednesday we left the grandparents with their four grandchildren. Then like a square tetromino we loaded up in the car with Jeannie's brother, James, and his wife, Andrea, and headed to Ashland.

It was too early for the hotel so we stopped in at the storefront for FunAgain Games. I introduced James to Blokus on the display model. I won. But he liked the game.

FunAgain Games was no Blue Highway (my fav FLGS so far). But the prices were right. They match their own online prices (with no shipping costs to go from the counter to the door). Jeannie and I picked up Carcassonne: Expansion 2 – Traders & Builders, Carcassonne: The River II, RoboRally and Hive. And Andrea and James got Argue and Pit. And, based on our suggestion for their boys, they grabbed Blockhead!.
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7. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Mike Smith-Stoe
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Maple Valley
Washington
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Wednesday it was super hot outside. So we all decided to have a game night in the hotel.

First up was another introduction to Ticket to Ride. James and Andrea both enjoyed playing. But this time a first-time win was not to be. Jeannie and I were well out in front with Jeannie beating me by one destination ticket.
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8. Board Game: Argue [Average Rating:5.81 Overall Rank:12054]
Mike Smith-Stoe
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Maple Valley
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There were no trains running through the middle of Ashland. But there was some wine and beer drinking, and the four of us trying out Argue after midnight in our hotel room. So things still got a bit noisy without the trains.
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9. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:336]
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
Washington
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I like to read a little bit before going to sleep. So I read the rules to RoboRally over and over trying to figure out a couple of the nagging questions I had.

Thursday morning I applied the stickers to the flags. I tried to do a quick solo test run as two players. But it quickly became apparent that this was going to be tough with the simultaneous movement. I couldn't exactly lay random cards in the registers. And I couldn't pretend I didn't know the cards I had just picked for the first player when I was picking cards for the second player.

Shortly it was time to head out to breakfast anyway. This one will just have to wait for another day.
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10. Board Game: Carcassonne: The River II [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked]
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
Washington
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Thursday night Jeannie and I added Carcassonne: The River II to our favorites Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals and Carcassonne: The River. We liked it.

I honestly do not remember who won.
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11. Board Game: Pit [Average Rating:6.40 Overall Rank:1354]
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
Washington
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Friday after breakfast we went back to the hotel for a game introduction for Jeannie and I. Pit is a favorite in Andrea's family. Jeannie and James had the game when they were children. But like so many other people they only remember playing with the bell.

Jeannie won quickly, attributing it to her love of chocolate. She cornered cocoa frequently, twice with the bull as a tenth card giving her a bonus.
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12. Board Game: Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Mike Smith-Stoe
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Maple Valley
Washington
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Turning the tables again, Jeannie and I shared one of our favorite games with James and Andrea: Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals. We weren't able to finish it all in one sitting since we had to head out to see a play. But we just put up the 'Privacy Please' door-hanger to keep the table from getting bumped.

I think playing this game right before seeing a play actually messed with my ability to enjoy the play as much as I could. I already have trouble with splitting my attention.

Sometimes that's a plus, like when I watch Mystery Science Theater 3000. Jeannie can't watch that show because she just watches the movie and doesn't hear the running commentary. "These movies suck" she says. "Well, that's kind of the point" I say. "That's what the jokes are about." "What jokes?" she says.

So off we headed to see Coriolanus played in theater in the round. There I was with my easily split attention and my eyes having spent the last 1/2 hour wandering over carcassonne tiles. Sure, I could tell you the main plot of the play. And I have opinions about the production, the performances, and how the play relates to modern times. But I also can tell you that a man in the front row on the left never let go of his bag. And a woman in the top row opposite us thought another woman was cold because she offered her a blanket. And I think a man in another of the four front rows really had to go to the bathroom. And I think I should put a farmer down on the right side there. And...what...they're stabbing him. Oh, I see, very tragic.
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13. Board Game: Shut the Box [Average Rating:5.01 Overall Rank:15250]
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
Washington
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A trip to the OSF giftshop let me stumble on a display copy of Shut the Box. I'm pretty sure it is the one pictured with oversized wooden dice and an actual lid for shutting. I played once and got 1,2,7,8 and 9. I've only beaten my copy once. But that was enough to let me walk away from this fancy version easily.
 
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14. Board Game: Carcassonne: Expansion 1 – Inns & Cathedrals [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.61 Unranked]
Mike Smith-Stoe
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Maple Valley
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Much later we finished the game. James and Andrea liked it so much that we played it again. It was late so we tried to make it a 'lightning round' game. But in end the '1' on the clock told a different story. And the ':45' just added emphasis to the story.

Jeannie had won the first game and James the second.
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15. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2543]
Mike Smith-Stoe
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Maple Valley
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Saturday we lazily finished our to-do list. High on my list was stopping in at the Black Sheep for a beer and some darts. I had just built a pegboard-on-one-side/dartboard-on-the-other-side rolling tower for my garage. So I was excited to get to throw some real darts. And I knew they had real boards. I played 301 with James and just barely won. I can't say we were any good. But it was fun.

I think of darts as a board game. But only because it's a game that's played using a 'board'. Oh, and because I like it a lot.
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16. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2543]
 
Mike Smith-Stoe
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Maple Valley
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We got back to Junction City at about 9pm, not too late for James and Andrea to pick up their boys and go home, but just in time to say good night to our children. Now I had a chance to play foosball with Jeannie's Dad.

He had been a local volunteer fire fighter for many years, and had always liked playing the table at the fire station.

This one (not the one pictured) he had found a few weeks earlier for a whopping $15. The thrifter in me was extremely impressed. The gamer in me had a blast playing against my Father-in-Law. He is really good. But I was at least giving him a challenge because we were both working up a sweat.
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17. Board Game: Waterworks [Average Rating:5.49 Overall Rank:14100]
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
Washington
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Jeannie and her parents looked like they were winding down for the evening. We had sent down Waterworks for Fathers' Day. So I suggested it and we all played it twice. Laura won the first game and I won the second. Then at midnight everyone was off to bed.
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18. Board Game: Outside the Scope of BGG [Average Rating:6.75 Overall Rank:2543]
Mike Smith-Stoe
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Maple Valley
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Sunday morning found Dan and I back at the foosball table. I was seriously getting addicted to that game. We were being so rough with the table that some of the men were starting to loosen up a bit. While Dan was finding his tools and then tightening up the men, I couldn't help just standing there waiting to play again.

Dan easily had more wins than me. But I know he enjoyed the challenge because since he got the table he has mostly played with his grandchildren and other child relatives.

(Note to self: start making more room in my garage.)
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19. Board Game: Hive [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:205]
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
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Taking some time out from foosball for eating I got Dan to try Hive with me. This has been on my wishlist for a little while. And I wasn't disappointed. I could see playing this one a lot. I won the one game we played.
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20. Board Game: New Rules for Classic Games [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:4741]
Mike Smith-Stoe
United States
Maple Valley
Washington
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At about 2pm we really had to hit the road. It's always hard to leave (and now, I admit, just a little harder with leaving the foosball table too). But we were off.

I had done all of the driving to Ashland and back. So Jeannie took over for the drive back home.

I tried a little more solo-scrabble. But I just couldn't get into it. Also I couldn't find the scores I had written down from my earlier unfinished game.

So instead I gave a focused but thorough reading of this really cool book. Some great ideas in there.

---

We had a great time. It wasn't all games. But it was all fun. There were four plays (The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Coriolanus, A Comedy of Errors), a lot of eating, just enough drinking, and not too much shopping.

I really had no idea that we were going to game our way through our summer vacation.
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