Games played on the event of my mother's death
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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On Friday, December 5th, we got a haunting phone call: my mother, aged only 62, had suddenly died. Within four hours, we had plane tickets & visas arranged, and were preparing to travel to Canada, where my brothers & I, our partners, and my father would all be together for the first time in over two years.

Gaming had always been a big part of our growing up, so it was no surprise that we sought solace in this most family-oriented activity. This is a geeklist about how boardgaming made two terrible weeks a little better.
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1. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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After making all the travel arrangements, Shenomad and I returned home to a dull emptiness. There was nothing left to do but eat the remaining food in the apartment, and wait. A longish game that would take us out of our headspaces was what we needed. I think we even laughed a little--at least, Shenomad did, when she beat me 372-317.
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2. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:228]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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48 hours and yet only 1 day later, we arrived in frozen Winnipeg. I had brought two games with me on the trip: San Juan and Treehouse. We always use the pyramids from the latter to mark selected roles for the former, in the same way as the animals are used in the picture left.

We all spent the first full day sleeping off the jet lag, mourning together, and getting started on teaching Dad how to cook. He was visibly shaken, but had had a few days to get used to the shock. His ever-practical self, he insisted on learning to do the one thing he'd never done, lest he survive the next twenty years on bananas, cheese sandwiches and espresso.

That evening my youngest brother, the smartest among us and a dominant abstract gamer, took an interest in the small blue dice bag in which I carry San Juan. We played head-to-head in a game where he was grasping the rules and trying to grok the many card combinations. He'd never played anything like it, and I could see he was enjoying the struggle.
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3. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:75]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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We spent several hours sitting around, all of us, talking about Mum and reminiscing. Four years ago, my Mum retired from a publishing job and a party was held in her honour. A hundred people gave her a long, standing ovation (something I recommend to everyone), and one of the speakers called her "a true communist." My Mum was happiest when rolling up her sleeves and in her song-song voice urging herself and others "let's get to work." She spent 40 years in community leadership, social work, and activism. She ran daycares, breastfeeding groups, election campaigns, offices, magazines, and a household. She never owned a car a day in her life, got two degrees 20 years apart, and learned six languages. She was determined, kind, and loved to laugh. It was great being able to share those memories with the fam one more time.


While poking around in the basement library looking for Quoridor, I was delighted to find a brand-new Crokinole board. It had been a childhood favourite (a friend's), and my brilliant sister-in-law had given one to my brother for a birthday the year before. We couldn't find the pucks for it, but macgyvered a set of checkers to work 4P, and spent more time playing this than we did any other game all week.

Dad learned to cook: rice with the cooker we bought at the Korean market
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4. Board Game: Break the Safe [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:4440]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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Two games I'd purchased from other geeks and had had shipped to my folks' place were waiting in a closet. This was the first one we tried playing.

I'm not much one for co-operative gaming, but this one was ok. My brother and I played with only two, though, and were able to beat the clock by several minutes.

Dad learned to cook: steamed veggies
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5. Board Game: Krypto [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:8967]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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The only game show worth my time is France's excellent Les Chiffres et les Lettres, which translates to "Numbers and Letters." My youngest brother watches it religiously on TV5 in Canada, and the week we were together we didn't miss a day.

After the programme on this day, he pulled out an old family favourite, Krypto. We played three games over the course of that day. Dad turned down our invitation to join in, saying he was just happy to have us around, and interrupting occasionally to ask about preparing a salmon loaf. Maybe it was for the best, as his mathematician's brain would have roundly stomped us. Instead, Shenomad took a seat at the table sofa, and watched my little bro clean up. She did better when we kinked the rules to allow for bracketed equations. Needless to say, I lost overall.
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6. Board Game: San Juan [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:228]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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My brother wanted a second crack at San Juan, so we played head-to head again. This time, he focused on violet buildings, managed to build the Guild Hall, but still came up a few points shy. Never one to take defeat lying down, he immediately began reshuffling the deck. In this, his third game, he built the Chapel on his first turn, got a production chain going, and edged me out by two points. Later that evening I caught him just reading the cards.
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7. Board Game: Treehouse [Average Rating:5.83 Overall Rank:5497]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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After using the pyramids for their secondary purpose, my abstract-loving bro asked about the game itself. He beat me 5 games in a row, and while we both recognise that the roll of the die has a big impact on the game, I noticed that he never once made a move that didn't either move him closer to the goal, move me father away from it, or--in many cases--both. All without any AP: instinctually good abstract players drive me nuts, but I sure respect their acumen. I got lucky and squeaked out a victory in the last of our 6 games.

Dad learned to cook: home-baked granola, which he eats for breakfast every day

I spent the afternoon getting the Mac tricked out with Skype for improved intercontinental family communication.
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8. Board Game: Break the Safe [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:4440]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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Middle brother arrived at the family house that evening, and the three of us sat down to a 3P round of Break the Safe. With 22 minutes on the clock, this was even easier to beat than the 2P version (which allows 15 mins.). Still, my brother's propensity for getting nabbed by the guard dog led to a few tense moments.
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9. Board Game: Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot [Average Rating:5.49 Overall Rank:15085] [Average Rating:5.49 Unranked]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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My pseudo-brother drove up from Kenora for the weekend. He and I have a long history of KB battles, and since I'd elected to leave my decks at home, it wasn't until he arrived with his complete set (though white/khakhi/black decks) that we got to play. Shenomad and I put up a valiant effort, but his knowledge of decks we'd never seen proved to be too much, and he shut us out of rabbits for the purest win.
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10. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:70]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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After the bunnies were all killed, I asked him if he was interested in something that was the exact opposite. He said sure, and I got to pull out the second game I'd had shipped to Winnipeg. Lucky for me, it was a gorgeous Belgian edition, which after all the light gaming that week, finally got dad intrigued.

It started with the explanation: dad liked the sound of revolutions (internals) and wars (externals) and came in to the kitchen. When he saw the stunning board, his face lit up, and he watched for several minutes as I went over the rules. Then he asked to see the rulebook, and was overjoyed to find it in Dutch. He took off with the rulebook and let us play. Most of the game was me trying to remember its intricacies, consulting the French rulebook, and my bro trying to keep up, but we had a good time.

Dad learned to cook: omelettes with something other than sliced apples and chocolate chips, his fave from college.
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11. Board Game: Poker [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:864]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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Over two weeks, Shenomad and I only spent two evenings away from Dad and the house. We visited some close friends together, and she had a girl's night out while I went to my middle brother's house for poker night with the boys. It was my youngest brother's last night in town, as he had to return to his job in B.C.

It was great seeing many old friends, but frustrating to lose all my cash to a gaggle of boozed-up calling stations who kept hitting their long-shot hands on the river. That being said, we're all pretty poor, so my losses totalled $15. Maybe that's why none of my all-ins dissuaded them...

In his first ever poker game (he'd learned the hand rankings on the drive up), my pseudo-brother walked away with $65 out of a total pot of $85.
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12. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.79 Overall Rank:75]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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More puck-flicking after a sleep-in and lazy brunch.

Dad learned to cook: spice-free chili
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13. Board Game: Tigris & Euphrates [Average Rating:7.71 Overall Rank:70]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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Score another convert for this BGG: my pseudo-brother didn't even consider KBs after the Crokinole. He said:
Quote:
How about another game of Tigers?


I knew this Knizia-masterpiece was irresistable.

Even Shenomad got in on the goodness this time. To the surprise of no one who's read any of my geeklists, she won handily (I brought up the rear with a measly 9 green points).

To my delight, as we were packing our bags to leave Winnipeg, she wondered aloud why I wasn't packing it. I suggested that at 2kg, it was a little large to carry from Canada to NZ, then to Korea & back to NZ again next year, only to likely return to Canada in 2010 (they don't call us nomads for nothing). I also pointed out that several members of our game club owned it, so she'd have opportunities to play it. We agreed to leave T&E at my Dad's (so he can enjoy reading the rules some more), and I secretly relished the building anticipation she'd have over the next couple of years, as she's clearly hooked after one play.
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14. Board Game: Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot [Average Rating:5.49 Overall Rank:15085] [Average Rating:5.49 Unranked]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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My pseudo-brother would have to leave on the Monday, so it was time for a little more KB mayhem. This time, we'd play with 4P, as Shenomad and my middle brother (an accomplished all-decks lagocider himself) were in. The game lived up to its chaotic richness, and four see-saw hours later, Tucker (the fucker) claimed the title of magic carrot, much to the aforementioned bunnykiller's delight.
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15. Board Game: Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot [Average Rating:5.49 Overall Rank:15085] [Average Rating:5.49 Unranked]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
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And then there were two. Shenomad and bro went to bed, leaving pseudo-bro and me up for a final farewell: a late night of head-to-head KBs. This was a kind of full circle with me, as it was exactly those circumstances six years ago in which I returned to regular gaming after a hiatus.

After a very difficult fortnight, looking across the table awash in cards, pawns, and dice at this more-than-a-friend, I was reminded that it was family (of all stripes) that gets us through the hard times, and turns them into good times.

Then I mercilessly slaughtered all of his bunnies and took the magic carrot title.
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16. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:294]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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After a fortnight of enjoying watching the rest of us play, Dad finally wanted in on the action. At a (now more meaningful than ever) family reunion this past summer, Shenomad and I presented him and Mum with a homemade set of LC cards we'd rethemed to match their favourite places in the Netherlands. Mum didn't ever want to play, but Dad has a buddy who shares his love of numbers, whom he meets for coffee every month. I'd sent him rules via email, but there's no substitute for playing. With Shenomad advising, it took Dad only a few hands to get the hang of this faboo 2P game.

Dad learned to cook: vegetable soup from scratch
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17. Board Game: DVONN [Average Rating:7.44 Overall Rank:346] [Average Rating:7.44 Unranked]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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A couple of final notes.

After my youngest brother left for B.C., I immediately went to a west coast FOGS and had them send him and his spectacularly cool partner DVONN and San Juan. She'd expressed an interest in starting a game group in their town, and he loved SJ. In addition, he's an abstract junkie and she's super-smart, so I figured these two cheapies struck the right balance for their needs.

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18. Board Game: Quoridor [Average Rating:6.68 Overall Rank:999]
T. Nomad
Netherlands
Den Bosch
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Shenomad and I had travelled without any checked bags in the interest of expediency. We love to travel, but waiting for suitcases is not one of our favourite things to do, nor is going through customs inspections. We also packed all old clothes that we could donate to shelters in Winnipeg, leaving room in our bags for purchases and my favourite game, Quoridor.

Much to my dismay, I looked everywhere in the house and it was nowhere to be found. I suspect my Mum, a 'granny' to many of the neighbourhood kids, gave it away in one of her annual house-clearings. When that realisation came to me, I was upset for a moment. Then I realised that the game had a good home, and was making some kid or kids happy. Mum had done what she had always done: given kids an opportunity to be kids, and to grow in doing so. Pretty cool lady, she was.
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