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Subject: Geek of the Week #652 - Stuart Burnham, vk1980 rss

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Alexandre Correia
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The Geek of the Week show must go on!

It never dawned on me, when I began to write daily in a BGG blog that perhaps more people would be crazy enough to do the same! Stuart was already posting insightful, funny, geeky and shockingly well written posts for over two years when my clock began to tick-tack! I instantly subscribed to his blog, It Beats Watching The TV, and began reading it from day 1! Some of his writing is among the best I've ever seen in the geekland!

It is time for me to leave the stage and present to you:

Stuart Burnham
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vk1980 wrote:
Oh, hello. Didn't expect to see you here. Didn't expect to see me here either.
Thank you very much Alex for the GotW nomination, what a great surprise that was!
I'm Stuart - please call me Stu - and I live just outside the city of Oxford, about as far away from the sea as it's possible to be in the British Isles, happily married to Mrs B (Karen) and with two great sons (Charlie and Billy) plus one idiot Labrador (Dennis). Or is that the other way around?

I've always been into games and gaming in some form or another. I played traditional boardgames, plus 80's classics such as Escape from Atlantis and Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs with my brother, along with all manner of video games whilst growing up. I dabbled in Warhammer in my teens (and again when my sons showed an interest) and I have always loved classic card games. I adore playing Poker with my friends. I'd still happily sit and competitively throw pebbles at a signpost if there was nothing else for us to do.

Back in 2012 I had but a little knowledge of "modern" boardgames. I owned a copy of Blokus and also had a prized Pitch Car set, but although through the purchases of those items I had come into contact with them (in Hoyles, Oxford, right by the famous Magdalen Bridge) they were still mostly a mystery. I mean, sure, I had picked up the boxes and looked at them but they were all so, you know, complicated...!

At some point I started looking up "games to play with your family" as, at that time, my two boys were coming up 10 and 12. Obviously it doesn't take much googling of such things before one stumbles across The Geek. Interestingly, it took another 2 years before I set up my own profile on the site, preferring instead to simply browse lists of games, usually jumping from link to link. Eventually one of those links must've pointed to a blog and planted some sort of seed because, well, we'll return to that thread soon enough.

Anyway, 2012, the year of the London Olympics and, running concurrently, a much needed Burnham family holiday. I had thought that this would be the ideal time, inbetween shouting "go on Mo!" at the TV and doing all the traditional holiday things (sightseeing, eating, drinking, walking, and indeed doing a tree top assault course in the pouring rain), to learn one of these lauded "family strategy board games". A visit to another old Oxfordian game retailer (Games Keeper, on the infamous Cowley Road) saw me encounter the first real life person I'd met with genuine, and overflowing, affection and enthusiasm for the hobby. She sent me off on that holiday with a copy of Carcassonne that we would play in the kitchen of the most lovely holiday rental and that would truly set me off down the road to gamer and geek status.

At this stage it's fair to say that my family were humouring me to a certain degree. Fresh with excitement and a small selection of games which I had hastily acquired they had to put up with some "enforced fun" as I made them sit and play games at the dining room table. But they didn't really share my increasing enthusiasm for the hobby. Like many that we have all seen on our own journey, in the real and virtual worlds, I was beginning to get frustrated at there being so much to explore but not really being able to truly share it with anyone. Something was to happen in the summer of 2013 that would change that.

Thirsty Meeples Boardgame Cafe opened in Oxford, the first of its kind in the country no less, and after being passed a flyer about it Mrs B booked an evening for the family there. We sat at the table and were taught by one of the staff (someone who has subsequently become a family friend) the game Pandemic. This was an absolute revelation. Whilst I enjoyed it, Mrs B (and puzzle solving fiend/ youngest son Billy) absolutely loved it. Mrs B insisted on adding a copy to our food and drinks bill for the evening and it went home with us and was and is greatly treasured. That game, and that overall experience, was what I was searching and always hoping for. I honestly don't think it could've happened with a different title. Suddenly I had a wife and a family who were buying into the hobby and the ideal that a family with teenage boys could be together and play together was no longer just a nice thought. We are better people for it. A couple of years ago I got to meet Matt Leacock and tell him exactly what his game meant to us and what it had done for us.

By the following summer, 2014, I was well into the stage of researching and buying and wanting to play games that were longer, deeper, and perhaps not as ideal for a family setting. Something else serendipitous was soon to occur that would help sate that desire before it became a frustration. Mrs B's mother visited a recently opened lovely church cafe one Saturday morning and found the daughter and son in law of one of her friends with a group of people "playing those weird boardgames that you like Stuart". Well, at the very next opportunity (it was held every two weeks), I went along with young Billy and we found our first real gaming group. It was an open to all, drop in, family and kids affair called All Aboard (fast forward to the present day and it is now something that I help to run) and we had a fantastic time every other Saturday. And then one day one of the hosts mentioned that "erm, Stu, you do know that we do a regular Tuesday night gaming meet up, grown ups only, at a pub in town don't you....?" Well, how could that be resisted? Now regular attendance at not one, but two, gaming groups and with a family that was keen to play to boot! And so the year closed with me, quite possibly, being the happiest gamer and dad that could be.
2015 was to administer a real kick in the balls however...

It started well enough and (circling back to a thread left dangling from above) overflowing with games and the opportunity to play them I found myself drawn deeper into the Geek and, particularly, reading about other people and their games groups. I found many, but one in particular amused me, with its tales of beer and boardgames and some grumpy games designer bloke, a regular attendee who was frequently the butt of the blog author's jokes.
I think I was initially drawn to The Ross on Wye Boardgamers blog because I sort of knew the place - we'd had a few excellent family trips to the (relatively) nearby Hay on Wye book festival - and because it seemed to be a group full of banter and fun and occasional tantrums.
From this I naturally followed through (...erm...) to Tony Boydell's Every Man Needs A Shed blog where I got the other side of the story and, incredibly, a daily dose of musings and music and ponderings and profanity and, sometimes, even boardgames. I've always appreciated this more holistic approach (gamers aren't just gamers and shouldn't just talk about cardboard) and, bursting with a hitherto unfulfilled desire to tell people about games and myself I started what I am best known for around these parts, (unless *those* photos got published somehow) my very own blog. And I thought if you're going to do this then you should go all in and blog every day!
This new creative outlet was doing wonders for me although I'll not lie, sometimes it was a little difficult to squeeze out a post.

Sometime around post 100 (wobbly screen, dreamy music) way back in the middle of 2015 Mrs B was told that she had Multiple Sclerosis. We'd known for a while that something "wasn't right" with her but it was still a big shock and there's no denying it, life changed for all of us in the family. This disease is chronic and incurable and makes life much more challenging for her and by proxy, the rest of us in the family. There are many things that she and we can no longer do, nor hope to do, including things like the skiing holidays that we once loved or being able to look forward to a long walk followed by a drink in the pub (although there's nothing to stop the second part of that equation!) But what we can, and do, still do together is play games.

Boardgames are something that I am really thankful for in this stage of our lives and it has given us something to do and enjoy together that many couples don't. It has also given us, and our sons, a wider circle of friends and acquaintances than we could otherwise have hoped for. By writing here I've also made a great number of online and real world friends and that is indeed a great blessing. I stopped writing my daily blog in January of this year, after reaching 1000 consecutive posts. You can go back and have a look over them here. You might find some of them to be almost readable and occasionally even entertaining.
I still write occasionally and am very grateful to another crazy daily blogger for nominating me for GotW. I don't know, you're only missed when you're gone eh?

So feel free to fire away on any subject at all. Nothing is taboo here. I've written about all aspects of life and love and gaming and relationships and disability and depression and politics and so on and so on.
But let's start in the time honoured tradition of two truths and a lie...


Poll
Which statement is a lie?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
I was once kicked out of a school for setting fire to a workbench in the science lab. Whilst I was dressed as an astronaut.
25.8% 33
I was once kicked out of a camping competition for letting everyone else's tents down in the night. Whilst I was dressed a ninja.
39.1% 50
I was once kicked out of a bar along with former world boxing champion Chris Eubank. Whilst I was dressed as a wizard.
43.0% 55
Voters 128
This poll is now closed.   128 answers
Poll created by ZombieBoard
Closes: Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:00 am
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Alexandre Correia
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I hope you have a great week Stuart!
Let's start the questions, shall we?

d10-1: Best boardgame to come out of the United Kingdom?
d10-2: Agricola with Moor or without?
d10-3: Best African dish you've ever tasted?
d10-4: Any favorite solo?
d10-5: What's the farthest you've ever been away from home?
d10-6: How long did it take you to create probably the best box closing video ever made?
d10-7: Best under the radar game you have ever played with your wife?
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Jeff Michaud
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wo ho another poll I couldn't get wrong since I could pick all 3 options imho best to make the poll only allow a single choice of the 3 possible answers...

and congrats Stuart!

ZombieBoard wrote:
Poll
Which statement is a lie?
  Your Answer   Vote Percent Vote Count
I was once kicked out of a school for setting fire to a workbench in the science lab. Whilst I was dressed as an astronaut.
25.8% 33
I was once kicked out of a camping competition for letting everyone else's tents down in the night. Whilst I was dressed a ninja.
39.1% 50
I was once kicked out of a bar along with former world boxing champion Chris Eubank. Whilst I was dressed as a wizard.
43.0% 55
Voters 128
This poll is now closed.   128 answers
Poll created by ZombieBoard
Closes: Mon Apr 16, 2018 6:00 am

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Drew
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Congrats Stuart and enjoy your week!
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Congratulations Stuart!
Hope you have a wizard of a week!

My usual question: Have you a favorite wizardly type? If so, who? If not, why? And which game/book/show (if any) is he/she from?
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Dave Vogler
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Congratulations and well deserved.
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Ian Gent
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Congratulations Stuart!
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Stuart Burnham
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ZombieBoard wrote:
I hope you have a great week Stuart!
Let's start the questions, shall we?


Thank you once again Alex.
I'm sure I'll have a lot of fun this week!

Quote:
d10-1: Best boardgame to come out of the United Kingdom?

Well that is a tricky one to start with! Do we count Knizia, as he lived here for 20 years? (would it have to be something published whilst he resided in England etc, etc), should any Martin Wallace games be allowed due to his country of birth even though a great many were published whilst he was on the other side of the world? Not to mention the sheer choice. Umm.....Noel's House Party or David Dickinson's Antique Chase are perhaps reflective of the pure tat that gets spewed forth and clogs up charity shops and car boot sales the length and breadth of the land.

OK, let's go with Keyflower, which is a magnificent title and, despite being all about settling the New World, has a quintessential British quality to it as well.

Quote:
d10-2: Agricola with Moor or without?

Ooh. Good one. I really like Agricola: Farmers of the Moor but Mrs B doesn't enjoy it so I don't play with it that often. It is a great expansion but I'll have to say "without" I think.

Quote:
d10-3: Best African dish you've ever tasted?

I can't think of anything beyond a beautifully slow cooked (Moroccan style) Tagine with lamb and chickpeas and tomato and onion and apricot and I'm hungry now.

Quote:
d10-4: Any favorite solo?

I do enjoy a lot of games that have solo challenge options. Viticulture, Terraforming Mars, Snowdonia for example, but the time and space needed precludes me from playing them that often. I liked Onirim a lot (and the app made the biggest problem, all the shuffling, vanish) but I think I'll have to go with a simple fistful of dice, a pad and paper and the rules for Reiner Knizia's Decathlon. It's a brilliant little game that probably is best as a "high score challenge" on your own.

Quote:
d10-5: What's the farthest you've ever been away from home?

I've not actually traveled that far. It was always something we intended to in mid / later life (we married and bought a house/ had kids relatively young and so lacked the freedom and funds to do so). Maybe we still will. Mrs B quite fancies the idea of going on cruises when the boys have left home.
So, at the moment, in terms of miles, and narrowly pipping "my brother's house in the French Alps" it is actually Copenhagen.


Quote:
d10-6: How long did it take you to create probably the best box closing video ever made?

Surprisingly quickly! Billy helped me one Saturday afternoon. We just filmed it on my iPad and edited in iMovie. The recording was very quick. It actually took longer to get some suitable unlicensed music added and the whole thing uploaded to YouTube. Probably under 2 hours in total!

Quote:
d10-7: Best under the radar game you have ever played with your wife?

For just the two of us I'll say Noch mal!, which is a great roll & write game by Inka & Markus Brand (can be played by more) and for a group I'm quite fond of Nobody but Us Chickens which is daft and great fun as you all outthink yourselves trying to guess what card others will play.


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JeffyJeff wrote:
and congrats Stuart!

Thanks. And THANK YOU for the magic that makes the Math Trades happen.

SoundCity wrote:
Congrats Stuart and enjoy your week!

Cheers Drew!
 
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chadnorth wrote:
Congratulations Stuart!
Hope you have a wizard of a week!

My usual question: Have you a favorite wizardly type? If so, who? If not, why? And which game/book/show (if any) is he/she from?


I've always feared "the wizard question" as I'm not really a great reader of fantasy. It's tempting to go with something obvious like Rincewind, but those were never my favourite Pratchett stories if I'm honest.

I'll say Corwin (from Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber) as I did enjoy those tales. I think it was especially that the family could all talk to each other and travel to one another using cards.
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Paul Bradley
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Congratz, Stuart! A well deserved accolade. Hope you have an awesome week.
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Supreme_H0sehead wrote:
Congratulations and well deserved.

MS121HAZEL wrote:
Congratulations Stuart!

batcut wrote:
Congratz, Stuart! A well deserved accolade. Hope you have an awesome week.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
 
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Congrats, Mr B; 'tis a long time coming and well-deserved!

On with the questions, then:

i) At what moment did you gave up 'growing' your hair and resign yourself to the monthly 'no.2' buzz-cut?

ii) What 'classic' game(s) have you yet to actually play?

iii) Best snack to be consumed whilst gaming?

iv) Are you coming to Essen Spiel sometime soon?

v) Who put the 'ram' in the 'ram-a-lamma-ding-dong'?

vi) Have you the urge to design a game yourself?

vii) What was the best 'flip the table' moment you've witnessed/participated in?

viii) Favourite moment in gaming EVER?

ix) Roman numerals are cool, right?

x) Best Iain Banks / Iain M. Banks book of them all?
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tonyboydell wrote:
Congrats, Mr B; 'tis a long time coming and well-deserved!
On with the questions, then:

Quote:
i) At what moment did you gave up 'growing' your hair and resign yourself to the monthly 'no.2' buzz-cut?

I gave up the battle against balding shortly after getting married and the first child coming along. Coincidence...?

Quote:
ii) What 'classic' game(s) have you yet to actually play?

It was Puerto Rico until Mr Bateson sorted me out a few weeks ago.
I guess now that it would be Power Grid?

Quote:
iii) Best snack to be consumed whilst gaming?

Coffee and bitter mint chocolates. Or pork scratchings and a pint.

Quote:
iv) Are you coming to Essen Spiel sometime soon?

I will be "allowed" when I get a new job...

Quote:
v) Who put the 'ram' in the 'ram-a-lamma-ding-dong'?

I do recall crying laughing when Ali G asked a Vicar why people celebrated 'ram-a-lamma-ding-dong'

Quote:
vi) Have you the urge to design a game yourself?

Yes. I did have an idea about building a museum out of exhibits on Tetris style pieces. I think that ship's sailed though! cry

Quote:
vii) What was the best 'flip the table' moment you've witnessed/participated in?

Billy's had several table tantrums but I did especially enjoy a recent Tichu takedown that I pulled on friend Gareth. After his Tichu call, and him being down to his last card I, having not yet played a card, also called Tichu and then proceeded to play out my entire hand (despite having to break up my high straight and lay down 5 cards as singles) and bust his call for a huge points swing. It wasn't a flip the table as such but his seething politeness was a joy to behold.

Quote:
viii) Favourite moment in gaming EVER?

Well I do remember sitting with a straight flush in a game of Poker whilst the table bully proceeded to keep trying to bet me out of the pot. I bought a fancy new pair of shoes with what I scooped up there.

Quote:
ix) Roman numerals are cool, right?

Et hoc est verum

Quote:
x) Best Iain Banks / Iain M. Banks book of them all?

I always loved Excession, because it focussed so much on the ships/ minds, and they were always my favourite part of the culture novels.
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Congratulations, Stu! Very well deserved.

It was great to meet you that time in Abingdon, when I was able to pop in to your groups’s gaming day. That was nearly two years ago, and I haven’t been able to find another excuse to come back yet (strangely, the venue I was performing at haven’t asked me back...). But hopefully we’ll cross paths again soon.

I used to love reading your blog, and still enjoy the times it occasionally pops up (ooh-er missus etc). Your journey into boardgaming was very similar to my own, and I think we share similar tastes in games, so it was always a fun read.

Anyhoo, on with the questions:

1. I know you are fascinated by space and space travel. Who is your favourite astronaut and why?
2. And, following on from that, what is your favourite a) real spacecraft and b) fictional spacecraft?
3. What is your favourite space-themed boardgame?
4. What is your favourite large multi-player game that plays just as well with two players?
5. I always appreciate your attention to grammar and punctuation in your writing. What is your greatest bugbear when it comes to this area? (Mine is the mis-use of / confusion between colons and semicolons.)

Have a great week!
Craig

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Well, congratulations. Long overdue, I'd say. All the best to Mrs B and Dennis.

1) Read any good books lately?
2) What's your favourite game beginning with the letter S?
3) What's your favourite meeple?
4) Describe the perfect gaming evening for the Burnham family, or any subset thereof.
5) Glass jar or plastic bag?
6) Which game would you most like to pimp out and how, given no restraints on time and/or budget?
7) Are Billy and Charlie going to join tabletop games societies when they go to Uni? Or are you discouraging this sort of practice?
8) What's the best thing about living near Oxford? What's the worst?
9) If you were to design a boardgame, what would the theme be? Any mechanics in mind?
10) Which Classic Euro am I going to teach you next (Wolvercote, May?)
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Craigus69 wrote:
(Mine is the mis-use of / confusion between colons and semicolons.)



Loose clauses caused by the ambiguous use of non-standard punctuation is mine. I really hate that.
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ousgg wrote:
Craigus69 wrote:
(Mine is the mis-use of / confusion between colons and semicolons.)



Loose clauses caused by the ambiguous use of non-standard punctuation is mine. I really hate that.


Ha ha! I knew that if I mentioned grammar some pedant would find an error in my own grammar and pick me up on it. Congratulations, sir, on being that pedant!
(At least, I think that’s what you’re doing... Where is the loose clause and non-standard punctuation?)
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Congratulations Stuart! Enjoy your week!

Here are my usual questions, beginning with the gaming question.

d10-1 Have you ever played any of the following games: Memoir '44, Shadows over Camelot, BANG!, High Noon Saloon, Sequence?

Now for some non-gaming questions.

Favorite?
d10-2 Kind of pie?
d10-3 Vegetable?
d10-4 Kind of Cookie?
d10-5 Flavor of Ice Cream?


d10-6Goats or Cows?
d10-7 Chickens or Ducks?
d10-8 Broccoli or Cauliflower?
d10-9 Apples or Oranges?
d10-1d10-0 Bears or Lions?
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Don Stanley
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Congrats Stu! Long deserved and well overdue.
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Adam Webb
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Congratulations, Stuart!
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Stuart Burnham
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Craigus69 wrote:

1. I know you are fascinated by space and space travel. Who is your favourite astronaut and why?
2. And, following on from that, what is your favourite a) real spacecraft and b) fictional spacecraft?
3. What is your favourite space-themed boardgame?
4. What is your favourite large multi-player game that plays just as well with two players?
5. I always appreciate your attention to grammar and punctuation in your writing. What is your greatest bugbear when it comes to this area? (Mine is the mis-use of / confusion between colons and semicolons.)


Hi Craig, nice to hear from you again, and indeed it would be great to play something with you in the future, hopefully...

1) Whilst Yuri Gagarin would be the instant choice I'm going to say another, less obvious, "first person to..." and go for Jim Lovell. Of course there is the unbelievable drama of the Apollo 13 mission where he was the commander, but it is the Apollo 8 mission, where he was the navigator, that really captures my wonder. Up to this point people had only been in Earth orbit and the "moon shot" is, to my mind, more awe inspiring than the more famous moon landings. Imagine being the first people to travel outside of any contact and sight of the Earth; imagine being the first to see our planet rise as you come around the dark side of the moon; imagine being the person who has to take the measurements of the stars to make those burns and course corrections to achieve and then leave orbit.
If this mission hadn't been such a success it's debatable that there would ever have been a man on the moon.

2a) Real spacecraft? The Space Shuttle is/ was an incredible piece of engineering. To do what it was able to is simply amazing. Sure, its 0-100 time is worse than many supecars, but then it is well over 2,000 (US) tonnes! Strictly speaking that initial thrust is from the solid rocket boosters I suppose, but the shuttle engines have to then had to get the spacecraft from around 3000mph to 18000mph.
What really holds it in a special place for me is that we once took the boys to the National Space Centre (in Leicester) for a day trip. Whilst there a crowd of staff gathered at a big screen and we asked what they were looking at. They let us, with 2 small(ish) kids to front and we were agog as we got the live cockpit feed from the shuttle as it began it's re-entry sequence and then again when contact was re-established in the atmosphere and through the landing. We had no idea that it was due (or even on a mission) and it was one of the most incredible things I'd ever seen live.

2b) Nothing beats a Star Destroyer! (well, apart from a small single seat craft shooting one thing or crashing into the bridge I suppose!)

3) Space Race: The Card Game for its adherence to real life, Race for the Galaxy for its wonderful sci fi storying and artwork.

4) Ticket to Ride (as long as you use the right map) and I think Small World does a good at different player counts as well.

5) You always appreciate Mrs B's proof reading is the actual truth here...

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Dave Daffin
United Kingdom
Ledbury
Herefordshire
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Congratulations Stu on receiving the ultimate Geek accolade! Have a great week.

My question:

You have a day alone in the house. What games will you be playing solo?
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Phil Campbell
United Kingdom
Ilkeston
Derbyshire
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Congratulations, Stu. About time you did some more writing around here...

What card game would you most recommend (except Poker)?

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Arne Hoffmann
Germany
Essenbach
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Congratulations, Stuart! Have a fun week.

At least we do again get daily writing from you for this week.
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