Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Top 7 Gaming Distractions

This is a list of infamy.  These are the things that take away from gaming time, make games take longer, and have people waiting for someone to take their turn.  If you find yourself doing things on this list, try to avoid them.

#7  Conversations
I like players talking during the game.  It's meant to be fun, and games are a nice way to catch up with people.  What can be a problem is someone talking to you while it's your turn.  It's different if you're discussing a trade or something related to the game, but asking me about work or life on my turn is only going to make the game longer.  A lot depends on the game.  If it's something fun and simple like Can't Stop, talk away.  If it's more complicated like Agricola, Cosmic Encounter, or something in that vein, then please, give me time to think when it's my turn.

#6  Smoking
Sadly, some of my fellow gamers are smokers.  This means that they need to go outside and have a smoke every so often.  That means that the game grinds to a halt, and then I don't want to be around them with the smell.  This may not be a problem for others, but for me, it's an issue.

#5  Game Pieces
Think Poker for this.  Players have chips to play with, and do so mindlessly at times. In other games, like Catan, you have a lot of pieces you aren't using yet.  This gives you time to build things and play with the pieces.  This becomes a problem if you lose track of the game.  Also, having spare dice can be problematic, since many players are prone to rolling dice constantly.  They're all mindless activities, or just ways to do something, but they can distract others.

#4  Children
One downside of playing games in someone's home is that their kids are around.  If the kids aren't gaming, then they're likely going to want something at some point during the gaming time.  One little thing isn't a problem, but when they want attention on themselves, it gets frustrating.  Games start taking a lot longer, and then eventually someone has to step away to play with the child.  The solution to this, turn your kids into gamers.

#3  Significant Others
This can be a significant other playing in the game, or not in the game.  For the ones playing in the game, often they will have glances or some other signal when something goes wrong.  There also tends to be an unwritten agreement where they don't mess with each other.  When only one is playing, the other is often around, bringing snacks, acting all lovey-dovey, etc.  It can be distracting for the other players with all of that going on.

#2  Food
Everyone needs to eat sometime, but not all the time.  Snacks are a pain because most leave some form of residue on your fingers, so you need to wash your hands before resuming play, which just takes a long time.  If everyone takes a dinner break, that's a good thing.  People will eat quickly and get back to the table.  The problem is the frequent trips to the kitchen to get something to eat.

#1 Cell phones
Specifically smart phones.  Sure, they can be helpful, there are all kinds of apps for dice rolling, coin flipping, and some for specific games to track something or help set-up or score at the end.  The reasons cell phones are #1 is the people who get on the internet and look up videos, or check e-mail, text everyone they know and so on.  What's worse is when they take a call in the middle of a game, and they make it a long call.  I've gotten phone calls in the middle of games, and they were important to take, but I try to keep them short.  Courtesy is the idea here, and if people have to remind you it's your turn for the 4th time this game, you may want to put the phone away.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Collection Building: Introduction Games

First impressions set the tone for a relationship of any kind.  First impressions in the board game realm are just as important as impressions with people.  Monopoly, Risk, Life, Trivial Pursuit, and games in that ilk are the standard of boardgames to most people.  The bar is yet relatively low, but many people have a comfort with these games, and that has shaped what games should be in their mind.

Because of these preconceived notions, I feel like every gamer needs to have a game that they can pull out to show people what a designer board game is.  Now, I run the risk of sounding really snobby here, so I'm doing my best to dance around that.  Ultimately, we play games to have fun.  If people have a good time playing Scrabble or Clue or Monopoly, that's great.  I've done my best to never discourage people playing games, no matter what the game.

The goal of introductory games is to show people that there is a whole world of possibilities in games that they may not know about, and those games are something they might enjoy.  As always, I'll provide a few examples, give my thoughts on them, and hopefully help you reach an idea of what you'd like to have in your collection.

Settlers of Catan (3-4 players in the base, 5-6 with expansion)
This was the game that started it all for me.  It was my first exposure to a game where everyone played the whole time, and had things to do even when it wasn't their turn.  If you're not familiar with Settlers, you are trying to build settlements and cities with resources that you get on dice rolls.  You'll rarely have everything you need, so you have to trade with other players.  The dice are a comforting part of the game to players.  The idea of trading is familiar, but the frequency is new to people.  A lot of people can really get in to Catan and have fun the first time.  Catan appeals best to the dice fans, and people who like Monopoly.

Carcassonne (2-5 players, 6 with Inns and Cathedrals expansion)
Carcassonne was my 3rd game, and my first exposure to meeples.  Just for the meeples themselves, the game is worth a look.  Carcassonne is a fairly basic game to teach players.  Drawing a tile, playing it to the board, and adding one of your tokens to the tile is fairly simple.  There are some choices, and a lot of unique arrangements you can make with the tiles.  Building a map is a fun thing for people of all ages to see, especially when it comes together. Can Carcassonne get a bit aggressive?  Sure, but that's true of most games.  Carcassonne is a great introduction to people who enjoy puzzles, and long term strategy.

Dominion (2-4 players, up to 6 with Intrigue)
I first played Dominion in 2009, and I was instantly hooked.  I bought it for my birthday, and it started a bit of an obsession.  I've always been a fan of card games, I dabbled in Star Trek CCG and Pokemon, so I liked seeing cards interact.  The idea of deckbuilding always intrigued me, but as a kid, I never had the money to have the best cards or a lot of the good cards, so I knew I'd never be great.  Dominion changes that idea.  It's deckbuilding, but the whole game is building your deck.  Everyone starts with the same deck of 10 cards - 3 victory points, and 7 money.  You have to use these cards to buy better cards, slowly making your deck bigger and better.  The base game comes with 25 unique kingdom cards, and you play with 10 in each game.  This gives a lot of variety and makes most games feel different than the last one you played.  If someone is a fan of a CCG like Magic the Gathering, or Yu-Gi-Oh! this is something for them to look into.  They might just appreciate not having to spend $100+ every few months to get new cards.

Ticket to Ride (2-5 players)
Ticket to Ride is the first game I ever bought for myself.  I played the German board (Marklin version) with my gaming family.  That's the most complicated version of TtR, but I liked the core.  I decided to get the US map, since it would involve the least amount of hunting for odd cities, and thus save time.  I'm so glad I bought TtR.  It's currently my 3rd most played game (if you count all the different maps, 4th if you don't) and I don't see that changing.  It's a game I can play with just about anyone.  On a player's turn they have 3 options, really only 2 that come up every time.  You either take cards or play cards.  The third option is taking more destination tickets, but that isn't something to do every turn.  The scoring is fantastically simple, you get points for trains on the board, you gain points for completed tickets, you lose points for tickets you don't complete.    It's hard to nail down a particular group of people that would be best suited for the game.  I don't want to cop-out and say everyone, so instead I think that Ticket is a great way to get people who used to play games as a kid, but lost interest due to a plethora of things, back into gaming.

Price Wars
No, not a game, just time to talk money.

Like all these categories, this comes down to the budget pick, and the pick you want to have around.
Carcassonne takes the budget pick, but if you're willing to go up a bit, get Dominion.
As for the game to have around, my winner is still Ticket to Ride.  It works for the widest range of people, and trains are just fun.  If you want to take a 2nd in any category, I'd encourage you to take it here and also get Dominion.

These 4 games are fairly common these days.  I think Target even carries at least Ticket and Catan, maybe more, haven't checked lately.  Since they are common, you can generally find someone who owns a copy of at least one of these and ask to try it out.  I like all 4 of these games, you can't go wrong with any of them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Yo Dawg, It's "Word on the Street" - A Game Review

Word on the Street (The Hilarious Tug of Words)
  • Designed by Jack Degnan
  • Published by Out of the Box Publishing
  • Players 2-8 players divided into 2 teams.
  • Plays in around 20-30 minutes.

As the name suggests, this is a word game.  Yes, you would have been shocked if this had to do with math.  Players divide into teams of their choosing, and the game gets going.  The goal is to move letter tiles to your side of the board, and be the first team to collect 8 letters. 

Word on the Street has a very nice tri-fold board, hefty letter tiles, an awesome card holder, good quality cards, and a fairly good timer.  The components aren't over the top awe inspiring, but they do look good.  The tiles aren't going to blow away or slide easily, so that's a good thing for playing outdoors.  The artwork on the letters is various roadsigns, which fits the theme nicely.  

Initial board set-up
When it's your team's turn, a card is flipped with a category.  It could be something as general as "a color" or "a type of fruit" or something a little more difficult  such as "a country in Africa."  All the categories are fairly easy, at least to the point that you can come up with an answer.  Once the card is flipped, your team has 30 seconds to come up with a word, and spell it. As you spell the word, you move each letter tile (there are no vowels, and the rare consonants, J,Q,X,Z, have been removed) towards your side one spot.  If you move a letter off the board, your team captures that tile and it can't be moved back onto the board.  There are various rules for challenging spelling and so forth, but I won't go into those.
First card. My word was
Since Word on the Street is designed as a social game, there is a fair bit of interaction.  You have to work with your teammates to come up with a good word.  Also, you have to evaluate the state of the tiles and figure out what you want to move closer to you and away from the other team.  You won't be able to stop them from scoring forever, but delaying them a turn or two can give you the advantage.

There is a road/street theme here.  The tiles do have the roadsigns as mentioned previously. I don't feel like it needed that theme to be successful, but I don't think that it hurts.  The theme is light, but it's there. 

Learning Curve
This is a very short learning curve.  I'd say 30 seconds to teach, about 2 minutes to learn from a rulebook. Players can easily get into coming up with a word to fit the category, and they'll learn how to come up with words that better reflect the state of the board as they play.

The board after moving
Bx2, Kx1, Lx2, Sx1, Tx1
Why I like Word on the Street
Any game I can get both of my parents to play is a winner in my book.  We were able to sit down and have a fun time playing this the day I bought it.  It's really easy to teach and quick to play.  On top of that, it makes you think, but it doesn't feel like a classroom.  

Why I don't like Word on the Street
Sometimes the timer feels way to short, and thus you feel rushed.  This can lead to a negative play experience.  

There are a lot of different categories in the game, and by the time I get through them all, I'll be able to play and not really remember what was played earlier.  I'd say there's a lot of replayability here.  If you have the same group, just change up the teams.  With 4 people, there are 3 different team combinations.

Will you like it?
If you're a fan of word games such as Scabble or Boggle, Word on the Street is a nice variation on those.  The team aspect makes things more fun, and it's great for all ages.  

I give Word on the Street 1 Thumb Up out of a possible 2.  I like the game, I think it's a good word game.  There's a lot of thought and some laughing, which is always a good thing.  I can see playing this with just about anyone.  The downside, there isn't much strategy to the game, so it doesn't appeal to more serious gamers.  A lot depends on your vocabulary knowledge, and that can become a problem over repeated plays.

House Rules
In an effort to reduce the frustration of time, we decided to say if your team had started spelling the word before time ran out, you were fine.  This gives people a little more time to think, and it means the odds of the board getting messed up in a mad dash goes down considerably.  Afterall, it is about having fun, so play in a way that everyone has fun.

Want to buy Word on the Street and support BoBG?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Top 7 Games I Want to Play, but Not Buy

Many times there are games you like to play, but there isn't much purpose in you owning them.  For me, the most common cause of this is that I would only play with a certain group of people, so there's no reason to have multiple copies of the same game around.  Many times, these games are expensive and/or hard to store.  Most of the games on this list are games I haven't played, and I've talked myself out of buying for one or more reasons.

Honorable mention to Settlers of Catan 3D.  The reason it didn't make the list is because it isn't really its own game.  The game looks amazing, but there's no way I could ever justify the cost.

#7 Memoir '44
I used to own Memoir '44, but I traded it away.  I grew tired of the game system, and felt that it was lacking an epic feel.  I've heard that playing with 8 players in the Overlord format helps that notion, but I don't have 8 people to play Memoir with, so that would be wasted money and space for me.

#6 Wings of War
Let me be specific here.  Wings of War with the plane miniatures, and all the stuff that makes it look really cool.  I've played Wings of War, and I have a good time playing it.  It's fun to get everything set-up and turn the table into a war zone.  My gaming dad's brother owns a lot of the game, and he visits once, sometimes twice, a year.  We'll get together a big group and play then, but outside of that, it's something we wouldn't play.

#5 Heroscape
I've never played Heroscape, but man does it look awesome.  The miniatures look amazing, and the terrain looks even better.  The rules seem complex enough to be interesting, but not overly complicated.  The problem I run into is storage space, and money.  I'd love to play with someone who has the game, but it's not something I'm willing to get for myself.

#4 Descent 2.0
I owned Descent for about a year, and over that time, I never got it to the table.  The game is big, bulky, and has a lot going on.  Descent 2.0 does seem to fix a lot of that, but it has a potential issue, Campaign play.  Now, I love the idea of a Campaign, but right now, my gaming time is sporadic, and I feel like this would sit on the shelf and gather dust while shorter games come out.  Plus it's something that seems hard to bounce in and out of, so that restricts play to having the same set of people.

#3 Crokinole
Crokinole is on this list for the simple reasons of cost and storage space.  Yes, I know that the boards can be hung on a wall, and that removes a fair amount of the issue of storage, but it increases the cost.  See, if you're going to put something on the wall, it should look good.  That means buying a more expensive board.  Plus, without ever having played the game, it's something I don't want to invest in right now.  Maybe someday, but not soon.

#2 Pitchcar
Flicking a disk around a track just sounds like a good time.  The problem with that, once again, is storage.  The track for Pitchcar is rather overbearing.  It would be a lot of fun to own the game, but then I'd want to get all the cool pieces, the crosses, the loops, jumps, etc. and that just adds cost to everything.  This is best left to the play if I ever get a chance, but don't buy category.

#1 Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition
This is the inspiration for the list.  When I first heard of TI3, I knew I wanted to play it.  The game sounds fascinating, with a lot of depth and choice.  The problem, 8 hours.  There is no way that I can get at least 6 people together to play a game for 8 hours.  It just won't happen.  Even if it did, there's no way I'm storing the game at my house the other 364 days of the year when it didn't get played.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Online Dominion - The Saga

As some of you may be aware, Rio Grande Games signed a contract with Goko to release an official implementation of Dominion using HTML5.  This format allows the game to be multiplatform, meaning Android and iOS software, so all kinds of tablets and phones, as well as an online site, Facebook play, Google play, and a lot of other things.

My thinking was something along the lines of "I'll miss Isotropic, but this is great.  We get official art, the ability to play in a lot more places, and hopefully the ability to introduce a lot more people to the game."

I knew there would be a charge associated, but the initial word was that the base cards would be free to play, and then each expansion would have a cost.  Ok, not great, we all got spoiled with Isotropic being free, but a company has a right to make money.  Coding takes a lot of time and bug checking.  Dominion isn't the easiest game to code, especially with the new Dark Ages cards coming out.

So I asked myself how much I'd be willing to pay for an expansion, and I decided that I'd like to pay around $5, but would go up to about $8.  Even at $8, that was going to amount to $48 for everything, so maybe $50 in total.  I know this sounds like a lot, but for something I can play for an hour or more a day, it's well worth it.  Then word came out that an expansion pack would cost $6.  I said, ok, good that's right where I want to be.  Then word came that a pack would only be 11-13 cards.  Lovely, that means $12 per expansion, $18 for Dark Ages, and a grand total of  $78 not counting promos.  Then the actual pricing model came out, and it's not just buying with money, you have to buy with coins.  But then there's no price point for buying 60 coins to buy a pack, nor is there 120 coins to get 2 packs.  The whole thing is screwy.

As of now, launch has been delayed due to code problems, interface issues, and security loopholes.

For something as high profile as Dominion, the whole thing has been a mess.  I really do hope that they get things working.  I want to see a solid game out there.  This adventure mode they're talking about sounds interesting.  Obviously their first priority is getting the game to a solid point.  It has to be playable before anyone can use it.

A company is entitled to make money, but let's be reasonable.  50 cents/card is not a fair price for a digital implementation.  Cut the price in half or so, make it $3 or $4 for the packs, and I'm interested.  At $6 per pack, I'll put my money elsewhere.  There are a lot of other apps out there with solid support and proven companies running them.

Star Runner and General Games Update

It occurred to me that it has been 11 days since I last posted.  There is a good reason.  No, I wasn't at Gencon or anything exciting from a game perspective.  Real life is happening, job interviews and such, and that's kept me busy.

Some news of note.  I received a pre-release copy of Wits and Wagers Party from Northstar Games.  No, I haven't hit the big time of getting free games to review.  It was a thank-you from the folks at Northstar Games for my efforts in playtesting in the summer of 2011.  Seeing the lid of the game signed by the designer was a cool thing.  I finally got a chance to play it on Friday and had a good time.  I played with a couple people who had played W&W in the past, and some who hadn't.  We liked the 7th round ability to wager the chips you already had, not that it made a difference as one player kinda ran away with things.  I liked the question variety, the chips are great in the game, but the best part is the pens with erasers on them.

This last week, I got a new prototype from Northstar to test out, so I look forward to giving that a go.  More on that to come soon.

Like I said earlier, I got a chance to play games on Friday.  That was a great thing because it was my first gameday all month.  August has just been kinda weird for games.  People are on vacation, doing summer projects before school starts, and all that.  We played more Tsuro, and I won the first game, and then was in the final 3 who all died on the same tile, so that's kinda a win.  At the end, I got a chance to show off my revisions to Star Runner, which was fun.

Speaking of revisions to Star Runner, here's the breakdown of what's changed.  I now have indented dice with stickers, rather than using standard dice and a conversion chart.  The map shape has stayed the same, but the breakdown of it is a lot simpler.  It also goes together in about 30-90 seconds as opposed to around 5 minutes.  Contracts have been revised and further balanced.  The scavenging deck has been tweaked slightly, and there's something new to the game that's yet to be tried.  I'm not sure if it will stick, or become something for an expansion/different way to play, but I want to try it out.  The game is actually coming together.  I'm kinda shocked by how quickly SR has come together.  I know there's still a lot of testing to do, and a lot to tweak, but the core mechanics feel solid, and it feels like a fun game.  I can't wait to get some of my readers a chance to try it and tell me what you think.

While we're on random musings, you can now find us on facebook. http://www.facebook.com/bitsboardgames

Head over there to see some polls, other info, and to ask some questions and get feedback asap.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Collection Building: Party Games

Hopefully, there are many opportunities to pull out a game with a large group of people.  This typically means more than 5, but often times even more than that.  If you're tired of the standard party fare such as Trivial Pursuit, Cranium, and even Apples to Apples, consider one or more of the games here.

All of these games are designed to play well in a large group.  They aim to encourage players to talk and have a fun time in a large group.

Say Anything (3-8 Players)
When I describe Say Anything to people who've never played it, I say it's Apples to Apples with a lot more freedom.  One person asks a question such as "where would I go on my dream vacation?"  Everyone then writes down an answer.  After everyone has written one, the "judge" picks their favorite in secret.  Then players have to place their tokens on which one they think the judge picked.  If they're right, they get points, if not, they don't.  Whoever has the most points after some number of rounds (there are official guidelines in the rules, but really, it can be open ended so long as people are having fun) wins.
Say Anything gets people talking about the questions.  It can be a great way to get to know people.  I've heard of it being used at youth groups or small groups to get to know fellow members.  It could also be used in an office to get to know coworkers, or as a team building exercise.
There is a risk that some questions can go to risqué answers, but that all depends on who's playing.  There is a family version that attempts to eliminate the remote possibility of such answers.

Wits and Wagers (3-20 Players)  Well the box says 20, I'd say more depending on how you want to run teams.

W&W is a trivia game, but don't run away screaming just yet.  The game is about knowing things, but not exactly.  It helps to have a general sense of things, but some questions are so obscure, no one will get it right.  Actually, most games will see no one write down the exact answer.  You see, W&W is all about numbers.  In a round, a question is asked.  Everyone writes down a number.  Then, the answers are ordered from low to high.  Players place their token on the answer they think is the closest to the right one without going over.  So it doesn't matter if you don't know the exact answer, but if you know an estimate, you can do well.  At worst, go for the insane bet, and see if it pays off.
There have been 3 versions of this game, Wits and Wagers, Wits and Wagers Family, and Wits and Wagers Party.  I like them all. They're all functionally the same game, just different questions, and some different means of scoring points.  I was a playtester for Wits and Wagers Party, and I did receive a free copy of the game.  This in no way affects what I think of the game, since I already liked the system before I got a free game.
Wits and Wagers has been hit or miss for me.  Some people love it, and some people dislike it.  They point to the lack of player interaction.  While I see what they're saying, a party game is meant to be the lubricant that gets the conversation started.

Mafia/Werewolf (6-20ish Players)
This is an experience game.  There are two sides in the game, the Mafia or Werewolves, and the normal people.  Each side is trying to eliminate the other.  The normal people generally outnumber the other side 2:1 or 3:1, but the Mafia/Werewolves know who each other are.  The game is divided into 2 phases.  In the first phase, the M/W group awakens and kills off one of the normals.  Then everyone wakes up to find someone missing/dead. They then kill off someone in an attempt to extract justice for the previous murder.  At this point the game sounds pretty violent, but it really isn't.  There's some strategy in who you kill off and when as a Werewolf, and as a normal, you're looking for any odd behavior to give you a clue as to who is working against you.
This game is a lot more fun with a great storyteller moderating things.

Dixit (3-12 players, depending on the set. Odyssey goes to 12, regular Dixit only to 6)
Dixit is similar to Apples to Apples.  Players have a hand of cards, except instead of words, they have artwork.  The artwork is simply fantastic.  There is great depth to each card, and so much variety.  Each card has these little nuances that players can key on, and there really is no wrong way to describe these cards.  I'd love to have posters with various Dixit cards, that's how amazing the art is.

Price Comparison

Party games are all about what you think will be the most fun for the people involved.
If they love storytelling, it's hard to beat Mafia.
If they're creative artistic types, I say Dixit.
Have a bunch of trivia fans? Go for Wits and Wagers.

Say Anything really is the easiest game to get people to play.  It's accessible, there's not much other knowledge required, and it's a great way to get to know people.

On a budget, I say get the Family version, and then learn how to play Werewolf with a deck of cards.  None of these games are bad, I enjoy all of them for different reasons.  Say Anything is probably the best bet to not fall flat.  That's something you really want when buying games on a budget.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Collection Building: Short Family Friendly Games

A friend and avid reader suggested I talk about buying games on a budget.  Awhile back I wrote a big article on building a collection which you can find at the top of the page.    She suggested that I expand things, so that's what I'm going to do.  Over the next few weeks, I'm going to write a series of articles detailing different types of games to put in a small game collection.  I'm going to try to keep them inexpensive, since many people are on a small entertainment budget.  I hope to highlight several games that provide excellent value for their cost and offer a lot of replayability.  The primary focus here is on game play.  You want to have great games when you have very few in your collection.  You're not necessarily worried about fancy components or tons of miniatures, you want strong mechanics, fun themes, and games you can play often with a wide range of people.

This may be a category that a family will want to purchase multiple games from.  By no means is anyone restricted to just one of these games.  There's a lot of good ones out there.  My picks are games that I enjoy, as a 23 year old, playing with my family and friends who aren't necessarily gamers.  All of these games play in 30 minutes or less. (Most of the time)

These aren't in any particular order, but I will pick my favorite at the end.

Word on the Street (there is a family version, I haven't played it) 2-10 players, divided into 2 teams
This is a great game for helping kids learn vocabulary as well as spelling.  If you're not familiar with the game, here's a brief rundown.  Your team gets 30 seconds to come up with and spell a word that fits the category.  As you spell your word, you move the letter tiles closer to your side.  You want to be the first team to get 8 letters off your side of the board.  Categories are fairly simple, but coming up with a word that uses a lot of letter tiles, or specific tiles is a challenge.  The game can be played by young and old alike.  You could get a category such as "A type of cheese"  Now, your first thought might be cheddar, but what if D is already off the board?  Maybe you need to go with Swiss, that's a lot of S's. Or maybe you go with limburger. That uses a lot of letters, but be sure to spell it correctly.  Word on the Street, a fun game for vocab and spelling, and a lot of fun with the family.

Tiki Topple 2-4 players
I've talked a lot about Tiki Topple on the blog, so there's not a ton of need to go into it yet again.  Younger players may get upset when their tiki is toasted, they do tend to get attached to things easily, but it can also be a lesson in not revealing hidden information and making the best of a bad situation.  In the game, players try to maneuver tikis up the board to match their hidden goal.  No two goals are the same, but some are similar.  Each round takes about 2-5 minutes, so this can be a nice game before bed, or anytime a quick game is needed.

Incan Gold 3-8 players
A great push-your-luck game with direct interaction between players.  The treasure aspect of the game is fun for all ages.  Even setbacks are only temporary in the game.  There are interesting decisions, and it teaches little ones to not push too far.  The game is played over 5 rounds, and each round can take anywhere from 30 seconds to maybe 10 minutes, but the average is probably right around 3-5 minutes, meaning the full game takes 15-30.

Can't Stop 2-4 players
This is an old classic from legendary designer Sid Sackson.  The idea of the game is simple, roll 4 dice, make pairs, move up the board.  The game is challenging because you can only take 3 numbers, and you have to take the first ones you roll.  If you roll none of your numbers, you're out.  Be the first person to claim 3 numbers all the way to the top and you win.  It's quick and easy, there's a lot of fun interactions, egging on, calling people chicken if they stop too soon, or doing the "whomp whomp" when someone rolls poorly.  Just thinking about this game brings a smile to my face.  The time on this is hard to nail down.  I've seen a game end on 1 turn, and I've seen games that take 30 minutes.  I'd say that 90% of games are done in under 20 minutes, and probably 95% in under 15.

No Thanks! 3-5 players
I did a comprehensive review on No Thanks! which you can find here.  The game can be a bit too mathy for young children, and there is also the strategy of knowing when to take something and when to pass that can be hard to master.  It's a fun game, but it can be a bit hit or miss with kids.  For time, you're looking at about 10 minutes to finish the game, which is great if you want to play multiple rounds.

For Sale 3-6 players
I recommend For Sale for older kids, probably in the 10+ maybe 12+.  There's a lot of auctions, and a fair amount of strategy.  That being said, houses are fun to mess with and competition for the space station can get really intense, especially when no one wants to be in the cardboard box.  For time, this is probably a 15-25 minute game.  A lot depends on how many players, how many rounds of betting, and how intense those competitions get.  The 2nd half is usually pretty quick.

Price Wars

My pick here has actually shifted.  It used to be Tiki Topple, which is still a good game, but I'd have to take Incan Gold these days.  It's a little more expensive, but I've never met someone who didn't like it after playing.  Kids seem to like the idea of adventuring for treasure, which gets them in. Even if they lose, they still collected something, which is a positive experience.
My runner up is Can't Stop.  Sadly, the game is just too expensive for what it is right now.  What I would recommend is mocking up your own board, finding some spare pieces and dice, and giving it a try before you buy it.

As a final note, I'm not the blogging expert on gaming with the family.  I recommend two sites.  http://fathergeek.com as well as http://growingupgamers.blogspot.com. Both are great with family recommendations, as well as interesting reads.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July 2012 Update

Welcome to August! This year is going too quickly.
July felt a bit slow, but I then realized that I played games on 4 different days.  That explains some of the slow feeling, since there weren't a lot of gamedays, but there were a lot of games played on the days in question.  

Star Runner testing is going well.  I'm looking at little changes as opposed to big ones right now, which is a much nicer place to be in terms of design.

What did I actually play in July?
  • Tsuro x6
  • No Thanks! x5
  • Pizza Theory x3
  • Gem Dealer x2
  • Incan Gold x2
  • Aquaretto x1
  • Fauna x1
  • For Sale x1
  • Give Me the Brain x1
  • Say Anything x1
  • Word on the Street x1
  • Zooloretto x1
  • Star Runner 1 test
That's a grand total of 26 for July, short of June, but still up there.  The running total for the year is 176, which is 1 game up on the quest for 300.  Now I just need average 25 plays per month to hit 300 by New Year's Eve.
I acquired three new games, Campaign Manager 2008 from an Amazon sale, Word on the Street from the Barnes and Nobles clearance bin for about $7, and a signed and personalized copy of Wits and Wagers Party for my role as a playtester last summer (look in the rules for me, I'm there)
I'm still watching and enjoying Tabletop, which is Will Wheaton's youtube show on boardgames. That airs every other Friday.  Fiasco isn't my type of game, but it was fun to watch them play.  Great news on that front, Geek and Sundry announced a partnership with Target to feature every game played on Tabletop in the store with a sticker that says "as seen on Tabletop"  Games truly are getting into the mass market.
My unplayed game count is now 20 with the addition of Wits and Wagers Party and Campaign Manager '08. At least I bought and played Word on the street.  At this rate, it looks like the goal of playing them all is dead, but I'll keep trying.
Reviews!  July saw several reviews.    There's still more to come in August, hopefully 3-5, but we'll see what happens with real life.  
This was the list in the June update for review goals in July and August
  • Star Trek Fleet Captains - not done
  • Lemonade Stand - not done
  • Pizza Theory - DONE!
  • Tsuro - DONE!
  • Shadows Over Camelot - not done
  • Scrumbrawl - not done
  • Fauna - not done
  • Bonus game not on the list but reviewed by special request, No Thanks!
Finally, the State of the 2012 Resolutions
  • Play every game I won that I've yet to play at least once - 20 to go.
  • Finish Risk Legacy (4/15)
  • Log 300 game plays (176/300 - on pace)
  • The rest were done in months gone by.
I'm still looking for more guest authors.  Really, anything you want to talk about.  If you want to talk with me, or just talk to the readers, let's make it happen.  Want to share a review here, great!  Want to talk about why Candyland is a great game, ok, I'll bite, love to hear what you have to say.  Basically, let me know what you'd like to talk about, and we can make that happen.
*Followup on this, I do have someone who's going to come on and help me with a few articles, look forward to those soon*
Thank-you all for reading the articles and commenting, as sporadic as they are, the comments keep me going.  You keep me energized and enthused to continue talking about games.