Reunited & It Feels So Good

Reunited & It Feels So Good

Friday, December 23, 2011

Airlines Europe; I’m Certain that Sid Sackson Would Enjoy This Game

I got in an eagerly anticipated first play of Airlines Europe tonight. As the game was being set up, I became even more eager to play. I can see several other game mechanics within this gem including the scoring cards (Alhambra,) route development (Ticket to Ride,) and the stock options (Acquire.) While researching Sackson’s biography, a friend of Sackson’s shared with me that Alan Moon is a fan Sackson’s designs. However I have yet to verify that as I have not yet had the opportunity to interview Mr. Moon. I even enjoyed the open money and stock management as Sackson intended how Acquire should be played. Overall, my favorite component was the
tension that existed within my decision matrix. Should I choose A, B, C, or D? Then without warning the game ended. This is where the game parts from Alhambra and Acquire. You are out of luck if you’ve held too many stocks to long. Many games allow the round to be completed as the end game triggers, but in Airlines it just ends. I’m not sure how I feel about the end game. In
Alhambra, Acquire, and Ticket to Ride, I can anticipate and prepare for the end game as opposed to Agricola or El Grande that have a set amount of turns.

Sid Sackson has an unpublished design call Airline. He first writes about it on 1 10 64 “I played
Airline, it lasted 3 ½ hours, but it held interests. “ After countless hours of play testing, he notes on 7 22 65 that he thought “Airline is my best game.” He demonstrated it to Parker Brothers, Hallmark Cards, 3 M, Phil Orbanes, and eventually received a contact for $2500 to publish it. However, it was never published, and his notes suggest that it eventually evolved into “Holiday.” One additional note, Sackson would appreciate is the world board. The first 3M Acquire in ’63 and the ’95 Avalon Hill had world boards. The 63 is very hard to come by. Overall, I had an enjoyable game night. Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

WDC '11

Well it's hard to belive that another White Dagon con has come and gone. Twenty fellow gamers gathered on a gray day in Lenexa, Kansas to celebrate the seventh WDC. Games played (that I can remember) included Belfort, Fresh Fish, FFG Civilization, Dominion, Fash Point, Kingdom Builder, Hey That's My Fish, Werewolf, Merchants & Marauders, Crokinole, Acquire, Tigris & Euphrates. I would like to send out a special thank you to Jay Witten of Gamestation for crafting our custom dice. The eight annual White Dragon con will be December 7, 2012.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Seven Days Until White Dragon Con 2011

I can't believe that it is one week until the seventh White Dragon Con. It's hard to believe that this will be the seventh gathering! White Dragon began as a game day that celebrated Pat Robert's and my birthday. Maybe it just an excuse to take a day off and play board games with friends and family. Either way, its a wonderful day.

I am planning to teach a game of Sid Meier's Civilization by Fantasy Flight games as well as play some of my classic favorites such as El Grande, Amun-Re, Acquire, and Crokinole! In addition, I'm sure new favorites will hit the table as well including Quarriors, Dominion, and Eminent Domain. During last years White Dragon, I found out that two of my gaming friends had been hired as artists for Eminent Domain, Eric Carter & Ryan Johnson. Both artisits are wonderful guys. It is exciting to see their work come to life on the gaming table.

Gaming has been a little slower than past months, but has remained steady. Over the last two weeks I have played 10 Days across the Americas & Asia, and Ticket to Ride with the family. At Pulp Fiction game nights, we have played Power Grid Factory Manager, Tigris & Euphrates, Alhambra, and Tower of Babel.

I have continued to find interesting games while visiting local thrift stores. Some of these finds have translated into trades which include several vinatage games. Before the year is over, I will blog on some of these finds.

Peace Be With You and Your Family this Holiday Season!

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

My 10 year old son's 4th grade teacher shared during a recent parent teacher conference that she needed some games for her classroom. Really! Games! So after a week of extra thrifting, I donated some unique games that I hope Ian's classmates will enjoy.

The aMAZEing Labyrinth 1986
Sorry Sliders
Apples to Apples
The Hulk Busts Lose
Rivers, Roads & Rails 1969
Pirateer (a MENSA selection)
A Burger King Twister variant that uses fingers!
A neat wooden box edition Stratego

Plus it's time to start thrifting games for the Secret Thrifting Santa project on the Board Game Geek web site. I've collect three neat Star Wars games to give away; Stratego Star Wars, Clash of the Light Sabers, & Star War Simon variant.

I got to give a shout out to the Desoto Boys Cross Country team that finished 3rd at state this past weekend that included a first place finish by a Desoto Boy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gaming with my son Ryan (1 of 3)

Ryan is home from Kansas University for the fall break & joined me at game night. We played Quarriors, and Resident Evil the deck building card game. Both games were fun, and Ryan easily won Quarriors by recruiting his dragon twice thus gaining the most glory / victory points.

This past two weeks has not produced much in the way of thrifting for games. However since my last blog entry, I did find the inspiration to King Oil, Gushers. A 60 year old rare / hard to find game about drilling for oil.

I have also returned to painting as I purchased the Dreadfleet last week, and it includes 10 pirate ship gaming models. I will post pictures soon.

One last quick note, Ian had a sleep over with four buddies and I treated them to a game of Catacombs; a disc flicking dungeon crawl. The final catacomb lord was the dragon!

Monday, September 19, 2011

September gaming

Gaming since Gencon has been steady and fun. This past Sunday was the first gaming night that a copy of Quarriors did not hit the table. I got in six plays that spanned 4 separate games. Hibernia was the most interesting. In the game, you are "marching to victory" in ancient Ireland.

I played Samarkand twice, and I now have 6 plays under my belt. While the game is on my wish list, I am beginning to think about removing it. My frustration with the game lies in the fact that it can end just too quickly. Given the fair amount of luck in the opening card draw, at the end game I often wonder why the player just ended the game. Rarely has the player who ended the game, win the game in my six plays. I think that has only occurred once in six plays. However, it is still fun to place camel caravans across the desert.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Puppet Wars!!!

I finally got in a game of Puppet Wars! Earlier this week I finished painting my 55 figures. Yes, I said 55 figs. The base game comes with 18 figs but I bought the whole collection at Gencon. We played a traditional 3 player, player or work bench elimination. The game board looked great with my painted figs and painted obstacles. Overall, I have a lot to learn about the puppet masters and game combinations.

Last February I heard or read about a unique game called Catacombs. It combines disc flicking and a traditional dungeon crawl. The game quickly sold out until it's second printing that released this week. I read a notice on Twitter this morning that this print run has already sold out. Kudos to my local game store for ordering me a copy. Too many games that I want to play.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Do, Pilgrims of the Flying Temple

Do, Pilgrims of the Flying Temple by Daniel Solis

“A cooperative storytelling game about helping people and getting into trouble.”
3-5 players, Age 12 & up, 1-2 hours, Retail $25

After defining your pilgrim by how they get into trouble & how they help people, you and your pilgrims leave the flying temple with a desire to respond to a letter requesting help. Pilgrims are abandoned children left with the monks at their flying temple. Do is an open ended story telling games that encourage creative writing. It does not require a guide or master gamer to lead the adventure, but each pilgrim begins their turn by randomly drawing 3 black or white stones that sets the course of their turn; either helping others or getting into trouble. The game ends when any player has eight stones or when the key words from the letter have been used in the course of the story.

Readability; Do is a clever read that was edited by Ryan Macklin, and Lillian Cohen-Moore. Once I began to read, I could not put the book down. It is well referenced throughout the book by examples and page numbers.

Art; Do is illustrated by Liz Radtke, Kristin Rakochy, Jake Richmond, and Dale Horstman. Who can resist flying air whales?

Value; The book contains 15 varied stories that make this a very re-playable game. At only $25, run don’t walk to your friendly local game story and purchase this gem before it disappears.

Overall; While I am a lifelong gamer, I am not a role player by nature. So it is difficult for this gamer to compare it to other story telling games, but on a scale of 1-10, (10 is the highest,) I rate this game a 10.

Sunday, August 21, 2011 Game Night at Pulp Fiction Comics & Games in Lees Summit, MO

Quicksilver Lionheart
True Face
Dismissive Chronicler
Boisterous Cape

Our letter is requesting help from a girl whose world has been eaten by a whale.
Pilgrim Quicksilver Lionheart calls her pilgrim friends to help the little girl named Melanie. Pilgrim True Face listens to Melanie talk about her cat. Putting pen to parchment, Pilgrim Dismissive Chronicler jots down a love poem from Melanie to her adorable cat, Buttons. The whale is enamored by the poem, and swallows Dismissive Chronicler. Pilgrim Boisterous Cape flies above the whale to drop a rope down the blow hole to Pilgrim Dismissive Chronicler.

The rescue rope tickles the whale’s nose and he sneezes, causing Pilgrim Boisterous Cape to get tangled. Wanting to help her friends get out of the whale, Pilgrim Quicksilver Lionheart breaks off a tree branch, and tickles the whale stomach. While laughing, Pilgrim True Face catches the house as it falls out of the whale’s mouth. Underestimating the size of the house, Pilgrim True Face is squished by it’s weight. With an exit apparent, Pilgrim Dismissive Chronicler bounds out of the whale’s mouth, but not before grabbing Melanie’s plate of cookies.

Using his thunderous roar, Pilgrim Boisterous Cape yells to a passing bird to come and peck the rope off of him. Pilgrim Quicksilver Lionheart enticed by the aroma of the cookies, fails to see the whale flick his fluke in her direction thus sending her flying. After bumping into Melanie’s house, Quicksilver flies to the fluke flicking whale to apologize and offer him her own cookie.

Pilgrim True Face declares as he crawls out from under the house “boy that was heavier than I thought, but it looks okay Melanie.” All four pilgrims enjoyed Melanie’s delicious cookies but Pilgrim Dismissive Chronicler ate too many cookies, resulting in a nasty tummy ache!

Melanie thanks all of the pilgrims for their hard work. Pilgrim Quicksilver Lionheart holds Pilgrim Dismissive Chronicler’s hand as the sun falls behind the flying temple. Pilgrim True Face accepts another plate of cookies as he ponders the fate of his family. Inconspicuously, Pilgrim Dismissive Chronicler slips one last cookie in his robe as he and Pilgrim Quicksilver fly off. As the other pilgrims take off, Boisterous Cape steals a smooch from Melanie and flutters off.

Pilgrim True Face continues to get into trouble by being honest some of the time thus his pilgrims banner changed to from “True to Selective.” Subsequently, he leaves the temple to discover the fate of his family.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Do, Pilgrims of the Flying Temple

I missed out on a wonderful game at Gencon called Do, Pilgrims of the Flying Temple by Daniel Solis. When I went back Sunday, the game had sold out. My good friend Amy had told me about this game. While I play and love all types of games, I'm not a huge role playing gamer. I love the settings and themes but many rpg's require time & have fiddly rules/tables. However I have really enjoyed story telling games this summer including Arkham Horror & Tales of the Arabian Nights. Do PFT is a story telling game where players are pilgrims who like to help people while sometimes getting into trouble. The pilgrims are abandoned children who have been raised by monks. They can fly between worlds as they seek to respond to letters asking for help. I hope that my local store can order this gem but until then I purchased the PDF from RPG Drive Through. Last night I read the book from cover to cover. I have not stopped thinking about this game all day. Maybe it's my passion for helping others as a clinical social worker. Plus this is a great game for Ian as it stimulates creative writing. I hope to play this very soon.

Monday, August 15, 2011

GenCon 2011 Photos #1

The Minis for this game just keep getting better.
A few games of Puppet Wars being played.
A five player game of Can't Stop.
It was very nice to meet Mike Gray at my Sid Sackson event.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Gencon 2011

Gencon 2011 has come to a close as we are in route home. Overall, it was another 10 out of a 10. Highlights included; picking up Puppet Wars from Wyrd minatures, Dystopian Wars, visiting with the artist Lydia Burris, Mouse Guard rpg, playing Battleship Gallaxies, playing & being with Ian, and my Sid Sackson event. The fan Fest was a good first event as 10 people attended and I was able to teach many of Sid's great games including Acquire, Can't Stop, Domination, Vacation, Buried Treasure, & I'm The Boss. It was a real treat to meet Michael Gray of Hasbro & continue to learn more about Sid, his games, and his legacy. I gave copies out of chapter 3 to all participants as well as Gail Gygax, and Keith Blume from Fred Distribution. Fred provided prize support including gift certificates and a new copy of I'm the Boss.

I am also interested in the following fall releases that I saw at Gencon; Quarriors, and Terra clips. Right now I'm catching up on Gencon related pocasts, and planning to paint my minis. It's only 370 days until Gencon 2012.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gencon To Do List

Monday 8/1/11

Gencon to do list;

1. Go to Wyrd minis & see terra clips
2. Gary games, pick up promos
3. The War Store, Dystopian Wars fleet box
4. Cookie Fu, new card set
5. Drop off 12 games to sell in the Gencon auction
6. Pack, I always take too much stuff!
7. Down load & listen to daily episodes of "This Just In From Gencon" podcast
8. Set up & follow Twitter Gencon related posts
9. Prepare for "Sid Sackson Fan Fest" on Saturday; pick up dice & banner
10. Leave home Tuesday 8am!

P.s. Don't forget Ian

Thursday, July 28, 2011

On Hiatus

It's been awhile, but I'm sure you don't mind! It is less than a week until Gencon. Gaming goodness is just around the corner. Gaming at Pulp Fiction has been great this past spring and summer. Innovation continues to be my favorite but is closely followed by Acension & Cookie Fu.

My biography is going well as I completed a second trip to Rochester, and I have a sample chapter to hand out at Gencon. The coolest note is the awesome logo designed for me by Eric Carter, an artist from Topeka, Kansas. It's genius.

The big game hunt continues as I have made several great game finds and trades in the past several months including a nice copies of Diplomacy, and Wooden Ships/Iron Men.

Achievement Unlocked........

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

You Can Never Have Enough Legos

"You can never have enough Legos" has been a common phrase in my home as my wife Tammy and I have three sons. "Really?" was often Tammy's reply. The thought of Lego board games is so cool, it's hard not to find a way to acquire them all. I reserve a special place in my heart for Legos. It was by far my favorite toy (ahead of GI Joes & Matchbox cars) as a young boy.

I had the opportunity to play two simple Lego games this weekend including Banana Balance and Shave A Sheep. While very simple games, they are both just very visually appealing (quoting the Spiel podcast, "truck loads of goober.") When you join a lego game, and know up front that it is a very lite filler targeting the Lego crowd (you know who you are) there is a lot of smiles in those small boxes.

Once you build the dice, the banana tree, and the sheep, set up is minimal. Minus the four starting palm leaves, you only need to build the tree once as it fits nicely back into the box. The game begins with four palm leaves on the tree, and a small pile of Lego bananas. The goal is to have the most bananas at the end of the game. After you roll the dice, there are three possible moves to make, add a palm leaf, add a banana, or put the monkey in the tree and take a banana. Once you have added all of the leaves and bananas, you take a monkey move. The game ends when either all of the bananas have been taken or the tree falls over. If the monkey falls out of the tree, you put one of your bananas back into the supply to be "re-treed." It plays very quick, and the pieces are cool to play with.

The goal of Shave A Sheep is for your sheep to grow and shear wool while avoiding the wolf. Wolves and sheep don't mix! If your sheep ever grows five cubes of wool, it automatically shears. Who ever has the most wool wins, and the game ends when you run out of wool. Again, its a very simple game, but the sheep are just cool. Minus the very random mechanics and that they lack any strategic & tactical depth, I just had simple fun including watching the boys laugh while exchanging table talk.

I have my eyes on Lego's Oriental Bazaar but it is not carried in any local stores. I am also interested in the upcoming (2011) Lego Heroica series which is an expandable dungeon crawl. In addition, Lego has created a co-operative game entitled Ninjago (2011.). Given their popularity, I guess a Lego deck building game is next. Secretly, I would love a meatier more gamer’s Lego game, but know that’s not going to happen. Why? Because Legos target children, not 40 year old board game fanatics. The truth is that Lego is no 3M. If you have not read Americanopoly by Bruce Whitehill, he summarizes 3M’s desire to create board games for adults. “The wrapping paper and ribbon division was looking for a way to expand revenues when employees chose the idea of a game line, aimed at providing mental diversions for upper middle-class buyers. Two up-and-coming American inventors, Sid Sackson and Alex Randolph, were enlisted in 1962 to create a games unit, and the “bookshelf” box was born. ( But how sweet that would be!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Should I stay or should I go?

Should I go or should I stay now? If I go there will be trouble, if stay it will be double. One of my favorite mechanics in Fresco is the victory point track/progress choice. Just to refresh your memory (or if your were unaware) when moving your victory point token, if your token lands on a point that if already occupied, you may go ahead one or fall back one space. I think having that choice is refreshingly powerful. Do I want to play aggressively, or sit back and wait to make my move. It plays into one of my favorite games; the meta-game (the game beyond the game.) In Fresco, being the leader, like many games, affects your play style and decisions. I have played Fresco aggressively and in a one back/drafting the leader position. Surprisingly, my game play experiences were very different. Regardless, what I like best, is having that choice, plain & simple. Fresco's turn initiative/catch the leader mechanic is eloquently combined. As the leader, you choose your time to go to the market last but if your willing to pay, going first is often available. Thus being in the lead is not as punishing as other games ( you have some control.)

While moving forward or falling back is not (per game mechanics) a huge decision, it is a very suttle choice. I have prescribed to Greenleaf's theory of servent leadership for many years. Are you a leader or follower? The best leaders were/are also good followers. I am willing to be both a leader and or follower. Within the meta game, if I am the leader & you choose to bring me down, I am at some level controlling your game play. If I choose to draft the leader, I have more choices as I don't have to look back over my shoulder. Will I choose to pass you or lurk behind you??? Wouldn't you like to know.

This week's gaming achievements were quietly rewarding. I found two games while thrifting that I am excited to see hit the table, Rio Grande's Corsairs & Reiner Knizia's Dead Man's Treasure. I managed to listen to the most recent podcast episodes of the Dice Tower, the D6 Generation, and Ludology. During game night I played two games of Innovation, and a short game of Let's Kill.

Having recently played 7 Wonders, my feelings are reaffirmed that Innovation is (in my opinion) a superior game to 7 Wonders given the player interaction and level of gaming tension. Despite having several games of Innovation under my belt, I or we have played some part of it incorrectly. If for some reason anyone from Asmadi Games reads this blog, please post an FAQ. Within the rules, we misunderstood a rule in the Dogma section that states that when a card draw of a # card other than from a supply pile has run out, that person does not draw a card vs. the rule on the reference card that state when you draw a # card from an era/supply pool runs out, draw from the next higher era.

A short note about Let's Kill, it is very very silly. Our game ended when Andy used Gary Coleman as a weapon to beat to death a victim who turned out to be Elvis for his final point. The premise is that each player is a serial killer who is trying to amass the greatest point total/body count.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Reiner Knizia’s Great Wall on the Great Wall

During my recent trip to China, I hiked my copy of the Great Wall up to the Great Wall. While there, I played a two person game. While we were playing, a spirited card game was occurring among some local teenagers. They offered me a seat, but after watching several hands, I could not figure out what they were playing. Although when they played a card, they would slap it down passionately. We hiked the Jinshanling Pass which is about 93 miles north of Beijing. This section of the Great Wall is less traveled/visited by tourists.

Throughout our trip, I saw many kinds of games being played as well as being sold. After visiting the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, I saw Mahjong, Dominoes, and Chinese Chess being played. While shopping in the market that surrounds the Yu Garden in Shanghai, I saw various card games being played by the local merchants.

I was surprised to find so many games for sale. The costs were much less than my friendly local game store. Before haggling, Stone Age cost 128 Yuan which is about $22. It was hard to say if they were real or counterfeit copies. As a Sid Sackson fan, I was tickled to find a Chinese copy of I’m the Boss for sale in a store in Shanghai. In that same store, I saw a card game called Blitzkrieg Death Front. It did not include English rules, and it is not in the BGG data base so I passed. I can’t believe I did not at least take a picture of it. I did however find a link to it via Swan Panasian games;

In addition to playing the Great Wall, I also played a game of Hive at the Wall. We were able to camp along the Wall, and I was hoping to facilitate a game of Werewolf, but it gets very dark on the Wall after the sun goes down. What an awesome setting that would have been.

During the plane trip to and from China, my son and I played Mate which is a simple card game out of Sid Sackson's Gamut of Games. Sid considered it a pure information game.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Do you record your game plays?

Many if not most of us take pictures of family vacations, holidays, and special occasions. Gaming sessions can be just as (if not more) memorable than some of those family gatherings. So why not capture that special play of your favorite game? If have almost 99% of the time, recorded a played game for the past two ½ years although I sporadically began recording my played games in 2003 just after beginning my Board Game Geek account. I love the game played feature on BGG. For the most part, I only log the play and do not list any specifics including where, with whom, and out come. I have met and played with gamers who carried a written journal when they gamed. I've always admired a person who could journal or make use of a diary. I am just not disciplined enough to make use of a journal. Fortunately I have a good memory, and would like to share a few recent gaming memories. Gaming is a family tradition that was passed down to me by my parents, and grandmothers. These are not in any order.

1. I have taken all three of my sons to GenCon. Granted, when they go, it is a very different experience than when I go with just my buddies. I purposely pick games that I think they will enjoy. The requirements are that they must be easy to learn and teach. During Ryan and Hunter’s first GenCon in 2003, I convinced my wife to let me take Ryan to a late night game of Zombies!!! by Twilight Creations. Ryan is so bright, that within a few turns, it was clear that he just might beat a table full of adult men. Subsequently, a few opponents also realized this, and began to plot against Ryan. As they cornered him (cutting off his path to win the game) I drew a card which allowed me to switch player token positions. I switched my token with Ryan’s, thus allowing him a clear path to victory. Several of the other players were annoyed with me as I “kingmade” Ryan. Ryan had no idea as he was proudly sporting a new Zombie t-shirt.

2. While coming home from GenCon in 2005, Pat, Andy, Ryan and myself decided to host a winter gaming party (that celebrates mine and Pat’s birthdays.) Thus White Dragon Con was born. While not a huge event, we have had 20 or so gamers attend the past several years. The gaming swag is a pair of specially designed dice. During White Dragon in 2007, my father joined us and was enthralled with a dexterity game call Crokinole. It was my father’s last White Dragon Con.

3. On Thursday May 27, 2010 was the last day of school for my sons Ryan (18) Hunter (17) and Ian (9.) So I picked Ian up early today so that we could thrift for games, buy an end of the school year gift, and play a board game at home. Ian picked out Apples to Apples Jr. for his gift. While thrifting, we found 2 3M games; Stocks & Bonds & Facts in Five. Upon getting home, we played two games of The Lost World Jurassic Park Game. Ian managed to get three humans to the chopper and win while my dinos ate 9 humans! Playing with Ian while he giggled - PRICELESS. After dinner we played two 4 player games of Apples to Apples.

I had a good week in gaming this past week including Roll Through the Ages, Fresco, and 7 Wonders. My initial assessment of 7 Wonders stands, very little player interaction and gaming tension. I enjoy the game, but I guess I was expecting more. Given my tastes, I already know that I will grow bored of it. While another gamer and I were discussing this, I mentioned that I prefer Innovation to 7 Wonders, when a third gamer quickly stated his disdain for Innovation as it was a cross between Fluxx & Munchkin! I immediately came to it's defense, Fluxx??? I can see the long stretch of Munchkin as both games included a stab your neighbor mechanic. However, Fluxx?? Other than being printed on cards, what comparison do the two games have?

I have completed my assessment of possible games to take to China, and have decided on the following games; Yomi, Factory Manager, Cookie Fu, The Great Wall, Innovation, Irondale, Looney Pyramids, Let's Kill, Hive Carbon, NHL Ice Breaker, & Sixis. Plus I have the rules for two games from Gamut of Games; Mate, Blue & Gray. It is a nice mix of games that completely fits into a plastic tub.

Achievement Unlocked!

Check out episode #33 of this podcast;

Gencon 2011 Event Note
Are you a fan of or newcomer to Sid Sackson board games; Acquire, Focus, Can't Stop, Holiday/Shanghai, Buy Word, & I'm The Boss? If so, please join me in celebrating these wonderful games as I will be hosting an event at GenCon. Multiple copies of these games will be available for play. Rules will be taught if your a new comer. Prizes/swag for all participants. Game ID:BGM1119613

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why I Play Games

Why do I love to collect and play games?

I wanted to weigh in on this after having listened to the most recent Ludology podcast and as I am frequently asked by my co-workers and students. Geoff and Ryan (the hosts) presented 6 reasons that gamers play games including competition, as a social outlet, to foster the imagination, to learn & analyze new games, as a collector, and to learn about history. In the tradition of the Dice Tower (& David Letterman,) here is my top ten list.

10. To have fun.
9. To exercise my brain.
8. To assess & analyze the game.
7. While I enjoy the competition, I enjoy the tension of the game more.
"In terms of the game theory, we might say the universe is so constituted as to maximize play. The best games are not those in which all goes smoothly and steadily toward a certain conclusion, but those in which the outcome is always in doubt. Similarly, the geometry of life is designed to keep us at the point of maximum tension between certainty and uncertainty, order and chaos. Every important call is a close one. We survive and evolve by the skin of our teeth. We really wouldn't want it any other way.” George Leonard
6. While using my imagination, immersing myself into a culture or event that is very different than who I am or what I do & or learn about a time/event from history.
5. As a way to be with, meet, and make new friends.
4. It's a family tradition that was passed down to me. My mother and I played Scrabble and my grandmother spared little mercy when teaching me how to play Dominoes.
3. Games are a work of art. My game room is filled with 2D & 3D art the ties into my game collection.
2. As an escape from the day to day reality. Its an important part of my self care plan. My gaming group often tease my choice of factions as I often pick the "bad guys." When I play Warmachine, I always play the Cryx, undead, soul eating troops. My buddies tease me that as clinical social worker, my alter ego always wants to be the evil undead. It keeps me balanced, and keeps them guessing.

And Finally # ONE!!

1. As a way to spend time with my family. While my sons love their Xbox, they have also learned how much fun a good old fashion board game can be. I wish I could beat my wife, Tammy in Blokus.

An honorable mention, it fuels my obsessive nature!

My week of gaming was very good although I did not find any deals while visiting a few thrift stores. I played three different games this week including playing Hive 6 times and first plays of two games I had never played before. I was very fortunate to receive 7 Wonders from my Secret Santa this year, and I finally was able to play this very nice game. However, I have to admit that it could have been packaged differently; such a huge box for card type game. I have always been very fond of games where I get to build something. I have been very fortunate to play several “building” games this past 6 months including Innovation, and Irondale. Overall, I felt that Innovation is a “meatier” game than 7 Wonders, but the later will be easier to teach my 9 year old how to play. In addition, my 7 Wonders experience lacked any significant player interaction whereas Innovation has greater levels of interaction. 7 Wonders lacked some gaming tension that crave for and admire in many other games but it demands more plays.

My first & only play with Power Grid: Factory Manager was very enjoyable. The bidding, machine pull down, and purchasing contained just the right amount of tension that I really enjoy in a game. I came in second but I think I made a mistake that should have my total net worth about $8 less. During my second to last income phase I did not multiply my energy cost to the rate, 4 x 3, so I collected $90 minus 4 rather than 12. When I walk away from a game thinking about what I did or should have done...... thats awesome! It is a auction/resource management game. I honestly think that it might be a gateway game for much heavier games.

In two weeks, my 17 year old son and I will be leaving for vacation in China. I am planning to bring my new copy of Hive Carbon. What other games should I take?

Check out episode #33 of this podcast;

Gencon 2011 Event Note
Are you a fan of or newcomer to Sid Sackson board games; Acquire, Focus, Can't Stop, Holiday/Shanghai, Buy Word, & I'm The Boss? If so, please join me in celebrating these wonderful games as I will be hosting an event at GenCon. Multiple copies of these games will be available for play. Rules will be taught if your a new comer. Prizes/swag for all participants. Game ID:BGM1119613

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Board Games Are Works of Art

While catching up on several Dice Tower podcast episodes, I was fairly surprised when I heard the host, Tom Vasel, state that he did not think that board games were an art form. I was so surprised that I had to go back and hear his comment again just to make sure I didn't misunderstand what he was trying to say. His thoughts on this can be heard in episode 197 around the 33 minute mark.

Professionally I am a social worker, and completely understand & respect different points of view. However I am very willing to take a stand when I hear something I totally don' t agree with. I am probably more sensitive to this issue than most others given my mother was an artist for Hallmark Cards and my father was an interior designer. In addition, given our country's economical struggles, the arts are often the first programs to be cut. Just recently the Kansas Governor eliminated an arts council to trim the state budget short fall. I could go on & on about the benefits of the arts as compared to the danger of eliminating them but I won't (although it's tempting.)

As an avid gamer and voracious reader, the graphics bring to life that game or book for me. I could not tell you how many times while reading the Dragon Lance series, I stared the various covers, trying to imagine what you would be like to meet Tanis the half elf. During the fall in 2009 I was a guest lecturer at an honors art class at Desoto High school. The students shared with me that they often dream of seeing a piece of theirs hanging in a gallery or museum. I asked them how they would feeling seeing their work on the cover of a book, in a game board, on a playing card, or in the pages of a comic? Having visited with Franz Vohwinkel several times at past Gencons, each assignment he gets whether it's a MTG card or game board, he is challenged to give life to that designers game.

Is there any doubt that a beautiful board bridges the gap between a game mechanic and the game's theme. Two boards from 2010 that I think were nicely done were Chaos in the Old World,Fresco & Tobago in 2009.

Aside from the physical game itself, the game design can also be an artistic expression. Many fans of the arts can identify a particular artist given their use of colors or brush strokes, (Barry Windsor-Smith comes to my mind - Conan, Archer & Armstrong,) just as many gamers can identify a Reiner Knizia game given his use of game mechanics. Sid Sackson writes in his book "Beyond Tic Tac Toe" (1975,) "games mean many thing to many people; to me they are an art form of great potential beauty. Just as a composer's creation is brought to life by the performing musicians, a game inventor's creation is brought to life by the players of the game. When the creation is inspired and the players are talented, a true work of art results."

Have you seen the newest came by Flying Frog Productions, Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game? While pre-ordering it at Gencon I could immediately see their attempt to capture the campy feel of the "War of the Worlds." I can almost hear Orson Welles narrating game play. The art and layout are wonderful. I tip my cap to the Flying Frog team. While it's still early in 2011, it is leading the way for most artistic game. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder (an English 18th century proverb) "art attracts us only by what it reveals of our most secret self." Jean-Luc Godard

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Soon I will be on Holiday in Shanghai

It has been a wonderful week of gaming achievements. I got caught up with The Dice Tower podcast and played 5 different games this week. Including 5 games of Hive and a second play of Yomi.

I recently acquired Shanghai as it has been on my wish list for the greater part of 2010. I have purchased and played Chinese themed games this year in preparation for my trip to China this coming March. It was designed by Sid Sackson and published by Ravensburger in 1997. It is a re-implements Maloney's Inheritance that was also publish by Ravensburger in 1988. Maloney’s Inheritance was a re-implementation of Holiday. Holiday was publish in 1973 by Research Games Inc. The box cover declares that it a “glorious game of world travel.” Holiday plays 2-8 while Shanghai plays 2-6. Holiday is a very rare gem that is a “grail” for many Sid Sackson fans. Cash is very tight in both Holiday and Shangai while not so in Maloney’s Inheritance. Shanghai differs from Holiday as it contains a random event deck. In addition, Shanghai’s theme is Chinese in nature while Holiday is more about traveling around the world. Shanghai won the Vuoden Perhepeli which is the Finnish Game of the Year in 1997.

Shanghai is the largest (population) city in China. The city is located in eastern China, and sits at the mouth of the Yangtze river. Players bid for the right to chose which of three locations that Lang-Tsu will travel too thus enabling the player to bribe him for information. The game turns are played during the course of a day, and kept track by a clock with Chinese symbols. The goal is to overtake the Junk that is moving throughout the harbor. Each round begin with an auction. A key mechanic is that even if you loose the auction, but have cards that match Lang-Tsu’s location, you can gain free information (victory points.) Thus this game can be very interactive. Loosing doesn’t mean you can’t make a gain.

Shanghai's production is beautiful. However Holiday rates better. After playing both games back to back, I agree that Holiday should rate better. While both games have a wide open bidding/auction mechanic, Shanghai has a very random element that detracts from the game. Who ever wins the auction either takes of choose another player to take a event card. The effects are either positive or negative, and the negative can be REALLY negative. During our game this evening, Andy won a heated auction, played two location cards, had the points double, but all in vain as the event card deleted the points he had earned. Ouch!!! I could see it on Andy's face, his enjoyment thus far evaporated just as quick as the points he had just lost.
Are you a fan of or newcomer to Sid Sackson board games; Acquire, Focus, Can't Stop, Holiday/Shanghai, Buy Word, & I'm The Boss? If so, please join me in celebrating these wonderful games as I will be hosting an event at GenCon. Multiple copies of these games will be available for play. Rules will be taught if your a new comer. Prizes/swag for all participants. Game ID: BGM1119613

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Cryokentic Reanimate & A Precise Watchmaker

Tonight I met Fred Randall a cryokentic reanimate & Max Geiger a precise watchmaker.

Before I delve into this weeks achievements in gaming, I want to congratulate my son Ryan and the Desoto Scholar's Bowl team for winning the 4A Kansas state championship this past Saturday. Their team was just awesome this year as they completed the trifecta winning league, regionals, and state.

It was an outstanding week in gaming. I got in two games each of Acquire and Settlers of Catan during the week. In addition, I found a copy of a 1999 Avalon Hill Acquire on eBay. This edition includes detailed plastic miniatures.

On Saturday I was interviewed by Under-discussion the Under-gopher podcast about my book project on Sid Sackson. While actors have the voice and face, and radio personalities have the voice, I have neither. However it was fun to share what I have learned about Sid. Speaking of Sid, I acquired two new Sackson titles this week including Shanghai and Doorways to Adventure. I found Doorways at a local thrift shop for .75 cents. Shanghai is a remake of "Holiday."

I took my 9 year old to game night at Pulp Fiction tonight. We played Gamma World. Gamma World is a RPG that feels like a board game. The game master was Brady, and he was so patient with Ian (who never stopped talking.) My character was Fred Randall a cryokentic reanimate. However my favorite character was Carl who was part great ape and tyrannosaur rex who used a stop sign as a melee weapon! Major kudos to Brady as well as Andy and Eric. Ian had a wonderful time (he talked all the way home about wanting to play again next weekend.)

Afterwards, I played a first game of Yomi. Yomi is a new card game that has a paper, rock, scissors mechanic. I first heard about this game on the Dice Tower podcast. After a first play, I want to review the rulebook and FAQ before getting in another game. I played Max Geiger a precise watchmaker deck. The game offers great potential. Overall this week was a 8 out of 10!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Settlers of Catan

Go Packers! We had a nice day today including chicken chili, a few friends, and Settlers of Catan. 10/Ten games later... I did manage to get to Pulp Fiction last Sunday, and we played Conquest of Earth. It is a new game from Flying Frog productions. I purchased it at Gencon but it only just arrived. The game can be played either competitively or cooperatively. Overall, it was easy to learn, and our first game was very close. The game components are wonderful, but hard to photograph as every card has a glossy finish.

I have multiple trades in process including another copy of Can’t Stop, Executive Decision, and my first copy of Shanghai. In addition, I purchased a DVD set of all of the Avalon Hill General magazine issues.

I found a copy of Kellar’s Keep on Friday, and the box felt unusually heavy. Upon opening it, aside from being complete, it included all of the figures, doors, cards, and furniture from the base game; Hero Quest. Bonus.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

2011, Off to a slow year.

So far 2011 Achievements in Gaming has gotten a slow start. I have not attended a gaming night at Pulp Fiction in well over a month. Honestly, I've lacked the motivation to drag my butt out from the front of my fire place. I have picked up a few games from local thrifts, and trades from board game geek .com. However I have lost my motivation along the way. Seasonal affective disorder? Naw I'm just lazy. I heard from Andy Mahon that the new game 7 Wonders is great fun. It is on my list to play as well as several other games. One bright spot is that I submitted an event application for Gencon. I always try to do something new at Gencon. I have never hosted an event before. It is entitled the "Sid Sackson Fan Fest." I opened the event up to 4-16 players who would like to gather and play Sid Sackson games including Acquire, Can't Stop, Focus, and others. Prizes & swag for all!! I did manage to play the '80s version of Mystery Mansion with Ian this week. I up graded the game by adding painted figures from an old copy of DVD Clue rather than using the pawns that came with the game.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Five's & Ten's of 2010

Five and tens are a traditional list of board games that were played at least 5 & or 10 times. It might suggest gaming favorites, or other trends/patterns such as quick, easy games. I have logged all of my games played for the past five years, so it makes for some interesting comparisons. I logged 239 playes in 2010. I got in the most games in April (41) and the fewest was in February with 6.

My 5's are; GoSu 5, Animal Upon Animal 5, A World Without End 6, Carcassonne 7, Acquire 7, Scrabble 9, Can't Stop 9

My 10's are; Call of Cthulhu 11 & Magic the Gathering 16

In a nice note, two Sid Sackson games are on this list, Acquire & Can't Stop

My first two games played in 2011 were Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League & Carcassonne.