Tag Archives: board gaming

Fall Gaming

 

 

A busy season of gaming: we competed to infect our host without outright killing him in Viral, collect and steal the most treasure while evading the dragon in Drakon, try to score the most popular brews in Vivajava: The Coffee Game, battled each other under the sea in Captain Sonar, compete in the early industrial era in Brass: Birmingham, experiment on ourselves and our student “volunteers” to break down the magical ingredients in Alchemists, wheel, deal and swindle negotiate ourselves into the most profitable business locations in Chinatown, avoid causing too many time traveling paradoxes in Anachrony, interpret our vision dreams to solve a haunted murder mystery in Mysterium, be the quickest to work the marketplace in Istanbul, outmaneuver each other while working the Mayan calendar in Tzolk’in, make the most of our ingredients without exploding our potions in Quacks of Quedlinburg, vie for control over the meadow in Battle Sheep, escape the deadly maze in Room 25, race to the finish line in Flamme Rouge, fight the forces of evil in Shadow Over Camelot (only to be thwarted in the end by that unseen traitor, Richard!), build and shape the habitats and ecoystems in Ecos: First Continent, and lastly, to seek out and gather treasures in Clank! Legacy: Acquisitions Incorporated.

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Gandalf and Galadriel for Halloween

Gandalf and GaladrielDarlene and I ventured out as Gandalf and Galadriel for Halloween this year. We spent the afternoon with Jon and Siobhan, who is recovering well from some complicated and unpleasant oral cancer removal surgery and associated tissue transplants.  As a hopefully amusing distraction, we took them on a little adventure playing Tales of the Arabian Nights. Let’s see, I think Siobhan’s character was crippled and driven insane, Darlene was imprisoned and repeatedly unable to arrange an escape, I was scorned for a while before under going a sex change and Jon stumbled into marrying a passing stranger and somehow into respectability and eventual success.

Later that evening, we joined Kathie, Dave, Kevin, Vanessa, Lisa and Rachel for more gaming while awaiting the very few trick-or-treaters who dared knock on the door.  We got in games of Welcome To… and Decrypto as well as a few rounds of Jackbox Games’ Fibbage XL via the AppleTV.

Alas, no other pictures for Halloween this year!

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Big Trees, Missing Arms and Falling Limbs

Darlene and I joined Resi, Troy & Aiden and Greg, Erin & Merritt for another camping weekend, this time in Big Basin Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Besides some hiking among lots of giant redwood trees, we got in a couple of games, Decrypto and Quacks of Quedlinburg, and we got to experience the spooky, night time reenactment of Big Basin’s last lumber mill owner’s fateful encounter with a grizzily bear and the subsequent haunting of his missing arm!

 

The weekend ended with a true scare though.  This was another weekend of hot and dry winds, setting off wildfires despite PG&E’s efforts to shutdown large portions of the electric grid across many California counties.  Just a minute or two before we were to drive out of our campsites, several redwood tree branches gave way and came tumbling down just in front of our vehicles in the roadway.

Before that dust had settled, I heard another large crack directly overhead as I was still standing in our campsite, just outside the RV, about to climb aboard.  I ran off towards our adjoining campsite where everyone had just got into their cars and spun around to see a large 20-foot long limb, maybe 8 inches in diameter, come crashing down onto the back of the RV, right where I had been standing – and where we had been hanging out in our camp chairs much of the weekend.  Darlene was inside the RV and was startled into a scream at the sound of the crash and rushed out to see what had become of me.

Everyone piled out of their cars to quickly clear the roadway so we could make an immediate departure and get the heck out of there.  Later I was able to pull off the road in a clearing and survey the damage: the edge of the roof was busted open, exposing some wiring, the awning was crushed and bent and partially torn from its mount and a couple of solar panels were damaged.

So, both lucky that no one was hurt and that it didn’t come down while everyone was sitting around camp or in their tents and unlucky that we didn’t leave just a minute or two earlier and avoid the whole mishap.

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Vancouver and SHUX 2019

Darlene and I returned to Vancouver, British Columbia last week to enjoy three days of board gaming at Shut Up and Sit Down’s third annual board gaming convention (SHUX ’19) after enjoying ourselves so much last year at SHUX’18.  Once again we got to meet a bunch of new people (as well as bumped into a friend local to the Santa Cruz area) while learning and trying out many different games.  As always, there’s also lots of other gaming-related stuff going on all around the convention hall but we pretty much stuck to the game library and play area for the whole convention this time.

 

We dove in deep starting with the viking-themed, “worker placement”-style game A Feast for Odin.  It’s good but I’m not sure I really want to play it again, and it’s also really time-consuming to teach to new players.  (Luckily we found someone who already knew the game to teach us.)  We moved on to try the tableau-building Valeria: Card Kingdoms (not great), before getting transformed into mice trying to battle and escape our rat guards in the story-based adventure game Mice and Mystics (very cute!).  Then we tried playing classic Disney villains in Disney’s Villainous with just the two of us – and then tried it again when the first game ended rather abruptly.  I give it a pass – you’re pretty much at the mercy of your card draw, with little decision making to do each turn.  The card decks do wonderfully capture the spirit of the feature films though.

We both loved playing the soon-to-be-released Ecos: First Continent and I immediately put in a preorder for it.  Next up was trying Lowlands, a classic euro-style game with the added twist of having to decide whether to give up some of your precious turn actions to work on the community dike holding back the rising seas.  We liked it… but not as much as Istanbul that we tried later in the day.  I’ve had that in my wish list to try for a while and playing it with a group of five turned into an immediate purchase.

Richard joined us for the bizarrely themed and misrepresented Lords of Waterdeep after somebody we met earlier in the day insisted we try it.  It was okay, but it was really just a totally abstract cube-exchanging affair. However, from there we moved on to finding a group to try laying out a suburban neighborhood together in the puzzle-y “roll and write” game Welcome to… – and yes, the third purchase as a result of SHUX this year!

 

We joined up on the last day with another couple to figure out how to play the intriguing time travel-based cooperative mystery adventure game  T.I.M.E. Stories – which turned out to both not be so straight-forward without giving ourselves any story spoilers and reminded me why it got some less than stellar reviews.  The problem is that the game intentionally sets up the story to play out in such a way that you’re going to run out of your allotted actions and fail multiple times and then “get” to experience going back in time again to try again with your new knowledge.  However, unlike a well-scripted time travel movie, it’s not that fun to have to go back and repeat previous sections to gather needed equipment again.  We ended up cheating a bit on the second go-around only to be forced into a second failure anyway where we decided to quit without seeing the first story through to its end.

We didn’t get to finish the last game of the weekend, The Ancient World, with yet another couple before the convention closed down.  This one started out rough and afterwards I discovered that there’s a newer edition of the rules which would have avoided much of the confusion and outright invalid actions we were taking.  Maybe we’ll try it again sometime somewhere.

Darlene had to take off super early Monday morning to teach a class by noon, but I hung out for the day in Vancouver and ended up going for a walk to Stanley Park and spending the afternoon at the Vancouver Aquarium.  Click through for the full gallery:

   

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More Summer Gaming

Lots of more gaming time through August and September, including introducing Jon and Roland to the popular tile-laying game Suburbia as well as my newly-arrived copy of Bargain Quest, where you act as shopkeepers trying to sell supplies to the adventuring heroes on their way to vanquish the dragon.

 

With the local library gamers group, I got in a couple more games of Bargain Quest, we enjoyed wine making with the “worker placement” style game Viticulture, we unsuccessfully hunted Darlene as the great white shark in Jaws, wheeled and dealed in the trading game Chinatown again, and vied for success across the industrial age in the fantastic economy game Brass: Birmingham.

 

At Nacho’s, we swapped gems in the engine builder Century: Golem Edition and pushed through Clank! In! Space! trying to keep Nacho from getting away with all the glory.  Back home we had more bewildering adventures in Tales of the Arabian Nights and up in Tahoe there was more Clank! and Splendor and Darlene and I introduced Mark, Eve and Matt to the tasty fun of set collecting in Sushi Go! Party.

 

As usual, I forgot to snag pictures of several other game sessions (like with Greg & Erin, playing For Sale while camping at Pinnacles), but click through for the full gallery.

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Early Summer Gaming

 

Lots of gaming over the first half of the summer already: Darlene and I started Pandemic Legacy Season One in the early spring, and things were going pretty smoothly with my pilot/medic Hudson and Darlene’s quarantine specialist Zoe, despite the plot twists over the course of the game year.  Glenn and Michele even joined us for an episode, though Michele’s character turned out to be a traitor against all of humanity – we should have known – or at least Glenn should have warned us!  Anyway, despite the rioting in parts of North America and Eastern Asia, and the loss of some medical centers (including the CDC headquarters early on), things were more or less under control with no total failures… that is until October and November came around.  (Hence Darlene’s convincing sad face above.)  But ultimately, we persevered through December and the world was saved from ruin!

Darlene and I also enjoyed trying Memoir’44, the simple but engaging WWII battle simulation game and the new, deck-building race game of The Quest for El Dorado (safari hat not included).  I introduced Darlene to Suburbia and Suburbia Inc and we worked to partially solve the connected crimes in the second chapter of  the “Power Behind” scenario from Chronicles of Crime.

At Nacho’s place and the local library, we had an epic game of Cutthroat Caverns, a few games of the ever popular Quacks of Quedlinburg, the challenging Tiny Towns, the fantastic open trading game Chinatown, the surprisingly fun Wits and Wagers trivia-based betting game and I finally got Container: 10th Anniversary Edition to the table and it was well received – the huge container ships are amusing to move around but it’s just too bad that the artwork is so incredibly dull.  I was introduced to the very pretty bird-themed Wingspan, which I though was just okay – it seemed to lack an exciting build up or pay off to getting your game engine going.  Darlene enjoyed A Feast for Odin (which I have yet to try), while I taught classic Cosmic Encounter to Nacho, Dan and Elizabeth.

In mid-July, I joined Roland, Charles and Tom at Roland’s place where he introduced us to the great little brain teaser Century: Eastern Wonders and the gorgeous-looking Call to Adventure which turned out to be rather abstract pattern matching rather than much of a promised adventure.  I dragged them into a game of Chinatown and Charles and Roland stuck it out to face the zombie-infested, cooperative adventure Dead of Winter with me.

I was able to get in a few more games of Dead of Winter, including a two-player, pure co-op play in “difficult” mode with Darlene (we failed!) and a five-hour long epic play with five of us at the library meetup: we had to try to survive for eight rounds while stockpiling fuel, keeping the hordes of zombies at bay, feeding our growing colony of survivors, and managing one difficult crisis after another.  We lost a few survivors along the way and it was looking like failure toward the end but we just barely squeaked through with a win on the last player’s very last turn with minimum morale, food and supplies.  Fantastic!

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Bunnies, Wizards and… Real Estate Developers

Lots of gaming this month, including several meetups at the local library.  After the second broken playthrough of the auction game Estates, I finally realized I had goofed a fundamental rule in teaching the game. Nobody could possibly come out ahead… next time let’s try playing it in the way that it’s possible for someone to succeed!

On the other hand, our first playthrough of Chinatown was really fun, though hard to keep our voices down in this wildly interactive, open trading/deal-making game. And it was fun to finally get Wiz-War to the table with a group of four – even though my wizard got killed off first!  D’oh!

   

Nacho started hosting some gaming nights at his place this month.  We did some finger flicking of race cars around a track (what was that called?), squeezed little miniature towns together in Tiny Towns and enjoyed lots of repeats: building amusement parks in Unfair, werewolf hunting with One Night Ultimate Werewolf, pattern matching in Sagrada, space conquest via Space Base and maze maneuvering in Drakon.

   

Besides a couple more rounds of Bunny Kingdom, Darlene and I finally started Pandemic Legacy: Season One at home.  We’re only a few “months” in but so far things are under control – which probably means things are going to spiral out-of-control soon.

Oh and I introduced Kathie and Dave to Quacks of Quedlinburg. Dave came out the clear leader – and the supreme Quack!

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Gaming in March

Darlene and I got in another game of Great Western Trail – not withstanding Pan’s attempt to thwart us.  That picture was after having just finished setting up the starting game state – the first time.  We had to herd him away from the table mid-game a few times after that to avoid disaster.

Later, with my local gaming Meetup group, I tried out the cold war espionage, item-collecting game Covert (and cleaned up like a super-spy! ;-)

At another gaming meetup, I finally got the hidden traitor game Dark Moon back to the table again and incorporated some of the Shadow Corporation expansion into play with six players but it went very strangely.  All of our dice rolls were so lucky that we completed all four events in just one round and a half of play – without really any intrigue of trying to suss out the infected players.  Lame.  Will have to try again.  Meanwhile, others were engaged in a multiple-hour, six-player, three-stage bike racing series championship with Flamme Rouge. Darlene and I were introduced to the dice-rolling Space Base game and we introduced others to a quick three rounds of Cheaty Mages.

  

On a Wednesday night, five of us attempted to summit K2 (via the board game, K2) and alas, one of my climbers and somebody else’s were caught up top in a blizzard and died.  Very sad.  Kat came through though with maybe just a little frostbite to win the game.

At a Saturday gathering, I introduced the group to Quacks of Quedlinburg, in appropriate costume of course! Several of us managed to max out our potion-brewing cauldrons – but then I did forget a rule about when you’re allowed to use the neutralizing agent.  Oops.  After that I tried a game of Whistle Stop for the first time – that one was interesting, but a bit slow with five players.

Darlene and I also introduced her niece Joslyn to some board games while she was here for a week visiting from Wisconsin.  Besides Quacks of Quedlinburg, Bärenpark and Evo, we made a first run on the new spin on cooperative, crime-solving detective games, Chronicles of Chrime.  This game uses an app to allow you to explore a crime scene and related locations in virtual reality and has you prompting characters with the various bits of evidence you find to gather more clues and eventually piece together a solution to the criminal mystery – all while consuming in-game time that allows the situation to evolve.  Pretty cool!

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Utah Ski Week

Our annual week of skiing and board gaming didn’t happen last year but we did manage to get together this year in Utah.  Bill, Kat, Jon, Stan, Tom and I all hit up Alta, Snowbird and Solitude over five days.  We had plenty of snow and a few extra inches here and there over the course of the week.  We also got in plenty of gaming: Diamant, Sushi Go Party, Bang!, Slide 5, Decrypto, Cheaty Mages, Codenames: Pictures, Ricochet Robot, Cutthroat Caverns and a partial game of Fury of Dracula.

Click through for the full gallery of pictures from all of us:

      

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February Gaming

Got in a few more games this month, including a long gaming night with Roland, Clay, Dan and Darlene that began with Fury of Dracula and continued with everyone’s first time play of Terra Mystica.  Got to try Inis with four players at the local gaming meetup in Scotts Valley.  Darlene and I played many rounds of the new push-your-luck style game of potion brewing in The Quacks of Quedlinburg.  We also had our first encounter with the “boss minion” in the gorgeous co-op Mechs vs. Minions and, lastly, we were utterly clobbered and my character driven insane in our first two player campaign attempt of Arkham Horror: The Card Game.  So much for “standard difficulty” with even the starter campaign “Night of the Zealot” – we’ll be trying again though, with both the lights and the difficulty turned down!

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A Gathering of Gamers

  

Six intrepid gamers (Mark, Stefan, Darlene, Charles, Roland and myself) gathered on a Saturday.  We pushed our luck seeking the most treasure in the mines of Diamant, struggled to cross the finish line first in Flamme Rouge, tried to make off with the most loot in Clank! In! Space!, worked to build the strongest foothold at the fringe of the galaxy in Empires of the Void II, screwed each other over with the storms of Category 5, and made and broke mad alliances to establish the most colonies in Cosmic Encounter.  Oh, and there was a bit of dice-throwing for good measure.

Click through for pictures and video…


Darlene and I also joined the local Scotts Valley gaming group a couple of times this month.  Early in January we had our first time run through the lovely fourth edition version of Fury of Dracula.  As Dracula, I was eventually tracked down and defeated but surely only because of the fact that I/we misinterpreted a few important rules.  Wait until next time…  mwahahahahaha!

In late January, we got together again and, as Long John Silver, I tried to keep my treasure hidden from four scheming pirates (Darlene included) in the new Treasure Island.  We also got in a game of Sushi Go Party before breaking off into two groups.  Darlene tried out Whistle Stop, while I had another go at evading the vampire hunters in Fury of Dracula.  Unfortunately, we ran out of time.

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December Gaming

Lots more gaming over December, including many more flaming balls of lava with Fireball Island and the Curse of Vul-Kar.  With the local Scotts Valley gaming group, we finally got to grow some trees with a full four players in the gorgeous Photosynthesis and we successfully terraformed Mars again in, of course, Terraforming Mars.  With Clay, Kevin, Rachel and Dan, we had a battle of alliances in the classic Cosmic Encounter; Troy joined me and Darlene for New Years Eve and a couple plays of Clank! In! Spaaaaace!, a lot of pushing our luck too far with Diamant, as well as a relaxing run of Tokaido.  Darlene got me a copy of Alchemists for Christmas which she quickly became so obsessed with that we found ourselves playing multiple games until the early morning hours.  That and she’s also hooked now on deck building games like Clank! and Dominion.  We also enjoyed some more dice puzzle solving in Sagrada, building out our fiefdoms in Bunny Kingdom and uncovering lost Mayan ruins in Tikal.

Unfortunately, I only sometimes remember to snag some pictures while we’re engrossed in the games:

  

      

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Great Balls of Fire

Lots of fun first plays of games this month both at home and meeting up several times with the local gaming group at the Scotts Valley library.  Alchemists has you experimenting on yourself and your students to figure out the ingredients for magic potions and then publish for fame and fortune, Decrypto pits two teams of codebreakers against each other, Inis has several Celtic clans competing to elect a king across all the land, in Mechs vs. Minions you must continually program your mechwarriors to beat back the onslaught of minions and accomplish the co-op mission but lastly, via Kickstarter…

…it’s the silly, flaming marble madness of Fireball Island and the Curse of Vul-Kar:

 

Speaking of Mechs vs. Minions, check out the absolutely incredible components that come with this campaign-style co-op game:

We also got in some great repeat games of Great Western Trail (drive cattle to market), Whitehall (track down and catch Jack the Ripper), Flamme Rouge (bike racing), Bärenpark (design an animal/bear park), Azul (lay pattern-matching tiles), Sagrada (pattern matching with dice), and Arboretum (build out paths of different tree species).

      

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Vancouver and SHUX 2018

Darlene joined me for a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, last week to enjoy three days of board gaming at Shut Up and Sit Down’s very own, second annual board gaming convention (SHUX ’18).  I only discovered Shut Up and Sit Down and their most excellent and entertaining board gaming content last year.  I’ve since been hooked on their written and video reviews as well as their podcast. They’re also responsible for me being driven to buy a trunk load of additional games over the past year.  (As if my game collection wasn’t large enough already.)

We got to try out a bunch of games I’ve been meaning to check out, meet some new people, get to see Quinns, Paul, Matt and Pip live and even see a little bit more of Vancouver – including tooling around on some electric bikes for a few hours. It was a great trip and great convention, though I wish we had used our time a little more wisely and squeezed in a few more games as well as been prepared for the early closing of the game-lending library.  Also, would’ve been great to participate in one of the day-long megagames (if the convention were longer) or in a more involved version of Two Rooms and A Boom.  We only got to try the basic version with just a couple of people with roles.  We did get to try and got hooked on several great ones: Bunny Kingdom, Mystery of the Temples, Bårenpark, Great Western Trail, Sagrada, and Azul.  Not so great: Crows, Koi and Kodama: The Tree Spirits.  Terrible: Cat Lady, Nefarious.

I also wish I had thought to take pictures of all of the games we tried (and the folks we played with), but click through for the full gallery:

      

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Another Pre-Movie Gaming Day

Roland, Clay, Mark, Steven, Troy and I gathered for another gaming day and movie night (Blade Runner 2049) this past Sunday:

  • We managed to escape the singularity after many hilariously haphazard gravitational maneuvers in Gravwell.
  • We cleverly dodged almost certain disaster on K2 by decisively turning away from the mountain entirely.
  • We successfully secured pirate booty aplenty in Libertalia despite the efforts of many mutineers among us.
  • Although many boats were violently smashed by whales, many swimmers torn apart by sharks, and several refugee-laden ships utterly destroyed by sea monsters, a handful of survivors made it to shore to tell the tale of Survive: Escape from Atlantis.

It was indeed a day of many adventures.  (And a good movie, too!)  Thanks, guys!

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Tahoe Gaming Weekend

Darlene and I joined Roland, Charles, Mark, Jon and Steve last weekend in South Lake Tahoe for a couple of fun filled days of gaming – thanks again for hosting, Steve!  We had adventures in Welcome to the Dungeon, Bang! The Dice Game, Sidereal Confluence, Raptor, Crazy Karts, Viva Java, Category 5, Chameleon, Codenames, and Ladies and Gentlemen.  Click through for the gallery:

      

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