Last month I was lucky enough to once again attend Boardgamegeekcon. My second year was an even better experience. I saw many friends from the year before, never spoiled for people to try new games with, and got to play many of the hot new games. Yeah, it's a pretty good way to spend a few days. (more…)
Last year I was lucky enough to attend the premier boardgaming convention in the US, BGGcon. I will be there again starting tomorrow. Alas, I think it's unlikely that I will do much updating in media res, although like last year I will do a full post mortem (you can see last years starting here.) It should be an amazing 5 days.
To whet your appetite, here are a couple of games I am very interested in going in:
– Troyes. I've mentioned before that I like dice games, and in this game each color of dice represents a particular class of citizen. All of which can do different things. Looks right up my alley.
– Navegador. It looks a little like a combination of Finca and Endeavor, both games I really like.
– 7 Wonders. A civilization building (and destroying) version of Dominion? Sounds interesting to me!
– Vinhos. A game about making wine. Not my favorite theme, but this one has a lot of buzz around it.
– Merkator. The theme has been done to death middle ages trading empires, but this is from the guy that did Agricola and Le Havre, so I am automatically interested.
– Junta – Viva El Presidente. Just because I love the original so.
So, see everybody some time after Thanksgiving! Enjoy the holiday.
Been awhile since I did any game reviews, and I have several really good games to cover. Also, I am about to head to BGGcon for the second time, so I have been thinking games even more than usual. I have written previously about how much I enjoy games Jason Matthews and various partners have made. Whether the wonderful Twilight Struggle, the equally great 1960 or the recent Campaign Manager you really can't go wrong. Except for one thing – all those games are only for two players. Here follows a way too long review of their latest game. (more…)
Race for the Galaxy is a fun card game where each player is trying to conquer the galaxy. There are many different ways to win – economic, military, research. It's all about building an engine that can grind out victory points faster than your opponents. Will you choose to try to get victory points by consuming goods, or by colonizing (or conquering) lots of planets. Of course, it's a card game so there is a heaping helping of randomness in there as well.
The good news is, a fellow named Keldon has created a single player version that is available for download. It includes a very capable AI. Trust me, this could waste more than just this Friday. Download Keldon's great Race for the Galaxy game at his website. And, in case you need a rules refresher, you can find the rules to the game here.
Last year I covered the games nominated for the most prestigious prize in boardgames, the Spiel des Jahres. I went over the basics of the prize – decided on by a jury, heavily weighted towards family games – in that post, and gave some back ground on the award. Of course, the prediction in that post were severely hampered by coming out two weeks after the prize was announced. This year, I am ahead (slightly) of the game. The prize is due to be announced next Monday. This years candidates are a curious bunch. I have actually played all 5 games, and they are all over the place. Let's take a look. (more…)
I mainly focus on strategy games here, partly because those are mainly what I play and partly because the people I play with don't enjoy party games that much. I like them, but don't get to play them much. Last night I got to play a party game that quickly rocketed to the top of my favorites, and will certainly be played again many times. Does a combination of the telephone game & pictionary sound like fun? Well it is!
Telestrations is a simple game. You are given a laminated flip book and a card with 6 words or phrases on it. You choose one of the words, and have 90 seconds to draw it. As soon as everyone has drawn it, you pass your book to the person on your left. They look at the picture, and try to guess what it is, and then write that on the next page.
This cycle is repeated until your book is back in your hands. So, last night I started out with "pigs in a blanket" and when I passed it, she guessed "shrouded pigs" which led the next player to draw a hilarious picture that the next guesser somehow turned into "poodle." It stayed poodle all the way around back to me. The funniest one we had last night was the original word "cannibals" becoming "marriage" by the end.
This game had us laughing so much that I was worried the cafe would ask us to keep it down. One of the genius parts of the game is that you initial every drawing or guess you make, so you can always see where things went off track, and who to blame. At the end of the round (played in at most 15 minutes) you go through the flip book page by page and watch the transformation.
Sure, it's not a deep game, but we had 9 people laughing really loud for 2 rounds last night. It was a definite winner. Sometimes a good party game can be a great way to start or end an evening, even with hard core gamers. This is also a game that can be played with anyone, whether they like Die Macher or Connect Four. It's rules are very simple, and there is not a lot of brain burning. A great game for family or a group of friends. Definitely recommended!
Unsurprisingly, I love political boardgames. The excellent 1960 is the gold standard, but it can be a long game, and is definitely complex.The designers of 1960, Jason Matthews and Christian Leonhard, have distilled a lot of the concepts and gameplay of 1960 into their latest game – Campaign Manager 2008. (more…)
If there is an ur German game, it might be Die Macher. It is the quintessential eurogame, with just about all the mechanics you would expect (role selection, bidding, various paths to victory, etc.) It is also a 3-4 hour simulation of German politics. Oh, and it is one of the best games you will ever play. (more…)
So, the con itself started. Registration actually started 20 minutes early. I was pretty close to the front. You got some nice schwag just for showing up. A free copy of one of three Queen Games (I got Robber Knights, the least of the three) then you drew a ticket which either entered you in a drawing for some really great games, or guaranteed you a game from the free game room (full of a lot of good but not great games.) I got the free game, and wandered the room for 20 minutes trying to decide. I finally went with an expansion deck for my favorite party game Times Up. This time, all the cards are names of board games. Should be fun with my gamer friends. (Of course, part of the reason I chose it, was that it was among the smallest choices, and luggage space was at a premium.)
And so the con began in earnest. (more…)
I'm back from vacation, and finally have a little time to throw down some notes on my trip to Boardgamegeekcon. I might also intersperse a few random observations from my ensuing family Thanksgiving in Amarillo, Texas. It was practically an anthropological outing for me! But, I digress… (more…)
I'm enjoying a brief break to eat (for the first time today – at 4pm) and wanted to share a few thoughts about games. Sadly, I'm going to have to skip photos and links for now. The short version is that I might not ever have had more fun. The sheer number of esoteric games and people eager to play them is incredible.
I've been lucky enough to play just about every game I wanted (and bought several of them as well). So far a surprise favorite is Tobago. A deduction game where you are building treasure maps piece by piece. It's heavier than it seems and can be quite cutthroat. I really enjoy it and picked up a copy.
I still haven't had a chance to play dungeon lords, but I bought it & read the rules. I'll definitely be playing it tonight. It looks great and has been very popular at the con.
The best moment of the con was the chance I got to play Basketboss an auction game about building a basketbAll dynasty. It's a great game with some very innovative mechanics, and I love the theme. Sadly, it was not ready to be sold at the con so I had to be satisfied just getting to play it.
All of a sudden-in one of the most serendipitous moments I can remember someone walks by with a copy of the game and asks if anyone wants to buy it because he already has one. Needless to say, I was all over it.
Sorry I can't write more, but Stronghold a game of siege warfare is beckoning to me.
The Hat's gonna get a little less Liberal for a few weeks, as I am off to Texas to attend Boardgamegeekcon and then spend Thanksgiving with family Deep in the Heart (actually, in Amarillo, which is sort of the Appendix of Texas..) I'm looking forward to trying out a bunch of the new releases (especially Dungeon Lords – which looks like a boardgame version of Dungeon Keeper, the new Agricola expansion, BasketBoss – a basketball team management sim and Carson City – although that's really because I am a sucker for tile laying games) and playing a lot of old favorites. It's gonna be a great several days, that's for sure!
Theoretically, I have the ability to post to the Hat from my iPhone, and I might try to toss up some random thoughts about games (or maybe just list games I played at the end of each day..) during the con. But, don't get your hopes up. After all, gaming is more fun than typing.
Have a great Thanksgiving one and all, and I better not to return to find out you dang Libertarians have sold naming rights to the Hat.
Scrabble. For many people it is the alpha and omega of wordgames. It's really just the beginning, and there are a ton of different wordgames out there. Today I'm going to discuss one that has a hook that will appeal to us all.
Unspeakable Words is worth whatever you pay for it just for the little Cthulhu figures that come with the game. That the game itself is a clever wordgame mixed with some great inside HP Lovecraft jokes is a pleasant bonus.
The game is simple, you are dealt a hand of 7 cards and 5 mini-Cthulhus (these reflect your sanity, which will inexorably reduce as you spell words), each with a letter on it. The letters are worth a certain number of points each (humorously, they are worth one point for every right angle in the letter, so S is worth 0 points. Non-Euclidean Geometry is built into the game!) you play a word down, total the points on the card and record your score. Two things happen after you score your points, one – the word you played is written down, and no one else can play that word, two – you have to roll a sanity check. The sanity check is simply rolling more than the points you scored on your word on a D20. If you succeed nothing happens and your turn continues. If you fail you lose one of your little Cthulhus. Lose all your Cthulhus and you are out of the game, no matter how many points you have. First to 100 points wins.
It's a fun, light cardgame with some interesting strategy. Not being able to use words that have been previously spelled can really complicate matters. Deciding whether to play a large word (and face a daunting sanity check) or a small one, and having to keep track of which words have already been played is good fun. The sanity check mechanic makes the game faster, and also adds a hint of unpredictability.
A special note has to be made about the art and theme of the game. The cards are wonderfully illustrated, with all sorts of visual sight gags for fans of the Mythos. The cards are like Mythos flash cards. "M is for Mi-Go" and my personal favorite "H is for _______________" (I won't say his name either..)
Not only is it a nice little filler game, but it will have an extra layer of fun for anyone who is a fan of HP Lovecraft. Unspeakable Words is definitely worth checking out!
For the most part, the games I have talked about have been the longer, meatier games. Sometimes, you are in the mood for something a little shorter. Or, you are looking for a game that plays a few more players. This is often where the class of games we call "fillers" come in. (more…)