Monday, June 28, 2010

Spiel des Jahres 2010 - Dixit!!!!

Looks like I'll REALLY have to get this game now....  You called it, Chris!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Some pics from the latest game night...

I'm away for the next couple weeks back in BC doing what has become a yearly pilgrimage to visit the family. We're bringing three brand new Tichu decks with us and I plan to leave a whole lot of new Tichu players in BC!

Here's some pics from last Monday at the University of Waterloo... Talk soon!!!

A game of Roll Through The Ages...

The latest expansion of RFTG... too complicated now for my tastes.

A game of the delightful and devious Clans.

A rather nasty game of Tigris and Euphrates on the go...

Okay, Dungeon Lords is pretty but HOLY COMPLICATED!!!! I'm not even interested...

Oh, the disease...

I don't play Pandemic enough. It's a hoot.

Ra. Classic.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rerelease of TTR: Nordic Countries!

(Via BoardGame News...)

Days of Wonder is rereleasing Ticket To Ride: Nordic Countries this fall! All I have to say is, if you like any of the Ticket To Ride games, then you MUST own this 2-3 player version. It is easily the best of all of them - tough board due to the new rules, fiercely competitive with 2 or 3, and the nicest artwork in the series. Should be a good Christmas...

Monday, June 21, 2010

On the horizon: A few acres of snow...

One of the top board game designers in the world right now and I would argue in the top 10 of all time (including Knizia, Sackson, Moon and friends) is Martin Wallace from Treefrog Games in the UK.  He invented the best train game ever, Age of Steam, as well as many other modern war-gamey and economic classics. 

Wallace always tries to take on interesting subject matters and he usually starts with the theme first and then designs a game around it, unlike most other designers of European style board games.  Now there aren't many games about the beginnings of Canada as a country, so I'm excited to read on the Treefrog website about 'A Few Acres of Snow' due out in March 2011:
This will be our next two-player only game. It will cover the long struggle between Britain and France for control of what eventually became Canada.
I'm not a big war-gamer but this one has me interested, if only for the Canadiana...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Have your game and eat it, too... Part 2!

Two of my absolute favourite things are board games and pastries.  So I've posted some really cool board game cupcakes previously. 

How about birthday cakes?  Here's some of my favourites from a user-made list on BGG.  Delicious.

Rumis (Blokus 3-d)!







Friday, June 18, 2010

A review of "10 days in Asia" and "10 days in Europe"

As a child, I played many different board games, most being rather simplistic.  I also remember quite well the games I played at others' homes.  At one particular friend's place, there existed a well-known game from the 50's by the name of 'Rack-O'.  Now the premise of Rack-O was pretty simple.  There was a deck numbered 1-100 and you started with a hand of 10 cards placed one at a time in order on a rack.  The game?  Draw and discard a card each turn replacing a card on the rack, but preserving the order of the ten cards.  Your goal?  Get the ten cards in ascending sequence to win.  Fun game - bit of a mix of math and rummy - but far too simple to remain interesting for long.

Cue 2003 and Alan Moon and Aaron Weisblumm decide to reinvent Rack-O in a geographical setting adding some of their usual tricks from other games.  What is produced is a game that feels familiar but adds enough tweaks to make it fascinating enough for continued play.  Let's take a look at a couple of the '10 days in...' games from Out of the Box Publishing...

Rules and Gameplay

The rules to the game are really quite simple.  If you've played Rack-O (or even Rummy), then they should be easy to pick up.  Anyone who has played any modern family games like Ticket To Ride will probably learn it in about 30 seconds.  Having said that, I did play one game with someone who hasn't played any board games before.  And she just couldn't seem to get it even after a couple rounds.

So what do you do?  Well, depending on the continent you are playing, the game consist of tiles with all of the different countries represented on the map board plus some helpful transportation tiles (boats and planes in Europe and boats, planes, and trains in Asia).  The players start by filling their racks with ten tiles, drawing them one at a time.  A lot of strategy actually begins at this point.  You are trying to construct a sequence from Day 1 to Day 10 that will resemble a trip through the different countries.  The goal is to have each day connected to the following either by placing adjacent countries next to each other in the sequence or by connecting two countries with a matching transportation tile (for example, a yellow plane between two yellow countries, or a body of water between two countries that are adjacent to that body of water).

Although it possible to finish a complete legal 10-day trip during setup, I would say it's probably extraordinarily rare and I've never seen it.  So in most cases, the real game then begins and players start to draw tiles and remove tiles one at a time to try and establish a complete journey.  The real challenge is that you can't rearrange your tiles at all, just draw a tile, possibly replace a tile in that exact same spot, and discard.  Helping this are three different discard piles which you can draw from in addition to the pile of randoms.

Once you get a complete journey, you win the gamecimmediately. In general,  a round takes about 20 minutes or less and in every round I've played, everyone wanted to play one more time.  That's a good sign.  And it's quite a lot of fun although people tend to get a bit serious and quiet during play.  Most of the game consists of switching tiles, giddily stealing tiles discarded by other players, and anxiously awaiting that damned single "Moldovia" tile to come up so you can claim the win.  Verdict:  Tense but fun.  Easy to pick up and very quick.

Strategy and Conclusion

In all games I play, I usually try to look for at least a hint of some mental exercise.  And there is definitely some in both of these games.  It in fact takes a lot of thought to try and plan out a valid route, especially with the placement at the beginning of a round.  In mathematical terms, in Rack-O one tries to create a linear order between 1 and 100.  With the 10 Days games, the order is only a partial order, not even, can have uncountable branches, and can start and end on any country.  The choices are endless and decisions are tough which is what makes the game so fun.  What will ruin the game for some is the absolutely overwhelming amount of luck also involved.  Try as you might, you just may never draw the tiles you want.  Or someone else will finish their route on their first turn of the round.  Oh well.  This doesn't bother me for two reasons:  1)  the game is REALLY quick, and 2)  I still feel like I'm getting a mental workout and learning something at the same time.

I might suggest a scoring variant to fix this if the game is played over a number of rounds.  I had thought of perhaps once someone claims the win, that each person scores a point for each day in their longest valid trip.  The winner would get 10 plus maybe a few bonus points for going out.  Over a few rounds, I think this would reward the best player.  Thoughts?

Okay, so overall a fantastic, affordable little family game.  Very educational and surprisingly fun.  Another effortless classic from Alan Moon and friends.  This man can do no wrong....

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Some recent game pics...

Haven't posted in a while due to a misplaced camera and a very important job interview (cross fingers!!!)
So here's a few pics from the last couple weeks: a cabin weekend and games night.  Back with more soon.

A game of '10 days in Asia'.  Review coming soon...

Teaching the fantastic 'Samarkand'

Beer goggles on another hand of 'Tichu'

'11 Nimmt' (Take 11) - fun, relaxing, but not as good as '6 Nimmt'

'Leaping Lemmings' at games night - weird, surprisingly fun, but WAY, WAY too long

Another excellent game of 'Age of Steam' - I can't get enough of this classic game.  Such delicious tension.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Things best left in the past...

Many, including myself, would argue that the board games we play are a reflection of our common culture.  Monopoly reflects the greed of our capitalist society and Risk oversimplifies our very violent foreign policy.  On the subject of slavery and racial subjugation, you should check out this nasty piece of cardboard history.  Turns out that this "antique" piece of ugly American history isn't all that antique...  Read more here. 

Scary stuff.