Friday, July 30, 2010

A call to action...

Kevin Schlabach over at Seize Your Turn has a few great ideas about how to get more people spending more time playing modern board games and less time sitting on their butts watching TV.  You should really check out his Play In Public campaign if you feel like modern board gaming doesn't get the recognition it deserves.  Or maybe, like me, you're sick of going to toy stores and only ever finding Monopoly clones on the shelves.  You should definitely check it out...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back to basics pt. 2: Liar's Poker

I have to be honest and say that I find most styles of Poker, especially Texas Hold 'Em, to be exceedingly tedious.  The big decisions occur at the beginning when one decides to either fold or stay in.  I admit that there is skill there but sitting out more than half the hands bores me to no end.

Having said that, I'll still play Poker if someone asks as I like the act of gaming.  (Although I'd much rather be losing my money in a nasty gambling game like Cheapass Games' brilliant but out-of-print Renfield which is now available for free online here.)  So at the pub two nights ago, when someone said, "let's play Silly Bugger Poker", I agreed.  What followed was a fantastic little card game which played like the Poker equivalent of the classic Liar's Dice.  It scratched that Poker itch without causing any of us to lose any money (although I'm sure we could have gambled on who would buy the next pitcher, if we'd thought of it).  And all with a simple, regular deck of cards.  I forget how useful those are.

Here's the rules, if you're interested.  I think it should be called Liar's Poker, personally, since it is so similar to Liar's Dice, so that's what I'll call it here.  We played with five, although I'm sure you could play with more...

Liar's Poker (for around 5 people)

Deal every player one card face-down which they keep to themselves.  The dealer opens by bidding a specific poker hand that he thinks will be in all the cards amongst the players.  The next player has three options:

1)  Raise the bid with a higher poker hand.  For example, Player 1 opens with "Ace high".  Player 2 calls "a pair of Kings".

2)  Call Bluff on the previous player.  Everyone reveals their cards.  If the last player's bid cannot be made, the that player loses the round.  If the bid can be made from everyone's cards, then the the player who called bluff loses the round.

3)  Call Nuts on the last player (this is a house rule we played).  If you call Nuts, you are claiming that the previous bid can be made with the cards but it is the highest-valued possible bid that can actually be made with all the cards dealt.  This is a great bid when someone calls 4 aces and you think it is actually makeable.  If you are right, the previous bidder loses.  Otherwise, you lose.

Whoever loses the round is dealt another card in the next round.  So as the game progresses, the losing players have more cards to consider when when bidding on the possible hands, which actually balances things out quite nicely.  Once a player has 5 cards and they lose a round, then they are out of the game and not dealt into the rounds anymore.  So the number of cards (and possible value of hands) expands and then decreases in the end rounds.

We played a few extra rules, which you could include or leave out.  We played with 2's wild which makes the hands much more interesting and the bids a little more daring.  We also played that in the case of a flush or straight flush, you had to declare the suit and in all cases you had to name the rank of the cards involved.  For example, valid calls would be things like "straight King high" or "Spade flush Jack high" (which would fail if there were five spades, one being the Ace).

For hand rankings, click on the pic above to embiggen.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ticket To Ride FAIL...

Last night I played the Big Game of the original Ticket To Ride with two new people and my partner.  I ended the game with 4 major east coast-west coast tickets.  Unfortunately in 5 turns, I was never able to get a blue card or a locomotive to connect Santa Fe to Oklahoma City.  My final score: -3.  Ugh.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Award-winning gaming pics...

Been struggling a bit since I got back from my trip to make the time for updating this here bloggy thing.  Been prepping for my new job which starts tomorrow, including the acquisition of an Ontario learner's license.  Hopefully the readers aren't dropping like flies...  (Nah, you're a devoted bunch, right?)  Will post a poker variant later today and maybe a review this week.  Picked up Taluva thanks to GamerChris' recommendation and will be wanting to talk more about that little delight as well.

For now, here's some delightful award-winning photos.  Check out BGN for more details on to this year's IGPA contest and even more photos.  (Click on the pictures to embiggen them.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Getting excited...

There are honestly too many games being published nowadays to keep up with, let alone play them all.  W. Eric Martin (the OTHER Eric Martin) makes a valiant effort of reporting on all of them at his fantastic website BoardgameNews, a site that deserves way more recognition than it gets and has been nicely updated recently.

Since I can't even fathom playing all of the games that come out, I am just getting excited about certain ones.  Like Isla Dorada which I've mentioned before.  The other Eric helped translate the rules for the English version and has a lot more details on it here.  Can't wait for this one in October!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Just rediscovered Shangri-La.....

Although I am sad to be back from my trip home, one of the things that always cheers me up are the games I bring back with me from my parents' hometown (I was not able to bring all of them when I first moved to Ontario for school.)  I was particularly delighted to find my relatively untouched copy of the classic Rail Baron which I thought I'd lost last year. 

Another one of the games I brought back is a luckless abstract strategy game from Leo Colovini called The Bridges of Shangri-La.  And I forgot just how damn good this game is!  With a set of simple, exceedingly elegant rules, Colovini has crafted a classic, vicious game of pure strategy for 3 or 4.  The games itself reminds me of another great Colovini game Clans, although Clans feels much lighter and plays much quicker.

Sadly, BoS-L was printed by the now defunct North American company Uberplay and the original German edition is not in print by Kosmos at the moment either.   I heartily recommend grabbing a cheap copy if you can as this game is just awesome.  

Now onto my reclaimed copy of Stephenson's Rocket....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Smartest nephew EVER!!!

Back in Northern BC for a few more days and I've been visiting with my sister and her kids.  Seems like my 5-year old nephew has mastered Knizia's Circus Flohcati, one of my favourite little card games.  He calls it Fleas!  ("Grandma, can we play Fleas again?")

The smart little bugger beat three adults 61-56-56-53 in the first game and then came second in the next game counting up his own 64 points.  The kid's a frickin' genius!  Maybe he'll be a mathematician like his uncle...