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My 10 Favorite Board Games

March 8, 2013 4 comments

I read an article by the comedy site Cracked, titled “6 Board Games That Ruined It for Everyone”. Many people who play board games or work in the tabletop industry, commented on the story. We all talked about how we agreed or disagreed, many times offering replacements to Cracked’s suggestions. A few people on Twitter and Facebook asked for my favorites, and one of my friends is looking for kid-appropriate games.

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Until I put together my list, I hadn’t really thought about how family friendly these games can be. Of course, you’ll know if a game is appropriate for your child. Some can handle some light strategy, and some are in it for the silliness. And some for all of it combined. With that, I offer up my favorite 10 games, in no particular order. A note, however. The list changes as I discover new games. Also, feel free to offer up your favorites in the comments!

Mille Bornes – This has been my favorite game for bazillions of years (because I am that old). I’ve been playing this game since I was a kid myself, and continue to love it. And not because I win it quite a bit. The game is easy to pick up and understand; it plays fast without heaps of pressure. Some folks say “That’s too old” and yawn over it. However, when I’ve brought this out in public, I get many comments on it. It’s mostly people who don’t call themselves “gamer”. One of the difficult parts in introducing new people to the hobby is that they don’t recognize anything. No one likes to look stupid, especially in a social setting. Mille Bornes is something many can recognize, if their only recollection is at grandma’s house.

Oh, Gnome You Don’t – I admit, I love this game just based on the shiny silliness of it. I actually rarely win, but I’m usually the one teaching it. I first heard of this game from Gen Con, because I always talked to the women of Gut Bustin’ Games. They’re behind “Redneck Life” and “Trailer Park Wars”. This game is quite different from those. The game is a wee slow paced, which I’ve solved by using 2 dice to roll movement instead of 1. There’s a lot of great flavor text on the cards and within the rules, making it accessible to newbies.

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Tsuro and Tsuro of the Seas – I’ve been a fan of Tsuro ever since playing a demo at Green Lake Games. It’s a gorgeous game. I take it everywhere and teach it when I can. Tsuro is definitely one of my “gateway” games to introduce non-gamers to the board game hobby. It’s a pathing game, and easy to learn. There’s a lot more strategy in it once you’ve got a table of experienced players. That being said, it’s still a ton of fun to mix both newbies and experienced folk. I had always hoped for an expansion or an updated version. I got my wish!

I didn’t realize they had done a Kickstarter campaign for Tsuro of the Seas until it was over. I saw @wilw tweet about it and set out to find it ASAP. I also wasn’t paying much attention to Geek & Sundry, so I wasn’t aware that one of the episodes of  Tabletop featured Tsuro!  All of a sudden, whenever it was out in public, people would remake, “Hey! I saw that on Tabletop! I’ve always wanted to play it!”.

I have to say, I love the added complexity that Tsuro of the Seas has brought to the game. It is still good for teaching people about board games, but it does take a bit more to get going for newbies. Still, it’s one of those games that people of all ages can enjoy.

Small World – The description is great: “The fun, zany, light-hearted civilization board game”. It’s a good descriptor of the game, instead of “like Risk, but easier”. I don’t think it’s Risk-like at all! It’s engaging and easy enough to jump into, but yet has enough difficulty for regular players of board games. The replay-ability is huge, because the game always changes, thanks to special abilities and race not being linked together. Each race has its down ability, and the bonus ability is random. Flying Dwarves? Diplomat Skeletons? Yep!

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Last year at Kingdom-Con, I hosted a table for my game group. I spent 3 days playing nothing but Small World. Many had never seen it before, and just as many were quite experienced, but LOVED to play. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who disliked this game. It’s just a hoot. There are numerous expansions, and for added difficulty, a whole different base game called Small World: Underground. Here’s the Small World Tabletop episode!

Dixit – I cannot say enough wonderful things about this game. We were first introduced it a couple years ago by our friend, Julez. The hubster liked it so much, that he ordered it online, while we were taking a snack break. We’ve gone through the first version, the expansion, the second version of the base game. We cannot get enough of the cards for this game. We tend to explain it as “It’s like Apples to Apples, but with pictures.”. It’s a bit different really, but the premise of a judge and submitting your match is similar.

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You just also have a points system, as your card is submitted along with everyone else’s card. They’re laid out and everyone has to guess which one is YOUR card. If you made the story/word/phrase too easy and everyone guesses? No points for you. If you make it too obscure and no one picks yours? No points for you. Plus, there are ways that people’s cards that DO get picked for yours get some points. The art is amazing, weird, and I’ve been able to use the same card numerous times, based on my audience. Just…go buy this one. Also, consider letting your kids play with you. It’s amazing for kids with vivid imaginations. You can always tailor the rules a bit more for the situation. Oh, and here’s the Dixit Tabletop episode.

Bakong – This review pretty much sums up what I like about it. It’s accessible, with just enough strategy to make it exciting for newbies. Many people tend to rush through to get the big fat emerald payout, but then realize it’s not who makes it back first with the big gem, but that those in behind can manipulate the tiles better to pick up smaller gems with more variety of scoring. The board is never the same, because you lay down each tile randomly when you play. The dice rolls and decisions from each player will determine how the board maps out through the game. I’ve seen it on shelves a bit here and there, so pick it up if you find it.

Gloom – This is a game I don’t get to play often, and that’s a shame. It’s quirky and fun, especially for those with a twisty sense of humor. People can get pretty creative with the optional rule of storytelling when playing, which is part of the fun. The art and the cards themselves are gorgeous. There are expansion and even a Cthulhu themed set, found on the Atlas Games site. Writing all this about the game makes me want to play it again soon. Maybe once we get back to Seattle, the game will get more play in our board game day. And yes…we have a theme. Gloom was featured on Tabletop.

Poo and Nuts! – This is where I admit that I’m 8 years old and the words POO and NUTS are hilarious. But really, these are great games. I’ve given away more copies of Poo & Nuts than I can count. I’ve given them away on airplanes, at conventions, and pubs. These are great quick games, and they’re easy enough for newbies & kids. Of course, there will be lots of juvenile snickering. That’s kinda the fun part. Playing over beers? A LOT of fun! The artwork is gorgeous, and draws in people to watch the game. I mean, c’mon. POO-FLINGING MONKEYS. How can you NOT have fun with this? Go pick them up; you can easy throw down a game or two randomly anywhere you are.

Dominion – This is the game which got me back into board games after a long absence. Deck building without the expense of buying decks of cards and booster packs. Everyone has an equal chance at winning. Even when you think you might be losing, you could easily be the one who wins. As an example, my mom was visiting us and we brought out Dominion to play. She’s stated she’s not good at games, but I beg to differ after watching her win and almost win in the two games we played. The game gets more complicated when you start adding in the expansions. I’m happy to play the base game all on its own, as you randomize all the cards used before each game. This way, the game changes not just with the cards on the table, but also changes based on who’s playing the game.

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When I first started playing, I won just about every game I played. Heck, after 3 play sessions of it, I entered a novice Dominion tournament. And came in 3rd place. Nowadays, I rarely win, but I still have a wonderful time every time I play. The game is newbie accessible, but it can be difficult for folks not used to deck building games. Another think I love about this being on the table, is that many of the people who love this game, do not steamroll newbies. That’s the best part about game groups. When you build a strong group of awesome people, they tend to be very welcoming to newbies. Also, once you understand the mechanics of this game, you can move on to other similar style games like Thunderstone and Heroes of Graxia.

The Resistance – From the site, “The Resistance is a very intense social deduction game for 5-10 players.  While it shares similarities with games like Werewolf, Mafia and even Battlestar Galactica, it has many very unique features such as a quick 30 minute play time, no moderator required and no player elimination.” I have to fess up. I loathe Werewolf and the like. I also must admit that  have never played Werewolf. The reason? Some of the people who play Werewolf.  Sadly, it’s because of experiences with the game and the people who play at game conventions which keep me away. It can be a completely disruptive game for those who are trying to play/talk near a Werewolf game. I have never heard this game played *quietly*. It needs a huge amount of space for the circle of people playing, which many conventions don’t have. Mind you, if the game is on the schedule ahead of time, it’s usually played away from other activities. It’s the spontaneous game which can prove to be vexing.

Okay, back to The Resistance. This was brought to my Beer Geek/Board Game day, and we had a *blast* playing. It’s best with a large group, and the guessing of the spies can take hilarious turns. I don’t know why everyone always thinks I’m the Spy. Or the opposite, people swear I can’t be the spy. I’ve got a pretty good poker face, and sometimes I am a Spy who sabotages the Spy win. Yep, trolling my own “team”. My deduction skills aren’t actually about the game play, so it’s interesting to watch people who use that as the ONLY way to figure out the Spy. I do by studying the people playing. That’s what makes it fun for me. There’s also a version of the game called The Resistance: Avalon which has more of a cohesive theme, and roles for people to play. I haven’t picked it up yet, but I plan to do so soon.

So, what are YOUR favorite all-age appropriate games?

Categories: Board & Card Games

Blog Update – Conjecture Con Schedule

October 3, 2012 2 comments

I suppose the easiest way to get back into the habit of writing is to just do it. I know, you’re amazed by this discovery. I’ve been a naughty naughty girl by ignoring my blog, especially since I’m always complaining that I have way too many things to say. This post will be pretty simple. I’m coming into the downswing of convention season and I have two more to go. One for pleasure, the other for work. Of course, the work one will be pleasurable, but I won’t be lollygagging all over the place like I will at a con I’m not attending for work.

First up is Conjecture/ConCord 2012.

It runs this weekend, Friday-Sunday. I’ve never been to this convention, but smart people I like tell me it is a good local event. I decided to submit some panels; one of them was chosen! I volunteered to be on others, with a total of 3 panels over the weekend. Here they are:

Breaking Down the Culture of Misogyny in Online Gaming – Sat 10/6 3:00 PM
With increased awareness of the levels of hate and harassment that female gamers face for instance, the backlash against Anita Sarkeesian’s Kickstarter project, and the tracking of misogynistic comments documented on fatuglyorslutty.com , what are ways for both male and female geeks to effectively combat misogyny in geek culture in general, and specifically in online games?

I’d normally take issue with “female” gamers versus calling us women. However, since men are referred to as “males”, it works for me. We only have one hour, so I don’t know if we’ll get to touch on gender issues as well. If I’m lucky, we can continue the discussion as a “stealth” panel, after the main discussion is complete. I love taking conversations out to the halls, the pub, or coffee shop, to discuss the topics further. Cross fingers!

Game Community – Sun 10/7 11:00 AM
Game communities have grown beyond small game clubs, web forums and IRC as social networking has become integrated with game companies and created even more game communities. Our panelists will discuss social networking and creating a positive community via chat tools, web forums, Twitter, Facebook and 3rd party news/blogs.

This is the panel I submitted! It’s a big passion for me, of course. I love to help people who want to be a part of game communities and those who want to create them. I’ll be talking about my own experiences finding people to play board/card games with and leading groups in Meetup.com and such. It’s not hard to run a game group, but it is a /lot/ of work. The best part is when you find others who are just as passionate and you can build an amazing team. You don’t have to like people to create an amazing experience. Pick others who are just as passionate as you; you may find that you have more in common than you thought.

Star Wars: The Very Expanded Universe – Sun 10/7 2:00 PM
Six films, five made-for-TV movies, five animated series, a huge number of tie-in novels, comic books, and games, and a possibly huger number of fan films recognized by Lucasfilm since 2002 in The Official Star Wars Fan Film Awards, later the Star Wars Fan Movie Challenge), plus toys, trading cards, and then all the fanart and fanfiction — what (other than clever marketing) has driven the development of such a vast body of work? Why do we keep buying, and making, more of the Star Wars universe?

Outside of the poor writing in this panel description, I’m very excited about this panel. Anyone who knows me will hear or see something Star Wars in my every day life. Whether Twitter, Facebook, or just IRL blathering, I’m surrounded by Star Wars. I laugh along with the absurdities, I cry while reading the novels. Okay, some of them I cry because they are terribad pieces of literature. I have been emotionally attached to Star Wars since I saw it in the theaters so many years ago.

The only misgivings I might have about this panel is that I’m the only woman on it. You better believe I’ll be all up in some people’s grill if they start mansplaining to me like Genevieve Valentine experienced at ReaderCon when she was the only woman on a FrankenStein panel.

Let’s face it. I’m gonna totally nerd out on this one.

The other thing I want to highlight is the Backup Ribbon Project. I’ll be bringing Backup Ribbons to the event. Find me wandering around and I’ll have one for you. Want to know more about the Backup Ribbon Project and how you can help? I’ll be your girl! I’ll be happy to pass them out at the “Breaking Down the Culture of Misogyny in Online Gaming” panel if you want to know how to find me.

Games for Sale!

July 30, 2012 1 comment

This Saturday, we’ll be selling a bunch of games, mostly older. We’re gonna have two spots on a table at the MidSummer Game Swap. Here is our current list of games for sale:

RPG:
Dystopian Wars rulebook
Dungeons & Dragons (that weird fake 2nd edition that came out later. *grin*)

Stacks of board games on a table.

Just a few of the games we’re selling.

Board/Card games:
Prussian Army
Panzer General: Allied Assault
Marvel Super Heroes basic set ( seems to be missing map )
Roman Taxi
Shootin’ Ladders
Crappy Birthday
Fred: What would Fred do
Cranium
Hoopla
Rapscallion
Eye for an Eye
Starfarer of Catan ( with expansion )
Traveller small box set,
OriginalRocketville ( nib )
Axis & Allies DDayAttack! ( With expansion)
Munchkin, Star Munchkin, Munchthulhu, Munchkin Zombie
POWER “The Game”
Buck Rogers Battle for the 25th Century ( TSR)
Diplomacy ( Avalon Hill 2003 )Risk ( 60s, wooden pieces )
Macho Women With Guns ( +3 expansions )
WFB Beastmen Army Box set from ?’07-ish.
Alibi ( Mayfair )
Pirates Quest for Davy Jones Gold ( constructable card ships game )

Minatures:
Al Muktar’s Desert Dogs
Galrauch, First Chaos Dragon
Dark Emissary
Albion Truthsayer
Chaos Knights ( 8 or so, 6th Edition era )
Chaos Marauder Horsemen ( 7, 6th ed. )
Flesh Hounds of Khorne ( 3, older ones )
Rogue Trader era Land Raider
Hounds of Chaos ( a dozen, older )
A box of misc Space Marine parts ( 12 scouts, a bunch of random characters Blood Angels, Grey Knights )
Adeptus Arbites ( 6 )
Protectorate Reckoner
Protectorate Temple Flame guard
Trollblood Scattergunners
Protectorate Devout
Protectorate Deliverer Sunburst

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