Gaming with my Kids

As school starts here in Kansas, I am feeling nostalgic for gaming with my children. Joseph is an adult, Katlyn just started her Senior year, and Aleksia started Kindergarten this week. I have been playing more games the past few weeks, and will hopefully get some good ideas about what to write about as my gaming picks up.

I started gaming when Joe was quite young and Katlyn was a baby. I was home evenings with the kids, and was looking for things to do with my friends. Of course this carried over into gaming with the kids as time went on.

Joe has always been a gamer. Sadly, his interest in board games seems to have lessened over the past few years, or maybe it’s just playing with me. He’s playing D&D 2-3 nights a week, and spends most of the rest of his time playing video games. He’ll still play on occasion, but we used to play together several times a week. He’s growing up, but I miss the time we had together. He definitely enjoyed all types of games, and often times wins when we play something for the first time. We probably started with Blokus and Carcassonne with him, and he still plays all kinds of games in general. At Extra Life, when I tend to stay and play with my friends, he branches out and trys all kinds of games, he’s not shy about jumping in with groups he doesn’t know.

Katlyn started out playing lighter games and some kids games. I realized that she didn’t move onto more complex games till she was a little older than Joe had been, probably because I was playing those types of games with him. In 2013, I decided to teach her some more complex games, and documented it on this Geeklist. For a while she was playing all kinds of games with us. But slowly she stopped playing with the rest of the family. Occasionally something with Aleksia, but less and less with us. Now I can barely get her to play anything with us, but she still enjoys gaming. She took several games to a cast party after one of the plays at her school last year, mostly party games, but I was still happy. She really likes party style games, but getting her to play them with just us is hard, because 4 or 5 isn’t great for most party games. She’s extremely busy, and works a lot of weekends and evenings and is very involved in school stuff, so even if she was more interested, it would be difficult to play much more.

And that brings me to Aleksia. She has so much energy and enthusiasm for everything, it’s often hard to ask her to play a game, she seems to be having so much fun with whatever she’s doing. She’s also very crafty, which means she often has a mess on the table that makes gaming difficult. We’ve been playing mostly kids games, but are starting to mix in some rules light abstracts to break her into slightly more advanced games. I think once she starts reading more, we’ll teach her some games with text on the cards, and I think she’ll be very happy. I should play more often with her than I do, but I’m also trying, ok, mostly failing, to play more solitaire games.

Ok, so this may sound like me complaining, but I don’t want to give that impression. Our lives have changed a lot, and due to the older kids work/school, a lot of our available free time has been sucked up, so some of this is just scheduling. I think I may need to set a family game night occasionally, so we can just sit down and play, but I worry about it feeling like forced fun as opposed to family time.

What do you do as far as family gaming? Do you have family nights, or do it spontaneously? Do you have a gap between your kid’s ages that sometimes make it tricky to play games together? Let me know your ideas/suggestions in the comments.

Parting With Games

Hey all! It’s been a hot week here in the Midwest, in both the weather and in gaming news. Last week was GenCon, where us board games find out all the new shiny stuff that we can look forward to getting (sometimes not soon enough).

GCMS Login Image
Image taken from Gen Con LLC website <http://www.gencon.com&gt;

I got the chance to play games with a member of our game group who I haven’t seen in a while, and he was in the middle of culling his and another group member’s collection. It got me thinking: How much is too much? How many games do I need? What do I get rid of? How do I get rid of them?

So I sat down with my BGG collection exported as a .pdf and figured out what games I definitely could get rid of, and what ones I could consider getting rid of, either for the right price or pending my wife’s approval.

I normally try to sell locally, and if that doesn’t work, take them to Facebook. This time, though, after not getting many nibbles locally, I decided to try out a Math Trade. I have some really great stuff (at least in my mind) and I figure this is a great way to get some games that I’m interested in but might not ever buy at retail.

The games I settled on trading off

So, how did I decide which games to part with? You might think “Simple, get rid of those you haven’t played in a while”. That definitely is an approach I take, but I have to be careful, because there are some games I own that I love to play, but they may only see the table once a year. I also take into consideration who would play games with me. I have a couple there in that photo that I really, really enjoy but other people who I play with didn’t. To me, it isn’t worth taking up space on the shelf (which is usually my biggest reason for selling off large amounts of games) if I’m the only one who likes it.

I’ll also get rid of games if I’m upgrading to a newer or better version. This time around, I know I have the Collector’s Edition of Suburbia coming, so I’m trading off the copy I have. I know that this isn’t a novel concept, but I feel like it at least deserves a mention.

A lot of people try to keep one game of each mechanic on their shelf, and that’s never really worked for me. I focus on each game individually. Sometimes, if I start to get a ton of games in one area (like Deck Building) then I might look and ask myself “Okay, if I had to play a deck builder, what would my top 3 choices be” and whatever I don’t name makes it on the “For Trade” list. That’s usually the exception though, not the rule.

In the end, it really comes down to thinking about what I’m actually going to play. As my friend put it (paraphrased) “There’s so many games that are just good. They’re enjoyable to play, but they don’t make me want to buy them”. This is a mindset I’m going to try to adopt as I go forward. This is going to be tough though, as I tend to really enjoy any game I play.

Do you have any strategies for culling your collection? Let us know in the comments!

Half Year Gaming Update

Because it’s been another really slow month, mostly due to driving kids around to jobs and stuff. I don’t have a great feel for a good topic.

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned why driving them can be such a chore, it doesn’t sound like a huge time sink. We live in a small town just outside of Topeka and only have 1 car right now (The other one is getting worked on.). My wife needs the car every day, so she drives me to work at 7 am and picks me up at 3:30. My son typically works at 11 am Monday-Thursday, so he needs a ride. He also started another part time job a couple of nights a week for 3+ hours. Our eldest daughter has been working 40+ hours, 6 days a week, so she typically needs to be at work between 5-5:30. So basically if we go from home to pick them up or drop them off, it’s 40-50 minutes of driving. It’s probably only 15-20 miles each way, but from home to some parts of Topeka the quickest ways can take a while. This also includes they both typically work at some time on the weekends, both days in Katlyn’s case. Joe is also playing D&D 2 nights a week. Luckily Katlyn can often get a ride home late at night, but we still tend to stay in town often to save some driving, it’s getting to be a lot for us.

So basically my gaming has been sporadic at best. Once school starts again, maybe things normalize a little. We tend to do things to keep the 5 yr old busy when we stay in town, but maybe I should be bringing more games with to play.

So I wanted to compare my year this year to last year at 6 months, and give an update my challenges. I’ll also do a one line thought on a couple of new games this month.

So last year, I had played 144 different games 235 times. It was a good time, with a good mix of friends and family. This year, 71 games for a total of 102 plays. Those numbers total around my May alone last year (56 for 102). I KNOW it’s been slow, but this is pretty sad to see it spelled out like that. Even if I added July this year it wouldn’t help much, I’ve only played 7 games 10 times total. We’ve even had trouble getting together with our friends for gaming, although we have seen most of them in the past month at some point.

So, the doldrums are continuing. I need to make a bigger effort to get some gaming in. I have been playing a lot of My Time at Portia (Xbox) and Slay the Spire (Switch) lately, so that’s cutting into my board gaming time.

My Solo 10×10 has only gotten 32 total plays, nothing at 10 yet, so there is some work to be done there. My Play 10 Unplayed Games has done much better with 6 games so far. And the 10×5 is probably not going to happen with only 17 plays so far and only 2 games played 5 times.

So we have played a few games this month. Drew taught us Tiny Towns and The Voyages of Marco Polo on July 4th, both were a lot of fun. Aleksia has been enjoying Hey! That’s My Fish! and we picked up and played Drop It (Pictured above.), and they are both good games for both kids and adults. I picked up a copy of Proving Grounds (Pictured below.)to play solo, and attempted it last week. Interesting idea, but pretty difficult to win it seemed. The only other game in the last month was that I taught Dina Welcome to…, which she enjoyed quite a bit.

So that’s pretty much it. I’m finding it difficult to think of topics lately, my mind has been so occupied with other things. Any suggestions on stuff you’d like to see discussed? Or even suggestions on how to get back into my gaming groove.

d20 List: Top 6 Short Games

It’s good to be back with another d20 list this week. Ironically, we had chosen this topic right before we broke for the 4th of July thinking we could get it done in a short amount of time. But that didn’t happen, so you get it today.

Drew’s Picks
What do I consider a short game? For me, it’s one you can play in 30 min or less (although I would say 30 is really pushing it, and I don’t really have any that take that long). But in addition to play time, I think a Short Game is one that is light on rules and doesn’t take long to teach and/or setup.

1) Mint Works: This is a quick worker placement game that still asks players to make difficult decisions. The rules are simple (place a mint (worker) and do what the card says. This could include buying or playing a building, which will give you the ability to modify rules or gain victory points.

2) Martian Dice: This is a light press your luck game. It’s one I keep at work to play with coworkers if we have a spare moment or for our Friday game lunches. Taking your turn is just as fun as goading other players into rolling far after they should stop.

3) Love Letter: As far as deduction games go, this is probably my favorite. The rules are simple and the strategy is really easy to pick up after a few plays. It’s another one I keep at work since it’s good with a group and you can play it multiple times in a row.

4) Concept: Charades the board game. Playing with the rules as written, you may not be able to play in 30 minutes, but I’m not sure…we’ve never played with the actual rules. We usually just take turns giving clues and going around the table trying to guess. This is a great one for families and it also encourages players to think outside the box.

5) Eight Minute Empire: A great, quick area control game. This involves both holding areas and moving pieces on a map, but there’s also a really rewarding (and straightforward) set collection piece to it. This was one the first games by Ryan Laukat that I played and really kind of kicked off my love for his games.

6) Ganz schön clever: One of my favorite roll and write games, this one goes a little deeper than your normal roll and write. There are plenty of times where an opponent takes a die you needed or otherwise ruins your plan and you are forced to change your take on the game.

There you have my top 6 quick games. Let’s see what Ryan picked.

Ryan’s Picks
I really enjoy a good short game. Especially with a group, because you’ll almost always get a second play in. But some of these I wish would last a little longer, it feels like you’re done too quickly when it’s fun. That kind of contradicts my first point, but that still doesn’t make it any less true. Here are my Top 6 Short Games in no particular order.

1) Codenames: Duet: So this one is made to be a 2 player version of the very good Codenames (Which also could have made this list.). It is playable as teams like standard Codenames, but the cooperative way this game works is extremely fun.

2) Palm Island: Still my favorite quick solo game. It can play with more players, although I haven’t tried it out yet.

3) Fairy Tale: I’ve been in love with this game since I first heard of it. It was a bit of a grail game until it got a US release (I do have the original Japanese version though.). Card drafting to create combos for scoring, it’s a lot of fun, and creates tough decisions at times.

4) Star Realms: One of the best deck building games in general, but it’s quick, and fits in a very small box. Just a ton of fun. Although it probably only short when playing 2 player.

5) The Game: So simple, but a really tough cooperative game to win. It’s just laying down numbered cards, but it’s tricky how to do it well without telling your partners exactly what’s in your hand.

6) The Mind: See my description for The Game, only take away ANY communication. You just have to have a good vibe with your teammates. Pretty difficult, but one where the successes feel like major victories.

There you have it. Our top 6 quick games. Do you have a favorite we didn’t include? Do you agree with our classification of quick games? Let us know in the comments!

Checking In

Hey everyone.

Long time no….read? write? Both? Anyway, I haven’t been shy about my issues with anxiety, and some personal stuff the past week had me in a bad head space, so not much gaming or writing going on.

I’m doing better now, though, so I figured I would give a brief update.

My wife and I haven’t been playing a ton and she’s been gone at a work conference for the past few days, but we did get a game in of Last Will and Roll Player with the Monsters and Minons expansion.

We both enjoyed Roll Player and I especially enjoyed the addition of fighting monsters; one of my biggest frustrations of the base game was that it didn’t seem like there was any sort of end goal. M&M fixes that because the points you gain from making sure you are going to fight well against the big baddie can definitely help, especially if your dice weren’t rolling well.

The big surprise, though, was Last Will. I had played it a few times and enjoyed it, but Samantha had never played it before. She really, really liked it, and I could see the wheels turning in her head how she might have spent a few more dollars each turn so that she would have come out ahead. It was one I was ready to trade away, but based on our first play, it’s going to stay in our collection for a while.

I also managed to start a campaign of Thunderbolt/Apache Leader which is always a good time.

We picked up some games on Prime Day that I’ve played before but am excited to own. We snagged Tokaido and Pandemic: The Cure, along with some mass market games that we can start playing with our daughter. I also picked up One Night Ultimate Super Villains which probably would surprise those of you who have been following the blog for a while, since I don’t normally like those games. However, it was a good price and it’s good to have for larger impromptu game nights or for my Friday work game hours.

Anyway, I think that’s good enough for now. We’re going to get back in the swing of things, both playing more games and writing about them. We already have our next d20 List ready! What have you been up to lately, gaming or otherwise? Let us know in the comments below.

A Brief Hiatus!

Hello out there!

Just stopping by to let you know SBP is going to take a brief 2 week hiatus to celebrate the 4th of July holiday.

There will still be plenty of gaming, so we’ll be sure to provide you all with a recap, but that will be in a couple of weeks.

So be safe, have fun, and play more games!!

What I’m up to Lately

I haven’t been able to game in almost 3 weeks. No particular reason, my family has been busy, my wife has been using the table for sewing purposes, and kind of the doldrums I mentioned in a previous post.

So I’m just going to kind of ramble a bit today. This may end up short, this may end up long. It will not stick to gaming exclusively.

One thing that’s been weighing on my mind is Minnesota in general. I have been missing my friends and family lately. My parents have had some health issues. Dad had a hip replaced and Mom had something else that left her staying with my sister for a couple of days. It sounds like things are ok now, and they are both back at home. I doubt my siblings will ever know how much I appreciate all the things they do to take care of them while I’m not close enough to help. We had been hoping to go to MN this summer, but for some reason that vacation just never seems to have worked out, so now it seems less likely, and I’m bummed out by that. But we’ll see what we can do next year, although with Katlyn being a senior, we may be too busy with graduation and college stuff.

Joe, my oldest, turned 21 this week. A lot of reflection back on our lives since he was born and feeling old myself because my oldest can drink now. Not too bad, but it was interesting having a beer with him Monday night, going to take some getting used to.

While I haven’t been gaming, I have been watching a lot of videos. I pre-ordered Underwater Cities, and then started getting cold feet. After watching several videos, I think I made a good choice. It looks like something I’ll enjoy. It’s supposed to be similar to Terraforming Mars, which is another one I keep thinking about picking up. I have picked up a few games this month. Aeon’s End Legacy, which I’m really excited to get to, but it may be awhile before we can get everyone together to play it, and Welcome To…, a roll and write style that I played before and liked, and I think Dina and the family will like it too.

Drew is teaching us Food Chain Magnate this weekend, so I’ve watched a how to play and a review or two. The Shut Up & Sit Down review made me laugh, although I may have just been tired. It seems like a relatively simple game to play, but also a game that I will only do well with pure luck, because it’s going to take me a bit to figure out how to make it work, and by then I’ll probably be too far behind to win. But it seems relatively simple to understand, just how to make things work to your advantage, and I suck at planning in games like that.

Lack of gaming has also meant Dina and I have been watching a lot of TV. We’ve finished The Americans, Fleabag, Veep, Good Omens, caught up on Barry, and started the new season of Big Little Lies. I’d highly recommend ALL of these shows, especially Barry & Fleabag, they are doing some crazy things with the Dramedy genre. I’ve also been watching a lot of baseball, mostly because the Twins are really fun to watch right now, but I’m a fan in general and will watch any game when the mood strikes.

I’m kind of slowly using my vacation time up this year, so I’ve been taking random days off here and there. Have I mentioned my 17 yr old decided to play a sport for her senior year? Kansas recently approved Girls Wrestling as an official High School sport, and she’s going to participate in her school’s inaugural season. I mention it with my vacation because I am planning on taking a day off to go and watch practice in the next few weeks. I can’t wait till February when her season starts to be able to watch her compete.

I think that’s mostly what’s been on my mind lately. We’ve haven’t seen our friends much lately, but it sounds like that might change here over the next week due to our gaming, a former game group member visiting next week, and maybe hanging with Drew & family on the 4th of July, which can be a tough day for Dina and her PTSD. Actually, most of the next week or so can be rough once firework sales open in Kansas, but the 4th is the worst.

If you have any comments, please leave them below. Gaming, TV, life in general, all are welcome. I should get some gaming going again soon, so hopefully my next post will be more on topic.

Wingspan Review

I wrote a few weeks ago about playing games where the strategy escapes me the first few times and how that usually drives me to try to figure it out. It’s not always heavy games, though.

There’s this new game out that you might have heard of. It’s designed by Elizabeth Hargrave and published by Stonemaier Games. It’s a game about birds. Does the name Wingspan ring any bells?

Of course, that’s a bit tongue in cheek. Wingspan has been a ridiculously hot commodity, so much so that it is already on maybe its 6th print run. Gamers everywhere seem to be clamoring for it. Gamers tend to have a pretty big fear of missing out and want to seek out the new hotness, sometimes even if the game isn’t that great. So does Wingspan live up to the hype?

I had heard about Wingspan and I initially had mixed feelings. A game about birds? That’s…eh. But I knew it was being put out by Stonemaier and so I wanted to give it a shot based on their catalog alone: I haven’t played a Stonemaier game I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. I was determined not to buy a copy though, which I didn’t think would be an issue due to the initial shortage.

Ryan, though, managed to snag a copy, and so at the next game day I asked him to bring it so we could just rip the bandaid off. Let’s get it over with, I thought. Let’s play this game about birds that I don’t want to like so I won’t need to buy it.

And then, we played it. And I did terrible. And I knew I had to have it.

Let’s talk briefly about gameplay. Wingspan is an engine builder, and due to its scoring mechanic, the number of actions you have each turn (I use turn to define the largest chunks of gameplay) diminish. Like other engine builders, there are a variety of ways to chain cards together to make the most of your actions. There’s a variety of end game scoring opportunities too, from private objectives, to turn based objectives, to simply playing cards with high point values or that can hold lots of eggs.

I can usually sniff out a competitive strategy the first time I play an engine builder; it’s one of my favorite mechanisms. With Wingspan, though, even though the rules were extremely light, the strategy wasn’t apparent to me. I sort of floundered here and there, not being able to commit and didn’t really feel like I played well at all. As I told a board game community I’m a part of, “It enraged me and I loved it and I must have it”

To some people, though, gameplay isn’t everything, and I’ll admit I do like games with higher quality bits than just cardboard, and Wingspan doesn’t disappoint.

The game comes with a lot of stuff. Notably, it includes a plastic card tray to hold all the cards, 5 chunky (but not too big) wooden dice, a cardboard birdhouse dice tower, 3 rulebooks that come on the best paper I’ve ever held in my hands, wooden eggs that might be confused for Easter candy and lots and lots of beautifully illustrated cards.

I can’t stress how impressed I am with the work of Beth Sobel, Natalia Rojas and Ana Maria Martinez Jaramillo . All of the birds look like they came right out of an Audubon field guide. The iconography and layout is clean and easily recognizable, and the player boards are thematic. I am not a birder, but based upon feedback I’m seeing in the Facebook group that was set up for this game, there are tons of them that vouch for the art being ridiculously authentic, as well as the game being enjoyable. The artwork complements the mechanics, and you really do actually get the theme of birds and building an aviary.

Wingspan has vaulted itself to the top of my “games to play with people who aren’t gamers” list. The rules are easy to grasp, and it’s a fun game to play while you are having a conversation. I’ve enjoyed it at various player counts, from 2 to 4, and it even includes the ever great Automa system so you can play it solo (even though I haven’t yet tried).

I think Wingspan could be easily dismissed, like I almost did, because of the theme, but this would be a mistake. Wingspan is one of those games that has something for just about everyone, although I could see how those who tend to the medium-heavy end of the spectrum might lose interest. It’s definitely worth a play, however, even to just look at the art and play a laid back game.

Trading and Selling Games

Some of us have really large game collections. If you’re reading this, you likely know this, but it bears pointing out. Most of us have probably been asked things like:

“Have you played all of those games?” I suspect most of us reply that we’ve played MOST of them, but not all. That’s definitely the case with me. I currently show 24 unplayed, but about half of them were purchased this year, and gaming has been fairly slow the past month or 2.

“How can you afford to keep getting more games?” I’m planning on addressing part of this second question in this post. I admit, I buy more than I get rid of, but I will trade, sell, and even donate games. I’ll typically donate some at our Extra Life events.

So let’s start with selling games. I’ve had to sell a lot of games a couple of times over the years to get some money shortly after Dina was shot and after she lost her job. The family and I went through and chose our can’t sell games, and then I went from there.

The time after Dina got shot I made a spreadsheet with all the games, and asked people to make an offer. Any time a game went 24 hours without a new offer, I finalized the sale. These were all to local gamers and a few friends back in MN. I assume we got a few bids over market value to help us out, and we got quite a bit that helped for bills. I would guess I may have sold 30-40% of the collection that time. We weren’t in dire straights at that point, but money was going to be a little tight, so we having some extra made a big difference.

The second time after she lost her job was a rush sale. We really needed money, and I set values and pretty much took any price even close to that. I had a lot more issues with offers too. Like my Heroscape collection, I had valued around $400, got an offer for it, and then had 3 weeks of the guy asking to wait another week and he’d have the money. He eventually backed out, and I only got about $250 for it I believe, partially because people weren’t paying any attention to my sale anymore. Most of the experience was good, I sold only to local gamers, but didn’t get my asking price for most of it, which was ok, but was a bummer. That was probably only about 20-25% of the collection that time, because we had built it back up a little, but didn’t have as many games available as the previous time.

I’ll admit I hated needing to do this. It’s difficult and having some social anxieties, was not a lot of fun meeting sometimes new people. I have nothing against selling games, but I’d rather not do it. I did recently sell some games to a local game store, but that was to clear some space, and to get some store credit to get more games. I know I could probably make more selling them other ways, but I’m lazy.

BGG has a Marketplace where you can sell games, but I’ve never used it. I assume it works well. There are of course other options to sell like Ebay, Facebook, or Amazon. Anywhere you can post used things.

I very much prefer trading games. BoardGameGeek.com has a great search tool, although I tend to be lazy about looking for trades, I wait for offers to come to me. As of right now, I have 124 positive ratings out of 131 trades. The non-positive folks didn’t leave any ratings. I’m not sure why on a couple of them, one could have left a neutral or even negative rating, I messed up and forgot about a split corner on a box. We were able to discuss it face to face, although we never actually resolved it. I very much enjoy trading games.

One time a BGG admin cancelled a trade of mine, they suspected the guy of trying to rip people off, apparently he made a whole bunch of really good offers all at once, and they doubted he was legit.

That’s the closest thing I’ve had to a negative experience trading. Sure sometimes you get a box that they could have let you know the wear was fairly significant, or even a little crushed, but most people are very up front about that. I tend to over package when I ship, having one guy praise me because the box got left out in the rain, but it didn’t get to the game inside. Shipping can get spendy, but you know your trade partner will have to pay it too, and it’s still WAY cheaper than a game, in most cases.

Trading is also one of the best ways to get out of print or hard to find games. Especially when you can’t pay a ton of cash, but you have a lot of games you can offer. Although if you offer a rare/hard to get game, like Glory to Rome for example, for trade, expect a TON of terrible offers for it. I think people are either oblivious or trying to take advantage of you not knowing what you have.

There is one other kind of trade that I participated in called a math trade. I admit to not knowing all the details, just that a bunch of people offer games for trade, and submit a list of games they want, and an algorithm crunches everyone’s lists and distributes things as fairly as it can. It’s an interesting way to get rid of and receive games. But I haven’t done one of those in years.

How about you? Have you had to sell games, or even choose to regularly? Have you ever made a trade? Any interesting stories to tell about your experiences? Feel free to leave a comment about it.

d20 List: Top 5 Game Mechanics

With some rough weather in Kansas recently, and a holiday on Monday, I was kind of glad to roll a low number for our post this week. I chose our favorite game mechanics, because that seemed like something we wouldn’t necessarily want to do a long list for. I admit, I’m not always sure what qualifies as a mechanic, so I went with the BGG categories.

Ryan’s Top 5 Game Mechanics

A completed board in Sagrada showing how you are placing dice.
  1. Deck Building– I love the deck building mechanic in games. Trying to make your deck work as well as possible by adding cards and combos is a ton of fun. Of course, I absolutely suck at it, and usually just stumble into cool plays, but that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of it.

  2. Cooperative Play– I really love cooperative games. It’s so much more fun to play as a team towards a goal. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind competitive games, but co-ops fascinate me. They have had a big impact on games over the past 15 years, and I look forward to more of them in the future.

  3. Dice Rolling– This covers a lot of ground. It’s not a mechanism that always makes sense or works well, but when someone finds clever uses, it’s amazing. The recent roll & write trend has really shown neat uses of dice, while dice placement games like Sagrada or Roll Player also have some clever ways to use dice. It’s also a common mechanic in racing games, one of my favorite genres. I really enjoy chucking dice.

  4. Card Drafting– This one is a newer mechanic, or at least it seems to be. The main thing I consider it to be is you get a hand of cards, keep one, and pass the rest to the person next to you. The first time I remember this being a major mechanic was Fairy Tale (Still one of my favorite games.), and 7 Wonders also uses it, and is probably more familiar to gamers. I love the tension of should I keep this card to help me, or should I keep this other one to make sure my opponent can’s use it.

  5. Hand Management– This one can cover a wide range of things. Blue Moon City has multiple things you can do with the cards in your hand, and I consider it a really good example of this mechanic. Figuring out which cards you need to use, and which ones you need to hold for future use is something I really enjoy, and am often quite good at, although not as great at in something like Wingspan. I admit to not really understanding everything this mechanic entails, but it shows up on many of my favorite games, so I must enjoy it.
Fairy Tale. Take 1 card, and pass the rest. Nice quick card drafting game.

That’s it. I didn’t think I consider mechanics often when playing games, yet some, like Card Drafting & Deck Building dominate the game play and are really obvious when playing. Mechanics often make the game, but just good mechanics isn’t enough. Deck Building is a good example. You need good card interactions to make the mechanic work, or it’s just making a useless deck. But trying to add too many mechanics can spoil your game too.

Andrew’s Top 5 Game Mechanics

Like Ryan, I used the BGG Mechanic page to guide what is defined as a mechanic. There’s a lot of overlap in mine, but I think I would still like as a standalone game.

  1. Hex-and-counter– This encompasses a majority of board war games. Obviously, as a wargamer, I think they would kick me out of the club if I at least didn’t mention this mechanic. Some of my favorites include Normandy ’44 and D-Day at Omaha Beach.

  2. Deck/Pool Building– I really like the idea of cultivating an engine to get something to grow. I’ve always been bad at open ended deck building (like Magic: the Gathering) but games where I get to work on building a deck or pool to build from from a limited selection of choices always are fun. Some of my favorites include Trains and DiceMasters.

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    Trains: One of my favorite Deck Builders

  3. Route/Network Building– I’ve always enjoyed maps and city building. I think a part of that includes seeing some sort of sprawling network grow from nothing. Route or Network Building games really make me plan ahead in order to play well, which tie into those heavier games I mentioned last week. Some of my favorites include Roads & Boats adn Transamerica.

  4. Tile Placement– Tile placement is probably the earliest mechanic I really remember recognizing as a mechanic thanks to Carcassonne. Combine that with my wife’s enjoyment of Carc as her first Euro game, and tile placement games always get a look at our house. Some of my favorites include Suburbia and Quadropolis.

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    Walnut Grove: A great game that combines many mechanics, including Tile Placement

  5. Worker Placement– I debated adding this one or not, as it is pretty hit or miss with me. I think the Worker Placement games I really enjoy are those that don’t completely lock me out of getting a resource or taking an action because another player has taken it. Games like Viticulture or Brewcrafters can definitely force you to take a less efficient space, but your whole game plan may not be derailed just because someone took that one space you needed.

That’s it. Anything you like we should maybe check out again? What mechanics do you like best? Or even which ones do you hate? Let us know in the comments.