Klask Review

Sometimes I see a game and I fall in love with the idea. I loved the idea of Tumblin’ Dice, and was incredibly lucky to find a brand new copy in a thrift store for $5. It was one of our most played games for years, and I eventually sold it when we needed some money for a nice profit, it was out of print at that point. But the memories of my 5 or 6 yr old daughter Katlyn beating adults badly, will always remain.

Klask is also one of those games. I loved the simplicity of it, and the table hockey style play. I am a bit of a sucker for dexterity games to be honest. But for some strange reason, I never picked up a copy. I saw it at Target at a completely reasonable price. I even saw a copy at a thrift store, although that price seemed high, and it was taped shut, so I couldn’t verify the contents. The Target price went up as I assume they had the retail price wrong for the first few months, and while it was still fine, I balked at getting it. I saw it on sale, and still never picked it up. I finally grabbed it once I saw a single copy on a clearance shelf. It was 50% off, and I guessed it wasn’t going to come back.

So as I mentioned above, Klask is a Air/Table Hockey style game, with a couple of twists. The first being it’s much smaller, and is designed to sit on a table. It would fit on a small square folding table if you wanted it to. It looks really good on the table, and while not built from the highest quality materials ever, I don’t see any reason why it would fall apart or get damaged with reasonable care. Note: Some research on BGG mentioned the surface may start to scuff eventually, and there are some suggestions of felt pads or other thin layers to help with that.

Ok, so onto the gameplay. The main way to score is by getting the ball into the small cutout circle on your opponents side. You do this by using a pretty strong magnet between 2 pieces with magnets, the longer striker goes on top of the board, and the steering magnet underneath it, and this is the part you move, so you are able to slide the striker around on the board. These parts do come separated quite easily, but this seems like more of a feature as opposed to a flaw, as you can’t just zoom around all willy nilly. If you are unable to get your pieces connected back again if they do become separated, you give your opponent a point. .

And you wouldn’t want to move crazily all over the place very often anyway. If you aren’t careful, you’ll accidentally slide your piece into YOUR goal, and that’s called a Klask, which is based on the noise it makes when it happens, at least that’s the story according to the rules, and again you’ll give your opponent a point.

An additional obstacle is 3 small magnets in the middle of the board. If you ever have 2 of those stuck to your piece, it’s a point for your opponent. They get knocked around quite often, and provide a different element of strategy for just knocking the ball as hard as possible and hope it goes in. Plus it’s another reason to slow down moving around, you want to keep an eye on where these bits are at.

One other slightly different thing is how you start after a goal. You start in the marked area in the corner. It’s not always very easy to hit it well out of there, and adds a surprising amount of difficulty to your opening shots, or at least it has been for me. but maybe I’m just terrible at it.

The first person to 6 points wins the game.

This may sound a bit complicated, but it’s extremely simple and fast paced. My 5 yr old can play it with no issues, and can even beat the grown ups sometimes, because let’s face it, bad hops and accidents can happen very quickly. It’s chaotic and silly, and you learn that finesse is more often the better option than power shots, because you may set off a crazy sequence that ends up with the ball in your own goal if you hit it too hard.

We’ve been having a good time as a family with Klask. The games often take only a few minutes, and the giggling and shouting are a lot of fun. My wife wasn’t too sure about our purchase until the first night we took it out, and all 3 kids took turns playing each other with lots of laughing and trash talking. She looked at me and said “This alone might be worth the $30.” For a family that seems to be on the run a lot, a quick game we can play quickly is fantastic.

Have you played Klask? Any suggestions for some other games like that? I really want to get a nice Crokinole board someday, and we’ve played a lot of Pitchcar over the years. Any other whole family game suggestions?

Mixed Bag

Sorry, I’m late on my post. I typically work on a little bit of this during my breaks at work, but we had a workforce reduction and I haven’t had as much time to take my breaks this week. Plus just some general weirdness made me busier than normal. Then kids stuff last night meant I didn’t get home till late.

So I am writing a mixed bag of stuff today. I haven’t played enough new things lately for me to write many mini reviews, I didn’t have enough time to prepare a proper game review, and I didn’t have a particular topic I thought I’d be able to rip out quickly.

So first off I want to put out some thoughts on a recent trend in board game complaints. A TON of people complain about a game being unbalanced or not playtested enough. For instance, the recently released Tapestry. There are a bunch if civilizations and techs to develop throughout the game. Some combos may work better than others, but it might just be inexperience among players. But to accuse a game as being unbalanced, which can be a very negative connotation for a game, especially after one play, is ridiculous. These games have been playtested to death more often than not (Especially by well known publishers.), and maybe, just maybe, you messed something up, or didn’t find the ideal strategy, and maybe your opponent did. That doesn’t mean the game didn’t spend enough time in development. It’s quite possible, you just don’t know what you’re doing. Give a game a few more plays before trashing the development and playtesting. It does happen, things can get missed, but somehow I doubt you’ve broken a game in your first couple attempts.

I thought I’d discuss a couple of games I’ve played recently:

Tapestry– A really fun, light civilization building game. I admit, I don’t get the feeling of creating a civ, but that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it. It was deceivingly simple to play, but with a lot of interesting choices to be made as the game goes on. I did win, but I fell WAY behind the other players early on, so I don’t think that had much effect on my opinion. I had a plan, stuck with it, and came out on top, so I felt like I enjoyed that part of it.

Tapestry

Jaipur– A very nice little 2 player game. It’s always interested me, and I’ve owned and enjoyed the app for a couple years, so when I found this on the Barnes & Noble clearance table, I jumped on it. Dina and I have played it a couple times, and it works great as something quick to play at the laundroma

I also bought a couple of games. I bought Drew’s copy of One Deck Dungeon so I can give Eric his copy back. I picked up Mistfall: Heart of the Mists on a deep discount for solo play. And I bought Pharaoh’s Gulo Gulo to play with Aleksia.

Lastly, I belong to the 1 Player Guild on BGG. Every year, they have members rank their top solo games, up to a max of 20. I thought I’d share my list.

1) Wingspan
2) Star Realms: Frontiers
3) Race for the Galaxy
4) Palm Island
5) Crypt
6) Deep Space D-6
7) One Deck Dungeon
8) Fleet
9) Azul
10) Patchwork
11) Friday
12) That’s Pretty Clever (Ganz Schon Clever)
13) Elder Sign
14) Factory Funner
15) Onirim
16) The Game
17) Sagrada
18) Rising 5: Runes of Asteros
19) Tiny Epic Galaxies
20) Mint Works

That’s it. Sorry for the random post, but life got in my way this week, but I got a post up. Let me know if you have any thoughts on any of these, I look forward to hearing from folks.

d20 List: Top 9 RPG-esque Games

It’s my (Drew)’s turn to roll the dice and pick a topic. I am a huuuuge fan of Critical Role. For those of you not familiar, Critical Role is an Internet Series of professional voice actors who stream their Dungeons & Dragons game each week (you can find their YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpXBGqwsBkpvcYjsJBQ7LEQ). I don’t ever watch it live, but I watch the on demand playback while I’m playing video games or working on homework.

This season (they are in their second campaign), the PCs have formed a group called the Mighty Nein. I might have been watching the latest episode while I rolled for this week, and when it came up Nine, I knew what the topic was going to be. Since they play D&D, I decided we should come up with our top RPG -esque games. These can be RPG systems, or game books, or board games, but they have to tell a story. Here are my Picks:

  1. Dungeons and Dragons– The grandaddy of them all. I could write a whole book on D&D (in fact, I’m toying around with the idea for one) but it has provided me the most memories of any game on this list. We started playing 3.5e, but switched over to 5e when it came out. I’ve played in one off games and longer campaigns. I’ve avenged fallen friends and changed the fate of kingdoms. I’ve failed to prevent a Godkiller from being summoned and I’ve seen numerous Critical Rolls and Fails. I can’t wait for my daughter to get old enough so that I can run games for her and my wife
  2. Fiasco– This is a great, game masterless RPG that puts you in a crazy scenario straight out of a Cohen Brothers film. This is a great choice for people who want to get together to tell stories and see craziness happen, but may not be able to commit to a campaign.
  3. Tales of the Arabian Nights– This was my intro to this genre (at least on the board game side of things). It’s fun for a night of people who enjoy story telling and the setting, but I definitely play it for the experience and not for the “game” aspect.
  4. Fabled Lands Game Books– These are Choose Your Own Adventure books on Steroids. There are 7 in the series, and you can jump between books depending on where your character goes. You maintain stats, inventory and statuses as you encounter monsters, traps and dungeons.
  5. Four Against Darkness-Another set of dungeon crawl books, the base book was given to me as a gift from a friend. I haven’t had time to play much, but the little bit I did gave a great dungeon crawl experience quickly without much rules overhead.
  6. Star Wars: Edge of the Empire– I have a love/hate relationship with this RPG Series. I love the rules and how it implemented successes and failures (you could use them to narratively describe the actions a player was taken) but I had a really hard time DM’ing in this because of the setting: there is so much material that you want to stay true to (or at least I did) I always felt I was going against the source.
  7. Ambush! – This is D&D, wargame edition. In this game, you roll for a squadron of soldiers (they have stats as well as equipment points) and then take them through a series of mission in WWII Europe. This was my first foray into solitaire wargaming, and many consider it one of the best solo wargames ever created.
  8. Target for Today – In Target for Today, you control a B-17 (or other models of bombers) flying missions in WWII Europe. You generate your squad and guide them through missions, trying to get both your bomber and crew to survive 25 missions. The narrative this game provides is amazing, but be warned: there are not a ton of decisions to be made. You’re really rolling dice against a number of tables.
  9. Detective/Chronicles of Crime – These are the only ones I haven’t played, but in these games you take the role of a detective and try to solve crimes. It’s a deduction game, but you do progress through missions that tell an ongoing story. (I included both because they came out at the same time, and I own both).

Ryan: I’m really surprised that I had a bit of trouble making this list out. I really like RPG’s and board games that bring those elements to the table. Maybe I am too harsh on what I consider RPG-like, but finding 9 games was more difficult than I expected. I decided games with a good narrative and often having you play a character worked best, but not all are 100% like that, as you’ll see.

I did misread Drew’s suggestion for this topic, and I thought that meant we wouldn’t choose RPG’s. I am a huge fan of RPG’s although actually playing them has been an issue. A quick couple I really have had fun with over the years are D & D, Toon, Happy Birthday Robot, Star Wars (Wizard’s first d20 edition.), and Do: Pilgrims of the Flying Temple.

I am fascinated by systems, so others that I haven’t played but really wish I could find time to are Fiasco, Fate Accelerated (Dresden Files particularly), and Blades in the Dark.

  1. Fog of Love– A great game where you play as one of 2 people who are dating and starting a relationship. The game also encourages a little role playing to get into your character a bit more. There isn’t much of a win condition, so it can end however best fits the story.
  2. Gloomhaven– The story part of this one isn’t necessarily as strong as some (Although we’ve only played a couple of times, maybe it gets going later.), but the combat definitely feels like D&D style fights.
  3. Runebound– This one feels a little less story based too, although you can create a bit of a story as you go along. The player progression and XP make it feel like character building. I’ve only played the first 2 editions, so I can’t speak of the newest version of the game.
  4. TIME Stories– This one is almost all just story. But a really neat story with some puzzle solving involved, so I feel like it qualifies here. I know I loved the strong story telling aspect, although I’ve only gotten to play the base scenario.
  5. Tales of the Arabian Nights– Another story driven game, but you craft some crazy stuff here. The Choose Your Own Adventure aspects make me feel a little less RPGish than some, but it’s hard to argue with the story driving the game.
  6. Stuffed Fables– A really neat family game that has simple combat, but a lot of fun combat with some decisions to help shape your story. Feels like a great intro to RPG’s for kids.
  7. Descent– Pretty similar to Gloomhaven, but a simpler game. Still fun and enough story to qualify, and is something I need to get to the table more often.
  8. Star Wars: Imperial Assault– See Descent, but with the Star Wars universe to carry the story.
  9. Roll Player– It’s the least story involved of the group, but the most RPG-like, although it’s the setup, not the story. You make a character by manipulating dice to score the most points, but you are giving these dice to D&D style attributes.

There you have it, our top 9 RPG-esque games. Have you played any of these? Any systems or games we overlooked? Let us know in the comments below, and may all your rolls be 20!

Geekgroup.app Review

I’m going to do something a little different today. I’m going to review a game based website.

Those who know me well know that I love having data. I typically don’t use that data much, but I love having if I want it. I track my games played, owned, how much I paid, and where I got it. I track the details of each play. I also track the books I read, TV Shows & Movies I watch, beer I drink, and all of my disc golf plays (Which sadly has been 0 this summer.).

So when Drew invited me to use a site he found called Geekgroup.app, I was very interested. And I’ve enjoyed seeing it add features over a fairly short amount of time. We’ve been using it since April or May sometime.

One of the main features is being able to create a custom group of BGG users, and compile their collections & data. You want to quickly see how your group rates a game? This is the place. You want to use see which of your friends your game tastes match up with the best, that’s here too. The insights are at the very least interesting, if not always useful. The best feature might be just being able to look at all of your collections in one place.

There have been a ton of insights that they have added for your own info too. Mostly stuff that again isn’t all that useful (At least to me.), but still interesting, like what was my longest losing streak, or how long was my longest streak of not playing games.

You can create lists for your info too, including your top 100 rated games. Or seeing my shelf of shame It saves me a bit of time as opposed to using BGG. You can create custom lists, but I haven’t played with that.

There are ways to sort your collection & plays too, but again, I haven’t dug too much into those features. Same thing goes with the tools page, I don’t have much use for a Word Cloud or Heatmap, but it’s cool to have the options.

The last tab/page is activity, which is interesting to see when I rated games and when I added games to my collection.

One negative is that it only updates your data once a week. I don’t sue it often enough to justify that. You can make a one time tip of $2.50 to get daily syncs, manual syncs, and custom group urls. To be honest, I should probably do this just because I like rewarding small developers when they have a good product.

If you are stat junkie like I am, this site is really neat. I consider it a really useful companion to BGG. Some things will work better as time passes, like your yearly collection data, it starts when you join, or maybe that’s just for your groups, I was having trouble finding something individually that hadn’t puled my historical data. There are frequent improvements being made, and I look forward to seeing what else gets added in the future.

How about you, are there other sites out there I should know about? Are there any apps or sites that you frequently use? Let me know in the comments.

d20 List: Top Licensed Games

It’s the time of the month that Drew and I make a list. My 5 yr old rolled the big foam 20 sided die she has and came up with lucky number 13. With a Friday the 13th coming in a few weeks, I thought about a horror theme, but I’m not sure I have played that many games like that, so I decided to go with a different theme that Friday the 13 would fall under, licensed games in no particular order.

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers, we don’t know for sure which of these actually require a license or are public domain.

So here are Drew and my top 13 Licensed Games:

Ryan’s List

First off, I didn’t consider other game franchise. I wasn’t sure how it worked with D&D, Shadowrun, or Pathfinder. I did count video games though.

  1. Legendary- I’m going to lump the 3 games I’ve played under this. The Marvel version is one of my favorite games, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer version is excellent, and the Firefly version is fun, but I haven’t played it enough to know if it’s up to the other’s standards, it’s a slightly different game being a Legendary Encounters game.
  2. FFG Cthulu Games- Another group listing. Fantasy Flight Games has made several Mythos based games, and Eldritch Horror, Elder Sign, and Arkham Horror: The Card Game are all excellent games, so I decided to add them all here.
  3. Star Wars: Imperial Assault– Descent has always been one of my favorite games, both versions, and this is a great edition to it. A fun dungeon crawl with a Star War twist.
  4. Harry Potter: Hogwart’s Battle– This is probably my favorite deck builder to teach new players. It starts basic, and you keep adding stuff as you win, basically adding cards from the next book. We haven’t finished yet, we stalled out on Book 4, which I understand is a common place for people, it ramps up the difficulty.
  5. Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League– Space pick up and deliver. THe art is neat. It’s only 2 players, which might be an issue for some. I believe I’ve had it on both my favorite 2-player Games and Underrated Games.
  6. Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery– I never played the computer game, but this game was great. I think it’s be re-done at least once after losing the IP. I really wish I hadn’t sold my copy, it was always a fun time.
  7. The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game– A pretty difficult, but interesting co-op game. I love the novels, so I know the characters well. Each novel is a seperate scenario, and each requires you to play a little differently. As a bonus it typically only lasts about 30 minutes.
  8. Daytona 500– This one uses the same system as Detroit/Cleveland Grand Prix and more recently Downforce. You don’t control a particular car, but you get a handful of cards to move all of them, and you bid on where they finish. I’ve mentioned my affection for racing games, and this one is simple and fun.
  9. Discworld: Ankh-Morpork– I love Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and this is the best game from that world. Hidden goals with some area control, and just enough take that to not annoy me. It’s a really solid game.
  10. Railroad Tycoon– You’ll sense a them of regret getting rid of games, although most of them were necessary at the time. I have loved this since I fort played my friend Kevin’s copy many years ago. It’s a HUGE board, but it’s such a great system. It’s still in print as Railways of the World and that series.
  11. Gears of War: The Board Game– Did I once own this? Yep. Did I sell it? Yes again. Admittedly, I doubted we’d play it often. Bryan taught us once, and I really liked it.
  12. Starcraft: The Board Game– Another one I owned and sold. Again, it wasn’t going to get played enough, but it was a cool system, and did a great job of building up like the computer game itself. I only played it a couple of times, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
  13. The Lion Guard: Protect the Pride Lands– This one is probably more sentimental than it being a great game, but it’s a really solid kids co-op game. Aleksia and I have played it over 10 times since we got it last spring, and she still asks for it. I’m not even sure she’s watched the cartoon very much.

Drew’s List

Now that Ryan has had his say, here’s my top 13 Licensed games (in no particular order).

  1. DiceMasters: I’ve written before how I love Quarrior’s IP Crazy big brother, but when I think of a game that used licensing to enhance gameplay, DiceMasters is at the top of the list. Where else can I combine the powers of Captain America with Green Lantern?
  2. Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit: This is a Grail game for many, and I’ve only played it once at BGG.Con. This was a fun, 3D dice fest and I’m really glad I played it. I don’t think I’ll ever pay to get a copy, but I’d pay it again if given the chance.
  3. Risk: Star Wars Edition: The first time I played this I referred to it as “The Queen’s Gambit’s little brother”. This isn’t your typical risk, and it gives a fun tension where players have to manage three different “battlefields” that are taken from the movies. All in all, it’s a fun game and it looks good on the table.
  4. Arkham Horror (2e/3e): Arkham was my first foray into “epic” gaming; games that tell a story and take a long time to play. It was in college, so I had ample free time to play. Recently, FFG released a 3rd edition that streamlines the gameplay and makes it more scenario based. This is much better for my schedule, and I’ve really enjoyed the couple of times I’ve played it. Either way, Arkham will always hold a fond space in my heart.
  5. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle: My wife and I both love the Harry Potter games, so when we heard there was a deckbuilder coming out in that universe, we were both really excited. We haven’t played it a ton, but when we do it’s an enjoyable time, and it’s a solid game to use to introduce deckbuilders to people who may not be familiar with them.
  6. Bob Ross: Art of Chill Game: When I first heard about this, I thought it was a cash grab. Then I picked it up on Black Friday and played it. It was surprisingly not bad. It’s a little set collecting game where you are competing against Bob to finish paintings. It’s a very zen game, much like Tokkaido, and would be good for a lazy evening where you didn’t want to think too much or get too cutthroat.
  7. Codenames: We have both the Disney and Harry Potter versions of Codenames, and we’ve enjoyed it the few times we’ve played it. The Harry Potter version introduces the rules for cooperative 2p play that Duel has. We have yet to combine Disney and Harry Potter though. Maybe if Disney ever acquires the rights….
  8. The Game of Life: A Jedi’s Path: Yes, it’s Life. But this version allows you to make choices that lead to the light or the dark side. No, it doesn’t have deep strategic game play. But it lets me be a Jedi for a little while.
  9. Harry Potter Labyrinth: This is a themed version of the classic Ravensburger title. This will probably be my daughters first introduction to Harry Potter, and I hope she can use it to get lost in the books like her mother and I did.
  10. Star Wars: Imperial Assault: Descent, but in the Star Wars universe? Sign me up. I admit, I haven’t played a ton of it, but with the app that allows for cooperative play without a Game Master, I’m looking forward to setting some time aside for my wife and I to take on the empire.
  11. Lords of Waterdeep: For a long time, this was my default, go to worker placement game for new gamers. I really enjoy it with the expansions as well. The theme could probably be about anything, but I think the Dungeons & Dragons theme helps to draw people in. This one caused a bit of a debate between Ryan and I, since the company that owns the license is the one that produced the board game. But I argue that even if they own it, it’s still licensed. Help us settle this in the comments 😉
  12. Space Hulk: Death Angel: This solo game is brutal. BRUTAL. I have lost more times than I can count, and can count the wins on one hand. But it’s quick, doesn’t take up a ton of table space, and evokes some of the feeling that you are trapped in cramped hallways with no way out except for through the beasts stalking you. Unfortunately, it’s OOP, so you might have to pay a pretty penny to get a copy.
  13. Arkham Horror: Final Hour: This is the newest game on the list. I had the fortune to play a game of this after a buddy bought it from a local game store after GenCon. This was a really enjoyable, tension filled game that you would expect from the “House of Arkham” line. To me, it felt like a step up from Elder Sign, but a step down from Eldritch/Arkham Horror. It features an initiative system that specifically doesn’t allow table talk where you have to balance the values on the cards in your hand against when you might go in the overall turn order. We lost, but we really enjoyed playing it and all agreed we’d play it again.

So there you have it. Drew and I’s top 13 licensed games. How many of these have you played? Are there ones that we missed? Ones that break the mold of “licensed games are terrible?” Is Drew or Ryan right on Lords of Waterdeep? Let us know in the comments!

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.

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.

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.

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.