Gaming for Adam West.

“Of what use is a dream if not a blueprint for courageous action?”

-Adam West

Greetings All,

We had a small game night on Saturday and four of us played five games.

We got a game of Pandemic by Z-Man Games in and beat it shockingly quickly, but I’m fairly certain that’s because we forgot the rules in the beginning and were only drawing one card from the player deck instead of two for like two rounds, so we didn’t get an epidemic card for a while. That said we were not wanting to restart the game, so we just fixed the rules and rolled with it.

After that we played Ticket to Ride: First Journey by Days of Wonder. Being that it’s a kid version of Ticket to Ride, the trains and map symbols were huge and cute. The rules were simplified and yet there was some difficulty. I’ll do a review of this later because I was annoyingly excited to play it and I totally won.

The last big game we got in was Ghost Stories by Asmodee. I freaking love Ghost Stories, it’s so darn difficult and the defeat is sometimes earth shattering, but when you win… It’s a golden feeling. We beat the game and it was super fun.

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After hearing about the sad news that Adam West had passed away, we had to get some Batman games in at the end of the night. We ended it with Batman Fluxx by Looney Labs and Batman Love Letter by Alderac. The games are simple and relaxed and it was a nice way to say good-bye to Mr. West. I say relaxed, but truth be told Love Letter ended with our friend Sam comparing hands with my husband, beating him, and subsequently screaming WU-TANG!

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That said I’ll end this post by saying Sam… calm down. 🙂 And farewell Batman.

Until next time… Live by the Board.

-Livingbytheboard

Spontaneous Gaming

Hi readers!

Filling in today for your standard contributor, is…her husband. I haven’t the time (or really the inclination) to come up with a compelling pseudonym, so…I’m the hubby. Weak introductions out-of-the-way, all right, let’s dig in!

Today I wanted to discuss “spontaneous gaming.” I classify this as when a table top game breaks out with little forethought or planning, and usually in a public place or atypical venue. For instance, I used to work in a hospital. I had the pleasure of unplanned, intermittent lengths of downtime due to nature of my position. I also had the pleasure of interacting with many, many patients. I met with patients whom suffered from conditions that allowed few opportunities to leave their rooms, or…move. I found very quickly that the best way to alleviate the pain and frustration of a physical malady, is by entertaining the mind! This became an increasing practice of mine as I found more, and more regular patients to interact with.

Now, the key to making a “spontaneous” game session work, is having the right game. This requires a number of considerations:

1) Length of play. If a game shows even a hint of going over 20-30 minutes, it’s a no-go.

2) Footprint. If a game exceeds the (admittedly smaller) size of a standard bedside table, it’s a no-go.

3) Gameplay. If a game isn’t particularly engaging, or has a longer period of downtime between player turns, it’s probably a no-go. What’s more, the more simplistic the rules are, generally the better experience you can have in an “on the fly.”

Having run some games through this algorithm, and having tried to account for universal appeal (have to account for non-gamers out there,) we have my following list of games that I found most favored by people for “spontaneous gaming”:

fantasy

1) Fantasy (Asmodee)

A Simple, set collecting card game for 2-4 players. So, this game has a general (you guessed it!) fantasy theme, wherein you collect all manner of cards (representing forest inhabitants) in the hopes of having to most by the end of the game. This game plays in about 15-20, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and has a more engaging form of gameplay. See, on every turn, the cards (which range from goblins, to elves) you play effect both you and your opponent’s cards. It’s a good way to keep a person’s head in the game, and trying to formulate their own strategies. Deceptively simple, intriguingly deep.

jack pocket

2) Mr. Jack Pocket (Hurrican)

Excellent theming and puzzle-like gameplay make this little game shine! A 2 player game in which one player controls the Jack the Ripper killer, and the other player controls Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, and a dog. The detective player moves his characters around the edge of a modular grid, taking actions in an effort to investigate several key suspects to determine who the actual killer is. Meanwhile, the killer player is taking efforts and actions to undermine the detectives. If after a few turns the detectives haven’t found the killer, the killer wins. This one is a bit on the heavier side as far as rules go (as far as quick games go), so the first game may be spent primarily getting accustomed to the mechanics for newbies. But, once both players are well acquainted, this game gets TENSE! Nothing beats the verbal jousting you and your opposing player will have during turns: “I know friggin’ well that the killer is in that center square! You can’t run from me!” “…Yes I can!!!” Also, nothing beats a when a patient waxes rhapsodical about getting away with murder to an unaware member of medical staff. Classic! In summation, the game takes up a moderate amount of space, plays in roughly 15 minutes, and will call for attentiveness from both players during each turn in order to assure victory.

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3) Lost Legacy (Alderac Entertainment Group)

I thought hard about choosing this PARTICULAR title. See, it holds the distinction of being the spiritual successor to the INSANELY popular card game: “Love Letter.” Personally, I love them both. And, I must also admit, Love Letter plays better as a 2 player game, than Lost Legacy. That said, I had to choose Lost Legacy. It simply doesn’t get enough attention, and it is a fine game in its own distinction. The largest difference between the two games is in their approach to other players. Love Letter emphasizes eliminating other players, whereas Lost Legacy (though still having the option to eliminate other players) emphasizes deduction. Lost Legacy plays virtually identical to Love Letter, insofar as you have a small deck of cards, you draw one card each turn, play one card each turn, et cetera. Lost Legacy’s whole bent is trying to find the location of a single card, and doing everything you can to improve your odds of finding it before anyone else. I REALLY like that approach, I like protracted rounds where everyone has a chance of victory, even if slim. The game plays in roughly 5-10 minutes, takes up extremely little space, and features quick and engaging gameplay.

Though I referenced my time playing with patients at a hospital, these games are accessible in most any public situations. I’ve had some fantastic times just whipping out Lost Legacy in a restaurant, or Mr. Jack Pocket at a park. It’s also truly fantastic to have people approach me and what I’m playing. It’s always a nice thrill to give someone a taste of the hobby, and for it to be a positive recieved…that’s just a great feeling! Either way, I’ve prattled on far too long as it is. So, until next time, live by the board! (I’m just gonna steal that tag line until I come up with one for myself!)

-The Husband

Recruiting New Gamers

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Greetings All,

This is one I still struggle with. My husband, however, is much better at than I am, which is why I asked him to co-write this one with me. I’m fairly certain that half of the ability to convince people to try board games has to do with charming them. My husband is by the far the most charming person I know so he has a very easy time getting people on his side. Please read more below to get his take on recruiting new gamers. Enjoy. 🙂


-Husband-

To recruit new gamers, you need to at least have a vague idea who you’re playing with. This makes it way easier to potentially draw anyone from the hardened gamer to the total neophyte.

Know someone who’s never played board games, but loves video games? Too easy! Suggest an analogue of a favorite game of their’s! “You like Starcraft? How about showing me your strategic prowess in a quick game of OGRE?” Know someone who likes casual cell phone games? Too easy! “Something quick, easy and fun? How about you lend me 10 minutes of your time and play some Coin Age or Brave Rats with me?” How about a non-competitive type who just wants to have fun? “How’s about a co-operative game then? We can save OUR castle together!” I’ve found that far and away the easiest way to get people to game (in any situation) is to tailor your approach, almost like you’re trying to sell gaming as a product. “Man, have you ever heard of a game called Disc Duelers? It’s like a super open game of RPG battle pogs!!!” “Dude, Zombie Dice is like zombie Yahtzee…y’know, except without being schooled by old people.” I jest, of course! Or my general use line: “Can I borrow five minutes of your life? I’ll repay it 100 fold in entertainment!”

BATTLE POGS

If you do manage to secure someone for game night, its almost equitable to catching a fish on a hook… now you just have to reel them in! And how do you do that? You whip out the AAA titles from your game shelf! I am a thorough believer in “palate cleaner” or “feeler” games. By which, I mean shorter games that will better help you understand the temperature of the table. Did your table of new invites enjoy the rule light, rapid play game? Or the slower, more complicated/methodical game? These are important things to know about your guests to insure the success of your evening as well as potentially insuring the return of your guests.

Great “feeler games” I personally use are:

Love Letter by AEG

2-4 players (we’ve played w/ 5), 10-20 mins

Love Letter is easily one of the biggest, quickest crowd pleasers I own. Easy to learn rules, quick gameplay, and a friendlier competitive structure. Hard to go wrong with this one.


This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The 2-4 Of Us by TMG

2-4 players (we’ve played with 5), 10-15 mins

This game shares a lot of elements with Carcassonne. Fantastic simplicity coupled with a hidden level of complexity make this an easy way to spot the more thoughtful members attending your table.


We Didn’t Playtest This At All by Asmadi

2-15 players, 1-5 mins

This is a card game that is so absurd, it’s divisive. It’ll either be an instant favorite, or an eye roller. Great way to sift through senses of humor, or lack thereof.

Fantasy by Asmodee

2-4 players (we’ve played with 5), 20-30 mins

Fantasy is a slightly longer card game with (somewhat) simple rules, and a nice (you guessed it!) fantasy motif that keeps players in the game until the last card is dealt and the scores are tallied. A great game to help your table rev up for a tougher, longer game.


Now, let’s get to real meat and potatoes of all of this. The AAA crowd pleasers that turn these new acquaintances into fast friends:

Ticket To Ride by Days of Wonder

2-5 players, 30-60 mins

If you’re visiting this blog, odds are you’ve AT LEAST heard about this game…or I’m actively judging you and your life decisions. 🙂 Needless to say, few board games can truly pull in veterans and neophytes alike. It’s got a great, turn of the 20th century aesthetic, profoundly easy to understand rules, and utterly FANTASTIC gameplay. I can’t opine about this game enough!


Castle Panic by Fireside Games

1-6 players, 30-60 mins

I’ll be frank with you readers, this is my personal favorite game of all time. Published by Fireside Games, this is a co-operative “tower defense” style game. This game is a remarkable bonding experience for all involved! It’s you and your team struggling against a common foe, you’re all left with little more than randomly drawn cards and your wits! Fantastic for game nights!


Puerto Rico by Rio Grande Games

3-5 players (there is a 2 player variant), 90 mins

This one is quite a bit more complicated than the previous entries on this list. Puerto Rico is a “prosperity” simulator, in essence, this game tasks you with being able to expand your city and island faster (and more efficiently) than your opponents. There is a very little luck to strategy ratio for this game, so veteran gamers are likely dominate during the first play through with neophytes. This game is equipped with no “actual” game board to play on, but is managed through individual’s city boards and a PLETHORA of smaller game pieces, so this game does require a little bit of imagination. That said, this is a 90 minute game with a HIGH amount of strategy and lateral thinking…so this game isn’t for everyone. HOWEVER, I HIGHLY recommend this for every kind of gamer…at least to try once.

Variety is the spice of life, however, most people will be more inclined to try a new dish if it looks more appetizing. Bottom line, presentation AND substance are both CRITICAL in your approach to gaining new members of your table. Just play your experience by ear, and try to cater to everyone’s tastes without compromising anyone’s. And, above all else, MAKE SURE TO HAVE FUN!


I’ll have to have him co-write more often… I’m pretty sure he blew me out of the water! 🙂 Anyhow, his description was shockingly accurate to how our “gaming interviews” go. When I say gaming interviews it is exactly what it sounds like, we’ve even told people they were essentially being interviewed to be a regular at our table.

We both hope you enjoyed this topic, as it was readers choice. Soon I will be starting another three-day segment, this time regarding solo play games. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard

Merry Christmas

Greetings All,

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope all of you have/will manage(d) to get in a board game or two in today. Our Christmas celebration was yesterday, we only played three games between dinner and gift giving. I just wanted to share them with you.

Christmas Trivia by Greenbrier-

-2+ Players, 5+ Mins-

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We played with five us and said the first one to ten got a candy cane. There are three questions on each card and the range from very easy to fairly hard. It’s definitely a kid friendly game, but they made it with enough complicated questions to be fun for adults as well.

Munchkin Loot Letter by AEG and Steve Jackson Games-

-2-4 Players (We played with five), 20 Mins-

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This is “Love Letter with a face lift.”, as my husband says. It’s Love Letter meets Munchkin. It is a great play and easy to learn. All of the cards originate from the game Munchkin and they all have the same abilities as the one from Love Letter.

-Glow Stick Ring Toss-

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This is one you can make yourself, but I bought mine at Dollar Tree. It was too cold to play outside. We waited until it was dark outside and turned off the lights in the house. We played ring toss in the living room. Originally we had planned on playing first to five, however, the task of making one ring proved so difficult that it became the first to one. It took us twenty minutes of playing before my son finally made one ring, but it was really fun.

One last thing I’d like to share with you is the idea of family gifts. We make a small list of family gifts, which are usually board games or movies. This year we had the games mentioned above as well as Munchkin Panic and a Uno variant. I will review these two later as we have not yet played them. Thank you so much for reading, have a Happy Holiday, and until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard

Day 3 (of 3): Love Letter and my 10 year old daughter! :)

Greetings All,

Today is the last day in my three-day segment about my children and their favorite board games.

-Love Letter Seiji Kanai-

2-4 players (we’ve played with 5), 5-20 mins

love letter kanai

Above you can see Love Letter Kanai Factory Limited Edition and all of its components. While there are many other editions this is the one we have and so it shall be the one featured. My daughter is 10 years old.


Me: What is your favorite board game?

Daughter10: Love Letter!!!!


Me: If Love Letter was a story, what would it be?

Daughter10: There was a Princess and she was about to choose her Prince. There were many to choose, so they fought for her. She fell for the winner and liked the Love Letters he sent her.


Me: Can you give me a short summary of the rules?

Daughter10: Everyone draws one card and on your turn you draw another. Use one card with its ability. Then it goes to the next player, you need four points to win. It’s a lot like the game war, but more romantic. 🙂


Me: Who do you think this game is for?

Daughter10: Anyone who’s feeling romantic, like people in love or wanting to be in love.


Me: Why is Love Letter your favorite game?

Daughter10: I love romantic things! 


Me: Why should people buy/try Love Letter?

Daughter10: It brings people closer together.


Miniature Market has by far the best deal and the ability to preorder! 🙂

You can also check out the AEG website for more information about the different editions.

You can see a good review on The Dice Tower and a great play through from Tabletop (live stream)!

I hope you enjoyed my daughters take on Love Letter! As you know, this is the last day of my three-day segment. So this is what I’ve learned: My youngest daughter is adorably naive when it comes to competitive games, my son is… a typical 13-year-old, and my oldest daughter is very “romantic” as she’d put it.

Yesterday I put up a poll regarding what game my daughter would pick. Here are the results: 31% Clue, 5% Dixit, 12% Life, and 52% Love Letter! Congratulations to those of you that picked Love Letter, based on the fact that over half of you guessed it, I’m assuming you have adorable kids of your own! If you liked this review and want to be kept up to date please follow my page and like me on Facebook. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard