“Junior” Game Versions

Greetings All,

Today I wanted to talk a little bit about “junior” versions of games or more kid friendly versions of games. I grew up with a lot of Hasbro games and their Junior versions. I have a 20 month old and obviously a good amount of time before he is old enough to really get into gaming, but I started thinking about Euro games and their “junior” versions. Please keep in mind that my list(s) are not complete and when I locate more example games I will be adding them.

Before I go into “junior” games, I just want to mention a company called Haba. Obviously there are tons of companies out there making games for you kids and toddlers, but Haba has a collection called “My Very First Games“. They are so cute and I am looking forward to picking a few out for my son. My biggest thing about them is that their games are rather expensive for little kid games. Regardless, please go take a peek because they are adorable… or maybe I’m just a sucker for the whole “My first” thing. 🙂

We’ll start with your basic Hasbro Junior Games listed by youngest age first!

Boggle Junior, ages 3+, 1+ players.

Yahtzee Jr, ages 4+, 2-4 players.

Monopoly Junior, ages 5+, 2-4 players.

Junior Scrabble, ages 5+, 2-4 players.

Clue Junior, ages 5+, 2-6 players.

The Game of Life Junior, ages 5+, 2-4 players.

Cranium Junior, ages 7+, 2 players.

Trivial Pursuit: Junior, ages 8+, 2-4 players.

Taboo Junior, ages 8+, 4 players.

Non-Hasbro Games.

Sequence for kids, Jax Games, ages 3-6, 2-4 players.

My First Carcassonne, Z-Man Games, ages 4+, 2-4 players, 20 min playtime.

My First Stone Age – The card game, Z-Man Games, ages 4+, 2-4 players, 10 min playtime.

My First Stone Age, Z-Man Games, ages 5+, 2-4 players, 15 min playtime.

Junior Labyrinth, Ravensburger, ages 5+, 1-4 players, 15 min playtime.

Catan Junior, Mayfair Games, ages 6+, 2-4 players, 30-40 min playtime.

Ticket to Ride First Journey, Days of Wonder, ages 6+, 2-4 players, 15-30 min playtime.

Ticket to Ride First Journey Europe, Days of Wonder, ages 6+, 2-4 players, 15-30 min playtime.

Krosmaster Junior, Ghenos Games, ages 7+, 2-4 players, 5-15 min playtime.

I hope you’ve found some new additions to your game library on this list and hopefully you can find that perfect gateway junior game version of your favorite games! Know of anymore? Let me know! Until next time… Live by the board.

-livingbytheboard

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

Games I’m great at.

Greetings All,

Let me start off by saying that I did get the request for an author profile for myself since “The Husband” and “The Bartendar” did theirs. I will get to it, I promise.

For today, however, I’d like to discuss some games that I excel at. Three in particular. Five Tribes, Splendor, and Concept. Five Tribes and Splendor especially. I’ve actually had people turn down these games as suggestions for game nights because I seldom lose. Talk about frustrating. I love all three games and obviously the fact that I am what my husband call “supernaturally gifted” at these games makes me want to play, but in all honesty each game is fantastic and deserves more game play.

Please keep reading to find out more about these games and a bit of my strategy. Please keep in mind that this post isn’t going to be full-blown reviews, I will do separate reviews of these games in the future. Also note that not all of my strategy will be mentioned in this blog, I mean a great deal of my game groups have access to this and I enjoy winning too much. Haha.

five tribes

Five Tribes by Days of Wonder

Five Tribes takes place in Naqala after the death of the Sultan. Your job is to manuever the five tribes (represented by different colored meeples) to gain control over the land. This game is essentially advanced Mancala with meeples and camels. It is insanely fun. The biggest part about this game is being able to plan several moves in advance. It’s important to make back up plans as well, which I am pretty good at. I’ve noticed that most people I play with will be very obvious when they count with their eyes and sometimes you can hear them counting under their breath. This is by far the biggest downfall of the game. It is very easy to block someones moves when you know what they’re doing. There are days when I will count under my breath or follow the board with my eyes and I’ll do this in several directions to keep everyone on their toes and then when they try several times to take my lead and fail they just stop. After that it’s easy to just relax and focus on the real moves I want to make. By this time everyone is so ticked off that they keep guessing wrong, they don’t even try to take the move I’m making obvious. It’s a jerky underhanded move, but it is wildly effective. I will include an instructional video and the rules, but as I said I will do a review in the future.

splendor

Splendor by Days of Wonder and Space Cowboys

In Splendor you are a gem merchant. Your procure these lovely tokens representing gems, which helps you to procure permanent gems represented on cards that you buy with said gems. This all done in hopes of accruing enough points to win. Some cards have point values on them, but you can also accrue points by attracting nobles with your permanent gems. It’s very quick to learn and is a game that newbies will be able to keep up with table veterans easily. In this game I focus less on the nobles and more on slowly working towards large valued cards. While everyone else is focusing on getting the proper cards to pull nobles, I’m taking whatever I can get and waiting the that one slip up from another player that allows me to grab a high value card. I’ve actually tried going for nobles a few times and failed miserably. Please see the attached video and read the rules. 🙂

concept

Concept by Asmodee

Concept is a party game and is probably my favorite party game ever. It involves using your specific main subject marker and cubes to mark pictures on a board in order to convey something from the card you’ve drawn. It could be anything really. My least favorite are phrases… it is incredibly frustrating trying to convey a phrase with pictures. Some always adds an extra “s” to the sentence, or an “ing”. One subject that come up multiple times is Joan of Arc, so people usually mark “woman” as their main subject, followed by a cube on “history or real”, “conflict”, “death”, and “religion”. I don’t believe it has ever been incorrectly guessed at my table. Anyhow, you get points based on how much the subject was worth on the card and there is a cut off, but at my table things can get out of hand when we are all yelling at each other for not taking the “ing” off of the phrase, or thinking that “Shark Week” is the answer for what is clearly “Jaws”…idiots. Haha. Honestly, with this game everyone is just screaming answers loudly and I’ve almost always won by just keeping my mouth shut and waiting for the cue that we are close with our guesses. Not much else to it.  I will include a video and rules with this one as well.

To sum this up, I win because I stay quiet and my “metagame” is on point. No one focuses on the person not bringing attention to themselves. People get frustrated and confused when I start talking about “what I would do if I were them” or how “I’ve all but lost the game.” I plan ahead, I mislead… I would so far as to say I play rough. These are dirty ways to win, but when you’ve got a proven technique… you stay with it. It’s always good to have a back up plan though. I can say from experience that once your group catches on you will need to readjust. Sometimes I feel bad that these games don’t get played and I think about changing my strategy entirely, but if I’m being honest with myself I’m too competitive and I like winning too much. To quote It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia here… “When I’m doing good in the game, it’s like I’m doing good in life.” I laugh when people don’t want to play certain games with me, but it also sucks. I don’t want great games to be left out just because the level of skill or in my case sneakiness is so vast.

I love all of these games and I hope you enjoyed reading this. I’ll be doing a post about games that I absolutely suck at soon. Please follow us on WordPress, Twitter, and Facebook. Give us a like and a share if you are so inclined. Please remember to click on the attached hyperlinks for more information regarding these games and their publishers. Thank you all for being so wonderful and until next time… live by the board.

-Livingbytheboard

Meet “The Husband”!

Hello Readers,

Well, every other contributor wrote a profile article, suppose I should crank out one. I am “The Husband,” here’s hoping you find the aimless prattling about my the more hobby-centric portions of my life interesting. Either way, let’s kick thing’s off, shall we?

Due in no small part to my (almost 6 years older than me) brother, I’ve had an interest in “geek culture” since even the most early of my memories. I grew up playing on an Nintendo Entertainment System, reading comics, and playing parlor games with my family. During every family gathering (of which there were A LOT), I was forced onto a folding chair to be slid into whichever side of a card table needed a warm body in order to “fill out numbers.” Odd evenings spent being inundated with long diatribes about how my generation were a mouth breathing herd of degenerates…and being viciously obliterated at games of Skip-Bo (Mattel) or Phase 10 (Mattel). My initial impression of table top gaming was being voraciously descended on by 30-70 year olds whom wanted to impart on me some manner of comeuppance.

…I assure you, it gets better.

When I was much younger, my brother would take me on excursions to our friendly local comic shop, upon occasion…whenever my Mother would proclaim that she was weary of looking at her “little mistakes.” I swear, that joke gets funnier with time…no? O-okay… Regardless, this particular shop was my initial gateway to multiple things that would heavily influence my life. My first comic, first manga, first anime, and my first table top game that was all my own!

See, this shop generally kept primarily to selling trading cards and (the gorgeous and all too confusing for my young brain) Magic the Gathering (Wizards of the Coast) as its gaming contingent. However, one day I stumbled into the corner of the store furthest away from my precious “DC Dollar Bin…” and there it was… a wall of composed entirely of baggie games! That’s to say, games that were packed into moderately sized baggies, in lieu of boxes. As I scanned the wall, one game in particular caught my eye: Ogre – Pocket Edition! (Steve Jackson Games) Featured on its cover was a large, futuristic, hovering tank volleying bombs every which way but loose! My young brain was enthralled with the prospect of bombing the ever lovin’ ass out of everything! What’s more…it only cost $2.95! My brother, seeing an opportunity to circumvent possible begging, purchased the game for me…under the agreement that I shut up. It only took 3 bucks to buy me off as a child…oh how little has changed.

As I went through my preteen and early adolescent years I found myself drifting towards athletics, video games…and girls. Sure, I tried the occasional game here and there, sampled Settlers of Catan (Mayfair Games), played the occassional nondescript RPG, and the occassional collectible card game. But, primarily my hobbies were left in the electronic realm. Fast forward to age 18…when I suddenly became a Father of three. Now, it’s a safe assumption that children like video games, but there’s some connection that’s simply lacking on a digital medium. And that’s when I decided to give parlor games a try…I never knew Skip-Bo wasn’t terrible! It also helps when I’m the person verbally assailing the other players: “I haven’t seen such a crappy move since the last time I had to change your diaper! HA!”

My return to the hobby didn’t occur in earnest until I met my Wife, the blog author with whom you readers are so well acquainted. See, she encouraged me to seek out my interests and enjoy all of the things in life there weren’t previously available to me, for any number of reasons. I got back into comics, anime, and table top gaming. Less than a year after we initially became a coupling, I was already sonically berating her during games of Skip-Bo! Loyal readers, it was true love. Due to lovely programs like Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop and Tom Vasel’s Dice Tower channel, I had an amazing insight into the hobby that once intrigued me so much as a kid…and now financially cripples me as an adult.

Now my days consist of violently pacing around my table during a game of Disc Duelers (Level 99 Games), accusingly pointing at the horrible person who totally obstructs Las Vegas (anarchistic jerkfaces!) during a game of Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder), or weepily staring bullet holes through the person who purchased the only large building that would allow me one final sliver of hope for victory in Puerto Rico (Rio Grande Games). Needless to say, I love it!

This hobby is a phenomenal one, filled with the highs of ravenously gathering up victory points one game, to the monumental lows of hearing the thunderous roar of your large Nordic friend (KYLE!) bellowing “Wu-Tang” as another player (SAM!) manages to Kill Doctor Lucky (Cheapass Games) with an overly tight hat. But, you know what’s even more phenomenal than this hobby? Having family and friends to share it with…and to verbally berate.

Thanks for reading.

– The Husband

Tabletop Day 2017

Greetings All,

So as you may have noticed, “The Husband” and “The Bartender” will be joining the blog once in a while and I am grateful to have them. Also new… my site is no longer livingbytheboard.wordpress.com, it’s just livingbytheboard.com. How cool is that?! I have also joined multiple accounts of mine: Facebook, Twitter, and Etsy. Please check us out and give us a like. 🙂

-Tabletop Day 2017-

This year for TTD we had several sponsors that helped provide games, party favors, and prizes. Literally everyone went home with something, which is a great way to keep the spirit alive because we hold a competition every year. If you’ve ever heard of a television series called The League (If you haven’t please check it out, it’s great.) then you will be aware that it is about a group of friends that play Fantasy Football. During the Superbowl the two people with the highest points go to the Shiva Bowl and the two with the lowest points go to the Sacko Bowl. Well we copied that for our TTDs, except it’s the top four and bottom four players. These players go to two separate games to decide the winner and loser. To get to that point, however, we play three mega games that get graded. The way we grade this is by using the Mario Kart point system.

This year our qualifying games were Mega Dixit, Disc Duelers, and Ticket to Ride. I have enough decks to where Mega Dixit was easy. We used post it notes to label the cards and to vote. Disc Duelers and Ticket to Ride can be utilized with multiple copies of the game if you have large numbers of players. Our Shiva Bowl game was Tokaido and our Sacko Bowl game was Takenoko. That said, just because we used Takenoko as the Sacko Bowl does not mean we dislike. Quite the opposite actually, it is a very easy game to grasp and has a fun subject matter which I feel lessons the blow of being in the Sacko Bowl. After the competition we played Kill Doctor Lucky.

We played for nearly ten hours. There was a potluck and a $10 charge at the door if you were drinking because The Bartender was our bartender – thus the name. Everyone got a gift bag with games and promos and there were door prizes. The winner (myself) and the loser both get plaques. I wood burn them so they are not ready on the day of, I’ll post pictures when my polyurethane dries.

One of my favorite things about TTD is watching newbies enjoy themselves and really see the new-found board game addiction blossom. There are several people who frequent our table, including myself, that are anxiety riddled or just really keep to themselves. TTD brings out the social, goofy person in those people and it’s a lovely sight. We have goofballs whom seem like they can’t take anything seriously, but the moment the competition starts… they are on the ball, it’s fantastic! We are all so incredibly different and to see the lot of all working towards one goal and having such a great time… well to be honest, it is weirdly breath-taking and yes I know that sounds odd. Let me explain. I am not social. Large crowds freak me out and I am slightly temperamental. This is the one time of year when I am not terrified of being smashed into a small place with tons of other people, and do you know why? Because it’s worth it. No matter who I am before I start playing a game, I can be someone else during the game. If I’m playing Castle Panic, for a little while I really feel like I am defending my castle. If I play Tokaido, I get to relax and believe I am on this wonderous journey. I love it and oddly enough I’m not a fan of RPGs.

Something that concerned me thins year is that I had my 15 month old son with me. We don’t have family that I trust or that are willing to watch him because of his age. We don’t have spare money to pay for a babysitter. What we do have is a great group of people whom do not mind his presence at all. Just like last year, these people were by our sides offering to hold him or distract him while I took my turn. I got to watch my friends feed him and play with him. I am very grateful for them and their reactions. Sadly festivities were cut short because my son caught a stomach virus from my ten year old. We took him to the ER. Luckily nothing seriously was wrong, but it did last eight days. He is doing much better now.

Anyhow, thanks for hanging in there with me through this extremely long post. Feel free to reach out with any questions, although I can not reveal my sponsors for TTD, so please don’t ask. Thanks again and until next time… Live by the board.

-Livingbytheboard

Meet The Bartender!

Hello Internets!

I figured I’d introduce myself to the blog fans, I’m J. I’ll likely be doing some behind the scenes stuff here, with an occasional article. I’d still like to introduce myself as part of the growing crew here, and as part of the board game table (you could call me The Bartender since I’m always bringing and making the drinks). I wanted to write an article about board gaming and a bit my history with it.

What a lot of people know about me is that I love video games, but they don’t really know that even younger I had a love of board games too. Friends of mine never cared for board games- so I was left playing video games alone or occasionally with family. I don’t have too many memories of my childhood (I blame that concussion I got in college) but one I do remember is playing Payday with my step dad.

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a classic from the 1970s. You play on a month with 31 days, where bills and other things rack up. At the end of the month you get your salary and have to pay off all those bills that racked up that were unexpected or taken on in trying to earn more cash- by buying properties and the like. In retrospect it was similar to adult-life but without crying myself to sleep every night. The crushing reality was surprisingly still there though.

I didn’t play much else growing up. The occasional hated Monopoly game, the forgettable Yahtzee. The stuff they let you play in class with an educational twist (though I have to say, Spanish Scrabble is a lot more fun than regular English Scrabble). I got into trivia style games late in high school, but due to having a tendency of being able to guess the answer out of nowhere- no one wanted to play very often. In college there wasn’t many board games- mostly just Smash Bros, an N64, and the closest we got to board games in Cut-throat Uno and Euchre. I think maybe there was a Game of Life and a Family Feud the board game somewhere in there but nothing too exciting.

So when I reconnected with The Husband a few years ago and he asked if I wanted to play board games, there was interest for sure. He knew me as mostly a video gamer, but fast with rules and how things are played. And I’m glad we did. I never knew how much the industry had grown in such a short amount of time, and how much it’s still growing. I’m happy to play some of my faves with new and old friends alike. We’ve had some heated arguments on rules a few times, but there’s still love at the table.

If you’re just starting out like I was a couple years ago and all you know of is something like Payday- some of my faves are Ticket to Ride, Takenoko, Splendor, and my newest in Tiny Epic Galaxies. Don’t get me wrong- there’s plenty of other great titles I enjoy playing, but those are my personal faves for sure. Start slow, with a group one evening you’re free. Bring some drinks like I usually do. And the next thing you’ll know it’ll be 1 AM, and you’ll be asking yourself how many games you guys played that night.

When you stop counting, you know you’re having fun. When you start counting again because it’s not enough games in one night- you know you’re a fan. Until next time, cheers.

J, aka The Bartender

Ticket to Ride Review

Greetings All,

As requested I am reviewing one of my favorite games Ticket to Ride from Days of Wonder. Ticket to Ride is competitive game in which players are creating train routes in order to gain points. I will not include the rules in this post, as I will be including a link to see the rules, reviews, and prices. I apologize it took so long to post this review.

Ticket to Ride has a ridiculous amount of editions and expansions, it’s awesome. Days of Wonder also offers online play. The app is available through iTunes and Google play. Before continuing, I strongly suggest taking a look at the short rules on the Days of Wonder website.

Ticket to Ride by Days of Wonder

2-5 Players, 30-60 Minutes

Ticket-to-Ride-PLUS-1910--pTRU1-15068057dt

For simplicity sake, I am only reviewing Ticket to Ride US Map and Ticket to Ride USA 1910 expansion. The 1910 expansion comes with extra routes and bigger cards. The standard Ticket to Ride has tiny cards that are a bit difficult to shuffle.

This game offers such an amazing challenge, every play is different which allows endless fun. There are destination tickets that we draw in order to figure out where we are going. It all sounds very simple until someone takes a route you’ve been saving up for during your last few turns. Most of the time it is possible to reach your destinations even if you get blocked, but in the painful instance that you are unable to complete a destination ticket, those points count against you in the end. Each completed ticket is added to score at the end. For the standard Ticket to Ride there is a bonus for longest route and for the 1910 expansion there is also a bonus for the most completed tickets.

I would love to pinpoint the exact reason that I love this game so much, but I can’t. It’s Ticket to Ride. The first time I played it, I realized that I couldn’t stop. The art is beautiful, the game play is great, and although drawing train cards is luck based there is a lot of skill that goes into combining your tickets to get the most points possible. After playing the game a few times, you can pretty much predict which routes your competition have. Predicting really helps avoid getting your routes taken by others. It is the perfect balance between luck and skill.

My children also love Ticket to Ride, it’s something that they latched onto right away. It is a family time favorite and I am so grateful for that. Our kids like competition, but they also get frustrated when they do not win. Having a game like Ticket to Ride is great because the kids don’t get frustrated with it. They have fun even when they’re behind on points.

To sum it up, Ticket to Ride is complex enough for endless adult play and simple enough for the whole family to enjoy. It’s offers a challenge for new and veteran gamers alike. I can honestly say I didn’t realize something was missing from life until I played Ticket to Ride. 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