Free Board Games…and Lottery Musings

January 31, 2012

I failed to mention last summer that I won a free board game. Point 2 Point sponsored a contest to help Jeff Horger create some mercenary armies for his upcoming fantasy battle game, Fury. I submitted an army and my submission was chosen as one of three to be passed along to Jeff. Then Jason, the host of the podcast, rolled a D6 to see who would win a free copy of Manoeuvre for his efforts. One toss of the die and it was mine. (I later sold my old copy to Joe. And for the record, yes I am anal retentive and wanted the thicker counters offered in the second edition.)

Just a few weeks ago on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Rick hosted a game day at his house. Lots of people came and we enjoyed the board games, food, and camaraderie. Of course, Rick and his wife couldn’t help but spice up the event by putting every guest’s name into a drawing for three board games. He’s too humble to mention it much on this blog, but Rick’s thrift-fu is strong. He regularly finds great games in “like new” condition at local thrift stores and buys them for a song. Our options were Ingenious, Pentago, and Apples to Apples Jr. Each guest wrote his or her name down on a slip of paper and then ranked his or her top three choices. Sara and I both participated in the game day, so we each got a chance at getting a game. Although we didn’t stick around for the drawing (our toddler needed sleep!), each of us won. So we are proud owners of some totally free games. How cool is that?

We’ve played a few matches of Pentago, which is fast and fun. Ingenious hasn’t made it to the table yet, but it will soon because it’s one of Sara’s favorite abstract games.

In related news, I’m looking at my good luck over the last 8 months and wondering if I should start buying lottery tickets…

The (Missed) Games of the Year

January 18, 2012

Is 2011 done? What happened? Where’d it go? I feel like I’ve been so busy I didn’t even pay attention to what happened in the board gaming world this last year. So, you won’t be getting a game of the year nomination from me. Instead, here’s a list of all the games I meant to check out this year, but never got around to.

Super Dungeon Explore

This mash-up of board gaming, the Gauntlet video game, and excellent visual design make it a very attractive option. Of course, I don’t even have enough time to get around to check out the game, so I doubt I’m going to have the time to assemble, prime, and paint all the lovely minis. Sorry Super Dungeon Explore, maybe we’ll meet in 2012.

Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game

To illustrate just how far behind I am, this game came out in 2010. I enjoyed the mechanics of 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons when it first came out and thought a slimmed down version could make a for a fine board game. Well, apparently Wizards of the Coast have mind reading spells, because they too that thought and acted on it. And did it again and again. Of course, I have a spot for Ravenloft’s Gothic horror ever since fighting off worgs and dealing with gypsies as a youth at the computer in Strahd’s Possession so there’s only one option of the three games for me.

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game

There’s just something about the feel of a deck of cards that I love, so I’m a sucker for card games. Whether it is the trying not to be sucked too deeply into Magic: The Gathering or shuffling Dominion expansions (which despite claiming to be not collectible game nearly is now), I’m always looking for something new to give a try. The LotR’s game is cooperative, which gives in an interesting twists compared to the other card game I play (although, when I first heard of it I was hoping to run a Sauran’s army deck and crush my enemies with a burning eye). I got a chance to play a few turns of the game once and it was enough to make me interested.


This looks like a light fun game to pull out and play with friends between other games or as a warm up. With all the different colored dice and rolling, it’s probably not to bad for kids either.

Mansions of Madness

With about 50,000 Fantasy Flight Games quality parts, this box probably weighs 1.2 metric tons. In a lot ways, this is the game I want Arkham Horror to be, a focus on a single mystery and location, a touch of roleplaying (done in the right way), and some clever puzzles. A two (maybe more?) hour play time makes it a little on the long side for what it delivers and has kept me from jumping at it.

7 Wonders

John’s been raving about this game and I finally got a chance to play it over the holidays. My little sister received it as a Christmas gift and after one play, I loved it. The drafting mechanic is a whole lot of fun and being able to score victory points in a variety of ways makes for a number of different strategies. It’s a game I’d really like to dig into more and try to do some analysis to see if science is overpowered or if the wonders are really balanced.

Manoeuvre with Chess Clocks!

January 12, 2012

On the first day of the new year, Sara and I sat down to play Maneouvre. After losing to her on December 23, I was out for revenge and we chose the same sides; she played the Americans and I played the Spanish. But there was a twist on our game this time: We used a chess clock. Here are the rules we used:

  • 25 minutes allotted to each player
  • Pauses are allowed for rules clarification
  • Your timer will run during your entire turn (including resolving battles, etc.)
  • The penalty for going over your allotted time is 1 “nightfall point” for additional 30 seconds you need
  • Be gentlemanly/ladylike: no hemming and hawing during your opponent’s turn to run down his/her time

Sara was a real sport about trying this out, as she usually takes much longer than I do during her turns. By the time we finished, however, she stated that it was a lot of fun and she’d try it again. (I think winning 8 to 7 in nightfall may have had something to do with this!) While neither of us felt that the addition of the clock had a huge effect on the game, knowing that the clock was running did put a bit of pressure on each of us. It also made this very abstract game feel just a little bit more like a war game. I will admit I did think, “Gosh, I need to get my objectives quick…I’m running out of time.” The clock also meant that each of us had to use the other person’s turn wisely, planning out discards, potential moves, etc.

This addition of the chess clock may have been a bit redundant, especially when you consider that the rules about deck reshuffling and the endgame already act as a time constraint of sorts. At the same time, I do believe that in friendly competition, it might provide a bit of added excitement.

(Note: There are many chess clock apps available for smart phones and laptops. We used this site.)

Game does not come with Wifey, baby bump, laptop, or fireplace.

We just used a simple online chess clock application.

Four minutes into our game.

I lost at nightfall, 7 to 8.

2011 Personal Retrospective

January 6, 2012

Once again, it’s time for the statistical breakdown of last year’s gaming! I continued to keep a record of games played throughout the entire year and present my 2011 retrospective (2010 retrospective here, 2009 here):

Games played: 121 (down from 145 in 2010, a 17% drop)
Wins: 51 (42%, down 7% from 2010)
Losses: 70

Average time between games: 3 days
Best game month: July with 23 games played (mainly due to some new games arriving at home via Amazon)
Worst game month: November with 1 game played (due to work and family obligations)

Two player games: 75 (61% of all games played)
Two player wins: 40  (54%, a 15% drop from last year!)
Multiplayer games: 46 (39% of all games played)
Multiplayer wins: 11 (23%, an 11% drop from last year)
Multiplayer second place finishes: 18 (39% of all multiplayer games)

Most regular two player opponents
1. Sara (20 plays, 9 wins)
2. Rick (11 plays, 6 wins)
3. Russ (10 plays, 9 wins)
4. Joe (5 plays, 1 win)

Most popular games of the year
1. Manoeuvre (13 plays, 9 wins–absolutely loved the Toeurnament this year)
2. 7 Wonders (12 plays, 2 wins)
3. Cribbage (11 plays, 4 wins)
4. Hive (10 plays, 5 wins)
5. Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (6 plays, 4 wins)

Games played for the first time: 12 (9%)

Most of these statistics came out as expected. Joe continues to crush all opponents, especially me. I will take this opportunity to point out that Russ often narrowly loses games, and I am always surprised that my win/loss record against him is so good. And, as I expected, my wife is now my most regular opponent and continues to be a very challenging adversary in our favorite games like Manoeuvre, 7 Wonders, and Hive.

As I stated in an earlier post, I’m less concerned with winning than I used to be, though I will still be keeping up the yearly retrospective. My new year’s gaming resolution is simple: get recently unloved games to the table in 2012. Twilight Struggle, I’m looking at you. Come here, buddy. How about a hug?

Happy New Year! I’d love to hear about your slightly less obsessive personal gaming retrospectives in the combox.