Archive for February, 2010

Nibelungen & Shipyard

February 27, 2010

I was given Nibelungen by a friend.  He told me the game had come back to him in a turkey swap, but I was still glad to get it.  Beautiful big box game from Amigo, authored by Wolfgang Kramer, tied to a theme that I find attractive…

Well, I had basically translated the game during the commercials of the Olympics, and last night I finally finished translating the cards.  I turned in the translation to BGG, in case anyone else ever cares about this game.  But I fear I’ve already found the fun inside the box.

The game features random movement and direct player confrontation.  It would seem there is not too much room for clever play, and I am not too excited to get it on the table after all.

Oh, and I have somehow mislaid the German rules, so any questions about my translation will be unresolvable unless I find them again.

And then there is Shipyard.  I’ve now played 3 times.  The first play was wrong and as a result rather tedious.  The second play was better.  But the third play felt very similar to the second play.  Sadly, I’m not convinced by this game.

Shipyard’s theme is attractive.  But the over burden of rules makes this a demanding game to teach and to learn.  Fortunately the actual play is pretty good.  Turns tend to be short and sweet – unless your opponent is prone to analysis paralysis.  In the 3 or 4 player games you have one worker pawn.

Worker Placement:  After the first turn there are always some actions you can never take, due to other pawns residing on those actions.  Somehow this feature of the game is annoying to me.  In another game that features worker placement, Agricola, at the end of a turn all of the workers go home – clearing the board and giving you a fresh slate to work upon for the next turn.  I like this design decision in Agricola – it’s like a palette-clensing taste of ginger.  But in Shipyard, you are always going to be restricted by 2 or 3 previously taken actions.  Bothersome.

Fortunately the design does allow you to spend 6 coins and take another action – any action – which lessens the restrictive situation just described.  But this creates a different dynamic, especially in a 3-player game it may prove especially difficult to earn the 6 coins.  In my 3-player game I was constantly short of cash because the other players were carefully selecting cash-awarding actions in the rear of the queue.  I could force an opportunity to get cash, but that was frequently a two turn effort.

Building ships is a fun theme, and quite different from anything else in my collection.  So Shipyard does have some allure.  But the game is not destined to become one of my all-time favorites.


a boring statistical entry

February 20, 2010

I track my collection on Boardgamegeek.  According to their utility, I own 401 games!  Turns out 78 of these are expansions.  So that brings me down to 323 games.  Still, this seems a bit high until I consider some games I own that don’t sit on the shelf ready to be played:

Metagaming and Steve Jackson Games Microgames/Pocket Games – By my count there are 29 of them.  That pulls me down to 294 games.

Classic Games and vintage “Game Art” pieces – 13 games that I don’t generally count as part of the playing collection.  (Classic games like Chess, Checkers, Backgammon, Cribbage, Dominoes and Mahjong; or vintage games I own to display such as Contack, Flinch, Hendrik Van Loon’s Wide World Game, Huggin’ the Rail, Risk, Stampede, and Swastika).  Omitting these drops my playing collection down to 281 games.

Of the 281 games, the 2-player only games are a breed apart.  I have been looking more critically at them of late as almost 100% of my gaming is multiplayer.   Not counting the microgames mentioned above I come up with 34 games in my collection that are straight-up 2-player games.

So that leaves 247 games that are the heart of the library for social gaming.  Until I buy something else, of course…


February 18, 2010

As evidenced by the existence of this blog, I really do like games and gaming.  I’ve found a lot of friends through gaming, and somehow the complexities of various games allow me the immersion I seek.  But often, playing a game just isn’t a reasonable option, and so gaming projects present themselves.

Player Aids:  I enjoy making these.  So do lots of other game fans.  Cruise the files on BGG for your favorite games.  You are bound to find something wonderful.  Just today Rob sent me a link to a flash utility for playing the game Time Agent

Translations:  The need is not as great as it was ten years ago.  Nowadays most games come with English rules.  But I still enjoy sifting through the back catalog of German games, and seem to frequently need to do some translation work.  My current translation project is Nibelungen, a game that was given to me by a friend.  Apparently the game has passed through a few sets of hands prior to landing with me.  The fact that it was unpunched and untranslated may be a telling point.  But Nibelungen is based on Wagner’s Ring Cycle, and since I just toured Neuschwannstein Castle last fall, the theme is appealing.  I also hold some hope in the fact that Wolfgang Kramer is the designer.

Rules Reads:  I’ve fallen behind on this front.  New games to my collection that I still need to read the rules t include:  Shipyard, Rise of Empires, and Dodge City (early Hans im Glueck game).  This activity can be fun or it can be difficult.  Often I have good facility at reading rules and making sense of what is intended.  Other times, the rules bounce off and I struggle to make sense of it.

 Statistics:  I don’t warm to this the way some of my friends do (cough… Joe…cough), but I do enjoy maintaining a spreadsheet tracking which games the Tuesday night game club plays.  I have devised a system that rewards games for getting played, for the # of players it entertained, and the average rating the game achieves over time.  My players are given an option of rating the game in the following scale:

  • Poor – Not so good, you would avoid it.
  • OK – Decent game.  You would play, but probably never request it.
  • Good – Nice game.  You might suggest it once in a while.
  • Excellent – Tremendous game that you anticipate wanting to play frequently.
  • Personal Endorsement – A game perfectly suited to your tastes.

I have been amused by how many players have requested that I allow them to have a “Very Good” rating.  But I have steadfastly refused to modify the scale, pointing out that a Very Good = Good in the statistics.  If it ain’t quite excellent, it is Good!  I’ve also recently started giving a time adjustment to games that run longer than 90 minutes.  This helps prevent all the shorter filler games from soaking up the top positions in the rankings.

BGG:  And perhaps the biggest non-gaming activity tied to this hobby is simply cruising BGG.  I update the club lists most every week, and I track changes to the collection, and even try to log my plays in their tracking system.  Of course reading articles and lists from other game fans is some of the best fun.  I have even started to learn about RSS feeds and notifications to help me track the content most likely to be of interest.

I’d guess only 20% of my hobby time is actually spent playing games.  The bulk of the time is devoted to the activities I’ve just described.

and then what I really played

February 17, 2010

Over the past game party weekend I did play a number of games:

Friday night was a late arrival and even so I squeezed in a few games.

Tante Tarantel – Gave my gifts to Rob and to Kyle and Terry.  So we of course played it.  A very pleasant escape game!

Piece ‘o Cake– Rob introduced us to this charming game.  While quite fun, I don’t anticipate getting one for my collection.

Tanz der Hornochsen – Terry R. was kind enough to bring her unpunched copy of this chaotic but fun game.  We didn’t have the English rules handy, but fortunately between Rob and I we were able to teach the game nicely.  I continue to be pleased with this fun boardgame version of 6 nimmt.

Saturday was chocked full of games:

Zapp Zerapp – I taught this to Peggy, Terry H. and Kyle.  This was a fun game, and very well received by both the players and the onlookers.

Neue Heimat – I was pleased to receive this game literally the day we left for the game con.  I read the rules while most folks were busy in a Time’s Up game.  I then got a small group to play Neue Heimat.  Based on some remarks on BGG I removed the rooftops with no value from the game.  This was appreciated by Zack, who dislikes random screwage in games.  It played extremely well, and I saw Zack teaching it later on to a new group. 

Minos– Zack had brought Minos at my request, and I was pleased to finally try it out.  Pretty good, but it has fallen off my wish list.  I thought the turns tended to drag a bit, with nothing much to do while you waited.  I also felt like there was nothing but the competitors to hold back the leader from leaping further ahead each turn.  But this sounds harsh.  It was fun and didn’t really take all that long to play.  I would play again.

Cosa Nostra – I was keen to play a game with Lawrence’s daughters.  I had told Lindsey about Cosa Nostra a few months ago, so she recruited her sister and we enjoyed a fast and furious game of Cosa Nostra.

Stronghold – Alex and I were the only ones not in a game, so Alex asked me to play Stronghold.  I guess this game can take up to 4 players, but it is basically a 2p game.  I enjoyed it.  Seems like a rather busy game, with lots of different activities to pursue.  I would happily play it again, but considering it is basicallya  wargame, I will not buy a copy.  But if Alex asks I will play more of this!

Shipyard – Alex taught us Shipyard next and Chris and TG joined in.  This turned out to be a slow game.  But as it turned out, we got a couple key rules wrong.  I played this again on Tuesday night, and the game worked rather well.

Maestro – I taught Peggy and Rowan the game of Maestro.  Innocuous, it’s a game with a fun theme and lots of little decisions that add up to a bit more import than you initially guess.

Neue Heimat – I then taught Rowan, Terry H and TG the game that had been so well received earlier in the day.  This did not go over nearly as well.  I think Neue Heimat is a bit of a demanding game.  This coupled with the late hour and our general fatigue meant we stopped after one round.

Midnight Party – So what do you do when you are tired, but unwilling to go to bed?  Midnight Party!  Hugo romped through the house for 4 times, before we all made our good nights and retired to our respective rooms.

Sunday was the last day of gaming for Peggy and I:

Unspeakable Words – This is a simple word game that ties to the Cthulhu Mythos.  Fun, and quick.

Golfprofi – Ian, Rob, Chris and I swung through 18 holes.  Once again, Ian demonstrated his amazing skill at this game.  I was pleased to improve my handicap too.

Agricola (2x) – Peggy surprised me by wanting to play a heavier game, and agreed to give Agricola a whirl.  She liked it enough to ask that we play it again after dinner. 

Power Grid – In between the 2 Agricola games we played Power Grid.  Good old Germany map.  A tight contest that was won by Kyle, although TG gave him a good run for the money.

Time’s Up – I really do like this game.  But 16 players is just too much.

With a longish drive ahead of us, we simply packed up and departed Monday morning.  A great game con and much fun had.


February 11, 2010

Tomorrow night about 3 dozen gamers and associated families will gather for our “Juegos Rancheros”, a micro game con we throw for close friends.  We throw another event over Labor Day weekend called “The Game Fandango”.  The Fandango is slightly bigger with attendance running between 40 – 44 people.  Usually about 1/3 of the group is youngsters, and of the adults there are always a few who are not the hardcore gamers – happy to come and play a few games – but also happy to kick back, take a hike, or take part in a bardic circle.

But for me, and about another dozen or so, this is the high-water mark for gaming.  A few of us spend far too much time listing what games to bring in a database, and somehow convincing ourselves we will play all the games we bring.  Of course we never do – we play perhaps 20% of the games we bring.  So for fun, I will share my packing list:

Tante Tarantel/Igel Ärgern – A duo of children’s games that I recently imported.  I will bring two copies and leave with none.  Gifts to Kyle (belated Xmas gift) and my co-host Rob (just ‘cuz).  Of course I will still have one more copy back at home!

Little Amadeus Maestro – Another light game, and one I used to own in an earlier edition.  I’m hoping it will offer some fun.

An den Ufern des Nils – (On the Banks of the Nile) – An older game that Rob once showed me.  It had niggled at me, and so I decided I needed to get a copy for deeper inspection.  Not really a heavy game, but a bit more substantial than some.

Zapp Zerapp – Silly shaker fun.  I played this once in 2000, and agin recently.  I had more fun this last time than I did the first go.  I’m hoping to play this with some of the children.

Cosa Nostra – This is Parcheesi with drive by shootings.  I also hope to play this with some of the kids.

Golfprofi – Our traditional golf game.  I have gotten a lot of pleasure out of this game over the years, and it is great to see it requested by the other “golfers”.

El Grande – A favorite, and requested by Chris.  So it comes too.

Agricola – Another favorite, and also requested.  I don’t have the expansion, so I suspect my copy will be redundant and we will play another copy with their expansion.

Time’s Up – Requested by Peggy, so it’s gotta come!

Unspeakable Words – Another word game that the wordsmiths may not have yet discovered…  I had to buy it for the Cthulhu Mythos tie in.

Journey to the Center of the Earth – I’m actually bringing this to give back to its owner.  I would be happy to play it, but the reading of the rules was not overly inspiring.

à la carte – the beautiful new edition!  I’m excited to give it a try.  My old edition is now retired.

Strand Cup – 2 packs, actually.  Beach Volleyball in February in the mountains of New Mexico.  Why not?

Vom Kap bis Kairo – A nice little train race game that needs playing again.

Mu – I’m not too keen on Tichu, so I thought I’d pack the other card game people seem to like.

Dia de los Muertos – Being so close to Mexico, we have adopted the artwork style used in this game for our own motif.  Regardless this is an interesting game, and one I would like to play more of.

Giro Italia: The Cardgame – Leader 1 as a cad game.  I need to play this.

These last few are games I tossed in since I had some small room left.  There are a couple other games I am considering bringing:

Box of Golf – I was considering bring ing this until someone requested Golfprofi.  I may skip it.

Neue Heimat – Expected delivery tomorrow!  So if it is here when we leave, I will likely toss it in.  A Klaus Zoch game that is too complicated for his main game company…  But still a Zoch game, so surely it isn’t TOO complicated.  I have printed out the English rules, and will be ready to roll with it…

So I’m bringing 17-19 games.  Quite silly, as I have already talked about playing several other games that others are bringing:

Minos – A game I am curious about.  A Ravensburger game with nice graphic quality standards, and an appealing theme.  From the author of Shark (good) and Sindbab (eh).

Pond Hockey – Rob’s attempt to lead me away from StreetSoccer.  I bet I will like it.  I also bet I will stick with StreetSoccer.

Toledo – A Martin Wallace game I would enjoy trying.

Shipyard – Another game that Alex and I have bought at about the same time.  I will play on his copy and leave my new edition here at home.

Generally I play a lot of heavy games, and recently I have craved lighter games.  So I am not really looking for an 18xx this time around.  But we’ll see what happens.  I also want to play a few silly games with the non-hardcore gamers and children.

As fun as the event will be, the anticipation is also quite good!