Archive for the ‘chit chat’ Category

Tom Wham, and stirring the pot

January 24, 2016

One game that has been getting some play of late is Feudality, by Tom Wham.  Tom Wham has several games to his credit, although most of them are now quite old.  I have owned a few of his games over the years.

Snit’s Revenge – started out as a free game in Dragon Magazine.  I guess it was a sequel to “Snit Smashing”, but I never played that one.  Snit’s Revenge was entertaining, but I eventually let it go.

The Awful Green Things from Outer Space – another game which began in Dragon Magazine.  This one I have owned, and not owned for several years.  My current copy is on semi=permanent loan to a friend.  I also gave a copy to my niece a few years ago.  Funny game.  You don’t know what will help and what will hurt the awful green things until you try.  Makes for a humorous narrative.

The Great Khan Game – Rick owns this one, and we went through a spate of playing it way back when.  I just recently bought a copy, so I hope to introduce it to the Bistro Players soon.

Search for the Emperor’s Treasure – another Dragon magazine game.  I gave Gary a “Best of Dragon Magazine Games” collection years ago.  This was the best of the bunch.  I now own this collection of games for myself.

Mertwig’s Maze – Never played this.  But it showed all the usual Wham-ish elements I like in his games.  So I bought a copy.  I have boxed it, as the folio it cam in was inadequate to the task.

King of the Tabletop – Another Dragon magazine game.  I found a free print and play edition, with improved graphics on BGG.  So I have made up a set to play.

So I’ve had a nice jag of collecting.  It’s now time to get some of these Wham games played.

Also, I did some rearranging in the Bistro today.  I have moved several of the 2-player and war games back into the Bistro.  Last Tuesday Alex, Steve and I played Churchill.  It may be that attendance has permanently faltered for game night.  But if that is the case, I am going to advocate for more play of war games or slower hobby games from a few years ago.


Analyzing the collection… zzzz

July 29, 2015

According to BGG, I now own 397 games.  This is a fair amount of inflation, from the days when I was more actively chasing games out of the collection to keep the count down to 300 or so.

So why own so many games?  To play them?  Well, yes, that is usually the motivation.  But sometimes not.  This article will attempt to list some of the broader categories of complementary reasons for owning a game (besides playing it).

Historic Artifacts – Sometimes I like to own a game because the game itself is a piece of history.  A few examples:

Swastika – a game from 1907 that I found in a family cabin.  It has nothing to do with Nazism, but is used as an Indian symbol.  I just like having a game from the 1900’s, and I like that it shows the swastika was a valued symbol before the Nazi’s twisted it meaning.

Civil War by Avalon Hill – it gives me a window of how that historic company got started and what they thought might appeal to the adult game buying public of circa 1961.  This particular game pairs the use of simple plastic pawns with the famous Avalon Hill CRT chart.  It represents an evolutionary stub in conflict-simulation game development history.  As a bonus, the game is actually fun to play, if unbalanced.

Touring – I love the illustrations showing the cars of the 1920’s on my edition.  I also recall playing with these cards at my grandparents home.  So some good nostalgia value here.


Collectorism – I fall into this trap over and over.  Some examples:

Francis Tresham – I am a fan boy.  I like collecting his games.  I really do like playing his games.  But most of his games do not get played often.

franckh – I bought an entire collection of these pre-Kosmos games just because I wanted to explore a wing of eurogaming I had missed.  I then went on to scour the world to collect the few I didn’t initially get in the big purchase.  Years later and I still haven’t played many of these.  Collecting the set just to have the set seems to have been my main motivation.

Jean du Poel – I cannot seem to stop myself from buying any Historien Spiel Galerie game I find that is not in my collection.  I just love the handmade art he puts into his games.  We do play a few of them occasionally.  But owning a bunch of these games and being on the hunt for more is its own pursuit.

Microgames – I have every Metagaming microgame ever released.  I did enjoy playing some of these years ago.  But mostly they just are here as a memento of gaming done in the past.


Games that need some love – I am a contrarian.  When I see a game that I think has some merit, but others fail to see its value, I am sometimes even more inspired to own it, so I can advocate for it.  A couple of examples:

franckh – I got into collecting the set.  But I got into it largely because these games seemed largely reviled, yet quite a number were by Reinhold Wittig, who I am a fan of.  So I wanted to make my own assessment of this group of games.

Backpacks & Blisters – Alex brought this over recently, and it flat as a pancake.  yet I enjoyed the style of game play, and found myself thinking this game is misunderstood/under-appreciated.  Alex was kind enough to give a copy of the sequel game “More Backpacks and Blisters”.  I will proudly have it available on the game shelf.

Old “Grail” Games – I was so happy to lay hands on certain games in the past that were darn hard to track down.  To be sure (some of) these games have been played.  But the owning of them was its own reward.  A few examples:

  • 1829
  • 1853 (1st edition)
  • 6 Tage Rennen
  • Auf Fotosafari in Ombagassa
  • Ave Caesar (Ravensburger edition)
  • Big Boss
  • Broadsides & Boarding Parties
  • Extrablatt
  • Full Metal Planete
  • Global Air Race (the game you play on a Replogle globe)
  • McMulti
  • Supergang
  • Tante Tarantel

There are others.

If a fella isn’t careful he can fill his shelves with games that are there for reasons other than getting them played frequently.  My friend Joe, prides himself on playing every game in his collection within a 2-year period.  That is not me – I have games I have never played, and have never considered getting rid of.

I do see the merit in having a collection that is actively enjoyed on the game table.  But I am not prepared to cut away games that I value for reasons other than their viability as entertainment.

So if you are ever find yourself staring at my collection of nearly 400 games, and find yourself wondering why you don’t see a game you want to play… this blog may explain why I own the “wrong” games.




Casual Gaming

July 17, 2015

The other night Alex brought over an old Ragnar Brothers game to our Tuesday evening game night.  I had played it once before with him about 8 years ago.  The game was Backpacks and Blisters.  This is a mild game of strategy where you need to manage a hand of cards and count spaces on the map.

This is not a heavy thinky sort of game.  Instead it is a game I envision you could play with most anyone.  A game you could enjoy a beer over, and chat with your neighbor when others are taking their turns.  The theme is charming, about hiking in England.  The cards include various movement cards, but also the heavy rucksack and a few blister cards.  The heavy rucksack is a penalty card, causing the holder to have an inhibited movement allowance.  Both it and the blister cards give the holders the excuse to bitterly complain.  I took full advantage of this, and while it hurt my score at the end, it enhanced my enjoyment of the game.  “Oh my feet hurt!”  “God, this rucksack is sooo heavy!”  I hammed it up, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

However at least half of the participants panned the game.  Zack was actively telling the table what a lousy game this was.  And at least a couple of players were disturbed by how uneven the various ways to score were.  Why would you ever take tea instead of taking the ferry, as the ferry is much better?  And they are right – the game is uneven, and perhaps even unfair.  If a player gets to a site just before you, you can’t go there until they leave.  I can agree that as a strategy game there are numerous flaws.  But it didn’t matter to me.  The theme is fun.  The game plays just fine.  And I had fun playing.  I’m just sorry it isn’t a game the club can enjoy.

Earlier in the evening I had asked folks to play String Railroad.  Here’s another game with serious strategy flaws.  But I am amused by the idea that a game can consist of a few cards and a few lengths of string.  Sadly this quirky idea failed to amuse some of the players.

Some of my recent enticement with Silverton comes from the heavy theme.  To be sure Silverton does have some strategy to it.  But much of the fun is being swept along with the (a)historical narrative.  Silverton is likely too long of a game for a single game night, so I wouldn’t generally offer it for consideration.  But my recent experiences has me questioning how much of my collection is really of interest to the game club.

I enjoy having a wide range of games.  I really like strategy games.  But I also like these more casual games I am discussing above.  I have collected quite a few Jean du Poel and Reinhold Wittig games because they were handmade – a joy to behold for the artisanal work embedded in them.  I have older family games from the 50’s and 60’s which are fun to see because they exhibit stepping-stones to modern designs.

If I were to try to classify my games into various buckets, I wonder how many categories I would come up with?  Hmmm… perhaps this will be the next entry for this blog!

June Gaming

July 1, 2015

I was (mostly) back in town in June, enabling more game playing:

18FR – Two more sessions, and we finally finished up this 18xx title.  I played at Rick’s house, with Chris as our third player.  During the second session (mid-game) I really despaired.  I was forced to retain too often, and I felt I had put myself out of contention.  But during our last night of the game, I came roaring back, dumped a company, and got the permanent train I needed for both of my remaining companies.  This allowed me to surge up, but I still fell short by about $800 of the victory.  Rick had about $12,000 of worth, I had roughly $11,200, and Chris had about $10, 400 or so.  18FR is largely 1830 on a map of France.  Ultimately I think I’d prefer to play 1830 – but Rick was pleased to get some use out of his homemade production copy.

Astron – This is an old 1950’s game about air travel.  The game board has a rolled map of the USA, and you advance the map by rolling it from one roller to the other.  Meanwhile the players move their airplanes about on the grid system, attempting to land at airports and avoid hazards.  The rollers are an unexpected innovation – and they added some fun to the event.  I’d play again, but this is simple fun, not a strategy game.

Amphorae – I played the reprint “Das Zehn Vasen Spiel” years ago.  But I finally got a copy of this Jean du Poel game in the tube, so we gave it a go.  As usual, we wondered about the rules.  I am going to reexamine the reprint and see if I can port over some decent rules for future plays.

Ogre – We played my super special Kwanchai edition of this game.  Despite all the effort of getting my own custom version of the SJG edition, I seem to mainly be using the Kwanchai edition.  Too bad he never got to do the GEV set.

Football Fever – Only a partial game, but I love these very cool dice.

Auf Fotosafari in Ombagassa – Played this with the Andersons and Peggy.  This was fun, and Geneva asked that I bring it to Fandango.

Silverton – Rick, Gary and I played a short game of Silverton.  This was well received, and everyone agreed we would like to play a longer game to see how the passenger strategy can hold up against the mining deliveries.

Axis & Allies: WW I – Alex and I played a partial game of this.  I enjoyed myself quite a bit.  If we get back to this soon, I have hopes we can pick up the pace.  We had a lot of rule questions during our first round of play.

Agricola – I am a bit tired of this title, but it was the group choice.  I had some fun with it.  But the more I play this game the less often I win.  I’m not sure how I always manage to pick the sub-optimal paths…

Great War at Sea: Mediterranean – I took a day to visit Tim up in White Rock.  We had been planning this for quite a while.  He led me through an operational scenario that eventually led to a battle showdown.  This was fun.  But I was glad Tim could direct the operations.  I am still getting my arms around the rules.  It may happen that this is just a game I play with Tim.

Star Trek: Fleet Captains – Alex taught me this game.  My luck was spectacularly bad.  I will crib from my entry on BGG:

“My bad luck in this game was rather comical. I was the first player. I found a supernova right next to my base. One ship was destroyed, another damaged, and the systems I had explored were wiped out. I suppose I should have scanned before going in…

“My opponent did no scanning and spread control markers over 4 sectors.

“I decided to send my remaining fleet to the same sector, (still no scan), and while safe, I didn’t get much done.

“My opponent cruised all around and uncovered much more of the board, spreading control markers freely.

“I decided I needed to spread out, like my opponent, and promptly got my 6pt Klingon battleship stuck in a black hole.

“By then my opponent was winning 6-0. I conceded the game.”
So the game is flavorsome. I like Star Trek, so I should enjoy this universe. But the game play didn’t evoke the theme as much as I thought it would.  The multitude of cards to pick from is a two-edged sword. I can see how it will extend replayability. But as a newbie, needing to evaluate the several decks was daunting.

I’d play again. But my enthusiasm is muted. It is a lucky game – flip the right tiles, random encounters, roll the right dice results. Nothing wrong here, but there are plenty of random elements working.  I suspect that if I played it more, it would become easier to play, and more fun. My first session was a blow out, and that is just going to sometimes happen on games with this many random elements.

Rallyman – Alex and I did a little 3 race scenario.  Man, I really like this game!  I’m now hoping to entice a linked series play at Fandango.


Back at the table

May 31, 2015

I was pleased to return to gaming this past week.  I had been on a long business trip, which meant I missed two weeks of gaming.

Monday night the boys agreed to give Silverton a whirl.  I was very pleased to see they were enthusiastic.  I expect we will play again this coming session.  We halted out first game, as now that the boys had seen the game, and would enjoy a fresh start.  I imagine we might play over a couple of weeks before we end the game.

Tuesday night saw the return of Michael to gaming – he had not come in months.  Steve and Zack were present making us a foursome.  I suggested McMulti, and with no objections I taught the game.  Not so long ago I played the reprint, Crude.  So it was fun for me to compare and contrast.  I won’t detail all the reasons, but I am glad I kept the McMulti version.  I like the greater variability of the economic situation.

Over the past two weeks or so, I have purchased two games:

Rails through the Rockies – It arrived while I was away.  I knew going in that this was likely a hard-to-play game.  But I wanted to look it over, and now it is on hand.  The game deals with a similar subject as Silverton.  It has a crayon rails aspect to it.  I am not sure if this will be played.  But I am enjoying reading it.

Rails of New England – Joe Huber introduced this to me a few years ago.  I didn’t immediately warm to it, and went on to explore other games.  But with my more recent interest in rail games, I decided I was now interested in a second look.  It does seem a worthy game, and I am looking forward to checking it out.  Unfortunately the New England location does not fire my imagination as much as the Rocky Mountain location used for both Silverton and Rails through the Rockies.  On the bright side, Rails of New England has handsome production values, while Silverton/RttR are Spartan.


Why do new games suck?

May 5, 2015

Am I just buying the wrong new games?  Seems like all new games end up failing around here.  A few examples:

Mythotopia – One play from Zack and it is on the veto list.  Known end-game problems going in, multi-player bash the leader game.  I have had more fun with it than I might have expected, but I am doubtful this one has much more to show me.  The Monday night boys have enjoyed it, so I will likely play a little more of it.

Viticulture – It works.  But each game feels very same-y.  Alex suggested we cut the number of workers again.  Might help, worth another try.  But while the simulation value is decent, the novelty value is wearing thin, and I don’t see much else to keep me coming back.

Palaces of Carrara – I sold this one after it cratered at the club, and TG had a terrible time with it.  Definitely a game you can do yourself in.

Russian Railroads – Zack hated this one, Alex is ambivalent.  Why own a game no one wants to play?

Baseball Highlights – Whiffed with both Zack and TG.  I liked it and so did Alex, but I don’t need another 2p game, and this one loses utility if it won’t please the other players enough to see table time.

My track record with newer purchases is really sucking.  I am finding more enjoyment in exploring older cast off games that I don’t really expect to play much.  Like Silverton, which I would love to play, but don’t have much hope for ever playing very often with others, however, I may get some solitaire enjoyment out of.  Or Blackbeard, which I have been studying and may eventually play on Monday night.

The problem with the old games is my play shelf just appears to get more and more stale.  Power Grid, Princes of Florence, Puerto Rico, Ra, Agricola – lots of good, old, games.  But when everyone has played them a couple of dozen times, there just isn’t much zip in playing them again.  Oh we do, and we have fun.  But the zest isn’t there.  I suspect this is why attendance has been slipping at game night.  We’re no longer on the cutting edge of new games.  Nor do I really want to be – the state of the hobby has moved away from my sweet spot.  But I admit I do miss some of the excitement of trying new cool games.



May 4, 2015

Over the years, I have only played Silverton a couple of times. I have had a good time with it. But I didn’t care for the cramped board of the Mayfair edition.  So eventually it left my collection.  Last year I bought a bargain copy of the original Two Wolf edition.  I’ve decided this is the edition for me.  While the board is rather Spartan, even drab, there is actually room to play the game.

A fellow on BGG posted a set of replacement Claim/Train cards to be used with the 1st edition, and I just finished printing them out, and cutting them down to size.  They are a big improvement to the game, and tonight I gave the game a solitaire test run.  I thought the new cards elevated the game a bit.  I also used the advanced rules for shipping freight.

I really enjoyed my solitaire game, and would love to actually play this game with an opponent or two.  I worry about the game slowing down too much with 4 players.  I also have a computer assist file for playing the game.  But tonight I was enjoying just doing the rolls manually.


BGG Top 25 & February round up

March 1, 2015

A friend of mine posted a quiz on BGG.  She took a photo of each of the games in the top 25 – the components, and challenged people to identify them without peeking.  This was illuminating.  I could only identify 8 of the games on first effort.

Further, of the top 25, I have played just 12 of them.  And of those, there are a few I have no intention of getting back to.  Of the 13 I haven’t played… well, I have a someday date to try Caverna with Rob… I’d be willing to try Terra Mystica… I hear Mage Knight might be a worthy solitaire game… which leaves 10, that I am either ambivalent about or certain I don’t care about.

February was a bit light on gaming for me.  I did attend part of Juegos, which helped my game count considerably.  Apart from Juegos I managed to play 13 games in February.  At Juegos, I played 15 games, for a grand total of 28 games for the month.

New games tried in February include:

Fief – A reprint of an older wargame from Europe.  I liked it, but our play with 3 players felt a bit off.  I noticed it got played at Juegos, with a higher player count.  But the playing time swelled to several hours.

18FR – We haven’t finished this one.  But we have a 3p game going on Monday nights with Rick, Chris and me.  Basically 1830 on a French map.

Jumpin – Older 3M game that Zack and I tried.  Very abstract, and I doubt I spend much more time with it.

Die Bremer Stadtsmusikanten – I insisted on reading the overview of the fairy tale (Brothers Grimm) before we played it.  Highly tactical game, but actually a bit of fun.  I even had a request at Juegos to play it again later by Randy, who never wants to play games.  Probably more fun as an event, and won’t see much action going forward.

Camel Cup – Which I gather from BGG is really Camel Up.  This won SdJ?  Nice game, but the SdJ has scaled back in ambition it seems.

Baseball Highlights 2045 – We played it 4 player, and I think it really wants to be a 2p game.  I liked it, and so did Alex.  Zack and TG gave it a thumbs down.  I note it has solitaire rules too.

Speaking of solitaire games, I’ve found myself hankering to play some solitaire board games lately.  I’ve been buying a few older AH and Victory Games that are for solitaire gaming.  I haven’t actually been playing them yet.  We’ll see…

72 New Games Played in 2014

December 15, 2014

One of the joys of keeping records, is being able to do some review.  December is especially fun to do reviews, as it gives a good look of what has transpired so far for most of a year.

I see I have tried 72 new-to-me games in 2014.  I haven’t compared to previous years, but I suspect this is a better-than-average year.  18 of these 72 games are in my collection, while 4 games which had been in my collection were subsequently purged.  Of the 18 in my collection, just 2 of them were purchased after I tried the game on someone else’s copy.  Of the remaining 16 games, 9 of them were newly acquired, while 7 had been on the shelves awaiting attention for a fairly long time.

By the years:

  • New in 2014 – 9 games tried
  • 2013 – 23 games tried
  • 2012 – 9 games tried
  • 2011 – 4 games tried
  • 2000 – 2010 – 9 games tried
  • 1990’s – 5 games tried
  • 1980’s – 6 games tried
  • 1960’s – 2 games tried
  • The remainder were prototypes.

Roughly 1/3 of the new games I tried were played with Joe Huber.  This is remarkable, since I live nowhere close to Joe.  But we managed to get together 3 times in 2014, and he is an avid player of newly published games.

I calculate I have played 307 games in 2014.  That means 72/307 is my ratio, working out to 23% of my plays have been on new-to-me games.


November 17, 2014

Never say never, but I am feeling like I have entered a phase in my boardgame journey where I am not all that keen to buy many more games.  I’ve churned through so many games, and I still own so many games I want to play more of, that I am currently not really keen to open my wallet for more games.

And with this realization, I am finding that I may not want to spend as much time on BGG.  Because while there is good info on BGG, there is also a “buy more games, buy the new games” culture strongly present.  I know myself, and despite my protestations, I will find myself explaining to myself why I am wanting to buy another game.

But can I really break away from BGG?  No – to be honest, I don’t think I can.  So instead I am looking at my subscriptions on BGG, and asking myself, “Is this sub about a game I want to talk about? or, Is this a sub enabling me to spend more money?”  If it is the latter, I have been unsubscribing.

We’ll see if I can modify my behavior enough to notice a difference.