Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Crazyness That Was 2014 and the Games I Played

2014 was a crazy year for my family.  In October I was contacted out of the blue by a company in Colorado that was looking to fill a Transaction Management position.  I had no interest in moving jobs, buy decided to look into it.  It turned out to be a pretty good opportunity, and after a whole lot of soul searching I decided to accept the position.  The process to move the family to Denver had begun.  I wish I could say that the transition to Colorado went off without a hitch.  Unfortunately it was anything but a smooth process.  After about 3 1/2 months, many plane tickets back to Salt Lake to see the family, putting our house in Salt Lake under contract with two people at the same time (not a fun experience and a story I can tell at another time), and moving into our new home in Castle Rock in a snow storm with temperatures around 5 degrees, we made it!  Needless to say, there was not a whole lot of board game playing the last 5 months of the year.  I was able to get quite a few games played the first half of the year though!

So what did I play?  I use BoardGameGeek to log all of the games that I play. has anything and everything that you could every imaging that is board game related.  They even have an app that will let you log games in seconds.  You can enter as much information about the games you play as you like, or you can just log what was played and when you played it.  I do the latter, and it's a lot of fun at the end of year to go back and see what made it to the table.

In 2015 I played 151 total games.  This was a very off year for me, but with the explanation above it makes perfect sense.  Out of the 151 there were 50 different games played.  There were only three games that broke 10 plays a piece -  Dominion, Marvel Dice Masters, and Lord of the Rings LCG.  The top 10 were:

Dominion - 18
Marvel Dice Masters - 16
Lord of the Rings LCG - 10
Ubongo - 8
Zombie Dice - 8
Memoir 44 - 6
Kingdom Builder - 5
No Thanks - 5
Pandemic - 5
7 Wonders - 5

151 games may seem like a lot of games played to some people. To me it represents quality time spent with family and friends.  My daughter is now old enough to play "dads" games.  I've had a blast teaching her Dominion, Ubongo, Memoir 44 and many others.  I always make it a point to take a picture after the first time I play a new game with her.  She was so proud that she beat dad at Qwirkle Cubes! 

 2015 is already off to a great start.  I'm looking forward to more games with the family and making new gaming friends in Denver.  Happy gaming everyone!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Forbidden Island

My daughter LOVES Gamewright games! She is constantly asking to play Order's Up, Duck Duck Bruce, Feed the Kitty, Go Away Monster, and many others. The quality of Gamewright games is always top notch and the themes of the games appeal to kids and adults alike. When I first heard that Gamewright was publishing a game by the Matt Leacock I was intrigued. I had played Pandemic and Roll Through the Ages (two of Matt's other games) and really like both of them. I was looking forward to what he could bring to the Gamewright lineup with Forbidden Island.

This post isn't going to contain a lengthy rules explanation. For those interested the rules are posted online on the Gamewright website. Instead I'm going to go over a few of the reasons why I enjoy Forbidden Island and why I think you should check it out.

Cooperative games rule! I'm a big fan of cooperative games. The first co-op that I played was Shadow's over Camelot. Shadow's is still one of my favorites to this day. Forbidden Island is also a cooperative game. A cooperative game, for those who don't know, is a game where all players are on the same team trying to beat the game. It's either everyone wins, or everyone looses. In a good co-op there is almost always a lot of tension that builds up during the game. In Forbidden Island you are trying to collect treasures on an Island and fly off of that Island before it sinks underneath you. As the game goes on more and more of the Island disappears and the tension builds. You usually don't know if you're going to win until the very end.

Variable Player Abilities: In Forbidden Island everyone has a special ability. You can be an Explorer, Pilot, Navigator, Diver, or an Engineer. Your character lets you do something that "breaks" the normal rules. The Diver for example will let you swim to another tile where this is not allowed for all of the other players. It's fun to see how everyones special abilities work with each other in figuring out how to beat the game.

Difficulty Levels: Forbidden Island allows you to vary the difficulty level of the game. The game comes with a Water Meter. As soon as the Water Meter gets to the skull and crossbones everyone dies and you loose the game. This is one of the four ways that you can loose. You can start the game at different levels on the Water Meter. Beginners should probably start at Novice, but the daring can jump all of the way up to legendary. The ability to vary the difficulty allows families to play with younger kids and also makes it a little easier to introduce the game to new players. It also helps add longevity to the game by making it more challenging as you get better at playing.

Modular Board: Modular board games allow you to play on a new board each game because the board is built fresh every time you play. Forbidden Island comes with 24 tiles and they are randomly placed in order to create your board. You never quite know what you are going to get. This affects the kind of strategy that you are going to play and dramatically adds to the re playability of the game. Every time you play it's fun to see how your Island gets set up and this always leads to discussion on how to best attack the game.

Forbidden Island is a lot of fun. It would be a welcome additional to anyones game collection. It has been nominated for the game of the year in Germany this year, The Spiel Des Jahres. I think it's definitely worthy of the nomination and gets my vote to win. Thanks for reading and happy gaming!

Anyone interested in purchasing Forbidden Island can find out more about it here.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Random Thoughs on Agricola

I was pretty late jumping on the Agricola bandwagon. I had seen it for years on boardgamegeek on or near the top of the highest rated game list. It had always kind of intrigued me but, I mean, how fun could a game be that was about farming? About a year ago I was able to get a copy of the game. After reading through the rules a couple of times I was ready to play. The problem was that nobody else was ready to play. This happens to me quite a bit. I get a new game. I read through the rules a few times. I don't get a chance to play the game for a while and I forget the rules. This doesn't bother me too much though. I'm one of those weird ones that actually enjoys reading rules. About six months ago I suggested the game at one of our game nights. Luckily, a few of the people had played and they were willing to teach the game. I'm not going to lie, I wasn't a big fan of the game the first time I played. There's A LOT of stuff going on and it made my brain hurt. I did see though that there was some definite potential to the game and I wanted to play again to explore. I now have played a dozen or so times and I can now say that Agricola is one of my favorite games. Once you get through the initial learning curve you find a fantastic medium to heavy weight strategy game. I'm not going to explain the rules in this post. I'm not really in the mood to wright for the next two hours, and I don't think many of you would want to read them. I will go into some of the reasons why I love the game though, and why I think you should check it out.

Choices, Choices, and more Choices! Did I mention choices? There's a lot of decisions to be made in this game. This allows multiple paths to victory. Many games have one dominant strategy that everyone uses because if you don't you probably won't win. This is definitely not the case with Agricola. This adds to the replayability and total enjoyment of the game.

Goodies! There's a recent expansion to the game that came out called The Goodies. This adds little wooden pieces that actually look like the things they are supposed to look like. The grain looks like a bundle of grain, the sheep are little wooden sheep, and the cows actually look like cows! The expansion doesn't add a whole lot to the actual game play, but it does add a lot to the theme. It's pretty fun to see your farm after the game is over with little pigs and sheep running around. My wife likes the goodies so much that she refused to play until I was able to order one.

The Cards. You can play Agricola with or without most of the cards. I definitely prefer playing with the cards. They add a little complexity to the game, but also allow for deeper strategy. You are dealt 7 occupation cards as well as 7 minor improvement cards when you begin the game. It's a lot of fun studying your cards and figuring out which ones to play and how they are going to interact with each other. The game comes with a ton of cards. You'll have to play a lot of Agricola before you see all of them.

Balanced: As with most good strategy games the person with the best strategy is usually the winner. With that said, most games are really pretty close and come right down to the end. The person who can squeeze out the most victory points in the last round could very well be the winner. I've had quite a few games that are decided by one point. This can make for a very exciting finish.

Passes "the wife test": My wife really enjoys Agricola. She like a lot of games, but usually shies away from the more complex and heavier strategy games. This one is an exception to the rule. Any game that can take over two hours to play and still passes "the wife test" is a winner in my book. It's also a great two player game. A lot of my game playing is with my wife, so I'm always looking for game that play well with two.

These are a few of the reasons why I love Agricola. The more I play the game the more I find reasons that I enjoy it. I'm looking forward to getting The Farmers of the Moor expansion in the future. There's still a lot that I need to explore in the base game before then though. If you haven't checked out Agricola yet I would highly recommend that you do. Thanks for reading and happy gaming!

Monday, April 25, 2011

To log or not log...

In January of 2009 I ran into a site called boardgamegeek. Since then many hours have been spent on the site researching games and reading anything and everything board game related. Shortly after finding the site I found that you could log all of the games that you have played. You can go into as much detail logging games as you like, including: where you played, number of players, who played, who won, what the scores were, comments on the game, and even if you want to post it to twitter. I usually just log the game, date, and where I played the game at. It's been kind of fun going back a seeing what I've been playing for the past two years. I thought I would post some useless stats on my game playing for the past two years in case anyone was interested. Who knows, it might inspire someone else to log their game plays as well. :)

Where I've played: Over the past two years I have played games in 26 different places. The majority of my game playing has been done at my home, but I've also played in some pretty unique places. I've played games high in the Sawtooth mountains and in Canyonlands in southern Utah. I've played games at a coffee house, conventions, hotels, and at many friends and family homes. No matter where I've played it's always been fun.

Different games played: Over the past two years I've played 143 different games. One of my favorite things is getting a new game, reading through the rules a few times, and jumping into a new board game experience. My board game collection has grown dramatically in the past few years and I don't see it slowing down much.

Most played game: For those who know me this won't come as a surprise. My most played board game the past two years is Dominion. I have played Dominion and it's many expansions 148 times. Despite all of my Dominion playing it hasn't gotten old. I'm always up for a game. My second most played game is No Thanks! with 51 plays. That's mostly due to over 30 plays on a backpacking trip. I was a little sick of that one after three days in the desert.

Total games played: I have done more gaming by far than the average person. I guess that's what happens with a hobby. Over the past two years I've played 743 total games. This doesn't include many kids games played with my daughter and nieces and nephews. Whew...that's a lot of games! That averages out to be about 31 games played a month.

When I look back and reflect on how much has happened in the past two years it's really pretty amazing. I've played a lot games, got to know A LOT of great people, strengthened friendships with those that I already knew, and started a board game business that will hopefully one day turn into something that will let me provide for my family doing something that I love. Board games have been a big part of my life I wouldn't want it any other way. Thanks for reading and happy gaming.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

So Why Games?

So why do people play games? This is a question that I've asked myself many times. As I put more and more time and effort into the hobby I see even more value in it. The game industry is growing. Games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride are becoming more mainstream. Barnes and Nobles even has games like Dominion and Forbidden Island. More people are being introduced to the wonderful world of modern board games. I've put together a list of some of the reasons that I like games. Feel free to comment and add some reasons of your own!

  • Games are Social: Board games are a very social experience. This is probably what I like most about the hobby. I love getting together with friends and playing. I run a game group and it has been a blast getting to know local gamers. It can be kind of crazy packing 25 or so people in my little house, but it's always a great experience.

  • Competition: Who doesn't like to win? The experience of games is almost always fun, but when you see your carefully crafted plans working as expected and you win a game, it can be a very satisfying experience. I'm a big fan of strategy games. Dominion is a perfect example. I can formulate a plan going into the game, and if I play it well my strategy wins. Unless someone had a better strategy that is. :) Winning obviously isn't everything, but it sure is fun every once in awhile.

  • Games provide memorable experiences: I will never forget the time when my brother in law scored 20 total points in Ticket to Ride. For those that have played Ticket to Ride you know that scoring 20 points is pretty hard to do. You almost have to work at getting a score that low. We've laughed about that game many times as we've gotten together to play games. Playing games with friends and family makes memories and provides experiences that we will remember for the rest of our lives. And then there was that time that my entire ship got blown apart in Galaxy Trucker...

  • Games are educational: As my daughter gets older I'm having more and more fun playing games with her. It's fun seeing her learn and develope through games. Games teach important skills such as learning to win or lose gracefully. This is something that many adults need as well. :) They can teach math, social skills, color and shape recognition, decision making skills, and many other things. There are a lot of games that are historical reenactments as well. Many of these games recreate historic battles or they can replay presidential elections in American history. You can play games about the Roman Colosseum, or the Incan empire. While some of these games are loosely based on historical events, they can generate interest in further study.

  • Games can bring families together: Life can get very busy. It's important to slow down and spend quality time with the ones you love. Games help provide that opportunity. Some of my best memories growing up were playing Mexican Train with the family. I also remember some great games of Chess, Rummy, Hearts, Spades, and many other card games. With so many influences in the world trying to tear the family apart, it's important to find things that help bring the family together. Family game night can do the trick.

So whether you break out an old favorite, or play the latest and greatest game around, enjoy the value that comes from a good game! Happy gaming!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Holiday Gift Giving Guide

So many games and so many gifts to give this holiday season! Is there anything

better than getting a shiny new game for Christmas? I don't think so. But with so many games out there how do we decide what game would make the perfect gift? Well...reading my holiday gift guide might help. :) I would love comments and feedback for this list, so please post your suggestions for great gifts as well.

Party Games: Party games are great for people who enjoy getting together with a large group of friends and family to just hang out and have a great time. There's usually not a whole lot of strategy in party games, but if you can find a good one there's always a lot of fun and laughter. Three great party games are:

Wits and Wagers
Say Anything

Family games: I love playing games with family. It's always a great time when my brother and his family are in town and we get to sit down and enjoy some games. Games that are best suited to families have some light strategy. There's enough strategy to be engaging for the older family members, but not too much for the younger ones. Some great family games are:

Forbidden Island
Zeus on the Loose

Heavy Strategy: Seasoned gamers might enjoy a game that has a little meat on it's bones. Something that is challenging and has some deeper strategy. These games tend to have a longer play time, usually at least 2 hours and sometimes longer. For those types of gamers the following games might do the trick:

Power Grid
Dungeon Lords

Medium weight strategy: For those game players who enjoy some strategy in their games, but don't want a heavy strategy game that might go on for 2 to 3 hours, this group of games is for you! These are the types of games that I'm most drawn to. Typical playing times for these types of games can range from a half hour to 90 minutes. Some great games to choose from are:

Dominion - Best game ever. Just go buy it now. You won't be disappointed. :)
Galaxy Trucker

Games to introduce to new gamers: Let's face it, not everyone plays games. There's a huge world of board games out there, but most of them haven't hit the mainstream and are relatively unknown. So if you want to introduce someone to the wonderful world of board gaming it's a good idea to ease them into it with what many people call gateway games. Gateway games introduce people to modern board games without being overwhelming. They generally play in under an hour and have light strategy. Some great gateway games are:

Ticket to Ride
Settlers of Catan - probably the most famous gateway game and the one that got me into gaming.

Games for two: Much of my gaming is with my wife. So I'm always looking for games that play well with two players. The following games play great with two players:

Lost Cities
Campaign Manager

Kids Games 4 +: One of the best things to hear as a father is "Daddy, do you want to play a game?" My daughter just turned 4 and there are some great games for her age group.

Feed the Kitty
Duck Duck Bruce! - the box says 6 +, but my daughter does great with it.
Go Away Monster

Kids Games 6 +: I've run a number of kids game day's at my home. We invite anyone who wants to come with their families and all of my kids games are available for everyone to play. It's great to see families playing games and enjoying time together. The following are some games for kids 6 and up that everyone has enjoyed.

Orders Up!
Space Race
Too Many Monkeys!

Well, hopefully this gives you a few ideas in case you're stumped on what to get this Christmas. Games can be the gift that keeps giving. They provide hours of entertainment and help to bring friends and family together. I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday season. Happy gaming from The Board Game Nut!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Adventurers

"At the heart of the Guatemalan jungle, a group of rival adventurers is about to explore the temple of the ancient Mayan god Chac. The temple is full of priceless archaeological treasures, but guarded by deadly traps and perils! Each player plays an Adventurer represented in the game by a figure and a card. These Adventurers are on a mission to carry away as many archaeological treasures as they can, even if it means facing the traps of this lost temple deep in the middle of the jungle." (from the rule book)

If this sounds like Indiana Jones the board game, you're right. The game even comes with a plastic bolder that rolls down a corridor throughout the game threatening to crush everything in it's path (and it frequently does). The adventures is a light press your luck family game for ages 10 and older. It plays in about 45 minutes and accommodates 2 to 6 players.

When I first opened the box I was very impressed with how everything was laid out. I love game boxes where all the stuff in the game has it's own spot...and this game has a lot of stuff. The components are some of the best quality components I have seen in a game. They even rival the quality of a lot of Days of Wonder games, which is saying a lot. So what do you get? The game comes with the following: A large game board, 12 adventurer figures, 12 adventurer cards, 18 wall cards, 65 treasure cards, 28 lava room and clue Glyph tiles, 2 sun tiles, 1 large masking card, 5 plastic planks and a support forming a "wooden" bridge, 2 plastic walls, 1 plastic bolder, and 5 dice...whew!

To start the game each player randomly selects two adventures to use during the game, although only one adventurer is used at a time. So why would you select 2 you might ask? Well, there's a really good chance your first adventurer is going to die, so you get a replacement right off the bat. The additional adventurer card is also used as a cheat sheet throughout the game. After characters have been selected a starting player is chosen and you are ready to go.

The goal of the game is to carry as much treasure as you can out of the temple before dieing. The problem is, the more treasure you carry, the slower you go and the better chance you have of dieing. The first phase of every turn is to adjust your load level. Every character can carry 0 to 3 treasures for a load level of 2. This means that if a 2 or higher is rolled you get one action for each die roll of 2 or higher. If you're adventurer is carry 4 to 6 treasures, your load level increases to 3. If a 3 or higher is rolled you get one action for each die roll that is 3 or higher. Your load level gets increasingly higher with the more treasure you carry. In phase one you can dump treasure to lighten your load and have the possibility of more actions.

Phase two is what determines how many actions you get for your turn. The current player rolls all five dice, and depending on the load level of the adventurer, you count up the actions for each player. There is a max of 5 actions per turn.

In phase three you get to perform your actions. There are four actions that can be taken during your turn. You can always move one space for one action. You can search for treasure and take the corresponding treasure card for the part of the temple you are in. If you are in the wall room you can take a peek at a special glyph tile and discover a trap in the lava room. Or you can use your characters special ability.

In phase 4 you move the walls and the bolder. To move the walls you flip over the next three cards in the wall deck. If you flip over a card with an arrow, or multiple arrows, you move the walls in the number of arrows. If the two walls come together and you are still in the wall room, you are crushed and die. It's important to not take too much time in the wall room. :) You then move the bolder. For the first turn the current die roller rolls three of the 5 dice. If a 3 or higher is rolled the bolder is moved one space for each 3 or higher rolled. If you are in the path of the bolder you die. For turn two four dice are rolled. For turn three the bolder reaches it's cruising speed and all five dice are rolled. In the last game I played, the bolder caused much death and destruction. It was a lot of fun.

For the last phase of a turn you pass the dice to the next player and they become the new first player and dice roller.

So I've talked a little about the wall room and the bolder, but those aren't the only ways to die. You can also fall through a trap and die a horrible death in the lava room, or maybe you don't make it out of the underground river and you fall off the waterfall. There's always the chance that when you try and cross the rotten bridge that all of the planks give way and you fall to your death. And if all that isn't enough, if you don't make it out of the temple before the bolder seals off the exit, you die in the temple with all of your treasure.

All of this makes for a very fun press your luck game. The game has some strategy, but really it's the type of game that's just fun to play and shouldn't be taken too seriously. There's quit a bit of luck in the game due to rolling the dice and the random selection of treasure cards, but in my opinion this doesn't detract from the game at all. It actually adds to the tension and enjoyment of the game. You just don't know what is going to happen. Is the bolder going to move 4 or 5 spaces? If it moves 4 I'm OK, but if it moves 5 I will be crushed!

I really like The Adventurers. It's not something I will pull out for every game night, but when it does make it to the table everyone has a blast. So if you're looking for a light press you luck game the whole family can enjoy, The Adventurers might be for you. Thanks for reading and happy gaming!