Sunday, December 31, 2006

Nickels and Dimes: A Year of Games in Jerusalem

See what you missed? Come to the club and find out what these games are.


29 Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation
22 Magic: the Gathering (not counting drafting as a played game)
19 Bridge (more, really)
18 Power Grid
18 The Menorah Game
15 Havoc: the Hundred Years War
15 Puerto Rico
13 San Juan
12 Cosmic Encounter
12 Settlers of Catan
11 For Sale
11 Hive
10 Go

With the exception of Hive, which I may reacquire some day, I expect to play all of these again next year. I will try not to play Power Grid with more than 4. I would like to up the count for Go.


9 Yinsh
8 Caylus
8 Modern Art
8 Shadows Over Camelot
8 Tigris and Euphrates
7 Santiago
7 Taj Mahal
7 Zendo
6 Princes of Florence
6 Winner's Circle
5 AD&D 2nd edition
5 Amun-Re
5 Dvonn
5 Fluxx
5 Geschenkt
5 Hearts (team)
5 Kotsuku
5 Quo Vadis

All of these will probably be played again, too. I will probably play Caylus sparsely or only 2 player. It wouldn't bother me if I didn't play some of these again, including: Modern Art, Shadows Over Camelot, Winner's Circle, AD&D (looking forward to a different RPG, however), and Kotsuku. If I never play Fluxx again, I will die happy.

Just Missed

4 By Hook or By Crook
4 San Marco
4 Set
4 Tichu

Lord preserve me from having to play BHoBC again, but I suspect that He won't. Tichu, a Hanukkah present, is expected to go up greatly.


3 Cities and Knights of Catan
3 Clans
3 Colossal Arena
3 El Grande
3 Goldland
3 (Lo) Ra
3 Louis XIV
3 Maneater
3 Nautilus
3 Odds and Evens
3 Ticket to Ride

Will probably not play Clans, Goldland, or Ticket to Ride again. Will try Colossal Arena one more time. Will surely not play Maneater or Odds and Evens.

2 Age of Steam
2 Anagrams
2 Capitol
2 Carcassonne (all types)
2 Cribbage
2 Ingenious
2 Intrigue
2 Letter Hold'em
2 Maharaja
2 New England
2 Oh Hell
2 Primordial Soup
2 Thurn and Taxis
2 Torres
2 Twilight Imperium III (plus a rules summary)
2 Ys

Would love to play more Age of Steam, Anagrams, Ingenious, and Torres. Will not play Intrigue, although someone else might. Capitol, Thurn and Taxis, and Primordial Soup also unlikely. New England possible. Looking to trade Maharaja.

1 24/7
1 Aladdin's Dragons
1 Andromeda
1 Apples to Apples
1 Arimaa
1 Attika
1 Bernini Mysterie
1 Beyond Balderdash
1 Big City
1 Bohnanza
1 Children of Fire: the Board Game
1 Children of Fire: RPG (rules summary)
1 Davinci Code
1 El Caballero
1 Elfenland
1 Empire Builder
1 Entdecker
1 Goa
1 Gipf
1 Keythedral
1 King's Gate
1 Lift Off
1 Lost Cities
1 Martian Chess
1 Medina
1 Nexus Ops
1 Origins of World War I
1 Queries and Theories
1 Railway Rivals
1 Reef Encounter
1 Rheinländer
1 Rook
1 Runebound
1 Saboteur
1 Santorini
1 Scotland Yard
1 Seargent Major
1 Secret Sevens
1 Settlers of the Stone Age
1 St Petersburg
1 Tikal
1 Tarot
1 Trendsetters
1 War
1 Wildlife
1 World of Warcraft
1 Zero In

Of these, I would love to play more: Children of Fire board game, Children of Fire RPG, Reef Encounter, Tikal, and Wildlife. I would like to play more: Aladdin's Dragons, Beyond Balderdash, Lost Cities, and Queries and Theories.

I test prototypes at the game club, too, but I don't have an exact count of how many.

I'm looking forward to playing Netrunner and Middle Earth CCG, just acquired. Others in my game group also have, or are buying, other games I am interested in playing.

Top games played this year

AD&D (but no more, please)
Age of Steam
Cosmic Encounter
Magic: the Gathering
Princes of Florence
Puerto Rico
Tigris and Euphrates
The Menorah Game


When Saboteurs are Sabotees, and Vice is Versa

The bar-mitzvah was another lovely chance to keep acquainted with all my cousins, and especially for my own children to stay acquainted with their cousins and second-cousins.

But enough of that. What did we game?


I taught this to my brother and his two kids. We played four player in the evening; I wanted to see how well the game holds up with 4 players as compared to 8. It holds up pretty well, actually.

Like other games, this is more of a toy than a game. It's not going to "build patterns" in your life or make you a deeper person. It is just one way of passing time and the stories that result thereof. Which means that it's fun, but not too deep.

We played two rounds, and they were both kind of odd. In the first game, my brother misunderstood when I said that the game ends when the treasure is found or when the deck and cards run out. He thought it goes until the deck and cards run out.

So after we got the treasure and I said that the round is over, he lamented that if he knew the game was going to end right then he would have played one of his cave-ins the round before. While I can't figure out exactly what the point would be of continuing the game after the treasure has been found, I can understand people getting confused about processes and rules on their first play.

Gamely moving on to the second round, one of my brother's sons was the saboteur (we'll call him A) while the other one wasn't (we'll call him Y). In this game, A, the saboteur, misunderstood the saboteur's role and thought that it was his job to place the card to get to the treasure first. Meanwhile, Y, a dwarf, was convinced that the best way to receive the most gold was to be the one to place the card to get to the treasure first (which is true).

So A spent his time placing cards that helped the dwarves, and Y spent his time destroying routes until he could pick the cards that would enable him to get the treasure first. Needless to say, with both player playing the opposite roles of what they should have been playing, my brother and I were thoroughly confused by the end of the round.

For Sale

The next day I taught my first-cousin-once-removed's to play For Sale. We played five player and we all scored about the same in each game. They liked the game, and they took it with them and played it for the rest of the day when they weren't playing basketball.

Rachel and I had hoped to get to a game of Puerto Rico but we ended up just taking a lovely walk about the little yishuv (Nir Galim), past the cows and so on.

I read the rules for Netrunner and I'm quite impressed with the work that went into creating theme for the game. In fact, the game itself looks really good. If this is what I can expect from CCG's, then I am even more impressed with the creation of Magic than I was before.

The nominations for the BGIA are now closed. I will be creating a nominations list soon.


Friday, December 29, 2006

Weekend Coming

Nadine returned from the US, picking up her own Secret Santa gift and bringing me a number of items that I had ordered, including:

* A starter box of Netrunner
* The ten box starter deck of Middle Earth CCG (seemed pretty cheap at $36)
* Oxford A to Z of Word Games (looks amazing)
* Polyominoes
* some other books and Hanukkah presents for the kids

I'm going to my cousin's son's Bar Mitzvah this weekend, and I'm bringing: Settlers of Catan, Puerto Rico, Saboteur, Set, Netrunner (just to read the rules), For Sale, two decks of cards, and Tichu. That should cover most combinations of sizes, ages, and relatives in groups.

Welcome NPR readers, and all have a happy weekend. Stay tuned for my fives and tens of the game group, and I'll see you on the other side of shabbat.


December Gaming at the JSGC

As usual, this list includes only those games played at the Jerusalem club, and does not include other games that I may have played outside the club. Most of the game we played this month were really good ones.

Information about these, and other games, is on Boardgamegeek. Click on the game to go to Funagain or Amazon for further information or to purchase the game.

24/7: This is the latest game from Sunriver games. While easy to learn and play, and enjoyable enough, it is better suited for children. Adults will find the last third of the game anticlimactic, and most decisions not too difficult.

Carcassonne: A classic game for new players, I found the scoring less interesting than the Hunters and Gatherers version and the graphics somewhat confusing. Still a very good game. Hunters and Gatherers is recommended.

Children of Fire: the Boardgame: An excellent game. Reminds me of a cleaner version of Ys. Although the game could potentially continue indefinitely, I suspect that it usually won't. Some rules problems, and I didn't like the special ability of one of the cards.

Cosmic Encounter: The Mayfair and EON version of this game are absolute classics. I haven't played the Avalon Hill versions currently available, but I know that they are much less. Still hoping for a reprinting.

Elfenland: This won game of the year at one point, and will probably be liked by many people. We found it to be mediocre. Would play or not. Whatever.

For Sale: One of those instant hit games with non-players, not really my cup of tea, but I'll happily suggest it to get people going. Very quick game for 3 to 6 players.

Keythedral: I didn't get to play this, but heard some great things.

(Lo) Ra: Ra is a nice game. We place with a home-brewed Jewish version of the game (I can send you the files, if you like). A good auction game, but rather dry.

Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation: An amazing game for its length, like Stratego in mechanics, but feels like the Lord of the Rings squished into ten minutes.

Lost Cities: Supposedly the best two player couples game, I'm not yet sold on it. Willing to play, and willing to change my mind if I discover any more depth.

Magic: the Gathering x 4: An absolute classic gamer's game of cards.

Modern Art: Another dry auction game by the same author as Ra, but a better one. Still not my favorite, however.

Power Grid x 2: A gamer's game, fairly long and fiddly, with much math at the end. But very very good spot on tactics and strategy and game-play. Liked by most, but don't play with six players.

Prototype: I throw these out once in a while to work through game designs.

Puerto Rico: The best game, period. Still. Except for Go. And Bridge. Especially with my variant buildings.

Quo Vadis x 2: A nice little negotiation game, very tense with five players.

Saboteur: Big bonus points for being playable with 3 to 10 players, and quick to boot. Fun, but fairly simplistic.

Santiago: An absolutely excellent game of mechanics and tactics. A tad too much math for some at the end.

Settlers of Catan: The best game for introducing new players, and still a much loved and enjoyable game. This is the game to start with.

Tichu x 4: When I don't have the brains for Bridge, I will happily play Tichu. A very good four-player partnership card game.

Tigris and Euphrates: A fantastic gamer's game, heavy and epic in under 2 hours.

Wildlife: Seems like a great game with one really bad mechanic that doesn't break the game. Thinking about what to do about it.

Yinsh: A great new abstract game for two. Like Othello on steroids.


Thursday, December 28, 2006

What's Making a Comeback?

Board games in 2006:

Evanston Review
Rochester Insider
Raising Kids
Tidewater Parent

Only they also were in 2005:

Arizona Republic
Business Week


BBC News
Bristol Press
DePauw news


Daily Wildcat
New York Times


Associated Press




Owing Mills Times
Post Gazette

Etc... I didn't want to pay to access the articles in Google's news archive that stretch back through the nineties.

Want to know what else just in the last month is making a comeback according to Google news?
  • A cappella
  • A few familiar faces from the Superman mythos
  • A veteran in Houston
  • African food
  • Agatha Christie plays
  • Agriculture in the Yakima Valley
  • AIDS
  • Alan Smith
  • Amare Stoudemire
  • An old tactic used by criminals (rear-ending a car)
  • Andrea Eriksson
  • Annie
  • Apoca-lit
  • Aprons
  • Arizona Wildcats
  • Armadillos
  • Atlantans
  • Axel Schulz
  • B-Boying
  • B*witched
  • Bappi the music director
  • Barbie
  • Bears
  • Beavers
  • Bedbugs
  • Bharatiya Janata Party
  • Big band music
  • Bike baskets
  • Board games
  • Bobby Bare
  • Boutique hotels
  • Brady Fire Company
  • British National Party
  • Cabbage Patch Dolls
  • Calvinism
  • Capelle
  • Captain Burhan Ajui and striker Bobby Gonzalez
  • Carnival-themed parties
  • Celebrex
  • Centrists
  • Charlie West
  • Chen Yanqing
  • Chestnuts
  • Christmas
  • Christmas bonuses
  • Classic chick flicks
  • Cocktails
  • Colored lights
  • Comedy King Govinda
  • Condos
  • Conservatives
  • Consumption
  • Cool cufflinks, skinny ties, and hipster belts
  • 'Cooney'
  • Coppernob
  • Couches
  • Crèches
  • Crime
  • Cuba's cherished film industry
  • Cupcakes
  • Curtis Sumpter
  • David Davies
  • Democratic Labor Party
  • Dennis Rodman
  • Diesel
  • Disability insurance
  • Diseases like malaria and dengue
  • Dolphins softball team
  • Downtown Greenville
  • Dry stone walling
  • Dsching, Dsching, Dschinghis Khan
  • Duran Duran
  • Educational computer games
  • Eggs
  • Electric football
  • Electric trigger race car tracks
  • Electric vehicles
  • Enhanced Versatile Discs
  • Fiddle Fest
  • Fine fountain pens
  • Fish in Lake Michigan
  • Fishers
  • Fixed rate loans
  • Fondues
  • Ford's politics of compromise
  • Foreign films
  • Former Ganguly protege Zaheer Khan
  • Former President Daniel arap Moi and Nicholas Biwott
  • Frazier Farms
  • Fruitcake
  • Fur
  • Giant pandas
  • Glasgow's tag of being Britain's most violent city
  • God
  • Golden Crust
  • Gordon "Grubby" Clark
  • Guest rooms
  • Guns N’Roses
  • Hats
  • Hobby of driving radio controlled (RC) cars
  • Holiday sweaters
  • Home births
  • Homes in the ancient style
  • Horror
  • Houghton’s popular New Year’s Eve party
  • Indian team players
  • Jason Donovan
  • Jayashree
  • Josh Towers
  • Katrina
  • Kellen Winslow
  • Kavita Paudwal
  • Kevin Zammit
  • Kit Branch
  • Kits
  • Latin
  • Launceston's Waverley Woollen Mill
  • Laughter
  • Layering and fur trimming
  • Leather
  • Lee Hodges
  • Lee Jackson
  • Linoleum
  • Live Christmas trees and thieves
  • Local farming
  • LSD
  • Lufthansa Airlines
  • LVMH-owned brand
  • Madhuri Dixit
  • Managed storage services
  • Mark Delaney
  • Markita Lilly
  • Martin Ebner
  • Medical marijuana
  • Mercury glass baubles
  • "Merry Christmas" and "Happy New Year"
  • Metal
  • Michael Barrymore
  • Mike Nardi
  • Molik
  • Monitored telematics
  • Monopoly
  • Mortgage insurance
  • Movie musicals
  • Much of the opposition that ultimately killed Kyoto's chances in the US
  • Muizenberg
  • Music instruction
  • Mustaches
  • Mustang
  • New Orleans
  • Nicholas Sprenger
  • Old bugs
  • Old- school mockery
  • Once-struggling "mom and pop" drugstores
  • Panto
  • Parasitic malware
  • Park Chu-young
  • Pauline Hanson
  • PCP
  • Penny Hardaway
  • Petroleum spas of Naftalan
  • Pin-up art
  • Pioneer MF
  • Pit latrines
  • Platform shoes
  • Pole School
  • Political decisions by judges that was the norm during the Kanu era
  • Poly-extruded trees, "fashion colored" trees, and icicle lights
  • Popular '50s and '60s materials
  • Premium audio
  • Pria Kataria Puri
  • Prime-time comedy
  • Puppets such as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Railroad freight service
  • Rare hairy-eared dwarf lemurs
  • Real TV news
  • Realists
  • Red
  • Red lipstick
  • Reformists
  • Regional insults
  • Renuka Shahane
  • Retro toys
  • Right Said Fred
  • Robyn Loau
  • Rocky Balboa (and Sylvester Stallone)
  • Room Divider Screens
  • Rubik's cube
  • Rustling
  • Rye whiskey
  • Safford
  • Sam & Max
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Santa red and white hats with pompoms
  • Sartorial classics
  • Scotland's expertise on the snooker table
  • Scott Styris
  • Seve Ballesteros
  • Shrek
  • Shopping carts
  • Shpetim Hoti
  • Singing
  • Single-sex education
  • Smokin’ Joe Frazier
  • Socialists and progressive forces
  • Solar Power
  • Sourav Ganguly
  • South Beauregard
  • Space food sticks
  • Spam (email)
  • Sparkle
  • SRK
  • Stock prices of drug start-ups
  • Sumo wrestling
  • Sunshine
  • Tag Team wrestling
  • Takeo Spikes
  • Taunton river
  • Telemarketers
  • The 1982 World's Fair logo
  • The '80s
  • The Alliance Financial Mazda sports racer
  • The art of syrup making
  • The current deployment of French troops in Africa
  • The establishment
  • The feel-good factor
  • The formula for the old Spalding ball
  • The 'Fortress Carrow' element
  • The name: "Deutz engine"
  • The nearly forgotten $2 bill
  • The notion of using psychedelic drugs as part of therapy
  • The Pala
  • The spiritual
  • The Taliban
  • The Thunderbirds
  • The term: "A medical home"
  • The unbridled revelry of pagan times
  • The U.S.
  • The white jersey for best young rider
  • The word: "prudent"
  • Thomas the Tank Engine
  • Tickle Me Elmo 10-year anniversary doll
  • Tories
  • Toyota
  • Traditional colors and styles
  • Traditional industries
  • Traditional remedies
  • Traditional toys
  • Trams
  • Transformers
  • Tulip Joshi
  • Tulsa AA Maintenance Hub
  • Ukuleles
  • UPS
  • Upside-down trees
  • U.S. cities
  • Veils
  • Victorian clothing
  • Vinod Khanna
  • Vinyl
  • Vinyl singles
  • VVS Laxman
  • Wheat
  • White paint on cars
  • White wine
  • Whooping cranes
  • Wild animals
  • Wild turkeys
  • With-profits annuities
  • WrestlingTalk
  • Yellow gold
  • Yes tweeds, blouses, skirts, and sensible shoes
News. Fear it.


Session Report, in which we play and review Wildlife

The latest Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club session report is up here. Games played: Prototype, Lord of the Rings: the Confrontation, Wildlife, Puerto Rico.

I give our first impressions on Wildlife, and hope that the one exceedingly bad game mechanic in it will be cleared up when I look on the Geek in a few minutes.

To end the year, one more in the annals of Chess lunacy: A Chess player was banned for cheating. He was receiving advice from his friends running a chess computer during the match via a bluetooth earpiece. I don't know why so much commentary seems focus on the bluetooth aspect of it, rather than the simple cheating aspect. Unless they are going to come up with some scare stories about how bluetooth makes it easier/encourages people to cheat.

On the positive side of gaming, here's a nice article about Child's Play, who donates video games to hospital and so on.

In my continuing efforts to keep my readers aware of what's going on in the world of board gaming, I present to you the Intelligent Design vs. Evolution Board Game, produced by The Way of the Master. This organization is apparently an effort by Ray Comfort of Living Waters, an evangelical ministry, and Kirk Cameron, former child-star of the sitcom Growing Pains.

From the game description:
At last, a board game that reveals the insanity of perhaps the greatest hoax of our times -- the unscientific "theory of evolution."

"Intelligent Design vs Evolution" is unique in that the playing pieces are small rubber brains and each team plays for "brain" cards. Each player uses his or her brains to get more brains, and the team with the most brains wins.
Meanwhile, the next "next Monopoly" is a game called Portrayal, which is kind of a Pictionary, except that all players have to replicate an image based on another player's 90 second description. It includes a 10-sided die; that's really why I mention it.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Top Ten Predictions About Board Games For 2007

1. "The next Monopoly"

Someone will invent a board game related to their work, neighborhood, or some global issue. This person will claim that they showed it to their friends and children, who all loved it. They will have produced 2,000 copies, of which 500 are in stores in their local neighborhood. They will express hope that their game could be the next "Monopoly" or "Trivial Pursuit". A local television station will cover them, right after an expose on a scandal about old people being scammed and right before a quip from the anchorman and then the local weather.

2. "Old classics become digital"

Someone will quip "forget about those old board games collecting dust in your grandmother's closets" and how today's children want to play digital games. Some old classic still not on video (such as Connect Four or Aggravation) will be ported to video amid hooplah. It will fail, because bad board games are only fun to play with people; they're simply bad when you play them alone.

3."Death of board games"

Marketers will predict that board games are a thing of the past and that today's kids want music accessories, video games, and so on.

4. "The real next Monopoly"

There will be 100 new versions of Monopoly. 90 of them will have exactly three articles in some local papers about how much money was raised to pay Hasbro for the license to produce it with the official graphics, and how much businesses had to pay to get on it. 8 of them will be projects by kids or companies using the alternate production companies, like On Board or USAopoly. The remaining 2 will be talked about in 5000 newspapers because Hasbro does something unusual for them, like include RFID chips, allow people to trade money over the Internet or using an XBOX, or come with shiny new gold specks.

5. "How do they live with themselves?"

Someone will produce a game that many other people will consider in bad taste. While 499 other people also will have done this, this one will get Boing Boinged and then Dugg and then receive national attention because a Christian/ Muslim/ Jewish/ Republican/ Womens/ African sub-continent group will insist on boycotting it. Sales will soar as a result for a few months.

6. "Is that like Monopoly?"

99.9% of the population still won't know what Settlers of Catan is. Many great board games will be released for the 0.1% who know what Setters of Catan is.

7. "Look at my teeth"

A Hollywood has-been will put his/her name behind a board game that is essentially another type of trivia/party game.

8. "What a loser"

A fake board game will be created making fun of a celebrity after he or she is revealed to be a bigot or idiot in some way. Several Flash games will also be created in this vein.

9. "Somebody will get rich!"

Someone will create a board game that is supposed to be instructive about finances in some way and retails for over $400. The lesson to be learned from this is that the way to financial success is to create overpriced board games.

10. "Your grandmother's board games"

Board games will surprise all the newspapers who predicted their demise by doing better than expected around the holiday season, prompting many facile articles about old classics such as Sorry, Candyland, and Chutes and Ladders.


Oh wait, that was 2006 ...

Comment Moderation

By the way, I turned on comment moderation because I was getting blasted with comment spam. I got hit with thirty a few days ago, and another thirty yesterday. I turned on moderation and was able to intercept another ten or so before it stopped.

I will leave the moderation on for a few weeks to see if the spam dies down and then remove it if it does.

Which only proves that someone has perfected the art of automating their way through Blogger's captcha system. And not because they think anyone is likely to click on their link in a blog post, but because it increases their Google ranking or something.

I would like to try describing this problem to someone from the sixteenth century. They would probably kill themselves in despair as to what a pathetic future lies in store for them.

The Gazette from Canada looks like a long but ordinary mainstream article on board games until you find a quote from Scott Alden in the middle. Scott is, according to the article, "one of the brains behind www." (spelling and formatting copied from the original)

Scott goes on to mention Eurogames, Tigris and Euphrates, and Settlers of Catan. Way to go, Scott.


Update: Do you have what it takes to be a board game designer for Hasbro? This seven year-old girl does.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Tagged: 5 Things About Me You Don't Know

I was tagged by Daily Blog Tips, so I will comply. Five things about me that you don't know:

1. I love canned vegetarian vegetable soup, much to the dismay of my parents when I was growing up. I have perfected the recipe in my own kitchen, and can now simulate the taste and texture from scratch. Other ridiculous loves include Entemann's Rich Frosted donuts (or any type of plain or cinnamon donuts), and natural root beers.

2. I was and am scrupulously honest with my children. I never liked being tricked into things, so I decided never to trick others either. When my son was four and asked me what was in some food, I always told him, even when I knew that he would not eat it based on that knowledge and wouldn't have known otherwise.

3. I yearn to walk in damp verdant forests beside bubbling brooks. Give me shade over sun any day, mist over sunny, cool over hot, tall lush forests, moss covered boulders, wooden barns, and crystal-clear running streams. And wireless Internet.

4. I can make 8 or 9 out of 10 free throws in basketball almost every time. Often facing backwards.

5. I love cats. I wish I had two or three living with me. But I'm allergic to them :-(

Tag: Gavriel, Sarah, Yael, Rachel, Yaakov.

Analysis of The Menorah Game

I wrote an Analysis of The Menorah Game for Gone Gaming. Check it out if you are one of the lucky few who has a copy of my game.

As we come to the end of the year, I am considering new directions for my blogging. The laser-like focus I intend for this blog hits the beam-splitter of my head before I post. Where I was once mostly board games and a little tech and Israel, I am now half board games and half philosophy, ethics, Israel, and other stuff.

I know that this is annoying to some people. The obvious solution was just to wait to move to the new Blogger, when I will be able to tag my posts. However, I think I will be going a bit more radical.

As of February, I plan to split the game stuff off to a new blog; I also plan to stop writing for Gone Gaming and move all of my game related posts to the new blog. This blog will continue to be about everything else.

Questions: Do I repost or move some of my game posts to the new blog? Or just let them stay here? What about links on other sites to my past posts?

Some lazy links ...

A whole lot of free downloadable board and card games on Super Duper Games.

In January, the Westview Iowa church will be holding a silent auction of games to raise funds for the Waukee Area Christian Food Pantry. Consider checking out the organization and donating all those games you got for Christmas but didn't really want. Game donations are tax deductible.

Regarding my quip about crazy Chess players, David sent me links corroborating or contesting this craziness, such as this article in Time magazine from April, 2005 about Bobby Fischer, Did Chess Make Him Crazy?

In the middle of this article by the Corvallis Gazette-Times about Christmas shopping in general, comes the following quote from Errol Noel at The Toy Factory:
In some cases, it’s been tough to keep up with demand. Lego construction kits and a board game called Settlers of Catan, for instance, have been difficult to keep in stock.
The Detroit Free Press managed to sneak Apples to Apples and Blokus into an article on recommended games for young and old.

And here's a "board game" called Spintastik. It's just a spinner that assigns chores around the house, as well as the rewards for doing them.


Monday, December 25, 2006

When is it Good Enough?

There is a complicated dance between good and good enough.

We used to tell children that 'trying' was irrelevant; what mattered was 'responsibility'. Then we told our children that making an effort was enough, and that results didn't matter. Nowadays, people seem to think that even effort isn't important, and that children should be praised simply for existing.

Both effort and results are important. The effort we make is a moral responsibility. The priority we make on achieving the results is also a moral responsibility. The end results matter significantly for all but our moral sense.

If we try to feed our family, 100% effort is morally worthwhile, even if we fail. And 100% priority is a requirement of 100% effort. In the end, if our family starves, the effort and priority that we gave matters to our moral conscience. But we still take seriously the 100% importance of our success.

Teaching children that effort doesn't matter, or that results don't matter, is a crime.

On the other hand, we say that not everyone can be good at everything, no matter hard they try. Your best is not always going to be good enough. But if you fail to be a successful pop-singer, did you lack 100% effort, 100% priority, or simply 100% success?

In the real world we give lip service to the idea that not everyone is good at everything. But we chuckle when someone is good at a word game but bad at Chess, or vice versa. Or when someone loses their keys, or can't seem to dress the children in coordinated clothing. We conveniently ignore the various things that we don't do well at that time.

There are some things that we have never been able to forgive other humans for not being good at; one of these is 'being on the ball'.

We must expect no less than 100% effort and priority from every human being to not murder (barring exceptions such as right-to-die, abortion, or what have you), not rape, not steal in a harmful manner, not destroy things in a wanton manner. We expect no less than 100% effort and priority from every human being to protect their children, earn a living, respect highway laws.

The important list goes on for a long time. I wouldn't deny any of it; no less than civilization hangs on our joint compliance.

But while we don't expect 100% abilities in math, verbal, engineering, vocal, etc. - less important things - from everyone, we do expect 100% effort from everyone for other less important things - like 100% effort and cognizance, all the time.

You're not excused until you've made 100% effort. You can do anything if you'd only just put your mind to it. You're just not trying. You can't give up. You can solve this if you give it more time. You have to watch what you're doing at all times. You're not fulfilling your full potential.

We expect 100% competency in almost every non-specific discipline, even when it is perfectly obvious that no one is. Or maybe it's not so obvious? Is everyone so self-deceptive?

How many times do you think of an action as stupid? He's stupid for saying that. That was a stupid thing to do. If we all do things like this, isn't it a standard part of even a smart person? What, exactly, are we expecting?

How many times do you forget something "obvious"? How many times do you overlook something obvious, or forget to do something, or break something, carelessly? You can train yourself to get better in some things, if you give them priority; but in everything, all the time?

How easy is it to destroy twenty years of friendship with a careless slip of the tongue in the wrong place? For twenty years you thought she was fat, and if you once say it aloud, now she can't be friends with you because she knows what you "really think"? And how were you able to be friends for twenty years? A deception? Must something like "Wow! Your daughter's really developing!" spell the end of a relationship? [No, I didn't, but I almost did, once. I didn't say it to your daughter, so you can laugh; but what if I had?]

100% effort all the time, for everything, is hard. We are always so guarded, so tense. It's wearying. Sometimes, we break in a moment of confusion or inconsiderateness. Unless you are someone who makes inconsiderate into a lifestyle choice, the guard will go up again. Are we human enough to allow someone to collect themselves and move on?

When is 'good' good enough? Does it have to be 100%? All the time? Is there room for forgiveness, when we, also, might do the same thing someday, or may have done the same thing once?

Consider answering a slip - something careless, letting you down, something rude, etc.. - with tolerance. Give the other person a chance to see that you don't believe that that is the real potential of the person; that he or she is simply letting down a momentary guard.

Believe that people needs time to collect themselves. Return your words or actions as if what you heard or what happened was understandable, not something that 'no one in their right mind' would do. Assume that, together with your understanding, they will now try to fix what they did or move on. Allow them time without withdrawing love.

I wrote the following song more than ten years ago; it wants some music. Please consider it under creative commons.


Now I know I'm a decent fellow intellectually
But every time you talk you say there's something wrong with me
I'm aware that I have problems and they bother me as well
Though I think you still want me around, it's getting hard to tell

Chorus: So tell me right now that I'm your good enough man
Tell me right now that you can love me as I am
I know I've got my faults, honey, I'll fix them when I can
But tell me right now that I'm your good enough man

When you seldom say you love me but you often say what's wrong
The "love me" comes in weakly and the "wrong" comes in so strong
It may be that in your head what you feel is very clear
But my head can believe only what comes in through my ear

Everyone's got things about them that they need to change
Everyone's got pieces that need to rearrange
You may keep yours hidden and deny them, all the same
I just can't keep on running and I'm tired of this game

All of us need moments when there's nothing to decide
And all of us need times when we don't hang our heads and hide
And all of us need days without more criticizing words
When "You're good enough for me" is the only thing that's heard.


Eighth Set of Puerto Rico Buildings

This is my eighth set. See here for other sets. See here for information about the game Puerto Rico.

Buyer's Market
At the end of the Trader phase, you may buy one barrel (except corn)
from the supply for market cost.

+1 GP if you have 0 or 1 GP after building.

Reckless Miners
Turn over any one plantation. Flip a coin. If it comes up heads, the
plantation is now a quarry. If not, the land is destroyed; in this
case, move any colonist that was on the plantation to San Juan.

Schooner's Dock
You have a "wharf" with a capacity of 1 barrel.

Construction District
+1 VP for building.

Commodity Exporters
+1 VP when shipping indigo or sugar.

Mercantile District
+1 VP per trade.

Pick any full ship. Flip a coin. If it comes up heads, take all but
one barrel from the ship onto your board; the remaining barrel is
returned to the supply, as usual. If not, lose 1 VP.

Workyard (no circles)
+1 GP/colonist on San Juan at the end of Mayor. Max +5. Workyard does
not have to be manned to function.

Bulk Producers
+1 VP per three barrels of the same type you produce.

Business District
Pay 1 less for a building for each building you already own from the
same column.

Zoning Board
Choose a plantation from the supply for each colonist you receive.

End Game
+2 VP per building from the first column.

End Game
Flip a coin twice. Add +1 VP to your score for each head that flips up.
Repeat as many times as you want. If you ever flip two tails, you lose
all of these points and may not flip again.

Monty's Hall
End Game
You may choose to accept +4 VP or you may choose an opponent. Your
opponent takes three pieces of paper, marks an X on one, and places them
face down without your seeing which is which. Choose one without
revealing it. Your opponent reveals one of other pieces of paper that
does not have an X on it. You may now choose to stick with your original
selection or switch to the other unrevealed paper. After making your
decision, if you have chosen the X, you receive +8 VP. Otherwise, you
receive +2 VP.

+2 VP every time you could trade and do not.

End Game
No further function.

'Twas the Month of Bad Poetry

'Twas the month before Christmas, in all cyberspace
This poem was being abused every place
From new-moms to gaming, blog advice to sports,
Writers and bloggers adapted it for all sorts

Of really bad poetry, trying to be cute
And others then meme'd it, following suit.
Even the media, though usually staid,
Referenced this poem in headlines they made:

"'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the mall"
Farmington's Daily recited with gall
Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Iraq
The Huffington huffed on the latest attack

"All through the net", or "All had the flu"
"The stores were all closed", "Through the hotel", too,
"All through the Alps", "the tube" got some space
As did "Ramadaan", and "All through the base"

I'm not the only one tired of this joke
(Here is another quite frustrated bloke)
So please cut it out, and don't be a pest,
It's time that we gave this poem a rest.

Bah Humbug,

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Words I learned while proof-reading Rachel's thesis

This will be updated as I read more chapters.
Definitions can usually be found on .

monovalent (*)
retrojection (*)

(*) not used in the medical/scientific sense found on .

Does not include words that I kind of knew but need to clarify, such as 'hermeneutic'.

Your score?


Problogger Project: You All Blew It

The latest Problogger project was Reviews and Previews, and you were supposed to write either about the previous year or the next. Here are all the submissions.

Even though I didn't win any prizes, I still enjoyed creating a nice post and gained some readers as a result.

Project Lessons Learned:

You all blew it

Nearly every submission broke the cardinal rule of blogging: your blog is for your readers, not for you (unless you are the only reader that you care about, in which case, write what you want; this is not the case for most Problogger followers, however).

Taking the opportunity to write about how you feel about your own blogging, Problogger, your niche, or anything else highly personal and impractical is no way to earn readers. Neither is a recap of well-known events ("Vista came out"), or a prediction of something unexciting ("video will continue to grow").

Posts with lackluster headers don't get read

I only clicked on them because I forced myself to read them. In some cases, I still didn't get past the first line.

I often didn't even get to the first line if the header was followed by an Ad-sense block big enough to push the first line off the end of the screen.

Show your best work

Use the opportunity to show people your best work when you know lots of people are going to be reading it. Make the post easy to read, scan-able (not big blocks of dense text), and with links to your best posts prominent - that's what I want to see as a new reader, and that's what you want me to see as a blogger.

The post also has to stand alone, and not assume that readers are familiar with you or your work.

And please, unless you have a blog with mostly photos, drop the light text on dark background. It's hard to read.

Don't comment spam

Like I said after the last project, if you comment on other people's posts, don't cut and paste the same comment onto every post you read in the project; many people are going to read many of the posts, and they will be less than thrilled to see "Great post! Here's my submission ..." repeated all over the place by the same person. We call that spam.

And frankly, I don't really need you to say "check out my submission" with a link. I either was or wasn't going to, anyway, depending on whether your blog is in my niche.

Best posts

Here are the best of the project submissions as they appealed to me - pretty much anything that didn't make me fall asleep. Some good submissions were just not at all in my interest radar (or language):

Surviving the Holidays: Why I won "Times Person of the Year". Funny.

Fireflies in the Cloud: 2007 Psychic Predictions. Also funny.

German Impressions: The Top Headlines Of 2007. Good use of sub-headings. A Year in Pictures. To the point and cute. Lessons from the Most Talked About Topics of 2006. Text is too small, but nice to see the links. Preaching, Unicycle, Broken Ankle, and Swearing. Great story.

the Bivings report: The Best Websites You’ve Never Visited (and some you have). Good info and layout.

Writing Nerd: The Top 7 Writing Contests to Enter in 2007. Good info. Totally useful.

45n5: How I made $4000 in 2006 with Hypertext. Direct.

Japan Probe: The First Annual Japan Probe Awards For Excellence In The Field of Japanese Commercials. Great content. Top 10 “Crzy” Tech Gifts. Interesting content.

Daily Blog Tips: 101 Blog Tips I learned in 2006. Clean, professional, useful, controversial.

MacStansbury: Blogs are dead - thanks, Digg. Title, sub-titles. Intelligent.

the simple dollar: Six Trends For 2007. Topical and different.

CouplesQuestions premarital blog: 2007 Not Everyone’s Year of the Dolphin. Good list. Why is this on a secure server?

Tips for Public Speaking: Public Speaking Disasters of 2006. Very good content.

The Men's Gift Guide: Early Notice Of What He May Be Getting Under The Tree. Interesting content.

The Reviewer: The Reviewer’s Best and Worst of 2006!. Good content.

Kineda: Top 10 Ugliest Sneakers of 2006. Fabulous content and pictures.

Eggo: The Best Posts of 2006. Useful link into other posts.

paddling with a camera: 12 Pictures and Reflections from Paddling with a Camera in 2006. Great pictures and summaries.

Quartz Mountain: 2006 Search Wrap-Up. Interesting information.

Get back to work.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Weekend Gaming

I unwrapped Wildlife and it looks really good. Looking forward to playing it.

Rachel insisted on two games of Puerto Rico, so I'm sorry that I beat her both times. We played with what I consider the absolute minimum changes necessary for two player:

- Aqueduct instead of Small Market
- Small Fashion District instead of Construction Hut
- a small change to Hospice
- Discretionary Hold instead of Large Warehouse
- Large General Workhouse instead of University
- Large Business instead of Harbor
- Cathedral instead of Guild Hall
- Fairgrounds instead of Residence.

And we play two player with:

- 50 VP
- 37 colonists
- 4, 5, 6 ships
- 1 each indigo building
- 2 less each barrel and plantation
- 3 less quarry
- 1 starting doubloon
- 6 roles (no Prospector)
- Gov-Opp-Gov, place doubloons, switch

In the first game, Rachel started and I pulled a sugar, followed by corn, tobacco, and then coffee. I didn't buy any buildings at all until Large General Workhouse. Meanwhile, Rachel had 4 goods going, all except coffee. We both got tobacco going at the same time.

My "strategy" then paid off, as I was first to trade tobacco, and then coffee, also blocking boats for both of each. We were about even on shipping, and we simply stayed that way until the end of the game. My coffee power trumped her Factory, and I beat her by ten points, 67 to 57.

In the second game, I used a strategy that I never used before: buying low and fast. I started off, and I took a corn, but my next pick was a quarry. Whenever I wasn't sacrificing too much money, I built, thus utilizing both builder privilege and quarry to their maximum extent.

Although I was producing three goods, I passed over Factory and chose Large Business instead, knowing that the game was going to end quickly on building, and simply wanting to keep parity with shipping. Again this worked, and we ended 39 to 33. Both of us had one big building, but neither was manned.

Take a look at the PR buildings on my site for info on special buildings.

Other than that it was a quiet shabbat. Hanukkah is over, sad but true. On to another week.


Friday, December 22, 2006

Bottoms Up: The Drinking and Smoking Board Game

How could I have left this off of my Holiday Gift Guide? Bottom's Up was a board game produced by Colt 45 Malt Liquor, and required the players to down shots of liquor, smoke two cigarettes simultaneously, and so on. (via Teamsugar, via Seat of the Revolution)

I get some interesting questions by phone or email regarding games. I just got one from someone who wanted to help him find out if a certain European game manufacturer had any ties to Nazi Germany before he decides whether to do business with them. Interesting question!

Research didn't reveal any connections, but I did discover this lovely site of historical paper, playing cards, and card games.

Nodwick presents a variation on the game of Monopoly that looks interesting.

And the Washington Post presents a retrospective of mainstream board games and religion. They missed The Menorah Game, sadly.

I don't have any game plans for shabbat, other than to open up Wildlife and read the rules. My sec san gift hasn't yet arrived :-(, and Hanukkah is over tonight.


Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Difference Between Games and Toys

I'm not actually going to tell you the difference between games and toys in this post, despite the title.

I'm going to tell you the difference between board games that are "games" and board games that are "toys".

It is unfortunate that we use the same word for both, just as it is unfortunate that we use the same word 'wine' for crap you get for $2 a bottle at the supermarket and wine you taste at a wine tasting club. The former is a soft drink that tastes wine-like. The latter is wine.

Ask anyone what a board game is, and they will tell you it's something for children. Why not? The board games they know are Monopoly and Sorry. Oh, yes, they do like Scrabble, I suppose.

If that's the case, then what's Chess? Is that "for children"? How about The Game of Go? Or Bridge?

Why are these not the games that pop into your head when you hear the words "board game"? Everyone knows that Chess is not "for children" (although children play Chess).

It's because we have painted our games in bold colors, slapped them with movie licensing, simplified the rules to idiocy, and changed them to be able to be won by anyone, so that they will be interesting only to children. Then we stuck them in the toy stores alongside the Barbie dolls and Tickle-Me-Elmos.

We have destroyed games. We have stunted them to look like and act like toys, so that's what they are. Look at Or any other big retailer. "Toys and Games", as if there's no real difference between their target audiences. Because the only games they carry are toys. That's their target audience.

Somehow, a few great ones managed to escape this: Chess, Bridge, and so on. These are still acceptable for grown-ups.

Of course board games that are toys are not acceptable for grown ups. They don't challenge your brain. They don't add anything to your life, the way work, exercise, or reading does. We both agree on that. (*)

So I'm hear to shout, as loudly as I can: I don't play with toys! I play games!

The board games I play are games like Chess and Bridge. They may look a little more like Monopoly, because they come in boxes and have themes, have pieces and cards.

They may not take a lifetime to learn how to play, or make you feel stupid when you play. They may not be boring, and you may sometimes even win by luck.

But they are not toys. If you came here looking for toys, I'm sorry to disappoint you. When I link you to Board Game Geek and FunAgainGames, I'm not linking you to a site about toys or a toy store. I'm linking you to thousands of games, games that are not carried in toy stores, because toy stores carry toys.

Oh, you may find a few games in a toy store, here or there. You may also find a few good bottles of wine in a random supermarket. But it's not often.

I'm writing this blog to share it with you. There is a whole world of board games out there that you have never heard of. Thousands of games that are not toys, and a better use of your time than watching television or surfing the Internet.

Games that will connect you with your family and friends, stave off aging, expand your mind. It's a whole world that you never knew existed.

Prepare to change your life.


(*) Of course, toys have their place: for children, and to enjoy with children.

Image by dare.

Hanukkah Session Report, in which we review new games

The latest Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club session report is here. Games played: Saboteur, Children of Fire: board game, Power Grid, Tichu.

First plays and reviews for Saboteur and Children of Fire: board games. Both good.

As I write, Nadine is hopefully picking up two other games of mine in Teaneck, NJ, to bring back to Israel.

It is my duty to report that Foxtrot is ending its weekly strips and moving to a Sunday only format. Since FT was among the comic greats for a while, but then started recycling all of its jokes for the past few years, this doesn't distress me too much.

Mt Kilajava is a serious board game that might be interesting. It's serious part is to teach about the difficulties faced by crop farmers. It is made in New Zealand. By something called Monsoon Games.

Identity Games put out a few interesting inter-faith board games this year, one called Foto-Religie and one called Geloo't of niet. There's no information about these games on their English website. Anyone?

Many more news articles about "increasing sales" in board games, "small recovery" for board games industry, the value of traditional games, etc.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

40 Strangest Board Games Released in 2006

Every year, a whole lot of strange games are released, too many for everyone to notice them all. That's what I'm here for.

This year's list of strange games, like last year's, include a whole lot of games that may or may not be worth anything, but at the very least have some rather ... unusual themes or components.

Descriptions are from Board Game Geek.

"Oh My God! There's An Axe In My Head." The Game of International Diplomacy
GENEVA, 1920.
The League of Nations convenes for the first time. Proud to be the host for this august world body, Switzerland invites their champion axe-juggling troupe, Les Bella Lieben Jolie De Von Giorno, to entertain the assembled delegates.

Unfortunately, halfway through the demonstration, the Troupe goes insane, and begins hurling axes into the audience, splitting head after head. The Secretary General calls for calm, but before he can order a recess, his cranium is split as well.

The remaining Great Powers use the confusion to pass the gavel between themselves, conduct international business amidst the chaos, and generally try to shift the balance of world power while escaping a bunch of armed psychopaths.
(There's a) Fly in My Soup
Fast paced game of action and skill, where the goal is to be the first player to fill out your game card by "flicking" your flies into everyone else's soup. Outsmart the Crazy Chef while he attempts to block your flies with his ladle. Or aim for a bonus shot by flicking your flies into the Chef's soup!
Age of Steam Expansion - Disco Inferno / Soul Train
Age of Steam Expansion: Disco Inferno: This Age of Steam expansion takes place in a Disco Inferno, where “satisfaction comes in a chain reaction” and everyone keeps shouting “Burn, baby, burn” as you set up routes for disco dancers (goods cubes) to be shuttled between various discothèques (colored cities) on a map covered with flames. Unique features for this map include empty cities that “burn to the ground” when goods are emptied out of them, as well as the ability to “chain” deliveries together from one city to the next up to your total Locomotive strength.

Age of Steam Expansion: Soul Train: Souls are in jeopardy, and only you can save them! Build a train to carry souls (goods cubes) from Hell to Earth, and then deliver them to their final resting spot in Heaven. This Age of Steam expansion uses the bottom of the “Disco Inferno” board for the first part of the game as you deliver cubes from Hell to Earth. Then you flip over the Hell part of the board to show Heaven, which is placed above Earth, resulting in a linear delivery system that provides a strategic challenge to Age of Steam players.
Alaska Dyke
The object of the game is to "collect as many girlfriends as you can!". "Girlfriends" = points, which are traded among players as they move onto different spaces.
Animales de la Muerte
Each player tries to earn points by killing evil zombie animals.
Annoying Thing Game, The
Roll the Die...It's a 5. How quickly can you name 5 sticky things? Well, try it with the annoying thing bellowing in your ear! You just can't hear yourself think. Before you know it, you're out of time!

Comes with a real live loud annoying thing.
The bank directors want to have more alternation and excitement in their life. So they decide to rob their own banks. As one of those bank directors the player can speculate with money transfers, distract policemen with a beautiful women, spy and intrigue against each other.
Each player controls seven bellhops in the hotel and attempts to earn the most tips by helping guests with their luggage as they arrive in the lobby. You can backstab your friends' bellhops and reduce his/her tips by stopping their elevator. Be careful, though, as you might not be able to get your guests to the lobby without help! The player who has received the most tips at the end of the game wins.
Check, Please!!
Your objective is to order and receive three dishes on a fine restaurant. The problem is a chef that cooks the meals in an order of his free will and a butler delivering them in as he sees fit. If you receive your dishes and the check before any other player, you have won the game.
Cleopatra's Caboose
Cleopatra's Caboose: The train game Ancient Egypt?!?

Cleopatra's Caboose is a train game for 3 to 5 players that's based in Ancient Egypt. Each turn, players bid for the right to utilize a game designer of their choosing which denotes both the turn order and a special ability that can be used that turn.
Den stora kassaskåpsjakten
Players are moving around the streets of the city picking up tools they need for blowing up a bank safe. When all tools have been found, the search for the safe is on. The first player to find it is the winner.
Der magische Finger
In Der magische Finger (The magic finger), a life sized green hand crawls around the table. It rotates around the thumb planted in the middle of the table, until it stops and points at a person.

The game is otherwise like Truth or Dare.
Devil's Deeds
There is a job open in hell for a nasty devil like you. But you has grown to like working on earth and desperately wants to avoid going down to hell again. You must be bad enough to keep your job, but not bad enough to get a new job. A devilish challenge.
Die Kullerbande
Farmer Marble ball has set out to the fields to harvest turnips. As soon as he is out of sight, there is great turmoil on the farm! The cows play whilst the pigs surf on the internet. The rooster stays on the lookout for the master's return. He uses binoculars the help see Farmer Marble bail from far away.

Suddenly the dog has a brilliant idea for a game! The animals stand all around the courtyard and in a flash there is a little mouse rolling through their legs. What fun! Suddenly there is a loud "cock-a-doodle-doo" form the manure heap. Farmer Marble ball comes homes from the harvest with huge turnips and the animals quickly stop playing and pretend nothing has happened.
Evil Ted
Horror has come to the happy town of Cotton Falls! The peaceful teddy bears have become... zombears! A few lucky survivors have barricaded themselves in the remaining buildings. Can they escape from... the Evil Ted?
An "injury management" game about Extreme! sports.
Feeeeed Meeeee
Feeeeed Meeeee is the most popular game among the Big Trolls. The rules are simple: Big Trolls sit around a table loaded with food.. but they are not allowed to eat! As time passes, they get hungrier and hungrier. The first Big Troll that can´t control his hunger and starts to eat the food is the loser.
Feel Safe
Welcome to the Department of Homeland Security shell game. Hand over your Rights and the DHS will protect you from the bad guys. Although the Department of Homeland Security cannot actually protect you from terrorists and random acts of violence, they sure can make it look like they’re doing something (or, in the face of hurricane Katrina, maybe not). A facade of security so you can feel safe (without actually being safe).

Feel Safe, The Game of Homeland Security is a satirical board game in which players start off with ten Rights (as per the Bill of Rights) and must exchange those Rights for perceived security and safety, the first player to lose or give away all of their Rights (in the name of national security) wins the game.
It's summertime at Adriatic coast. Beautiful girls from all over the world came to enjoy sea, sun and good fun. And here they are... who will have more success? Local guys Roko, Stipe, Ante, Borna, Sale... or maybe you?

When a Lady comes into play, each GALEBAR plays one of his available Approaches. Depending on Lady's Interests (Romance, Sex, Fun and Money), active Place and Event, each player counts his score. The player with the highest positive score wins over the Lady. The end winner is the player with the most Ladies won during the game.
Gezanke auf der Planke
Pirates are afraid of water but today is bath day and they all have to go into the ocean. But nobody wants to. Because for pirates, the rules is: he who washes and saves, loses. Nobody wants to go into the water, and so there's a lot of pushing and shoving on the plank. Each tries to stay as far back on the plank as possible and push the others overboard. Finally, a large shark was also spotted happily circling the ship in anticipation.
Gong Fermer
The year is 1348 AD. Workers and servants are dropping like flies. Instead of working 12 hour days, Gong is working 18 hour days. His small plot of land is overgrown with weeds and rotten vegetables because Gong has not had the time to tend to his measly, yet only plot of land. If that isn't enough, this lowly servant, the lowest of all peasants, is sick and tired of being spat on, ridiculed, despised, scourged, and literally "crapped on" while he worked. Has Gong Fermer finally had enough! What in the world can a person of his stature do? All this peasant has is his shovel, his bucket, his similarly lowly friends, and his “PRIDE”. On the other hand, the king has his many knights, chariots, horsemen, weapons of destruction, allies along with a huge treasury to support his every endeavor.

Is revolt conceivable? Is insurrection possible? Can and will Gong Fermer get his revenge? Or will the Black Plague do the dirty work for Gong?
Hart an der Grenze
In Hart an der Grenze (Close to the Border), players are people trying to cross a border with luggage full of legal and also illegal goods. Each one declares what he is carrying, but of course he only declares what the law allows (even if it means to lie).

Each turn one of the players take the roll of sheriff. The sheriff must choose who to spot check. In case the sheriff picks someone whose luggage does not have exactly what was declared, the person must open the luggage and show his goods. The not-declared goods are lost and a fine is paid.

However, before opening the luggage, the person may always suggest that the sheriff take some of his dollars so as to be kind and let him pass. If they come to an agreement, good for them!
Julchen und die Monster
When Juliet is at home alone at night, the monsters awake and creep up from behind wardrobes and beds. They are keen on a tasty midnight snack. With flashlight and fly swatter Juliet sets out to defend herself. Will she survive until dawn?

There are two ways to win: Save Juliet or eat her!
A family dinner is arranged and you are one of the members: however, this family has trust issues, and no one's certain who will spoil the pot! Dinner is served in this game of bluffing, cruelty and fun.
Melt Some Plastic
A tactical wargame using plastic toy soldiers and some home-made maps.

That's all the description, and I think that I don't want to know more.
Mongolian Goat Rodeo
Mongolian Goat Rodeo - 2 to 8 players tussle over possession of a goat and ride it around a goal.
On a beach in St Tropez, some celebrities are having a nude midnight swim. But the paparazzi are here! It's a mad scramble to find your clothes in the dark before the flashes of the cameras.

In the dark, the icons in the corner of the cards glow. You can tell its a pair of underpants, but whose shoes are they? You can switch around the cards to try to confuse the other players. At any moment, anyone could switch on the lights and then it's "freeze!" as the celebrities' pictures are splashed across the front page of every gossip magazine.

You get "embarrassment" points for being naked, or for wearing someone else's clothes.
In PerkyGoth, you play cards to accumulate stuff and be seen at events that increase your Perkiness and Gothiness while having the smallest difference between the two.
Puppy Lake
The basic Puppy Lake game is a solitaire game involving puppies, a lake, Mean Old Man Hubbard, a truck, a canoe and still more puppies. Players must attempt to maneuver their canoe to save as many puppies as possible before they drown.

Mean Old Man Hubbard drives his truck back and forth across a bridge, tossing puppies into the lake. Puppies float downstream towards certain death. The player has limited control over how far he or she can paddle the canoe each turn.
Re-Route: The Marching Season Game
The crux of the game is in judicious playing of the cards: The Loyalists play a March card in Armagh - will you, as the RUC player, allow it to go ahead and risk a Republican Riot; or do you Re-Route that March and risk a Loyalist reaction that may itself provoke a worse Republican reaction? Should have kept that Tear-Gas card...
Really Wild Bug Eating Party
A series of challenges are used to decide who will ultimately have to suffer the fate of eating a handful of bugs. At the start of the game players are split in to two teams and a leader for each team is nominated. Next a series of ‘bug’ cards are dealt out to each of the players. Lastly a spinner is spun to select a bug and if you’re the unfortunate person holding the most cards with that bug then you’ll have to eat it, that is unless your team can complete a challenge card…

Note: this game comes with honest-to-goodness real dead bugs, worms, scorpions (devenomed), etc. that must be eaten.
Players each start with two boy figures and two girl figures on opposite sides of the grid-marked modular board, which is dotted with playground-themed obstacles. A child that lands on a space occupied by another child starts a fight and takes a coin from him. Other children can break up a fight by landing on that same space, or tattle by landing on a nun's space. If a nun moves onto the fight space, the attacker is sent back to the entrance for detention. Finishing thirty of the minute-long turns marks the end of the game, or it ends immediately when one player's boy and girl figures meet on the same space while out of sight of the nuns. The resulting kiss earns two coins from each player, but to win you still have to end up with the most coins.
Red Dragon Inn
In Red Dragon Inn, you and your friends are a party of heroic, fantasy adventurers. You've raided the dungeon, killed the monsters, and taken their treasure. Now you're back, and what better way to celebrate your most recent victory than to spend an evening at the Red Dragon Inn. You and your adventuring companions will spend the night drinking, gambling, and roughhousing. The last person who is both sober enough to remain conscious and shrewd enough to hold onto his Gold Coins wins the game.
Schillerstraße - Das Spiel
Convince your fellow players of the advantages of Italian men. Get a case of beer from somewhere, anywhere. Or get everyone together to practice a Canon.

Uncle Fritz tries his hand at being a sports reporter. Sister Lucy puts on her famous cucumber facial. Using the director's instructions, each player must improvise a short scene that incorporates all of the directions.
The Hamster That Eat The World
Some mad scientist, somewhere, for some mad reason has injected a small hamster, Mr. Chip, with who knows what. Now the hamster has escape, grown and gotten hungry. It seems that only the cities of the world can feed the ravenous hamster now and he's heading this way.
Players take turns wearing the fun pig nose and hunting for truffles (those prized mushroom that grow in the earth).

Yes, it comes with a pink pig nose to wear.
In the game of Whipped!, you're a regular guy trying to hold onto your friends and the lady in your life. Your garage band may breakup when she throws out your guitar, or you may never hear from good old Chuck again after he sees you carrying her purse at the mall! Boost your male pride with an Iron John weekend, or flagellate yourself silly at the Relationship Counselor.
Wolf in Disguise
In Wolf in Disguise, players seek to wreck havoc at the peaceful ranch. Each player is a Shepherd who tries to gain the most profit on the ranch. Player can hire wolf to attack other player's sheep or raise shepherd dog to protect his own sheep. However, to make the game interesting, all the wolves are disguised as sheep.
Zizanie beach
Two players, each representing a male, compete on an evolving archipelago (which they build in the beginning of the game) and aim to end up isolated with the only girl on the set of islands.
Zombie Cafe
Players are owners of delicatessens selling brains to zombies.
And you thought gamers were all boring ...


Linkety Link

Chris Brooks has written his own parallel session report to mine about his visit to Israel and dinner and games at our house.

Someone made a rather amazing diorama in which to play Puerto Rico. With pictures.

Chris Bates compares the rise of Poker to the decline of Bridge.

The Toronto Star talks Eurogames. (via Ryan)

The Globe and Mail talks about an Israeli company using virtual reality to train people to reuse their physical limbs. (via Serious Games)

MAJAX! is a serious board game that aims to recreate the pressure and chaos of an emergency situation, and is aimed at health services to "provide an inexpensive way of testing major incident control procedures and promote team building".

Front Row Crew talks about "good" and "fun" in board games on their latest podcast. Just skip the first 30 minutes or so.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Top Ten Board Game News 2006

Top events in the world of mainstream board and card games, as I see it:

1. Monopoly's new standard and Here and Now editions

Hasbro continues to beat this game into the world's collective brains through a combination of savvy marketing, licensing, PR, and national pride.

They released a new "standard" edition, preceded by months of voting for landmarks to be included, and followed by months of complaints from citizens of the least expensive properties to the municipality of Atlantic City.

They also put out their no-cash credit card edition, so that another generation can learn to trust the infallible computer.

(See my list of 1000+ Monopoly versions.)

2. Dominoes on ESPN?

After the success of Texas Hold'em, the next big discussion this year was how sedentary can we make the activity and still broadcast it on a sports network? The discussion centered around Dominoes which requires even less from a player than Poker, astoundingly enough.

3. Games That Made the News

War on Terror: The right game at the right time to cause controversy. The genral public was aghast at the idea of actually playing suicide bombers (but Nazis are ok?), while opponents of the governments handling the so-called war on terror were thrilled. For my part, I objected not to the theme, but to the attitude of moral equivalency on behalf of the designers on their web site.

Apparently, the game is not half bad.

Da Vinci Code (several games): Following the publicity of the book and the movie, several board games attempted to cash in on their success.

Sudoku (several games): This is a carryover from last year, but 2006 saw several new games for this popular craze.

Deal or No Deal: Yet another series of games based on a popular culture phenomenon, none of which are any good.

Your Best Life Now: A self-actualization game based on a popular book. Apparently, the game does not reflect the values of the book too closely.

GiftTRAP: A meta party game about giving and getting the right gifts.

Wits and Wagers: A trivia game where the object is not to know the most, but to bet on the answers given by all the players.

4. Headz Games in Nova Scotia

Headz Games, creator of numerous sports related board games, announced a new manufacturing plant in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, which was to provide 1500 new jobs. The plans sent the tiny town into a tizzy, but by the end of the year, the CEO had quit and the plans went on hold.

5. Chess shenanigans

In the wild and wacky world of Chess, grand master players fell to their death, committed suicide over their abusive fathers, punched opponents on the dance floor over a woman (who left with a third party), and leveled accusations of consulting chess computers in the facilities while on bathroom break.

Way to keep the sport noble, guys and gals.

6. Crowdsourcing board gaming

Around the world, and especially the U.S., thousands of people took to the streets to take the part of live pawns, playing board games using GPS systems and mobile devices.

7. World's largest Uno game

Mattel organized 330 players in West Virginia to simultaneously play UNO, in the world's largest gathering of UNO players. I'm not sure why that's important, but it got news coverage.

8. World's highest Scrabble score

As did two guys in a basement who played the world's highest single score (830) in a game of Scrabble, as well as the world's highest combined scoring game (1320), and most points for a single play (365, for QUIXOTRY).

9. Trivial Pursuit lawsuit

The old "some guy ripped off my game" controvery reared it's ugly head when the makers of Trivial Pursuit were served a lawsuit by some guy who said that they stole the idea from him after sharing a cab ride in the late 70's. This conveniently comes after the developers took all the risk, time, playtesting, and marketing required to actually produce and sell the game, as well as another 25 years.

10. Pink Scrabble Tiles

I don't know about you, but this makes my heart go boom. A completely pink game of Scrabble was developed, the proceeds of which are aimed at fighting breast cancer.

Surely that's more newsworthy than the various accounts of people killed as a result of Scrabble games over the last year.

11. Microsoft porting Eurogames to XBox

This may not mean much to mainstream gamers right now, but Microsoft announced plans to port three groundbreaking Eurogames to the XBox, including Settlers of Catan. The day will come when mainstream gamers are assimilated onto the true path. Resistance is futile.


Despite some great press reviews and lots of eager anticipation, Phillip's Entertaible, which is supposed to marry a touch sensitive electronic gaming table to physical components such as glass cubes, got some press, but hasn't made it to the public yet. We're still waiting and hoping.


P.S. Check out my 2006 Holiday Gift Guide!