San Diego Comic Con 2017: Conival

IMG_20170721_154003

I got to spend some quality time at Conival, the big bash hosted by Legendary Entertainment’s Nerdist, Geek & Sundry, and Alpha. The lounge was outside on the Marina Terrace behind the Marriott and it was an ideal location overlooking the water.

Even though San Diego is known for its mild weather, it can still be pretty tough being in the sun all day and thankfully there were plenty of shaded areas, misters, and two huge fans to keep everybody cool.

I loved that Conival was outside: it made for a nice change after being engulfed by the sweaty masses inside the convention center. And what better way to enjoy the great outdoors than by playing board games?

My friends Marlon and Julla met me at the lounge and we played FUSE and Wits and Wagers. We shared a loss and a victory in FUSE and were awarded some terrific freebies: books and a book bag.

In Wits and Wagers I eeked out a single-point victory, thanks to the final question, which couldn’t have been more perfect for the setting: “What year did Superman first appear in comics?”

While you Google the answer to that (here, I’ll help you), I’m going back to the con for more gaming and what-not.

IMG_20170721_130754

San Diego Comic Con 2017: The Story So Far

IMG_20170721_092530

Wednesday (Preview Night) and Thursday at SDCC ’17 were fantastic. I’ve met some people on my Must Meet List and I was fortunate to connect with friends from back home and an old friend from across the country.

(Pictured above: the cutest FULLY WORKING mini land speeder outside the convention center. Seriously, just stop the con now. That was the best thing ever.)

Crowds tire me a lot more now than when I was a younger man,  but like so many of my fellow attendees I feed off the energy of the crowd. It’s fun being among so many fans of so many different geekdoms. Admittedly I’m not up to date on all of the latest trends (still haven’t seen Rick & Morty, despite hearing how great it is from everyone I know), but I dig seeing everyone’s respective obsessions.

IMG_20170720_115218

While the first day and a half were spent exploring all the different nooks and crannies of the main exhibit hall, I also managed to briefly check out the Conival put on by Nerdist and Geek & Sundry. I’ll be revisiting it later today and will post another report soon.

I also checked out the board games area on the mezzanine, where my buddy Oscar and I got to play the new Potion Explosion expansion, The Fifth Ingredient. CMON demo-er Kimberly explained the changes and we got into a game, which was a blast (fans of the game will get that pun, ha!).

To be continued. If you’re here and want to meet up to play a game, tweet me!

 

Back from the Philippines

IMG_20170630_182727-EFFECTS

It’s been a week since I got back from a three-week trip to the Philippines and I’m finally getting over my jet lag. Last year, my wife and I went to Japan and it was a full two weeks before my body re-adjusted to California time, so I’m grateful for the quicker recovery this time.

I’m still processing my emotions and memories of this latest trip to the motherland. Long story short, our visit was nothing short of amazing and life-changing and we were fortunate to spend time in two of the top three islands in the world.

Like my last trip in 2010, it feels like going home, even though I’m far removed physically and culturally from the land of my parents and ancestors. I’ll write more about this at some point, but for now enjoy a few photos of sunset Boracay (above), the Taal Volcano in Tagaytay, pine trees in Baguio City, and our lunch stop at the Secret Beach in El Nido (Palawan).

PANO_20170624_111010

IMG_20170627_085414

PANO_20170704_113908

Humans of the Tabletop: June 12, 2017

One of the best things about playing board games is the time spent hanging out with your fellow human beings, bonding over your shared experience at the tabletop. Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York, I present Humans of the Tabletop, an ongoing series about the people I’ve played games with.


IMG_20170607_203745

“I try to take simple board games or card games and make them into P.E. games. The more fun the kids are having, the more engaged and more active they are. My colleagues would use a lot of the games I made up. They nominated me for P.E. teacher of the year and I won.”

Challenge Completed: Every Night Is Game Night

IMG_20170607_112712

I completed my Every Night Is Game Night: My Daily Play & Blog Challenge for May!

It took me a few extra days into June to finish, but it was a fun experience sharing my thoughts on the games I played during the month. Thanks again for reading and for chatting with me on Twitter.

Here’s what I played and blogged about in May:

  1. Indigo
  2. Pandemic
  3. Rolling America
  4. Loopin’ Chewie
  5. Stone Age
  6. Tiny Epic Galaxies
  7. Star Realms
  8. Red 7
  9. Dead Man’s Draw
  10. Paris Connection
  11. Friday
  12. Octo Dice
  13. Lotus
  14. Harbour
  15. Patchwork
  16. Ethnos
  17. Loony Quest
  18. Lost Cities
  19. La Isla
  20. Kanagawa
  21. Potion Explosion
  22. Formula D
  23. Tuscany Essential Edition
  24. Sagrada
  25. Tiny Epic Galaxies (again)
  26. Lords of Waterdeep
  27. Alhambra
  28. Clank! Sunken Treasures
  29. Backgammon
  30. Dragon Run
  31. Cubist

 

Every Night Is Game Night: Cubist

IMG_20170511_192627

Technically, my Every Night Is Game Night: My Daily Play & Blog Challenge is over, but I missed a few days so I’m writing about other games I played during May. This is post no. 31, so consider my quest completed. What are you playing these days? Tweet me and let me know!


I’d heard good things about Cubist, but didn’t really know what to expect. I knew it was some kind of dice allocation and puzzle game, but that was it. One of the guys at my Thursday night group had Kickstarted it, so I finally got a chance to play it. After a few turns, I knew my wife would like it, so I made sure to add it to my Amazon wish list.

Players are architects building art installations, using their rolled dice to complete the works featured on the community cards. The first one to complete the card collects it and earns the victory points listed. There is also a museum card that all players contribute dice to and they’ll score points there, too.

Dice placement rules are simple to learn: you may place dice adjacent to each other if they are one more or one less. You may place dice on top of each other if they are of equal value. So, place a 2 next to a 3 or stack a 1 on top of a 1, etc. You place the dice on your “work room” (your player mat), then remove the dice when you’ve completed an installation.

Turns go quickly and I loved the theme. There’s a nice way to mitigate bad rolls, in the form of artist cards that you can claim for a special action.

After I played Sagrada I was asked if it replaced Cubist. There are similar features (dice allocation, special powers, and a puzzle-like mechanism) and while I lean toward Sagrada as the better game, I enjoyed both equally. Sagrada might be easier to pick up for new gamers, but it fails in the accessibility department (colorblind players may have trouble with it).

Cubist, on the other hand, has the cool three-dimensional element to its puzzle, as you try to complete your works and it doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s a solid game that I hope to see on the tabletop again soon.

Every Night Is Game Night: Dragon Run

IMG_20170606_213052

Technically, my Every Night Is Game Night: My Daily Play & Blog Challenge is over, but I missed a few days so I’m writing about other games I played during May. This is post no. 30, so I’ll write one more and consider my quest completed. What are you playing these days? Tweet me and let me know!


Dragon Run has a special spot in my gaming heart: it was the first game I played with my current gaming group nearly two years ago. We played a five-player game and two of us still attend the game night weekly, while the others stopped showing up due to relocation and new work schedules.

Last year around my one-year anniversary of being a part of the group I asked the owner of the game to bring it in. It was fun revisiting a blast from the past, especially with one of the O.G.s (Original Gamers) that I knew.

Dragon Run is a fast, push-your-luck card game of grabbing treasure in a dungeon before a dragon wakes up to burn you to a crisp. The dungeon is a deck of 10 cards: nine of them direct you to take an action or stop, the 10th is the fire-breathing dragon. Each player has two hit points, so you hope to only see that dragon once on your turn. You’ll also have a special ability specific to your character.

In addition to collecting treasures, you’ll get potions and artifacts that help fend off the monster. Any time the dragon shows up, the dungeon deck is reshuffled and the hunt continues until only one player remains or if the dragon is done breathing its fire. In this latter case, the player with the most treasure wins.

I’ll never turn down a game of Dragon Run, if only because it reminds me of my gaming past. It was the reason why I couldn’t resist buying my own copy when I found it at Gamex 2017 a few weeks ago.

Humans of the Tabletop: June 5, 2017

One of the best things about playing board games is the time spent hanging out with your fellow human beings, bonding over your shared experience at the tabletop. Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York, I present Humans of the Tabletop, an ongoing series about the people I’ve played games with.


IMG_20170601_154022

“The first game I played was Legendary. My friend said it was a deck builder. I didn’t know what that meant and seeing all of those cards was frightening, but after one game I thought it was pretty cool. Before I knew it, I’d bought the game and five of the expansions.”

Every Night Is Game Night: Backgammon

IMG_20170504_183006

Technically, my Every Night Is Game Night: My Daily Play & Blog Challenge is over, but I missed a few days so I’m writing about other games I played during May. This is post no. 29, so I’ll write two more and consider my quest completed. What are you playing these days? Tweet me and let me know!


I didn’t learn to play backgammon until about 10 years ago, back when game night meant poker games that lasted all day and/or all night. I learned the basics online and then a few of my poker buddies and I would play games between poker hands.

Backgammon’s history has always fascinated me. The earliest known set was found in Iran and dated 3000 B.C. It’s mind-blowing to think about a game that’s been around 5,000 years! One of my relatives through marriage is from Turkey, where they call the game Tavla, and I try to bring my backgammon set whenever I know we’ll see each other. He’s a fantastic player and sees all of his moves quickly. Thankfully, he’s patient with me while I figure out my moves.

Backgammon is a racing game at its heart, with dice for movement and a little take-that as well. It’s an abstract game with no theme, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it. The goal of the game is to get all of your pieces off the board. On your turn you’ll roll the dice and move a piece (or pieces) according to the pips on the dice. For example, if I rolled a 3 and 2, I could move one piece 3 spaces and another 2 spaces, or one piece a total of 5 spaces.

If you land on one of your own pieces, that’s fine, but if you land on an opponent’s piece, then they’re sent off the board to the middle slot. They can’t move any other piece until they’ve gotten that piece back onto the board. Think of it like jail: the game continues without you until you roll the number that will get you out.

Once all of your pieces are in the final quadrant of the board, then you can begin to bear off, or roll the dice to take your pieces off the board. First player to get all of their pieces off wins.

There’s a lot of tactical strategy involved since the dice determine your movement. Sometimes the dice seem to be against you, but other times you’ll roll that perfect number (usually doubles) that give you the advantage.

Even for a game that’s thousands of years old, I’ll never turn down an opportunity to play it. Once you get the hang of the rules and figure out some basic opening moves, games go by quickly. As long as both players know the game, it’ll only take about 10-15 minutes to play and people usually play a set of games for a match, like best of 5 or 7.

Every Night Is Game Night: Clank! Sunken Treasures

IMG_20170504_195025

Technically, my Every Night Is Game Night: My Daily Play & Blog Challenge is over, but I missed a few days so I’m writing about other games I played during May. This is post no. 28, so I’ll write three more and consider my quest completed. What are you playing these days? Tweet me and let me know!


My buddy Daryl loves deck builders and when he bought Clank! I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. After two games, I knew it would be a fine addition to any game library.

While the theme to Clank! is a well-worn one (adventurers going into a dungeon to grab treasures while avoiding a dragon), the deck-building mechanism used for combat, movement, and more is a fresh take on the genre. You know the drill: each player draws five cards from their deck and uses the money to buy additional cards from a general supply. There are also combat symbols so you can fight monsters and movement symbols that allow you to explore the dungeon.

The fun happens when it’s time to see who’s been burned by the dragon. Whenever a “clank” happens, you add your colored cubes into a bag. When a card with a dragon icon is revealed in the general supply, then it’s time to reach into the bag and randomly pull out cubes. Each cube of your color that’s pulled means you take one point of damage.

Finally, I loved how the push-your-luck mechanism was used in Clank! Once you’ve grabbed your treasure, you may race back up to the surface for bonus points and safe haven from the dragon. It’s a blast watching your opponents scramble through the dungeon as the dragon’s attacks become more frequent and more damaging. Evil laughs abound during this part of the end game. Muahahahaha.

At my Thursday night gaming group I played the Clank! expansion, Sunken Treasures. While I enjoyed it, there wasn’t much new to the base game. There’s an additional push-your-luck element with the scuba gear and diving into the water for more treasure; you can still go underwater without the gear, but you’ll have to come up for air (go to any non-water space). A nice touch, as were the new cards, but nothing totally game-changing about it.

Sunken Treasures isn’t a must-have expansion that improves the game significantly or adds new layers of depth (like Tuscany did for Viticulture), but Clank! fans should enjoy it. I did.