Challenge Completed

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Over on boardgamegeek.com they run a 10×10 challenge, in which participants attempt to play 10 different games at least 10 times each during the year. I did it last year and like the Lakers winning championships back in the day, I repeated the feat this year.

Here’s are quick thoughts on the 10 games on my list. Thanks to my wife, nephew and niece, and regular gaming buddies (two on Twitter: Daryl and Oscar) for helping me finish my list.

Santorini. One of my favorite abstract games ever. The game is ridiculously easy to learn: on your turn you move to any adjacent square, then you build on any adjacent square; to win, you must move up to the third level of any building. That’s it. It has surprising depth and lots of replayability due to its God Power cards, which add new moves, abilities, and/or win conditions for each player. Simply brilliant. (25 plays)

Mint Works. Everyone I’ve played Mint Works with has loved it. It’s a stripped-down-to-basics worker placement game that fits inside an Altoids tin. Games take no longer than 15 minutes, but it always manages to satisfy that worker placement itch. (10 plays)

Karuba. This was an insta-hit with my wife and our extended family of gamers. The tile call-outs reminds me of bingo, while the puzzle-like game play is always a blast, as each player tries to guide their adventurer to their temples while scooping up gems. (10 plays)

Onitama. Another abstract that gets bonus points for its terrific, road-trip-friendly packaging. While Santorini provides more depth and replayability, Onitama is even easier to learn: play a card and move any of your pieces according to the card’s directions while trying to capture your opponent’s master pawn or moving your master pawn to your opponent’s side. It plays faster than Santorini and I’m happy that both are in the Gaviola Game Library. (18 plays)

Red7. Any fan of card games should give Red7 a try. It’s a quick filler-type game, but has lots of interesting decisions throughout a game, thanks to its unique card play. Each card can be used in multiple ways so you’re always trying to find just the right card to play on your turn. The win condition is simple: be the last person standing. (17 plays)

Tiny Epic Quest. I love the Tiny Epic series of games. Scott Almes and Gamelyn Games manage to pack a lot of game into small boxes and Tiny Epic Quest is the best of the lot. I enjoy the puzzle-like nature of the Day Phase as you try to complete Movement Quests, but it’s the dice-chucking, push-your-luck Night Phase to complete Treasure Quests that’s an absolute blast. (28 plays)

Guess Who? My wife and I took a weekend cruise to Mexico earlier this year and the ship had a lounge that had a few shelves of board games. Unfortunately, it was multiple copies of chess, checkers, Connect Four, and Guess Who?. Thankfully, we were too busy chillaxing and enjoying the trip to care about how shoddy the selection was. We did, however, play 10 straight games of Guess Who?, so at least I was able to get my board game fix. (10 plays)

Tiny Epic Galaxies. No surprise here: I played another Tiny Epic game 10 times this year. This was my favorite in the series until I got Tiny Epic Quest. Galaxies is a lot of dice chucking, which always makes me happy. The solo game is fun (although TEQ has also supplanted it as my favorite of the series) and the Beyond the Black expansion added some nice touches to it, including new ships and abilities, and set collection and push-your-luck mechanisms. (14 plays)

Imperial Settlers. I’m not sure what I expected with Imperial Settlers, but I heard a lot of good things about it and won an auction for it last year. I like the civilization building aspect, along with card drafting. As the game progresses it becomes a good brain-burning exercise as you try to squeeze as much as you can out of each of your cards. (16 plays)

Viticulture Essential Edition. I lucked out last year and found a BGG user who had a brand new copy for half price. Not sure why I waited until this year to play it, but it was love at first play; the theme and mechanisms blend in so well together. It’s a classic of the worker placement genre and easily makes it into my Top Five Games Ever. When I added the Tuscany Essential expansion a few months later, it took the game to a whole new level. (36 plays)

Challenge Completed: Every Night Is Game Night

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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

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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

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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.


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“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

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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

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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.

 

 

Every Night Is Game Night: Alhambra

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Technically, my Every Night Is Game Night: My Daily Play & Blog Challenge is over, but since I missed a few days last month I’m writing about other games I played during May. By my count this is post no. 27, so I’ll write four more and consider my quest completed. And don’t forget to tweet me with what you’re playing these days!


Alhambra is a classic game, one that took the Carcassonne model of tile-laying and incorporated set collection. I played it last night for the first time with my regular gaming group and immediately saw the game’s appeal. Player turns are easy, with one action allowed: draw a money card or buy a tile. I liked that you’d receive a bonus action if you paid the exact amount for a tile. The spatial element of matching up your tiles is an interesting twist that moves the game beyond simple set collection, too.

We played with a few expansions that seemed to add options without weighing down the game too much in terms of additional length or deeper strategy. The base game seemed just fine as a gateway game and I’ll probably buy it during Queen Games’ next fire sale on Amazon.

Every Night Is Game Night: Lords of Waterdeep

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I’m playing a board game every day this month and blogging about it (I did a similar challenge last year)Feel free to join me during my Every Night Is Game Night: My Daily Play & Blog Challenge. And tweet me with what you’re playing these days!


My final game played this month was Lords of Waterdeep, the worker-placement game based on the Dungeons & Dragons city Waterdeep in the Forgotten Realms campaign. While the game itself has no dungeons nor dragons, its theme of intrigue and deception is fantastic.

Players are the Lords of Waterdeep trying to gain control of the city by sending out adventurers on quests to earn victory points and resources to buy buildings. My favorite part (aside from the worker placement mechanism, which I love) is the Intrigue cards that can be used to negotiate with other players and eventually double-cross them.

Tonight’s game with my regular group had plenty of trickery, as everybody took turns messing with each other. We played with the Scoundrels of Skullport, which added the negative-point Corruption tokens, and we also had two promo cards in the deck. Near the end of the game I was able to play an Intrigue card that forced the current leader to complete a mandatory quest before completing a scoring quest. I ended up winning by two points so I’d like to think that my well-timed card helped me to the victory, but I’m not sure if it crippled him as much as I’d hoped.

I’m glad my month ended with Lords of Waterdeep. It’s a fantastic game and it’s quickly become one of my favorites. I hope one day I’ll have a blinged-out version like my buddy Oscar, who not only has the Broken Token organizer, but also the super-cool worker meeples and corruption skulls.

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Every Night Is Game Night: Tiny Epic Galaxies 2

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I’m playing a board game every day this month and blogging about it (I did a similar challenge last year)Feel free to join me during my Every Night Is Game Night: My Daily Play & Blog Challenge. And tweet me with what you’re playing these days!


I’ve already written about Tiny Epic Galaxies this month, but today was a special day: it was the last Tabletop Tuesday game club I hosted at a local high school.

I’d never done anything like this before and I’m glad that I did; it’s easy sharing my hobby with my non-gaming friends and family, but to do this with high school students was a welcome challenge. In fact, it wasn’t a challenge at all.

From our first meeting to our last, each hour that I spent teaching, facilitating, and playing games with the group was a good time. There were a few teenager-attitude moments, but they were minor bumps on an otherwise smooth-sailing school year.

We met a total of 28 times since October and coincidentally played exactly 28 different games this year. After showing them new games for the first five or six meetings, the students began requesting games they’d played before. I happily obliged while making sure I brought something new every week just in case they were curious.

Two of the regulars were into Magic: The Gathering and they loved Dominion and Ascension. One week we traded places and they taught me the basics of Magic and we played a game.

We had a total of eight regulars, with four semi-regulars. They were all great young people and I’ll miss playing games with them every Tuesday afternoon. I told each of them that I hope they continue to find games that interest and challenge them.

Today the group played games they all enjoyed from previous meetings: Lotus, Indigo, and Tiny Epic Galaxies. I played in a four-player game of TEG and held the lead late in the game before one of the students came roaring back with a final colonized planet that also completed his secret mission, beating the rest of us by four points.

It was a great way to end our year of gaming. This student was our only senior, so if I’m fortunate enough to do this again, he won’t be back next year.

I wished him good luck with his future, which I learned was going to involve a stint in the military.

“Thanks,” he said, shaking my hand. “You know, I never knew that board games could be so much fun.”

It was the perfect thing to say to end our final Tabletop Tuesday.

Games We Played:

  • Ascension
  • Carcassonne
  • Dominion
  • For Sale
  • Get Bit!
  • Hocus
  • Imhotep
  • Indigo
  • Karuba
  • King of Tokyo
  • Lanterns: The Harvest Festival
  • Love Letter
  • Magic: The Gathering
  • Nexus Ops
  • Pandemic
  • Paris Connection
  • Qwirkle
  • Qwixx Deluxe
  • Red 7
  • Rolling America
  • Splendor
  • Takenoko
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Smash Up
  • Sushi Go!
  • Patchwork
  • Tiny Epic Galaxies
  • Wits & Wagers: Party Edition