Happy 2024!!!


Welcome to the new year!! It feels a little odd waking up about my normal time without feeling stiff or tired from the previous night’s NYE gig… hopefully next year… 🙂 And it’s a very different year with Selena living with her boyfriend / Fiancée… Julie has struggled the most with it to the point where she wasn’t that into Christmas which is so not like her… she started to shake it off around the 27th or so and was acting more like herself…

I’m almost ready to present my Christmas 2023 haul!! It’s smaller than usual – partly because I’m not gigging like I used to (but hope to be again soon) and partly because I’m gaming less often since Selena moved out and partly because (as most of you know) the cost of groceries has TRIPLED over the past couple of years…

January 7th… Sorry – I’m a little late getting this together but Julie and I or Selena and I have actually got some games to the table!!

Let’s start with my most anticipated game of the Holiday (that we haven’t played yet)… my gift to myself from my girls… last year you may recall it was Wayfarers of the South Tigris so it should come as no surprise that this year it’s Scholars of the South Tigris – the 2nd in Shem Phillips, S.J. McDonald and Garphil Games (out of New Zealand) South Tigris trilogy… 

(from the designers): Scholars of the South Tigris is set during the height of the Abbasid Caliphate, circa 830 AD. The Caliph has called upon the keenest minds to acquire scientific manuscripts from all over the known world. Players will need to increase their influence in the House of Wisdom, and hire skilled linguists to translate the foreign scrolls into Arabic. In this Golden Age of wisdom and knowledge, be mindful not to neglect one in pursuit of the other.

The aim of Scholars of the South Tigris is to be the player with the most victory points (VP) at the game’s end. Points are gained by translating scrolls, increasing knowledge in various areas of science and mathematics, influencing the 3 guilds, and by retiring translators after their years of faithful service. The game end is triggered once all 4 caliph cards have been revealed.

Why (we wanted it / like it (or don’t): Shem Phillips, S.J. McDonald and Garphil Games… enough said. While I don’t have all of their games I have most of the various trilogies and have gone so far as to message them during their crowdfunding campaign to say that if they announced their next game was ‘Whack A Worm With A Wet Noodle’ – I would back it!! 🙂 The theme of translating scrolls, the multiple boards, fascinating gamepley and the dice mitigation and manipulation of not only the numbers but the colors is brilliant!! It may take a while to get through the rules and convince Julie to try it (or I may have to go solo) but I can’t wait.

I traditionally have something under the tree for Christmas Eve – for Selena, when she was little, then for the family as she got older – usually a game to play to make the evening go by quicker (who can sleep – at any age – with the thrill of Christmas only hours away?)… 🙂 This year I was excited for the girls to open it whether we played it or not and that game was Bark Avenue

From the publisher: Bark Avenue is a competitive route optimization pick up and deliver game centered around a day in the life of a dog walker in upper Manhattan. Players balance walking several dogs at once with competing needs – including walk length, preferred activities, bathroom breaks, and compatibility with your other dogs.

You will be challenged with solving the puzzle of returning dogs on time and determining which dogs to walk next! In between walks, use public transportation to your advantage to position yourself for the best walks.

As you progress in your dog walking career, your good ratings will unlock new abilities, such as walking more dogs simultaneously, going off leash at the dog park, and taking more end-of-turn actions, including pickups and activities like visiting pet shops. Be wary of returning dogs late, because you could lose out on most the pay!

At 45 minutes – 1 hour, this Gateway+ game is targeted at all players and pulls in dog lovers, providing fun for new gamers and critical thinking and optimization problems for seasoned gamers.

Why (we wanted it / like it (or don’t): We love our dogs… and know the joy and pain of walking them – especially in the middle of the night… 🙂 What better than a game about dog walking with squishy poop tokens? 🙂 Julie and I would get it played a couple days after Christmas… it’s pretty easy and a fun experience to puzzle out. And she beat me of course… 🙂

One of the cool things about the game is that all of the dogs on the cards are real dogs!! During the crowdfunding campaign there was even an option to get your own dog added to the game which was a little out of my price range but in the months while I waited for it to be delivered, I was already mapping my strategy to make my own…

Once it arrived I started executing my plan… how did I do??

The card at the left came with the game…

And here are my versions with our three dogs…

Next up was a request from Julie… one night we were in bed watching YouTube… there are a ton of content creators covering board games that we enjoy watching and on this night one of them was previewing Disney Animated… I’m half asleep and she starts whacking my arm saying, “Yes please! YES please!!”

(from the publisher): Work together like the team at the famous Walt Disney Animation Studios to create movie magic! Produce five classic Disney films using detailed background art, vibrant paint colors, and lively sound to bring cherished stories to life on the screen. But watch out! The infamous Villains of your feature films will rush your deadlines and create all the calamity they can. As a team, you’ll use the strengths of the Animation Studio – Heart, Focus, Inspiration, Grit, and Teamwork – to vanquish the Villains and finish your films in time!

Cooperative gameplay integrates novel mechanisms and unique player powers! Stunning components include full-color player boards, custom wooden tokens, and 15 transparent cel cards. Explore the storied history of the Disney Animation Studios with five classic films! develop sound, ink & paint, and background art – plus a bit of magic – to bring your films to life!

Why (we wanted it / like it (or don’t): It’s Disney and anything with Disney on it is a ‘must-have’ as far as Julie is concerned… 🙂 To be fair, while she was going ga-ga over Mickey and friends, I was learning about the gameplay and this is a fairly complex cooperative game that I’m really looking forward to playing. I only wish that, when she opened it, that she had remembered seeing it… 🙂

Another night there was a review of a game that Julie thought Selena would really like named Dragonkeepers

(from BGG): Anyone can herd sheep, but have you ever herded dragons?

In Dragonkeepers, you compete against each other as magicians. Two stacks of cards form the “Magic Book”, which indicates which and how many dragons can be herded. With each card taken, this information changes, but luckily you can cast spells and return your cards to the Magic Book to change it in your favor and score! But which of your dragons can you spare to cast spells?

Why (we wanted it / like it (or don’t): Selena has always loved her dragons and the art on the cards is adorable!! We thought this would be a great game for her whether she takes it with her or leaves it here for when she visits… 🙂

A few nights ago Julie and I gave it a try and it’s a really great game!!

The backs of the cards form the Magic Book which tells you how many and what color dragons can be played currently… the left side is the number and the right is the number… BUT – draw one of the face-up cards from in front of the decks and you could change one or the other…

You can also play cards from your hand back to the top of the Magic Book which lets you set the values to something that’s better for you!! Build amulets for points and get bonuses, etc. makes Dragonkeepers a keeper and one that I think will be a go-to for quite a while.

Selena and I started a game back on the 5th before we went out to eat… I was going to just play a couple rounds but she insisted that we finish so I know she liked it… 🙂

Here’s one that I was very excited to get for Julie… the All-In Collector’s Edition of a small game that we already loved though we only owned the base game called Project L!!

The Collector’s Edition includes the base game, every expansion ever made including a new one called ‘Finesse‘ – this is what caught my eye and the link is to Ruel’s final thoughts of the expansion which is what sold me on it… and of course there’s a deluxe storage solution that makes setup a breeze… 🙂

Here’s a look at everything that’s packed in that box…

I unpacked it all back on the 5th, read the rules for the various expansions and sorted out their components and, when I was all done, was convinced that there was no reason we couldn’t play with all of them at once… so we did… and it was fantastic!! The Finesse Expansion really elevates what was a pretty simple but challenging game by adding a new layer of minor complexity that also serves as a game timer… and 10 rounds are over before you know it… and we both love it!! 🙂

Back before Christmas you may have read that I was a little concerned because my wife says she got me TWO games this year…

My concern stems from last Christmas when she got me a copy of Gloomhaven… this is a beast of a dungeon crawler AND a campaign game that can take months or even years to play… my best chance at getting this to the table would be solo because you really need to have the same group of players for each session and I’d need to leave it setup in order to continue… I really appreciate her going to this extreme for me but, to be totally honest, I was never really interested in the game despite all the hype… eventually I opened the box thinking I’d better give it a try… after exploring the contents of the massive box and starting to read the rules, I just packed everything back in the box… I feel terrible because I don’t think I’ll ever play this massive masterpiece of a game that simply isn’t my cup of tea…

3 months later we’d be on a road trip that took us near my favorite (not so local) game store… I was browsing the isles for a birthday present (for myself) when Julie had stealthily bought me a copy of Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion… this was a sort of prequel to Gloomhaven that they say makes it easier to learn the game mechanics and get into the story… sadly, I couldn’t get far in the rule book of this either before packing that away as well… that brings us back to the present… present time that is… OK – I guess ‘present’ in the gift sense would be applicable as well…

All she said was that they’re games that Zee Garcia from the Dice Tower really likes so she hopes I’ll like them too… OK… my tastes and Zee’s do overlap on occasion… my fingers were crossed and, while I wasn’t familiar with the games initially, once I learned more about them, I was excited to play them!! A big ‘thank you’ to ‘my girl’!! 🙂

The first was Anomia: Party Edition

(from the publisher): Anomia: Party Edition adds 6 new decks to the Anomia card game family. Each deck is a word game in which players sequentially place a card face-up in front of them in a stack. As each card is revealed, players look for matching symbols between their card and any other card. If a match occurs, the two matching players face-off and must quickly give an example of something within the category (eg. breakfast food, lake, reptile) listed on the opposing player’s card. The first person to finish saying a correct answer wins the face-off and takes the opponent’s card into a face down “winnings” pile. Since cards are played on top of each other, the player who lost the face-off reveals an earlier card on their stack and may immediately match another player’s card causing a cascade of face-offs.

In addition there are wildcards which allow different symbols to match until it is overwritten by another wildcard which may then trigger a whole new set of face-offs. Play continues until the deck is exhausted and whoever has the most cards in their “winnings pile” is the winner.

The second was another version of the same game called Anomia: X… now I’m worried again because she knows how much I loathe the likes of ‘Cards Against Humanity’ and the like… turns out that, while leaning towards the ‘darker’ side, it’s not the adolescent awkwardness of those others that seem to be dirty for the sake of being dirty… WHEW!! 🙂

(from the publisher): Where common knowledge becomes entirely inappropriate.

The award-winning party game is back – with bad manners and an oversized martini. Anomia X pokes a stick at the underbelly of society, and the results are decidedly NSFW!

Think about it – our minds are just brimming with all sorts of questionable information. While it’s easy enough to think of a rum cocktail, a lubricant, or a celebrity train wreck, you’ll find that your brain works a little…*differently* under pressure.

Anomia X is simple. Players flip category cards until the symbols on two players’ cards match. Matching players race to give an example of the category on their opponent’s card. Sounds easy, right? Think again. Wild Cards create unexpected matches, and even losing a card can set off a chain of cascading face-offs. Pay attention, it could be your turn at any time – and with Anomia X you never know what the cards have in store!

Fast-paced, brain-bending and irreverent, Anomia X promises hours of laugh-till-you-cry hilarity for you and your twisted friends.

While both games are meant for 3 or more players I found a 2 player variant which we tried and really liked (even though I screwed up a couple of rules)… 🙂 I can see where this would be fun with more players and look forward to playing again!!

And lastly, Julie had also wrapped two new variations on Uno!!

UNO Triple Play features the familiar UNO gameplay, with players trying to rid themselves of cards first, but this game comes with a special electronic unit that holds three discard piles and features lights and sounds. On your turn, you can play onto a discard pile only if it’s lit up — and if any pile gets too many cards in it, it may overload, with the LED display indicating how many cards must be drawn!

Lights and arcade sounds on the machine create maximum anticipation and excitement, and the “timer mode” makes the game move even faster. As always, when players have only one card left, they must yell “UNO!”

UNO Quatro is a classic four in a row game with an UNO twist!

On your turn, play a tile in a column and try to make four in a row by matching color or number. There are three action tiles that can change the game. Swap lets you swap the positions of any two columns. Minus 2 removes some of your opponent’s options. Lastly, Push pushes the bottom tile out of the column.

Pay attention to what you play- everyone shares the tiles and you might set up your opponent’s victory!

Selena and Mike gave them each a try before Christmas dinner but Julie and I haven’t played them yet though we’ve always enjoyed Uno and its offshoots… 🙂

January 14th… Selena’s spending the day and night since Julie has a doctor’s appointment the 15th and can’t be alone for 24 hours (and I’m off from school but have a house call to make)…

After some shopping and crafting the girls wanted to get a game in… I decided to keep it simple so we played a couple games of Anomia: Party Edition with a different deck each time… of course Selena killed us both games which we should have expected with the speed recognition and response element… AND a game of Dragonkeepers… I was patient and focused and it paid off… I surprised even myself when the girls announced their scores of 97 and 103 and I was sitting on 145 points!!

With that, the girls – tired from their shopping trip – went back to movies, crafting and napping while I went back to working on my design of a score sheet for Scholars of the South Tigris… I don’t know why (since everyone is saying this might be the hardest game these designers have created) but, after reading the rules, I feel like this may be one of their EASIEST!! I’ll know if it’s just me when I try to get Julie to play… 🙂

January 16th… Minor storm… sent home from work early because of road conditions… I had Scholars of the South Tigris setup from the previous day when I was going to try it solo and now Julie wants to play… but not THAT… 🙂 She had seen a little of a playthrough I was watching from a YouTube content creator that goes by Slickerdrips… he was taking the time to explain his thought process on each play and Julie thought that was indicative of how the game plays… other reviewers thought this might be the heaviest (hardest) game this design team / company had put out… that wasn’t helping with her perception of the game I’m sure… 🙂 After much explanation and begging and pouting, I was able to convince her to try it!!

I told her we’d just play a few rounds before supper then I’d have to go out and clean up from the storm… I worked with her on her turns… she usually knew what she wanted to do but was still getting a feel for what she needed to do to make that happen… it wasn’t long before she had it down and we were figuring out other parts of it together… hopefully she feels as good when I get home from work tomorrow because she had me leave it setup so we could pickup where we left off… I think she’s liking it as am I and it doesn’t seem as hard as it’s been made out to be.

January 18th… Julie’s got some sort of bug… slight fever and feeling rotten… Selena’s working so I’m taking the day off to take care of dogs and anything Julie might need (after a 3 degree 7:00am run to the store for more Alka-Seltzer gels, cough drops and chicken soup)… 🙂

After catching up on some work remotely I started looking long and hard at a solo run of Scholars of the South Tigris… After some reading and videos and more clarifications, I reset the game and started a new solo venture… the AI is not very complicated – it’s more my wanting to make sure I interpreted the icons correctly and didn’t forget anything that keeps it from flowing… I’m sure that, after I spend some more time with it, it will play pretty quickly… 🙂

January 21st… Julie’s feeling better but tired… I’m on dog duty so she can sleep… I’ve been playing more solo and it’s a fine AI but, just like previous solo attempts, I’m realizing I want people to play with… by supper time Julie’s starting to move but it’s apparent she’s not interested in playing… I remember seeing the game group was getting together so I pack some games and head for a local Domino’s!!

I arrived about 20 minutes after they would have normally started to find the back room (visible from the street) dark and empty… hmmm… must have changed their minds… with that I head back home and just go to bed… I hadn’t been on Facebook that afternoon or I would have learned that they moved to a local Game Cafe ‘Go Play With Your Food‘… even more disappointing for me was that they played a couple Garphil games including Scholars of the South Tigris… DAMN!! 🙂 Next time…

January 24th… headed out for work this morning – about an hour later than usual… a couple inches of snow fell overnight… it was 33 and raining when I hit the untouched roads and made my way to the highway which also appeared not to have been plowed… it’s maybe 3 miles from the exit I get on to the next exit and, in that short span, I narrowly missed not one but TWO separate cars passing traffic and spinning out in front of me before crashing into the guardrails… nice driving a–holes!! Enjoy the repairs to your fancy cars!! I’ve driven in much worse so it wasn’t phasing me but, like my parents told me and we’ve told our daughter, it’s the OTHER people you have to watch out for… these incidents didn’t shake my confidence but were – I suppose ‘frustrating’ would be the best term – to the point that I got off, turned around and settled in at home for the day – burning a vacation day at work (I can do almost everything remotely anyway).

Julie and I have started a couple games of Scholars of the South Tigris but haven’t been able to finish one… I’d gotten about halfway through a solo game and reset so we could play together… we had started one last night after supper – determined to finish it tonight after work… I thought we might get through it during the day but I could tell she was tired so I sent her to bed and geared up for dog duty…

We picked up where we’d left off after supper… usually that gives us an hour or so before I have to head to bed (because I’m up 4:30-5:00am each morning for work) but tonight was different because Julie has her port flush at the Cancer Center at 8:00am so I’ll be able to sleep in… we were back up to speed pretty quickly, saw our first of 4 Calif cards which serve as the game’s timer… as the game progressed, I could see her wheels turning and there were less and less questions so I started making plays for points since I could see the Scroll deck (containing the Calif cards) shrinking and knew the game would be over shortly… when it was all over, I thought she had me but I apparently messed up a couple of her scroll translation plans and squeaked out a 47-39 victory. She’s always telling me how she doesn’t like more complex games like this and how she’s not as smart as I am yet she was pulling off moves and making plans and already asked to play again tomorrow night… ‘don’t try to play ‘dumb’ with me – you’re not as good at it as I am’… 🙂 Scholars of the South Tigris is a fantastic game and has us looking forward to the third game in the trilogy Inventors of the South Tigris coming out later this year.

February 1st… Julie’s been fighting another head cold and sore throat (but no COVID thankfully) so we haven’t gamed in about a week… I’d already packed Scholars of the South Tigris to make room to prep my taxes and she’s asked to play the last couple of days but I could tell she wasn’t quite over it yet… 🙂 Tonight she asked again but I was running store errands for Mom who has confined herself to her room at the assisted living facility…

The facility recently moved a woman from another floor who’s mind is sadly gone and who is going into other people’s rooms and taking random stuff then putting in drawers or closets in other parts of the floor… she has to be frequently removed from office spaces and she’s scratched and bitten multiple residents and staff… while most of the nurses and aides are sympathetic and try to keep her corralled, others laugh and say there’s nothing they can do… and administration will only say they’re ‘working on it’… Mom started by locking up her iPad and phone whenever she went out but now she feels like she has to stay and protect her belongings – sacrificing any remaining independence she had… I was charged with picking up several things for her and making more blueberry muffin tops for a Maintenance worker who was very helpful when Spectrum managed to kill about half the cable boxes in the facility… it took overnight to get it straightened out but he got her back up and running again so, along with Mom’s other items, I dropped off a plate of about 2 dozen muffin tops and a ‘Thank you’ card…

When I returned home Julie was taking the dogs out and I surprised her by setting up UNO Triple Play – one of the two Uno off shoots she got us for Christmas… and we LOVED it!! I’ve cooled on Uno a little but haven’t developed the blatant hatred for that some modern board gamers seem to profess… this game might just hit the table more frequently… 🙂

It’s electronic and has three discard piles… you discard cards just like the original game BUT you can only discard to one of the areas that is LIT… as you discard to the three piles, their corresponding lights gradually change from green to yellow to red and, once they hit red, it’s only a matter of a card or two before someone triggers an OVERLOAD and has to draw 1-4 card as indicated in the center… there are also RESET cards that, when you play them to a pile, you hold the pile down for a couple seconds and it resets the overload timer back to green… we played 3 or 4 games like this and thought it was pretty cool then I decided it was time to switch modes… Julie was surprised to learn there was another way to play… oh yeah – with a 7 second timer!!

In Timer Mode, all the rules are the same as before but you have 7 seconds to play a card and, if you don’t, you have to draw 6!! Yes 6!! At one point I had so many cards I couldn’t hold them or sort them and still play card in 7 seconds so I just laid them out in front of me until I could hold them again. Julie took full advantage of being able to see that I had a lot of green cards left and it wasn’t long before all three discard piles had RED cards and she soon won the game. 🙂 It was getting late (for me anyway who gets up at 5:00am for work) otherwise we probably would have played with the timer for another hour or more – it was that much fun!!

We did try a couple quick games of UNO Quatro which we thought was OK… it’s like the game Connect 4 but with Uno tiles and couple of tweaks to the rules… I could see this one being more interesting as we start recognizing strategies and such but, at least for now, I’m sure we’ll be heading back to Triple Play in Timer Mode. 🙂

February 4th… I started the day with breakfast and going through the Disney Animated rulebook again… following my regular course of action, I had already watched some videos though there weren’t many how to play videos available… regardless , it all seemed to make sense and I was sure Julie would enjoy it… then I got a wonderful surprise… Selena was coming to visit!!

She spent the afternoon with us and stayed for spaghetti supper!! Of course she wanted play some games… Julie was in pain but up so I started off light with several games of UNO Triple Play in Timer Mode which we really liked… then Selena was willing to learn Scholars of the South Tigris since Julie already knew and liked it… the process of translating threw her in the beginning but once she got that she settled right in… we played for about an hour by which time Julie had to lay down and take her meds… we did a quick current score check just to see where everyone was at… it was close but, to no one’s surprise, Selena was just ahead of Julie… While she rested, Selena and I just kicked back, relaxed and talked while preparing dinner… and dessert… 🙂 It was great seeing her and we had a great time together as usual… 🙂

After Selena left, I packed up Scholars of the South Tigris and reread Disney Animated… Julie was asleep but I went through everything and read the rules once more anyway… I was getting everything together for work the next morning and hit the shower… when I came out, Julie was up and taking the dogs out… when she came in she saw the box and screamed, “I wanna play!!”

It’s an amazing production and I must say that I felt a little of the Disney magic the first time I removed the cover and was greeted by a sizeable piece of cardboard (that serves no purpose in the game at all) with an elegantly printed short quote from Walt Disney himself on a black background about his animators and how working together makes the magic… I had already repacked the game and the components for the included 5 classic films which all pack in their own tuck boxes and store in the box in such a way that, when you open it, you see the board with the quote and the 5 film boxes and the Animation Studio box (see below)… I left everything in the box because I wanted Julie to open and see if she felt the same magic seeing as she’s such a Disney freak… nothing… she just started pulling everything out without even reading the quote… easy to see who the romantic is between the two of us… 🙂 I fumbled through a rough teach (never thinking we’d try it tonight) and we started the game.

Julie chose Fantasia and I chose Snow White… the graphics on everything are gorgeous… we play as Disney animaters trying to complete our films before a looming deadline – all while the villains try to prevent the films’ completion because they know how the movie ends for them… we’re working together… each film has different special abilities and each villain has their own decks which get shuffled together for the game… we figured a few things out as we went and, in the end, were both able to complete our movies on the very last turn. OK – this was at the standard difficulty level… we can’t wait to try the other films and maybe step up the difficulty. The game is very well done and I would recommend it for and Disney fans… we’re hoping there are more titles to come beyond the included 5… fingers crossed for more Disney magic!! 🙂

February 6th… Julie’s ready for another go at Disney Animated… I’ve been up since 2:30am and falling asleep in my office chair after supper but I’m game… 🙂

Tonight she chose ‘Alice In Wonderland’ and I took ‘101 Dalmatians’… different powers and bonuses and, as with our first play, we barely won on the very last chance round of the game… the only movie we have left to play is ‘Alladin’ but mixing different movies and ramping up the difficulty should keep it interesting but we’re really hoping there are more titles to come… 🙂 Solid game!!

February 9th UPDATE… I just saw a board game news segment that talked about Funko (that created Disney Animated) being taken over and potentially ending the company… there were similar posts on the BGG forums as well which may mean this game may never see an expansion which is too bad… with its growing support and interest, it seems like an expansion would spark renewed interest and sell even more copies…

February 11th… Julie’s in pain and resting while I try to amuse myself on YouTube between taking the dogs out when I stumble on a video that mentions a Flash Sale that just started at Pandasaurus Games… they’re selling Orichalcum for $11 and change… I’ve been fiscally responsible since my gigs have slowed down (and I over spent at Christmas) but I can swing $11 and shipping… it will arrive on Valentine’s Day which is fitting since I love games… 🙂

(from the publisher): Orichalcum is a tense and fast-pace strategy game – similar to a short 4X. Each player has their own Island board to explore and develop. On each turn, they choose a set of one Exploration tile and one Action : recruit hoplites, produce precious orichalcum (a legendary metal from Greek mythology), construct buildings granting powerful bonuses, or try to get rid of Monsters infesting your island (and preventing you to build new building).

To prevail, you will need to erect majestic temples, forge orichalcum tokens or win the favors of titans (by creating areas of their favorite landscapes. The first to get to 5 victory points while clearing their Island of all Monsters wins the game.

Why (we wanted it / like it (or don’t): When I saw the sale announcement, I immediately started going back through various reviews and everyone was very positive about the game… I watched the Dice Tower review with Julie and, once I could tell she was interested, I told her it was on the way… 🙂

February 16th… Julie had her 6 month checkup which went very well… she’s dropped some weight and her doctor is very pleased with everything given her chronic ailments…

Today she’s feeling better after a bout with some sort of bug and wants to play… of course I was ready to go with Orichalcum as it doesn’t seem that complicated but is still challenging… I ran through a brief explanation (which she never pays attention to) and jumped into the game because she insists that she has to do it to learn it… I’m getting used to this ‘teach-while-we-play’ method… or should I say, I’m getting used to LOSING by this method because I’m so busy trying to teach on-the-fly in such a way that I’m not playing her turn for her that my turns usually suck… 🙂 Tonight was no different…

It’s a race to 5 points – that’s all – and there are 3 ways to get points; constructing Temples, crafting Medallions and attracting Titans… getting a Titan’s attention is easy – you just need to have groups of 3 or more of the same terrain grouped together… players can only have 1 of the 4 Titans at a time (unless they construct a specific building that didn’t appear in this game) and other players can attract the same Titan and take it from whoever has it… Julie had already built 2 Temples so I sacrificed my dessert Titan to take her forest Titan which slowed her down a little but not enough… she was one away when I reminded her that she could craft a Medallion for 5 Orichalcum (she should have paid attention to my brief teach) to get her 5th point which immediately ended the game.

It’s an interesting game and the player boards are double sided – the back side being more challenging… hope to try it again this weekend if her health permits.

February 17th… Julie’s still not back to 100% and spent the day in bed catching up while I spent another long day doing nothing other than taking the dogs out periodically and falling asleep in my chair – bored with YouTube videos and sports… I’m convinced that doing this type of ‘nothing’ is more exhausting than when I was playing multiple gigs every weekend… now I’m trying to decide what to eat and whether I’ll go to the local group’s game night or maybe just go to bed…

With a couple hours to go before dinner I hear Julie stirring and she wants to know if I have ‘that game’ ready (she can’t pronounce Orichalcum)… She was taking the dogs out to play for a few minutes while I reset it and rearranged the layout so we could both see things a little better… we were a few rounds into the game when we decided to stop to eat (I’m on a somewhat tight schedule due to my Type II Diabetes)… I had hoped to finish the game after dinner AND get a game of something else in as well but, by the time I finished supper, Julie was back in bed and that was the end of another game night…

February 18th… today was somewhat of a surprise… Julie’s up and moving early and feels fantastic (other than her chronic EDS pain in her knees and back)!! She wants to play but I’m taking Mom shopping about 10:30 and grabbing lunch…she insisted that we still had a couple hours… I had already packed Orichalcum early this morning for a couple reasons; 1) l didn’t want to lose any game pieces because the dogs banged into the table or the cat jumped on it and batted stuff around, and 2) I think the air from our forced air furnace is causing some of the game boards to warp when left out… I may start putting ceramic bowls of water on the floor vent to see if that introduces enough moisture into the air to make a difference…

Recently, I’ve had a number of games running through my head that we haven’t played for a while that I wanted to get to the table so, while she took the dogs out, and rather than unpack Orichalcum, I setup my blinged out version of  The Quacks of Quedlinberg!! It’s been a while but it seemed to come back to me pretty quick (thanks to a quick review of the rules while the dogs went potty)…

Julie seemed to remember everything as we went along… once again we were a few rounds in when I had to stop to pickup Mom but I left everything setup for when I got back…

Of course Julie and the dogs were all in bed sleeping by the time I returned a couple hours later… I could see some minor warpage so I packed everything and put it back on the shelf…

Like I said earlier, there were a lot of games running through my head that I wanted to play and another on my list was Fort… I grabbed it off the shelf and had it on the table in case Julie felt like playing when she woke up… 🙂

As I was finishing my soup, she’s on her way in to tell me she wants to play after the dogs are in – then screams ‘YOU PUT IT AWAY’ when she saw ‘Quacks’ was gone…

I was able to convince her to play but she insisted she didn’t remember it at all…

Once we started playing it came back to her… and me too… such a slick little game about being a kid and having friends over to play and toys and pizza and friends perhaps leaving your yard if you don’t play with them… odd color palette but a lot of fun to play… 🙂 While Julie was rapidly advancing on the score track (if someone gets to 25 the game end is triggered), I had a hand of cards that let keep gaining resources which I was using to level up my fort (if someone reaches level 5 the end game is also triggered)… I managed my 5th level but there was still final scoring… she thought I’d trounced her but I ended up only winning by 10… 🙂

When we finished, she immediately wanted to play again but I wanted to play something else if I was actually going to get TWO games in with her in one night… she looked around the shelves and quickly pulled out The Quacks of Quedlinberg again… 🙂

We set everything back up and started playing… in our earlier partial play I thought we were doing something wrong but couldn’t put my finger on it… but tonight – by the 3rd round – we had already filled our pots and were in the overflow so I knew we were missing something… after about 10 minutes forward and backward through the manual I finally figured out that we both had been moving the piece that marks where in the pot (a spiral track that goes from the middle out) we start adding ingredients to where ever we finished 5 or 10 or 20 spaces ahead… this piece is only supposed to get moved 1 or 2 spaces and only under a couple of conditions… we both had an ‘ah-ha’ moment and decided to restart the game… after that it made much more sense and felt as challenging as we remembered…

The game lasts 9 rounds then everything is scored and I somehow managed to squeak out another victory… a double game night which is very rare for us… thankfully I had the following day off from school for President’s Day but I was ready for bed… it was great to have Julie feeling so good and be interested in playing – a combination that doesn’t happen very often so I was happy to take full advantage of the situation… 🙂

February 19th… enjoying a day off from work for President’s Day and trying not to snack too much since I have blood work tomorrow morning…

It’s another typical weekend-ish day… I’m up early and ate and took the dogs out and fed them while Julie’s sleeping… I wasn’t sure if she’d still feel good enough or want to game again so I managed to (as usual) amuse myself with YouTube videos and my banking and updating this website… I had just about finished a light lunch when I heard Julie and she wanted to know if I had a game setup… I had a few other favorites on my mind and pulled out Whistle Stop with the Rocky Mountains Expansion added in…

I’d forgotten how much was involved in setting this beast up but it’s a great game and all the variable setup means it’s never the same game twice… thankfully, within the rules for the expansion, they had included new setup instructions that handled everything step-by-step…

I almost had everything ready… Julie had just sat down at the table and the dogs had made their way in (they usually all lay at our feet under the table) but the youngest went back to the living room then our cat wandered out and, for whatever reason the dog went after the cat!! We were able to break it up before the cat was touched but Julie disciplined the dog and was understandably angry then very upset because she had whacked the dog on the head… she and all the dogs curled up on the bed… I reorganized and repacked the game… maybe we’ll try again later… nope.

February 20th… blood work then back to work today… a quick trip with Mom for some shopping and light supper after work and when I get home Julie has 3 games on the table… I guess she feels like playing again… 🙂 While I applaud her selections, they were games we hadn’t played in a while and I would need some time to refresh the rules so I convinced her to play a quick game of Dragonkeepers (details above) since we both really like it… she had amassed a huge hand of cards and when she finally started playing them, she whooped up on me pretty good.

I’m happy that she’s feeling better overall… she’s been able to do some things around the house and we’ve done more gaming in the last week than we have in maybe the last 2 months… I continue to try to prevent her from doing too much and landing back in bed but when she feels this good she’s hard to stop… 🙂 Maybe the doctors have finally hit on a combination of meds that is actually making a difference… hopefully this week wasn’t a fluke where ‘all the stars aligned’… time will tell.

February 22nd… after sleeping for only about an hour total all night (Julie, dogs, Julie’s sinuses, etc.), a full day of work then taking Mom shopping and grabbing a bite to eat, a stop to CVS for Julie and Selena’s prescriptions, I finally get home and decide to treat myself with a small bowl of Stewart’s Coffee Ice Cream and relax… but Julie is up and wants to play a game… I wasn’t sure I could stay awake through the ice cream but I start going over that list of games I want to play again since it’s been a while and pull Gizmos off the shelf… 🙂

(from BGG): The smartest minds of our generation are gathering together at the Great Science Fair. Everyone’s been working hard on their creations, but only one will be crowned champion. Contestants have to think on the fly to build their machines quickly and efficiently. Whose project will be the best?

In Gizmos, you want to build engines — engines within the game to get things done faster. Using the four types of energy marbles, plucked from the 3D marble dispenser, you purchase and construct new additions to your works. As you build, new attachments can trigger chain reactions, letting you do even more on your turn. Whoever builds the greatest machine and collects the most victory points wins!

I’d forgotten how much fun this game was… that tactile feel of the Energy Spheres (marbles) and the satisfaction of putting together some crazy combos from the cards in your tableau where the action you take triggers another card that gives you another bonus somewhere else and so on… once we got going, I was surprised at the engine (the way the cards work together) Julie had put together… she knew how it all worked and was going after it and I don’t remember her being able to wrap her head around it all like that when we played previously… pretty impressive yet she continues to insist that she’s not smart… in the end I only won by 3 points… 🙂

Julie’s therapist has started her EMDR therapy every other Friday in hopes of helping her come to grips with all the abuses she suffered when she was little… Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy is a mental health treatment technique. This method involves moving your eyes a specific way while you process traumatic memories. EMDR’s goal is to help you heal from trauma or other distressing life experiences. The sessions are pretty intense and she can’t be alone for 24 hours afterwards… her first one was a couple weeks ago and they started off ‘light’… even at that Julie wasn’t herself until sometime Sunday afternoon… it’s going to be a rough weekend and I don’t anticipate any gaming but I hope in the end it helps.

February 24th… Julie and her therapist ended up not doing EMDR this week but at 1:30 this morning I was awakened by Julie crying uncontrollably… she had just received a text that her Grandmother – who had taken her in when she was very young when her Mom kicked her out – was in GF Hospital on ‘End of Life’ which means the family is allowed in at any time to say their goodbyes… her ‘family’ consisted primarily of a number of cousins and such – several of which had lived at her house at various points in their lives… she’d been in the hospital for about a month but no one in the family bothered to let us know so we could visit which is typical… we got dressed and I took her down where Selena met us and they went in while I waited in the car with the dog… after about an hour Selena texted me that they were going to stay a while and I should go home and she’d bring Julie home…

The dogs and I slept until after 8:00am and the girls came home about 8:30am… while she was unconscious, the girls applied Vaseline to her lips and towels to her head which she seemed to like… they held her hand and talked to her and she would squeeze their hands seeming to respond… at one point Selena went to let go of her hand and she let out an irritated groan as if to give her Hell for letting go… 🙂 The only family present was her son Chris who told the girls that they had done more that morning than the rest of the ‘family’ had sadly done in months… her other son was in Rochester and hadn’t been around in years… this son had raped Julie every weekend that he came home when she was younger but Julie would never say anything because she didn’t want to hurt her Grandmother… that filter might come off now and could get ugly… 🙁

Later this afternoon I would go grocery shopping and was almost done when Julie called – again very upset… to the point I couldn’t understand her other than ‘her Mom wasn’t good’… I flew home thinking we’d be heading to see her Mom but when I arrived home, I learned the circumstances were a little different… her Mom’s Dementia was getting worse and she was no longer following instructions – mainly that she needed to stay in her wheelchair… she would get up then fall and injure her head or something… she had just gotten out of Albany Med for a similar incident… they were hoping Julie would talk to her and try to get her to understand…

February 25th… Julie’s Gram passed around 10:30am… Julie was understandably upset but more relieved… her pain was over… RIP Gram.

I had taken Mom shopping for one of her Christmas presents – knowing that Selena was coming up to spend time with Julie… Mom had never been to Boscov’s so we made the trip to Clifton Park…

I think she was a little surprised to see the prices… many items were 50-60% off but when the regular price is $60-80, that’s still more than she was willing to pay… of course she did find a number of things on clearance and, between my gift card and her $50+ scratch off winnings, she found several items she liked… AND got a nice workout in as we browsed the store before heading to Sonic (one of her favorites) for lunch… 🙂

Early that afternoon after I returned home, Selena and I were talking and the phone rang and it was Julie’s Mom… after a few minutes we hear Julie crying again… her Mom really hated her Gram (maybe for taking her in way back when) – to the point that Julie wasn’t even going to tell her that she passed… but her Mom could tell she was upset so Julie told her and she was surprisingly sad and sympathetic which made Julie cry some happy tears for a change…

Later Selena asked to play a game… Julie was up but I wasn’t sure if she’d welcome the distraction but thought she might enjoy it and some time with the three of us… I setup Disney Animated because I knew how much she liked the game and loves Disney and when I asked her, she jumped right in… 🙂

It’s a cooperative game and we were well on our way to beating it when Selena reads one of her win conditions that made Julie and I stop and go “Wait – WHAT?!?” Turns out there’s some text above the icons on ALL our villain boards with an additional condition that must be met in addition to the required paint and cards… in Selena’s case she had to have 10 cards in her hand before she could fill the other conditions… Julie and I’ve played this twice before and barely won on the very last turn of the game and we never noticed these – otherwise we probably would have lost both times!! Now we’re all laughing because Selena picked up on it her first time and I had to back track because I thought I was already done… we still managed to win and it was great to see Selena’s mind problem-solve different parts of it… it was even better to see Julie get a break from all that was going on… 🙂

March 2nd… I’ve been cleaning up my Raiders of the North Sea teach and working on a player aide in anticipation of possibly teaching the game at a local convention next month… I’ve also been anxious to teach the game to Julie because so many of the games that we played early on in our discovery of this wonderful hobby just about made our heads explode!! Now even harder games seem very familiar and easy to pickup – probably because most of the mechanics are things we’ve seen before so we’re not learning new methodologies… Julie insists that she’s not that smart and not into games like I am, yet when we play games like this and she beats me (which is most of the time), I have to pick on her, “Thanks for the ass-whooping – now tell me again how dumb you are.” 🙂

The other thing that had this game on my radar was the resolution of an issue with the game that’s been bugging me since my last play a couple years ago… that being that, somewhere along the line, I’d lost one of the Jarl shields… I’m sure I just dropped it while packing or the cat knocked it off the table but because part of game setup is randomly drawing pieces from a bag to seed the board, I was always concerned that this one missing piece might throw something off… probably not, but it still bugged me…

Rather than bother Garphil games for a single tiny wooden replacement piece (that I was tempted to try to whittle myself), I’d been eyeballing upgraded components from a couple sources online… they were becoming increasingly harder to find and only one now included the Provisions (on left below) – most places sell them separately… it was time… I found a place with the full set AND they would split it over 4 payments (in case I had to justify my buy to Julie)… 🙂 They arrived a few days ago and I now have a complete set of game pieces again… they even included a spare for each piece – as if they know me (or that I have a cat)… 🙂

Raiders is from the first trilogy from one of my favorite designers and publishers – Shem Philips and Garphil Games out of New Zealand… Shem would later team with S.J. McDonald for the West Kingdom trilogy and most recently the South Tigris trilogy whose third game is in the works… Raiders had two expansions – Hall of Heroes and Fields of Fame… while the base game was enjoyable, I feel like playing with both expansions is the game Shem envisioned and was probably convinced to scale it back for fear of being perceived as too complicated… I’ve seen a number of reviewers say they won’t play without them to which I agree and I even include them as a regular part of the game when teaching and haven’t had an issue…

I set everything up which takes a little while because there are a lot of parts to this beast, went through an abbreviated teach (because Julie is still a terrible student) and we launched into game…

It was fun playing with all the new pieces which looked great on the table… unfortunately we got a later start than we would have liked after supper… I thought the thrill of a game night would have me pumped up but, after a boring day of entertaining myself between taking the dogs out and napping in my office chair, I was wiped out… I’m convinced that doing nothing when you’re used to always being on the go is totally exhausting and after only an hour or so I had to call it a night and we headed for bed… Julie was really liking it and wanted to keep playing but when I couldn’t, she insisted that I keep it setup for tomorrow…

After about a week of Julie not feeling well and me worrying about the cat getting on the table and knocking bunches of pieces around – never to be found again AGAIN, I packed everything up. Oh – and she was kicking my ass… what else is new… 🙂

March 16th… it’s only taken 4 years but tonight it finally happened…

Selena came up to spend the night and cook a mess of corned beef and cabbage tomorrow… after supper everyone was chilling which meant it was game time!!

The Princess Bride Adventure Book Game was a Christmas present to my girls way back in 2020 (this is one of their favorite movies… the timing was never right – either I wasn’t ready with the rules or they wanted to play something else (or didn’t feel like a game)… whatever the reason, it never got to the table… the last couple of years I’ve been trying to surprise Julie with a movie / game night combo… she’d be surprised because I wanted to watch a movie… I’d be surprised if we got to play the game after… 🙂 That hasn’t happened either… 🙂

But we finally did it!!

It’s a pretty cool game though we only made it through the first chapter of 6 before we were all yawning and ready for bed… we might have gotten further had we not all misinterpreted the winning conditions… there were three things we needed to do in a specific order to complete the chapter… we completed the first one and were almost done with the third when we realized that we had carried over one of the conditions from the first condition that no longer needed to be followed… had we noticed it sooner, we might have made it through 2 or 3 chapters…

We all loved it and I’m betting the next time we’re all together the girls want to play this… 🙂

OK – this will come as no surprise… today I backed the third game in the South Tigris trilogy on Kickstarter – Inventors of the South Tigris… once again, it should arrive in late November… once again, this will be my Christmas present from the girls… and once again, reviewers are saying this is the hardest game yet but we’ll be the judge of that once I have it in hand… 🙂

March 19th… another game that I’ve been writing my rules fresh / teach notes for was Carcassonne!! I’m not sure if I’m thinking of teaching this beyond home but I wanted to include the first two major expansions… This game goes back to Christmas 2013 for us and my initial discovery of the modern board game hobby…

As I recall, this was my biggest ‘gamble’ of the games I had ordered for that Christmas… I can still see the looks on their faces when they opened it and saw the box… they looked confused then at each other then at me… I was excited to tell them that it was ‘a board game without a board – you create it as you go and it’s different every time’… this could be a hard sell… 🙂

We were enjoying some of the other titles like Sequence… and Selena totally kicks everyone’s butt at Ligretto Dice… but, in my spare time, I was reading and re-reading the rules for Carcassonne… the scoring was a little complicated at first glance but the game play was pretty straightforward and I wanted to be ready for any questions they might have. Eventually I convinced them to try it…

The first play 11 years ago started slow… our version included the River expansion that Wil plays with in the Tabletop video and, just like he said, we soon got the hang of it. Once we’d exhausted the tiles – which triggers the end of the game – we set about figuring out and completing the scoring.

This is another element of the game that I really enjoy (that I believe is fairly common in ‘Euro’ style games from the various information I was absorbing at the time) and that is that you won’t necessarily know who won for sure until the very end and everyone is usually pretty close. This was the case here on that night back in 2013 with Selena narrowly edging out Julie and myself. I remember looking at them and (bravely) asking, “What do you think?”  After a short pause (to make me sweat) they immediately wanted to play again and to this day I’m proud (and relieved) to say that it is one of my wife’s favorite games!!  Selena likes it too and I should mention that she won the first time we played all the games that year and thus began a streak of her winning the first time we played any new game that lasted for 5 years – until Christmas 2017!!

Back to tonight… Julie had seen the box out a few days ago when I was checking rules and writing my notes… she hasn’t let up since… “Anytime!! I’ll play that anytime – you just set it up!!” Tonight I had just about finished my editing and would have normally headed for bed… Julie was getting something to eat and I told her I had it on the table and we could see how far we got before I fell asleep… 🙂

Needless to say, we finished the game… at this point I probably don’t have to tell you that she kicked my ass… 🙂 She kept saying how much she (still) loves this game… it was her favorite 11 years ago and continues to be to this day… while we were packing up she said this was easily in her top 10… maybe top 5… no – her top 1… this is her favorite… out of the room full of games – including several Disney titles – this is her number1!!

March 27th… another older game that’s had me itching to play was Kingsburg… 

As I started watching videos and reading the rules again to refresh myself I thought a player aide would be in order… I was putting the finishing touches on it after several days of editing when Julie asks to play something… PERFECT!! I open the box and start setting up and deciding which modules to add in when I discovered there are already playing card sized player aides for each player… well – at least I gave my editing skills a workout… 🙂

When Julie sat down she looked it over and insisted that she’d never played it… I’m pretty sure she has but she didn’t remember it…

A quick teach and we jumped in…

It’s not a terribly complicated game but does have a lot of moving parts to keep track of – especially bonuses on buildings you’ve constructed… it lasts for 5 years with 8 phases in each – 3 of the phases being Production Seasons that are identical each time… it wasn’t long before Julie was up to speed and turns were going by pretty quickly…

March 30th… Julie’s been fighting another bug for a couple days… she’s feeling a little better but is still in bed so I’ve been on dog duty so she can rest… she’s eating a little and the dogs have been pretty quiet so I took them out once more before heading to join a local game group at a nearby Dominos who graciously lets the group use their side room for game nights since they rarely have parties there… I packed Kingsburg and First in Flight – two games I knew I could teach pretty easily… I’d forgotten that the local game convention was next week and those running games (myself included) like to have nights like these to test our teaches and get a dry run of sorts before the actual convention… I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted to teach this time around and ended up not signing up so tonight I was open to whatever next week’s GM’s (Game Managers) wanted to teach… first it looked like it might be Scholars of the South Tigris but they decided to go with a Dune game instead so I landed with a different group… the GM was teaching a game from 2014 that I’d been interested in for some time and even tried the online version (which was OK)… that game was Istanbul

(from BGG): There’s hustle and bustle at Istanbul’s grand bazaar as merchants and their assistants rush through the narrow alleys in their attempt to be more successful than their competitors. Everything must be well organized: wheelbarrows must be filled with goods at the warehouses, then swiftly transported by the assistants to various destinations. Your goal? Be the first merchant to collect a certain number of rubies.

In Istanbul, you lead a group of one merchant and four assistants through 16 locations in the bazaar. At each such location, you can carry out a specific action. The challenge, though, is that to take an action, you must move your merchant and an assistant there, then leave the assistant behind (to handle all the details while you focus on larger matters). If you want to use that assistant again later, your merchant must return to that location to pick him up. Thus, you must plan ahead carefully to avoid being left with no assistants and thus unable to do anything…

In more detail, on a turn you move your merchant and his retinue of assistants one or two steps through the bazaar, either leave an assistant at that location or collect an assistant left earlier, then perform the action. If you meet other merchants or certain individuals at the location, you might be able to take a small extra action. Possible actions include:

  • Paying to increase your wheelbarrow capacity, which starts the game with a capacity of only two for each good.
  • Filling your wheelbarrow with a specified good to its limit.
  • Acquiring a special ability, and the earlier you come, the easier they are to collect.
  • Buying rubies or trading goods for rubies.
  • Selling special combinations of goods to make the money you need to do everything else.

When a merchant has collected five rubies in his wheelbarrow, players complete that round, then the game ends. If this player is the only one who’s reached this goal, he wins immediately; otherwise ties are broken by money in hand.

AWARDS & HONORS

Why (we wanted it / like it (or don’t): First, many thanks to Wendy from the game group who is teaching the game at the Con next week… great teach!! I enjoyed our play so much so that I spent the next couple of days tracking down a copy because I liked the tabletop version so much better then the digital version and I’m positive Julie is going to love this game… 🙂 Unfortunately (OK, FORTUNATELY) I could only find the Big Box version with the expansions – the same as she had… I know Julie and I will start with the base game which features a 4 x 4 grid of locations but can see us throwing in one or the other expansion which bumps the game to a 4 x 5 grid… not sure we’ll attempt both expansions at once and the 5 x 5 grid – at least not right away… 🙂

Of course I had another, smaller game floating around the back of my mind – coincidentally from the same year (2014)… it happened to be in stock so how could I resist adding it to my order… a game that involves polyomino (Tetris) style tiles which Julie loves and that game was Patchwork

In Patchwork, two players compete to build the most aesthetic (and high-scoring) patchwork quilt on a personal 9×9 game board. To start play, lay out all of the patches at random in a circle and place a marker directly clockwise of the 2-1 patch. Each player takes five buttons — the currency/points in the game — and someone is chosen as the start player.

On a turn, a player either purchases one of the three patches standing clockwise of the spool or passes. To purchase a patch, you pay the cost in buttons shown on the patch, move the spool to that patch’s location in the circle, add the patch to your game board, then advance your time token on the time track a number of spaces equal to the time shown on the patch. You’re free to place the patch anywhere on your board that doesn’t overlap other patches, but you probably want to fit things together as tightly as possible. If your time token is behind or on top of the other player’s time token, then you take another turn; otherwise the opponent now goes. Instead of purchasing a patch, you can choose to pass; to do this, you move your time token to the space immediately in front of the opponent’s time token, then take one button from the bank for each space you moved.

In addition to a button cost and time cost, each patch also features 0-3 buttons, and when you move your time token past a button on the time track, you earn “button income”: sum the number of buttons depicted on your personal game board, then take this many buttons from the bank.

What’s more, the time track depicts five 1×1 patches on it, and during set-up you place five actual 1×1 patches on these spaces. Whoever first passes a patch on the time track claims this patch and immediately places it on his game board.

Additionally, the first player to completely fill in a 7×7 square on his game board earns a bonus tile worth 7 extra points at the end of the game. (Of course, this doesn’t happen in every game.)

When a player takes an action that moves his time token to the central square of the time track, he takes one final button income from the bank. Once both players are in the center, the game ends and scoring takes place. Each player scores one point per button in his possession, then loses two points for each empty square on his game board. Scores can be negative. The player with the most points wins.

AWARDS & HONORS

Why (we wanted it / like it (or don’t): As I said earlier, Tetris-like tiles for Julie… It’s also a light, quick game which will make it a frequent request from her also… 🙂

March 31st… Julie’s been in bed for the last few days with some sort of bug (but no COVID fortunately)… She was starting to feel better last night thankfully (I was afraid she would miss Easter) and we all enjoyed Easter dinner and early in the evening she was asking to get a game in and wanted me to pick since it was my 64th birthday… I kept it simple and broke out Kingsburg again since we both enjoyed it and ought to be able to remember how to play from a few days ago… 🙂

I took the buildings to the next level just to mix it up a little and we were able to dive right in… the game was close right until the end and the only thing that put me over the top was getting a last-minute building worth 6 points – the margin of victory…. 🙂

The game revolves around strategically placing or combining dice to influence the 16 advisers in the King’s Council and the king and queen… through this you gather resources needed to construct buildings and bolster your military strength… in the 4th and final season of each year (winter), players battle the invading monsters by comparing their battle strength (comprised of their level that year plus bonus strength from buildings they’ve built plus a token each adds with a value between 1 – 4) against the monster’s (whose strength increases each year)… have higher strength and you defeat the monster and earn rewards… tie it and you win but get mothing but if you have less strength, you lose and must pay a penalty… the tokens can only be used one time each… players will have one left at the end of the game and if it has a value, it counts as points… during the 3rd year I constructed a building that said if I tie a monster in battle I still get the rewards… this gave me the luxury of not having to play my higher value tokens late in the game… why am I telling you all this??

At the end of the 5th year we won our battles and started adding up our points from buildings and all… Julie had beat me by 1 point… WAIT!! What is the value of our military tokens?!? She fiips over a 0 and I flip over a 4 with a grin… I’d won by 3 points… 🙂

She still says she’s never played it but wants to play again… hopefully she feels up to it over the next few days that I have off…

April 2nd… yet another older game that I’ve had an urge to play again… this time it’s Stone Age!! The link is to the Wil Wheaton’s TableTop playthrough and my family and I have never collectively laughed as hard as we did watching this… and that was long before we ever had the game to play… 🙂 It’s hard for us to get into the actual theme of the game since, anytime we play, someone always makes the comment about ‘making babies’… if you watch the video you’ll know why… 🙂

It was an easy refresh – especially since the rule book is only 8 pages (counting the cover) which are full of pictures…

The game play is straightforward and there are a ton of ways to get points… I could see Julie was focusing on her tech (neanderthals learn to make tools) which helps make dice rolls better which means more resources… then later she shifted more to the collection element using the civilization cards… I on the other hand was going for more ag to help feed my people – a requirement at the end of each round – and a more building-centric approach…

The game starts slow – giving everyone a chance to settle in and maybe choose a potential path to victory then ramps up to where, by the end of the game, everyone has all the resources they could ever need and can do just about anything… however, the buildings and civ cards are the games timers… when one runs out the game is over!!

Early on we were trading tech and ag since spaces are restricted… Julie would boost her tech so I’d increase my farming so I had more food on hand to feed my people without having to send workers hunting… then when the other would go first, we’d each take the opposite (spaces are restricted so we couldn’t do the same things as each other)… Then there’s the math involved with d=sending workers to gather resources… resources have a set value – wood = 3, clay = 4, stone = 5 and gold = 6… you gain resources by sending a number of your workers to the desired resource’s location then roll that many dice to see how much they come back with… for example, if I send 3 workers to the forest to get wood, I roll 3 dice… say the dice add up to 10… 10 divided by 3 (the value of wood) = 3… if I had a couple tech points available, I could add 2 to the 10 making it 12 divided by 3 = 4… my tech got me an extra wood…

As the game goes on, everyone gets points if they construct buildings (right picture below) and even more math come into to play… the right-most building below says that I have to pay 4 goods of any kind BUT they all have to be different so I’d have to use one of each (wood = 3, clay = 4, stone = 5 and gold = 6) so add the values up and that building would get me 18 points. Trust me – it’s easy once you’ve done it a few times… 🙂

Anyway, we’re blowing through the game and I start snagging more civ cards hoping to disrupt Julie’s set collection plans AND add to my end game multipliers… the cards ran out just before the buildings so the game ends immediately… I was already over 100 points with Julie about 20 behind me… we start scoring and she pulls out 1 full set of the 8 relic civ cards which score the number of unique cards times itself giving her 64 points (8 x 8) right off the bat and she blows by me… another set of 3 for 9 points (3 x 3)… I had one set of 4 for 16 points…

Then we went through our civ bonuses… there are 4 different workers represented on the cards and each card has one or two of their type – Builders, Tool Makers, Shamans and Farmers… Builders = the total number of builders on the cards x the number of buildings constructed… Julie got 5 points while I got 40… Tool Makers = the number of tool makers on the cards x the total value of your tech.. Shamans = the number of Shamans on the cards x the number of workers… Julie had no Shamans while I had 7 AND had all 10 of my workers for 70 points… and Farmers = the number of farmers x your level on the ag counter which I had maxed to 10.

When math class was over, Julie finished with 196 points plus her remaining resources are worth 1 point each putting her at 204… I lapped her AGAIN during final scoring and finished with 348 – beating her by 144 points!! She’s begging for a rematch and I hope she feels up to it after work as I’m sure she’ll trounce me this time… 🙂