Thursday, December 02, 2004

Ticket to Ride Online- 3 games in 45 minutes!

I played 3 games of Ticket to Ride online last night (all 2 player games) in 45 minutes. Amazing really. I love the online version of the game ( It takes does all the hard work for you. I think it's likely the best online board game implementation I've played... although I really liked Power Grid on Brettspielwelt as well.

Monday, November 15, 2004

The Hyperactive Child

OK, this isn't exactly a game post, but if you have a hyperactive child that enjoys playing games, I guess you could apply this information to that situation.

My daughter is 6 years old and is very (dare I say hyper) active. I believe that in many schools we would have been encouraged to put her on medication, which we would have rejected. At her school, they have a card system for tracking a child's behavior. Whenever a child gets in trouble (talking, running, etc) she has to turn her card from green to yellow. In the first 40 days of school, Sarah turned her card 30 times (her classes average was about 15). We have done all we can to encourage her to behave better (rewarding her for staying on green) but it really hasn't had any affect.

About 2 weeks ago, her teacher gave her a cushion to sit on. The theory is that it allows the child to wiggle in their seat and still concentrate on their work. I know... I was suspicious as well. However, as of today she has stayed on green for 8 straight days... Eight! So, I decided to try it at home. The other night we were working on her reading. She started on a book that was fairly easy for her... and she could not get through the first line. She couldn't sit still... kept getting up... looked around. I asked her to grab a pillow from the sofa. She put that on her chair, sat on it, and read through the book non-stop. It was amazing. Again tonight, we sat down to work on her homework and she just wasn't able to concentrate on her work. I had her get the pillow and she zipped through her homework.

If you're still suspicious (and I would certainly understand if you are), Google "cushion ADHD" for some online discussion on the topic.

So, to make this a game related post, if you have problems getting your child to sit still during a game, give the cushion a try.

Sorry for the off topic message, but I couldn't possible overstate the significance this has had on our lives. I have decided I will tell this story to whoever will listen, and even to those that won't. Perhaps you know a child that could benefit from this information. Please contact me if you have questions.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Duell, Cosmic Eidex, Die Fugger, and Von Kap bis Kairo

Rob hosted this month and even though I arrived late, I got plenty of good gaming in.

They were playing Goa when I arrived. Brian also arrived late so I decided to teach him Duell. James Miller game me a copy of this a few weeks ago and I really like the game. We played with the advanced Duell rules (which use the round modifiers and parries, but not lunges). Of the round modifiers, I like the open round the best. I wouldn't want to play every round this way, but it changes the game significantly and keeps it fresh. I think I will play with the lunge rule from En Garde next time.

With 6 players we decided to break into 2 groups of 3. One group played Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride while we played Cosmic Eidex. Josh and I had played several times and Scott had played once before, but this game always requires a rules refresher. Since everyone had played before, we decided to use the special powers. My power allowed me to refuse the selected trump (which is determined by the last card dealt) and use the trump determined by the second to last gamer. Josh's power allowed him to swap the value of 2 consecutive cards, which could determine whether or not he took a trick in certain instances. Scott's power allowed him to steal the card I put face down and swap it with a card in his hand. Scott's power seemed farily useless. He used it often, but it rarely helped him. Both Josh's and my power seemed very useful. Josh won. I had a chance, but slowed down my trick taking too early and ended up just a few points shy of Scott, putting me in the middle (I'm sure if you've never played this game you have no idea what I'm talking about... sorry about that). I highly recommend Cosmic Eidex for groups that like odd trick taking games. It's a game designed for 3 players only, which makes it difficult to get on the table, but also ideal for what is often perceived to be a tricky number of players to accomodate.

Next, the other group played Evo while we played Die Fugger and Von Kap bis Kairo. I really like both of these games. It was my first playing of Die Fugger. It's very clever. I think it has just the right amount of tension. I consistently found myself wishing I could a little more on my turn, but not so much that it was frustrating. Josh won this game but just a few points. I look forward to my next playing of this.

Josh had modified his version to use chips rather than the cards to keep track of the value of a commodity. He also uses the chips to indicate how many of a commodity have been played. The chips start above the card. When the first card has been played, move the chip to the top of the card, then to the middle, bottom and then below. When a chip is below the card, the next time that commodity is played the round ends. It's much easier than try to count the cards constantly to see how many of each have been played.

I had played Vom Kap bi Kairo once before and was excited to give it another shot. I managed to win by moving forward whenever possible. Josh and Rob tried to time a run at the end of the game, but Josh had forgotten that you could pay 10 to move ahead and failed to account for that during the final bid. I out bid him and was able to go first and finish my track. I really like this game and look forward to playing it again.

Next up... Great Lakes Games.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Grand Rapids Area Game Day

On Saturday, October 9th the Grand Rapids Area Boardgamers hosted a game day. This is our 6th if I recall correctly and we had 20-25 people. Several people came over from Lansing and James Miller made the trip from Akron, Ohio. We started at noon and played until about 1:30 am. Thanks again to Tony and his church for allowing us to use their facilities (at no charge even!)

I played the following games:

Duell, Das Motorsportspiel, Power Grid, Robo Rally, Thingamajig, Goa, Tichu


I had played En Garde several times so I was very excited when James Miller gave me a copy in Cleveland a few weeks ago. This was my first chance to try to new version. I taught the rules to Kelly and we played several rounds with the basic version. We then added the special action cards, which change the rules for both players for a round. When reading the descriptions of the cards I wasn't particularly impressed, but I really enjoyed them, especially the "open cards" option. I wouldn't want to play an entire game with this option, but it's fun to mix it in periodically. For those that have played and enjoyed En Garde, I highly recommend buying the new version. The interlocking board is a great improvement over the board that you build with cards from the previous version.

Das Motorsportspiel

Dave promised to bring this game and he didn't let us down. I had played it once before a few years ago and remembered enjoying the game. My memory didn't let me down. We played a 3 lap race with 6 players and we used a 45 second timer. I think the timer is a MUST for this game and will be required equipment for me in the future for any racing game. It added the tension that necessary for these games to shine.

If you are a fan of racing games, I highly recommend Das Motorsportspiel. The movement mechanics are fascinating and the penalty system is easier than Formula De. Movement works like this. Each turn the player rolls 1 - 3 dice. Two of the dice are standard 6 sideds and the other is a 6 sided with 1:3, 1:2, and 2:3 on opposing sides. When you roll, you may choose to roll 1, 2, or 3 dice (you must always roll the red die). Then you decide if you want to use the number rolled or the number on the opposite side. You then determine which order you want to use the dice and move your car. You may only switch lanes while using a die with a "diagonal" number on it (2, 3, or 5). Speed is regulated by the corners. Similar to Formula De, each corner has a number, but in FD that determines the number of stops you make in the corner (which can be difficult to remember). In Motorsportspiel the number represents your maximum speed in the corner (the maximum individual die roll) in the corner. If you speed or cannot use all your movement (because you are blocked) you receive penalty flags. The flag system is very easy to use (much easier than the FD system for damage, but a little more difficult than FD mini).

Power Grid

This is one of my favorite (perhaps THE favorite) game from last year and I was anxiously looking forward to getting it in during the day. Bruce and his wife Michelle had never played, so I taught them and they really enjoyed it. So much has already been written about this game so there is little need for me to comment on it here, except to say that once again it was a very enjoyable game... still one of my favorites and I look forward to playing it again.

Robo Rally

I had been playing a lot of Roborunner (a play-by-email version of Robo Rally) which has really renewed my love for this game, so I was more than happy to play when Sam and Nick asked me. We played 2 boards with 3 flags in an effort to keep the game to about 1 hour. We played without the option cards (in an effort to keep the game to an hour). Playing this game with a couple of younger players is always a treat. It's fun to watch them get excited about pushing people off the board and shooting each other. I managed to stay out of people's way for the most part (except when James shoved me off the board) and won the game. I have to get this out more. It never disappoints.


Ugh... I really like this game and usually do very well, but for some reason I just didn't do very well. Personally, for me Thingamajig is not so much about the score. I prefer to try to come up with clever clues and acknowledge those who come up with great clues during the game. I erred several times with clues that were WAY too easy. 3 times out of 5 all of my opponents guessed my word, which is just not good... but it was great fun. One clue that I recall was given by Elaine, and I can't believe I didn't get it.... "Sean Young's Runner" for "Blade". For crying out loud this is one of my favorite movies. I just couldn't get there for some reason. Oh well, it's still one of my favorite party games, particularly with a group that enjoys giving clever clues.


Again, much has been written about Goa. I will simply say that it is an amazing game. I'm not sure if I like it or not, but I am in awe of people that can come up with such a complex set of mechanics that really seem to work together. It will take at least 1 or 2 more games before I really figure this thing out (I felt like I muddled through this first session with no real direction) and I'm just not sure I want to invest that much time in it. If it takes 3 plays to figure the game out, then I really have to play it 4 or 5 times to make my final judgement, and considering that I often don't play games that often (and a brand new crop is on it's way from Essen) I may just write it off as a brilliant game that just isn't for me. I will probably try it once more, especially if it's an opportunity to teach a few new players.


We had time for one more game and I knew Tony, James, and Josh don't get to play Tichu as often as they would like, so I suggested this. This is probably my all time favorite game. We gave Tony a quick refresher and it took a couple of hands for him to get back into the game. James and I jumped off to a 500-0 lead after 2 hands (Tony made a few mistakes, allowing us to go out 1-2). As is often the case with Tichu (the scoring system allows for huge score swings) Tony and Josh made a huge come back. The pulled within 90 at 945-855. We managed to set Josh's Tichu and score a few points, making the score 985-815. James and I played the last hand strictly for points, making sure we got 20, which would put us over 1000 and winning the game. Josh made his Tichu, but we made 35 points and won.

Another very exciting game. I was concerned after the first 2 hands that it was going to be a rout, which happens quite often with Tichu. If I have 1 beef with the game it is that. TOO often games end 1000-200 or something similar because one team gets a steak of several great hands. In spite of that, it remains on top of my list of all time favorites.

All in all, a GREAT day! Next gaming session: Great Lakes Games in Toledo in November. I can't wait!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Enchanted Forest again

Sarah wanted to play Champion Forest (her name) again last night. This time, we followed the rules. I had forgotten about the 3 options when you roll doubles (look at any unoccupied tree, move over the stone bridge, change the top card). The game went much better. It still took us a very long time to find the first symbol, but the game moved along after that. She won this time, but there were a few times I made wrong moves on purpose to keep it close early. But from the halfway point on, I played it straight.

I have been working with her on how to act during and after a game. I've have been explaining that it doesn't matter if you win or lose. What matters is that you do the following:

Play by the rules
Play nicely
Play your best
Have fun

At the end of every game I ask her if she did each of these... often to console her after I win. Last night, when she won, she explained them to me. It was a precious moment.

This morning on the way to school, she said playing games is a LOT more fun than watching TV and she really enjoys spending time with me. What a kid!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Enchanted Forest with my daughter

We recently implemented a new punishment/reward system for our 6 year old. She LOVES Spongebob, so I bought her a Spongebob refrigerator magnet set. When she does something good (like get herself ready for school without fussing, helping her 2 year old system pick up her toys) or goes several hours without fussing or talking back, she gets to move Spongebob 1 space closer to the jellyfish (Spongebob's favorite activity is jellyfish hunting). If she messes up, Spongebob moves back. It's actually kind of funny... yelling at your crying child to "move Spongebob back." Anyway, I digress. Her reward for Spongebob making it to the jellyfish (basically, she has had a very good day) is that she gets to play a game with Mom and Dad. Last night, we picked Enchanted Forest (SdJ winner from 1983).

She has played other memory type games, so I figured she could handle that aspect of the game. I had to help her with the movement a bit. She understand the mechanics of the movement, but often didn't see how she could change directions to get where she wanted to go. The other things she struggled with was keeping what she saw a secret. If she found the symbol we were looking for, she wigged out, which obviously gave me information that I shouldn't have had. No matter. We had great fun with it. She especially liked knocking Dad back to the village by landing on me... and, surprisingly, when I did this to her she didn't get upset about it.

Anyway, I recommend this for 6 year olds (even 5 year olds) that can remember where things are placed on the board. Incidentally, I DON'T recommend trying to play the game twice in a row. It's very very confusing.

Also, it's fun to come up with your own names for the pictures. For example, the boots from Puss in boots are known as magic roller blades in our house. And the "table that laid itself" is known as supper.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


I used to play Pinochle quite a bit when I was growing up. I remember thinking it was a terrific game. Recently some friends at work expressed an interest in learning it, so we've been playing at lunch for the last several weeks. I gotta say... I don't know what attracted me to it. Perhaps my perspective is different now that I've played some "real" games. I have found that there really aren't a lot of meaningful decisions to be made. We've been playing single deck and using the 3 card passing rules. I thought passing would help the game, but now I'm not so sure. It seems there are 2 types of hands... the cinch hand (lots of meld and/or a very strong suit) and the borderline hand (where you perhaps need a few particular cards from your partner to make a cinch hand). After the pass the borderline hands seem to either turn into cinch hands (you got the run) or set hands. Typically, there is 1 hand per game where you really feel like the way you played the cards made the difference between making your bid and missing it, but for the most part, the decisions are made for you based on the cards you have. And, because the rules dictate that you must beat a card previously played if you can and you must trump if you can't follow suit, there are even fewer decisions to be made.

Anyway, growing up I usually played double deck. Perhaps that is a better game, but I suspect it still has nothing on "real" games. I'm ready to go back to Skat and Tichu.

Monday, August 30, 2004

Kaleidos and Ticket to Ride

We had some friends over the other night and Elaine suggested we play Kaleidos and Ticket to Ride. Prior to the first puzzle, our friends seemed a bit hesitant about Kaleidos. Neither of them scored particularly well during the first round, but they caught on quickly and by the 3rd round they were scoring as much as Elaine and I. They really enjoyed the game. In fact, we recommended stopping after 8 rounds, but they begged for 1 more. It's really too bad that this game is so difficult to find. It seems to appeal to everyone. I will continue to pull it out with newbies.

Next, we tried Ticket to Ride. Elaine and I finished first and second by a pretty good margin, which you would expect. Todd completed 2 very short routes early. I then recommended that he focus on completing long sections and lengthen his train. Instead, he focused on blocking me, which he did several times, but I was eventually able to out manuever him and complete my routes and have the longest train. In the end, I he didn't help him position, although he likely did cost me the game. Had he instead focused on buiding long sections, I think he would have had a great chance of winning. I think they enjoyed the game, but they enjoyed Kaleidos a lot more.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Two more game of Ticket to Ride

We played Ticket to Ride twice during lunch this past week.  I managed to win both games using the same strategy.  I won the first game by 10 points and the second game by 3 points.  In both games I picked 2 short routes (total value was about 20 points).  I complete them and then added to my train by building the longest routes I could.  In both games I got the bonus for longest train, which certainly made the difference.  I will continue to use this strategy when 2 of my first initial routes are short and in the same area of the country.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Lunch session: Ra

Ra Chris* Rob I, Rob G, Craig

I finally won this stinking game. I've probably played Ra 10 or 15 times and previous to today I only managed a tie for the win. The first round I started with middle numbers (12-7-3 I think) and I invoked almost every time. I managed to get some monuments, get a few Niles, avoid the 5 point penalty for no civilization and I got a couple of pharoahs and avoided the 2 point penalty. I don't believe I scored any points the first round, but I had a good foundation built because I most purchased tiles that I didn't have to discard. I got several more monuments in the second round (including the 8th different one) and took the lead in pharoahs. I also secured some good tiles for the final round. In the final round I got a few more monuments (getting 3 or one of them for 5 points) and managed to have the high chip total (tied with Rob I) for 5 bonus points. The monuments carried me to victory.

I'm not sure why I did so much better than I typically do. Perhaps I was a little more patient during the bidding phase. Maybe I was the benefactor of sitting to the left of a new player. In any case, I'm excited to play again and see if my success was just a fluke.

Session Report: GRAB Game Night 6/10/2004

Yinsh Chris, Josh*

Josh had played this game once before and I beat him, but I figured he would get his revenge after he had a game under his belt and I was correct. Josh is very good at these kinds of games and he beat me handily. Although I did score 2 points (to his 3), I was behind 2-0 for a good part of the game and scored my second just 1 turn before he scored his third. I really like this game. I'm sure there are a lot of patterns that a player can recognize during the game, but I don't see them yet. I also expect there is a lot more to the opening moves than I realize, as that still feels random to me.

Adam and Eva Chris, Josh*

We were still waiting for the Ticket to Ride game to finish up so Josh and I tried this new Aaron Wiesblum game. The game completed elluded me during the first couple of rounds, but I got a better idea what was happening during the last few rounds. I enjoyed the game, but I don't know if there was enough there for me to play it more than a couple of more times. I'll certainly try it again. There were some very interesting decisions during the game, but I didn't feel like I had enough information to about my opponenet's hand to make the right decision.

St. Petersburg Chris, Dave, Sam, Josh*

Josh completed his sweep (I believe he even won the Carabande game that started before I arrived) with St. Petersberg. I had played once before and Josh had played a couple of solitaire games. I REALLY like this game and I expect I will play it a lot over the next few months. During my first game I had absolutely no idea what I should do. I had committed to a more disciplined approach during my second play and I felt I did much better, but I still didn't do as well as I had hoped. My goal was to focus on income early, move to points in the mid-game, and then focus on aristocrats during the end game. Unfortunately, the game only lasted 5 rounds, so there really wasn't a mid-game. My biggest mistake was picking up 2 blue buildings fairly early in the game with the intent of getting them on the board in the mid-game. I took them too early and I wasn't able to generate enough income to get them out and they took up space in my hand for most of the game. I feel I understand the game much better and I expect a much better result from myself in my next game.

Other games played

Ticket to Ride

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Session Report: GRAB Game Night- 5/21/2004

IQ-5 x3 Josh*** Chris

I saw IQ-5 at Gulf Games in Pensacola and I've been intrigued by it ever since. I ordered a copy from Funagain and got it just in time for our monthly gaming session. Josh showed up before anyone else and we decided to try it out. In IQ-5 each player has "pins" that contain two colored ends... red/blue, yellow/red, yellow/blue. Players take turns inserting a pin into the board in an effort to get 5 in a row. When you insert a pin into your side of the board, you are also adding a pin to the other player's side of the board (it stands between the two players like a Connect 4 board).

Josh won all three games. There is a heavy memory element in the game and he was able to keep track of the colors better than I did. I enjoyed the game, but I have a feeling the memory element will be too strong for it to become a favorite of mine.

Overall, it's a very interesting game with very nice components. Ben Baldanza talked the company into sending him a pair of pins that are red/red, yellow/yellow, and blue/blue. This mean you can't count on the fact that the color on the other side of a pin is different than a color on your side. I'm not sure if this will make the game better or worse. It seems it would make the memory element even heavier, which I'm not interested in.

Yinsh Chris*, Josh

My new discovered love affair with the Gipf series got quite the attention tonight. The first was Yinsh, which I had only played once and Josh had not played at all. I managed to win the game, which I take great pride in. Anytime I beat Josh in a game it is extra special, especially a true battle of wits such as Yinsh. I expect now that he has one play under his belt that he will take me next time... but maybe there won't be a next time.

I love Yinsh... and each time I play it I like it more. I look forward to MANY more games of this.

Auf Heller und Pfennig Chris*, Rob, Brian, Nick

We dug deep into my collection and found this classic which we hadn't played in a while. Rob managed only a few points (4 perhaps) in the first round. Brian and I got something in the 50's. Nick had 20. Round two went much better for Rob and he closed to within just a few points of Brian and I. In round three I was the benefactor of some ... we'll say generous placements by Nick and I managed to win by just a few points over Brian. Rob was perhaps 20 points behind us.

I'm really glad we got a chance to play this again. It's simply a terrific game with difficult decisions each turn. This is one of my favorite Knizia games and I need to make a point to get it out more often.

Hick Hack im Gackelwack Rob, Chris, Brian*, Nick, James

Nick suggested Hick Hack and Rob has been considering purchasing this for his kids so I gave in a played it. It's not one of my favorites... I'm not sure why, but we had fun with it. I've never won this game... in fact, I don't recall ever NOT finishing last. While it seems there isn't much to decide in this game, I think I've proven that it is possible to consistently make BAD decisions in this game. No matter. We enjoyed it, and I think it's something my daughter would enjoy, so I may pick up a copy to play with her. It would be a good introduction to some gaming concepts and some a chance to work on some light math.

Zertz x3 Chris**, Brian*

We now had 8 and we wanted to play 2 four player games, but when Nick talked Scott into Epic Duels I decided to take the opportunity to evangelise the Gipf series. Brian was anxious to learn some of the games. We started with Zertz. I had just finished reading the first half of Stephen Tavener's Zertz strategy guide, which I highly recommend, and I was anxious to give some of his tips a try. I won the first game very quickly, taking advantage of Brian's unfamiliarity with the game by quickly capturing three white marbles. In the second game I made a serious blunder. I attempted to set up a one for one exchange but didn't realize that I gave him a double jump. I couldn't recover and he won the game with 4 gray marbles. The third game was very close. We got to the point where either of us needed any marble to win. He had me trapped, where I couldn't take another marble without giving him one first. Then I realized that I could isolate a white marble, which I then removed from the board for the victory.

Now, back to the strategy guide for the more advanced moves. If you're at all interested in Zertz, read Stephen's guide. It will take several readings to digest it all, but it's time well spent if you want to truly master this wonderful game.

Tamsk x2 Chris*, Brian*

Rob and told Brian about the hourglass game, and since Brian enjoyed Zertz so much, we decided to give it a try. Once again, I beat him in the first game, but he demanded a rematch, which I gave him and he got his vengence.

While I really enjoy Tamsk, it seems like strategic than the other Gipf games, but that is likely because I don't know the strategy. It's the weakest of the series, yet I still really enjoy the game.

Yinsh Chris*, Brian

We still had some time while the other table was finishing up Hansa, so I continued through the Gipf series with Brian by busting out Yinsh. I took the first point, and then traded points with him... giving him one to get one in return. We battled for a few more minutes and I managed to win when he missed the fact that I had set up a very simple move for the victory. He was looking to set up a complex move for the win, but missed the fact that I had set up a very simple move for the victory.

I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of this game, but I've never played an experienced player, so my 3 and 0 record is probably not valid. I feel like I have no concept of the game opening. Much like Dvonn, there is probably some very important moves that done during the opening, but it feels like I'm just guessing. Since I enjoy the game, I expect to have many opportunities to figure it out.

My feeling is that the game is more tactical than Zertz, Gipf, or Dvonn. But again, that's probably due to my lack of experience with it.

Zircus Flohcati Dave, Brian, Chris*, Nick

Dave and Nick wanted to get one more game in before they left. He recommended ZF (the older one... ZF the Elder I guess) and I was happy with the choice. Brian collected many high numbered cards, but because he was only taking great cards he was the target of the action cards, which let us pick good cards from his hand. I managed a few sets and Nick ended the game with the gala show. I won by just a point over Dave as I recall, which Nick being just a couple of points behind. I think this is a great filler that probably doesn't get played as often as it deserves.

Funkenschlag Chris*, Josh*, Scott

I had been itching to play this game all night... all week in fact. I talked Josh and Scott into playing it. It lasted a bit longer than any of us had hoped, but we all really enjoyed the game. Scott had never played. Josh had played once and I had played twice. We all played conservatively and this really caused the game to last longer than it needed to. I believe it clocked in at over 3 hours.

I felt like I played very well. I did buy a power plant that never got used (the 8 I believe). The game ended when Josh connected his 22nd city. There was a bit of controversy... well, not really controversy, but and unfortunate event at the end. We all thought Josh had only connected 21 cities, but after recounting at the end we realized he had 22. We had apparently miscounted earlier in the game. Since the number of connected cities determines the turn order and has a huge impact on the rest of the game there was no way to determine what would have happened had we counted correctly. It was an honest mistake and I don't think it really changed the outcome. So, Josh finished with the controversial 22, I had 21, and Scott had 20. Since we thought Josh only had 21 cities during the last turn and I had more money, Josh declared me the winner, but it really didn't matter. I was very pleased with how I had played and enjoyed the game thoroughly in spite of the problem in the end.

I could have won the previous turn but I was 3 dollars short of connecting to a 20th city. I expect I spent over $1000 during the course of the game and I was a mere $3 short from victory. What's more, I had purchased extra resources during the purchasing phase because I assumed the game would go another round. Poor planning on my part, but it is so difficult (well, it's not difficult, but it's a bit of a hassle) to figure your total cost for a building phase, especially when you are connecting 5 cities in one turn that I didn't realize I had the opportunity to win. I was also very pleased with a decision I made during the round to purchase a garbage plant and then buy all the garbage so Josh couldn't power all of his cities. This, combined with better planning would have given me a very rewarding victory.

Wow! What a great game... easily a 9 for me. I just got Power Grid yesterday and I'm anxious to see if we can get the game down to 2 hours consistently. If so, the game will likely hit a 10 for me... joining very elite company (Tichu and Crokinole).

Games played by other players
San Juan
Ticket to Ride
Star Wars:Epic Duels x3

Lunch session: Ticket to Ride

At lunch yesterday I managed to score 14 points in a game of Ticket
to Ride. I had a plan, and it was actually very fun (and tense)
trying to make it work, but needless to say, it didn't. I kept the
following 2 routes

LA to Miami
Vancouver to Montreal

My plan was to build across the US and then down the coasts, but
when players started building down the east and west coast early in
the game I decided to build down the coasts first and then connect
them. Well, I ran out of time and didn't get them connected. 2 20
point routes, neither of them connected... ouch.

Since there are only 80 points in the track, to an unaware observer,
it looked like I finished in the thick of it, of course I was lapped
by everyone.

Even though the results were terrible, it was very fun trying to
make it work. Obviously I won't try that plan again.

So, can anyone else beat 14?

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Lunch session: Flaschenteufel

Rob I, Jim I, Chris L

Previoulsly, Rob had only played a few hands of Flaschenteufel and really didn't like it. Since we had 3 players today, we talked him into giving it another try... and then we made him lead the first trick of the first hand. He plunked the 15 yellow out there, and immediately realized that it was a bad play because Jim and I both got rid of low yellows. Rob was stuck with the only low yellow left and eventually ended up with the bottle. Rob ended up with the bottle the second hand as well, although it wasn't apparent that he had done anything wrong. I believe I got stuck with the bottle in hands 3 and 5 and Rob got it hand 4. We finally managed to get Jim the final hand (due to a bad play on his part), but he still won the game handily.

I think I underestimate the power of short suiting yourself in blue or red in this game. Jim short suited himself consistently and was able to dodge the bottle nearly every hand. If he hadn't misplayed the last hand he would have dodged it again. Next time we play, I will short suit myself every hand if it's at all possible (unless I have a lot of low yellows).

Monday, May 17, 2004

Very close game of Ticket to Ride

We played Ticket to Ride at lunch today. The final results were very close. Jim won with 115. Rob and I both had 114. Chris Clark was in the 70's. Chris took an additional route card toward the end in hopes of getting some easy points. He didn't get one he could connect, so he had to take the negative points. Jim had the longest train and connected only two routes (both were in the north). Rob connected three routes and then used his turns to take long routes on the board for maximum points. I connected 4 routes.

Very interesting session. Three different strategies all had virtually the same result.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Kitchen Table Gamers game day

We traveled to Cleveland for the weekend to participate in the Kitchen Table Gamers game day. It was the first time the KTGers attempted this and they did a fantastic job. I feel really good about it because it was inspired by the game days we have had here in Grand Rapids which some of the KTG crowd attended in January. Craig, James, Michael, Mike, and John did a terrific job organizing the event. They did a few things that we didn't think of (like providing a map of area restaurants and a sheet of sources for more information about the types of games we play). I will suggest we do this for our next event.

They had 50 people in attendance, which is a great turn out, especially for the first event. As it turns out, the room would have been too small if more people had been there. If they plan to expand, they will need to find a different location.

The gaming started at 10:00 am and we played until 11:30 pm. I had a great time and I'm very glad they invited us to attend.


We arrived Friday evening and squeezed in 1 game before we decided to go to bed.

Ticket to Ride Chris, Elaine, Kim, Craig

This is one of my favorite new games of the year. I believe it's the 4th time I've played it and I finally managed to win. I kept my three original tickets and didn't take anymore for the rest of the game. My tickets were for Seattle to LA, Seattle to New York, and Dututh to El Paso. I begin by building Seattle to LA, and then ignored my western train and begin working from Duluth to New York. I was nearly shut out of El Paso, and had a bit of difficulty getting from Duluth to Seattle to finish my Seattle to New York route. After the Northern route was finished I still had to get to El Paso and the only route left was LA to El Paso, which takes 6 black trains. I spent 3 or 4 turns drawing cards to get a trains I needed... getting 2 wilds on my last draw. I plunked down my 6 black trains to complete all my routes and this prompted the game end condition since I only had 2 trains left. On my last turn I placed them at the end of my train, which gave me one contiguous track that included all of my trains (and the 10 point bonus for longest train). I believe I won by 30 points (with 150 points or so). I think Craig noticed that I was very vulerable and attempted to block me on the black track, but was unable to get the cards he needed. This would have devastated me and I expect I would have finished last.

I really like this game I expect it will win SdJ this year, which would be well deserved.

Coyote Michael Green, Mike Agams, James*, Chris, John Palagyi, Craig

I really enjoy the game, although I'm tempted to play next time without the special cards. It makes the game very random.

Attribute Michael Green, Mike Agams, James, Chris, John Palagyi, Craig, John Morgan*

I had played Attribute on BSW, but never face to face. Once we got the scoring straight we had a great time. We had a few other people join us part way through the game.

Frank's Zoo Chris*, Kim, Michael Green, Sarah

My 5 year old daughter wanted to play the where the animals eat other animals. Michael had never played the game so we asked him to join us. We played one hand, without any of the special scoring. Sarah actually did very well, although it was difficult for her to hold her cards. I think she is just about ready to play this without help... except for perhaps a card holder.

Tamsk Michael Green, Chris*

I got to play several Gipf series games over the weekend. I've played Tamsk before, but it had been a couple of years. Michael made a mistake early by allowing one of his timers to run out because he wasn't paying attention. In the end, that proved to be fatal for him. Great game. I love the whole series.

Yinsh Michael Green, Chris*

After Tamsk, Michael offered to teach me Yinsh. I had a copy on order, so I was very excited to give it a try. He warned me in advance that he had never scored more than 1 point in his several previous games (it take 3 points to win). He did manage to score 2 against me, but I pulled out a victory. Again, fantastic game. I can't wait to play it again.

Puerto Rico Ken Boone*, John Montville, Craig, Chris

John had never played, so I explained the game to him while Craig greeted some visitors. I attempted to start producing coffee early and did get off to an early lead, which is typical for me, but half way through the game I could see that I simply wasn't able to ship enough to make it work. Nobody else was making coffee, so the ships were filled with other commodities and I never managed to get my own ship, so my coffee didn't ship. I did manage to sell it a few times, which got me some big money, but by then it was too late. I finished fourth (behind the newbie AND Craig... yikes) and Ken won, quite handily.

Coda x2 Renee, Craig*, Chris, Rhonda*

I really enjoy Coda. I think it's a great filler and a good introduction to deduction games. I meant to pick up a coopy but forgot. I will be buying this soon.

Gulo Gulo Chris*, Sarah, Mick Adams, Todd Adams, James Miller

Sarah talked me into Gulo Gulo. She explained the rules to me (quite well actually) and we talked a few bystanders into joining us while they waited for their pizza. I managed to win, but it's a kid's game, so that really didn't matter. We had a lot of fun with it and I'll be adding it to my buy list. Now, I just hope I can convince my 1 year old that the pieces are not giant M&M's. She seems to think Gulo Gulo is German for Candy Candy.

Thingamajig Craig*, James, Kim, Chris, Patti, Nikki, Elaine

Another favorite of mine with the right crowd. James is notorious for very clever and obscure clues. Craig managed to win, but he told me later he was cheating... sharing his answers with Nikki who was really stuggling. No matter. Great fun. The best clue of the game was one that we came up with later... "This is where Ernest and Julio were hanged." The answer... "gallows" of course.

Coyote x2 Nikki, Chris*, Patti*, Elaine

Another session of Coyote. This seems to be a big hit with the kids. I noticed we were gietting a lot of funny looks from some of the kids at another table (who were in the middle of a 3 hour game of Ticket to Ride). I returned the favor when they played Egg Dance later.

Squint Chris, John Palagyi, James*, Patti, Elaine

I used to really like this game, but I guess I've grown a little tired of it. It's still fun with a big group and we had a good time with it, but I probably won't be looking to pull it out a lot in the future.

Cartagena Chris, John Morgan*, Patti, Mike Adams

I really like Cartagena with 2 or 3 people. With 4 or more it's just okay, but we needed something quick and a couple of the people listed above hadn't played it, so I suggested we give it a try. We played with cards hidden (Jamaica I believe), which is actually the way I prefer to play with more than 2 people (Dave VanderArk will be happy to hear this as I was previously a Tortuga fan and he is anti-Tortuga).

Bluff Chris, Chris, John Morgan*, Chloe, Craig

I was trying to score a late night game of Time's Up and we needed something to do while we waited for a few people to finish up. John and I were the last two remaining. But his 4 dice to my 1 was too difficult to overcome.

Time's Up Chris/Kim*, Craig/James, Mike Adams/John Morgan

Without a doubt this is my favorite party game, especially with the players listed above. The game always provides us with many laughs, and this was no exception. We had the usual set of confusing words. For example, we had King Kong, Stephen King, Martin Luther King Jr., and Don King. We had a couple of very difficult people as well... William Faulkner being the most difficult. The best clue I remember was James's attempt to get Craig to say Mata Hari. He said something like "This is a guy... from India I think. His last name is like "not bald."" Believe it or not, Craig did not get it.


Craig taught me Zertz, and then kicked me around. We also played Gipf, and as I recall I won. I have really fallen in love with the whole series. During each game I think "this is the best game in the series."

After Gipf we invited the wives to join us for Beyond Balderdash, which we aborted after 3 rounds because they weren't really enjoying it. I want to try it again, perhaps at a future Gulf Games event. We got Attribute out again and had a great time with it. As is often the case, Craig interrupted the game several times with stories from his comical past. I don't know if his family just has a lot of odd things happen to them or if they just remember them better than most families, but they seem to have an endless list of odd stories to tell.

In summary, Craig and the other KTG'ers should be very pleased with the event. The attendance was very good (capacity at times). There was plenty of refreshments and games to choose from as well. As far as I could tell, everyone seemed to enjoy the day and I expect future events will be a well attended as well. I'm always looking for excuses to spend time with these guys. Please let me know when the next one is scheduled and I will definitely plan to attend.

Game weekend at the Bergs'

We again had the pleasure of visiting the Berg family for the weekend and it was a terrific time. They are SOOOO much fun to be around, not to mention that we often get to play lots of games together.

On Friday evening we played Ticket to Ride, which is one of my favorite new games of the year. I won for the first time by connecting my two tracks on my last turn, thanks to the fact that I drew 2 wild cards on my previous turn.

On Saturday I attended the Kitchen Table Gamers first game day. We had a great time. Attendance was in the 40's. I got to play several Gipf series games, including Yinsh. It's a fantastic game. I am absolutely in love with the Gipf series. Over the weekend I also played two games of Tamsk, 1 game of Zertz and 1 game of Gipf. These are truly brilliant games. The other highlight of the game day was closing out the night with Time's Up, which is one of my favorites. Kim Berg was my partner and we rolled to an easy victory by winning all three rounds. The game highlights were trying to describe William Faulker (we all knew he was an author, but nobody knew anything he had written) try to not get confused between Don King, Martin Luther King Jr., King Kong, and there was someone else with a list name of King that I don't remember. Another hilarious time.

After the game day we returned to the Berg's where Craig regailed us with hilarious stories of his families exploits, including a very funny story about how he lost his glasses while watching Sixth Sense at the theater.

On Sunday we played a few more games, include Attribute with Kim and Elaine. I really like this game and I will be busting it out when I get the chance. It is a lot more creative than Apples to Apples.

We got home after 10PM. The girls FINALLY fell asleep when we got off the highway in Grand Rapids. It was a pretty gruelling drive home, but it was well worth it.