Sunday, December 20, 2015

Obligatory Holiday Shopping Guide 2015 Edition

Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas!  ‘Tis the season folks, time for all of us to go out and buy gifts for our loved ones, lovingly wrap them in thin (and sorely overpriced), colorful paper, and then, on Christmas day, watch them rip it off in glee and expectation!  It is a season of thoughtful gifts for our family, friends, and even co-workers.  For those of us in the boardgaming hobby, it is extra interesting because we are often looked to by our friends/family who don’t game and asked for gift ideas. 

What I have compiled here is a comprehensive gift guide that you should in no way use to choose for your friends or family.  As a matter of fact, this is a slightly ridiculous list of games that I would mostly never get for these people.  What I’ve done is taken some of my friends and family and taken something about each of them and turned that idea into a game purchase.  Most of these are not games I would ever buy them but I thought it would be a fun list to put out before Christmas.  I hope you enjoy the list and let me know what you hope to get for Christmas!

Em – Paperback (Designer: Tim Fowers, Publisher: Self-Published) 

My wife is a writer.  She has one book published and is hoping to have another done sometime next year.  When she finishes that I’m sure she’ll start working on another project.  For her I will buy (again, not really) the game Paperback.  It is a deck-builder about a character who is writing novels for a certain amount of money per word.  It is one of the best deck-builders I’ve ever played and fits her personality wonderfully!

Fiona – Operation: Kindergarten (Designer: Harry-Pekka Kuusela, Publisher: LudiCreations)

My 3-year-old is a beautiful and terrifying hurricane of improbabilities!  Thus, my game for her is Operation: Kindergarten.  In this game the guardians (teachers) of the playground must protect and bring the children back to their classrooms.  All the while chaos ensues!  In this situation, Fiona is the chaos and I’m just trying to bring her home safely!

Adam – Thrash ‘n Roll (Designer: Aleksander Biela/Krzysztof Matusik, Publisher: Game Fabrica)

My brother Adam!  He is one of the most talented dudes I know.  One of his talents is music.  He is literally able to pick up any instrument and learn it if he wants.  Because of this I needed to find a good music game.  Enter Thrash ‘n Roll!  This is a game where you control a metal band in their efforts to become the best.  I may have also went with this because I want to create a metal band with Adam!

Christina – Nyet! (Designer: Stefan Dorra, Publisher: IELLO)

Christina is one of my fabulous sisters-in-law and fantastic wife to my brother Adam.  She is also a lover of card games and maybe the most competitive player in our entire family!  She is a fearsome (and very good!) card player who’d give anyone a run for their money.  For her I’ve chosen the trick-taking card game, Nyet!  This is a beautifully done card game re-released by the company IELLO and they did a great job.  I think this game would be scary in Christina’s hands!

Amanda – VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game (Designer: T.C. Petty, III, Publisher: Dice Hate Me/Greater Than Games)

Ah my beautiful sister, Amanda.  She is maybe the only person I know who rivals my absolute love of the “sweet nectar of the gods” better known as coffee.  Thus, my game choice for her was easy.  VivaJava: The Coffee Game: TheDice Game.  This is a game about rolling dice and making coffee.  I mean, could there have been a better game choice for her?  I think not!

Jonathan – NHL Power Play Team-Building Card Game (Designer: Matt Hyra, Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment)

Amanda’s husband Jonathan was another easy game choice for me.  He is a big fan of hockey and is even able to play in league where they live.  Thus, for Jonathan I’ve chosen the deck-building game, NHL Power PlayTeam-Building Card Game.  This is built on their Cerberus engine that many of their other card games are based on.  This isn’t a game I’ve played but I think it fits Jonathan just great!

Molly – Brew Crafters (Designer: Ben Rosset, Publisher: Dice Hate Me/Greater Than Games)

Molly is my very cool sister-in-law and my wife’s youngest sister.  She is a super-talented bartender and beer brewer.  She and her husband, Dustin, are very into brewing and the craft beer scene.  Because of this I chose the game BrewCrafters for her.  This is an awesome Euro-style game that puts players into the part of a craft brewery building up their brand.  Molly and Dustin are working on setting up a brewpub in the future so I think this game works perfectly!

Dustin – Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn (Designer: Isaac Vega, Publisher: Plaid Hat Games)

Dustin is Molly’s husband.  Very cool dude!  He and Molly quite enjoy playing the famous Collectible Card Game, Magic: The Gathering.  Because of his enjoyment of this game I decided to go with a similar (but better in my humble opinion!) game called Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn.  This is an Expandable Card Game which uses beautiful, custom dice as the mana used for spells and allies.  It is an awesome game that Dustin would love!

Sean – Beardsmith (Designer: Benjamin Hale, Publisher: HaleFire Games)

My buddy Sean is one of our primary gaming buddies.  He is able to make it over often to eat, hang, and play games.  He also has a beautiful beard!  Because of this I’ve gone with a game that technically hasn’t been made yet but will go back up on Kickstarter in the near future.  That game is Beardsmith.  It finds the players taking the part of dwarven beard stylists.  Can you guess why I chose this for him?

Matty – The Bloody Inn (Designer: Nicolas Robert, Publisher: Pearl Games/Asmodee)

My buddy Matty is an artist and he has a somewhat whimsical and at the same time, macabre, style to his work.  I have always been a fan.  This makes me think of my choice of game for him, The Bloody Inn.  This is a macabre game (in both theme and art) where you are an innkeeper who is trying to kill his/her customers and take their money.  This reminds me of Matt every time I hear more about it.

Aimee – The Gallerist (Designer: Vital Lacerda, Publisher: Eagle-Gryphon Games)

Matt’s wife Aimee is also an artist.  Just like her husband, Aimee is insanely talented.  So for her I’ve chosen the beautiful game all about running an art gallery, The Gallerist.  This is a heavy Euro-style game about buying and selling works of art, some of which I like to think were created by our talented friend!

Tara – Prêt-à-Porter (Designer: Ignacy Trzewiczek, Publisher: Portal Games)

One of my best buddies, Tara, was a groomsmaid in my wedding.  I have always considered her one of the best dressed and most fashion-forward people I’ve ever known!  She is always put together and looks great!  Thus, the game I’ve chosen for her is Prêt-à-Porter.  This is a game about the fashion industry and is actually designed my Ignacy Trzewiczek, one of my very favorite game designers.  I think it fits her perfectly!

Joe – 1st & Goal (Designer: Stephen Glenn, Publisher: R&R Games)

Joe is a friend that I met through Tara.  He and Tara are now married and are some of the best parents I know!  On top of this he and Tara are the biggest Notre Dame Football fans that I’ve ever known!  Because of this I’ve chosen 1st& Goal for Joe.  This is a dice-rolling game where you take a football team and face off against another person with your personal dice.  Go Irish?

Dave – Zombicide (Designer: Raphaël Guiton/Jean-Baptiste Lullien/Nicolas Raoult, Publisher: Cool Mini Or Not)

Ah my buddy Dave.  He may be crazy.  He’s definitely ADD!  And he is obsessed with old-school, Italian zombie movies.  Because of this my game choice for him was obvious.  I went with Zombicide of course!  This is a fun, variable, dice-chucking, zombie-killing game that is just a fun time.  All of that is basically Dave in a nutshell!

Lainey – The Big Book of Madness (Designer: Maxime Rambourg, Publisher: IELLO)

Lainey is another friend (Dave being the other on this list) that I get the honor of working with on a regular basis.  Lainey is quite possibly the biggest Harry Potter fan I’ve ever known!  Because of this I’ve chosen The Big Book of Madness for Lainey.  This game is basically Harry Potter: The Game.  It follows a group of young magicians who open a book which is a prison for a bunch of monsters and they then need to get them back into the book!  See?  Harry Potter: The Game!

Luke – Star Wars: Imperial Assault (Designer: Justin Kemppainen/Corey Konieczka/Jonathan Ying, Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games)

Luke is one of my oldest and best buddies.  He is also one of the biggest Star Wars fans out there.  He has lovingly taught his family the adoration of the Star Wars universe.  Thus, his game choice was obvious.  I went with the fantastic “dungeon” crawl, Star Wars: Imperial Assault.  This fits Luke’s obsession perfectly!

Becks – Letter Tycoon (Designer: Brad Brooks, Publisher: Breaking Games)

I met Becks through my wife, Em.  She is a book reviewer and thus reads around 200+ books a year.  Thus, words are her business and she loves them!  Because of this I chose the game Letter Tycoon for her.  It is a game where you actually buy “shares” in letters and thus get money when others use them.  This seemed to fit her wonderfully!

Chris – Flock (Designer: David J. Mortimer, Publisher: Alderac Entertainment Group)

I also met Chris through Em.  He and Becks are married and live in England.  He is a biologist who is also a hobby bird-watcher.  Because of this hobby I went with the game Flock for Chris.  This is a game where you control a flock of birds and their habits.  Makes sense right?

Ruthie – Patchwork (Designer: Uwe Rosenberg, Publisher: Mayfair Games/Lookout Games)

Ruthie is a good friend of Em.  I met her through my wife.  Ruthie is a very cool chica who likes to sew and knit and is very good at it.  Because of this I went with one of our favorite games, Patchwork.  In this game you are creating a quilt with some great mechanics.  Does it seem to fit with my friend Ruthie?  I think so!

Josh – Deck Building: The Deck Building Game (Designer: Christopher Badell, Publisher: Dice Hate Me/Greater Than Games)

My buddy Josh is Ruthie’s husband.  I met both of them through Em.  They are fantastic peeps!  Josh is a very talented guitarist and long-time gamer and in his free time does some incredible wood-working.  I actually really hope to have him do a game table for us one day!  Because of this hobby I chose the slightly ridiculous game, Deck Building: The Deck Building Game.  In this game you build a deck.  I’m pretty sure Josh would rock this as much as he would rock building an actual deck!

Well, there you go, my slightly different way of doing a holiday shopping guide.  Again, please don’t take this list too seriously (although some of these are great) as I was just doing it for fun.  So what games do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?  Just let me know in the comments.  Also, post in those comments if you have any questions for me.  Until next time, game on!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Obligatory “What I Played In…” Post Part V: November 2015

Hey ya’all!  I’m back with my “What I Played In…” series and this post will tackle the games that I (and others of course!) played in November of 2015.  This was an interesting month as we have a few new game plays and also got some of our new favorites to the table a bunch.  Spoiler alert, the new games that we got/played we really liked!  For those who don’t know, I am very careful about our game purchases.  I will research every game a ton before I pull the trigger on it so it is very rare that we actually buy a game we don’t like.  If you’re curious about what we played in previous months just check out the links below.

With all that out of the way, let’s take a look at the stats from our plays in November and the specific games.  Enjoy!

Total plays in November 201550
Total unique games played in November 2015 18
New games played in November 20154
New games acquired in November 20154
Most plays of a single game10

Designer – Uwe Rosenberg
Publisher – Mayfair Games/Lookout Games
Last play before November 2015 – 10/28/15
Total plays in November 2015 - 10

Wow, this game is getting a ton of play in our house!  We’ve had it for two months now and have already logged 19 plays of it!  This easily has the potential of hitting my top 10 when I redo it in January.  This game has very few rules but just has a ton of great decisions that can be made during the play.  Also, as a bonus, I actually filled in my entire quilt once!  It was epic!

7 Wonders: Duel
Designer – Antoine Bauza/Bruno Cathala
Publisher – Repos Production/Asmodee
New to me
First play – 11/14/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 6

This was a new pick up in November and was one of my top interests from Essen Spiel.  This was pretty much an insta-buy as we already love 7 Wonders.  This game takes that ideas of that game and turns it into a super tight and super fun, two-player experience.  I love how this game takes hand drafting and turns it into pool drafting and then makes sciences and military insta-wins.  My wife still isn’t sure about the instant win conditions but she is still enjoying the game nonetheless.  Just so you know, I love the military and science options, it really makes the decisions that much more difficult throughout the game.

Designer – Vlaada Chvátil
Publisher – Czech Games Edition
Last play before November 2015 – 9/27/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 6

Ah Codenames, how popular you are amongst gamers!  Seriously though, this game is an absolutely great deduction-style game that is one of the best games to break out with people who don’t really game.  This is a password-style game where there is a spymaster who gives clues to his/her team.  The goal is to “find” all of your spies first by giving out a one-word clue and a number.  This is a wonderful game and deserves all of the hype that it has lavished upon it!

Bottom of the 9th
Designer – Darrell Louder/Mike Mullins
Publisher – Dice Hate Me/Greater Than Games
New to me
First play – 11/18/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 5

This was another of our successful Kickstarter acquisitions.  I saw this game funding back in the spring and I had to jump on it.  It was by the fantastic Dice Hate Me publisher and it was quite a cheap game to help fund.  After doing research and seeing Rodney Smith’s Watch It Played runthrough my mind was made up.  We got it in November (only a month after the proposed date) and broke it open right away.  This is an absolutely great two-player game.  It is simple to set up, easy to play, and provides a great amount of fun and tension!  It actually feels as though you are in the bottom of the 9th inning and just need to get that last run.  I highly recommend this game, especially to anyone who loves baseball.

Rhino Hero
Designer – Scott Frisco/Steven Strumpf
Publisher – HABA
Last play before November 2015 – 10/22/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 4

This game has become one that we really like to pull out for a quick filler game.  It is light, fun, and provides quite a bit of laughs.  This is a great one for adults and kids alike and if you have a family I would highly suggest getting this one.  Hey, even if you don’t have kids, get this game anyway as you’ll find everyone enjoying the quick and entertaining gameplay.

Designer – Helmut Ohley
Publisher – Lookout Games/Mayfair Games
Last play before November 2015 – 10/28/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 4

Trambahn continues to be one of Em and my favorite two-player games.  It is a great little card game that apparently plays somewhat similarly to Lost Cities.  We’ve never played Lost Cities but this one has really captured our attention.  It has some great choices and the scoring is interesting and provides a ton of fun.  I’d highly recommend this one to anyone who loves a good, quick, two-player card game with some great art and theme.

Above and Below
Designer – Ryan Laukat
Publisher – Red Raven Games
New to me
First play – 11/20/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 2

Em and I picked this game up with some money from a bunch of stuff that we sold around the house.  I’d been hearing about this game for some time as it was successfully funded on Kickstarter and did quite well during it funding run.  We decided to pick it up as it seemed like some fun mechanics with a little storytelling thrown in.  Along with that, it has some of the best art I’ve seen in a game.  I find Ryan Laukat’s art to be some of the best I’ve ever seen in a game.  He has a very fantastical style that really reminds me of Hayao Miyazaki’s work with Studio Ghibli.  This all adds up to make a wonderful package of a game.  We’ve played it twice now and have had a ton of fun with it!

Tides of Time
Designer – Kristian Čurla
Publisher – Portal Games
Last play before November 2015 – 10/29/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 2

Another month and another couple plays of this game.  My wife and I really enjoy this one for a quick, two-player, card-drafting experience.  I still don’t understand how people think that this game gets stale as it is always different.  Because of the perfect information in this game it really turns it into a completely different experience from most of the other games we have.  It really is all about out-thinking your opponent and that makes this game tons of fun for a such a quick (and cheap!) experience.

Wizards of the Wild
Designer – Adam West/Dan Schnake/Abe Schnake
Publisher – CrossCut Games
New to me
First play – 11/26/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 2

This was the second Kickstarter game that came in the mail in November and it was another hit.  This game is a fun, easy-to-learn dice and card game where you take on the persona of an anthropomorphic animal familiar who is using magic to be crowned the king of the forest.  Adam and crew did a great job on this Kickstarter and they were actually able to get it to backer before the expected December date.  I was proud to help them fund this game as Em and I have been having a ton of fun with it.  It is a beautifully looking game with simple but fun mechanics.  I would definitely recommend this as a good family game!

Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn
Designer – Isaac Vega
Publisher – Plaid Hat Games
Last play before November 2015 – 10/26/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 1

We only got in one play of Ashes in this month but it was super fun as usual!  This is a game that has a definite possibility of cracking my top 10 list.  I love the interaction between the different decks and we haven’t even started deck-building yet!  I’m looking forward to April as that is the expected date of the first expansion for the game.  More characters mean even more replayability and more fun!

Dice Brewing
Designer – Filip Glowacz/Ireneusz Huszcza
Publisher – Board&Dice/StuntKite Publishing
Last play before November 2015 – 9/20/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 1

We took this game to one of our favorite spots and found out that it is very easy to play this anywhere!  It is a surprisingly portable game and as usual we had a bunch of fun rolling a ton of dice and brewing up some beer.  I think I had about 12 dice in my warehouse at one point and was able to get a couple of really big turns to barely edge out my wife.

Ghost Stories
Designer – Antoine Bauza
Publisher – Repos Production/Asmodee
Last play before November 2015 – 10/31/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 1

We have had quite a few plays of this lately and having a ton of fun with it.  We are finding it to be a great co-operative game especially to pull out with newer players as it is very easy to teach and fun to play.  Big surprise right?  A great Bauza game!

Imperial Settlers
Designer – Ignacy Trzewiczek
Publisher – Portal Games
Last play before November 2015 – 9/3/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 1

Here is another surprise…okay, not really.  If you followed my blog at all you know by now that I’m a huge fan of this game.  It is (as of now) my #2 game of all time!  I love games that have fun card play and beautiful artwork and this game has that is spades.  Any game that has a tableau building mechanic is also of interest to me and this game is one of my favorites for fun combos.  We played this particular round with both the Atlanteans expansion and the Why Can’t We Be Friends expansion.  Always a fun game!

Designer – Samuel Strick
Publisher – Laboratory Games
Last play before November 2015 – 9/23/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 1

Em and I have been getting this game to the table more often lately.  We now have a coffee date every Wednesday and so we bring a bunch of smaller games with us and this is super portable.  This is a small game (and was actually our first Kickstarter game) that we paid a total of $5 for and have gotten more than that out of it.  This is a super small Euro-style game with an interesting worker placement element.  I am enjoying it more because it is super simple to break out and clean up and takes no more than 15-20 minutes to play.

Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot
Designer – Ignacy Trzewiczek
Publisher – Portal Games
Last play before November 2015 – 10/4/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 1

We were able to break out this game and as usual it was a very close and very swingy event.  We completely love this game and just how it works.  I always state that I can understand why some people don’t like it but my question is why did they go after it in the first place?  Ignacy was quite honest in how this game is very luck based but I suppose some people just didn’t listen.  Besides, Em and I have found that while it is heavily luck based, we are able to mitigate that is some ways.  All of our games have been quite close and that marks a good game in my opinion.  If you know what you’re in for this game is a wonderful experience!

Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Designer – Corey Konieczka/Justin Kemppainen/Jonathan Ying
Publisher – Fantasy Flight Games
Last play before November 2015 – 10/22/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 1

We played our very last side mission of the current campaign and I (as the Imperials) was finally able to beat Sean and Em (as the Rebellion) in a side mission!  We’ve found that I’ve been able to win most of the story missions while they will all of the side missions.  This may be a bad sign as we only have two story missions left, the next one and the finale!  Hopefully the Imperial heroes will be able to take out the Rebellion scum!

Designer – Yuri Zhuravlev
Publisher – Mayday Games/Hobby World
Last play before November 2015 – 9/20/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 1

Em and I got in one play of this wonderful pyramid building, hand management, set collection gem out of Russia.  This is a great card game and I’m not sure it will ever get old.  The only real drawback is how much of a table-hog it is, but we can get over that with the great gameplay and beautiful art!

Welcome to the Dungeon
Designer – Masato Uesugi
Publisher – IELLO
Last play before November 2015 – 10/18/15
Total plays in November 2015 – 1

We got in one play of this simple but fun press-your-luck game.  This one is simple to play and easy to teach and has some of the great artwork that I’ve come to love from IELLO.  This would be a great game to just have for a quick filler and simple family weight game.

And that was our November.  All in all I’d say that it was a great month of gaming.  The few new games that we’ve picked up or received from Kickstarter purchases have been great and I can’t wait to get some of the games that I know are coming this next month.  I know we have a ton of games coming that are pre-ordered and also coming for Christmas presents.  It is going to be a crazy month of game acquisitions but I’m not sure how much actually play will get done as it will be a busy month.  I’ll leave you off with our November acquisitions.  Let me know what I’ve missed and should pick up!

New acquisitions in November 2015:
7 Wonders: Duel
Above and Below
Bottom of the 9th
Wizards of the Wild

And there you have it.  As always, thanks so much for reading and feel free to leave any questions or comments in bottom and feel free to message and/or friend me on BoardGameGeek.  You can find me under the name LateToTheTable.  Until next time, game on!