Boardgaming for Everyone!

Where To Start February 7, 2011

Filed under: Weekly Entry — hoamer @ 7:01 PM
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     So, you’d like to play a few new games, but where do you start?  First, of course, you have to find some games.  Easy!  Then, you have to find some players.  THAT may be harder than it seems.  Don’t fret – I’ll give you a leg up.

     Casually mention “Settlers of Catan” at your next social gathering. Chances are you’ll get some blank stares (like that one you just gave me). On the other hand, you might see someone perk up, or a big grin, or most likely, you’ll hear, “I LOVE that game!” Now you’ve found your potential gamer.  Ask friends and family – if you make an evening of it, with games, food, and general social concord, you’re likely to get a few of the people that may be on the fence about playing games.  Even if you only find one person, it’s enough to get some very good games going.
     Another way to find other gamers is to check places like your local library or community center. Find out from them if they ever hold board game nights and check any message boards at such locations to see if anyone is looking to play once in a while. If they don’t, or there isn’t, post something yourself and see if you can organize such an event at that location.
     Search the internet for board game clubs in your area. If you are in a college town, or near a bigger city, you are probably more likely to find one, but they pop up everywhere. My husband started out meeting with a very small group of mostly graduate students in Columbia, Missouri, who had posted a notification about their meetings in the University of Missouri community. When we moved, the internet was much more of a fertile hunting ground, and we easily found CABS in Columbus.  When we joined, this was a modest club of, at most, 50 members.  Ten years later, it has grown to at least 300.  People of all sorts come to enjoy the fun.  Game Clubs of Maryland has a mighty fine link to clubs around the states here.  Check it out to see if you can find one near you!

     Before I go on to finding games to play, I want to give tell you about a web site that links finding people and finding games.  Board Game Geek This online resource can help you find games of interest to you, find people in your area looking for players, and give you great reviews and tutorials.  Often times, you can find extra materials and updates for games, and the site is extraordinary for rules clarifications.  There are also links to reputable online stores to supply your gaming needs.   One of the nicest features is the advanced search, where you can fill in as much or as little information and get results back.  This is useful for finding a game to play when you know how many you’ll have and what your skill level is.  [One caveat – the search in Board Game Geek is very sensitive to spelling.  If you are not sure how to spell the name of a game, just type in the beginning few letters of one word from the title, and find it in the list of results.]

     I promised that I’d give you a few ideas for different games that can easily be found in your big box stores.  These games are different, fun, and easy to get your hands on.   One of the easiest to find will be Wits & Wagers.  This fun party-type game can accommodate a lot of players, and I have seen it at Target.  While you’re there, see if you can find Blokus, or its younger sibling, Blokus Duo (sometimes called Travel Blokus, and made for 2 players only), both of which are spatial relationship games.  The 3D version of Blokus is also worthwhile to seek out, but I haven’t seen it in the box stores in some time. 

     Once in a while Wal-Mart will carry these games, but it isn’t often.  If I notice them in the store, I’ll alert you, dear readers. It is worth noting, however, that one can have several games from Wal-Mart’s online store shipped to a store near you for free.  Since most online game stores won’t ship for free unless your order totals $100, this is a nice way to keep your cost down if you just want to buy one or two games.  In a quick search today I found that one could order Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, and Lost Cities, all of which are great games for starting your collection.

    This should get you started on your way to enjoying game night on a regular basis.  If you have a game suggestion, know of a club, or have tips for getting people together, comment below and I’ll get it in the post!

Happy gaming!


Games, Games, and More Games Reprisal February 4, 2011

Filed under: What We're Playing — hoamer @ 6:27 PM

     Finally!  A week has gone by, and I have a little time to sit down and tell you about our gaming weekend.  If you’ll remember, Friday night was a large group of adults and kids.  The evening was a fun time of fellowship and games for kids and grownups alike.  We ended up breaking into men’s and women’s tables to start out the evening.  The guys sat down to a two hour game of Power Grid, while the women played through two rounds of Incan Gold (interspersed with plenty of chatting).  Notably, one player in Incan Gold had a whopping 31 points worth of treasure that she lost to a hazard (don’t get too greedy!)  We lost a few couples after Power Grid ended, so we were able to combine into one table of 6 for two fun games of Seven Wonders.

     Saturday night was a smaller group (of both kids and adults).  We had a tasty dinner together, chatted for a bit, then got down to gaming.  We stuck to one table and eight player games, which can be hard to come by, but are lots of fun.  By request, we started with Robo Rally, a game whose rules seems complex, but which plays pretty easily.  There was lots of twirling, whirling, lasering, and starting over as everyone got the hang of moving their robots through a factory to gain flags for a win.

    Incan Gold made another appearance Saturday – it really is a great game to get new gamers going, and it’s a nice, light game to start an evening.  It’s fun to see which players press their luck at all costs, and who plays more conservatively.

     We wrapped up Saturday night with another good large-group game, Wits and Wagers.  This is a trivia game, but nothing like your usual trivia.  Winning the game depends upon betting the odds of a correct answer.  It’s a bit like Trivial Pursuit meets Balderdash, with betting thrown in.  All players write a numerical answer to a question (i.e. “In what year was the Eiffel Tower built), all answers are sorted from least to greatest, and players bet on the correct answer.  Depending on the location of the answer on the play board, correct bets get varying payouts.  This is a fantastic game for a group, and can be found at Target stores (and possibly Wal-Mart, alth0ugh I have not been able to verify that one).

    Thanks to all the couples and kids who got together to enjoy some games, and to the wonderful families who opened up their houses to the crowds!  It’s always a blast!


Games, Games, and More Games January 28, 2011

Filed under: What We're Playing — hoamer @ 2:24 PM

     We started our gaming weekend early by getting in a game of Vikings with our neighbors last night.  The components in Vikings are a lot of fun – how can anyone not like little wooden viking pieces!  We opted to add in the advanced components, and were all soundly walloped by Nate, who wasn’t afraid to lay down some cash early, and really got his rhythm down in this game (very important in Vikings).

     But that’s just the beginning of a busy gaming weekend!

     This evening, we will be gaming with a group of 12 adults (and 20 kids!  Wow!), some of whom are old pros, and some who are new to Euro-style games.  It’s always fun to introduce new games to new faces, but it can be a bit of a challenge with a group this large.  We want to try to keep as many people together tonight, so the plan is to split into two groups of six.  That is a challenge, too, since many Euro games cap out at 5 players (and more often, 4 players). 

     Here are our thoughts on what’s going into the game tub for tonight: Seven Wonders (plays up to 7), Around the World in 80 Days (although this one is sometimes a little harder for the newbie to grasp), Cable Car, Grenada, Incan Gold (fast and easy to pick up), Trans America, Winner’s Circle, Power Grid, Antike, and Chicago Express.  These represent a pretty good selection of mostly easier games that can accommodate 6 players at the table.

     We continue the gaming weekend Saturday night with another group of mostly new players, but this time will only have 8 adults (and 12 kids).  We’ll still have to split into two tables, but will have more options, since we’ll be able to pull out games for 4.  We had a request for Saturday evening, Robo Rally.  It’s a fun game, and basically pretty easy as far as mechanics, but the rules can be a little daunting to read and grasp. 

     I know I promised a blurb on how to start out in some of these games, and it is coming – really!  It’s in the works, as I continue to figure out how to make the most of the tools for the blog.  I want to really get more pictures in my posts, and that will take time for me to figure out!  Be patient and you will be rewarded.

     I’ll post pictures from our game nights as soon as the weekend winds down, so you can take a look at what we played!


And So Can You! (or why you should ditch the tv and play a game) January 13, 2011

Filed under: Weekly Entry — hoamer @ 6:01 PM
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When we moved to a new house 10 years ago, my husband and I decided that it was time to ditch the tv.  We were tired of paying for cable and getting programming we rarely watched.  There were so many more entertaining and engaging things to do with our time (and many of them gave us more bang for our entertainment buck!).  Our favorite then (and now) was to sit down and play a board game.

Now, I know you’re thinking of Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Apples to Apples – the list goes on. There’s nothing wrong with those games, and everyone has cut their teeth on them.  BUT, maybe you’ve played all of those and are just plain bored.  That, my friends, is why I’m here!  I’ll provide you with game related information each week that will get you out of the plain-Jane game rut and back in the game with some things you may never heard of.  Once you’re hooked, game night might just become a weekly occurrence in your house.

My next post will be a little overview of how to get started in some new and exciting games, including some of the more unusual games found in the big box stores, where to find other people interested in gaming, and how to find games that suit  your interests and abilities.

Memoir 44 in progress

A beach landing in Memoir 44