Previous Entry Share Next Entry
I'm a Winner!
Football
mudcub

The objects above are "meeples", which is short for "my people". They are the generic icon for Board Game Playing Piece... you know, the little object that you move around the board. Monopoly has a shoe or a racing car, but a German game called Carcassonne uses these meeples.

I spent Labor Day weekend near Los Alamos, NM, playing boardgames with some nuclear physicists I know. It's a 96 hour orgy of gaming geekiness. We rent a youth hostel out in the middle of the desert that can sleep up to 50 people. Entire families come - parents, kids, pets - with the only requirement that everyone pitches in on chores and has fun.

If you haven't played a boardgame in years, now would be a good time to check them out again. In the last 10 years, there has been a renassaince of wonderful, beautiful, and expensive games imported from overseas. In Germany, boardgames are so popular that the newspapers run reviews of new games next to the movie and CD reviews. Luckily, there is an active following of fans here in the US who translate the game rules into English.

Check out these websites for a good introduction:

http://www.funagain.com
http://www.boardgamegeek.com
http://www.boardgamecentral.com/
http://www.boardgameratings.com/

Here are some of my favorite games:

1. Apples to Apples
http://www.funagain.com/control/product/~product_id=019285

The best party game around. Forget Pictionary. This game will have a roomfull of people laughing out loud and yelling at each other within minutes. The idea of the game is that the dealer draws a card with an adjective on it (like "fuzzy"). The rest of the players have a handful of cards with random nouns ("Brigitte Nielsen", "The Eiffel Tower", "Star Wars") and you have to find the card that is the most "fuzzy". Then the dealer chooses a winner, and the next person is the dealer. The fun part is knowing the dealer. If you know he's a bear, maybe "bath soap" would be the best possible choice. Hilarity will ensue.

2. Carcassonne
http://www.funagain.com/control/product/~product_id=011110

The meeple game I mentioned above. The best thing about this game is that it's easy enough for a 6 year old to learn, but tricky enough that my friends and I haven't mastered it in hours of gameplay. The idea of to place little tiles in order to create a little village with cities and monasteries. Or, you can place your meeples to claim fields or roads as your own. The winner is the person who is standing in the largest field, or who owns the largest castle. However, even though you are competing against other people, you can have a lot of fun placing tiles and meeples. So, even if you lose, you feel like a winner.

3. The Settlers of Catan
http://www.funagain.com/control/product/~product_id=018157

Both the Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne (above) are also now XBox Live games, so you can play them on the internet as well. Like Carcassonne, this game involves placing tiles and then claiming stuff as your own. The game "mechanics" are elegant. After the first few turns and you get the hang of the rules, you start to expand and you hit other people's territory. Then, you have to decide how to spend limited resources, and make some very difficult decisions. That sort of tension makes for a great game. But also like Carcassonne, you feel like you've acheived something even if you get your butt kicked horribly like I usually do.

4. Blokus
http://www.funagain.com/control/product/~product_id=014089

I got to play this once twice over the weekend, and every time it is an absolutely joy. It falls into the "abstract strategy" genre, meaning that you are trying to put pieces on a board, but they don't represent anything in particular. They are just red/yellow/green/blue colored tetris shapes. Every piece you place has to be catty-corner from all your other pieces, so you can imagine that soon you hit other player's pieces and run out of room. An absolutely beautiful game that can be played in 10 minutes or less.

5. Ticket To Ride
http://www.funagain.com/control/product/~product_id=015084

Some people love train games. And I mean they *love* train games. All the games have a similar theme... you buy sections of rails, and try to send your little locomotives back and forth between cities to make money. This game keeps the main idea while simplifying the rules. It feels wonderful to complete a section of track before your friends... kind of like being a little robber baron.

6. Lord of the Rings
http://www.funagain.com/control/product/~product_id=011254

There has been a new little genre of bopardgames: cooperative gaming. The idea is that there are five or six players at a time, but we are all on the same side. Instead of fighting against each other, we team up to try and defeat the game itself. It makes for a nice change from head-to-head combat, and it's a great way to let small children play, since you get to help them make decisions. This is one of my favorite coop games, although there are some new ones that are also great: Shadows Over Camelot, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Pandemic, and Arkham Horror. However, a guy named Reiner Knizia designed this game, as well as about a dozen other amazing games (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reiner_Knizia) and that makes the guy a rock star in my eyes.

7. Puerto Rico
http://www.funagain.com/control/product/~product_id=012491

There is a common game mechanism in many board games - the idea of "action points". You have a selection of things you could do in a turn (make money, buy a building, move a piece, etc.) but you only have a limited number of action points to spend. This is fun because each turn you get to do several things, but not as many as you want. YOu have to make tough choices... do buy a building this turn while depleting all your reserves? Or do you save up your money... knowing that the building may be gone by the time your next turn arrives? This game is published by Rio Grande Games (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rio_Grande_Games), which is a great import house that takes foreign language games, localizes them, and sells beautiful copies in English. Everything they publish is just great, and highly recommended.

8. Talisman
http://www.funagain.com/control/product/~product_id=016827

One of my favorites. It feels like a boardgame version of Dungeons & Dragons. You wander around a track trying to kill monsters and "powering up" enough to beat the Big Boss at the end. There is a new game called "Prophecy" that feels similar. But I'll always love this one. It's a long game, and some people hate it, but I'll always have a soft spot in my heart!

Oh man, I'm out of room and I didn't have time to mention all the other great games out there: Set, Once Upon a Time, Power Grid, Pitch Car, RoboRally, Richocet Robots, and many many others. You'll have to come over to my house and discover them for yourself. Next to sex, playing boardgames is one of the best things you can do on a Friday night that won't cost any money. Bring beer and a good attitude, and we'll get along fine!


  • 1
I think Blokus is the only one I haven't played. (and, in your extra list, PitchCar and Richocet Robots.)

I agree with much of your comments... though, Talisman has a problem that characters that are highly physical (like the troll) have a HUGE advantage over one that are less so or mostly mental (like the sorcerer). And I hate Carcassonne, probably because I feel much more "out of my element" compared to my friends, who have all played it much more.

I thought of you this weekend when I tried some of the really arcane mathematical games. Check out Richochet Robots... it's a great spatial puzzle game. Hare & Tortoise is one of my favorite math games, because it has the "Can't Stop" challenge that I love. Factory Fun is like an insane version of that "Pipe Dreams" videogame. And Mystery of the Abbey? That one just makes my head hurt, and I refuse to play it ever again!

LOVE Hare and the Tortoise (though I wish they had kept the German game board, hare and the hedgehog... it's a prettier and less kiddie board). But, Can't Stop?? I don't know what you mean.

I want to play Ricochet Robots, just haven't yet.

I don't think I've heard of FF or MotA -- or the videogame you mention.

Can't Stop was a boardgame from the eighties where you were tempted to push your luck with one more dice roll. I love games like that. If you gamble and fail, you lose all your points from the entire turn.

I think Hare & Tortoise is like that, with the incentive to go faster offset by the inevitable crash. Other games like it are Mississippi Queen, Liar's Dice (Perudo), and Cheeky Monkey. Playing games sure can tell you a lot about a friend...

Have you eatan ALL your lettuce?

Hare and Tortoise (the German version) is awesome -- or as my gaming group calls it, "The Bunny Game". (That's what we say to convince newbies that it's like really easy to play -- heh, heh, heh!)

What about MoTA makes your head hurt? -- I wasn't exactly a fan, but I enjoyed.

Ricochet Robot is best played as geek drinking game.

this is another reason why we like you so much .. your an all around great guy..

did we ever tell you the todd is a board game FREAK... he loves board games..

keep that in mind while im in the sleepsack :)

I just came in to recommend Apples To Apples, but I see you're already familiar with it. Great game!

with Cassie and Ben a few times

I have a gaming geek ex who's a physicist (now biologist) at Los Alamos. He's how I got into kink. I wonder if you played board games with him.

Probably! Their little club is called the "SouthWest Gamers".


(raises hand) I was am a board game geek, too. One of my greatest treasures as a kid was finding a big piece of cardboard, on which I'd design, draw, and devise my own board games.

And I'm old enough to have grown up when there were only seven or so TV stations, no cable, no VHS, and all the networks ran only repeats during the summer (and, of course, there was no school homework). So for three months my family brought out the board games, cards, and jigsaw puzzles. We enjoyed it so much that whenever our family gets together these days we spend most of it playing games and cards.

I can't remember its name, but my very favorite board game from my childhood was kind of an anti-board game, but still very much a board game. It had a hunter-safari theme, and was made up of the usual game pieces and dice, but the "spaces" of the game were a large deck of die-cut cards, which you would shuffle and place around the floor -- around corners, under a table, up on the couch and back down again -- the entire room became your board game! Most of the spaces were animal footprints (see, you were a hunter tracking wild animals), others were animal traps (the classic hinged jaw with sharp teeth!) or pools of quicksand (hmmm...) where you would lose a turn or have to go back so many spaces, plus other rewards and obstacles. I loved the "always new" custom layouts I could have with each game, and I felt like Calvin crawling around on the carpet and adventuring with that game.


i miss 70s and 80s board games... and my mom and dad had a BetaMax..

i miss when there was just ONE Monopoly, when Trivial Pursuit had just ONE version ...when there were no Shortcuts and games took HOURS to play...Yatzee isn’t really a board game .. but we played that allot

and i wonder if the game the you are talking about is the original Jumanji

of course i miss the 80's Video games too.. pitfall, tempest, Pac Man ...

god you'd think i even miss the 80's.. and that’s just wrong ..cause i don’t .. it was a horrible decade for me ...

(Deleted comment)
Damn that sounds like fun, the kind of fun I havent had in a long time. Check out RoboRally thats a fun one.
Some friends of Wolf's and Mine come over every couple of months and bring a game of some kind that we play over dinner.
Gods I miss that.
Glad you had such a great time.

Being a old gamer geek from WAY back in the day..I'm glad to see that they are making a comeback...I'm up for a local game night at your house..I'll even leave the toy bag in the car...*wink*

No Sir, the toy bag needs to be used on whoever loses the game. That sure gives each player incentive to win!

Sorry to say something so completely off topic, but those small silhouettes are exactly the same size as one click of my scroll wheel, so it looked like they were dancing on my friends page.

(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
Was this something planned or did you do it spur of the moment? I used to manage a board game store and would love to go to a meeting like this. Carcassone is easily my favorite game. I could play it for hours! You should check out www.brettspielwelt.com. It's an online board game server. They have tons of games there. Minor knowledge of German would help but is not necessary.

Hi! No, they plan the weekend months in advance. It would be fun to do something similar with a cabin full of gay guys. But no kids... the running screaming children last weekend got to me after a while.

Yeah, kids definitely suck. I've been trying to get a board game group together for a while now

You could even combine games and S&M.

Spankassone? The Masters of Cataan?

  • 1
?

Log in

No account? Create an account