This last Friday saw an unusual occurrence: I had no games to review, and I was able to easily get six people together. I suppose I could have used it to play Dune or Cosmic Encounter, neither of which would have been a waste, but instead I used it for a kitchen-sink game of Talisman. This was partially because I haven’t played in a good long time, and also because it’s such an easy game to teach. Even with all the expansion stuff thrown in, it’s the sort of game you can start and just teach as you go. Continue reading

A Once and Future Rumble – Duel of Ages II Review

Duel of Ages

It’s an all-timer.

The first iteration of Duel of Ages came out ten years ago, but it’s follow-up feels like something much older. I don’t mean that in a dismissive way at all, but rather that the game eschews a lot of design trends and so-called advances from the last 15 years or so in favor of something elemental and pure. It’s a little like playing an old-school video game that bypasses all influences in the 3D age and instead steals from every game of the SNES era. I suppose Duel of Ages II will confound a lot of contemporary gamers, but it would be their loss. It’s one of the best games of the year, and it has the feel of something that will stay with me my whole life. Continue reading

The Stairs, the Baby, and the Wardrobe


Our house is not nearly this magical.

For some reason unknown, our duplex is a quintuple split-level. That is, there are five levels staggered from the basement to The Big One’s room, or as I call it the Crow’s Nest. This means there are stairs, stairs everywhere. It wasn’t a huge problem when we moved in, because we only had one kid at the time and he could climb stairs pretty well. But when we had the second one I was worried we would be impeded by baby gates all over the place. Continue reading

Faidutti’s Triple Play

Bruno Faidutti

He’ll probably read this and ask me to change the picture. I’d just be flattered to hear from him.

One of my strongest influences in board gaming came from noted French designer Bruno Faidutti. Aside from his many designs over the past 15 years, at one point he maintained one of best board gaming sites on the internet, his Ideal Game Library. This was a valuable resource to me as a new gamer, because it showed me two very important things: that gaming had a rich and eclectic history, and that I did not need to like every popular game. Of course, Bruno is best known for his games, which are numerous and varied. I’ve gone all over the places on his games. Mission Red Planet is an underrated game that synthesizes bluff and area control to great effect. A couple, like Red November and Mystery of the Abbey, are compelling misses for me. At least one or two others, like Letters of Marque, didn’t work for me at all. But his contribution to gaming can be best summed up in what I call his Triple Play, a run of three little games he released between 2000 and 2001. These games, Dragon’s Gold, Castle, and Citadels, are three designs that continually impress me with their simplicity and their terrific interaction. They’re all pretty different from each other mechanically, and my mental grouping of them is mostly arbitrary. But they have always felt of a piece to me, and I think they’re exactly what light games should be. Continue reading

Arcade Fire – Reflektor


I loved Arcade Fire’s 2010 album The Suburbs, but even I was shocked that it ended up winning Album of the Year at the Grammys. Surprised yes, but also delighted. As far as I’m concerned, The Suburbs was the Montreal band’s third straight masterpiece. The recognition from the Grammys merely felt like recognition of the fact that Arcade Fire is among the most definitive rock bands of the 21st Century, if not at the top of the stack. So no pressure or anything on the fourth album. Continue reading

For its own sake

If you’ve followed my blog for a few years, you may have noticed that I began updating at a furious rate this past spring. Whereas I was previously lucky to get in two entries a week, now I’m usually doing three or four. At the time, I didn’t have a specific goal in mind, I just felt like getting back into blogging. I enjoyed it so much while I was in college, and it felt good to shake that rust off. Continue reading

Another Thing to Chase

stack of games

Image by user Fran_Kubelik on BGG

It was just over nine years ago that my friend introduced me to The Settlers of Catan. As much as any game I’ve played, it was love at first sight, a revelation, an experience like nothing I had before. Strategy, interaction, and wonderful times with my friends all in a one-hour game. I bought a copy, played it to death, and got most of my friends hooked. I assumed that was the end of it, and I never bothered to look further into the hobby. Continue reading