Life After Collecting

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I won’t be getting rid of Duel of Ages II anytime soon.

For years now I’ve tried to keep my game collection lean and mean. That meant I worked to move out games I only kind of liked, so that I could maybe flip them for games I would like even more. In lean financial times, such games served as a sort of currency. But beyond the desire for something new, under-played games gnaw at the corners of my mind, and I wanted to make sure I had a collection that was as close to sheer awesomeness as I could get it. But the name of the game has changed dramatically for me in recent months. After a year of pastoral ministry my family has accepted a missionary assignment to Asia, and we’ll be moving to the Philippines in the early part of Spring 2018.  Continue reading

Reassessing Puerto Rico

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There was a time when Puerto Rico was the undisputed king of hobby board gaming. Roughly ten years ago, there was no design so well-loved and analyzed by board gamers. One of those fans was myself. Puerto Rico was among the first hobby games I purchased, and I played it many times with my friends. We learned about the strategies and grappled with the circuitous mechanics that make the game so interesting. But something happened after a couple of years: I discovered my love for more high-luck, high-narrative games. The chess-like structure of Andreas Seyfarth’s classic design didn’t hold as much interest for me, and I traded it away without looking back. Continue reading

Serious Partying

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I wouldn’t call Codenames the best game I’ve played in the past couple years, but it’s probably one of my most-played. This is partially due to its length, short enough that almost no one plays just one game, and its flexibility with player numbers. It handles ten people as well as it handles four. I’ve even gone higher than that, and it’s been fine (your results my be different). But probably the biggest factor has been that it can be pulled out with just about any group at all, regardless of experience level. These days I bring it to just about any gathering where games might be played. If people have played it before, they’ll probably play it again. If no one has heard of it, it almost always ends up with someone asking me where they can buy a copy. It’s cheap too, so people don’t balk at the price like they do with most hobby games. Continue reading

An Emergency Buyer’s Guide to Talisman

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Now that Talisman is going out of print due to Fantasy Flight’s loss of the Games Workshop license, players are already snatching up copies of the fourteen expansions. This makes the choice to put together a buyer’s guide a somewhat strange one, since FFG won’t be offering these titles at all after February 2017.  Continue reading

I’m tired of campaign games.

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I feel like I’m the last board gamer who has not yet finished Pandemic Legacy. I was among the first to get the game when I reviewed it for Miniature Market, but here we are nearly a year later and our group is still roughly 2-3 games from finishing up. (For those wondering we are on our second game in November.) I do like the game a lot, especially the whole legacy mechanic, which feels cutting edge and different from anything else in how it shapes the game itself. That’s pretty cool stuff.  Continue reading

So Sick Of Words

I must type more opinions!

When I was just beginning to write about board games on a regular basis, I had a conversation with a friend of mine about a particular piece I had written. I expressed my desire to become at least something of a notable personality in the hobby, and he told me that if that was something I wanted I would do well to create a video series that explained complex games. I have never had a ton of use for video board game content, so I explained that I only really had the time and inclination to stick to the written word. That was what brought me into the hobby, and that was where I wanted to contribute. Continue reading

Moving On

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Even at my best I don’t like change very much. Be that as it may, I’ve got a big one around the corner. I’m preparing to move from Kansas City to Dallas, my first out-of-state move in eight years. A lot can happen in eight years. In that time I’ve met my wife and had two kids. I’ve transitioned from a graduate student to an office worker and dad, and now back to a grad student again. And not least of all, I discovered board gaming and got lucky to make an extensive group of friends who enjoy it along with me. Continue reading

Board Gaming’s Vanishing History

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A couple of years ago I wrote an article talking about the lack of historical context within the board gaming hobby, especially when compared to other mediums. There is a pervasive ambivalence about old games in the hobby today, which is increasingly focused on the newest Kickstarter campaign and the churn of the right-now. At the time I thought that there was hope for those of us who really enjoy older games, because I believed we were living in the age of reprints. Back  then old classics like Wiz-War, Merchant of Venus, and Survive! were getting top shelf reprints from major publishers. But now that a couple of years have passed, I fear we are more disconnected with our roots than ever before. This time however, it’s not because of the ambivalence  that I complained about. It’s because the games that brought many of us into the hobby are quickly vanishing, to be replaced by games with vast expansion lines and fancy miniatures. Continue reading

Flip-Flopping

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Daring adventure! With math!

I owe Lost Cities an apology. Lost Cities is the classic two-player card game by Reiner Knizia, a perennial favorite of gamers for more than a decade now. Not me though. In fact I would say I just about hated it. Oh, I had plenty of reasons why, but the biggest one was that I just couldn’t see how the game was anything besides a complete crapshoot. You play cards that represent going on an expedition, with the idea that you need to reach a certain level on that expedition before you actually can score any points. I like risk assessment a lot, but I just didn’t see how Lost Cities allowed me to assess anything. To me it looked like you played stuff and hoped you got the right cards. Sometimes I did, sometimes I didn’t, and every time I felt like I was wasting my time. Continue reading

Restoring Balance

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Careful, buddy!

One of my favorite things about board gaming is the math trade. For those who’ve never had the pleasure of participating in one, it’s essentially an enormous board game lottery without nearly as much risk. You list games that you have to trade to other people, and everyone adds theirs to the same list. Then you each put together a list of games from the big list that you would accept for your games, and a computer program puts together trade loops so that people end up with new games for their old ones. If that sounds a little arcane (I didn’t explain it very well), don’t worry. The point is that there’s a real sense of anticipation, almost like a mini version of Christmas. You don’t know what games you’ll get for yours, but you know it’s something you’re excited about. Continue reading