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Table-top Games / Boggle
« Last post by Dragon on Today at 23:27:39 »
Tonight, Beth chose Boggle for our half-hour of family fun. Each person has been taking turns choosing something, so it’s not always a favorite for everyone. Personally, Boggle isn’t high on my list of games that I’d choose. Honestly, if it weren’t for my wife wanting to play it, I probably never would, but she really likes this one and she doesn’t mind playing it just one-round at a time. Sometimes we’ll play to a certain score, like 25, and sometimes we’ll play for a certain amount of time, which we did tonight.

In each round, we only have 3 minutes to find all the words that we can in a grid of lettered dice, but it’s the reconciling of lists that takes time. The main thing that takes a while is that we just try out so many random things that sound like they might be words. Sometimes, especially when our youngest daughter, Grace, is playing, we end up with some really wild stuff.

We use www.scrabblewordfinder.o rg as our official judge for valid words, because the form on that site is easiest to work with for quickly comparing words spelled slightly different than the next. Also, unlike the Official Scrabble Dictionary site, this one actually shows you which word you entered, so if you accidentally misspelled it in the website you can double-check after if confirms whether it is valid.

Anyway, this long checking process of going through 20+ made-up words on each players list makes this “3-minute word game” last half an hour just playing a few rounds. We all joked that if words from Dr. Seuss books counted, we’d get more points. Amazingly, we do end up with some of our words being valid, and we often want to know what they meant. A common joke for us also is that some word we’ve made-up is Scottish, since lots of our weird spellings that are valid have that origin.

Well, after just 2-rounds tonight, we had exceeded our time limit and needed to get our kids to bed. Isaac won the game with 18-points. One of the best use of letters that surprised us as valid was AQUAE, since QU are on the same die-facing, which is the plural form of aqua. Unfortunately, Beth had written that one down but was not able to actually connect the letters in the dice tray.
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Table-top Games / Re: Board Game Calendar Weekly Challenges
« Last post by Dragon on January 24, 2022, 00:03:28 »
We completed the previous week's challenge:

Play a game whose game board would be fantastic as wall art. [✓]We played Sagrada.

This week:

Play a game in the Top Ten on BoardGameGeek. (https://boardgamegeek.com/browse/boardgame)
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Table-top Games / Sagrada
« Last post by Dragon on January 23, 2022, 23:58:32 »
We played Sagrada today. This is a dice-drafting game, which I got a few years ago as a birthday gift from my friend, Brian. It's an interesting game to me, and unique in style for my game collection. It has been a while since we got this game out, but I hope to see it hit the table more this year.

In drafting games, each player is choosing from a set of something, usually cards, trying to pick the best thing for their own needs while attempting to thwart the plans of their opponents. In Sagrada, dice are the components to choose from, and these dice need to be placed on a player's personal board in order to make a stained-glass window that matches the requirements. Players are mostly restricted in what they place by the other dice that they have already placed, but there are also sections on each board that have additional restrictions, such as allowing only dice of a particular color or value. Each round, dice are randomly selected from a bag and rolled, giving players the colors and values that they must figure out how to place. In the end, after 10 rounds, players get points by meeting other requirements in the forms of personal and public goals.

Today, Beth started the game, with Isaac going second, and I followed. The first few rounds of the game were spent getting familiar with the game again, so I don't think any of us had any good plans to start with. One of the Tool cards that we had available was allowing us to move two dice of the same color, as long as that color was displayed as a round marker, but for the first half of the game we only had green and purple, while I had some blue and red dice that I needed to move due to an early mistake. Unfortunately, I hadn't properly considered how many Favor Tokens that I had in order to use the Tool, so I was only able to make part of my necessary adjustment before I had used up my Favors. Isaac also effectively used a Tool that allowed him to take 2 dice at the same time, which really hurt me because I needed at least 1 of the 2 dice that he had grabbed. Isaac won the game, with nearly double my score, and Beth was close behind him.   
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Table-top Games / Pit
« Last post by Dragon on January 23, 2022, 11:08:48 »
Last night we enjoyed playing another classic game, Pit. In this game, players are trading commodities at a fast pace, trying to corner the market in a simple Wall Street simulation. There aren't actually any turns in the game, each player just announces out loud how many cards they want to trade, looking for another player that has the same number of cards to trade.

The game was originally published over 100 years ago, and there are multiple versions that have been printed over the years. We have the Deluxe set, which includes a bell to ring for opening and closing the market, which was something that I considered a must-have for this game. I have seen a set of the game that had full color cards, which I think would be helpful in quickly assessing which commodities you're holding, but the set that I have is using only single color for the images, every commodity is drawn in green, so it's a little more difficult to pick through your cards while you're trying to quickly find what you're wanting to trade.

Personally, I prefer the variation of the game where the Bull and the Bear are cards in play and can either help or hinder a player corning the market. The Bear card is similar to the Old Maid in the popular children's card game - you never want to be stuck with it. The Bull card is a bit trickier because it could be good for you, acting as a wild card for any commodity, sometimes even doubling your score, but if you're not the one that corners the market in the round, you take a penalty for that card too.

We usually play to 250 points, which could be accomplished in 3 rounds if the same person managed to corner the market each time. Last night, our entire family played, along with Janai's boyfriend, Sean. Isaac cornered the market in the first round for 80 points. Janai was often stuck with either the Bear or the Bull, sometimes both, to take penalties each round. Eventually, Sean managed to Double Corner the market and jumped into the lead with 160 points. I had some wins and losses, and eventually got up to 2nd place, between Sean and Isaac, before everyone decided to call the end because it was getting late.

Overall, Pit is a family favorite. It's not one that hits the table often, but everyone seems to enjoy it when we play. It is best played with several players and can fit up to 10. It's a loud game, that has even been heard by neighbors on at least one occasion.
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Table-top Games / Re: Board Game Calendar Weekly Challenges
« Last post by Dragon on January 19, 2022, 16:34:56 »
We completed the previous week's challenged:

Play a game half-way through, then switch sides. [✓]We played Labyrinth.

It was a 4-player game, and we rotated around the table once the first player got their 3rd treasure card.

Now, our challenge for this week. (Sorry, I forgot to do this on Monday):

Play a game whose game board would be fantastic as wall art.
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Table-top Games / Re: The Settlers Of Catan
« Last post by Dragon on January 16, 2022, 21:12:50 »
I played The Settlers Of Catan with my son, Isaac, and wife, Beth, today.

Starting off the game, Isaac went first, followed by Beth, then I chose and for some weird reason picked a space where there were 3 grain tiles together. Well... I did think it might have been something that would work out, since there was a grain harbor nearby and with all the grain being right there I figured I could corner the market, but the grain didn't come up for a long time. While Beth and Isaac were going for the Longest Road, I was still struggling with my starting position. (We play the game using a "Tournament Setup" that I learned years ago, so we place a Settlement with Road, then a City with Road, then a 3rd Road before rolling the dice. Resources are still collected from the second location, the City, but we don't get the double resources like we'd get if we had rolled the appropriate number matching the city region.

Later in the game, my grain started coming in, and I did manage to make a pretty decent comeback. Beth started with the Longest Road and Isaac was building up his to keep that away from her. The Robber hit Beth a couple times and she lost lots of cards. Eventually, Isaac managed to build enough Settlements and Cities for the victory, but it was a difficult struggle. Beth and I both had 8 points at the end of the game. It was a good game.
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Table-top Games / Labyrinth
« Last post by Dragon on January 16, 2022, 21:02:34 »
Today I played Labyrinth with my wife and kids. This is the "race for treasure in a moving maze" game for 2-to-4 players by Ravensburger, not the single-player marble maze game.

We also completed the weekly challenge to "Play a game half-way through, then switch sides" by changing seats, rotating around the table, after the first player revealed 3 cards. To try to keep the rotation fair, we randomly chose starting positions and kept with the original starting rule of "youngest player goes first." Grace started, with Beth to her left, followed by me, then Isaac. Grace was quick to get her first 3 cards, while the rest of us, although we were trying, hadn't gotten more than 1 card. (Seriously, I was trying to get to my first treasure, and my wife claimed she was also, although my son just said he was "kind of trying.") Isaac was happy to take Grace's seat after the rotation, and Grace looked sadly at the collection of treasures that she had left him. Later when she got her 3rd treasure again, she asked if we were going to switch places again. I explained that we were planning to switch only once for this game challenge, but admitted that it did sound like an interesting way to try that also.

With Isaac's early lead in the game, due to taking Grace's cards, it seemed like it would be an easy win for him, but I had set Beth up to pick up a card on her next turn and her following one came quickly. Isaac got his 6th card first, but Beth was closing in fast. She got her 6th card while Isaac was still struggling to get back to his Home. Grace had 3 of her treasures and I had 3 when Beth beat Isaac to her Home for the victory.

After that game, Anna, Grace, and I, decided to play Labyrinth again, but with standard rules, no rotating around the table this time. Grace said she wanted to play again because she "wanted to win." She didn't like the switching that happened due to the weekly game challenge, mainly since she was the one that collected the cards the fastest. She said, "winning is easy - you just go get your cards and then you win!" And this time, she did win. Anna had 5 of her treasures and once again I only had 3.
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Table-top Games / Kingdomino
« Last post by Dragon on January 16, 2022, 12:53:18 »
Yesterday, I played Kingdomino with Beth, Isaac, and Sean (with Grace as a replacement for Sean part way through the game).

Kingdomino is a great little tile-placement game, with tiles being domino-shaped and having different land types on each end to build your kingdom. Some of the tiles have 1, 2, or 3 crowns, which are used to multiply with the number of adjacent matching land type squares, while others are just the land types without a crown. Having land with no crowns will get no points, but since the crowns are important for scoring, they often get grabbed by the first player who can do so.

Turn order in Kingdomino is different than most other games, in that a players selection of the tile that they get to place in their next turn will affect their turn order. Each tile has a number on the back, and each round there are 4 tiles randomly selected and then setup in numeric order. Often times the tiles with the higher numbers have better things, more crowns for example, but when you select those, it will often cost you options in your next turn. If you choose the "best" tile this turn, your next turn you'll have no choice but to take the tile left over after everyone else has selected.

Game play is usually pretty quick, and the box says it's a 15-minute game, but I'd venture to say that most of our games are closer to half-an-hour. Our game last night was probably closer to 30-minutes, but we did also have a player replacement during the game.

I started the game, followed by Sean, Isaac, then Beth. I was just going for yellow fields and green forests to start with, and Sean chose the same since there was a duplicate tile available. Eventually, Sean ended up getting the black mines, and later picked up more to get what appeared to be an early lead but with some difficult layout for future tile placements. Isaac, Beth, and I had all kept some harmony in our kingdom by keeping the castle in the middle, but we hadn't specified that we were playing with the bonus scoring at the beginning, not that it would have changed the end game scoring anyway, even though it was close. Isaac won the game with 39 points, I had 38, Beth had 37, and Sean/Grace ended with 32 points.
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Table-top Games / Splendor
« Last post by Dragon on January 15, 2022, 18:17:46 »
It had been quite a while since the last time that Janai had played Splendor with me, but finally, with Sean and Isaac, we finally got the game out.

Splendor is a game of resource management, where each player can collect gem tokens and use them to buy gem cards, which are sometimes worth victory points. Gem cards can later be used as discounts toward buying other gem cards and also will allow players to get noble tokens for extra victory points. The game goes to 15 points, which takes about half-an-hour.

Isaac started the game, with me picking second, Janai following, and Sean taking the last turn around the table. Sean had played the game before, but couldn't remember how it worked and struggled to get his cards built up. Janai and I fought over the same cards often, and Isaac somehow got a good lead on us. He managed to get the first noble, just before I was able to, then Janai took the other one that I was trying to get. Isaac finished out the game picking up another noble and would have taken another if the rules had allowed 2 nobles to be taken at the same time, but that was game. In the end, Isaac won with 15 points, I tied with Janai with 9 points, and Sean ended up with 6.

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Table-top Games / Rival Troops
« Last post by Dragon on January 15, 2022, 18:09:12 »
Today, I played Rival Troops against Sean, my oldest daughter's boyfriend. Sean doesn't have a lot of experience with newer board games, but has played the traditional American games, such as Monopoly, Sorry, and Risk. He had also played Splendor before, which is a nice introduction to the world outside of the board games that most people are familiar with, but of course he had not played Rival Troops before.

Rival Troops is a 2-to-4 player tile-placement/modular-board game where players are adding land to a campground (the board) and have troop tokens that they can add to the campground and move around the board to secure the best locations. After I explained the rules, Sean started the game placing a 7-point-site from his hand right next to my starting campfire, then just mimicked what I was doing for the first few rounds after after that. Eventually he was catching on to more of the strategy of the game and was blocking a couple of the sites that I was trying to get, but in the end, I still won with nearly double his score.
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