Support your local Game Designer
Just like shopping locally helps the economy where you live, the same can be said for supporting your local Game Designer. By finding out the game designers in your community you are helping to drive innovation and creativity in your region. Many, if not most, major metropolitan centers have at least a few game designers. Just last night I found out that we have a new set of game designers in Portland; at least they are new to me. They are called Elbowfish Gaming and are located right here in Portland. Thanks to GameStorm for letting me know about them and their Kickstarter Project for a new game called Anti-Matter Matters. Right now they have a Kickstarter Project that is nearing the end of it’s funding time. It is so close to being funded and I really want to see their game in person and for sale. I went and helped with their kickstarter campaign and urge you to as well, but hurry as it closes this Saturday July 13th!!
So what is the game?
Good question. It is a board game about particle physics. Honestly I don’t know a lot about particle physics myself, but this group does and they have created a board game that promises to be fun while demystifying the rather complex subject of quantum physics. They have been test playing at Guardian Games, a local gaming shop, and they say while being fun it also stays true to the science. The game is rated as age 13+ and plays with 2-6 players. They are hoping to eventually do the extra testing and stuff that will allow them to mark the game 11+. But that means I can play this with my son now and my daughter too in the not too distant future.
I urge you to give what you can and help make science fun, and bring this game to life
Here is a quote from Elbowfish Gaming’s website that I just love:
“Play is a universal, social activity. Games can be more than diversions. They are a medium of expression that, like film, books, television and theater, can provide thought-provoking, emotional, transformative and entertaining experiences.”
Here is a new game we played last week at our weekly gaming session, Crappy Birthday. It is a card game which is similar in play style to Apples to Apples. As the name of the game implies you are trying to give someone the worst present you can for their birthday.
Each player has a hand of 5 cards, each of which is a different gift. A person is selected to have the first “birthday” and everyone else at the table pulls the worst gift they can from their hand and places it face down in front of the “birthday” person. Then the birthday person flips over the cards and determines which of the presents given they think is the worst. So, when giving gifts you really need to consider the person you are giving them to and what their tastes are like. Who knows they may actually think a family room wallpapered in old newspaper (yes that really is from the game) is a neat historical thing. Once a crappy gift has been selected the gift-giver gets the card back to place in front of them on the table as a token of having won that round. Then the “birthday” person rotates to the next in the table and the gift giving starts all over again. [See how it has that Apples to Apples feel]. The first person to have given three crappy gifts wins the game.
We did find the game to be fun and a fairly quick play with very simple rules. The only challenge we had was that there are a number of gifts that our gaming group does not consider crappy at all, such as a tank in your front yard for decoration. This meant you could end up with a hand of cards that you simply couldn’t win with due to their being too cool to be crappy.
I would like to see them come up with some expansion card sets, I am sure they could do at least one or two to really round out the cards. But even without that it is a fun little game and being low cost it is worth it. Additionally, this would work as a good cross-over game, you just have to remember who you are playing with.
We have found that while we really love our truly gamer geared board games, we are always on the lookout for those games that have great general appeal. In our house this are referred to as cross-over games and they can bring both gamers and non-gamers to the table for some good fun.
One of the easiest types of games to introduce to non-gamers are card games. Here I would recommend introducing the crowd you are playing with to Fluxx 4.0. This great little game has simple rules, that change over time but don’t generally lose a person. Since Flux starts with the simple rule of draw a card, play a card it is easy to teach. If you haven’t played before, it is really fairly simple, and even my kids can mange it quite nicely.
Another easy to play game, that has already hit mainstream in many areas is Apples to Apples Party Box – The Game of Hilarious Comparisons. This game is a card based game that has players placing cards into play based on their belonging to a particular category. The challenge comes from that each player takes turns determining the winning card of each hand. So to win a hand you must be able to judge how the other person will judge the cards. Not everyone has the same definition of gross after all.
If you are looking for a board game to pass away some time at the latest family gathering, I would suggest Gift TRAP Game. There is no gamer knowledge required for this game, of giving and taking of gifts. Each hand of play there are a number of cards representing various gifts that can be given. Each player marks gifts with hidden tokens to represent the level of like or dislike they have towards the gift. As an example I would love to get a trip to Disney World, but would hate to get a skydiving lesson. Then each player gives another a gift, no doubling up, and then points are scored. To win you have to manage to receive enough gifts that you like, as well as give enough gifts that other people like. It is a great way to learn a little more about the family or friends that you are playing with.
So last weekend I played a new game with the kids called Thunderstone. The game is a card based game that recreates an adventuring group. While the game is plenty of fun it is also easy enough for younger kids to play. I suspect that we may not have been playing with the full on set of rules, but we were close enough to them to get a good feel for the game.
In the game each person starts out with basic supplies for an adventuring party represented in cards. Using the cards you have collected you can either head to the village to purchase supplies or recruit and level up; or you can delve into the dungeon and battle creatures for experience points. The game play is pretty simple once you get it figured out, though I will admit that the setup is a bit on the complicated side to determine from the book. Just be sure to read through the instruction book and it will all come together pretty easily.
>Another game we added to our ever growing collection this Christmas was the Cheeky Monkey Game
. This is a kids game that my in-laws picked up for my 6 year old daughter. The game is one I discovered at this last Gamestorm and was excited for us to add to our kid game selection, as it is one that adults can enjoy as well.
The game is a tile based game and requires no reading making it ideal to play with younger kids whose reading skills are not ready for heavy game play. Game play goes quick and is based on collecting the various animal tiles that are included with the game. The tiles are placed in a bag (also provided) and each player takes turns drawing animal tiles one at a time as many times as they want to round out collections that they have, but if they draw the cheeky monkey then they have to put their tiles back. A great lesson for the kids and a hard strategy for them to master right away. Very similar to Pass the Pigs in general concept.
For families with younger children I recommend this game. The copy we have was purchased from Rainy Day Games for $30, which is a bit steep but the quality is better then the standard big box store games that you buy, this one will be in our collection for years to come. And Rainy Day Games also has online ordering capabilities in case you live somewhere without a local gaming store.
For my my daughter’s 6th birthday she received the board game The aMAZEing Labyrinth from her step-dad. Though I am ashamed to admit it took us months to finally get around to playing it we finally did. The game is rated ages 7+ but we usually find our kids catch onto board games a bit ahead of the label put on them, not really sure how or who determines that age anyways.
The game is fairly basic once you get over the initial learning curve. There is an ever changing grid of tiles that your piece must navigate through to obtain a number of treasures as determined by picture cards. The aMAZEing Labyrinth requires no ability to read to play, aside from the rule book itself, making for a good family friendly game. There are also no spinners or dice, which I find makes a game more enjoyable with elementary school aged children who tend to fiddle with those sort of devices too much.
After playing twice I highly recommend when laying out tiles and swapping tile locations during play that you take care to make as many pathways as possible. All of the tile pieces work together to make the tunnels of the labyrinth that gives the game its name. By making a point of creating long tunnels you will greatly shorten the game time and greatly increase the success of the younger kids who can’t think too many steps ahead.
Since this game is more widely available then some other “gamer” board games, we found it at Toys ‘r Us this can be a great gift for Christmas for a younger child in your life. If you are looking for another review of The aMAZEing Labyrinth check it out at BoardGameGeek.com
Another day, another cruise through some of my newly bookmarked websites. And what did I find you might ask? Why I found a barter offer from GM Dice (I wrote about them the other day). They are bringing barter back to gaming, and on the web even! According to the barter section of their website they will gladly take your old rpg books, board games, and even old gaming pieces all in exchange for gift certificates to spend on cool new dice.
But you don’t have anything in your collection you could bear to part with, me either to be honest. Well all is well as they will take anything in exchange for a gift certificate. You will send them information on what you are offering, as well as specifics like condition and quantity and they will let you know what amount you will get on your gift card. If you all are chummy and agree then you ship them the stuff and they will ship you a gift card upon receipt. Perhaps next time I will do this rather then donating my things.
I am not sure what I would ever need a d5, d14, or a d24 for in my games, but they would be great conversation pieces at Gamestorm. Though what I really want is The Amazing Everything Dice, but they are sold out. Perhaps it is time to see if I have any old games to send off.