Gamestorm – a quick rundown

So I know I keep mentioning Gamestorm so I thought I would take a moment to explain what it is and why I love it. So to star the explanation, Gamestorm is a convention held annually in the Greater Portland area and is currently on its 13th year. The convention is dubbed “The Pacific Northwest’s Premiere Social and Strategic Game Convention” by their website. I am not sure I agree fully with the tag line, at least not the social part, but it is a great gaming convention.

The convention currently runs for 4 days from Thursday through Sunday and is held in March. This year it will be March 24th through the 27th and is being held at the Hilton in Vancouver, Washington. While the location is not ideal for those without their own wheels it is a nice area and does have a number of restaurants of decent quality and pricing within walking distance.

During the 4 days there are 5 different tracks of gaming that go on.
RPG games for those table-top gaming fans
LARPs for those who are a bit more socially inclined in their gaming
Miniatures for those who like to really watch the combat happen
Board Games for all of the board game geeks out there
Panels for those who want to discuss gaming further
CCG for the Collectible Card Gamers out there, I would take my magic decks if I still had them
There are also Indie games and prototype testing of new board games that goes on at the convention as well.

So if you are in the Pacific Northwest and are looking for a way to stay up much too late gaming only to get up bright and early the next morning to game all day again then Gamestorm is the place for you. I just really suggest you take Monday off from work too as you will need it.

Cheeky Monkey

A Fun Family Game>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.

The aMAZEing Labyrinth Board Game

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

Trade your old gaming stuff for new dice

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.

New Family Board Games

Tired of playing Monopoly and Life for the millionth time with your kids, ready for something new and interesting to play on game night. There are a wide array of games that can meet your needs and now that there is the internet to make ordering easier these games are available to almost anyone. I have been slowly growing my collection of these card and board games for the last decade or so. Here I plan to review these games as a way for you to determine which might work best for your family. With any luck you should be able to find a number of new games to try out.

Lets start with a simple, yet complex card game called Fluxx. The game starts with the simple rule of draw one, play one, simple enough. As the game goes on people play goals for winning, which constantly changes as well as they can play different rules that can change a variety of aspects of the game. While it sounds complicated you will find it is easy to play and with all the expansions, like Family Fluxx, it is a great family game. This is one that I enjoy playing with my son, age 8, and my daughter, age 6. It is a bit over my daughters head she enjoys playing it none the less. You can pick it up at most any game store, in the Greater Portland Area we like going to Rainy Day Games as they have a great selection.