Power Grid

Sophie and Noah helped me work through the rules to Power Grid. I’m very proud of them in that they ‘suffered’ through it willingly and had fun in the end. We only got to play a few rounds over the course of the 2 hours we worked through the steps (!) but in the end we all thought we’d like it. The game is listed for ages 12+ but I’m convinced they can play it.

I really wish they would have told us what “steps” meant before they started using it in the rules though. That would have made things a lot more understandable. Anyway, I think I’m in a much better position to teach the game but I think I’ll give it a few more test runs and then some reading on the BGG to understand the common pitfalls.

Anyway, thanks Sophie and Noah for helping me out.

Stink Beans!

I taught Lisa and the kids Bohnanza – The Bean Game this evening. The game requires drawing, trading, and donating cards containing one of eleven varieties of garden beans from your hand. Although simple in concept, it actually stresses the mind a bit to manage what beans to harvest and plant in your fields. The most unique part of this card game is that you are never allowed to rearrange cards in your hand. When it’s your turn to play (you become the active player) you must always play from one end of your hand and replentish cards from the other end of your hand. At each turn, all players may adjust this converyor belt of cards moving towards the playable end of your hand by trading and donating cards (in any order) to the active player. In this fashion you can get rid of cards in the middle of your hand so that the cards you want arrive at the playable end of your hand when you become the active player. I’ve owned the game for almost two years but have never played it with my family since I thought the kids would find the concepts too hard to grasp.

After recently successfully teaching the kids Amazonas, a game I also thought would be too complex, I decided to give Bohnanza a try. Unlike some other games, this one proved to be easy to teach but required a lot of coaching throughout the game to illuminate why you might or might not want to trade and what might make a good offer to another player. Overall it was a successful night in that the kids and Lisa enjoyed it and we got to do something together as a family for the entire evening…always a good thing. In the end, the kids said, “I like that game!” We must have done something right.

Game Night – August 2005

Oh Acquire. How many ways can we play thee wrong? Let me count the ways.

  • When it’s time to purchase stock, three is the right number…not two.
  • When it’s time to merge, the merge maker gets first shot at cashing in his shares; not the last shot.
  • When it’s time to play the game again, let’s split into two-eth tables and not play-eth the stinki-eth game.

Anyway-eth, Ken won this fiasco. It had been at least a year or two since we played this and we played with the rules from memory. By the time the first merge occurred, there were only a couple places for any hotel to come back onto the board. Given that we were only buying two shares of stock at a time, many of us had money well into the game and were in no big hurry to force a merge to get cash. I think we should record this month in the AGN game night annals as a huge mulligan. I mean Ken won for gosh sakes… However Keith did lose keeping his streak alive of never winning the game.

Thanks Keith for hosting. Tim Degitz came back so we didn’t haze him too badly last time. Randy Kauffman showed up for the first time in a long time and we were very glad to see him back.

The next game night falls on Labor Day so we’ll probably postpone until 09/12/05.

Alhambra Wall Scoring – DOH!

I played my Origins 2005 purchase of Alhambra for the first time during my monthly game night (AGN) and recently taught it to Noah, Sophie, and Lisa. Both times, the wall scoring seemed way too powerful. The rules were very vague and so I did some digging on the BGG.Wouldn’t you know it, we’ve been playing it wrong.

The story on the street is that the designer intended that the wall scoring occurs at the end of every scoring round. We played it that way even though the translated English Rio Grande Games rules can easily be interpreted as only scoring the longest wall during the final scoring round. The killer, however, is that everyone is supposed to get points for their own longest wall every scoring round…not just the single person with the longest wall.

That’s a horse of a different color!


I had held back a little bit on teaching Sophie (11) and Noah (9) Amazonas. For Euro-gamers, the mechanics are easily grasped and reminiscent of other games (e.g. Ticket To Ride, El Grande, and Tikal) but there are enough rules and complexity of mechanics that I thought maybe it was at the edge of their ability. But I thought maybe I would give it a try anyway.

The end result showed that I’m an idiot and know nothing about the capabilities of my children. In fact, I would suspect I would have a harder time teaching this game to a non-gamer than a child-gamer. They quickly picked up on the mechanics and offered many examples when it would be good to play the native card to thwart the ill effects of the negative cards like the forest fire and monkey thief. They also fully grasped wanting to bid as high as possible when the native specimen token was up for grabs but tempered that will bidding only what they thought was necessary so that they didn’t pay too much for it. I held nothing back during play and offered only a few tactical tips during the game.

The final score was Me (13), Noah (12), Sophie (10).Sophie’s score would have actually been higher but she built a very costly expedition hut for 5 gold coins when she could have used a waterway to build more efficiently. I didn’t see it until the turn after she built so don’t start giving me any flak about letting her ‘step in it’.

You can buy Amazonas from the great people at Game Surplus.

Game Night – July 2005

The July 2005 edition of game night took place last night at my house. We had 7 so we had the rare opportunity to have two tables running. We started earlier than usual. Thanks Gus for picking up the pizza…I still need to pay you back so don’t let me forget.

We managed to get in games of Alhambra, Balloon Cup, Clans, and Amazonas.

Keith blew away the field in Alhambra but he’s got to chalk that up to beginners luck since this was the first time anyone has played. Tim beat Ken at Balloon Cup having never played it before; way to go Tim! I heard Rich won at Clans but I wasn’t at that table so that could be just a rumor. Tim won again at Amazonas….beginners luck, I’m sure. Ken will back me up on that, right Ken?…Ken?

Thanks guys for coming, I had a good time.

This just in…

In Amazonas, there is apparently a language translation error in the English form. After purchasing a native token you must declare the specimen type that the token represents. However, the token must be declared to be of a type of specimen that you already possess. In other words, you cannot take a native token for the sole purpose of helping you obtain the 5-specimen bonus.

Origins 2005

Keith and I took half of the day off from work and headed down to the Columbus Convention Center to attend the Origins 2005 convention. Origins is held in Columbus every year and is the 2nd largest gaming convention in the United States.

We arrived around 1:15 and waited in line about 45 minutes to get our registration badges for the exhibit hall. On entry to the hall it became immediately apparent that it was going to be different than I imagined. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I didn’t expect to be able to purchase knives and swords, armor, and historically accurate leather goods.

I also realized that my calibration was off concerning the ‘interest level’ in what are classified as ‘table-top’ boardgames. Table-top games comprised only 30% of the booths in the hall. I was expecting something on the order of 75%-80% with the remainder relegated to collectible cards, D&D, historical miniatures, etc. I was way off, concerning the collectible card games. I would estimate that 60% of the exhibit space was occupied by cards, dice, and D&D items. As a table-top gamer, I was a definite minority.

I did, however, end up purchasing a copy of Alhambra and a copy of Oceania. I spoke briefly with Jay Tummelson from Rio Grande Games concerning my potential purchase of Goa. He said, if I wanted it I should get it now since they’re out of stock but that they’ll be printing more in the fall.

All in all, I think the trip was worth it. I wish I hadn’t wrenched my back in the morning (making sitting playing games more than painful) but I suppose I’ll go again next year. I’d like to stay longer (without the back pain next time) to attend the gaming sessions in the war rooms in the evening to get some experience with some new games before buying. Thanks for going with me Keith.

A few images are available in the Gallery. Enjoy.

Monopoly gets a facelift?! Oh please….

I ran across a recent article that cited facts concerning new/updated versions of Monopoly. Parker Brothers has revamped many of the non-US versions by increasing the denomination of the money, modifying the real estate on the board, and giving the tokens a fresh and up to date look. For example, they’ve replaced the boot with a roller blade! Wow, that ought to make the game play more intense…

Monopoly was invented in the United States but, with its competitive, capitalist ethos, soon caught on around the world. It is now licensed or sold in 80 countries and printed in 32 languages including Hindi, Icelandic and Catalan. Parker say that since it was launched, some 200 million Monopoly sets have been sold worldwide and the game has been played by an estimated 500 million people.

© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.

It’s a really sad state of affairs that Monopoly still dominates the market because the game totally stinks when compared against “eurogames”. Hasbro and Parker Brothers have completely warped the minds of most kids and parents in the US into thinking that Monopoly, Battleship, Twister, Sorry, and Clue are the only games worth selling and playing.

For a taste of some really great games that you can get if you look past the old standbys clogging the shelves, take a look in my game cabinet or the games we play during Game Night. And for your browsing pleasure, jump over to The Geek.

Don’t spend your money on the lame games. Instead, spend it on some games that you will enjoy playing as much as (if not more than) your children. Boardgames are cool so take some time out of your hectic day and just try to beat your 9 or 11 year old….I dare you.