Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Christmas Catchup: Board Gaming

Over the holiday season we had ample time off to enjoy relaxing and hanging out with friends. Claire and I decided to make use of this opportunity to host a few gaming nights, and all were massively successful.

Elder Sign is a perfect game for a short evening gathering, playable in a reasonably short length of time, and easily explained to new players. The rules are fairly straightforward, and most complications can be left to be explained as they arise, such as locked dice. We find it best to explain a standard turn order and actions, victory and loss conditions, and any player character special actions at the start of the game, and then just jump right on in. It got played a lot over the holidays, and every game was enjoyably tense. We won some, we lost some, though one issue I do have with the game is that, in my experience, it does seem to be a bit easy to win. I've won significantly more than I've lost, even when we played with randomly assigned player characters, so we couldn't optimize our strategy. Perhaps because of its ease to teach, and ease to claim victory over, Elder Sign makes a wonderful introduction game to the bigger, more complex level of board games, such as the associated Arkham Horror series.

Getting even simpler, but by no means less fun, No Thanks, Guillotine, and Fluxx all got a workout over the Christmas. I picked up Space Fluxx, which is one of the few sets that I feel builds strongly on the basic game. It adds new elements that enhance play, and avoids the outright silliness present in Monty Python Fluxx. That said, we did also get in a game of Monty Python Fluxx, and had a blast doing so, even if some of use proved ourselves better at remembering the lyrics to the various songs than others.

We also got to play some new games that friends brought along. Bau Sack is a block balancing game from Zum Spielen that was wonderful, if stressful, fun, and reminded me that I really want to play the Dread RPG at some point and experience its Jenga mechanic for myself. Bau Sack was made all the more difficult playing it on our slightly wobbly table, and my defeat was brought about when I bumped the leg of said table and knocked my impressive tower to its foundations!

We're looking forward to playing lots more board games in 2013, both new and old favourites. We picked up a few over the sales that we have yet to try, including Forbidden Island and the beautiful Gears of War[1] tabletop game from Fantasy Flight Games. I'll try to write up some reviews of those when I get to enjoy them.

[1] - This post was actually written about a week ago when I had my iPad and some free time, but I only got around to publishing it now. I have since played and loved the Gears of War boardgame. I'll post more on that and other new games soon.

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