The Purge: August-ish Edition

August is GenCon month and it’s killing me. Between all the new stuff that’s coming in because I backed it on Kickstarter and the new shiny coming out of the con itself, there’s just so many new games coming in that I thought seriously of dumping 20 games this month instead of 10, but I stuck with 10, which is still a lot of games.

Choices of what to drop is starting to go to games that I’ve own for a while and either I’ve actually never played or that I really don’t think I’ll get around to play. I don’t think I have very many “games that I really don’t like” anymore in my collection, apart maybe from the occasional dud that I’ve just picked up. Rather, I’m starting to cut games that I figure have a very low chance of be brought to the table, which does feel good. Getting rid of games that I kept simply because they were sort of ok and “maybe one day” is a very good feeling. Will I ever reach 600 games? Not this year, unless I decide to do a massive purge. If I manage to bring the collection to under 700 and clear out one or two games for each new game that comes in, I’ll be happy.

Well, let’s see know how the last month fared…

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Review: Sail to India

Either there’s been a lot of discussion about what is and what isn’t a micro or I hang out with people who are obsessed with board games. No matter, I find that quite a interesting discussion. Apart from those who deny that they exist at all (let’s call these people Jason), most of the definitions seem to give more of an insight into the person than the games themselves. There are those who claim that simplicity and game length defines a micro; others claim that footprint and components define a micro; other claim that they are nothing new really, that they have been around for a long time. There’s some interesting conversation to be had, that’s for sure but at the end of the day, micro or not, they are games and they live or die by whether they are interesting and can stay interesting.

Sail to IndiaAEG is one company that has been doing real well with this resurgence of the micro: first came Love Letter, then Agent Hunters, with Mai-Star and Cheaty Mages following closely. And then the moment I’d been waiting for some time, the release of Sail to India, a micro-sized game that contains a huge game. Is it a micro since there isn’t a lot of components and the footprint is fairly small? Maybe, but on the other hand, the game is meaty and the playtime is around 1 hour, even with experienced players. But more important, is it fun? Let’s find out! Continue reading

Review: Thunder Alley

I have to confess that I have no great love for racing games in general. For me, those that don’t focus on the race per se are far more interesting and successful (like Royal Turfthan those which try to recreate something that is really all about reflex and endurance. For me, they all feel like an exercise in getting the right roll/card more than being able to recognize a key moment and take advantage of it. Well, that was true until now…

Thunder Alley coverI’ve been talking a lot about Thunder Alley in the last few weeks and with good reasons. Not only is it relatively easy to explain, it also accommodates up to 7 players and keeps everyone on their toes. I never thought I’d say this about a racing game, but it’s quickly is making its way in my top 10 of the year, if not top 10 of the last ten years (I should do such a list at some point). Why is that? well, let me tell you all about the NASCAR game that wasn’t a NASCAR racing game…

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Time Lapse Replay: Thunder Alley

I’m not a car guy. It’s not even that I’m not a fan of cars or that I don’t follow car culture, it’s that I don’t enjoy racing video games, boardgames or just watching it on tv. Heck, I don’t even have a driver’s license. Now, I know a little bit about cars (I did work in a gas station, which was odd), but they just don’t interest me.

Thunder Alley coverSo why my interest in Thunder Alley? Well, it is a GMT Games publication and as such, does suggest that there will be a little more tactics, a little more strategy than just a simple racing game. The designer was also familiar to me (he also did Manoeuvre), which had some interesting twists on old mechanics. Also, it promised an interesting experience for 2 to 7 players. I don’t have many games that can handle the higher player count, so if the game promises to be fun and simple, I’ll at least give it a go.

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Review: Pack O Game, featuring GEM

Way back when I was in college I used to have two different games in my bag at all time, just in case we’d want to play something while we were at the pub instead of being in class. The games were fairly simple: Red Empire and Car Wars the Card Game. While they were somewhat portable, the boxes were ditched fairly quickly in favor of plastic bags, making them even more portable. As I got older and the games I played became more complex, I stopped carrying games in my bag unless I knew I was going to play something that day.

Pack o game A funny thing happened a few years back. Not only did I get back into gaming in a more serious way, but a bunch of small (micro) games started coming out, with of course Love Letter at the forefront. Not only were these games simple, but they were small enough that I could carry one or two in my bag at any time. Well, someone has gone and done it a step better: Chris Handy has come up with the Pack O Game, a series of games so small that you could carry all six of them in your bag without making the smallest bump. Small is good, but are the games any good? Let’s check it out!

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Let me Teach you How to Play: Thunder Alley

I’ve been playing around with video for a little bit now, trying different formats and things such as the Time Lapse Replay series and various attempts at reviews (haven’t posted any of them). One area that I wish there were more, shorter videos out there are video tutorials. Now, there are some very nice efforts, but I find most of them to be too long. So, here’s my attempt.

What you have here is a tutorial (or “Sit Down and Let me Teach you How to Play”) of Thunder Alley (GMT Games) by Jeff and Carla Horger. I was very curious when I first read about this game since I am *not* a racing fan and was hoping that this would be more interesting. Well, after one game, I can tell there’s something really interesting here. The game is fairly simple, but there’s a lot of fun to be had. Expect a full review as soon as I can get 2-3 more games in, and believe me, with the kind of impression this game made on first play, it shouldn’t take too long!

I realize that it is a little rough around the edges, but it’s a good first try. It came out a little longer than I wanted and I figure that with time, I’ll get better. I certainly hope that I’ll stop dropping my S’s! Only when you watch/listen to a recording of yourself to you see how many little mistakes you make!

Let me know what you think and Happy Gaming!

The Purge: July Edition

Another month, another purging of games that are just not getting enough love, or that I’m just not interested in any more. Yes, there’s one instalment of the Purge missing, but work has been kind of crazy lately and all the usual excuses. But you’re not here for that, you’re here to know how things stand and maybe score some good games for not much. So, let’s see how things went since last time, shall we?

What? You don’t care about what games got traded/given/sold/exchanged? you just want the new stuff? Skip everything and get to the good stuff here!

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Review: Yardmaster Express

To say that I love a good train game at this point would be kind of pointless. Between my dabbling with Ticket to Ride, my well-known love of 18XX and Age of Steam/Steam, my discovery of the great Paris Connection and countless other, I love a good train game. One thing I haven’t seen often is a good card-based train game (don’t get me started with a good dice-based train game). Sure Express was pretty good at the time and Yardmaster is an interesting meld of Uno and Ticket to Ride. Even 1830 Card Game is very good, even if the components are… rudimentary. But what do you do when you have 15 minutes to play a good train card game?

Yardmaster Express boxWell, this is the question Yardmaster Express attempts to answer. A short, drafting game that plays 2 to 5 players and that takes about 10 minutes to play. What’s more, it’s very easy to explain and simple to understand. What do you mean, no one had asked that question? Well, so what. I love a good train game. Does Yardmaster Express have what it takes to be one of the good ones? Let’s check it out.

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VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game contest winner!

What a week! To think that this contest came about from a shipping error. Well, over 400 of you checked out the contest page and 31 people participated, taking nice selfies of themselves along with a cup of coffee (check out the #dicelovecoffee tag over on Twitter) and I discovered that many of you love your coffee along with your games. Saw some great game collections along the way and struck a few conversations as well.

Wha? Enough chit chat and make with the contest winner already? ok, ok. :)

Here’s the winning photo:

What a smile! I think it has something to do with X-Wings...

What a smile! I think it has something to do with X-Wings…

Stay tuned because not only will I have a review of VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game, but there is another contest coming for the original VivaJava: The Coffee Game, including the Geekspansion! That’s right! The out-of-print, hard to find, pricy to purchase game for free to a contest winner! What will be the contest, I have no idea, give me a few days to think about it…

Thanks again to Chris at Dice Hate Me Games for allowing me to run this contest. Much appreciated and I hope everyone who participated had fun.

Until then, Happy Gaming!

Contest: Win VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game from Dice Hate Me Games

I was one of the backers in the recent Dice Hate Me kickstarter campaign for VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game, backing the project for both the new dice game and the original VivaJava: The Coffee Game (I really don’t have a lot of 8 player games and this one looked interesting). I had been following the progress of the game and couldn’t wait to get my copies of the games.

pic1722425_tImagine my surprise when one day, Tanya, my lovely wife, tells me that I had received two big boxes from the US. I knew that I had one box coming in for the games, but two? What was in that second box? She told me that they were from the same place and it made me even more curious and could not wait to get back home to see if I had received some other kickstarter that had forgotten to let us know that the game had shipped.

Imagine my surprise when I found that the games had been double shipped! I love games and VivaJava, in both incarnations, looked like superb games, but I really did not have any use for two copies, unless…

Yup! The very first Strawpixel contest is born! I asked Chris over at Dice Hate Me Games if he would mind me doing a contest with the copies instead of sending them back and he graciously accepted. So, here we go!

How can you participate? Well, we won’t just do a boring contest, with people posting comments or filling in a form. Nope. Let’s be a little more creative. If you want to get a chance of winning a copy of VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game, including the Game of the Year expansion, which adds even more fun to the base game you simply have to follow me on twitter (Genialgenius) and tweet to me and Dice Hate Me (DiceHateMe) a selfie of you and your favorite cup of coffee along with the hashtag #DiceLoveCoffee. I’ll pick a winner at random from all the entries. You have until Sunday July 6th at 9h00pm EDT to send in your tweet and I’ll only count one entry per tweet.

I’ll post some of the winning photos along with the winner of the contest on Monday the 7th at 9h00am EDT.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s see some photos!

I’m currently working on a video overview/review of VivaJava: The Coffee Game: The Dice Game, which will hopefully be out soon.

Happy Gaming!