Thursday, January 29, 2015

#47: Lost Cities (Mark's 100 - 2014)


Lost Cities

Mark's Ranking
  • 2014: 47th
  • 2012: did not appear
  • 2010: 71st
  • 2005: 53rd
  • rank: 253
  • rating: 7.12
Print Status
  • in print 
Why It's On The List
  • I've played this over & over and I'm still intrigued each time. How far can I push my luck? Should I play aggressively or defensively? For such a simple game, it continues to draw me in. (Probably doesn't hurt that the production of the game is gorgeous.) Now, it's not that I win all that much. My wife is a pro.
Tips & Tricks:
    • I know some people don't like the big cards or the board... but I do.
    • Good Lost Cities play is based not only on the cards you draw but also on the play of your opponent. It is a game about reading their plan as much as executing your own.
    • Lost Cities spawned a whole series of games:
      • Keltis & it's uglier cousin, Lost Cities: The Board Game (I enjoy them both)
      • Keltis: Die Orakel (which I have not played)
      • Keltis: Der Weg der Steine (which I like enough to put on my top 100 games list)
      • Keltis: The Dice Game (so-so)
      • Keltis: The Card Game (decent - but I like Lost Cities better)
    Extras

    Monday, January 26, 2015

    #48: Midnight Party (Mark's 100 - 2014)

    Midnight Party

    Mark's Ranking
    • 2014: 48th
    • 2012: did not appear
    • 2010: did not appear
    • 2005: did not appear
    • rank: 1497
    • rating: 6.43
    Print Status
    • OOP - but it's been released in multiple editions and isn't impossible to find
    Why It's On The List
    • #3 on my Kid Games top 100 list... this game is equally successful with kids and adults. It's a chase/push-your-luck/filler game that never ever falls flat.
    Tips & Tricks:
      • I strongly suggest not grouping your partygoers together - that's an easy way to get nabbed by Hugo post-haste.
      • The missing numbers on the dice (replaced by ghost symbols) are 3 and 6... plan accordingly, especially when you are aiming for the +3 rooms.
      • My copy is now 26 years old - I bought it on a date with my bride-to-be (we celebrate 25 years of marriage in June!) at the Texas State Fair.
      Extras
      • There was supposed to be a new German edition of this game in 2013 - but according to the Geek it was never released.
      • I wrote an extensive review of Midnight Party for my Kid Games 100.

      Wednesday, January 21, 2015

      Round, Round Like A Record Player, Baby (Classic)

      Another classic Grapevine post from February 2007... for the record, today is one of those "33 1/3 record in a 78 rpm world" days as well.

      Remember record players? Yes, I know that some of you don't... that the only record player you've actually seen used in the one in the hatch on the TV show, Lost. But for some of us, there's a certain warm glow around the memories of picking up an album & sliding out the sleeve, carefully putting the record on the turntable & setting the needle down. Depending on the size of the record, you set the speed - 33 1/3, 45, or 78 rpm's (revolutions per minute).

      Of course, by the time I bought my first stereo system (complete with record player, cassette player and... wait for it... 8-track tape player), they weren't making 78's anymore. My dad, who had a pretty decent collection of jazz records, didn't have any 78's in his pile of albums - and my stash of late-disco-era platters (ELO, Barry Manilow, Donna Summer, Yes, the Star Wars soundtrack, etc.) certainly didn't have any. Of course, like any kid, every once in a while I'd crank a 33 1/3 record up to 78 rpms and enjoy the chipmunk-ish sounds.

      Well, today is one of those days where I feel like I'm a 33 1/3 record in a 78 rpm world. It's not just that my brain feels like it's mired in super-glue... it's that the very speed of my life, the multitude of responsibilities & obligations whizzing at me, feel like they're going to tear away pieces of me.

      As a follower of Jesus, I realize that isn't the whole story - but down here on the turntable we call "life", it can be hard to see when everything is zipping past me. All I want to do is close my eyes & hang on. So, in moments like this, on mornings like this... heck, every morning, I have to turn to capital "T" Truth to gain perspective:
      So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.     2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Message)
      And then I open my eyes & see the world afresh. It may not move any slower - I may not move any faster - but it's no longer a complete blur. It's no longer a string of unrelated obstacles & trials... there's something bigger going on.

      Wednesday, January 14, 2015

      #49: Harry's Grand Slam Baseball (Mark's 100 - 2014)

      Harry's Grand Slam Baseball

      Mark's Ranking
      • 2014: 49th
      • 2012: 76th
      • 2010: 59th
      • 2005: did not appear
      • rank: 2561
      • rating: 6.33
      Print Status
      • recently OOP - you can still find copies, though
      Why It's On The List
      • It captures the feel of a baseball game - and does so in 15 minutes (or less). The Out of the Box production is very nice as well.
      Tips & Tricks:
        • Use Fly Out cards when there aren't any runners on base.
        • This is a tremendous filler game.
        Extras
        • This game lends itself to playoffs/tournaments at gaming weekends - games are short enough to be held between "real" games.
        • The story behind Harry's Grand Slam Baseball is fascinating... listen to Mark Johnson's "Boardgames To Go" podcast on it for more information.

        Tuesday, January 13, 2015

        #50: Timber Tom (Mark's 100 - 2014)


        Timber Tom

        Mark's Ranking
        • 2014: 50th
        • 2012: did not appear
        • 2010: did not appear
        • 2005: prior to publication
        • rank: 2182
        • rating: 6.62
        Print Status
        • very OOP 
        Why It's On The List
        • An amazing 3-D board and top-notch components make this racing game (you're racing to get to the top of two of the four mountains) a great family experience.
        Tips & Tricks:
          • There's a heavy "take that" element in this game that I normally don't like it - but it works here.
          • Marco (the designer) published a 2nd edition set of rules that are MUCH cleaner and easier to learn from than the first set of rules.
          • While I love this game, I don't recommend buying your own copy unless you're independently wealthy. The only ones I can find right now run $150 or more.
          Extras

          Friday, January 09, 2015

          #51: 1st & Goal (Mark's 100 - 2014)


          1st & Goal

          Mark's Ranking
          • 2014: 51st
          • 2012: 89th
          • 2010: prior to publication
          • 2005: prior to publication
          • rank: 1154
          • rating: 6.86
          Print Status
          • in print
          Why It's On The List
          • Stephen Glenn has created a fun & fast-playing dice football using a card deck to call plays - which allows for a greater variety of outcomes without unduly complicating the process.
          Tips & Tricks:
            • It takes a couple of games to get the hang of hand & clock management...
            • There are six expansion sets that change up the dice for each team... we own four of them and absolutely love playing with them. (With one caveat - see below.)
            Extras
            • 1st & Goal essentially replaces Pizza Box Football in my top 100 - the only thing I really miss about PBF is the (very abstracted) real NFL teams.
            • The 1st down marker & the ball are magnetized, btw - they won't slide around on the (metal) field. A very nice production touch!
            • I wrote about one of the best decisions R&R Games made - to publish Special Teams cards to go with each expansion team - in my blog post Making Special Teams Special Again. (This is the caveat I told you to look for...)
            • There is now an iOS app for 1st & Goal... but I haven't got to play with it yet.

            Wednesday, January 07, 2015

            #52: Viva Pamplona! (Mark's 100 - 2014)

            Viva Pamplona

            Mark's Ranking
            • 2014: 52nd
            • 2012: 53rd
            • 2010: 39th
            • 2005: 56th
            • appeared on all four lists
            • rank: 2597
            • rating: 6.36
            Print Status
            • very OOP
            Why It's On The List
            • It's a great theme (the running of the bulls) with great art and even better game play... you must have courage to win - and the willingness to shove your opposition to the ground.
            Tips & Tricks:
              • The tempo of the game can vary wildly - depending on how the Toro cards appear. That's not a bug... it's a feature - part of what makes the game so charming..
              Extras
              • I was pleasantly surprised how well this game works with 3-4 players... of course, it's a "more the merrier" game that is an absolute joy with the full complement of six people around the table.
              • This is from the same gaming design family as Viva Topo and Midnight Party. (It's a family I'm fond of...)
              • I've often wondered about how you can lose courage points when someone else shoves you (and worse yet, they get them!), but it's still fun.