Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Migration: News of the Weird

This post was originally written in October of '99... I've done some editing & revision to it.

A pack of rats broke into a vat of moonshine in the storage area of a police station in New Dehli, India in March. They gulped down prodigious amounts of the liquid and then went on a drunken rampage. (Authorities could tell the rats were drunk because they were attacking cats.)

from "News of the Weird"

This is a true story.

I laughed OUT LOUD when I read this the first time... the picture of tipsy rats ganging up on felines while singing drunken sailor songs popped into my head.

Then another picture appeared... I mean, I'm a pastor. It's hard for me NOT to get allegorical.

Isn't the church a little like those rats? Yet, instead of being drunk on high octane 'shine, we are filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18) And we have some BIG cats to gang up on... a world that's grown cold to the power and love and grace of Jesus Christ.

Alcohol used to be called "Dutch courage"... a way to falsely build up your will in order to do something difficult. The Spirit of God is "real courage"... trusting in Someone bigger than you to tackle every thing in our lives: addictions, marriages, dreams, hopes, nightmares, debts, emptiness, direction... whatever!

That's what the church is all about... not only being a safe place for non-believers and believers to explore the dangerous truth of God, but a HEALING place where they can experience God invading in their lives and making them into what they were always intended to be - His children. And that's worth getting fired up about.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Kid Games 100: MIA Games (Better With Adults)

There are a number of well-known/well-liked kid games that didn't find their way onto my Kid Games 100. Over a series of posts, I'll try to explain the logic of why I didn't include them - or, in some cases, actively excluded them. I used the top 100 games categorized on the Geek as the jumping off point for the second post in this series:

MIA Games: "Better With Adults"

I'm going to divide this into three types: speed/reaction games (and why I think they don't work well as kid games), adult-sized dexterity games, and games that really are wasted on kids.

Speed/Reaction Games

Before we get into the games, an introductory paragraph or two. While kids can understand the concept of "do something faster than anybody else at the table... and do it at the right time," for many kids, this is a frustrating exercise in learning how to lose nicely. That's especially true if playing with parents or older siblings unless everyone "dials it down" - and, after a certain point in life, kids realize that people are throwing the game to them. (BTW, that causes one of two reactions when kids figure this out - either they internalize the message "I'm a loser who needs for people to roll over & play dead for me to win" or they begin to expect people to actively work to make them happy.)

The spatial reasoning & fine motor dexterity needed to play these games doesn't kick in fully until they are 9+ (and, as you've probably seen at some game nights, doesn't EVER kick in for some people.) When playing with a group of their peers, this isn't always a problem... though I think that these kinds of games tend towards more hard feelings & accusations of cheating (due to the adrenalized nature of the games & the temptation to find ways to stay competitive.) When playing with a mixed group of adults & kids, it's a nightmare.

But, you say, "You put Thing-a-ma-bots on the Kid Games 100 and it's a speed/reaction game." You're correct - but it has two things going for it that many of these games do not:
  1. There's only one pile to pay attention to... well, two (including your own).
  2. There's a memory element that levels the playing field with adults. (This is particularly true if you play multiple games of Thing-a-ma-bots in a row.)

Please don't misunderstand me. I love these games... I just don't think they're good kid games.

  • Affenraffen - Speed pattern recognition (you're looking for both color & type of tile) as well as memory (you can't look at tiles you've claimed) with added special power tiles... and all played in real time. This is possibly my favorite game of this type (though Arriba/Jungle Speed is pretty close).
  • Dino Booom - Flip the "bones," figure out what landscape you can "hunt" on with your trusty plunger, then stab a dinosaur tile. I've played with kids & they have a difficult time moving quickly enough to be competitive.
  • Eiertanz - I'll grant that "Egg Dance" works with kids... but not as written. With younger players, we play until all the eggs are taken... then the next person who drops ends the game. (If you end the game on the first drop with kids, it's literally a 1 minute game. It ends about the time any player gets their 2nd egg.) With adults, rounds can go up to 10 minutes, with plenty of egg stealing & crazy fun.
  • Halli Galli - Here, the problem is quick math. It's not that kids don't like the game... I took this with me to children's camp & had a good time playing it - of course, I stomped them. The ability to think & react to the changing patterns just isn't there yet.

Adult-Sized Dexterity Games

Again, it's the fine motor skills development that is the problem here. There are a number of dexterity games on the Kid Games 100, but they (for the most part) don't require the same kind of steady hands that these do.
  • Arbos - a very tippy wooden tree being built out of branches & leaves. This is a very pretty game to look at.
  • Kapitan Wackelpudding - Imagine playing Jenga and then trying to move the stack around... and add some very wacky special action cards to the mix. The impatience of youth may be as big a problem as fine motor skills on this one.
  • Karambolage - Again, let me remind you: all of these are playable by kids. (My son, for example, loves Karambolage.) I just think they work better with adults. The flicking skill needed here (using a piece of cord) is tough even for some older folks.
  • Loopin' Louie - This is the game I knew I'd get questions about. It was marketed for kids & kids have fun with it. But you haven't played Loopin' Louie until you've played with some really LL sharks. The yearly tournament at the Gathering of Friends is amazing. (I'm also aware that the fragile nature of this now-very-expensive game makes me less likely to play it with kids.)
  • Nacht der Magier - Kids tend to knock pieces willy-nilly (esp. in the dark) and the game is over much too quickly. BTW, if you've never seen this game, you've missed out on a work of art.
Games That Are Wasted On The Average Kid
  • Apples to Apples - Kids - Not a huge fan of the game anymore myself (I'd rather be playing What Were You Thinking? or Say Anything for a similar kind of game) but with kids it quickly collapses into silliness and arguments. (One of the reasons I'm not a fan with adults? The same thing happens.)
  • Book of Classic Board Games - The first Klutz book of games was beautifully put together... and WAY over the head of the average kid. This is what I told the editor of the 2nd Klutz book when I went to work for her as a consultant: "This is a book that parents get for their kids because it makes them feel like they're making their kids smarter." I'm not knocking Go or Backgammon (both games we took out of the 2nd book that were in the first book); I like Backgammon a lot & I can appreciate that Go has major nuances that I will never ever grasp. I just don't think they're really appropriate games to foist off on unsuspecting 7 year olds.
  • China Moon - And now I get into hot water... because this Bruno Faidutti game was actually reprinted in the 2nd Klutz board game book - yep, the one I consulted on. I like the game a lot... but I think that it bogs down with all but the most gamer-y of kids
  • Emerald - the fact that there's a cute baby dragon on the cover does NOT make this a kid game. It's a good game, but it's clearly a family game.
  • In Teufel's Kuche - While the pop-up UberTeufel (Over Devil) in the middle of the board screams "kid game," the actual gameplay is a little tricky for the younger set. I'd recommend this for 10+ for full enjoyment... and this is one of those games where you really need 4 players to make it work. (Again, the fact that this game is wildly difficult to re-acquire keeps me from wanting to let kids look at it, let alone play it.)
  • Pig Pile - Kids can play it... the problem is (a) dealing with large hands of cards on occasion & (b) playing quick enough not to bog down this feather-light "better than Uno" game.

Migration: World Cup Soccer & Theology

Nearly 8 years ago, I created a Geocities website to host my resume & a selection of my writing from the church @ hickory hollow - and I've just recently been informed by Yahoo that they're going to make it go away. I figured I'd migrate most of it over to this blog - well, at least the stuff that is worth reading again.

To start off with, some soccer-related stories in honor of the conversation I had with Sandra & RomeAnna & Chris at Cool Summer Nights...


The World Cup and Other Miracles...

June 13, 2002

I'm not expecting many of you to be soccer fans... let's face it, most of the people who receive this e-mail are Americans, and that means that soccer is something OTHER countries do. We Americans are perfectly happily to watch heavily-padded guys slam into each other at high speeds (American football) - not that, INHO, there's anything wrong with that! :-)

Worse yet, we (the Americans) aren't the best in the world at soccer. This is a problem - we have a bit of a complex about not being #1. (And when I say we're not the best in the world at soccer, I'm not kidding. We were 32nd place out of 32 teams in the last World Cup.)

So, when the U.S. team is dangerously close to advancing into the second round of World Cup play (the first time since 1994) by either winning or tying the game we play against Poland tomorrow (heck, we can still advance with a loss if the right things happen in the other game in our group!), it's major.

[BTW, that game is on ESPN tomorrow morning at 6:30 am... I'm planning on setting my alarm clock and cheering on our team!]

Naturally, my mind drifts from World Cup Soccer to one of the other great themes in my life - following God. (There's a short detour in the twisted paths of my brain to "really good board games about soccer" but I won't dwell on that.)

So much of soccer - and so much of following God - is set-up. Scoring (doing something big & obvious) happens, but not all the time. Scoring is a matter of playing the WHOLE game well, of playing defense & offense, of trying again and again, of being patient & having endurance.

So is following God - a life of patience & endurance & faithfulness... even when the Big & Obvious Stuff doesn't seem to be happening.
Though the cherry trees don't blossom

and the strawberries don't ripen,

Though the apples are worm-eaten

and the wheat fields stunted,

Though the sheep pens are sheepless

and the cattle barns empty,

I'm singing joyful praise to God.

I'm turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.

Counting on God's Rule to prevail,

I take heart and gain strength.

I run like a deer.

I feel like I'm king of the mountain!

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (The Message)
More World Cup...

June 14, 2002

It's 8:35 am CST... and the U.S. just lost their game against Poland 3-1. (Like I said, I got up at 6:30 am to watch...)

But... since South Korea beat Portugal 1-0, the United States ends up advancing to the round of 16 *anyway* and playing Mexico on Monday.

Christianity is like that - we're all losers. No matter how nice we are, no matter how good-looking, no matter how wealthy... we all sin. We all miss the mark. We all rebel against the goodness of God.

And it took Someone Else to get us in... Jesus Christ.

Have a great day. Don't forget you "got to advance" due to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

But the fact is, it was *our* pains he carried --

*our* disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

We thought he brought it on himself,

that God was punishing him for his own failures.

But it was our sins that did that to him,

that ripped and tore and crushed him -- *our* sins!

He took the punishment, and that made us whole

Through his bruises we get healed.

We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost.

We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.

And God has piled all our sins, everything

we've done wrong, on him, on him.

Isaiah 53:9-14 (The Message)

Which Game Are You Playing?

June 21, 2002

Seems a simple enough question. If you've got a copy of Monopoly laid out on the card table, I'd take a flyer and say you're playing Monopoly. If you're carrying a stick with a wicker basket on the top, I'd hazard a guess and say lacrosse.

If you're playing with a white & black ball at 6:30 am CST in Korea, I'd say soccer. Which, unfortunately (Yes, I was up early again, cheering our boys on while wearing my bathrobe.) We lost 1-0 to Germany in a hard-fought & beautifully played game. Germany advances to face either S. Korea or Spain while the U.S. goes home.

But... what if the game you're playing isn't primarily about going through to the round of 8 (nice though that would be) but about winning the respect of the world soccer community? In that case, the U.S. was successful - amazingly so. Beating Portugal & Mexico, playing Germany so close that a couple of inches would have turned an inadvertent hand ball into a tying goal... we are no longer the laughingstock of international soccer.

In our lives, the game may well seem to be:

  • the most cash
  • the nicest house
  • the cushiest job
  • the admiration of others

But, we're actually playing in a bigger game... living life in a way that reflects Christ. Success at the "obvious" game may well not translate into success at being conformed to His image - and vice versa.

Doesn't change the fact that the second 'game' is WAY more important.

[God] decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.

Romans 8:29 (The Message)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kid Games 100: MIA Games (Never Played)

There are a number of well-known/well-liked kid games that didn't find their way onto my Kid Games 100. Over a series of posts, I'll try to explain the logic of why I didn't include them - or, in some cases, actively excluded them. I used the top 100 games categorized on the Geek as the jumping off point for this one...

MIA Games: "I've Never Played Them"

I'm going to divide this into three types: games that I think might have had a chance if I had ever played them, games that seem unlikely even if I did get to play them, and games that make me wonder about the ability of the average board game geek to recognize kid games.

Games With a Chance
  • Das magische Labyrinthe - the winner of the Kinderspiel SdJ this year... my hope is that it will make a really great game out of the A-Mazing Labyrinth mechanic
  • Dawn Under - spectacular production (it's Zoch!) + memory game... but it's a kiddie vampire game (that's a little weird)
  • Didi Dotter - the Zoch games pretty much all deserve a play before you dismiss them... and it's part of the Chicken Family of Zoch, which is a plus.
  • Forbidden Bridge - Don't know that it could replace Fireball Island... but I'd sure like to give it a go
  • Froggy Boogie - looks cute & has a good following
  • Magic Hill - I've tried to trade for a copy of this a couple of times
  • Max - why is this Family Pastimes game so highly rated? How does it differ from Round-Up or Caves & Claws?
  • Powerpuff Girls: Villains at Large - Craig Van Ness did such a nice job with "Saving the World Before Bedtime"... I think this might good as well.
  • Schildkroetenrennen - Knizia game of turtle racing
  • Zoff im Huhnerhoff - Oh, yeah... this is Haba goodness. I just haven't had the opportunity to play it yet.
Games That Probably Don't Have a Chance
  • Battle Dome - we have Pokemon Battle Dome (which isn't the exact same thing) but the new wore off pretty quickly for this kind of game
  • Buggo - combines memory with push-your-luck... I don't have any objections but don't feel like I'm missing anything
  • Der Zerstreute Pharao - It's certainly been around a while... but I've never been convinced to "pull the trigger" and buy it
  • Dorada - sounds like a nice roll'n'move (and, typically for Rudi Hoffman, has a couple of interesting twists) but not anything that would set the world on fire
  • Fliegen klatschen - This is a Halli Galli variant, I think... I'll get into why I don't enjoy speed/recognition games with kids in another post.
  • Gopher It! - Nothing against Reinhard Staupe... but most of his kid card games leave me cold. In this case, it sounds very similar to Duck Duck Bruce or Circus Flohcati.
  • Kids of Carcassonne - What I've read doesn't particularly interest me... and I think Panda, Gorilla & Co.: Das Spiel does the same thing with a more-kid friendly theme & more interesting tactical decisions.
  • Los Mampfros - I may be reading between the lines here, but I think the deep love for this game is about playing a game about donkey poop. (Humorous note: Rudiger Dorn, darling of the "serious Euro" set, was one of the designers.)
  • Mago Magino - While I love a number of Selecta games, some of them don't have much oomph beyond their gorgeous bits... and it's Knizia, who can design some great games but usually doesn't do much of note with kid games. (Only 1 of his games ended up on the Kid Games 100... and don't get me started about Nimbali.)
  • Mandarin - yikes! it's a Chinese-themed version of Bingo...
  • Orchard - I'm a huge Haba fan... but this looks like a tricked-out cooperative version of Hi-Ho Cherry-O. Of course, I reserve the right to be wrong. :-)
  • Pirahna - cute dexterity game idea... but nothing to distance it from the rest of the Tip-It crowd
  • RPGQuest - an introduction to role-playing in board game format, pitched for ages 8-10
  • Schatz der Dragon - Knizia does not have a great history with me & kids games. This sounds a bit better - a Memory variant with some push-your-luck elements.
  • Wer war's - a computerized game referee that only speaks German? Sigh. According to Ravensburger, it's too expensive to bring over to the U.S. market.
Games That Make Me Say "Huh?"
  • Arimaa - I've never even heard of this one. It's a Chess variant that should not be categorized as a kid game.
  • Croa - Or this one. Though it is a kid game.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kid Games 100: Publishers

The following companies had four (or more games) on the Kid Games 100. They're arranged in order of the number of games that appeared.

NOTE: Many of you are aware that I have a "relationship" with Haba (I blog about their stuff & they send me free games)... but that relationship didn't start until long after (6 months) I chose the Kid Games 100.


  • Akaba
  • Buddel-Wuddel (Rig-A-Dig Dig)
  • Dschungelschatz (Jungle Treasure)
  • Der schwarze Pirat (The Black Pirate)
  • Drops & Co.
  • Floß geht's! (Rafting-Steady-Go!)
  • Höchst Verdächtig (Highly Suspect)
  • Insel der Schmuggler (Smuggler's Island)
  • Kayanak
  • Klondike
  • Marrakesh
  • Mäuse-Rallye (Mice Rally)
  • Maus nach Haus
  • Ringel Rangel
  • Pyramidos
  • Rumpel Ritter (Knuckling Knights)
  • Schildi Schildkröte (Twiddle Turtle)


  • Baggage Claim
  • Dschungelrennen
  • Enchanted Forest
  • Fat Cats
  • Flying Carpet
  • Hüpf Hüpf Hurra!
  • Kiki Ricky
  • Max MauseSchreck
  • Midnight Party
  • Mole in the Hole
  • Monkey Mission
  • Pirates on the High Seas
  • Secrets of the Deep


  • Ab die Post
  • Bärenstark
  • Bis Bald im Wald
  • Der Kleine Riese Kasimir
  • Die Ritter von der Haselnuss
  • Hallo Dachs
  • Immer oben auf!
  • Mein Lieber Biber
  • Prinzessin Pimpernell
  • So ein Käse
  • Willy Waschbär

Milton Bradley

  • 13 Dead End Drive
  • Bob the Builder - Scoop's Construction Site Game
  • Fireball Island
  • Pathfinder
  • Powerpuff Girls: Saving the World Before Bedtime
  • Small Soldiers Big Battle Game
  • The Lost World Jurassic Park Game
  • Yahtzee Junior


  • Castle Keep
  • Dish It Up
  • Duck Duck Bruce
  • Eureka!
  • Snap - The Interlocking Dragon-Making Game
  • Thing-a-ma-bots


  • Giro Galoppo
  • Maskenball der Kafer
  • Monte Rolla
  • Turbulento
  • Viva Topo


  • Au Backe!
  • Chateau Roquefort
  • Chicken Cha Cha Cha
  • Froschkönig
  • Gulo Gulo


  • Balloon Lagoon
  • Bumparena
  • Cariboo
  • Hullabaloo


  • Chip-Chip Hurra
  • Das Störrische Muli
  • Fette Bauche
  • Rabatz auf dem Riesenrad

Kid Games 100: Designers

The following designers had three (or more games) on the Kid Games 100. They're arranged in order of the number of games that appeared... and the game after their name is their most popular game (kid game or not) from BGG.

Heinz Meister (Igloo Pop - BGG rank #992)
  • Bärenstark
  • Daddy Cool
  • Hüpf Hüpf Hurra!
  • Kameltreiber AG
  • Maus nach Haus
  • Mein Lieber Biber
  • Prinzessin Pimpernell
  • Turbulento
  • Willy Waschbär
Forrest-Pruzan Creative (Hoopla - BGG rank #1130)
  • Balloon Lagoon
  • Break the Safe
  • Bumparena
  • Cariboo
  • Hullabaloo
Gunter Baars (Up & Down - BGG rank #2780)
  • Blackrock Castle
  • Drops & Co.
  • Kiki Ricky
  • Mäuse-Rallye
  • Monkey Mission
Klaus Teuber (The Settlers of Catan - BGG rank #42)
  • Chip-Chip Hurra
  • Die Ritter von der Haselnuss
  • Fette Bauche
  • Hallo Dachs
  • Rabatz auf dem Riesenrad
Alex Randolph (Ricochet Robot - BGG rank #254)
  • Baggage Claim
  • Enchanted Forest
  • Monster Fressen
  • Rüsselbande
Manfred Ludwig (Viva Topo - BGG rank #840)
  • Höchst Verdächtig
  • Marrakesh
  • Viva Topo
Peter Neugebauer (Lord of the Rings: The Duel - BGG rank #1858)
  • Bis Bald im Wald
  • Duck Duck Bruce
  • So ein Käse
Peter-Paul Joopen (Maskenball der Kafer - BGG rank #1934)
  • Eureka!
  • Kayanak
  • Maskenball der Kafer
Wolfgang Kramer (El Grande - BGG rank #9)
  • Buddel-Wuddel
  • Corsaro - Irrfahrt im Piratenmeert
  • Midnight Party
Wolfgang Riedesser (Ave Caesar - BGG rank #376)
  • Dschungelrennen
  • Fat Cats
  • Secrets of the Deep

Some Not-So-Goodreads

A few reviews of books I haven't liked from my Goodreads feed:

Quitting Church: Why the Faithful Are Fleeing & What To Do About It (Julia Duin)

This felt really "cut & paste" - as if Julia Duin had taken a number of articles & blog posts about church decline & slapped them together into a book. There are some brilliant insights here - particularly in how churches deal with singles - but her general cynicism about "seeker" churches and her longing for the charismatic go-go days of the Jesus Movement cast a pall over the book.

The "cut & paste" nature of the work (Ms. Duin is not only a reporter & religion editor but also a blogger of note) leads to another problem - if a pastor took to heart all of the advice she mentions positively, they would need to be a combination of Dr. Phil, Billy Graham, Superman & Steve Jobs in order to adequately perform.

She seems to have picked sides in the emerging/emergent church discussion as well - Mark Driscoll is pull-quoted & castigated for his complimentarian view of marriage (for the record, I'm not sure I completely agree with Driscoll, but his view is a bit more nuanced than presented in the book). OTOH, Brian McLaren is quoted as an expert without any reference to his critics.

I think my primary reaction to this book is simply that she spends 180 pages detailing the flight of the faithful from American churches - and suggests only broad-stroke non-answers rather than specific recommendations for action. I don't dispute her findings - she's in a far better position than I am to see what's going on across denominations. What I question is the worth of a book like this which depresses rather than inspires.

Me of Little Faith (Lewis Black)

I knew going into this that Lewis Black was going to offend me... but my experience with his comedy (someone else here on Goodreads called it "intellectual comedy") suggested that he might have some interesting/funny things to say about a subject that, let's face it, can use an occasional pie in the face.

But I kept getting hung up on inconsistencies - Lewis styles himself as atheist/agnostic (yes, I realize they aren't the same thing), but is amazed at the accuracy of astrology & has a long-term relationship with a psychic. He tries to make a semi-logical argument about why he thinks evangelicals are loons (and some of us are, thanks for reminding everyone) by positing an either/or proposition: believe in a literal 6-day "young earth" creation or believe that you evolved from slime. (Never mind that not everyone on the "God created it" side is married to Bishop Ussher's timetable... nor that evolutionary theory is far more nuanced than "I'm a monkey's uncle.") This is "intellectual comedy"?!

Finally (and this doesn't end my disagreements with the book, just the end of my quick review), shooting at Jerry Falwell (whom Black admits was dead by the time he wrote this) and Pat Robertson is not the cutting edge of comedic thought - heck, I've taken potshots at Robertson on my blog and I'm not exactly what you'd call the center of the cultural universe. (I'm not even sure you can see the center of the cultural universe from my blog.) And if you're going to take Falwell to task for what he said on The 700 Club following 9/11, you need to also take into account his willingness to apologize for his statement... but actual facts would get in the way of Black's poking a dead guy in the eye.

Yep, not a fan of the book.

A People's History of American Empire (Howard Zinn)

I don't dispute that much of what is presented here is factual. I would however dispute that ALL of the facts are being presented. I understand that those who believe in "radical" politics feel that their viewpoints have been massively underrepresented - but that doesn't give you a pass on dealing with historical facts that don't support your overarching thesis.

This is a polemic on American imperialism rather than an alternative look at American history... and that impression is reinforced by the pamphleteer-style art that you find in the graphic novel. While I appreciated hearing Zinn's story & personal connections both to WW2 and the Vietnam protest movement, I feel like a couple of things happen with those elements of the book:

  1. It gives Zinn an opportunity to make his point without dealing with the whole history of either war.
  2. It is painfully obvious that Zinn exalts in his friendships & associations with Father Berrigan & Daniel Ellsworth... that being on the stage of history around North Vietnam, the Pentagon Papers & the sit-ins in Atlanta validate his viewpoint on American history.
Again, I don't deny that horrific things have been using American power for the benefit of American business... but I think it is simplistic to blame the last 120 years of world history on American imperialism.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Kid Games 100: The Whole Enchilada

Here's the entire list of the Kid Games 100. Their current BGG ranking under the category "Children's Games" is listed after their name... if there is no number, they were not listed in the top 100 games on the Geek.
  1. Kayanak - 60th
  2. Hallo Dachs ("Hello, Badger") - 79th
  3. Midnight Party/Ghost Party - 12th
  4. Maskenball der Kafer ("The Ladybug's Costume Party") - 32nd
  5. Giro Galoppo - 15th
  6. Dschungelrennen ("Jungle Race")
  7. Mole in the Hole -19th
  8. Pirates on the High Seas
  9. Chicken Cha Cha Cha - 6th
  10. Chateau Roquefort - 3rd
  11. Dish It Up
  12. Magical Maze/Goblin's Gold
  13. Duck Duck Bruce - 39th
  14. The Secret Door - 62nd
  15. Gulo Gulo - 2nd
  16. Hüpf Hüpf Hurra!/Hop Hop Hurray! - 59th
  17. Akaba
  18. Tante Tarantel ("Auntie Tarantula")
  19. Schildi Schildkröte/Twiddle Turtle - 50th
  20. Rabatz auf dem Riesenrad ("Rats on the Ferris Wheel")
  21. Attacktix Battle Figure Game (Star Wars)
  22. Chip-Chip Hurra
  23. Fette Bauche/Pop Belly
  24. Secrets of the Deep
  25. Viva Topo - 9th
  26. Maus nach Haus/Hula Hippos - 21st
  27. Daddy Cool
  28. Dschungelschatz/Jungle Treasure - 53rd
  29. Mäuse-Rallye/Mouse Rally
  30. Pathfinder
  31. Scene-It Disney
  32. Eureka!
  33. Der schwarze Pirat/The Black Pirate - 16th
  34. Break the Safe
  35. Castle Keep
  36. Marrakesh - 41st
  37. Operation Rescue Kit
  38. Corsaro - Irrfahrt im Piratenmeert ("Corsaro - Stranded in Pirate Waters")
  39. Das Faultier ("The Sloth")
  40. Immer oben auf!
  41. Höchst Verdächtig/Highly Suspect - 68th
  42. Gumball Rally
  43. Turbulento
  44. Fireball Island - 26th
  45. Buddel-Wuddel/Rig-a-dig, dig!
  46. Bärenstark/Strong Stuff - 75th
  47. Bob the Builder - Scoop's Construction Site Game
  48. The Lost World Jurassic Park Game
  49. Zingo!
  50. My Haunted Castle
  51. Monster Fressen
  52. Froschkönig ("Frog King")
  53. Enchanted Forest - 66th
  54. Klondike - 27th
  55. Drops & Co.
  56. Small Soldiers Big Battle Game
  57. Pyramidos - 83rd
  58. Insel der Schmuggler/Smuggler's Island
  59. Fat Cats
  60. Ab die Post
  61. Willy Waschbär ("Willy the Raccoon")
  62. Geisterwäldchen ("Ghost Wood") - 44th
  63. Beppo der Bock ("Beppo the Buck") - 74th
  64. Jewels in the Attic
  65. Monkey Mission
  66. Ringel Rangel
  67. Der Plumpsack geht an/Sherlock ("The Plumpsack Goes On")
  68. Kameltreiber AG ("Camel Driver, Inc.")
  69. Hullabaloo
  70. Rüsselbande ("Acrobatic Pig Gang") - 73rd
  71. Die Ritter von der Haselnuss ("The Knights of the Hazelnut") - 81st
  72. Kiki Ricky ("Chuck-It Chicken")
  73. Bumparena
  74. Au Backe!/By Golly - 63rd
  75. Quackshot - 61st
  76. Am Fuß des Kilimandscharo ("At the Foot of Kilimanjaro")
  77. 13 Dead End Drive/1313 Dead End Drive
  78. Das Störrische Muli ("The Intractable Mules")
  79. Mein Lieber Biber ("My Friend the Beaver")
  80. Monte Rolla
  81. Powerpuff Girls: Saving the World Before Bedtime - 88th
  82. Steinbeisser ("Stonebiters")
  83. Sorry! - Pokémon
  84. Snap - The Interlocking Dragon-Making Game
  85. Sandwürmchen ("Sandworms")
  86. Floß geht's!/Rafting-Steady-Go!
  87. Biesti Boys
  88. Blackrock Castle
  89. Der Kleine Riese Kasimir ("The Little Giant, Kasimir")
  90. Thing-a-ma-bots
  91. Rumpel Ritter/Knuckling Knights
  92. Yahtzee Junior
  93. Cariboo - 34th
  94. Baggage Claim
  95. Prinzessin Pimpernell ("Princess Pimpernell")
  96. So ein Käse ("Such a Cheese")
  97. Flying Carpet
  98. Bis Bald im Wald ("Until Soon in the Forest")
  99. Max MauseSchreck/Cat & Mouse
  100. Balloon Lagoon

Friday, July 24, 2009

#1: Kayanak

  • designer: Peter-Paul Joopen
  • publisher: Haba
  • date: 1999
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 2704/6.17
  • age: 6+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: in print
  • cost: approx. $34.19 (

Yes, my friends, we’ve finally reached Number One on the Kid Games 100. The Numero Uno, the Big Kahuna, the game that I believe is possibly the best kid game ever.

Or at least that’s what I think today – and for the past year or so. (I actually made the Kid Games 100 list in May of 2008.) It’s possible something better will come along – but for now, this is my favorite.

Sadly, it’s out of print… which I know (from your emails) makes some of you a bit testy. Sorry about that – but I think two of the best race games on the planet are Entenrallye & Um Reifenbreite… and both of them are OOP as well.

But why do I like Kayanak so much? In the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “let me count the ways”:

  • the theme (ice-fishing) and the mechanics (using a wooden stick to poke holes in the [paper] ice and fishing out small metal balls with a magnet) work together perfectly
  • the components are, as is typical for Haba games, top-notch. In this case, they not only look good but are extremely functional.
  • The game plays well with 2, 3 or 4 players… and with children as young as four & adults as old as dirt.
  • It's freakishly fun - I mean, seriously - you get to poke holes in paper (what kid hasn't spent most of slow school morning doing that?!), play with magnets, and pretend to be an Inuit out on a frozen lake. (OK, I have no desire to ACTUALLY be on a frozen lake, but the pretending part is fun.)

The gameplay is dice-activated: what you roll tell you what you can do (cut holes, fish, move or a combination of things) as well as how many times you can do them. The dice also give you opportunities to ice over other players fishing holes and "melt" portions of the board (making them impassable).

There's a lot of ways to play tactically - and yet, part of the charm of the game is that the fish (little metal balls in two sizes: regular & "fish story") sometimes clump together so that make an amazing haul... and sometimes you fish in an area that is, sadly, fishless. (Is "fishless" a word? I'm not sure that I care.)

I never refuse to play this with my boys... or at game conventions... or wherever. And that's why it's #1.

#2: Hallo Dachs

Hallo Dachs!
  • designer: Klaus Teuber
  • publisher: Goldsieber
  • date: 1996
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 3076/6.33
  • age: 6+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: OOP
  • cost: approx. 5 Euros (there are 6 copies on for a variety of prices)

First, he took most of the known gaming world by storm with his Settlers of Catan, then Klaus Teuber darn near drowned us in expansions & variations (I literally own 25 different Catan-related games & expansions myself). But in the middle of all of that, he took some time to design some really nifty kid games - and Hallo Dachs is my favorite. (For a few years, it would have topped this list.)

"Hallo, Dachs" translates to "Hello, Badger" - and so 2-4 badgers/players begin digging around the board, trying to find the most satisfying meal of flowers & bugs. Successfully root up the right number of badger snacks & you get the token - which is worth points. The first player to reach the winning threshold (15 points for 4 players, 20 points for 3 players, 25 points for 2 players) wins. (Which seems obvious when I call it "the winning threshold", doesn't it?)

Digging up the badger version of comfort food ("yumm - beetle bugs & strawberries!") is where your memory must kick into gear. There are six types of food (3 flowers & 3 bugs) that are keyed to the roll of a die. Each badger token has a number on the top that indicates how many times you have to roll the die. For each roll, you must turn over one correct bit of food from the tableau of face-down food tiles that surround the board.

Already some of you are figuring out that this could be very difficult - say, if you rolled the same number 3 times & therefore needed three DIFFERENT purple berries. And you'd be right - that's part of the fun. Of course, there are also garbage dumps in the face down tiles that cost you points & end your attempt to fulfill the tile.

An aside: the English translation evidently is wrong for dealing w/garbage dumps. You don't lose a point, you lose a TILE (which could be worse, as most tiles are worth 2-4 points). You still can skip a turn to flip a tile back over, so it doesn't end your game but it certainly slows you down.

A great game mechanic, right? Well, Herr Teuber wasn't finished. He added a nice board play element to the game. On your turn, before you begin digging for snacks, you may move one space along the trails. This not only allows you to find easier pickings (the badger chips are distributed randomly before the game) but also to go in front of other players to eat up the chips they were looking to take for themselves.

So, you've got a nifty memory game that has actual board play tactics with a cute theme. It's playable with kids as young as 4 (who will need help with the board play element) and enjoyable for all ages. It's really a shame that it isn't in print.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

#3: Midnight Party

Midnight Party

  • designer: Wolfgang Kramer
  • publisher: Ravensburger
  • date: 1989
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 925/6.45
  • age: 8+
  • # of players: 2-8
  • print status: in print (overseas)
  • cost: $33.75 (TimeWellSpent - this is the German edition, Mitternachtsparty, but the game itself has no text involved)

There have been a lot of editions of this game - in English alone it's had two different names (Midnight Party and Ghost Party). I think my favorite is Spöktimmen... I have no idea what language that is but it looks like Hugo (the ghost in the game) formed a Icelandic heavy metal band.

But that's not really the point here, is it? We're talking about the gaming equivalent of the old joke about the two guys hiking in the woods.

See, there's these two guys who are hiking in the woods when they come upon a big grizzly bear. The bear lunges toward them & they begin running, leaping over fallen trees and dodging saplings as they go. They can hear the bear behind them, crashing through the underbrush... but they're running fast enough to put a bit of distance between them & the bear. Suddenly, one of the guys stops and pulls a pair of running shoes out of his bag & begins to lace them on - even as they can hear the bear moving closer.

The other guys asks him: "What are you doing? You can't outrun the bear!"

To which, the running shoe guy replies: "I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you."

Thank you, thank you.... I'll be here all week. Don't forget to tip your waitress.

Since my career in stand-up comedy is DOA, let's get back to talking about the game, shall we? I told you the joke because that's really the heart of Midnight Party, except in this case it's a ghost chasing you because he wanted to play hide-n-seek at his birthday party and when you get caught, you just lose points, not various parts of your anatomy.

Depending on the number of players (and this game really does work with 2-8 players, though I like it best with 5 or more), each person controls 2 or more party goers who are placed around the central hallway of Hugo's mansion. In turn, each player rolls the die and either moves one of their figures (4 of the sides have numbers on them) or moves Hugo (2 of the sides have Hugo's mug shot plastered across it). Hugo is a nimble little fellow so he gets to move 3 spaces each time his picture pops up.

When Hugo reaches the top of the stairs (he starts in the center of the board in the basement), then players have permission to begin hiding in the rooms around the hallway. There's a few twists to this, of course:
  • Not all of the rooms are open - for example, you can't hide in the bathroom where someone is taking a bath. (The artwork on the board is very cute & full of detail.)
  • Only one figure can hide in each room.
  • There are two rooms that have Hugo's ghost buddies in them that cost the player 1 point to use - but that often beats the alternative.
  • There are two other rooms that are worth +3 points to hide in... but you have to reach those rooms by exact count.

If Hugo manages to pass or catch a figure, they're sent to the basement until the game is over... the first figure(s) take a -10 penalty, the 2nd -9, and so on. (The whole "ghost buddy" rooms thing makes more sense now, eh?!) As more than one figure can be on a hallway space at one time, those who are caught together suffer the same penalty.

But it's not time to refresh your beverage when your figures are done moving (by being caught or hiding). You still roll the dice to see if Hugo moves! This, btw, is one of the highlights of the game, as those players who are finished are rooting for Hugo to kick it into overdrive & chase down the remaining players before they can dart to safety.

So, when everyone is either caught or safely hidden in a room, the round ends & you score up. The game is made to play multiple rounds - we usually play three. So, each person who hid in a room is moved outside their room to start the next round and then the figures who were caught choose their starting places in the order they were caught.

As I describe the game, it doesn't sound like much. But there is a whole lot of fun packed into this simple game - I've NEVER seen it fall flat. It works with groups of kids (as young as age 5), with gamers as a late night closer, with families... the combination of easy rules & fun gameplay that can accommodate 8 players comfortably make it a real winner in my book.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

#4: Maskenball der Käfer

Maskenball der Käfer (The Ladybug's Costume Party)

  • designer: Peter-Paul Joopen
  • publisher: Selecta
  • date: 2002
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 1928/7.05
  • age: 4+
  • # of players: 2-5
  • print status: OOP
  • cost: $51.45 (FairPlay Games)
See, the ladybugs are having a costume party - so they've decided to trade colored spots. (Yes, kids, this happens in the real world all the time, as bugs often exchange their coloring with each other & hold tiny bug raves where they play remixes of Adam Ant and the Scorpions and dance the night way using glow sticks provided by their friendly neighborhood lightening bugs.)

Now, you'd think that my sarcasm about the theme would keep me from enjoying this cooperative memory game - but it doesn't. Maybe it's because I think that the wooden ladybugs with the magnetic noses are so darn cute... or because the idea of yellow wooden ants advancing up the vine to chow down on the picnic food is appealing to me in some way... or probably because after 63 games of this with my kids, this is such a playable & enjoyable game that I'm ready to play it again.

It's simple - on your turn you spin the flower spinner which either points to:
  • a petal, which indicates which ladybug will be moving this turn, OR
  • a leaf, which indicates that one of the ants is placed on the time track, meaning the ladybug party is getting closer to be crashed by a bunch of loud-mouthed refugees from "A Bug's Life"

If you do get to move a ladybug, you choose a different ladybug to attempt to befriend... then have them touch noses. Due to a very clever bit of component design (the noses are magnetic & the wooden bases of the ladybugs are curved so they spin easily), the bugs either "kiss" or the bug you're attempting to befriend spins away, kind of like my wife after I've eaten Twizzlers. (She says she doesn't want to kiss me because my breath smells like "you've been chewing on the dashboard in the van.")

If they kiss, they exchange spots (small wooden pegs) and the ladybug gets to fly to another petal & attempt to make friends. If the moving ladybug is rejected, the turn is over. (Some of you are having bad high school prom flashbacks - come on, people! This is the insect kingdom, not a rerun of your junior year!)

When a ladybug has five different colored spots (pegs), they go hang out on the big leaf at the bottom of the board - see, they've got their costume on and are ready to party like it's 1999. The objective, of course, is to get all 8 ladybugs party-ready before 7 ants crash the place.

While I haven't tracked it exactly, our win/loss ratio is about 1 out of every 3-4 games... far enough apart to keep the tension in each game while close enough (esp. since it's short - 15 minutes or so) to keep the younger set from getting frustrated.

My boys both started playing this around the time they were 3 years old. While they needed an adult to help move the pegs around & set up the game, they understood what they were trying to do & enjoyed the game immensely.

Two warnings... well, maybe "warning" is too strong. Two things you need to know about:

  1. The game parts are too small for kids in the appropriate age range to play with by themselves. Selecta is kind enough to provide extra pegs in the box, but this really is a game for kids & parents together.
  2. It's time for my spinner rant - IF you're going to use a spinner, then make sure that the lines marking each area are clear. There are a couple of places on the spinner that are neither petal nor leaf - we just re-spin on those spaces but it's irritating.
Don't let either of those things keep you from playing this - it's #4 on this list for a reason.

Monday, July 20, 2009

When A Parable Bites Me In The Rear End

I like parables... I'd much rather learn something as a story than as an outline. (This may go a long way to explaining why I was an English major at Baylor and had real difficulty with my systematic theology class in seminary.)

So it's no real surprise to anyone that I've been teaching & preaching the parables of Jesus for a long time. I have fond memories of doing dramatic pieces (don't call them "skits", btw - ask me to explain this pet peeve some other time) in college based on parables - the stories lend themselves to theatrical interpretation.

It's also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money.

After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master's investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.'

The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.' (Matthew 25:14-30, The Message)

I've taught this parable who knows how many times. (Well, God does - the whole "hairs on my head are numbered" thing - though based on my growing forehead & the general thinning going on up top, He doesn't have as many to track as He used to.) I've used it to illustrate how we should give generously in financial ways. I've explained that the "talents" in "The Parable of the Talents" aren't the things that get you on American Idol, but still proceeded to make the point that our skills/talents/spiritual gifts can either be used or buried.

But it wasn't until a month or so ago that I re-read the story as part of my time with God and felt like I'd been hit upside the head with a two by four. This time around, I thought about the parable in a relational context - that we can bury ourselves, our hearts so deep in order to keep them safe that we never manage to invest ourselves in the lives of others.

Hence, the title of this post... because in a relational context, I'm the third servant. I'm the guy with dirt on his hands and nervous flop sweat on his brow because I've spent far too much time perfecting ways to look like I'm close to people while maintaining a safe emotional distance.

I don't know how this is going to get fixed... but I know I don't want to make another trip around the sun and find myself in the same place next year. And if it's going to change, I'm going to have to risk friendship. Jesus, help me dig up my life & invest it for You.

#5: Giro Galoppo

Giro Galoppo
  • designer: Jurgen P. Grunau
  • publisher: Selecta/Rio Grande
  • date: 2006
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 1108/6.78
  • age: 6+
  • # of players: 2-5
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $29.22 (Thoughthammer)

Well, it certainly looks like a cute kid game, doesn't it? Pretty kid art, little wooden jockeys with interchangeable wooden horses, nifty little wooden fences... but don't be fooled. This game is "mummy, daddy, don't touch it's Ee-vil" in a box. (A very cute box, mind you.)

OK, maybe it's not pure "Time Bandit-y" evil.... but this is not Candyland, people. This is a no-holds-barred steeplechase where each space can only hold one horse & landing on another player sends them back to the first empty spot.

Movement isn't determined by a die - each player has a hand of 6 cards (numbered 1-6, naturally!) which are chosen & played simultaneously. The lowest number goes first, with ties broken by which horse is farthest behind. In practice, this means that the whole Robert Burns "plans of mice & men gang aft agley" thing is in full swing here at the races. All it takes is for some plodding rider to move you one space back & your once-brilliant move now plows you straight into the river.

Speaking of the river (and the bog & the fences), if a horse ends his move on one of those spaces, it's as if his move never happened. The horse (in dressage parlance) "refused" the jump & you simply stay where you started.

With the delightful bits & simple game play, this game is easily accessible to kindergarten-age kids & up... with the important warning that the potential for hosage in this game really sets off some kids emotionally. (You know what I'm talking about... the kid who can not take something going wrong in his game & melts down like a Milky Way on a dashboard in the Mojave Desert.) I should also note that this warning doesn't just apply to kids - sadly, most of the adults who have this tendency aren't able to recognize it in themselves.

The box says this plays with 2-5 players... and while it works with all of those numbers, it's best with 4-5 so that there's a lot of jockeying for position.

One final word: this is an excellent game for kids. The bits encourage imaginative play and the simple "gotta figure out what the other guy is gonna do" process is an important decision-making skill. But it's also an excellent filler for adults, whether they're gamers or complete newbies. Simple rules + hosage + quick play = fun.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Someday... (part 2)

20080606 Tokyo DisneySea 44 (Night of Nautilus)
Originally uploaded by BONGURI

This shot is from inside the crater of Mysterious Island - you can see the Nautilus sub in the foreground & the "Journey to the Center of the Earth" volcano in the background.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Good News on the "Bears Carrying Honey On Their Head" Front

It's official... Haba USA will be releasing the reprint of Bärenstark here in the US under the title Strong Stuff. There are some minor changes to the game, but the dexterity challenge I know & love is still there.

From the folks at Haba USA:
Great game – in fact we had so much fun with this game in February at our Toy Fair that we decided to make it in all-English packaging (unfortunately most of my retail store owners prefer the all English vs. the international packaging). So we held off on bringing the German version over here until the new all-English game was printed. My latest ETA shows that we should have it in stock and be shipping to retailers in September! The new English version is called Strong Stuff and the item number of the game is 3175 (many online retailers will allow for a search by item code).
I've written about Bärenstark before... it's #46 on the Kid Games 100. (Short version of my review: "Kapitan Wackelpudding (another odd dexterity game) for kids.")

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Picking Games To Take To Camp

It comes as no surprise that I love to play games. I even get a twisted pleasure out of telling people that I have 1000+ games in my collection and watch their jaws drop & their eyes bug out. (Of course, I try to not guess at their inward thoughts, which probably are something like “1000 games? Board game geek, indeed!”)

Anyway, my love for games & for the way they help connect people meant that taking a bag of games with me to children’s camp was a no-brainer. The trick was choosing which games make the trip and which stay behind to guard the game room. (Hmmm… which games would make the best security guards? Shocking Roulette? The General Grievous Attacktix figure? The Rock’Em Sock’Em Robots?)

Here’s the list of what I brought with me this last week… and why:
  • Adlerauge (Amigo)… part of the Reinhard Staupe line of games that has been republished in English by Gamewright, this one is known here in the States as “Game, Set, Match.” (I like the German title, “Eagle Eye,” better – esp. since it fits with the Native American theme of the game.) It’s small & plays quickly – it’s essentially competitive puzzle solving.
  • Animal Upon Animal (Haba)… a quick (10 minute) stacking/dexterity with cute wooden animals & an ingenious set of rules that keeps the game from going on to long or punishing less dexterous players. I’m actually finding this more enjoyable with pre-teens than with younger kids.
  • Bungee (Amigo)… the find of the week, I think. I bought it in an eBay auction for 99 cents… and we’ve got way more play value out of it already. It’s one of those “better than Uno” card games where the objective is to reduce the points in your hand to 5 or less. I’ll write a more detailed description later, since the ratings on the Geek seem way too low for this one. It was the most requested game right after Diamant.
  • Cheese Snatching (Haba)… a simple push-your-luck dice game that you can teach in less than a minute & play in less than five minutes. This may be one of my favorite new Haba games. It also went over quite well with the kids here at camp.
  • Daddy Cool (Huch & Friends)… another push-your-luck dice game that’s quick & fun. The cute pieces (brightly colored polar bear cubs) are a definite plus. (We played one 2 player game which doesn’t work as well as it does w/more players – the trailing player keeps adding tiles to the front of the race.)
  • das Faultier (Eurogames)… an anti-racing game (the goal is to be the last sloth to reach the nest) with lots of hosage (a real plus with pre-teen boys). It is an elimination game, but it seldom lasts more than 10 minutes past the first elimination, so I don’t consider that a deal-breaker. Another highly requested game – it works MUCH better with 4+ players.
  • Diamant (Schmidt)… while I appreciate the American publication (Incan Gold) of this splendid push-your-luck/bluffing game, I like the German edition much better. (Yes, the little boxes to hold the gems are very cool.) This was a favorite last year with all ages… and nothing has changed. It was requested each day and played with much hooting & hollering.
  • Gumball Rally (Jolly Roger)… this takes the relative position racing idea from a number of different more complicated games (as well as the ultimate in “meh” racing games, Formula Motor Racing) and boils it down to a fast-paced & enjoyable game for 8 players.
  • Halli Galli (Rio Grande)… this always feels like a cousin to Jungle Speed/Arriba to me – but it’s easier to teach & it has the cool bell for the middle of the table instead of the Arribaton (aka "Flying Stick of Death & Mayhem").
  • Ice Cream (Jolly Roger)… a Joe Huber designed bit of thoughtful fluff that kids can connect with the theme – and then start to see some clever plays as they go along. WWe played one 3 player game that was very close: 30-30-28 (I was the 28.) The tie was broken w/unused barrels, 3-1.
  • Jungle Speed (Asmodee)… I think Halli Galli is the better quick-reaction game for the pre-teen crowd, but I brought this last year & it went over well, so I stuck it in the bag again. We didn’t actually end up playing it – the only game in the bag to suffer that fate.
  • Mausen (Schmidt Spiele)… a Loco!/Raj variant in which four different types of cards (elephants, dogs, cats & mice) are being contested each round. The theme is kid-friendly and the game play quick (due to the simultaneous choice of cards). Added bonus: it plays best with 5-6 players.
  • Monopoly Deal Card Game (Hasbro)… this isn’t as much Monopoly as it is Rummy with special action cards & a nice new mechanic, banking cards as $ to protect your sets from being stolen. As long as you know the Deal Breaker cards are out there, btw, I don’t think they break the game – except possibly when playing with two players. I brought this because Monopoly is an easy theme for non-gamers & because I’d played it with some of the kids going on the trip waiting for a fireworks show last week (and they liked it!)
  • The Gnumies (Rio Grande)… a silly auction game with some complicated scoring rules. Nevertheless, the art appeals to kids and it actually generated a request to play a 2nd time a day later.
  • Wilde Wikinger (Haba)… “Wild Vikings” is a cute introduction to auction games for the younger set – it’s pretty random, esp. with 4-5 players, but it plays quickly and with some fun reversals of fortune. We actually had a nice 2-player game of it up at camp – there seems to be more game there with fewer players.
  • 6 Nimmt (Amigo)… I really like the portability of the 10th anniversary metal tin version. I also like that it plays with 10 players, as I’m sometimes trying to entertain that many kids.Link

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Weird Observations After Two Days At Camp

Written on Tuesday night the 7th...
  • Why do they call it a “laptop” if no one in their right mind wants to leave it on their lap for an extended period of time due to giving yourself a heat rash?
  • I am thankful to report that it is not just my children who cannot remember where they are going and what they are supposed to do next.
  • People who give up a week with their families to come & be a camp counselor need to be praised for their courage & compassion – it’s not an easy job. I’m the camp pastor, so I have a private room to rest/hide in… these guys are “on duty” 24 hours a day for 5 days. Churches should carry them around the worship center on their shoulders when they get home, like football players do MVPs for big games.
  • You don’t have to be old to make a difference for Jesus – the members of the worship band, Amplified Truth, are all high school & college students. They not only rock but they also hang out with the kids & teach ‘em what it looks like to be followers of Christ.
  • You don’t have to be young to make a difference for Jesus – our missionary couple from Japan (the Whaley’s) are less than a year away from retirement, and they are participating in the camp experience with gusto. Tomorrow, the kids are going to make & eat sushi in their class… and learn about identifying with the culture of the people you’re trying to reach.
  • I love speaking & teaching… sharing truth is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. (And, yes, I’ve owned two different Barrel of Monkeys in my lifetime… so I should know.) Where else can I get paid to talk kids into batting an inflatable koala bear around the worship center… and then laser-focus in on standing up for what’s right even if no one else will stand with you?