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

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