Happy end of the heat wave folks. We are back from our trip to the south, still sticky, but glad to be back in such a great town. While we were away, we had the chance to play quite a few games with family, including 9 and 11 year old nieces. Rummikub was the big hit, despite one game where I collected tiles for every single turn except the last, so many tiles that my rack overflowdeth.
Also popular were Rage and Phase 10. I whined a lot during Rage, since it is a trick-taking game in the style of Spades or Pinochle, and my brain just does not process that style of game very well. I definitely did not earn any points with the family when I won the game after all the whining, dumb luck I guess. Thankfully, my subsequent Phase 10 victory was executed with much more grace. Both of these card games make for great family tabletop time. Phase 10 can go a little long, but the ease of play allows everyone to gab and goof-off.
Our gaming fun came to a bit of a halt though after an insanely long round of Settlers of Catan. I was pretty excited to show my family perhaps the biggest phenomenon in the tabletop world since Dungeons & Dragons or Magic the Gathering. We’re talking about the game that woke up my slumbering video-game-numbed brain. When I first played this game I remember feeling saved, a long-closed door in my noggin creaked open. by the time Catan came stateside, millions of minds, including my own, were deeply atrophied from playing first-person shooters and farming Warcraft loot. The good old days of getting together with buddies and powering through an epic Avalon Hill game, or a round of Risk, had been replaced with twitchy digital repetition and online bad behavior.
Then here comes Settlers of Catan, a strategy game for the adult world, a world where binging on Game of Thrones episodes is preferable to a 6 hour game of Axis & Allies or Risk. But Catan only takes you away from the digital world for an episode and a half, or at least it is supposed to. Our visit to Catan took over three episodes, and ended with one player being completely unable to do anything for the last few rounds. Needless to say, my family did not have the same nirvanic experience I had upon first playing Catan. Fortunately, during the plane ride back, we received a text photo of our two nieces enjoying another round of the game, so the kids were hooked!
Upon returning to our wonderful city, I was itching for some gaming, so I rounded up the regular crew and brought some good ones to the table. First was Fresco, one we have not played in some time for no good reason. Fresco is a smooth and very competitive game with a pleasant look and feel, typical of games by the publisher, Queen. The game has some classic euro-style elements: choosing when to wake your workers up to get a leg up at the market and painting the Fresco, but at the expense of higher prices and unhappy workers; choosing paint resources in one turn in order to mix them for a future turn, and of course managing your finances.
Following Fresco we played a round of Splendor, a surprise loser of the coveted Game of the Year award in Germany. Splendor is a delightful game that let’s you think just the right amount and can be played by anyone. It is high on the shop’s recommended list for serious and casual gamers alike. Finally, we got in a round of the new Game of Thrones card game. with insanely simple rules and fast play, this $10 game is a perfect filler with more thinking than you expect up front.
There you have it folks, lots of lighter games have hit my table during the heat wave here and on the other side of the continent. Beyond the games though, just playing with family and friends is a blast, it sure beats plugging in. Cheers everyone,
We have two ‘last Saturday’ events coming up, one we are very stoked about, and one that saddens us a bit. Let’s hit the bad news first: tomorrow night is our last official Strategy Saturday game night. Come party and game with us during the send off of this much-loved event.
Then, just two short weeks later, on the actual last Saturday of the month, join us for our first Star Realms tournament. If you have not played this game yet and you like tactical deck-building, ask for a demo, this is one heck of a card game for just $15. If you have played and enjoyed this game, then sign your fanny up for the tournament and try to win a Star Realms playmat and a full set of promo cards.
For new games this week, copies of Shinobi Wat-aah!!! arrive today. Not really sure what this game is about, but the opportunity to put a big Wat-aah!!! in your opponents’ faces sounds too good to pass up. The reviews are placing it in that sweet King of Tokyo zone, I hope they are right. We’ll definitely have a demo of this to try out, so come help us test kick it in the jaw.
A less strange words in your face game that I am very excited about will be for sale on Monday, Sail to India. The man who brought us the novel train game, String Railway, is now blessing us with what looks to be a euro-game bigger than its tiny box. With just some cards and cubes, Hisashi Hayashi appears to have created a micro-worker placement game. If this is as interesting as I hope it is, possible micro-tournament in the future? By micro I mean we’ll fill the house with those child-sized chairs and tables.
For events beyond the last Saturdays I already mentioned, help Ben this Sunday at 1pm discover a way to fend off cat paws and cockroaches then un-become a mouse in Mice and Mystics. Next Sunday we’re trying to do a customer pick demo. I’m still working on getting that all set up on facebook and meetup, but for now if you are interested in showing off one of your favorites, just let us know. Finally, if you or anyone you know have middle-school age youths interested in Magic or Pathfinder roleplaying, we’ve got some great summer camps planned, check them out here and here.
Happy mid-may weekend everyone!
The hotness for game stores this week is the new Pokemon set, Flashfire XY. Come catch them all, we’ve got theme decks and booster packs available now.
We’re also excited to start the new format for our Pokemon league on Saturday mornings. We had some short staffing issues during Pokemon league earlier this year and wild card trading started to dominate the league. It looked like a stock market run by 7 year olds, pretty scary. Now that we’ve got the staffing figured out, we’ve been able to get the kids to really want to play the game instead of throw cards around the room, and tomorrow we step it up even more. Check out this page for more info: Pokemon League.
With the new Magic set last week and the Pocket Monsters this week, we haven’t received any new board games of note. We have backed March of the Ants through Kickstarter, and anyone interested in backing this one can do so through us and get 20% in store credit! So for $35 you’ll get a copy of the game with all stretch goals when they ship it to backers and $7 in store credit to use immediately. Go check out their Kickstarter page for more info and for a quote from yours truly!
Speaking of insects, I’ve had a darn near perfect week so far. Played Mage Knight on Sunday, then on Monday and Tuesday I tossed some dry flies to trout keyed in on giant salmonflies, followed by another round of Mage Knight Wednesday. A trip to the happiest place on earth with my family would top it off nicely, sadly that won’t be happening.
Kirsten is still cranking on Star Realms, as are all the staff at Cloud Cap, and we’ve got a tournament planned for the end of this month with a chance to win sets of promo cards and a playmat for the game, we’ll see you May 31 at 6:30pm. Kirsten has also been hot on Safranito, a spice trading game that involves tossing bidding chips onto the board, and where they land determines the actions you get to take. One of her recent opponents, Miles, exclaimed that he was ‘on fire’ during the most recent game this Wednesday night. At first I was concerned, then calmed a bit when I realized that I was standing right next to the fire extinguisher. Eventually I figured out that he was talking about the game, I think he collected some peppers.
Finally, we’ll be playing Ben’s favorite game of all time this weekend, Caylus. I expect to get fully trounced by him so I may just cheat every time he walks away to get a drink or go the bathroom.
Have a great weekend everyone.
The pre-summer weather tease is upon us and things are starting to warm up, except the new board game release schedule. No worries though, we’ve got plenty to keep you busy.
First I wanted to mention that this past Wednesday I finally took the time to visit perhaps the largest board game gathering in the city: Dice and Drinks at the My Father’s Place pub. Ben (our new chief of staff in case you haven’t met him) has been attending for a while, and the host, Andy, has been a customer for a few years now, so we thought we’d pay them and some other folks a visit. It was pretty wild to walk into the pub and witness a literal sea of tables filled with folks rolling dice, pushing cubes, and playing cards; not at all a normal thing to see at your run-of-the-mill black-walled pub. Due to the lighting and layout, you can be in your own isolated world where you’re sitting, but the host does a great job of making the rounds and ‘connecting’ the many tables. It is fantastic to see this vibrant gaming scene and congrats to Andy for sustaining it. 5-10 years ago, an event like this would not have been possible, in fact you may have been beat up and thrown out of such a place if you were caught throwing a euro on the table. Oh, if you go, beware the cheap drinks!
We are finally ready to announce our summer camps for this year. Youth gaming coordinator extraordinaire, Tam (pronounced Tum) Stockton, will once again be deftly guiding young heroes through perilous dungeons during his Pathfinder Roleplaying Adventure Camps. New this year, Tam will be running some Magic the Gathering camps both for initiates and experienced players. For the most part, the camps are all-inclusive week-long affairs with a mix of indoor and outdoor activities so we won’t your young geek home crazy after a day of just sitting on the old tushy. Check out these links for more details: Pathfinder Camps, Magic Camps.
For the merry month of May, we’ve got a few events already planned. This weekend seems to be Richard Garfield appreciation days. Saturday we’re running a small Magic tournament to find a good home for an insanely huge playmat, I mean huge! Sunday we’re hosting a casual local Netrunner tournament, there’s a very cool bunch of regular players who attend these events, so do not be intimidated if you have any interest in competing.
During the rest of the month, we’ve actually got some board games happening during our Sunday Staff pick days. Kirsten will show you how to play Star Realms, if she hasn’t already, on May 11. And get ready, we are gearing up for a Star Realms tournament, just waiting for the sweet tournament kits to ship before we choose a date. On May 18, Ben will bring in his painted figurines for a round of Mice and Mystics. Finally, I’ll give you a dose of Rosenberg on May 25 with Caverna. Next month we hope to dedicate one Sunday as a customer’s choice day, so stay tuned on how to enter.
Finally, May 17 will be our last regular Saturday Strategy Game night. We’ll be serving up some champagne, toasting to what will come.
Stay cool and game on!
When playing games I rarely choose the obvious or tried and true path to victory. Take Dominion for example, with any given card setup there is usually at least one clear path to victory, and that is exactly the path I’m not going to take. Why just win when you can win by some crazy route that should not have worked. Usually I lose, but when I do pull off a win it can be that much more satisfying.
This same thinking went into my planning for opening a game store. One of the mantras of experienced game store owners is that once you have your own shop you will play fewer games. That was the paradigm, so of course I had to try something different. Heck, if that mantra were true, what would be the point? I wasn’t opening game store just to make a living, there are far better businesses for that. Oh wait, owning a game store is a rough way to make a living? OK, let’s try that too. So I set out to see if I could run a successful game shop and continue to wallow in tons of gaming goodness.
Well, over 3 years later, I’ve played more games than ever and somehow we’re squeaking by when the first of the month comes. Just this Wednesday night I was able to play City of Remnants and a few rounds of Quantum, two great games enjoyed with great people. Last week I was able to lose miserably at Terra Mystica on Wednesday night, then shirk some duties on Thursday to play a round of Babel and a few rounds of Corto with some awesome customers. Sure, I nearly spent the night at the shop to finish all of my work afterwards, but it was worth it. Oh yeah, then on Friday I did some game design and got in a game of Caverna. Kirsten’s been getting some gaming in too. Most notably, she was on fire Wednesday night with Star Realms, a great little deck-builder recommended by Ben, and Splendor, a game I’ll talk more about below.
Should we feel guilty? Nah, as I said, this was part of the point. We also view it as a very important part of our jobs. Nearly everyone who walks through our door asks for suggestions and opinions. If there is one thing I really don’t want to do is send you out the door with a product that won’t work for you. We’ve been accused once of recommending a game just to make a big sale, it took me a few days to recover from the sting of that false accusation.
So in the spirit of full disclosure, and to impart some of what I’ve learned from the smorgasbord of gaming this month, I’d like to discuss 4 different games I’ve been enjoying that I believe share some similarities. For lack of a better word, I’m classifying these games as ‘array’ games. Not a very sexy title perhaps, unless you’re like me and the thought of acting as an array processor sounds like time well spent.
The 4 games, in loose order of approachability, are Continental Express, The Builders, Splendor, and Targi. All of these games are setup as rows and columns of cards that form an offer, or array. Two types of cards are found, some that provide resources, and others that convert resources into victory points. On any given turn, you are scanning the entire array to find the optimal connection between resource collection and victory point generation. For some this can be a very intuitive, from the gut activity. I, however, like to try and recreate the entire array in my noggin and let my squishy processor do its thing. Whatever your style, these games always feel light, fun, and fast.
They all make great 2-player games as well; Targi, in fact, is strictly a 2-player game. With just two players, it is much easier to try and foil your opponent’s plans. I find Continental Express to be a particularly fun 2-player game, and it is by far the easiest of the batch to introduce to new players. With The Builders and Splendor the calculations can get a little mind-bending at times, in a great way if your into noggin-twisting. Targi takes the array concept even further by allowing you to build your own array with the cards you take from the offer, crazy good stuff.
Lucky for you, we have all of these games either to rent or to demo in the shop. I highly recommend doing either of those if you’re looking for something casual that still gets the grey matter clicking. Have a great weekend everyone!
New Arrivals: Myth
Lots of big announcements to make this week folks. But first, let’s thank all of our official TableTop Day Geeks, who did a fine job last Saturday keeping the geek currency out of participants’ hands during the Beat the Geek challenges; we wound up raffling off lots of great prizes in the evening. According to many who attended, TableTop Day was a huge success, and our volunteer Geeks are almost entirely responsible for the praise we have received. So stay Geeky all of you!
Now with TableTop day behind us, it is time to resume our regularly scheduled programming, buuutttt, actually, we’re making some dramatic changes to our regular programming. First off, we are going to finally be open on Mondays, from 11am-7pm. Ben O. will be in charge, so stop by to say hi, he may be a bit lonely on Mondays until word gets out.
The second change to our schedule is a big boy and likely to cause a few tears. For some time now we have been seeking a way to offer a wider variety of gaming events, some for hobby gamers and some for broader audiences. Our Caverna release party in January and our recent 7 Wonders tournament are examples of the types of events we would like to offer. We have decided that Saturday nights are the best nights for us to offer these events, and have made the decision to cancel the regular Strategy Saturday game nights to give us greater flexibility.
SAY WHAT! I’ll repeat that since the shock may cause some to disbelieve.
Wednesday game nights are still full on, and great events will still be happening on Saturday nights, just not every Saturday, so stay tuned and plan on joining us!
And for the last announcement, which may pale in comparison to the prior two, I have finally created a 2-Player only section in the rental library. Most of our regularly renting customers are couples seeking great head-to-head games. Currently in the section we have Summoner Wars, Targi, Babel, Asante, 2-player Agricola, and others that were already on the shelf just not in their own private section. Look for these games on the back of the window table until we work out a better home for them. I just played Babel yesterday with a customer (yes, a big perk of the job when you run a non-Magic shop), and we had a great time. Babel is a very aggressive and challenging struggle of wits and luck.
Have a fine spring weekend everyone, I’ll leave you with a list of current staff picks, new arrivals, and games recently added to our rental shelf.
Current Staff Picks: Corto, Splendor, Spyrium, Concept, Star Realms, Babel, Continental Express.
Recent Arrivals: Star Realms (an awesome 2-player deck-builder recommended by Ben, try this puppy if you like your deck-building), The Doom that Came to Atlantic City, Descent: Nerekhall, Hive: Pillbug, Splendor.
New Rentals: The Doom that Came to Atlantic City, Quantum, Lewis & Clark, Africana, Concept, Splendor.