Woohoo! It’s Snowing! We love snow here at Cloud Cap. Kirsten and I used to live at 7500 feet just outside of Yosemite and we miss the gobs of great snow that greeted our mornings. Its gonna kill business this weekend, but who cares, let it pile up!
We are restocked after the busy post-Thanksgiving weekend and ready to go for the rest of the holiday season. The Little Boxes event was a success for us and many other shops this past weekend. We’re certainly in a city that places enormous value on its small business culture. We little guys can’t ever compete on price, but we can offer more in almost every other aspect of the retail business. Let’s hope the little guys can hold their ground for many years to come, I like my shopping experiences non-homogenized.
For us, the Little Boxes event brings in shoppers that may otherwise never set foot in a board game store. We enjoy exposing folks to unique non-digital entertainment options. Now sure, a lot of what we sell this time of year are games like Strut or Anomia, not what a lot of hardcore folks consider real games, but both fantastic social experiences. We also sell a lot of Settlers of Catan, Dominion, Ticket to Ride, Pandemic, and Forbidden Island, remember those games folks? We ‘serious’ gamers don’t play these games so much anymore perhaps, but they definitely shaped our introduction to the hobby, and we are more than happy to help others experience these games for the first time. Whatever we sell, if it brings people around a table instead of a screen, we’re doing our job.
This weekend is Decemberville, the Sellwood/ Westmoreland winter celebration. It is also the last chance to save some dough with us and other local shops before Christmas. We are offering 20% off any one item, and we’ll have a table of games at 40% off retail. For a nearly complete list of sale items, go here. We have limited sale copies of many of the games listed, so get ‘em early if you want them.
Other than that, we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Caverna, mark your calendar for the release party on Friday, December 20. Sure hope Mayfair has their dates correct. We’ve also heard that the new Race for the Galaxy expansion should be available by the end of the year, so if we see it by the end of January we’ll be happy. I think this baby has been upcoming for nearly 2 years now. Anyway, get your preorders in if you want a copy.
Oh, Skull & Roses is back in stock, now called just Skull, and with new art work. “Ahh, new artwork, we liked the old art so much better”. No you didn’t, you’re just saying that to make yourself look good.
The Yeti says hi and happy gaming!
This past Monday, Facebook sent me a friendly reminder that a friend, who was once just a customer, was getting one year older. Having some time off, I game him a call and he finagled the afternoon off work so we could get together and play one of his new favorite games, Eldritch Horror, Fantasy Flight’s new game based on the ficiton of H.P. Lovecraft. Now I’m not a Lovecraft fan, and Fantasy Flight’s most popular Lovecraft game, Arkham Horror, remedies my insomnia. So I had my doubts about playing Eldritch Horror, but not with this friend. I’ll play nearly anything with this guy.
See, I love gaming for two main reasons. First, I crave the unique mental challenge and stimulation that board games provide. But second, and just as important, I crave the social interaction that board games foster. Driving up to Washington this Monday to play with a friend who was once a customer reminded me of just how important the social aspect of our hobby is.
In the 3 years that the shop has been open, I’ve played games with more strangers than ever before, and now many of those people are more than strangers. Some are now friends and some have become employees. Some have become co-designers and perhaps future business partners.
So here’s a big thank you to our great regular customers and game night crew. I’ve honestly never attended better game nights and love playing games with you guys. See you Saturday gang!
Now for new games this week, none. Just save your money for Eldritch Horror next week and Caverna in a few weeks. By the way, Eldritch Horror is a blast, even if Arkham Horror frightens you. And when Caverna arrives I want to have a Caverna-only game night because our preorders are through the roof!
Finally, don’t forget about the shopping deals next weekend. Little Boxes is going to get you into a great raffle and give you discounts at tons of great Portland shops. Supportland is offering triple points! That means you’ll get 15 points for a purchase, and considering that there are a ton of sweet rewards for 50-100 points, it won’t take much shopping to get free stuff. Most of the Little Boxes shops are also Supportland members, so if you need to do some shopping, pound some pavement next weekend and get some goodies. Or, go get trampled on 82nd avenue.
Happy Gaming folks!
In this episode: games from Essen (and a way to receive 20% off your favorites) and early holiday shopping events (with even more ways to save money on games).
The big game convention in Essen, Germany, called the Spiel, is all the buzz right now in the board gaming world. For those not entrenched in the hobby, the show in Essen is where some of the best strategy board games ever made are released every year. Unlike our big stateside game show, GenCon, the Spiel in Essen sees very little Cosplay (wearing costumes of your favorite geek characters), and the show in Essen attracts a much wider audience due to the mainstream nature of board gaming overseas. Serious game enthusiasts and casual, family game players all come together for the event, and gamers from ages 5-85 are found parked on the convention floor trying out new games, together! Simply awesome.
What Essen means for board gamers is a tsumani of new and great board games, with absolutely no idea when that tsunami will hit the American shoreline. Quite often, the tsumani is more of a small series of big waves that strike our shores from the very end of the 4th quarter through the second quarter of next year.
For the past few years following the Spiel, a local gamer has organized an invite-only event, called the Sasquatch Board Games Festival, where over 100 of the games from Essen are available to play. Below I’ve reprinted the top ten games from the Sasquatch festival to give you an idea of what we gringos are perhaps most interested in. All the games on the list are slated to be released in the states. Sadly, only a tiny fraction of the games shown at Essen will make it stateside. Note: nearly 100% of Kickstarter games get published in the states, while maybe 10% of the amazing Essen games make it over here every year, try to get some sleep after seeing that scary statistic!
Top 10 Games of those Played at the Sasquatch Games Festival
1. Glass Road
5. Bruxelles 1893
7. Buccaneer Bones
8. Lewis & Clark
10. Snake Oil!
Take a good look at this list and see if there is anything on there that you would be interested in. Copies of these games are going to be limited, and we will be ordering only a few copies to have on hand. If you really want one of these games, give our preorder system a try, which gets you a 20% discount and a guaranteed copy of the game in all but the rarest of cases. And tell your friends about this deal, there is a perception that we are the most expensive game store in town when quite the opposite is actually true when you learn about all of our deals. In fact our new arrivals table has a serious deal or two every week now!
Speaking of ways to save money, we have 2 great community shopping events coming up soon. The first is called Little Boxes on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday (November 29 & 30). It is a sweet event organized by local folks to encourage shopping at local stores rather than online and big box. Not only will you enjoy 10% off at nearly every store you visit, you can enter a raffle to win some amazing prizes every time you visit a store, purchase or not. We participated last year and saw how this event was able to make holiday shopping fun and relaxing. Check out more details here. The second event is our homegrown Sellwood/Moreland Decemberville Holiday Shopping day on Saturday December 7. Again, you’ll be saving some dough and be able to enter a great raffle. I’ll be saying more about these events soon, but mark your calendars now!
Happy gaming everyone!
That’s right folks, we’ve made it through three gaming years, and we’re throwing a thank you party! Join us this Saturday (November 2) for a store-wide sale, some markdown tables with crazy deals, giveaways, and of course gaming. At night, we’ll be throwing a celebration for our game night punch-card holders, there are over 50 of you now and we’re gonna say thank you with some homemade chili, beer, a raffle, and gaming!
Our goal was to provide a retail and play environment different from that already on offer. We feel we’ve done that and we are pleased with the community that has developed over the years. We’ve been called silly as a slight, but we now wear that title with pride, because what it really means is that we are unconventional, as far as game stores go. Most gamers prefer conventional and online, but our growth over the past 3 years demonstrates there are enough of you out there who want something different.
Thanks to all of you, we’ll keep working hard to stay silly. Come celebrate with us this Saturday!
Oh yeah, Happy Halloween too. We wanted to get a Halloween party game night going but anniversary party planning has dominated our schedule. Please do come in costume and bust out the horror games this Wednesday night if you feel so inclined.
PS: Clash of Cultures, I love you
Well the big news this week, at least for many, is the release of the Firefly Board Game. This puppy was hot at GenCon, but not all GenCon darlings maintain their temperature once outside the convention hall (hi there Quarriors). I’ll give you more of my thoughts about this game below, as well as thoughts on a few other games. Despite the fantastic weather lately, I’ve been choosing games over fish, so I’ve played a bunch and thought I’d give you my thoughts on them, starting with the gorram Alliance elephant in the room. Don’t expect the same next week as the upcoming weather looks too amazing to pass up.
Also, don’t miss our big anniversary party on Saturday, November 2. Big sale all day, party all night!
Mini-Reviews (with some snark, and links to the boardgamegeek page for more information. Just add shipping to the cost when you click on those cheap prices, or buy a few more games you’ll never play to get free shipping!).
Firefly, the Game: First off, if you don’t like or know the show, don’t even touch this game. Firefly is a fully American adventure style game, reminiscent of classics in the genre like Talisman and Betrayal at House on the Hill. At its core, it is a pick up and deliver game: go to a planet, pick up goods, deliver them for a reward. Along the way though you will risk encounters with either the Alliance, the Reavers, or both. You’ll also be forced to repair your ship, have the opportunity to salvage abandoned ships, or shop at various supply planets to pimp out your ship and crew. Very American, but strangely, with very little player interaction. I can’t honestly praise this game for its design, yet I still really want to play it again. Creating an awesome cast of characters with sweet equipment is fun, and mapping a safe route across the board with a load of goods is satisfying. But strategy game it is not. This is Talisman in space, so you’ll have very little control over your fate, which means you’ll absolutely feel like you’re getting by on the seat of your pants. Also, if you pick up this game, head straight to Ikea for an extra table, you’re gonna need it.
Dungeon Roll: Dungeon Roll is a sweet little treasure chest full of lovely dice and fantasy characters. Like Firefly, this is a box full of Americana. It’s a push-your-luck dice game, which usually implies that you’ll have only two choices to make each turn, keep rolling or stop, and the only way you screw up is by rolling up some bad luck. In Dungeon Roll though, you’ll have character abilities and various treasures that expand your choices each turn and actually create the possibility of playing poorly beyond just pushing too far. Great Fun, and the perfect way to pass the time while you wait for your roleplaying buddies to show up.
Strut: A dice and cards game that took about 10 tries to play correctly. Now, its a great game. You’ll have a hand of cards showing dice combinations, and your goal is to quickly call Strut! when you think the dice on the table match your card. With a mix of speed and tactics, you will not be sitting around waiting. Plus, we’ve found that it appeals to both casual gamers and hardcore hobbyists, well, not the hobbyists who don’t like a little noise.
Lost Legends: Designer Mike Elliot is back with another fantasy twist on a popular card game. Shortly after the release of the now famous Dominion, Mike Elliot’s Thunderstone hit the shelves with a dungeon crawl take on Dominion. Thunderstone was far from the elegant perfection of Dominion, but it was still a blast to play. Elliot’s latest game, Lost Legends, is a dungeon crawl version of 7 wonders, with card drafting to build your character followed by a battle phase to achieve experience points. Again, the game is a bit mathy and completely unbalanced, but still very fun as a dungeon crawly experience. Absolutely want to play this more.
Bruges: Stephan Feld has been a very productive designer of late, with at least 3 games released this year. Bruges is one of his latest releases and it is a unique and swift card game with some board elements. A set of dice will strongly influence your choices each round, and each card in your hand belongs to one of 5 suits and can be played in 6 different ways. One way to play your cards is add them to a cast of characters in your little piece of the city, who will then benefit you in various ways. Sounds a bit mind-boggling up front, but after a few rounds a rhythm develops and the game hums along. For an hour-long game, Bruges is an immensely rich and satisfying experience.
Clash of Cultures: Now that this game is back in print, I’ve had the opportunity to play it a few more times. Like all other civilization building games, you will start with a piddly settlement and try to become a full blown nation. Also like other civ games, you can focus on becoming a military powerhouse, a spiritual leader, an economic mastermind, a learned society, or any combination thereof. The rules are streamlined for a civ game, yet the replay depth remains. The technology advancement tree provides numerous possible combinations, and often your opponent’s decisions can strongly influence your choice of advancements. The map, which will be randomly assembled each game, has a major impact on strategy since the terrain will limit movement and resource collection. On top of all this, you have objective cards that encourage you to follow specific paths to grab some victory points, paths that often seem odd to your opponent. Then we have the action cards and event cards, all of which can hurt or help you or your opponents. Despite its long playtime, about 90 minutes per player, I’m always sad to see the game end because it does feel like you just got your civilization to a sweet spot and you want to watch it grow.
Through the Ages: Oh Vlaada, you are lucky you live so far away, because I would stalk you, I love you that much. Through the Ages is another amazing civ game that feels so much different than any other game in the genre. The biggest difference is apparent right out of the box: no map tiles. This game is all cards; every advancement, leader, and military unit is represented by cards and annoying little wooden cylinders placed on the cards (or rolling off the cards and onto the floor). Acquiring new advancements for your civ involves grabbing cards from an ever changing offer, and each age, the offer gets better. Now I’ve only played an abbreviated version of this game, 2 ages and no war, and even the short version provides an insane amount of variety across plays. With this game and Clash of Cultures, I may not need to play any other games in my lifetime, until another civ game gets released.
Cheers and happy gaming everyone!
We’ve only got a few new arrivals to mention this week, and I’ll bet that none of them were eagerly anticipated, but there could just be a few sleeper hits here. A few notable reprints arrived as well, Clash of Cultures and le Havre, both hefty and excellent games.
Flying Kung Fu Frogs: Most of you have probably played with the little plastic frogs that hop when you press on their back ends. With Kung Fu Flying Frogs, you get a box of those critters and a motorized bamboo tree training center to launch them at. Nothing high brow here, just good old fun with plastics.
Jenga Space Invaders: Like Flying Kung Fu Frogs and the original Jenga, Jenga Space Invaders will pleasantly accompany any gathering in need of some mayhem. Space Invaders Jenga is just like the original, but with great graphics and thematic instructions on the blocks you successfully remove. A fine coffee table centerpiece for the 8-bit fans.
Munchkin Tricky Treats: More Munchkin for Halloween. What’s in the little foil pack? It really doesn’t matter, its more Munchkin, it won’t let you down.
Now, a rant.
Warning: if you tend to take everything literally and generally lack a good sense of humor, absolutely do not read on.
Now, last Saturday was meaty game day, an event we created to allow people to get a head start on game night and play long, deep, possibly epic games. Meaty games take up tons of table space and require serious stamina. A meaty game should leave the players weary and exhausted, but immensely satisfied, you know, like a great Thanksgiving dinner. On Meaty Game Day, I was hoping to see heads bowed over massive game boards with tons of bits. I wanted to hear hours of anguish and joy, as if everyone just ate 10 times more than they should have of the best darn ham on the planet.
Instead, Meaty Game Day has become an opportunity to play one more appetizer game. Now Duple and Strut and Bruges and Las Vegas and many other similar games are all excellent games, but they should not be the main course of a Meaty Game meal. I’m not seeing thick pork shoulders on the tables, just a bunch of neatly cut veggies with some hummus to dip them in.
With only a few exceptions, Meaty Game Day has always been on the brink of becoming entirely vegetarian. We’ve had at least one customer working hard to get some more meat in the shop, with some success. I know for sure we’ve actually lost a few customers because of the lighter fare generally offered on Meaty Game Days.
But really, no one is to blame for this except ourselves. We designed a store that appeals largely to casual gamers, or folks just getting into the hobby. Our ambiance definitely does not say “these guys game hard!”. Well, at least once a month we’d like to.
I get it, it is difficult to sit down and commit to a single game that will take all night when surrounded by a sea of gaming options. What if you don’t like the game? What if the table next to you is playing something you’d like to try? What if you lose after all that time? It is much easier to swallow a terrible game or a horrible loss if it only lasts a few hours. Commitment and stepping outside of your comfort zone is just part of the Meaty Game Day experience, open yourself up to it.
So I challenge everyone to eat a massive gaming meal on the last Saturday of every month. I’m talking games that are longer than 3 hours, the shorter ones can be played on any regular game night, that’s right the other 7 times a month. And while games with tiny chits and a pre-1990 publication date work just fine, there are plenty of modern slabs of meat, and I know many of our regulars own them. Nearly everything Fantasy Flight makes could be considered meaty.
We’ve got two large tables for the big games, the round table could work for some. We’ll set up extra tables if needed at 4pm for other meaty games, the veggies will have to wait until 6pm. So If you show up at 4pm on the last Saturday of the month be prepared, we may just sit you down and force you to play a protein-rich meal.