Grads and Dads month is here, and its time to crank up the radio when Alice Cooper belts out “School’s out for Summer”. For those who get a summer break, enjoy every last second of it. For those stuck inside all summer, staring longingly out the window at the beautiful sunny days, our first new arrival this week is your chance to stick it to the big bad corporate man. Whatever your situation, check out Tabletop’s show on Munchkin, then help us kick off the arrival of June at our First Friday art opening tonight, where Lisa Thomas shows off her stunning works of game art.
Infiltration: The man who brought us Dominion brings us yet another good looking game about competing to be the best futuristic corporate thief. Check out these rules if you want to get prepared for bringing it to the table tonight.
Magic 2012 Planechase: Planechase is a multiplayer format for Magic the Gathering that involves traveling between different planes at various points in the game. Each plane changes the rules environment, and the new set introduces Phenomenon cards that have immediate effects during interplanar travel. The set consists of 4 new complete and limited edition decks, each with limited cards available only in these decks. If you don’t want to buy a pack, why not join us for our Avacyn Restored draft tournament this saturday evening and try to win a pack!
Pokemon Kyurem Box: Kyurem is getting his own special box, complete with a figurine, a special foil card, and 4 booster packs. Grab a box during our Pokemon league saturday morning from 10-noon and experience the thrill of busting out that figurine when your Kyurem foil card hits the table.
Big Bang Theory Party Game: Sounds like you’ll need to be a pretty big fan of the show to enjoy this Apples to Apples style party game.
Lemonade Stand: All the fun of the real deal, but you get to keep your tooth enamel.
Upcoming Special Events
First Friday Art Gathering: Join us for some, sips, snacks, and some pretty cool new art in the demo room, 6-8pm.
Pokemon League: New day and time, 10-noon this saturday morning.
Magic the Gathering, Avacyn Restored Draft Tournament: At the request of our small but incredibly awesome group of Magic customers, we’ll be holding a draft tournament this saturday evening at 6pm. We hope to continue these tournaments every few weeks and expand our fledgling Magic community into the nicest bunch of summoners in the city. The entry cost of $13 gets you 3 packs for the draft and a chance to win some prizes, including a Planechase deck for the winner.
New on the Rental and Used Shelves:
No new used games this week. We are working on getting K2 on the rental shelf, and will be adding Infiltration as well.
Happy Memorial Weekend Folks. We’ve got a fair bit of new stuff to announce, so let’s jump right into it:
MEATY GAME DAY is tomorrow (May 26) at 4pm. Bring your hearty lengthy games and play them with others willing to let their bums go numb.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: During meaty game day, Admiral Mike will be organising an epic session of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA the board game, with all expansions. This is a wonderful game experience that really stays true to the core tension in the TV show, so definitely give this a try if you’ve got a few hours. Starts about 4pm.
MAGIC DRAFT TOURNAMENT: On Saturday June 2 we will be running a Magic the Gathering Draft style Tournament starting at 6pm. Entry is $13, which includes 3 packs to draft with and prizes for the winner(s).
FREE RPG DAY: Saturday June 16 is free roleplaying game day. We’ll have a bunch of free goodies from different publishers, and we’ll hopefully have a few game sessions running. If anyone is interested in being a GM for their favorite game, please contact us and we’ll hook you up with some swag.
PATHFINDER CAMP: Speaking of RPGs, we’ll be hosting a 4-day Pathfinder camp for ages 10 and up. For those who do not know what Pathfinder is, think Dungeons and Dragons. The camp is tentatively scheduled for July 17-20, and will cost $175 per player, which will include all materials needed to play as well as some snacks and other goodies. Seating is very limited, so please contact us if you are interested.
PATHFINDER SUMMER CAMPAIGN: Cloud Cap has an intern interested in running on ongoing Pathfinder Campaign for no more than 4 players ages 13 and up. Let us know if you are interested, days and times are still not set.
POKEMON LEAGUE: Now officially on Saturday mornings from 10-noonish.
WEDNESDAY GAME GATHERING: This is our weekly board game gathering. Come on by and play some games with good people. We do our best to help you get up and running on a new game if necessary, and others will do their best to include you, so don’t be shy.
New Product Arrivals:
KITES, KITES, KITES, AND MORE . . . . That’s right, we’ve brought in a few kites, but not your average plastic throw away ones, these are high quality kites from HQ. We have some stunning single line kites and some sweet dual line stunt kites at affordable prices. Come check these out, or find me at the park tomorrow crashing my stunt kite into the ground. We also have a few outdoor games and activities from HQ.
ORA & LABORA should be back in stock this afternoon.
MANSIONS OF MADNESS: HOUSE OF FEARS expansion is also expected today.
K2 was nominated for the kennerspiel des jahres award (basically, hardcore game of the year), and we’ve got a copy coming in today as well as the expansion.
New rentals and demos: We will be throwing the Kingdom Builder expansion into the rental copy as soon as it is returned. We’ve also put the Going Cardboard DVD on the rental shelf.
Have a great weekend everyone!
So the fellow who gave us the wonderful game of Dominion released a surprising new game at the end of last year titled Kingdom Builder. Because Dominion was such a unique and enjoyable game, the release of Kingdom Builder was preceded by a fair amount of anticipation within the hobby gaming community. Well, upon its release, Kingdom Builder turned a lot of smiles upside down, and a small turbulent fire was lit on the online game forums, where the minority of folks who enjoyed the game desperately tried to defend it against the waves of trolls attempting to crush every copy in existence.
After the initial flames burned down, Kingdom Builder quietly crept into dark corners where the proud few stealthily huddled over it, hoping to avoid the ire of their serious gamer friends. The hard core forum trolls aimed their spray of venomous spittle at other new and exciting games, believing that they had obliterated any hope of Kingdom Builder making a lasting impression. Well, they were very, very wrong; Kingdom Builder was just nominated for arguably the most prestigious board game award in the world, an award that guarantees lasting international success: The Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year). So now, the forum flames burn bright again, but this time the trolls have lost some strength, for some of them upon playing Kingdom Builder a few more times have begun to recognize the game for what it is, a very interesting light strategy game that nearly anyone can play and enjoy.
The purpose of the Spiel des Jahres is to highlight recently released games (in Germany) that, above all, offer fun and challenging experiences for a very broad audience in a relatively short period of time. For your average German family or group of friends (who, I’ve been told, play far more games together than we do here in the United States of Electronica), the Spiel des Jahres award provides assurance that all will have a satisfying game experience. Really, without any knowledge of a game whatsoever, someone could purchase an award nominee or winner, then learn it and play it in a single social evening and have a great time doing so.
Kingdom Builder, I believe, is a perfect nominee for the Spiel des Jahres award. At its heart, it is an abstract area control strategy game. The basic rules are very straightforward: on your turn play the only card you have in your hand by placing 3 of your settlement pieces on the terrain type that matches your card. That is it folks, seriously, that is how you play the game, you play your only card and put 3 pieces on the board, and 45 minutes later you tally the scores. Now, not all spaces on the map are equally valuable, and this is where things get very interesting. First, some map spaces are near specific locations, which can allow you to do more actions on your turn. Also, the conditions for victory change every game, so different map spaces hold different potential values depending on the conditions in effect. Furthermore, your piece placement options during future turns will be dramatically limited by the pieces you place on your current turn, so some careful thought is required. Combine all of these implications for piece placement and you end up with a fascinatingly rich though confined set of choices. Oh, and let me repeat: to play this game you simply play your only card and put 3 pieces on spaces on the board that match that card. How awesome is that, best game ever to explain to new players!
Well, enough said. Absolutely give this game a try, we have it on our rental shelf to make it easy. And play it more than once, the first game often leaves players feeling that luck dominates. Like a nice pot of chili, Kingdom Builder thickens and grows richer over time. Even the trolls will be crawling out from under the bridges and eating humble pie once they play a few more games.
Really no new games to announce this week, though the Nomads expansion for Kingdom Builder will be in the shop this afternoon. We’ll be opening a copy as soon as it gets into our hands, so stop on by this weekend to try it out. This also means that the rental copy of Kingdom Builder will get the Nomads upgrade next week.
We are also thrilled to start carrying products from HQ, a producer of high quality kites and other outdoor play items. Next week we will be receiving both single line kites, dual line sport kites, and other assorted outdoor activities. If you have not yet tried a sport kite, they are quite addictive and challenging, we may just have to do a demo at the park next weekend.
Wil Wheaton’s new video series, Tabletop, has been getting a lot of buzz, and for good reason. As impossible as it seems, Wil has actually made it entertaining to watch a group of folks play board games. Wil also teaches the basic game rules as the group plays, so the show can be a nice way to begin an evening of playing new games. The new episode should go live today, and Ticket to Ride is the game. As for our stock of the games highlighted by the show, we have plenty of Small World, Ticket to Ride, and Settlers of Catan; of the lighter games featured 2 weeks ago, well, we are nearly out of Zombie Dice, Tsuro will be back this afternoon, but Get Bit is gone and who knows when it will be back.
Another great videocast to check out is Shut Up & Sit Down. This guys with funny accents bring a whole new style to game criticism. I find their show extremely informative as well as entertaining, and do recommend their video and written reviews of games you are considering purchasing.
Finally, shop events. Want to remind everyone that the Pokemon League has moved to Saturdays from 10am to noon, starting tomorrow. This Tuesday, May 22, we’ll be donating 15% of sales to the Sellwood Middle School Foundation, so come do some guilt-free shopping. And we will end the month with our meaty game day next Saturday, May 26, where Admiral Mike will be organizing a game of Battlestar Galactica with all the expansions, so reserve a seat now!
Oh, one more thing, entirely unrelated to gaming, the Salmonflys are hatching along the Deschutes River. Whether you are a fisherman or not, this is one incredible natural spectacle that is worth the 2 hour drive. Where else can you get covered in harmless bugs the size of your index finger, and watch happy fish and birds chow on them as they fly upriver to deposit their eggs? Simply awesome, until you feel a live one in your pants halfway through the drive home . . . .
El Grande is a game I picked up many years ago after studying many geek lists and game reviews. In fact, it was one of the first modern strategy games I purchased for myself, and at the time I had no idea who I would get to play this possibly overwhelming game. Luckily, I found willing participants, the game was not so overwhelming, and I have enjoyed many plays of it, including a session just this week.
This game won the Spiel Des Jahres in 1996, just one year after Settlers of Catan, and for good reason: simples rules with interesting game play in 2 hours or less. As the dorky dudes on the front of the box imply, you play the role of a stuffy 15th century aristrocrat in a silly outfit, also known as a Grande. As a Grande, you seek to extend your influence across the whole of Spain, which at the time is a land divided by multiple ethnic groups and kingdoms. Through the cunning use of your power (in the form of numbered cards), you will decide when and how you want to employ your court of dapper aristocrats, called Caballeros. The largest point values come from controlling the most influential provinces, but seizing control of these areas generally means you are not able to send your Caballeros far and wide to influence a larger collection of provinces. The constant struggle between fighting for control of individual regions while trying to maintain a presence in many regions really guides nearly every decision you make as a Grande.
Despite the greatness of El Grande, the game has two features that can turn many off. First, the game is extremely dynamic. Wooden bits constantly shift around the board and control of any given region is eternally in fluxx. Every round has a new and randomly drawn set of actions, and players bid on who chooses actions first, so noodling out who wants what action and how badly they want it is how every round starts. For those who like to figure out a reliable winning strategy and pull it off nearly every time, El Grande is maddening. I, for one, really enjoy the dynamism of the game.
The second potentially frustrating feature of El Grande arises when one player gains a healthy points lead. This generally results in all other players trying their best to hobble that leader. I have heard an enormous amount of whining about this ‘get the leader’ aspect. Luckily, the whiners are just grumpy because they are getting picked on. In fact, I’ll bet that conspiring against a grande whose influence has grown too large happened regularly back in the day of ruffled shirt caballeros. So the metagame leader bashing that nearly always occurs helps enhance the theme of the game. A lot of games have rules that attempt to illustrate theme, El Grande goes beyond that by creating an unexpected form of interplayer interaction that helps players feel like they are actually wearing funny outfits.
Happy Mother’s day weekend to all of you bearing the title, and for those not bearing the title, hopefully you get to spend some quality sunny time with mom this weekend. But if you are like me, and your mothers have fled to the opposite end of the country, a game or two may help with the separation anxiety.
Maybe a movie about the board game hobby will help too, or if you are one of the lucky ones, bring mom along. This saturday evening at 8pm we will be showing Going Cardboard: A Board Game Documentary on as big a screen as we can find or construct. We also highly recommend arriving early to play a game or two, perhaps even while you soak up some sun in our improved back yard.
Speaking of clear skies, the stars are shining at night and putting me in the mood for a good space game. So, this Wednesday at the game gathering, I invite any who are interested to join me in a space-themed game. I’ll have a few displayed on the counter and see who bites, including Eminent Domain, Ascending Empires, and Alien Frontiers.
Finally, before I get into the lists, I want to highlight a drastic change to our regular schedule: Starting on saturday, May 19, The Pokemon League will be move to Saturday mornings from 10am-Noon. This means we will be opening one hour earlier on saturdays. This also means that the Family Game Gathering will move to the Noon-3pm slot on Sunday.
Happy Gaming everyone!
Pokemon Black & White: Dark Explorers: The latest Pokemon set is finally here, and darkness abounds!
MicroMonsters: Remember Tiddlywinks? Micromonsters is like that but your chips are monsters, and each army has unique special abilities. Looks very fun.
Sanitarium: This strange on should arrive later today, so have not had my hands on it yet. It is a card game that has tile-laying and exploration elements that you find in dungeon crawlers, as well as scenarios for coop, competitive, and solo play. But essentially, you are trying to escape the sanitarium before time runs out and you go absolutely scary nuts.
Welcome to Walnut Grove: From the publishers who brought you all of Uwe Rosenberg’s fantastic games comes this nice game about establishing a homestead on the prairie. A very cool mix of worker placement, resource management, and tile laying.
Had a rep from Fred Distribution stop by and got a few not-so-new, but new to us games at great prices. Here they are:
Bridgetown Races: Did not pick this up when it first came out for multiple reasons, but we have it now. And guess what, the game is designed by a Portlander, and you’ll be racing around our fair city!
Blockers: A simple yet strategic abstract territory control family game with a puzzly feel. Ask us for a demo.
Charon, Inc: Mine the heck out of Plutos largest moon in order to build yourself a fat corporate empire. This is a simple-to-play strategy game looks like a lot of fun and has some very interesting mechanics going for it.
After School Magic: Bring your cards for trading and playing at 4pm. Bring some friends and $5 and we’ll get a tournament started.
Pokemon League: Still Sunday at noon for one more week.
Family Game Time: Sunday starting at 3pm we’ll get your whole family up and running on some great games.
Wednesday Game Gathering: Join us for some modern strategy games from 6-10pm.
Movie Screening: On Saturday, May12, at 8pm, we’ll be showing the film, Going Cardboard, in the shop.
Battlestar Galactica: Join Admiral Mike and crew for this excellent game on our meaty game day, May 26 at 4pm. All expansions will be used, so expect a 3-4 hour experience. Ages 16 and up, seating is limited.
New Rentals: Bridgetown Races, Pizza Theory
Used Games: 7 Wonders, Lascaux, Trollhalla, Monopoly Lord of the Rings, 221B Baker Street, Clue, Would You Rather