Category Archives: Muskegon Area Gamers

Around the World of Board Gaming April 2018

Welcome to one of my favorite blog columns. Not “board game news” so much as “board games IN the news”. Today’s topics include lots of stuff. You can print and play games the CIA uses to train its agents. Board games help children with autism. Out of the Box in Muskegon has closed its doors. And of course, we talk about the latest happenings at The Gaming Annex.

 

Around the World of Board Gaming April 2018

 

Print & Play CIA Board Games

El Chapo from the C.I.A.
El Chapo from the C.I.A.

The CIA has used board games to train the next generation of agents. Long time readers of this blog already know this. But what you probably didn’t know is that these games are now available for gamers who like to print and play their games.  Two games were unredacted from a recent FOIA (freedom of information act) request.

Rulebook cover for Kingpin
Rulebook cover for Kingpin

The folks at Ars Technica have a lot of the details concerning this. Enough was unredacted to both give you the rules and the necessary information to make the components to play them. The more intriguing of the two games “released” is Kingpin: the Hunt for El Chapo. Two teams spar off in this tense cat and mouse simulation. One team is the cartel which must protect and elude the agency. The other is the agency which hunts the cartel’s leadership across the world.

Collection: a CIA training game
Collection: a CIA training game

The lesser of the two games (at least to me) is Collection! Players must collect cards which have different resources on them. Players must correctly marshal resources in order to put out fires all You cover the world.

The rules were analyzed by famed game designers Jason Matthews and Dominic Crapuchettes. Both designers said these CIA games showed worthy game design elements. Both also said these games seemed to be more focused on training than on fun. The mechanical strength should go without saying. The CIA tapped famed designer Volko Ruhnke, designer of such games as Labyrinth: the War on Terror.

You can download the information here. It’s quite large so be prepared.

 

Board games and autism

Autism Speaks logo
Autism Speaks logo

It’s always heartening to hear news that your favorite hobby has great side effects. I would still play board games even if there wasn’t any unexpected discoveries such as this. But I’m glad news like this involves tabletop gaming!

A recent article at eMax health lists some bullet points regarding board games and autism. Board games can encourage children with autism to be more social, to learn from the visual nature of board games and to follow directions.

 

Hasbro vs. Mattel in the news

  • Vast Salary Differences: $74,000 per year versus $6,300
Mattel
Mattel

The Wall Street Journal had a fascinating piece about the pay gap. And the pay gap in question was not between men and women–it was between Mattel and Hasbro.

Hasbro’s median yearly salary is a handsome $74,000. Mattel’s is a not-so-handsome $6,300. It would be misleading to end the conversation there. Thankfully, the WSJ explains what is probably obvious: Mattel employs 75% of its workforce in China and Malaysia.

One would think Hasbro, the world’s number two toy manufacturer, would also need a hefty Asian workforce too. Not so. Hasbro does not own the manufacturing of its toys–only the design.

Mattel has made the conscience decision to own large portions of its supply base. Executive leadership at Mattel believes this affords them better quality control. Also, the amount of employees varies considerably between the two toy giants: 35,000+ at Mattel versus just over 5,000 at Hasbro. So salary comparisons are really apples to oranges.

It must be the engineer in me that finds technical details like this fascinating. Two companies in the same industry, bitter rivals for years…and their approach to supply chain management and employee compensation vary so drastically.

  • Fallout from Toys ‘R Us is still under way
Hasbro
Hasbro

Both Hasbro and Mattel’s biggest customer is going out of business. This customer, for those who’ve been under a rock for the last six months, is Toys ‘R Us. This will cause lots of ripples in the toy manufacturing world. It will affect Mattel more than Hasbro, however.

Hasbro has better retailer diversification than Mattel. That’s a fancy way of saying Mattel depends on Toys ‘R Us more than Hasbro.

Also, while Mattel is a larger manufacturer, Mattel is lagging behind Hasbro is some key areas. Think board games. When was the last time you bought a Mattel board game? Probably in the 70’s or the 80’s.

Also, Mattel is owed a heap of cash from Toys ‘R Us. $135 Million all told. That’s more than double what Hasbro is owed.

What can the board game hobby expect from this? Not much. Unless the rumors that Hasbro is going to buy Mattel are true, don’t expect any good or bad news from Mattel or Hasbro on the board game front. I do think Mattel is missing the boat on the resurgence of board games as a hobby. Maybe a intrepid marketing person there will stumble upon my humble little blog and steer Mattel in the right direction. Failing that, our hobby will be unscathed from the Toy’s ‘R Us/Mattel/Hasbro woes.

 

Closer to Home

Century Club in Muskegon
Century Club

Out of the Box has officially closed their Muskegon operations. Jeff, the owner, told me he was making a profit at this store. However, the time it took to spruce up the store due to driving to and fro was not worth it. He could better use this time and energy making this Kentwood store better. Maybe in time, a full Out of the Box, not just a satellite store like the one in the Century Club, would be feasible.

Jeff does have some competition in greater GR. The Kentwood Out of the Box is my favorite store in the metro Grand Rapids area. But it is certainly not the only store in metro GR. Jeff, in my estimation, wants to make Kentwood his flagship store. When the time is right, maybe expand. Maybe Muskegon again. We will see.

MuskeCon
MuskeCon

The second annual Muskegon Toy and Comic Convention (MuskeCon for short) was a few weeks ago. I was planning on attending. Due to a last minute cancellation, I was actually given a booth! Kiel over at the Griffin’s Rest gave me a vendor’s badge. I was given a table to demo some games. So I taught passers by how to play King of New York, Codenames and Karuba. After which, I sent these passers by back to Kiel so he could sell them some games.

I had wanted a booth at MuskeCon for The Gaming Annex. But all the booths were already taken. The convention leadership got almost 100% of their vendors from 2017 to return. And the remainders they filled from a long wait list. The last minute cancellation was a godsend for Kiel and us.

The convention leadership has secured a much needed bigger venue for next year. And in 2020, an even bigger venue will host the convention. The exact whereabouts have not been disclosed. As I learn more, I will report this back to you.

851 W. Laketon Avenue 49441 The Gaming Annex
The (New) Gaming Annex

We have ended the “dictator cycle”. On Tuesdays, we had a formal way of selecting which games to play. We went in alphabetical order by player’s name. That player got to pick the games for the evening. This was used in order to put the kibosh on the endlessly hemming and hawing. Unfortunately, it was not successful.

The need for a formal way of selecting games was too officious. People wouldn’t or didn’t respond to it as well as was needed. We have instituted an informal system. It doesn’t have a name yet. But it involves some dry erase boards that Dick Dima installed. We will be using these on Thursdays as well. I’m hoping we will have the bugs worked out of this very soon.

We are also changing the Sunday paradigm. For the longest time, we have been playing games on Sundays. However, our Sunday group is by far the weakest in terms of attendance. We have a few ideas to improve this.

  1. Play games on Sundays at noon instead of 9AM. We will do this about once per month. Many of our attendees are church goers so a 9AM start is, well, a nonstarter.
  2. Play games on Saturdays. We will do this once a month also. This should help build the weekend gamer group.
  3. Start a RPG campaign. We have been ignoring the RPG community for far too long. Why not play RPG’s on Saturdays or Sundays? That would build the community fo sho!

 

If you like this blog, follow us here. Join us on meetup.

 

Around the World of Board Gaming: March 2018

Lots going on in our hobby. Toys ‘R Us may close their stores this week. Games Workshop seems to have the Midas touch. A new store opened in Grand Haven. All of this and more. I hope you enjoy…

Around the World of Board Gaming March 2018

 

Toys ‘R Us closure seems imminent

Toys "R" Us in Muskegon
Toys “R” Us in Muskegon

It was back in October 2017 when I first blogged about Toys ‘R Us’s imminent bankruptcy. Even back then, the consequences of this bankruptcy seemed unpredictable. Now the consequences are bit more in focus: Toys ‘R Us is in deep trouble.

The toy megastore could close its doors this week. The way has been paved for the closure of their European stores. And the closure of the North American stores seems hot on their trails.

The closing of Toys ‘R Us will have a huge impact on the toy industry. Toys ‘R Us is the last toy megastore. They account for 10% of Hasbro and Mattel’s sales. Without Toys ‘R Us, Mattel and Hasbro will lose some of their ability to sell off brand toys.

Clue Star Wars 3D board
Clue Star Wars 3D board

But what concerns us here is: how will this affect our hobby? The answer is: probably not much. The closing will cause ripples for Lego, Hasbro and Mattel. It will stifle these companies short term innovation. But it will have a minimal impact on our hobby. Our hobby wasn’t really predicated on Toys ‘R Us. The occasional Toys ‘R Us exclusive like the Clue Star Wars game will still be developed. But it will probably be a Target exclusive instead.

The restructuring of Toys ‘R Us will have a huge indirect impact on our hobby however. It will slow down the merger between Mattel and Hasbro. Rumors have been swirling that the Hasbro wants to add Mattel to their already huge studio. Such a joint venture would be quite impactful to the tabletop hobby. But this merger is still just a rumor. And the Toys ‘R Us news will only slow down such a merger if it is to happen at all.

When I know more about this, I’ll blog more about it then.

 

…but Games Workshop is making bank

Games Workshop
Games Workshop

The news about Toys ‘R Us does not portend ill for the tabletop gaming hobby. Indeed, Games Workshop is doing amazing. The Nottingham, UK based manufacturer boasts a 160% increase in stock value in just 12 months. Their decisions to divorce Fantasy Flight and then marry WizKids has them seeing black.

GW Stock prices
GW Stock prices

I’ve blogged about Games Workshop’s divorce and remarriage. At each juncture I’ve tried to cover the subject fairly. It may not be completely apparent from my blogging, but while I’m a huge fan of Games Workshop’s games, I am a huge opponent of their business practices.

While I’m not a fan of their business practices, there is no denying GW is more knowledgeable about how to stay successful in this business than I. They also will still have 460 stores worldwide by the end of 2018–a feat that Toys ‘R Us sadly will not be able to boast. I’ll give them props about staying profitable. Now if we can just get them to rescind their lawyers from attacking every BGG user I’d be tickled pink.

Magnus Carlsen will defend his chess title

Muskegon loves chess Magnus Carlsen
Magnus Carlsen
Credit Morten Rakke/FilmRise

The World Chess Federation (FIDE) organizes the Candidate Tournament each March. That tournament, which decides who will be the contender for the world championship, is happening now. The current champion, Magnus Carlsen, will undoubtedly be watching the white knuckled matches to find out who his competition will be.

I’ve blogged about Magnus over a year ago. The Norwegian prodigy is a master at the standard timed game but he is damn near unbeatable in the blitz matches. He will have his work cut out for him this year. The field is very competitive.

The Guardian has reported Levon Aronian is their favorite for this Candidate Tournament. Aronian, an Armenian grand master, defeated Carlsen in 2017 in the Altibox, Norway tournament. While this wasn’t for the World Championship, it does prove Aronian can stand toe-to-toe to Carlsen.

The actual championship matches will be in November. I will keep you informed about it as the time approaches.

Closer to Home

851 W. Laketon Avenue 49441 The Gaming Annex
The (New) Gaming Annex

There’s been some developments at the ol’ Gaming Annex. We recently promoted Jonathan to full member. Jonathan has been coming to The Gaming Annex for over a year now. He’s a fixture on Thursday nights. We’ve been proud to add him to our ranks.

Next up is the dictator cycle. On Tuesdays, we take turns picking the games. Each person gets to pick the games on his night, that is, he’s the dictator. This has been a mixed bag. It helps with some of the hemming and hawing about which games to play. But some of the crew are not that proactive in picking games. We will need a new solution.

I’m thinking about adding some dry erase calendars to the walls. Our Tuesday night crew can write down on the boards what games they want to play when they are at the Annex. We discuss these things on Tuesdays. Why not jot them down on a calendar right then and there?

Quartermaster General 1914 in action
Quartermaster General 1914 in action

I may also give Dusty admin rights on the meetup group to accompany this new paradigm. The idea is: there will be two meetups on Tuesdays. One will be for table 1 and the other meetup event will be for table 2. When you RSVP, you will be RSVP’ing for a specific game. This will cut down on the hemming and hawing as well.

Griffins Rest logo
Griffins Rest logo

Our next event with the Griffin’s Rest is set in stone. We will meet there on Thursday, March 22nd. This will be our second joint venture with them. I’m anticipating a stronger turnout this go around. The doors open at 2PM. Our crew will be there around 4 or 5PM. Hope to see you all there.

Dragon's Den in Grand Haven
Dragon’s Den in Grand Haven

There’s a new game store in Grand Haven. The Dragon’s Den, located at 1119 Washington Street, has the same location as the Burrow. And their business focus is on the same games: Warhammer, D&D and other miniature wargames. But these are new owners and have not other connection to the Burrow.

The Dragon’s Den had their grand opening on Saturday. I convinced my doting wife to come with me to check it out. Their inventory was light. Lighter than the Griffin’s Rest’s initial inventory. But Aaron, one of our Twilight Imperium regulars, said he’s optimistic. The owners of the Dragon’s Den seem to have more financial backing than the Burrow. And the Dragon’s Den is going to be open 7 days a week–solving some complaints people had about the Burrow which wasn’t opened at convenient times.

I’m hoping the Dragon’s Den has an interest in doing some joint ventures with our group. I’ll have my staff look into it. Check the meet up for more details.

 

Speaking of our meetup: you can join here. Jonathan did.

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
207 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Thursday night games

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018, 6:00 PM
3 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

Happy Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl LII is upon us. Tom Brady is going for his 6th Super Bowl win. The Philadelphia Eagles are going for their club’s first. Between bruising hits and dazzling catches punctuated by $5 million commercial spots, you may wonder how your gaming table could ever simulate tonight’s excitement. Wonder know more. Here is a list of some of the more popular football board games.

Super Bowl Sunday Special

 

1st & Goal

1st & Goal from R&R Games
1st & Goal from R&R Games

Want to pick a play and then chuck some dice? Want to outguess your opponent’s plays? Then 1st & Goal is the game for you!

There is a deck of cards. When the deck is exhausted, the quarter is over. You have a hand of cards which have plays on them. You and your opponent play a card simultaneously. Your play and his play match up to state which dice you roll. The more dice, generally the better for the offense.

Halfback Dive play card
Halfback Dive play card

The dice are color coded. The black dice are rolled by the defender. The other dice are rolled by the offense. The outcome is how many yards are gained or lost.

When you take a timeout, you can go into the discard pile and take a card, thus extending the quarter by one card or play. It also gives you a card that you may need want to play.

What about expansions and replayability? There are several team expansions. Each expansion has teams with specific strengths and weaknesses because they have their own dice.

You can pick up the base game cheap. The game was strongly supported by the publisher. And if you want a beer and pretzel football game, 1st & Goal is a strong challenger.

Techno Bowl

Technobowl from Bombshell Games
Technobowl from Bombshell Games

Are you a fan of the 1990’s Nintendo game Techno Bowl? Then you may be a fan of the board game adaptation. The design intent was to make a faithful interpretation of the video game classic.

Pixel block players
Pixel block players

Techno Bowl is a game of programmed movement. You play five cards face down. Then you and your opponent will activate the cards. The cards activate a specific player who can block, move or run with the ball.

The programmed movement of the board game is a nice way to mimic the original. In the original game, your success was largely dictated by guessing a play that matched well against your opponent’s play selection. The board game version, unfortunately, takes over an hour to play. If you can tolerate the game length and you were a fan of the video game, then Techno Bowl might be the right choice for you.

Pizza Box Football

Pizza Box Football from On the Line Games
Pizza Box Football from On the Line Games

Pizza Box Football offers you a football experience in an eponymous pizza box. This gimmick should appeal to many football fans who eat Domino’s while watching their favorite teams play.

In Pizza Box Football, players will secretly choose a play. In the case of the defender, he chooses run, short pass or long pass. If he guesses correctly, that is, if his guess matches the offense player’s play choice, the offense will likely not get many yards. Otherwise, the offense will more likely make a good gain.

Pizza Box Football comes with spreadsheets for you to compare yours and your opponent’s choices. This amounts to convoluted rock-paper-scissors. This may appeal to some gamers. The price should definitely appeal to gamers on a budget.

Card Football

Card Football
Card Football

What happens when you combine War with Poker? You get football! Well, not really. But you do get Card Football. And that is the gist of this cute little card game. You and your opponent play one or more cards. Whoever plays the better poker hand may execute the power on their cards.

Do you play your best cards now? Or do you wait to force a turnover? This simple mechanic makes this a fast paced game. It mimics football a bit. But is a nice addition to a game collection where you want to get a new player acclimated to the world of gaming.

Where the tabletop excitement never ends…

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
206 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Dictator Make Up night

Tuesday, Feb 6, 2018, 6:00 PM
2 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

Thrift Store Finds

I haven’t done a thrift store report in some time. And not because I’ve been avoiding thrift stores either. The past several weeks leading up to Christmas have been particularly fruitful. I’ll get the good stuff in a minute. First I’d like to remind everyone that The Gaming Annex has a presence at Timeless Treasures (1447 W. Sherman Blvd). This “presence” is kind of a mini “Gaming Annex II” where I make these games (and other games) available to the public. Our presence isn’t huge (less than 50 games). But it will continue to grow. As always, if you want any of these games, just ask. Some are at The Gaming Annex and some are at Timeless Treasures. And now for the list…

Thrift Store Finds January 2018

Sheriff of Nottingham

Sheriff of Nottingham from Arcane Wonders
Sheriff of Nottingham from Arcane Wonders

Sheriff of Nottingham is a family bluffing and deal making game. The goal is to accumulate the most wealth. You will have to be a savvy sheriff and a savvy bluffer to win this game. Each player will get a turn as the sheriff. As the sheriff of Nottingham, you will get to decide which players will be allowed free passage and which players will have their luggage searched and seized.

Legal items in Sheriff of Nottingham
Legal items in Sheriff of Nottingham

Players are free to bribe the sheriff so he will allow you free passage. The sheriff is allowed to look at search the luggage of one player. If he finds illegal items, you must pay a penalty. Otherwise, the sheriff just wasted his time.

I found a copy at the Goodwill on Harvey Street. I often post pictures of my conquests on our Facebook page.  Darrin, part of our extended group, came over and grabbed this game before I could even inventory it. It turned out to be complete save for the bag. Darrin was happy to get a copy of this game–reason enough to go on living.

 

Camel Up

Camel Up from Z-Man Games
Camel Up from Z-Man Games

Camel Up is a great family game of betting and speculation. It centers around a camel race in Egypt near the turn of the century. Players do not control a specific camel; instead they make bets about which camels they think will win.Then try to make that outcome a reality.

Camel Up won the Spiel des Jahres in 2014. And deservedly so. It’s a solid entry. Camel Up can almost fire Long Shot, another racing/betting/speculation game. Camel Up has better components, a bit friendly theme and more player agency than Long Shot.

I found a complete copy at the Goodwill in Rockford. Like Sheriff of Nottingham, I didn’t have it long before Jonathan pleaded with me to let him have it.

 

Sushi Go

Sushi Go Party from Game Wright
Sushi Go Party from Game Wright

Game Wright is trying to make crossover games. They want to continue to make cute family/children’s games while also making good strategy games. Sushi Go is the par excellent example of this.

Sushi Go (and Sushi Go Party) is like a dumbed down version of 7 Wonders. It’s a drafting game but with simpler scoring than 7 Wonders. You play a few rounds. Add up your points. Then call it a day.

Sushi Go Party is like a cross between 7 Wonders and Dominion. You play 7 Wonders (an all drafting game) but you can select which decks to use (like in Dominion). Sushi Go Party is definitely the way to go if you are looking for a family version of 7 Wonder.

I found a complete copy recently. The tin was still in pristine condition. And the cards do not appear to be played. I still have it at The Annex for any members who need a copy.

 

Epic Resort

Epic Resort from Floodgate Games
Epic Resort from Floodgate Games

Have you ever wanted to own a resort? Have you ever wanted to own one in a medieval fantasy setting? Well, you’re in luck. Floodgate Games published Epic Resort in 2014.

Epic Resort is a worker placement and deck building game. These two mechanics do not often overlap. But if they did overlap, I could see how they might do so in a monster laden tourist trap like Epic Resort.

Players will attract tourists to their resorts. Players will also try to attract heroes who can stave off monsters. You will have a deck of workers. You will use these workers to build attractions and to attract more tourists.

I stumbled across a complete copy recently. This is currently at The Annex also 🙂

 

A collection of Munchkin games

Steve Jackson's Munchkin
Steve Jackson’s Munchkin

Munchkin is the perfect example of the type of game I like to find when thrifting. I don’t care for the game per se. But there is no denying it’s appeal to the general public. If I can find a cheap copy, I will usually re-thrift it to some local person who will have to make their first visit to The Gaming Annex in order to pick it up.

I found a collection of 4 Munchkin games: Nightmare before Christmas, Axe Cop, Adventure Time and Zombies. All complete and in good condition. These are available at Timeless Treasures.

 

Risk, Risk and more Risk

Muskegon and classic board games like Risk & Castle Risk
Parker Brothers’ Risk & Castle Risk

Risk, like Munchkin, is a game I will typically pick up at a thrift store. I have so many different copies, I can usually cobble pieces together to complete any incomplete specimen.

Risk is a mainstay at thrift stores. If you don’t found a copy at a thrift store, you didn’t try hard enough. Of course, finding special copies of Risk requires more dedication; but your standard run-of-the-mill copies are everywhere.

I found an incomplete copy of Risk & Castle Risk recently. Luckily, I have spare pieces to complete it. It is now available at Timeless Treasures. I also found several copies of normal Risk.

I also found a copy of Risk: Lord of the Rings edition–with the One Ring. Primo!

Other Notable Finds

DC Rival Card Game
DC Rival Card Game
Trump: the Game (2nd Edition)
Trump: the Game (2nd Edition)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dice Masters X-Men Vs. Avengers
Dice Masters X-Men Vs. Avengers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out our partners at Michigan Gamers…

Michigan Gamers
Michigan Gamers

Around the world of board gaming November 2017

There’s been a lot going on in the world of board gaming. This month I’ll cover how Twitter now lets you tweet board games, a lawsuit over who owns the rights to The Game of Life and, of course, all the happenings close to home. Many exciting things have been happening locally. Read on…

Around the World of Board Gaming November 2017

NPR’s Market place does board games

NPR Marketplace
NPR Marketplace

NPR Marketplace had a spot about board games recently. Their November 22 broadcast had an interview with Mike Sellers, professor of game design at Indiana University.

Prof. Sellers tells his students, “Movies will make you famous, television will make you rich and theatre will make you good.” He compares board games to theatre because you have to be good to design a good board game. There is nothing hidden in theatre with special effects or editing just like there is nothing hidden in board games.

The good professor makes a few insightful comments in the brief (six minute) interview. He said designers are tasked with making board games for vary different experiences. Some people need games they can play with children who cannot read, others want highly interactive and complex games. And people who play board games often need several of these various categories.

Pokemon Go
Pokemon Go

New games will undoubtedly go the direction of augmented reality. Augmented reality is where you play in real life but your tablet/device will allow you to interact within a virtual environment. Think Pokémon Go. This was the first example but will not be the last.

Game designers are working on other games which will use this idea. Hopefully making a more compelling game than Pokémon. With board game sales reaching a fever pitch, this seems rather likely.

When Twitter increased its character limit to 280…they allowed you to play board games

On November 7th, Twitter doubled its character limits. The new limit allows you to tweet your unsupported political views in 280 characters instead of 140. While that is mildly interesting, what concerns us here is: can you play board games on Twitter now?

Twitter Connect 4
Twitter Connect 4

And the answer is yes.

People are able to play chess, Connect 4 and Go. I guess if you’re bored and have access to Twitter, you can find a game.

I imagine other games will follow these. And, God willing, more games will be possible when Twitter decides to bump their character limit to 560. Maybe then you can play Terra Mystica?

 

Lawsuit will decide who invented Milton Bradley’s The Game of Life

Game of Life 3D board
Game of Life 3D board

Followers of my blog know I like both board games and legal proceedings extending from them. Recently I blogged about who has the rights to Twixt? It’s only natural to bring up the same topic as it applies to a household name like The Game of Life.

A federal court is hearing arguments about who owns the rights to Milton Bradley’s The Game of Life. The Game of Life was first published in 1960 as a 100 year anniversary to Milton Bradley. And now the authorship of said game is being disputed.

In 1860, Milton Bradley himself created The Checkered Game of Life. He was inspired by European board games of the day. He applied what he learned and put a game on a checker board. When you moved onto a white space, something good happened to you. When you moved onto a black space, something bad happened. From this game was inspired the modern Game of Life.

Game of Life 2D
Game of Life 2D

The estate of Bill Markham is suing for lost royalties. The estate, led by his widow, Lorraine Markham, claim Markham made the game but was never given proper credit for it–not in 1960 nor anytime since.

Hasbro, the current owner of the entity, along with collaborator Reuben Klamer, argue otherwise. The defense argues Bill Markham was a hired gun. He was hired to make a prototype and paid for his work. The prototype underwent substantial revisions before it was released to the public.

The pre-trial hearings have begun the week before Thanksgiving. The judge is allowing a partial bench trial due to the age of the participants. I’ll keep you posted about any changes to this as they arise.

 

Closer to Home

Christmas time at The Gaming Annex
Christmas time at The Gaming Annex

Our staff* did some Christmas decorating. The Gaming Annex has its first ever Christmas tree. The walls are covered in holiday cheer. The place is actually looking respectable. The staff also did some rearranging. Our space utilization has improved markedly. So if you see our staff, be sure to give our gratitude.

Business cards for The Gaming Annex
Business cards for The Gaming Annex

We also got some new business cards. The old ones were, well, old. They had our old address on them. I opted for a new design altogether. First: we needed a logo. The logo was added to the front along with our pertinent contact information. I also wanted a catchy back side. I decided on a Catan and Magic: the Gathering design, not because we play these games often but because these games are so common, it could draw people to us. You can stop by and get some cards (and check out the Xmas decorations) anytime.

*Holly, Nick Sima, Brandi and Kevin.

Black Friday

Around the World of Board Gaming November 2017
Black Friday at Out of the Box

Out of the Box had their Black Friday sale last week. Like previous years, there was a line in front of the store before 6am. And like previous years, there was some great deals to be had. I picked up Legacy of Dragonholt because Nick Sima was yearning for it. Viticulture was on sale for 60% off. But the game I was most interested in was War of Kings. Long time readers may recall my excitement about this game’s upcoming release. Well, the release is finally here. Now I have to get this game into [name redacted]’s hands so [pronoun redacted] can read the rules.

Griffin's Rest play area
Griffin’s Rest play area                               (credit: Griffin’s Rest Facebook page)

Last, but definitely not least: Griffin’s Rest (finally) opened their doors. Their first day of operation was on Black Friday, a test by fire as Kiel put it. The store was well attended by the gaming community. Many in our little club were able to make it there for their inaugural day. All of us were impressed.

The store had a nice collection of gaming titles. But the full inventory build out has not yet happened. Kiel said the next wave of inventory was arriving imminently. They have many of the games our group would play like Star Wars Imperial Assault and Betrayal at House on the Hill. They also had some department store games at the front such as Operation and Monopoly.

But the most impressive part of the store was their upstairs play area. The upstairs has several public tables, several televisions, a separate restroom and one private game room. The televisions were playing Dice Tower reviews but could be turned to a gaming instruction video. The private room was available for rent. The public tables are free. Some people were playing X-Wing fighter. People at another table were playing Runebound.

I wish Griffin’s Rest all the luck in their new enterprise. And as a bonus: Kiel wants to work with us to do some joint events. I do believe this is the start of a beautiful relationship.

 

Want to know more about the Muskegon Area Gamers?

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
201 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Ave Jon, our Counsel for Tuesday

Tuesday, Nov 28, 2017, 6:00 PM
6 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

 

 

Extra Life Event 2017

The Muskegon Area Gamers held their first Extra Life Event. Well, that’s not exactly true. We supported Byte Club Gaming last year. But this year we held our own event at The Gaming Annex. Here is a rundown:

Extra Life 2017

1. Planning

Extra Life logo
Extra Life logo

I began planning this year’s Extra Life event in 2016 after last year’s event. There were several things about last year’s event that left me feeling unsatisfied. I was pretty sure I would support another event–I just wasn’t sure where the venue would be. We flirted with the idea of having the event at Griffin’s Rest. But they are as of yet still not open. The event would have to be at The Gaming Annex.

Out of the Box Games in Zeeland
Out of the Box Games in Zeeland

The event always takes place a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. That means it takes place a couple of weeks before Black Friday. And every Black Friday I wake up at 4am to stand in line at Out of the Box.

Jeff at Out of the Box is a huge supporter of Black Friday sales. He has great deals on Black Friday: special releases, deep discounts and hourly giveaways. I get there around 5am and there is already a line. The sale last year drew members of our group like Rocky and Jeremy (Scott) Pyne who were in also standing in line.

I was perusing the games in the deep discount area when I saw Eminent Domain: Battlecruisers. I thought this would be a nice addition to a goodybag. Wouldn’t it be nice if the goodybags at Extra Life had games in them? And thus preparation for Extra Life 2017 began on Black Friday 2016.

2. Brandi, our special events coordinator

851 W. Laketon Avenue 49441 The Gaming Annex
The (New) Gaming Annex

Brandi has been coming to The Gaming Annex since February 2016. She has been a steady member of our Thursday night crew ever since. She was a great help in supporting our special events like the Escape Rooms. When she was co-organizing our own murder mystery, Death Wears White, it was clear she needed to be given an official role: special events coordinator.

She, along with her cohort Holly, did a lot of decorating and preparing for the Kids’ Gala in October. Managing an event with 10 little ones was ambitious. But Extra Life would be a whole new challenge. And she was up for it!

3. Scope of the Event

Goodybag games!
Goodybag games!

I knew I wanted every goodybag to have a game in it. This would be a nice surprise, especially for all the 2016 attendees. I spent a lot of time accumulating games in our basement. It took lots of coaxing to get Debbie to believe all those shrink-wrapped games had been in our basement when we bought the house.

I dumped the whole lot of games off on Brandi and said, “Deal with it!”.  She bought bags to put the games into and made them look nice. (She actually did a fantastic job; I’m just being flippant).

The next aspect was how many people to have over. We have limited tables and parking. I thought 10-12 people. Brandi thought we could handle 14-16. She was right. We made enough goodybags for 14-16.

Muskegon appreciates Campaign Coins from King of the Castle Games
Campaign Coins from King of the Castle Games

Extra Life is a charitable event. So charging admission for the event was the main way to raise funds. I thought last year’s price point of $30-$35 was reasonable. This price would include your goodybag, three meals and 25 hours of games.

Greek Tony's Pizza
Greek Tony’s Pizza

Meal preparation for 14-16 people was a lot more painstaking then it is for a typical Twilight Imperium game. Brandi’s bestie, Abbey, was a great help. Abbey knows someone who knows someone who knows Greek Tony’s. She was able to get us Greek Tony’s pizza for dinner. It was delicious. I ate the pizza over a garbage can like a %$@# savage.

We had Crockpot Central for lunch and midnight snacks. I made Swedish meatballs. Tasha made her Annex-wide famous taco dip. And others were generous and brought lots of cookies, cakes and snacks.

4. Contests

Raffle time
Raffle time

Last year we had a raffle. We had modest success with it. I wanted to do another raffle this year, anticipating more hype this go around.

Last year we did a standard raffle. You buy tickets. The tickets go in a hat. We draw a ticket from a hat. And you win the game. Rinse and repeat. Brandi had the bright idea of doing a Chinese raffle. This is where you have not one hat but several hats. People put their tickets in the hat accompanying the prize they want to win. So we had five “hats”. People put their tickets into Sword & Sorcery, Dominion, etc.

It was a much bigger success than last year. This year we had five different winners (whereas last year, we kept pulling Joe Morse’s tickets). Jonathan won Tiny Epic Quest; Matt won The Lost Expedition; Rob won Dominion Intrigue; Brian made up for last year by winning Sword & Sorcery. And Ms. Brandi herself won Teenage Mutant Turtles: Shadows of the Past.

Toe of Satan lollipop
Toe of Satan lollipop

The final contest was at 9PM. It involved Nick Sima and a lollipop. Not just any lollipop. This was Satan’s toe: a lollipop with a 9,000,000 Scoville rating. People would bet on how long they thought Nick Sima could keep it in his mouth. And to our surprise, he did 10 minutes! Special thanks to all the folks at Longer Days for their support.

5. The Games of the Day

Muskegon loves Eminent Domain from Tasty Minstrel Games
Eminent Domain: Escalation

The real question on everyone’s mind is: what games did we play? Yes, we may have raised some money for a children’s hospital. But did we play some awesome games in the process?

And the answer is: yes, we did.

I broke out Eminent Domain. We played this with the Escalation expansion. It was a smashing success. I think we have a dark horse game here.

I thought a group how to play Endeavor. I love this game. And I’m glad we played this just in time for the launch of the 2nd edition.

Muskegon loves Twilight Imperium 4th Edition
Twilight Imperium 4th Edition from Fantasy Flight Games

Dusty and the crew played Twilight Imperium 4th edition. He wrangled Tasha into playing. Tasha liked it so much she has already RSVP’d for our next game in late November. Bill was on board too. He loved it. The rest of us who didn’t play got to enjoy the slapfest between Nick Sima and Dusty.

Brian brought The Captain is Dead. He played it with 6 or 7 people, almost the full complement. It went over well. Then the table broke out Dr. Steve’s Photosynthesis game and gave it a whirl.

After midnight, Ben and the crew thought it would be amazing to start playing Tales of the Arabian Nights. That game lasted until 4am. To wake ourselves up, we played several rounds of Happy Salmon.

We rounded off the event with a bunch of party games like Wavelength and Word on the Street.

6. Final Numbers and thoughts

Tiny Epic Galaxies
Tiny Epic Galaxies

We had 14 attendees at the event. We raised $817 at the event and another $50 after the event (thanks mom!)

The event was a smashing success. Everyone loved the games they played, the games they got in their goodybags and the games they won at the raffle. We really outdid 2016’s event.

Are we going to do this event again next year? More than likely. I have some ideas about how to do things better. And Brandi’s wheels are already turning too. We are going to get more food donated. We will be more proactive in this in 2018. The goodybags next year will be as good or better next year. And the price point will be about the same. We will definitely not being having a Scoville Challenge next year. But we will have some other contest that is both fun for the spectators and humiliating to Nick Sima.

On a related note: Out of the Box is having its Black Friday sale in a week or two from now…

7. Where the fun happens

You can watch all our videos and shenanigans here:

 

 

 

 

Twilight Imperium Strategy Guide Preview

[Editor’s note: Dusty has been working on a complete strategy guide for Twilight Imperium 4. His thoughts on the game carry considerable weight since he is the winningest player of TI3 in our group. While he promises his full strategy guide is currently in development, we can get a taste of what’s coming from the following preview…]

Twilight Imperium Strategy Guide Preview

Preview 1: Should you score a public objective on round 1?

Muskegon loves Twilight Imperium 4th Edition
Twilight Imperium 4th Edition from Fantasy Flight Games

I believe most players agree that the best way to win Twilight Imperium is to heavily focus on scoring objectives, basically at all times.

On round 1, however, I believe you are better off focusing on military, expansion, or a race specific strategy. This is because by and large scoring a victory point on round 1 will stunt your growth in these fundamental areas.

Here are the 10 possible stage 1 objectives:

“Erect a Monument – Spend 8 resources”

This has to be the most difficult objective to justify scoring on the first turn. Scoring this objective means you wont be doing much else. Probably no technology and few, if any, additional units will be purchasd.

I’m hard-pressed to imagine a legitimate strategy that includes scoring this on round 1.

“Sway the council – Spend 8 influence”

About the only time I could see scoring this on turn 1 making sense is if you have a couple of influence heavy planets adjacent to your homeworld and you are able to use diplomacy effectively. Even then, my hunch is that you would be better off using diplomacy to access additional resources or using that influence to purchase command counters.

“Found research outposts – Control 3 planets that have technology specialties”

It probably makes sense to score this turn 1 if you can. That being said, it’s probably not practical.

First off, the chances that there are three tech specialty planets in range is extremely low.

Second, all 8 of the technology specialties are in different systems. That means that everyone but the XXcha will require 3 carriers to accomplish this on the first turn. That is a tall order.

Third, even if you could do this on turn 1, it likely would stunt your growth relative to other moves you could make. All of the technology specialty planets are low resource planets (all of them have a 0 or 1 resource value).

“Negociate Trade Routes – Spend 5 Trade Goods”

This is not too difficult for the person with the trade strategy card to score. However, it means you are spending 5 resources on turn 1 to score a victory point instead of using those resources to build your fleet or technology infrastructure.

“Intimidate the Council – Have 1 or more ships in 2 systems that are adjacent to Mexatol Rex’s system”

This is doable on turn 1 in the right circumstances. However, it probably stunts your growth to do so. I believe this requires you to have gravity drive and to spend a command counter on turn 1 that is not capturing planets or building. This means unless you have the leadership strategy card, its very unlikely you are going to expand to two systems and build in your home system (which is probably the most typical start).

Even with the potential stunt to growth, this is one of the first objectives where scoring it later could become significantly more difficult. If you can get this out of the way turn 1, it could save you the headache of having to jockey for position in later rounds.

“Expand borders – Control 6 planets in non-home systems”

If you can score this round 1, you should. The chances that you have 6 planets in range and have access to three carriers is practically zero though.

“Diversify Research – Own 2 technologies in each of 2 colors”

Scoring this turn 1 is a pain for everyone except the Jol-nar. There are 6 races that start with two technologies. Theoretically any of them score this turn 1 with the Technology strategy card. Should they? Probably not. The only way it might make sense is if those two technology purchases play into a specific strategy, otherwise spending 6 resources turn 1 is going to stunt your growth.

“Corner the Market – Control 4 planets that each have the same planet trait”

This has to be one of the best objectives to score on turn 1. Of course, most times it won’t be possible. This objective is one of the most important to pay attention to during galaxy setup. If you can make it so that this objective is scoreable on turn 1, it will be a big boost.

“Develop Weaponry – Own 2 unit upgrade technologies”

This is practically impossible for everyone but the Jol-nar to score turn 1. Frankly, most races will have difficulty scoring this on turn 2 as well.

“Lead from the front – Spend a total of 3 tokens from your tactic and or strategy pool.”

This is the easiest and worst objective to score round 1. If you do not have leadership and you choose to score this round 1 you are going to be handicapped during the entire early game. I have a hard time believing there is a coherent strategy that involves scoring this turn 1 – if you win after doing so, I think most of the time it will be despite scoring this turn 1, not because of it.

 

Arborec Early Game Strategy – Sarween Seed

Arborec (TI4)
Arborec (TI4)

Twilight Imperium early game strategies are difficult to develop because there are a lot of variables (galaxy setup, neighbor races, starting public objectives, trade metagame, strategy card, etc.). However, I believe they are useful because they can highlight how powerful a particular race can be in the right circumstances.

Here is my early game strategy for the Arborec, I call it the Sarween Seed.

Galaxy Setup

Galaxy setup is basic general strategy.

Strategy Card

Warfare.

This strategy starts with the Arborec selecting the Warfare strategy card. In my view, Warfare is the best strategy card for the Arborec generally because it allows them to expand quickly, either spreading out to take over a massive amount of territory, or amassing a huge ground force to take and hold Mecatol Rex.

It is essential for this particular strategy.

Turn 1
Move carrier, 4 infantry to adjacent system. Take control of planets. For this to work you need one of those planets to be worth 1 resource. Preferably you want high influence planets.

Exhaust home system to build second carrier in that system.

Diplomacy Secondary
You need the diplomacy secondary to trigger after turn 1 and before Technology. This shouldn’t be too out of the ordinary because most players with Diplomacy strategy card will take a system round 1 then use Diplomacy to refresh those planets turn 2 so they are available for them to use during a Warfare or Technology secondary.

Refresh your homeworld and a 1 resource planet.

Turn 2
Warfare Primary – pick up command counter from turn 1 unlocking your two carriers and 4 ground forces for additional expansion opportunities.

Technology Secondary
You need the technology secondary to trigger before turn 3 and after diplomacy.

During the technology secondary, purchase Sarween Tools.

Turn 3

Move one carrier and 2 ground forces to take over planets in an adjacent system. Use the one free resource from Sarween Tools to build 2 ground forces.

Turn 4

Move one carrier and 2 ground forces to take over planets in an adjacent system. Use the one free resource from Sarween Tools to build 2 ground forces.

At this point, your command counter configuration is 1/3/0 and you are ready to pass. This provides a great setup going into round 2. You will be in a good position to expand further and/or take over Mecatol Rex with a sizeable ground force (assuming you have the influence).

You could potentially increase the potency of this strategy with trade.

 

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Hits & Flops October 2017

I’ve been able to get several new games under my belt since our last installment of Hits & Flops. Dusty has been buying lots of games in 2017. In addition, Brian has been introducing us to lots of games. And of course I buy games like they are going out of style. Let’s have some fun with another installment of Hits & Flops.

Board Game Hits & Flops October 2017

 

Quartermaster General 1914

Quartermaster General 1914
Quartermaster General 1914

About a year ago, Bruce brought over a nifty little World War II game called Quartermaster General. Each player takes on one of the belligerents: three play the Axis and three play the Allies. On your turn, you play a card such as “Build Army” or “Sea Battle”. Once you play the card, it goes in your discard pile, never to return to play. You score points by owning victory cities at the end of each of your turns. Which every team has the most points at the end of the game is winner.

Quartermaster General 1914 in action
Quartermaster General 1914 in action

There are some cards that mill cards off your opponent’s deck. These cards are called Economic Warfare cards. It’s quite possible for someone to run out of cards before the end of the game. Some card are “Status Cards” and they stay in play, giving you a permanent bonus. And some cards are “Event Cards” that have a powerful one time effect.

Bruce’s WWII game went over quite well. Its simplicity was charming. The team interaction was fun. And all our games of it were intense. So when I saw they were releasing  WWI version I was understandably intrigued.

Rules reference QMG 1914
Rules reference QMG 1914

The new version, called Quartermaster General 1914, is largely the same as the aforementioned WWII game. The major differences are: theme (this one is WWI) and complexity. This new version cranks up the complexity by a fair margin. I thought our group might like this expert take on a game we love. I took a chance and bought it.

1914 is very asymmetrical. All of the QMG games are asymmetrical. But 1914 is particularly so. There are 5 powers in the game. The Central Powers have 2 players whereas the Triple Entente has 3 players. So the Triple Entente have to use their superior numbers to hammer Germany and Austria-Hungary into submission.

The British get a toehold on the continent
The British get a toehold on the continent

Some of the powers have more than one country at their command. Austria-Hungary command Austria-Hungary and the Ottomans. The British control the US. And France controls Italy. So your deck of cards may have some cards that refer to one power but not the other.

This version also allows players to prepare a card in addition to playing a card. Prepared cards use icons on them instead of the text. This gives all cards multi uses–one of my favorite game mechanics.

With all the extra complexity, I waited until a Tuesday to spring it on our regulars. The game went over very well. I loved it. It could become my favorite game in the growing QMG series (there is also a Peloponnesian War game).

Verdict: Hit!

 

Immortals

Immortals from Queen Games
Immortals from Queen Games

Wallenstein is a great game. It’s a Euro-war game with a cube tower instead of dice. Your armies are wooden cubes. When you fight, you drop your cubes and your opponent’s cubes into the cube tower. Some cubes will fall out and others will not. Your cubes that fall out are compared to your opponent’s that fall out. The difference are placed in the territory.

The novel combat system of Wallenstein has been adopted by other games. The combat system in End of the Triumvirate is similar. And the deduction mechanic of Mord im Arosa is not dissimilar. So when designers Mike Elliot and Dirk Henn announced a fantasy version, the gaming world took note.

Components of The Immortals
Components of The Immortals

Dusty was one of the gamers who took note. He taught Nick Sima and myself how to play a couple of Sundays ago.

And it went over like a lead balloon.

Unlike the added complexity Quartermaster General 1914 affords over its predecessors, the added complexity in The Immortals is unneeded and unwanted.

There are now two resources instead of just money. There is a divided game board: one for evil races and one for good races. And everyone controls exactly one of each. You can move between the two planes of existence if you build a portal.

Board for The Immortals
Board for The Immortals

The game board is busy. And the graphic design is less than ideal. The theme also does not shine through as much as it does in Wallenstein.

The Immortals isn’t a terrible game. It’s just an unneeded game. Wallenstein (or its Japanese themed counterpart, Shogun) are good enough.

Verdict: Flop.

 

Apocrypha

Apocrypha Adventure Game
Apocrypha Adventure Game

Apocrypha Adventure Card Game was made for people who like Pathfinder the Card Game. It’s a campaign style coop where players build a deck with certain advantages and disadvantages in an effort to defeat an AI.

Pathfinder was not my cup of tea. The idea of a campaign or legacy card game is interesting enough. But the mechanics in Pathfinder are not interesting. They are a convoluted version of Battle of Greyport–a game that is quite fun once in a while but not enough to play an entire campaign.

Dice and standees for Apocrypha
Dice and standees for Apocrypha

Our first play of Apocrypha was marred by our utter ignorance of the rules. The publisher has a how-to video. We thought we could slog our way through the game. We were wrong. After almost 2 hours, we decided to abandon our game.

Even if I knew the rules well and could play a complete game, Apocrypha just isn’t my type of game. The trick to Apocrypha isn’t trying to play  your whole hand of cards. It’s trying to use your one time use cards to maximum ability. So if you were thinking this was Dominion, you would be disappointed. But if you like Mage Knight, you might like this.

Verdict: Flop.

 

Magic Maze

Magic Maze from Gyom
Magic Maze from Gyom

Dusty introduce Jon and myself to Magic Maze a few weeks ago. Jon, who’s a theme junkie, was warned by Dusty this game would probably not be his cup of tea.

In Magic Maze, players do not control one of the adventurers. Instead, they control a certain movement direction. So anyone can move the barbarian but only one person can move him north. Players work together to move the elf, dwarf, wizard and barbarian through a shopping mall to get all the adventuring equipment they need. The game has an hourglass so players have only so long to do so.

Play through of Magic Maze
Play through of Magic Maze

Despite its weak theme, Jon liked the game. And so do I. Magic Maze could become my favorite filler. This little rascal plays in 15 minutes and offers 17 increasingly difficult scenarios.

We introduced this game to our Thursday night group as well. And it was roundly appreciated. Magic Maze is so good, it’s difficult to imagine a game collection without it. It’s good for hardcore gamers. It’s good for non-gamers. It’s fun with kids. Designer Kasper Lapp really struck gold with this one.

Verdict: HIT!

 

Century Road Spice

Century: Golem Edition
Century: Golem Edition

Steve and his wife had us over for games a few weeks ago. They taught us Century: Golem Edition. This is a reimplementation of Century: Spice Road. It’s not yet available for retail. Steve was able to get a copy at GenCon.

Players are competing to build golems in this fantasy card game. You first must acquire all the gems needed to build a golem. This is done by playing cards from your hand that either give you gems or that let you exchange gems for different gems.

Gems and cards from Century Golem
Gems and cards from Century Golem

Players have a hand of cards. They can either play a card from their hand, refresh their hand of cards, draft a card from the board or spend gems to buy a golem. You win the game by scoring points, mostly from building golems.

My wife adored the game. She said the game was very relaxing. Probably because we just played Magic Maze, a frenzied timed game. But she is right that Century is a good game. It is light enough to teach non-gamers. It could also be a good cool down game for hardcore gamers.

Verdict: HIT!

 

Stop Thief!

Stop Thief! from Restoration Games
Stop Thief! from Restoration Games

I’ve found a copy of the classic Parker Brother’s game, Stop Thief! recently. It was the second such copy that I’ve found at thrift stores in 2017. This is a nifty old game where you have an electronic device that makes sounds, giving you clues where the thief is at.

Rob Daviau has launched a company who’s goal is to make modern versions of these old games. This is one of the first games he’s restored. The electronic device is now your smartphone’s app. The artwork is updated. But the feel of the game is the same.

Game board and pawns in Stop Thief!
Game board and pawns in Stop Thief!

Because of the smartphone app, the sound quality is way better than it was in the 1979 version. When the thief moves to a door, you hear a creaky old door open. When the thief moves outside, you hear the hustle and bustle of a busy street.

The roll-and-move has been replaced with a hand of cards. This is a huge improvement. One of the cards gives you a private tip but it usually moves you only a few spaces. When you play a card, you do not get it back until you play your refresh hand card.

The dragnet tightens
The dragnet tightens

Despite its obvious improvements, Stop Thief! hasn’t been a hit. We’ve been playing it on “difficult” or “intermediate” settings. The difficult setting makes the private tip feature all but useless. And the intermediate game makes the private tip weak. We also played with the no cash option. This was objectively bad. In fact, the only good way to play Stop Thief! is to play the easy game, the way the game was originally design. It’s a simple deduction game with some press-your-luck. It doesn’t need dozens of add-ons.

Verdict: Undetermined.

 

Where every game night is a hit

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
196 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Dictator Ben

Tuesday, Oct 10, 2017, 6:00 PM
2 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

 

September 2017 thrift store

It’s that time again. It’s time for our most followed column: my recent thrift store finds. I cast a wide net and rescue many endangered games. Below are the highlights from my recent endeavors. And as always, these games are available to any of our members.

 

Thrift Store Finds September 2017

 

Axis & Allies

Axis & Allies Guadalcanal
Axis & Allies Guadalcanal

Long time followers know about what Axis & Allies has meant to my gaming history. Axis & Allies is always an auto-buy when I find it at thrift stores. I can usually cobble together a full game from any thrift store find. And Axis & Allies is a great game to give to a local gamer who doesn’t know about our existence.

Axis & Allies D-Day
Axis & Allies D-Day

So you can imagine my excitement when I found not one, not two, not three but four copies of Axis & Allies! I was perusing the flea market and found Axis & Allies Guadalcanal and Axis & Allies D-Day. I found a copy of the revised edition at a local Goodwill. And I found Axis & Allies Pacific at another Goodwill.

Axis & Allies (revised)
Axis & Allies (revised)

Axis & Allies is the next step up from Risk. It’s a good gateway game to bring people into hobby. I would recommend it until your group graduates to 1754: Conquest or such.

 

Risk

Risk Legacy
Risk Legacy

Speaking of Risk, I find copies often at thrift stores. I usually just give them away to local gamers so they know about The Gaming Annex. But this past month was a marque month for finding Risk. I found not one but two copies of Risk: Legacy.

Risk Legacy city
Risk Legacy city

Risk: Legacy is the brainchild of Rob Daviau, the founder of Restoration Games. He is the architect of several legacy games with Risk: Legacy being the first.

The two copies I found had been played through, unfortunately. So I have lots of plastic army dudes!

Risk: Captain America Civil War
Risk: Captain America Civil War

Two different Risk games were available at Meijer: Star Wars and Captain America Civil War. Meijer struggled to sell these so they were put on clearance. Now the games are a bit harder to find.

I did manage to do just that. There was a $3 copy at a thrift store. It was opened but unplayed. I suppose someone was gifted this game and didn’t want it. I’m confident I can find a local person who wants this 🙂

Risk: Plants vs. Zombies
Risk: Plants vs. Zombies

Last but not least I found Risk: Plants vs. Zombies. Indeed I found two copies this month. One game was short on pieces. I thought since I found two copies I could cobble together a full game. I was able to. But there is an anomaly in publication. Some copies have gray zombies and others have purple zombies. I’m not sure why this happened. But if you need pieces to complete a copy, be warned about this!

Codenames

Codenames from Czech Games
Codenames from Czech Games

Codenames is a very popular game from a very esteemed designer. Codenames is ranked #1 on BGG for party games and #36 overall. It was designed by Vlaada Chvátil. He has four games on the Top 100 of BGG. No other designer is even close with the possible caveat of Uwe Rosenberg.

I found a neglected copy of Codenames at the Goodwill on Norton and Henry recently. The game was complete and appeared to be unplayed.

I found a home for this game recently so this game is no longer available. But don’t fret. You can get new copies for very cheap at Out of the Box or online.

 

Assassin’s Creed

Assassin's Creed
Assassin’s Creed

Board games that use video game IP’s, movie IP’s or TV show IP’s  usually are not good. This has not stopped Cryptozoic Games from trying, though. They have published Adventure Time, Archer, Attack on Titan and Batman: Arkham City.

Due to the IP’s draw, I usually pick up Cryptozoic Games from thrift stores. Their low BGG’s rating are often ignored by new gamers. And newer gamers are the ones I’m trying to reach. Even Assassin’s Creed holds a modest 5.7 on BGG.

 

Stop Thief!

Stop Thief! from MB
Stop Thief! from MB

I was flabbergasted when I found a copy of Parker Brother’s Stop Thief back in March/April. This game has been on my Holy Grail list for, well, all my life. The game is a detective/deduction game that is far superior to Clue.

Thrift Store Finds: March 2017
Stop Thief! board and detectives

This cute game comes with an electronic device that makes sounds. Based upon the sound, you can deduce where the thief is. If you figure out where he is at, you get paid. Collect enough money and you win.

I was flabbergasted for the second time this year when I found Stop Thief! again! So if you need a copy, hit me up!

 

Other Notable Games

Lionheart from Parker Brothers
Lionheart from Parker Brothers
Guillotine from Wizards of the Coast
Guillotine from Wizards of the Coast
Bandu from Milton Bradley
Bandu from Milton Bradley
Simpon's Chess Set
Simpon’s Chess Set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where thrift store games are loved…

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
195 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Dictator Make Up Day

Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017, 6:00 PM
5 Attending

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RPG or Board Game? Who’s to decide?

[Editor’s note: long time contributor Nick Sima has become rather enamored by the world of Terrinoth. With Fantasy Flight’s recent announcements about Runewars Miniatures Game and the new Legacy of Dragonholt, Nick’s become inspired to write about it. This will be the first in an ongoing column about Terrinoth…]

 

RPG or Board Game? Who’s to decide?

Legacy of Dragonholt
Legacy of Dragonholt

Just before Gen Con (yes, that Gen Con) there were a few announcements made by Fantasy Flight. I was all excited for what they’d drop on us and checked a couple days prior to find a little game called Legacy of Dragonholt. It’s set in the ever expanding Runebound universe and features the brand new Oracle system.

Oracle System
Oracle System

The Oracle system appears to be very much like a choose your adventure book. I’m thinking it’s akin to Tales of the Arabian Nights, but who knows? Fantasy Flight has given it no press since the initial release. As of this posting, it still reads as ‘At the Printer’ on FFG’s site. Maybe they don’t want to reveal too much of their Oracle system before the product launches.

Muskegon loves Runewars
Runewars Miniatures Game from Fantasy Flight Games

I am still quite excited at the prospect of this new game. I find the Runebound universe extremely exciting and want to see more things created in that space. My plan is to write a series of blog posts about the history of Runebound and how we got to this new and exciting game, and I’ve been doing a bit of research to get that off the ground.

Legacy of Dragonholt box
Legacy of Dragonholt box

In that research, I found that BGG put Legacy of Dragonholt in the RPGGeek side. There’s currently a back and forth (as BGG users are so wont to do) about the precedent of it being a Board game or RPG. As you’d expect there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence and conjecture, so if you’re interested in that sort of thing, check it out.

Legacy of Dragonholt is on the pending approval page for board game listings a few times now, so hopefully BGG gets its act together and puts it where it (probably) belongs.

 

If you’d like to play Battlelore or Runewars with Nick Sima or any other member of the Muskegon Area Gamers, visit us here…