Category Archives: Muskegon Area Gamers

Thrift Store Finds July 2017

It’s been some time since I posted my thrift store finds. Don’t let this hiatus lull you into thinking I’ve abandoned my post at every Goodwill in the tri-county area. There have been several good finds along with a couple of amazing finds. And, as always, these games are available for our members or readers of this blog at The Gaming Annex.

Thrift Store Finds July 2017

Bermuda Triangle

Bermuda Triangle (1976)
Bermuda Triangle (1976)

I first learned about the Bermuda Triangle in 1977. Charles Berlitz, a renowned writer of the paranormal, authored a popular book about the infamous area of the Atlantic. His work spawned a creepy episode of  In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy.

In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy
In Search Of with Leonard Nimoy

Berlitz’s book did more than spawn a TV episode though. Milton Bradley released a pick-up and deliver game called Bermuda Triangle the year after Berlitz’s book. I’ve blogged about the game in my essay about the origins of Ameritrash. It’s been a game that I’ve wanted since my childhood.

And the Goodwill in Grandville delivered! (Figuratively. I mean, they didn’t drive the game to my house).

Players must move about the eastern Caribbean, picking up goods an delivering them. Players get paid for making deliveries (total cash determines the winner). However, there are clouds forming. The area bound by Miami, San Juan and Nassau is haunted by an amorphous black fog. It’s magnetic properties screw up your navigation and cause your ships to be lost.

There's a storm abrewin'
There’s a storm abrewin’

Each player has a complement of ships. These plastic ships have a magnet on them. When the storm passes near them, the ship can be picked up. This means the ship is lost and you will have to buy a new one.

The game is beautiful for a 1970’s game. And the components are fun. I like the idea that the magnetic storm simulates the magnetic anomalies that sailors have noted in the real Bermuda Triangle. Ultimately, the roll-and-move aspect sinks this game by today’s standards. Still, I’m glad I found a copy!

A Cache of Dungeons & Dragons Books

Someone's collection of D&D books
Someone’s collection of D&D books

Several weeks ago, a follower of ours on Facebook was looking to sell some D&D books. She asked if I would post her wares on our page. I obliged. The post drew a tremendous amount of interest from the Muskegon area. Seems everyone and their brother wants some D&D books.

Joann, one of our members, really wanted those books. Unfortunately, the books sold before she could make arrangements.

I was perusing the Goodwill on Harvey Street about two weeks later. I hadn’t found any noteworthy games in some time. The shelves were filled with dreck. I walked past one of the new merchandise bins. I found six, count ’em six, D&D books! And by some serendipity, the six books matched the titles I was asked to post on Facebook a couple of weeks earlier.

The clerk rang up the books at 80 cents a pop. $5.09 later, I had a budding collection of 1st edition Dungeons & Dragons books. I was only too happy to give them to Joann who missed out on the ones being sold on our Facebook page (which were $20 each).

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest from Ravensburger
Enchanted Forest from Ravensburger

I keep finding copies of Enchanted Forest. I’m not complaining. People in our group who have kids clamor over it.

I believe I’ve found 4 copies in 2017. Two members, Holly and Jonathan, got copies to play with their families. I now have an additional copy available.

Snorta!

Snorta! from Out of the Box Games
Snorta! from Out of the Box Games

Snorta! is another great family game. The components are cute plastic animals and barns. The game play revolves around being the first to make an animal sound when a card is flipped.

I’ve found a couple copies of this in 2017 that were incomplete. To my dismay, I was not able to cobble together a complete copy with them either.

But I did recently find a bona fide complete copy. Keeping with tradition, I gave it to Holly. Her kids are going to be inundated with games if this pattern keeps up.

You’re Bluffing

You're Bluffing from Ravensburger
You’re Bluffing from Ravensburger

IfSnorta! is a good farm animal game for children then You’re Bluffing is the same for adults. You’re bluffing is farm animal auction game. You either auction off an animal and collect money or you make a blind bid against an opponent’s animal. The goal is to collect entire sets of animal so they are worth points.

I was first introduced to this game by long time member Bruce. I found a copy for myself at a thrift store copy several years ago. I loaned it to former member Charles who ended up moving to Maryland–taking You’re Bluffing with him.

Some of the cards
Some of the cards

I made a local trade to get another copy for my library. But a recent trip to one of the thrift stores on 29th Street yield some thrift store gold: a complete copy of this prized game!

Now I have an extra copy available. I believe it’s earmarked for Tasha. But if she passes on it, I’ll make it available to the general public.

Arab Israeli War

Arab-Israeli Wars from Avalon Hill
Arab-Israeli Wars from Avalon Hill

Finding Avalon Hill games at thrift stores is like grabbing the brass ring. There are two reasons for this. The first is AH games are generally good games that stand the test of time. The second is owners of AH games take care of their games so most thrift store finds will be complete.

I found a copy of Avalon Hill’s The Arab-Israeli Wars, complete and mostly unplayed. Some of the counters were unpunched. Some gamer must have bought a copy of this game hoping to find a game group with which to play it only to have it sit idle for years on his shelf. If this is the case, I have a local game group that you will want to join!

Dinosaurs of the Lost World

Dinosaurs of the Lost World from Avalon Hill
Dinosaurs of the Lost World from Avalon Hill

I’ve been wanting a copy of Dinosaurs of the Lost World from Avalon Hill for a while now. The game has two modes: family and strategy. The game has better components than most Avalon Hill games (AH was known for the quality of game play, not quality of components). And I’m a huge fan of Jurassic Park so the theme works for me.

But the price doesn’t.

Modular board of Dinosaurs of the Lost World
Modular board of Dinosaurs of the Lost World

The game goes for $70+ when you can even find a copy. I put it low on my priority list.

While making my rounds one afternoon, I saw a game with this familiar title on it. I thought, “No way! This is some similarly named game.”

But to my pleasant surprise, it was a complete copy of the Avalon Hill classic. The game is now a permanent edition to our library.

Other thrift store finds

Elude the dungeon keepers of Muskegon!
Parker Brothers’ Dungeon Dice

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimate Werewolf
Ultimate Werewolf

 

 

 

 

 

Stratego 4
Stratego 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where the thrifting never stops…

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
188 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

Epic Games: Dune

Sunday, Aug 6, 2017, 11:00 AM
6 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

Around the world of board gaming July 2017

Lots of news to cover around the world of board gaming. We will talk about GenCon, game theory, the market outlook for Hasbro and, of course, The (New) Gaming Annex. Hope you enjoy it!

Around the World of Board Gaming July 2017

GenCon 4 day badges are sold out

GenCon logo
GenCon logo

What happens when 60,000 of your closest gaming buddies all sign up for GenCon? If you said, “GenCon sells out for the first time in its history”, you’d be correct. There are no more 4 day passes for 2017. The badges, which sell for $90, sold out this month.

This is the 50th anniversary of GenCon. To commemorate this, the officials at GenCon wanted to top all their previous attendance goals. They pulled out all the stops.

They Might Be Giants
They Might Be Giants

They even have a concert.

They Might Be Giants is playing at the stadium adjacent to GenCon. And GenCon goers have access to ticketing.

We should conclude that 4 day passes for next year’s GenCon will sell quickly; everyone who missed out this year will want to buy their badge early in 2018.

 

Hasbro is not a good buy

Hasbro
Hasbro

I rough up Hasbro a lot on this blog. But there is no denying that they make lots of money publishing toys and games. This is due to Hasbro’s strong performance in the market place and Mattel’s missteps.

But Hasbro reported their smallest sales in 1.5 years. This past quarter was not kind to the publisher-we-love-to-hate. Hasbro had to rely on Transformers: The Last Knight toys and Spider-Man: Homecoming action figures. And these two franchises were not up to the task. Hasbro gets 50% of its revenue from overseas. Sales in Brazil and the UK were lower than expected this quarter.

But there is no cause for long term concern. Hasbro has the rights to the new Star Wars movie, The Last Jedi. Hasbro is the publisher of choice for many Disney IP toys. Hasbro is also launching a board game delivery service this fall. So don’t panic. We will be able to use Hasbro as a punching bag for many years to come.

Game Theory in Geopolitics

North Korean military prowess
North Korean military prowess

The situation in the Korean peninsula is heating up. It’s not bad enough that the Korean War ended in 1953 with a stalemate. But 64 years later the situation is deteriorating.

The regime is run by the grandson of the dictator who precipitated the first conflict there. This new dictator, Kim Jong Un, seems insistent on demonstrating his ability to launch rockets against the US.

While this is a topic of importance, what we focus on here is gaming. And the strategists working for the defense of the USA are using game theory to flesh out a course of action. Game theory is about playing the player along with playing the game. The game here is geopolitics in the Korean peninsula. The players are North Korea, South Korea, China and the USA. And game theory assumes rational actors.

Along with NPR’s article on the subject, Project Syndicate has a good background on the subject here. The use of game theory in geopolitics is not new. The Kennedy’s used it to game out a scenario to “win” the Cuban Missile Crisis. Our current administration is doing the same with North Korea.

 

Close to Home

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

So we moved.

Our new location is at 851 W. Laketon Avenue Suite A. This is near Henry Street in the city of Muskegon. The building is an office/retail site along with some industrial warehousing in the rear.

We moved from 1976 W. Sherman Boulevard due to a change in ownership in the strip mall we were renting. We were there just under five years. After a tearful goodbye, we have moved to some new digs. We had over 10 people in our group helping out moving, loading and even renting trucks to aid the move. I was overwhelmed. I’m very grateful for this gaming community.

Our new place is about 50% bigger than the old place. We now have 1,300 square feet, compared to about 800 before. We have three separate rooms which helps keep noise and distractions down. There are a two annoying things about the new place. The first is the air conditioning. The A/C is a work in process. I’m hoping that the climate will be under more control this Tuesday. The second is parking. Just ask Brandi.

Muskegon Watch Us Go
Muskegon Watch Us Go

I’m confident we can work out these bugs. I’m hopeful this new location will work out long term. The location should be conducive to recruiting too. Lots of foot traffic. And Rick Jima, one of our misanthropes, is working on getting a new $20 awning. Expect big things!

 

Byte Club Gaming of North Muskegon
Byte Club Gaming of North Muskegon

Speaking of new locations, our former partners, Byte Club Gaming, moved. Abruptly. Like, no fanfare or anything.

Byte Club Gaming of North Muskegon is now Byte Club Gaming of Pentwater. Per their facebook and website, they are offering the same services as before, just in northern Oceana County.

We wish them the best of luck in their new location. Their new location will put them outside the scope of the Muskegon Area Gamers. But with little luck and a lot of hard work, they turn that resort town into a thriving gaming community.

Extra Life logo
Extra Life logo

I guess that makes more room for Griffin’s Rest. Speaking of which, I had the pleasure of meeting with Kiel and his partner, Dan, this month. We discussed our plans for this November’s Extra Life event. Griffin’s Rest will be having an event at their two story retail outlet on 3rd Street.

Kiel said final preparations for his store are under way. He should be open in August.

And we will be there to support!

 

To follow local news, check us out here:

 

Bring out your DM’s!

[Editor’s note: it’s time for another installment of Just in Tima with Nick Sima]

Bring out your DM’s!

 

Gloomhaven, Descent, Star Wars Imperial Assault, Zombicide… What do all of these games have in common? They’re board game versions of a tabletop RPG that miss the mark slightly. I recently received a copy of Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition Starter set so that I could run a small campaign with some friends. While I was reading up on how to run the first dungeon they scope out, I noticed a couple of tips for Dungeon Masters that linked up perfectly with a discussion Chris and I had months ago.

Gloomhaven from Cephalofair Games
Gloomhaven from Cephalofair Games

The thing that Tabletop RPG board games like Gloomhaven and Zombicide is missing is a Dungeon Master. The thing that Star Wars: Imperial Assault and Descent is missing, oddly enough, is a Dungeon Master. Sure, you’ll say that Descent has a player acting as the bad guys, but that’s not what a Dungeon Master does entirely.

The missed point in Gloomhaven is so egregious that one of our intrepid members fired the game from just one room. A really simple AI works in theory, but sooner or later a room will be encountered where it’s a logistical nightmare just to figure out what enemy does what. Balancing the checkbook has never been fun, doing it for which zombie decides to punt you over the mountains is unbearable. Zombicide masks this by just choosing yes in all columns for where zombies go. It’s ridiculous, but it’s still more tedious than is ‘good’

Star Wars Imperial Assault will hit the gaming table a lot in Muskegon
Star Wars Imperial Assault

Let’s go back to Descent and Star Wars: Imperial Assault, they both have a player operating the bad dudes. That’s good, right? Well, not really. The player running the bad guys and the players playing their hero have diametrically opposed goals. I played as the overlord in Descent for a while. I won some long odds fights from good card play and luck. This made me stronger which made it easier for me to win against my friends more and more. I got stronger and stronger and they had less and less fun. Talking with our resident GM/DM Kevin, he shared a similar experience in Star Wars: Imperial Assault. The GM having an opposite goal and benefitting from winning leads to 3-4 players having a bad time more often than not.

Muskegon loves Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition

So, what do these games need to be better? I think we need a GM that wins when the players win. Chris and I discussed some viable options where the two victory conditions could be met independently such as the GM needing only to save one bad guy from a fight while the heroes running around need to loot all the treasure. It could also just as easily be set up where every time the heroes level up, the GM also gets a couple new toys. Is it more a simulation or activity than a board game at that point? Yeah, probably. Would it be more fun? Hard telling, I’ll need a big named board game developer to make it so I can find out.

 

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Tabletop Games in Pop Culture

Our hobby has been going more mainstream. Designer games are available at national department stores. Game manufacturers have considerable clout in the financial sector. But when pop culture begins to use board games, you know our hobby isn’t just about how and where we spend our money. Here’s a look at some examples of how board games have permeated into pop culture.

 

Tabletop Games in Pop Culture

 

The Handmaid’s Tale (Scrabble)

The Handmaiden's Tale Muskegon Area Gamers
The Handmaid’s Tale

Scrabble has been around forever. It was first published in 1938 as a multi-player crossword game. It would later be sold to the Long Island distributor Selchow-Righter who made the game a household name. Due to its near ubiquity, it seems obvious that Scrabble would break into the mainstream pop culture. Recently, the game made for a tense scene in the miniseries The Handmaid’s Tale.

Hulu’s original show The Handmaid’s Tale has been a critical success. It’s garnered a rating of 8.7 on IMDB and a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Not too shabby for the upstart competitor of cable TV and Netflix. The show is a gripping, dystopian tale with excellent performances–especially by the talented Elisabeth Moss. While I recommend the show, what we are more interested here is tabletop games.

The Commander, played by Joseph Fiennes, decides to break the ice with his handmaid Offred, played by Moss. The Commander breaks out a copy of Scrabble. The two play a game where Offred lets the Commander win, unbeknownst to him. Their game comes off as polite but also white-knuckled–a great feat for such a dry game.

The Handmaid's Tale Scrabble
The Handmaid’s Tale Scrabble

But It seems that Scrabble connoisseurs were not too keen on how the rules for Scrabble were not followed. Although they played Scrabble, it felt more like Words with Friends. The final score was a whopping 386 to 383. The Commander’s challenge fail but he did not lose a turn. And the two players spelled words like zygote and larynx.

 

Monopoly (Carol Burnett and The Sopranos)

Carol Burnett and Friends play Monopoly
Carol Burnett and Friends play Monopoly

Monopoly has been a part of pop culture for a couple of generations now. Classic television viewers will remember the Carol Burnett and Friends skits dealing with Mama’s Family. (It spawned a lengthy spinoff by the same name). Burnett played the tragic white trash Eunice, daughter of Mama (Vicki Lawrence) and Daddy (Harvey Korman). In one skit, Eunice’s exuberance in finally getting Boardwalk and Park Place is quickly and hysterically dashed when she lands on her mama’s hotel on St. Charles Place and her dad’s hotel on Kentucky Avenue on her next two moves.

The Sopranos play Monopoly
The Sopranos play Monopoly

The best pop culture reference of Monopoly is probably the Sopranos, however. Tony, Carmela, Bobby and Janice play a family game of the Parker Brothers’ classic. But the “family” in question is the Soprano clan. And any game with this family is liable to end in bloodshed.

What is interesting about The Sopranos’ Monopoly scene is the discussion about the rules. Bobby asks why Tony is putting cash in the center of the board instead of the bank. Carmela explains they play with the Free Parking rule: whoever lands on Free Parking gets all that money. Carmela offers the explanation, “It adds a whole level of excitement to the game”. Bobby is a rules purist. He grabs the rules and demands to be shown where this rule is located. Carmela says it’s not an official rule but is a widely accepted variant.

When Tony lands on Free Parking, Bobby laments that the Parker Brothers spent a lot of time making a strategy game only to have the Sopranos devolve it into a game of chance.

And then the bloodshed.

Tony Soprano with a Monopoly house
Tony Soprano with a Monopoly house

Tony quips at Janice’s expense. Tony makes cracks about her bouts with mental illness and her past promiscuity. Bobby suffers enough indignation about these comments at his wife’s expense and a brawl ensues. When the brawl is over, Tony is dripping with blood. Carmela has to pluck a Monopoly house out of his cheek. And you know the old adage: the only way to win Monopoly is to not play.

 

Risk (Seinfeld)

Kramer carrying Risk board
Kramer carrying Risk board

Given the chops that Risk has offered to wargamers over the years, one should expect Risk to be represented in pop culture. 90’s radio staple R.E.M. had a pop song called, “Man on the Moon” featuring the lyrics “let’s play Twister, let’s play Risk”.

One of the most memorable pop references of the  Parker Brothers classic would have to be Seinfeld. The Show about Nothing had an episode where Kramer and Newman played a days long game of Risk. To keep the game safe from each other, Kramer and Newman had to move the board to neutral territory–which means Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment.

Kramer and Newman struggle for global domination
Kramer and Newman struggle for global domination

Kramer and Newman later can be seen playing their game on the subway. Kramer goads Newman as Kramer’s grasp on world domination is at hand. “I have a stronghold in Greenland. I’ve driven you out of Western Europe”.
Newman retorts that he has a good hold of the Ukraine. Kramer dismisses this and says the Ukraine is weak. A Ukrainian man is riding on the subway next to them and overhears this part of their conversation. The Ukrainian stranger transforms into a charging Cossack and ransacks Kramer’s game, pieces flying all over the subway.

 

 

Strange Things (D&D)

Netflix's Stranger Things
Netflix’s Stranger Things

Netflix’s original series, “Stranger Things” was written with me in mind:

1. Its protagonists are kids from the 80’s

2. It’s science fiction/fantasy

3. The protagonists play Dungeons & Dragons.

Needless to say, I highly recommend the show. I’m waiting with bated breath for season two, slated for an October release.

Kids in Stranger Things playing D&D
Kids in Stranger Things playing D&D

What we will be looking at here is Dungeons & Dragons angle.  In the opening scene of the show, four kids are seen in a basement playing D&D. Mike is the DM. He has a screen up. He is flinging troglodytes at the wizard, knight and dwarf. The players (PC’s) are deftly cutting through the trogs,

Will the Wise Wizard faces off against Demogorgon
Will the Wise Wizard faces off against Demogorgon

The PC’s suspect Demogorgon is near. For the uninitiated, Demogorgon is a two-headed demon prince. He has impressive stats.  The episode doesn’t explain why the players would know this. But their intuition proves correct when the Prince of Demons sprouts from the darkness.

D&D Expert book
D&D Expert book

The scene works as foreshadowing for the series as a whole. But game purists will quibble over a few flaws. Mike has a copy of Dungeons & Dragons the Expert edition. But Demogorgon is only found in Advanced Dungeons & Dragon’s Monster Manual. Indeed, all the demons and devils are in AD&D and AD&D only. The basic edition was the more suitable for those sticking their toes into RPG’s. The reason for this discrepancy? I would guess this inconsistency was caused by someone in the show’s production team who was a non-gamer; someone who easily conflated “D&D Expert edition” with “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons”.

 

A convocation of board games and pop culture…

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
179 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

Twilight Imperium

Sunday, Jun 11, 2017, 9:00 AM
4 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

 

 

 

SeaFall Session 1

Here is our 2nd installment from www.iggygames.com. This one is about our first full session of SeaFall. SPOILER ALERT!

 

SeaFall Session 1

 

 

Muskegon Area Gamers SeaFall
SeaFall game board

My SeaFall group gets together on Thursdays to play. With this Thursday being Thanksgiving, we got together on Wednesday to play the first game. It was a good game, in my opinion, however, I didn’t notice until after that I set the board up wrong, not adding all the millstone cards to the board, and thus we were not able to unlock the first box. While we wouldn’t have met that condition anyway, we may have played differently to unlock it. We also would have met other milestones and the game would have moved faster. As it was, it took us just under 2 1/2 hours to get game 1 played, this was also due to the times we had to look things up in the rule book. I’m sure by game 3 we won’t need to do this as often.


Ingrid Eld

We all needed to pick a new leader as at the end of the prolog you needed to rip up your SeaFall - Game 1leader. My new leader, Ingrid is keeping with the Norse theme, means Beautiful Goddess. My special ability is that for 2 coins, I can take all three merchant’s guild actions. Not once did this come in handy for me during the first game, it may help in later, but I may try and replace it as soon as I can. I’m not fully sure how I’m going to play Ingrid yet.

I played the first game mostly as a merchant. Bought and either traded the resources for cheaper buildings or sold them for gold. I tried one raid, and 1 explorer action, and failed on both. I think my notes may be messed up as I only sank once during this game, so I’m not sure how I failed both.


Outcome

Brian

  • Buildings
    • Port
    • Market
    • Gun tower
  • Upgrades
  • Raids = 1
    • Failed Raids = 1
  • Explorations = 1
    • Failed Explorations = 1
  • Ships Sunk = 1
    • Total Damage taken = 3
Tasha

  • Buildings
  • Upgrades
  • Raids = 4
    • Failed Raids = 1
  • Explorations = 1
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 1
    • Total Damage taken = 3

Chris

  • Buildings
    • Observatory
    • Gun tower
  • Upgrades
    • Intrepid
  • Raids = 0
    • Failed Raids = 0
  • Explorations = 2
    • Failed Explorations = 1
  • Ships Sunk = 1
    • Total Damage taken = 6
Brandi

  • Buildings
    • Port
  • Upgrades
  • Raids = 0
    • Failed Raids = 0
  • Explorations = 5
    • Failed Explorations = 1
  • Ships Sunk = 1
    • Total Damage taken = 10

Final Score

SeaFall - Game 1I didn’t keep track of how many treasures people bought, I know there were some 2 pointers bought in the game, and I know that helped Brandi win the game, again.

Brandi = 11pts
Tasha = 9pts
Brian = 7pts
Chris = 4pts

Brandi being the winner was able to upgrade her province, taking a new Appellation, then we were all able to upgrade 1 ship ability, and 1 of the advisers.


Final thoughts on Game 1

SeaFall - Game 1I really wish I would have set the board up correctly and had the milestones in, but it is what it is, and it didn’t mess us up too badly. I would have made the game much faster, however, and we may have been able to get in another game.

All in all, I think we all enjoyed the game. Chris and Tasha think they may know what the ‘mystery’ of the game is, and man do I hope they are wrong. If it does come out to that, I will probably give the overall game a rating of 1, no matter how much I enjoyed it.

Here is to the next game, and hopefully unlocking the first box this time!


SeaFall Game 0 {Spoiler Free}

[Editor’s Note: We have a guest blogger today. Brian runs www.iggygames.com. Brian (or Iggy as his friends call him) has been a great asset to our Thursday night group. Not only is he an avid gamer, but he has a host of games that he brings to The Gaming Annex. He’s also been the impetus for our recent foray into podcasts–more on this later. Brian has been writing session reports of our SeaFall games. Here is his first installment.]

SeaFall Session 0 {Spoiler Free}

 

I’ve had SeaFall for a while now. I had done a pre-order from Plaid Hat Games, and thus I was able to get the metal coins for the game. (I LOVE THESE). The game group (The Gaming Annex) I frequent on Thursday nights in Muskegon MI was finally able to get a game in.

One of the people involved got held up at work so we were only able to get in a prolog, unlike the Tuesday night group, but we got started, that is all that counts.


Legacy Games

SeaFall - Game 0For those that are not aware, SeaFall is what is known as a Legacy game. A Legacy game is where you write on the board and cards, rip cards up, and place stickers around the board. SeaFall is the first where you are supposed to play with the people you started with every time you play the game. Pandemic Legacy was close, but you could play with others.

For most of the people in my game, if not all, this is the first legacy game that we have played. I know Chris played 2 games of Risk Legacy, but being that he wasn’t involved in the full campaign, we won’t count it.

It was a bit strange / hard for some of us to be writing on the boards, our cards, and especially to rip up the cards, but we were able to do it anyway.


Game 0

We got off to a rocky start, it took me a bit to get the game set up, but as time goes on, I’m sure it will get easier. Everyone picked their color and provenance, we handed out the roles to determine play order and jumped in.

SeaFall - Game 0Some of us had seen the Watch it Played video on How to play SeaFall, some had not, so I went over the basics. We had a few rules questions, mainly regarding Raid vs Explore, and buying goods and messed that up a bit on the first turn, and missed the first event card, but quickly got the hang of it and made it past our first year in the game.

Each ‘year’ in the game lasts 6 turns, so each turn is equal to 2 months time. Every winter you have special things you need to do, like refresh any used advisors, add new advisors, get money, have the islands produce, etc… We finished the game in the middle of the 6th turn, thus, right before winter (I hate winter anyway).


Story

Most of us found the game interesting. The story was decent (didn’t fully draw us in, but it isn’t bad), and the downtime after we got the hang of it was pretty short.

SeaFall - Game 0Thinking about the names of things, I started working with the Norse mythology. Probably due to the book I’m currently reading, but it helped me get my names. My leader’s name Asmund Folke means Divine Protection From the People, and my ships, Nahuel and Parviz mean Tiger and Lucky. My provenance I named Asgard, being that it is the world of the gods, I figured it was fitting, here I am, a ‘world’ traveler with technology these natives haven’t seen before, I’m like a god to them! Each one of us was able to name an island, and I named mine Niflheim, the world of ice. I should have saved that one for later, but I used it.

Brandi is the only other player in my group to have started naming things on her sheet, hopefully, the other two will in the next game.


End Game and Final Thoughts

SeaFall - Game 0It took us about 2 hours total to play the game with going over basic rules and checking the rule book. I know the Tuesday night game took about 45 minutes, with a good hour before of just the rules, so I don’t think we were too far behind.

I think everyone liked the game, two of the players left fairly quickly after the game due to the time, but from the comments everyone made, I think they all enjoyed it, and are looking forward to the next session.

Nobody liked what occurred at the end of the prolog, but it is what it is and I’m sure there was a reason for it, time will tell, (well, Chris may have, he is kind of sadistic like that).

Player Tasha Chris Brandi Brian
Score 3 3 5 3

For the rest of the games, I’ll try and keep better records of what goes in in the game, but those will include spoilers.


 

A snarky look at Battleship

Hasbro decided to release a “retro” version of Battleship. This retro version is just Battleship with the 1967 cover. A comparison of the “retro” version to the original 1967 prompted me to look at Battleship’s covers through the years. A strange and fascinating pattern emerged.

WTF Moments in board games…another look at board game covers

 

Retro Edition 2016

Battleship Retro 2016
Battleship Retro 2016

Battleship has been a staple of board gaming since it was first published in 1931 by Parker Brothers. Battleship is a no-luck game where you and your opponent place your ships onto a grid. Then you take turns calling out Bingo numbers, trying to find your opponent’s ships before he finds yours. After 15 minutes of tedium, it’s a good idea to put Battleship away and play Star Wars Armada.

Despite having no luck, Battleship feels very arbitrary. As such it suffers from a 4.5 rating on BGG. One might wonder why Hasbro feels the need to release a “retro” version of this game. A brief review of this blog may remind readers that Hasbro has been making bank in recent months. If Battleship goes “retro”, it’s because Hasbro thinks it can sell.

The box cover shows the 1967 artwork with a blue in-lay that says, “Retro”. But there is a slight difference between Hasbro’s 2016 “retro” box cover and Milton Bradley’s 1967 artwork…

Milton Bradley's Battleship 1967
Milton Bradley’s Battleship 1967

The original 1967 edition shows the same father and son bonding over a tabletop game. But in the background, mother and daughter are also bonding–albeit while washing the dinner dishes–an omission from the newer “retro” edition.

Hasbro wanted PC retro, not Madmen retro.

1990 Edition

Battleship game pieces
Battleship game pieces

A game of Battleship comes with two plastic display shields. Behind these, each player affixes their fleet which will then spend the rest of the game not moving, despite repeated bombardment from your opponent. The display has a grid that goes from A to J (rows) and 1 to 10 (columns). Using these grid coordinates, you call out your shots. Your opponent tells you if the coordinate was a hit or not. You then place a red tack onto that coordinate if it was a hit, else place a white tack.

Using a modicum of logic, you can plod your way through your opponent’s defenseless fleet. When all your opponent’s ships are full of red tacks, the game is over. You don’t win. Not really. I mean, you just played Battleship. What did you win? But at least the game is over.

Milton Bradley's Battleship 1990 edition
Milton Bradley’s Battleship 1990 edition

Sometimes a modicum of logic is elusive. Take a look at this cover from Milton Bradley’s 1990 edition. Take a close look.

 

Close up of 1990 edition
Close up of 1990 edition

The displays between the two players do not match up! The player on the right has recorded a hit on J3 where he has his battleship located. His opponent, however, recorded his as a miss.

Indeed, there are several mismatches between the two displays. It seems either the kids on the box cover didn’t know the rules or Milton Bradley’s photo study didn’t care.

1984 Edition

Battleship 1986 edition
Battleship 1984 edition

I received a copy of Battleship in 1985. This is the cover of the edition I got. It was a family gift. Thanks mom but the family propensity for heart disease was a much nicer gift.

Take a look at the 1984 box. The models are different. But the game display…it’s identical. The same hits, the same misses. You might conclude that they simply used a stock photo. But take a closer look.

1984 vs. 1990 editions
1984 vs. 1990 editions

The displays were updated slightly. The yellow arrows show the in-lay panel was changed. The 1984 edition has a light blue background whereas the 1990 edition has a red and black panel.

Why would the studio set up an identical display? And an erroneous one at that? I guess we will never know.

Canuck Edition

Battleship Canadian edition year unknown
Battleship Canadian edition year unknown

Milton Bradley released many Canadian editions of their American games. The most recognizable difference between these and the American editions was the addition of French rules. It should come as no surprise that Battleship would have a Canadian edition.

Yankee vs. Canuck
Yankee vs. Canuck

What might come as a surprise is that the Canadians have almost the same display as the 1984 and 1990 American editions. Almost. The cruiser in the bottom left corner has been sunk in the Canadian edition but not in the American. Perhaps this is why the kid on the right looks almost autistic in his enthusiasm.

Epilogue

Battleship 1996 edition
Battleship 1996 edition

It wasn’t until 1996 that we see consistency between the two displays on a Battleship box cover. Making consistent game box displays is hard work. Thus Hasbro, now the owner of Battleship, has settled upon a new artwork for its boxes. The newer editions of Battleship have pictures of navies on them instead of pictures of the game components.

 

Where snarky comments are required

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muskegon Area Gamers: Latest News

Iggy Games www.iggames.com
Iggy Games

There has been many things taking place in the past few months. You might not know this from my sparse bloggings in recent weeks. But there is much to bring the public up-to-speed on.

Latest News from The Gaming Annex and the Muskegon Area Gamers

 

The Gaming Annex

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

We mentioned a few months ago that ownership of the building was changing. It wasn’t clear then what this meant for “the only game in town”. Now it is clear. Sort of.

The current home of the Muskegon Area Gamers is and shall remain 1976 W Sherman Boulevard, affectionately called The Gaming Annex. The adjacent suite, 1980 W Sherman will be added to our current space, giving us about 60% more floor space. This will give us the floor space we need to warehouse all of our games, bestow us with a full kitchen and afford us valuable distance between tables.

We will be taking over the space this summer. The current resident is occupying it short term. I estimate we will have possession by July. Repairs and renovations will be ongoing through the summer and fall of 2017. Any members or readers of this blog that would like to help, please let me know!

 

Newly promoted members

Mural at The Gaming Annex
Mural at The Gaming Annex

We’ve bumped up a couple of candidates to full Tier 1 members. One is Brandi. She’s been a real trooper.  Normally we have a 30 Game Gauntlet. She has long since surpassed this, reaching Herculean levels: over 100 new games and going strong.

The other new promotion is Joe. Joe has been a strong find as well. As Nick Sima put it: Joe is a gaming savant. Joe doesn’t just play games like Twilight Imperium well, he often outfoxes long time veterans.

We are glad you both have made us your gaming home!

 

Change in Schedule?

The Gaming Annex 2016 year in review
2016 Attendance by gamer

For the longest time, The Muskegon Area Gamers played games on Wednesday nights and on Sunday afternoons. Wednesday nights have since moved to Tuesday nights. But Sunday afternoons have persisted.

It used to be that we didn’t have an Annex. We would game in Plunkett’s basement. For those who are new to the group, can you imagine Dusty, Mongo and myself traipsing to Plunkett’s house to play games in his basement? That was what we used to do in our pre-Annex. days.

But attendance on Sundays has dropped precipitously. Many who wanted to game on Sundays cannot make it anymore. In the past few months, we’ve had Sunday meetups of 2 or 3 players several times. The only solution I could come up with is to move it to Saturdays.

The vote to move games to Saturdays was not unanimous. Indeed, there were some hard “No” votes. So if we have poor attendance on Sundays and we have hard No’s for Saturdays, what’s a poor gamer to do?

The solution I’ve come up with is the most complicated but ultimately the best for our group at this time: we will schedule events on Saturdays occasionally and on Sundays occasionally. If we play on Sundays, it will be an early start: like 9AM. If we play on Saturdays, it will be later, like noon. I don’t have all the details worked out yet. Check the website or facebook for more details.

 

Partnership with Iggy Games

Iggy Games www.iggygames.com
Iggy Games

If you’ve been around on Thursdays, you probably have noticed Brian. He’s been a fixture for the past several months. He is an avid gamer and has an impressive game collection. He has been making us his gaming home, a decision we are very grateful for.

Brian has a substantial presence on the world wide web. He owns and admins several websites. www.iggygames.com is one such website. Brian often captures our gaming escapades and blogs about them on his own site.

Brian approached me about doing a podcast. How could I turn him down? A podcast is the next step in our gaming exploration. There’s plenty to cover in a podcast. And many topics make better podcasts than blog posts.

Brian has procured the hardware we will need to begin. He is a professional IT dude so he will also handle the software. He is looking to me to handle some of the creative end.

Look for our first podcast installment soon. I believe it will be live in March. And if you have any ideas about topics for us to cover, by all means, speak up.

 

New gaming center for Muskegon? Maybe!

Downtown gaming center for Muskegon
Downtown gaming center for Muskegon

A couple of months ago, I got a “ding” on facebook. This happens when someone tags me or one of my facebook pages. This ding was because someone tagged The Gaming Annex.

Someone I had never met was mentioning us in a post about a new gaming center in downtown Muskegon. It seems a friend of a friend of Nick Sima’s is considering moving back to our beloved town. And he will move back if he can get a grant to open a game store. Specifically on 3rd Street, where a lot of the renaissance in Muskegon is taking place.

The gentleman’s name is Kiel. He picked my brain about what Muskegon needs and about what I could contribute to the effort. Kiel then dropped by the Annex and met Brandi, Professor Mike and myself a few Sundays back. Kiel said he was in Muskegon looking at real estate to move his game store project forward. He even applied for a grant.

If his game store does launch, Kiel said he would have a membership program for his loyal customers. He would have a large area for gaming tables. Due to his background in convention sales, Kiel would support many events: Star Wars game days, pirate game days, etc.

As of this blog, Kiel is awaiting disposition of grant money. When I know more, I will blog about it here.

 

Where to keep abreast of new developments…

 

Muskegon Area Gamers Year in Review

Muskegon Area Gamers Year in Review

It’s time for our annual retrospective. What games did we play? What was our attendance like? What were the major events that affected the Muskegon Area Gamers and The Gaming Annex?  And what will be in store for 2017?

 

Game Plays

Muskegon Area Gamers Year in Review
Game plays for 2016

Oh my poor, poor game plays. My game plays have been dropping off in the past few years. I hit my apex in 2013 and have been dropping ever since.

To be fair, we have been playing a lot more epic length games. This could account for some of the decline. The other reason is my job has been more demanding and I’ve missed a few more gaming sessions than normal in 2015 and 2016.

I do have a recovery plan for 2017: my doting wife. Little does she realize it, but she and I will be board gaming it up in 2017.

 

Notable Sessions

Eight player Twilight Imperium
Eight player Twilight Imperium

We managed to get an 8 player game of Twilight Imperium: the Long War to the table in 2016. It took us two sessions to complete. But it was definitely worth it. So much so that Jon has all but written off the original game because the Long War fixes so many issues.

Mega Civilization from Pegasus Spiele
Mega Civilization from Pegasus Spiele

 

 

We also got a game of Mega Civilization to the table in 2016. This was done in a one session fashion–a mistake we are correcting in 2017. After 17 hours of gaming, we called the game.

Muskegon Area Gamers Year in Review
Opening set up of Diplomacy

 

 

We mustered not one but two games of Diplomacy. This classic is becoming a favorite at The Gaming Annex. We will have another Diplomacy session in 2017, probably right before CabinCon IV.

Muskegon Area Gamers love Into the Woods Retreat
Into the Woods Retreat

 

 

Speaking of CabinCon, we had CabinCon III in 2016. We had 8 full time gamers plus several others who dropped by. CabinCon III saw the addition of Nick Sima, Dr. Steve and Jeremy to our lineup. We nixed Twilight Imperium from the schedule and added several other shorter games. It goes without saying that CabinCon III was a huge success.

 

Heavily Played Games

Karuba from HABA Games
Karuba from HABA Games

My most heavily played game of 2016 was [drum roll…]

Karuba!

I played Rudiger Dorn’s new family game 12 times in 2016. This game is an instant classic. The Gaming Annex loves. And I get to play it with my doting wife. She has played it with me a few times. She’s still working on her path-building skills.

It turns out there is a mini expansion for it (the volcano). And the completest in me will need to own it.

Battlelore 2nd Edition
Battlelore 2nd Edition

 

I fell in love with Battlelore 2nd Edition during 2016. I played this 10 times in 2016. And I have not scratched the surface of it yet.

Everyone who has been taught Battlelore has also loved it. It’s unfortunate that Fantasy Flight seems to be giving this game the axe 🙁

Empires: Age of Discovery
Empires: Age of Discovery

 

Empires: Age of Discovery was another hit in 2016. I played it 7 times last year. The game has a lot going for it so I suspect it will get lots of traction in 2017 as well.

The game has lots of cool minis, it’s got other great production values. Plus the rules are easy enough to teach new players while also have depth for the serious gamer. I liked it so much I bought the recent retheme Rebellion: Galactic Empires.

 

Attendance in 2016

Muskegon Area Gamers 2016 retrospective
Attendance in 2016 by day

We had 1,105 visitors to our events in 2016. This includes all gamers at all The Gaming Annex events plus the events held at other venues that The Gaming Annex directly supported (like CabinCon).

We’ve only been keeping attendance since the middle of 2014. This is our second full year of data. Compared to 2015, we are up in attendance by a nice margin: 18% increase! This increase is almost entirely due to our thriving Thursday night group. Our Thursday night group has surpassed Sundays in attendance by a wide margin. And this shows no sign of letting up. We have several promising candidates in our group.

The Gaming Annex 2016 year in review
2016 Attendance by gamer

Have you ever wondered how much time you spent at The Gaming Annex? Check out this graph to find out. This shows our top 15 attendees. If you are not on here, then you do not spend enough time with us!

 

Special Events

PitchCar at Kids' Gala IV
PitchCar at Kids’ Gala IV

We had Kids’ Gala III and IV in 2016. These Kids’ Galas are a huge hit. And they seem to be getting more popular too!

We had 20 kids and parents over in March (Kids’ Gala III). This was amazing. But then we had Kids’ Gala IV in October. We mustered a staggering 30 kids and parents! We may need more room to accommodate this growth.

The Brew House in Muskegon
The Brew House in Muskegon

We had a second gaming event at the Brew House on Seminole. This was also the last event there since the place closed down only weeks after we sponsored an event. Even if the Brew House had not closed down, the Muskegon Area Gamers would probably not sponsor events there anyway. The crew and managers there were not responsive or conducive to our club’s needs. Judging from their input at our last event in February, I can understand why they had to close their doors.

Byte Club Gaming
Byte Club Gaming

The Gaming Annex in Muskegon has partnered with a local gaming store. Byte Club Gaming in North Muskegon hosted an Extra Life event in November. Our group supported the efforts. We raised $600 for local charities.

We have also demoed games there. Look for us to continue to demo games once a month at their facility on the corner of Whitehall Road and River Road.

 

Other News

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

The Gaming Annex was given the option to rent the adjacent suite (1980 W Sherman). This will take place in early 2017. We will increase our size by about 60%. We will have a full kitchen and enough table space to keep multi-session games.

Our facebook page
Our facebook page

Our facebook page (see below) has reached the 500 likes milestone. (563 as of this blog post). Take that, West Michigan Table Top Gamers (462 likes). Not too shabby, considering the West Michigan Tabletop site covers a population over 10 times what we cover.

 

Want to learn more about our club? Follow us here! Join us for a wild ride in 2017

 

 

World Chess Championship

I’ve written about chess a couple times in 2016: here and here.  Hopefully I’ve earned my chops to be able to take on this topic: a brief write up of the World Chess Championship. The biggest challenges in writing about this will be to do the topic justice while also not making the post boring. I’ll let you decide if I succeeded.

The World Chess Championship concluded recently. And it was a doozy…

 

Reigning Champion: Magnus Carlsen

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

Born Sven Magnus Øen Carlsen in Tønsberg, Vestfold, Norway, Magnus is the quintessential chess prodigy. He became a grandmaster at age 13, the third youngest in history. He bears the nickname “the Mozart of Chess”, a well deserved moniker for the 26 year old.

He defeated Viswanathan Anand in the 2013 World Chess Championship and again in the rematch in 2014.

His current ratings can be seen in the info-graphic below.

std.
2840
rapid
2906
blitz
2873

 

The Challenger: Sergey Karjakin

Muskegon loves chess Sergey Karjakin
Sergey Karjakin
Credit: Baku, 2016. Photo Fide World Chess Cup.

Born Серге́й Алекса́ндрович Каря́кин in Simferopol, Ukraine, Sergey also is a chess prodigy. He learned to play at age 5 and became an international master at 11 years old. He has won numerous championships such as the Norway Chess Championship, the World Rapid Chess Championship and the Chess World Cup 2015. His ratings are below:

std.
2785
rapid
2806
blitz
2800

 

Background: Chess championship location, rules, etc

Fulton Market Building, NY
Fulton Market Building, NY

The host city for the 2016 FIDE World Chess Championship was New York. A space within the Fulton Market Building was turned into a chess auditorium for our two gladiators.

The games were scheduled from November 11th through November 30th. There were two days on, one day off until 12 games were played. If you win a game, you score 1 point; if you tie, you score ½ a point; if you lose, you score 0 points. The first to 6.5 points is declared the winner. If the match ends with both players at 6.0 points, a lightning round of tie breakers are held.

The opening move took place on Friday, November 11th. The heavy favorite to win it all was Magnus…

 

Games 1 through 7: All tied up at 3.5

Muskegon love chess
Game 1 caricature
Credit: Wada Lupe @Chess24

Despite being the heavy favorite, Magnus could not subdue Karjakin quickly. The opening game set the stage for the whole match: a draw.

Indeed, the two would continue to force stalemates through 7 games. I won’t bore  you with the move-by-move analysis. But Sergey threw every opening he had at Magnus. Magnus kept beating him to a draw.

 

Game 8 Karjakin takes 4.5 to 3.5 lead

 

There’s a computer system used in the highest levels of chess playing. This system is called Smartfish. People often use it to test different positions and openings. It’s used by spectators to test the strength of the moves being made in a game they are watching. In game 8, Smartfish predicted Magnus making another escape with the given position. However, the position proved too difficult to navigate for a human. Sergey forced Magnus’ capitulation after 52 moves.

The game was afoot!

 

Game 10: Magnus wins, standings now 5 to 5

Game 10 Position
Game 10 Position
Credit: 538

Game 9 was another draw.

But in game 10, Magnus came roaring back. He turned a small positional advantage into a victory, a common theme in his chess career.

Several times in the game, Sergey could have forced a draw but didn’t see the complex moves required to make it happen, with the time crux and all.

 

Games 11 and 12: two more draws

Teenage chess prodigies
Teenage chess prodigies
Karjakin and Carlsen in 2006

Games 11 and 12 were draws. Magnus Carlsen maneuvered to force the draws, believing he could win in the lightning tie-breakers.

Due to international rules, there can be no draw until 30 moves have been taken, game 12 was particularly ugly. No finesse, just forcing a draw.

Magnus got his draw and the match went into a tie-breaker round.

 

The dust clears and Magnus wins again!

Image result
Flag of Norway

The rules for the “lightning” round are: you get 25 minutes per game + 10 seconds per move. The clock starts as soon as your opponent finishes his move. You lose if you run out of time.

And Magnus is the master end games and rapid play. The tie-breaker lasted four games. The first two were draws. But Magnus won games 3 and 4. The chess world breathed a sigh of relief, their heavy favorite won. And what a birthday present: Magnus turned 26 on the same day!

But Sergey Karjakin’s performance was outstanding. I really like his chances in the coming years.

 

Links

If you are interested in learning more about these two brilliant young men or about the hobby of chess, click on the links below.

https://chess24.com/en

http://fivethirtyeight.com/tag/chess/