Category Archives: The Gaming Annex in Muskegon

What I’m Grateful for this Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers! In between engorging myself with turkey and pumpkin pie, I think I should take some time to be thankful. The Muskegon Area Gamers has a lot to be thankful in 2017. Here a few of our blessings.

What I’m Grateful for this Thanksgiving

Our club, our new location and our continued success

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

In June of this year we got a notice. The new owner of 1976-1996 W Sherman Blvd was evicting the thrift store at 1996. He said The Gaming Annex could stay. But the writing was on the wall. I had had my eye on 851 W Laketon for a while. With the recent takeover at Sherman, I decided to pursue the commercial property on Laketon.

The new space is much larger than The (old) Gaming Annex. That alone would make me thankful. But the outpouring of support from our group during the move was amazing. We had tons of support from our regulars. And for that I am truly grateful.

Our group also continues to thrive. Long time readers know I take attendance at all our club sanctioned events. I’ve been doing this since 2014. Our group saw a bump in attendance in 2016 over 2015. A noticeable bump. And 2017 has seen another bump over 2016! We are seeing a positive growth in our club of around 3% to 5%. This is excellent news because it means we will continue to have people to game with. I am thankful for our club’s success.

But enough of the mushy stuff–what I am really REALLY grateful for is board games. Let’s take a look at a few.

GMT’s Here I Stand

Here I Stand GMT Board gaming Thanksgiving
GMT’s Here I Stand

We had the opportunity to play GMT’s Here I Stand recently. I’ve played it four times now. And each time I play it, I bumped up my rating of it on boardgamegeek. I have finally rated it a perfect 10. It is on par with Twilight Imperium, Twilight Struggle and Clash of Cultures. Here I Stand is everything I want in board gaming.

There is asymmetry. King Henry VIII must marry through all his wives so he can get an heir. The French must stave off Hapsburg invasions and continue to control Milan to get points. The Pope must take Florence and Venice while beating back the Protestants. And the Ottomans? They raid the Hapsburgs and French while defeating Hungary.

Knights of St. John
Knights of St. John

You can play major powers that appeal to your play style. Or you can get out of your comfort zone and play a major power with strengths very different than what you are used to. You can pressure your opponents with military might. Or you can make an alliance with another player. You can play cards on their behalf or loan your ships to them. But in the end only one player can win.

Because of the myriad ways to win and to play, Here I Stand is intriguing. It is complex and deep. It’s also historical (based on the Protestant Reformation). I am thankful for getting to play this wonderful game.

Endeavor is getting a reprint

Endeavor 2nd Edition
Endeavor 2nd Edition

I love Endeavor. I bought it as soon as Out of the Box received a copy of it. I made Bruce, Jeremy (Scott) Pyne and [name redacted] play it with me as much as they could tolerate. It never got old (to me).

Endeavor is a Euro. It’s almost Puerto Rico-like in its low randomness. Like most Euros, Endeavor comes down to timing.  If you strike at the correct moment, you will win. That, and forcing your opponent to make a suboptimal move.

While a Euro, Endeavor has some theme. The European powers are conquering Europe and the Near East while exploring the rest of the world. The map is uniquely designed to recreate the explorations the European powers made. And the 2nd edition is going to take this a step further.

Endeavor the Spanish Main
Endeavor the Spanish Main

Among the changes, Endeavor 2nd Edition will have “exploits”. These will be objectives available to players for the whole game. Not only will they help you score points, they will help create a narrative for each game. I’m also looking forward to the new setups and new buildings.

ZMan only did one printing of Endeavor 1st edition. I was lucky enough to get a copy. But I’m thankful that a new generation of gamers will be exposed to this wonderful game with the new edition.

And speaking of new editions…

I am grateful for the 4th Edition of Twilight Imperium

Twilight Imperium 4th edition components
Twilight Imperium 4th edition components

The news was a shockwave from boardgamegeek all the way to Muskegon: Fantasy Flight was going to update Twilight Imperium with a 4th edition. And all we had to do was talk Dr. Steve into going to Indianapolis to buy us two copies.

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

I knew Fantasy Flight wasn’t done with their TI franchise since it was their flagship. But I thought they would make another expansion.

The new edition is a tour de force. It fixes many of the flaws in TI3. The tech tree is streamlined and much more interesting. Deal making and politicking are streamlined and are (also) much more interesting. They removed distant suns and a few other things. Odds are FFG will be adding expansions which will have streamlined distant suns.

And when they do, I’ll be thankful for that as well!

Whitehall Mystery

Whitehall Mysteries
Whitehall Mysteries

Whitehall Mystery is exceptional. It uses the magnificent movement mechanics of Letters from Whitechapel and turns it into something different. Both games are great. And to its credit, Whitehall Mystery does not scratch the same itch as Letters.

In Whitehall Mystery, one team is the constables who pick up clues. The other team is played by one player who moves his murderer secretly around the board. While this sounds similar to Letters from Whitechapel, it plays and feels different. Whitehall is almost all chasing with a little bit of deduction whereas Letters from Whitechapel is about equal portions of chase and deduction.

Where is our murderer going?
Where is our murderer going?

The heat is always nearby the antagonist. Every move he makes is within arm’s length of one of the constables. And when he reaches his first destination, the board does not fully reset; the constables stay in their location along with the murderer. Now he must get to his next destination. This continues until he’s made four “deliveries” or until he is captured.

If you haven’t played Whitehall Mystery, you owe it to yourself to come by The Gaming Annex and play. It’s quite good.

Learn more about us here

 

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:

 

 

 

 

SeaFall Session 3

SeaFall - Game 03

WARNING: SPOILERS!!! ANOTHER BOX

We got our 3rd game of SeaFall in the other night, and what a game it was!

First, it took longer to play than it probably should have, just over 3 hours, but the score!

SeaFall - Game 03In Game 3 you play till someone gets 13 points, last game it was 12. In our last game, Tasha got 12, Brandi got 9, I got 6, and Chris got 3. This game? Brandi got 13, everyone else got 12! It was a super close game! Not for all of it. Tasha and I were the last out of the gate, I moved out before her with a ship upgrade, then lost it when I sunk, then she moved out, and I was the last out of the gate and trailing most of the game, but it really comes down to the last few rounds. If it would have lasted 1 more round, I probably would have won.

Now in the game, we have a tie for overall points, it should make the next game very interesting.


Outcome

Brian – 25

  • Buildings
    • Heavy Guns
  • Upgrades
    • Deadly (lost)
    • Deadly
    • Intrepid
  • Raids = 4
    • Failed Raids = 1
  • Explorations = 0
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 1
    • Total Damage taken = 3
  • Treasures = 2
  • Research = 0
  • Milestones

Tasha – 33

  • Buildings
  • Upgrades
    • Enduring
  • Raids = 4
    • Failed Raids = 1
  • Explorations = 1
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 1
    • Total Damage taken = 4
  • Uncharted Water Cards = 2
  • Treasures = 3
  • Research = 1
  • Milestones
    • The Seas Embrace
Chris – 19

  • Buildings
    • Gun Tower
    • Market
  • Upgrades
    • Bold
    • Nimble
    • Deadly
    • Intrepid
  • Raids = 4
    • Failed Raids = 0
  • Explorations = 4
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 0
    • Total Damage taken = 1
  • Treasures = 0
  • Research = 1
  • Milestones
Brandi – 33

  • Buildings
  • Upgrades
    • Terrible
  • Raids = 5
    • Failed Raids = 0
  • Explorations = 1
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 1
    • Total Damage taken = 10
  • Island Search = 2
    • Failed = 0
  • Uncharted Water Cards = 2
  • Treasures = 0
  • Research = 1
  • Milestones
    • Trade Flurishes

Game Notes

SeaFall - Game 03We had a lot of pirate attacks this game, well, 3 actually and they seemed to like Brandi the most. They attacked her vault at one point, getting 1/2 of her gold rounded up for 19 gold total.

Brandi and Tasha also had a bit of a falling out in the game. At the start of the game we had to give out enmity tokens to some of the other people in the game, and on of the milestones was to sink another players ships. Brandi struck first, attacking Tasha in her home port, then Tasha struck, sinking one of Brandi’s ships in Tasha’s home port getting her the milestone. It didn’t end there, Tasha raided Brandi’s port again later on, but failed in her attempt. Chris and I didn’t attack the other players, just saying.

SeaFall - Game 03We added two new islands to the map, thanks to Brandi, and had a few issues with some of the new rules. The ‘Dangerous Waters’ vs ‘Uncharted Waters’ messed up a bit, but Brandi figured it out, and the ‘Research’ in the game gave us issues too. Nothing we had said research cards! It would really have been helpful if things had labels on them as to what cards were what, it would have solved all the problems. Just for your reference, the cards on the right are the research cards.

SeaFall - Game 03 SeaFall - Game 03 SeaFall - Game 03

New Box

SeaFall - Game 03Thanks to Brandi, we were able to open a new box this game.

The box was nice and heavy, and contained a lot of new goodies! Everything from new and more upgrades and buildings, to new player reference cards, advisors, retired advisor cards, treasures, and more! Some of the new treasure cards are worth 4 pts each but are very expensive to pick up.

The next game should be a good one, looking forward to playing it.

SeaFall - Game 03 SeaFall - Game 03

 


Be sure to visit Iggy’s Games where you can see this and many other gaming articles.


 

SeaFall Session 2

SeaFall - Game 2WARNING: SPOILERS!!! BOX 1 REVIELED

On December 22nd my group finally got back together to get our second game of SeaFall in. It has been a while and most of us had to go back to the rule book to refresh on how to play, mainly how to score.

We all had a good time, and I think (I really hope not), that the theory one of our players has (Chris) on what the underlying story of the game may be correct. If you pay attention to the various stories that you read while you are going along, it does have a slight H.P. Lovecraft feel to it. If it does end up being something like that, no matter how I like the game, it will get a 0 rating for it from me.


Game 2

SeaFall - Game 2This time I set the game up correctly, with all the milestones needed, so the game didn’t last that long. It took us just over an hour to play the fill game, with a new winner this game and taking the overall game by one point. I’m still 3rd, and Chris is still last.

Being that this is all of our first Legacy game, it still is a bit odd putting stickers on the board and ripping up cards, but it is starting to get easier to do.

I started the game out right away with going for an Explore action on a red 6, failing miserably and sinking my main ship. Tasha was at her old Raiding self again, but only going to 2 locations, and Brandi got in a few raids this time too. This game, I was the only one to sink a ship.


Outcome

Brian – 13

  • Buildings
    • Port
    • Market
    • Gun tower
  • Upgrades
  • Raids = 1
    • Failed Raids = 1
  • Explorations = 0
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 1
    • Total Damage taken = 3
  • Treasures = 0
  • Milestones
    • The Continent Awakens
Tasha – 21

  • Buildings
  • Upgrades
  • Raids = 2
    • Failed Raids = 0
  • Explorations = 0
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 0
    • Total Damage taken = 2
  • Treasures = 2
  • Milestones
    • An Island Revealed
    • The Finest Treasures
Chris – 7

  • Buildings
  • Upgrades = 1
  • Raids = 0
  • Explorations = 1
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 0
    • Total Damage taken = 0
  • Treasures = 0
  • Milestones
Brandi – 20

  • Buildings
  • Upgrades
  • Raids = 2
    • Failed Raids = 0
  • Explorations = 1
    • Failed Explorations = 0
  • Ships Sunk = 0
    • Total Damage taken = 2
  • Treasures = 0
  • Milestones
    • Darkness Stirs

First Box

SeaFall - Game 2With the milestone that Brandi opened, Darkness Stirs, we were finally able to open the first box to the game. This reviled a treasure trove of goodies for us, including more rules, islands, new advisers, upgrades, event cards, positions, two new sets of decks, and more!

This will really change our game going forward, especially since it finally seems to put us to war with each other!

SeaFall - Game 2 SeaFall - Game 2 SeaFall - Game 2
SeaFall - Game 2 SeaFall - Game 2 SeaFall - Game 2
SeaFall - Game 2 SeaFall - Game 2

Final Thoughts

SeaFall - Game 2I thought this game went very well, quick since we had so many easy milestones for us to hit and get points from, but more was reviled to us in the stories, and we finished exploring all the islands, nothing else left to explore.

With the opening of the new box, we can finally start to discover new islands, and war may be breaking out between us now. I upgraded the defense of my home port.

We are looking forward to the game 3 and finding new islands to explore, and dealing with the pirates and each other. I think my strategy needs to change in the game too, I need to get more points.


See more at iggygames.com or better yet, drop by and play some games with Iggy himself!

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

 

 

Thrift Store finds

It’s time for another installment of Recent Thrift Store Finds. Every month or so, I post a brief list of the games I found at local thrift stores. Lately, I’ve been using the yard sale sites on Facebook to connect these games with local gamers. It’s been working pretty good. We have about one or two people drop by The Gaming Annex a night to peruse the games I’ve rescued. Many are amazed that we have so many OTHER games too. And they are curious about what it is we do. With any luck, we can get them to drop by again–to play games!

 

1. Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan is a classic board game that Muskegon still enjoys.
Settlers of Catan

What more can be said about Settlers of Catan? It launched the board game renaissance we are currently in. Everyone’s played it. And if I see a copy at the Goodwill on Sherman (which I did a couple of weeks ago), I pick it up.

The copy I found was missing one red settlement, otherwise it was complete. I found a replacement settlement at Out of the Box but it was white not red. During a Sunday afternoon of games, I painted it red. I didn’t have a brush so I used my fingers. Tick Mima noticed my red fingertips but refused to believe that I was painting…

Catan Traders & Barbarians cards
Catan Traders & Barbarians cards

I found a local couple that wanted Catan. I was pleased to meet them. Maybe they’ll drop by again soon!

I also a shrink wrapped copy Catan Traders & Barbarian Cards. This is available to anyone in the area. Just drop by The Gaming Annex to pick up!

 

2. Can’t Stop

Parker Brothers' Can't Stop
Parker Brothers’ Can’t Stop

Sid Sackson was the Vlaada Chvátil of the 1960’s. He was the most prolific designer of his day. And Can’t Stop was part of that success. Can’t Stop is a classic game of strategy and push-your-luck. Can’t Stop still holds up as a filler or beer-and-pretzel game today.

I have a list of people who have been wanting a copy. So when I find a copy of Can’t Stop, I usually give it to the next person on the list. I believe I owe Mongo a copy. But I have an additional copy available for any of you readers!

3. Sleuth

Sleuth from Avalon Hill
Sleuth from Avalon Hill

I found this Sid Sackson classic recently too! Sleuth from Avalon Hill was rescued from a Goodwill (this time on 28th Street).

Sleuth is a clever spin on Clue. Instead of roll-and-move, players manage a hand of cards. This makes Sleuth a cut above Clue. It holds up well even to today’s standards.

The copy I found is complete. I have not found anyone that wants it yet. If you would like a copy of this classic, come visit the Muskegon Area Gamer’s clubhouse!

 

4. Pizza Box Football

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

Pizza Box Football is a clever idea. It puts you and your opponent as opposing head coaches of a football team. This idea has been done before. But the game comes in what is eponymously called a pizza box.

What goes better with football than pizza?

Pizza Box Football enjoys a solid 6.3 ranking on board game geek. It even has supported a few expansions. You can imagine my excitement when Dusty bought a copy recently at retail price. But  you probably can’t imagine my over-the-top exuberance when I found a $.99 copy complete with one of the expansions at Hope’s Outlet on Sherman Blvd.

My copy is free to a good home.

 

5. Clue Master Detective

Muskegon loves deduction games like Clue Master Detective
Parker Brother’s Clue Master Detective

In recent months, I’ve rescued two copies of Clue Master Detective. The copy I found in September was complete and in good condition! Those of you who follow us on Facebook may recall that the previous copy (the one from August) came with a dead Col. Mustard.

Oh no! Not Col. Mustard too!
Oh no! Not Col. Mustard too!

When I opened the box, I found the knife driven into the heart of Col. Mustard. It strikes me as highly improbable that this occurred by happenstance.

By the way: I still have the complete copy available. And it comes with a Col. Mustard card that is free of knife holes.

 

6. More Avalon Hill goodness

Football Strategy from Avalon Hilll
Football Strategy from Avalon Hill

I found Sports Illustrated Football Strategy underneath Sleuth. These games come from the same publisher and the same time period, circa 1981. Seems someone’s closet from 1981 was recently cleared out and donated to the Goodwill. Seems I was needed to rescue these.

Football Strategy is insanely complex game of football. It treats football like a wargame with lots of spreadsheets to cross reference. Still, it holds a 6.4 on BGG.

Stock Market Guru from Avalon Hill
Stock Market Guru from Avalon Hill

I didn’t know that Avalon Hill reimplemented Stocks and Bonds. But in 1997 they did just that. The boring 3M slipcover was replaced with a picture of Wall Street. Some of the imbalances were streamlined.

This game never got a lot of traction. Probably because Hasborg took over AH soon after its release.

If you are looking for a copy, we have one!

 

7. American Civil War from Eagle Games

Eagle Games' The American Civil War
Eagle Games’ The American Civil War

When thrift shopping, you will encounter lots of board game drivel. But when you encounter an Avalon Hill game, it’s a red letter day. Finding a title from Eagle Games is almost unheard of. In fact, this past week might have been the first time I’ve ever done so.

I found a $2.99 copy of The American Civil War. The box has a chunk missing from it. But other than the cosmetics, the game is complete and ready to play.

Eagle Games releases games with tons of plastic pieces: Empires: Age of Discovery, Conquest of the Empire, Railways of the World. And ACW is no exception. Tons of plastic soldiers, cavalry, artillery. Heck, if you wanted to make your own game, this would have the pieces.

The copy is sitting on a shelf because I don’t know what to do with it. I’d love to find a local player who is looking for a copy. Finding locals who are looking for games like this are hard to find.

 

Epilogue

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

Any of the games listed here (and many others) are available to readers of this blog. Just drop by sometime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vital Statistics of The Gaming Annex: Mid Point of 2016

We haven’t done a vital statistics post in a long time. This was by design. I think the vital stat blog posts are important but kinda boring. We also haven’t had many blog posts in the past two to three weeks. This was because of two very important reasons: we had CabinCon and  my wife finally dragged me off on a honeymoon after two years (hi Debbie!) There has been enough going on lately to finally justify a vital stats post and not have it being completely boring. And this is as good a time as any to break the brief blog hiatus. Please reply if there are other vital stats you would like to see.

 

1. Game Plays through 2016

Game plays mid way 2016
Game plays mid way 2016

June saw a big uptick in my game plays. This is in part to the fact that we didn’t play too many epic length games last month. (Read: no TI3). And because CabinCon III was last month. June has been the only time in

Top game plays mid way 2016
Top game plays mid way 2016

2016 that I played 70+ games. In my unrelenting quest to break 1,000 game plays in a year, I would have to average 83 game plays a month. 2016 seems like it will not be that year.

The top games I’ve played this year have been Battlelore, Star Wars Rebellion and The Resistance. I would have guessed Star Wars Rebellion would be near the top of the list. It’s a hot item (although readers of this blog know I got burned on the game). But I can’t believe Battlelore is my #1 game so far of this year.

Battlelore's Chaos Lord
Battlelore’s Chaos Lord

Battlelore is a great game, to be sure. But I would not have thought it as my most played game of 2016. But a closer look at the data may reveal why this is the case: none of the games have been played even double digits. Battlelore has only been played 9 times. This means that I am playing a plethora of games once or twice instead of a few games many times.

 

2. Attendance through 2016

Attendance through 2016
Attendance through 2016

Our attendance has been through the roof lately. We finally broke 100 attendees at our various functions in June. CabinCon helped a lot. But our attendance has been strong for a few months now.

Attendance by day of the week
Attendance by day of the week

The biggest area of growth has been on Thursdays. Thursdays have surpassed our Sundays for attendance. This chart shows all of 2016. But if we look at just June, Thursday had 44 attendees which is higher than even Tuesday night’s 34. Our Thursday night crew is really solid!

 

3. Individual statistics

Top 12 attendees through 2016
Top 12 attendees through 2016

Here we see a chart of individual attendance stats. Only the first names of people are posted. Except for Nick Sima.

The usual suspects top the attendance track: Nick Sima, Kevin, Dusty, Jon and myself. But there are new faces on here that were not on 2015’s roster. Missing are Jake and Charles from 2015. And Jeremy and Brandi have replaced them.

 

4. Google Analytics

June 2016 Google Analytics
June 2016 Google Analytics

I started a google analytics account for our two websites. This chart shows the data from June 2016. We get lots of hits from Grand Rapids. This is probably when I’m supposed to be working but I’m actually writing magnificent blog posts.

I’m really curious about the 48 hits from Detroit. Do we have followers from the east side? (REPRESENT!)

I see a following in Kalamazoo too. Our reach is growing. 🙂

Of course Muskegon, Norton Shores, Grand Haven and Allendale would be from our regular attendees and/or blog followers. you guys.

 

5. Our group

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
129 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, Jul 7, 2016, 5:30 PM
10 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

 

 

Traditions of the Muskegon Area Gamers

The Muskegon Area Gamers are a society. Like an society, we have our own customs. We’ve had some newer players become regular players over the past few months. To them, we must seem a bit strange with some of these rituals. It might be a good idea to flesh out what some of our broader customs are. With no further ado, I give you the traditions of the Muskegon Area Gamers.

 

1. The Gaming Annex

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

As a group of gamers, we have to meet somewhere to play. Since 2012, we’ve established a meeting place tradition.

We typically meet at a place called “The Gaming Annex”. So dubbed by Elder Jon who couldn’t believe we would rent our own gaming annex. A few weeks later, it was officially The Gaming Annex.

The Gaming Annex is a gaming clubhouse. From what I can gather, it’s the only of its type anywhere. We do not sell anything. We simply meet several times a week to play games.

The upside of having my own gaming clubhouse is that it’s a good place to go to play games. It’s a neutral area to meet new people and introduce them to the hobby. It’s also (almost) big enough to warehouse all our games.

Due to its uniqueness, many outsiders find The Gaming Annex a peculiarity. They cannot grock how we “stay in business” or why we “keep the hours” we do. I can sympathize with their confusion. Hopefully this blog post will be enlightening.

 

2. We keep a semi-active blog

Blog clipart
Blog clipart

Hello Citizens of the Internet. Captain Obvious here. I would like to inform you about the Muskegon Area Gamer’s blog. The good folks at MAG keep an active blog about their Sherman Boulevard shenanigans.

Guest bloggers are welcome. The only stipulation is the topic must be gaming related. If you would like to have your essay posted here, please send your blog to Old Pink, care of the Funny Farm, Chalfont. Or send your essay to me.

 

3. Our social media presence is impressive

Our facebook page
Our facebook page

But then, we are easily impressed.

The Muskegon Area Gamers have a facebook page that is fairly active. We have a twitter page, a wordpress blog (see #2 above) and a meet up page. An entry for our clubhouse, The Gaming Annex, is on Google and Yelp!

A google search for “board game” and “Muskegon” will show our domination of the 49441 zip code*.

*Hey! That’s bigger than the Principality of Monaco.

 

4. Dictator Nights

Muskegon Area Gamers make many Roman references.
Julius Caesar

We struggled to decide what games to play. Tuesday night games would devolve into passive-aggressive sighs of non-gaming. Eventually a sub-optimal game would be reluctantly brought to the table and played.

We instituted a system to try to fix this. Our Dictator Nights were implemented about a year. When you are the dictator, you get to select the games that get played. When you are not the dictator, you play the game selected by the person who is the dictator.

The system could be smoother. But it’s better than before. But I can imagine to the outsider who looks at our calendar of events, this may seem strange. “What’s a dictator night?”

 

5. Gamer Tiers

Muskegon Masonic Temple
Muskegon Masonic Temple

It started out as a joke by Elder Jon. But it soon became apparent that attaching tiers to our gamers was needed.

When someone new joins the group, they are given the rank of Tier 3. This means they are probationary. They are getting to know us and we them. It’s a chance to see if they are a good fit for us and if we are a good gaming HQ for them.

After successful graduation from Tier 3, you move to Tier 2. Which is “full gamer”. It means you like our group. And our group at least tolerates you. It usually means you have board games as one of your favorite hobbies and not just something you dabble in.

Those who fail graduation are relegated to Tier 4. This means you’re banned. Don’t get banned.

What’s after Tier 2? That would

Eye in the pyramid
Eye in the pyramid

be the super secret cabal. A mystical level of gaming enlightenment known as Tier 1.

Oh no! I said too much. Elder Dusty will make me Cross the Desert for my blunder.

 

 

6. The 30 Game Gauntlet

Muskegon Area Gamers
Board game collection

We play lots of different games. I play 20 to 50 different titles in any given month. Because the Muskegon Area Gamer’s taste in games is so eclectic, we need new gamers with similar diversity.

To test the mettle of new players, we rigorously enforce the Unblinking Eye. To the less esoteric, this is a gauntlet of 30 new games. The probationary player will be taught 30 new games before he/she can play a game he/she already knows the rules to.

The rigorousness of our enforcement of the 30 Game Gauntlet is debatable. But it’s a good exercise to weed out weaker gamers. Acolyte Brandi graduated recently. And we’re glad to have her! 

 

 7. CabinCon

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

We play games three times a week [edited; thanks Dr. Steve]. We go to as many of the gaming conventions as humanly possible. We dismiss our spouses and families to meet at The Gaming Annex to play games.

And that’s not enough. Oh no.

We then rent a cabin in Ottawa County for a four day weekend. And we play games for 16 hours each of those days. Dubbed “CabinCon”, this get together is a greatly anticipated event. We nearly wet ourselves as June approaches.

The cabin we rent is large enough to accommodate 10 people comfortably. Invitations for CabinCon are usually given to our regular members only. But pictures and blogs about the festivities will undoubtedly find their way to this website.

 

8. We are welcoming, friendly and fun

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
125 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, Apr 14, 2016, 6:00 PM
3 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

Our third Kids Gaming Gala

The Muskegon Area Gamers have about six community outreach events a year. Last month we had our second game day at the Brew House. This month we had our third Kids Gaming Gala. We have games specifically tailored for four to nine year old kids. It’s been very well received by the parents and the kids. But the real reason I do it is far more insidious: to inculcate the next generation into board gaming. BWUAHAHAHAHAH!

Ahem.

Anyway, here is a blog post about our festivities.

 

1. Bandu

Bandu from Milton Bradley
Bandu from Milton Bradley

I must have passed on buying Bandu at thrift stores about a dozen times. Paul and his boy came by The Gaming Annex today, Bandu in hand. I thought Bandu was a Jenga rip off.

I was wrong.

Bandu is definitely a Jenga-like game. But you draft different shaped pieces for your opponents to build with, trying to get them to topple their structures. Players have five beans to start the game. They can spend a bean to not use the piece in question. Once a bean has been spent, it’s gone for the rest of the game.

 

Bandu in action
Bandu in action

I was surprised at how intriguing this idea was. The kids loved it too. And we are not alone. Bandu has a strong board game geek rating (6.9!). Much higher than Jenga.

I won’t make the mistake of passing on Bandu the next time I see it at a thrift store.

 

2. Rampage

Rampage from Repos Productions
Rampage from Repos Productions

I specifically bought Rampage because of Kids Gaming Galas. Rampage (now called Terror in Meeple City) is an homage to the video game of the same name. Players take on the role of a monster that wreaks havoc on a city, destroying buildings, flipping vehicles and munching the residents.

Rampage in action
Rampage in action

We had Connor, Chase and Oliver vying for more notorious monster today. The monster sacked every building, knocked out every tooth and munched every meeple. When the dust cleared, Connor-zilla had a the most points.

 

3. Rhino Hero

Rhino Hero
Rhino Hero

I got a copy of Rhino Hero from a Christmas exchange a few years ago (thanks Rocky!). It’s been a solid addition for our kids gaming needs.

Not familiar with Rhino Hero? Well Rhino Hero takes the best elements of Uno and Jenga and turns these elements into a much better game. Players try to get rid of all their cards (like Uno) while not knocking over the tower (like Jenga).

The cards are used to make a house of cards.

Rhino Hero in action
Rhino Hero in action

The cards are very durable, suited for young children. The cards have icons on them such as forcing your opponent to draw another card. Some of the cards have icons on them that force your opponent to move a wooden token (the Rhino Hero) onto the structure, possibly causing the tower to collapse.

 

4. Jenga

Jenga
Jenga

Speaking of Jenga, Addison and Carly asked me if I owned a copy. I found a travel version of Jenga in a nice canister several months ago at a thrift store. I gave them the game since I doubt Kevin or Nick Sima will play it with me.

Then the kids starting playing Jenga. I think more games of Jenga were played today than any other game. I was surprised by this. I thought the kids would be more interested in the other (designer) games.

Jenga in action
This should be the box art for Jenga

I’ve heard that you could use Jenga instead of dice for horror based role playing games. After watching the tension build from the kids playing Jenga, I think I see the merit in this.

 

 

5. Gulo Gulo

Gulo Gulo
Gulo Gulo

Designers of kid’s games are a special breed. You can take any drinking game and turn it into a kid’s game. Or you take two existing kid’s games, merge them into one and voila!

Gulo Gulo is a merging of Candy Land with Jenga (again with the

Gulo Gulo
Gulo Gulo

Jenga!).

There is a nest filled with different colored eggs. Players take an egg out of the nest so they can move to the next spot on the board of the matching color. But the eggs are holding up a wooden dowel. If the dowel falls because you pulled out an egg, you must start over! The game ends when someone moves to the last space.

 

6. Wrap Up

R2-D2 and the Kids
Who let the big kid on the right into this picture?

For those keeping score: we had a total of eleven kids over today; we bought 140 McNuggets; all of them were consumed (many by my brother). The festivities started at 11am. The last game was played around 2pm. I gave away three games (Jenga, Angry Birds and Apples to Apples).

After the kids got bored of games, we pulled out the remote control R2-D2.

I got lots of praise from the group about how fun this was. We will have another Kids Gaming Gala later in the year, probably around September or October.

See you then!

-Chris, on behalf of the Muskegon Area Gamers.