Category Archives: The Gaming Annex in Muskegon

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!


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


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


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.

New Game Acquisitions: January 2016

There has been a flurry of activity. Our gaming library has undergone quite a bit of changes. I’ve made several trades recently. I’ve picked up a few vintage games. Plus some other gamers in our group have acquired some new games. Let’s take a look at what’s new at The Gaming Annex in Muskegon.


1. Fireball Island

Fireball Island from Milton Bradley
Fireball Island from Milton Bradley

I found a reasonably* priced copy of Fireball Island on eBay. I decided to pick it up even though it was missing two components. Mongo said he has a copy somewhere and he can give me the components I’m missing.

Fireball Island is one of my Holy Grail games, necessitating a separate blog post.

*less than a week’s pay

2. Ogre: Designer’s Edition

SJG's Ogre
SJG’s Ogre

I’m not a fan of Steve Jackson’s games. Revolution is a rare exception. But when I saw the designer’s edition of Ogre I was intrigued.

I decided not to pull the trigger when this project was kickstarted. That was a mistake. Note to self: you will never regret going balls out on Kickstarter projects.

Someone from Washington (state) contacted me about a trade. He wanted GMT’s Virgin Queen. And he would trade me Ogre–in all its glory. Much to Kevin’s chagrin (who likes Virgin Queen), I made this trade.

Now I have a copy of Ogre. And I have to put it on the docket ASAP.


3. Eclipse: Shadow of the Rift

Eclipse: Shadow of the Rift
Eclipse: Shadow of the Rift

I helped Mongo out of a jam*. He received a second copy of Star Wars Imperial Assault for Christmas. And he barely plays his first copy. He asked me to trade for something good.

I whipped up some gaming magic. I handed him a couple of games. One of them was the latest expansion for Eclipse. And it looks amazing. You can probably hear Matt salivating about this game from your living room.

We haven’t taken it for a spin yet. Probably one of these Sundays. Just not this Sunday.

*I need to be a jam like this.


4. Horus Heresy

Horus Heresy from FFG
Horus Heresy from FFG

So this game is impressive.

In Horus Heresy, players take on the roles of either Horus the Heretic or the Emperor of Man. There are several ways to win. There are several scenarios to play. And each side plays differently.

I am very excited about getting this game. Let’s see if I can get it to the table in the foreseeable future.

5. Time War

Time War
Time War

Yaquinto’s Time War is nothing to look at. It’s a 1979 release from a dead company. Time War also has fair ratings on BGG (5.29). Despite this, I picked up a copy.

Why? Because I think BGG’ers are being harsh. I think there’s a good game here. And the Muskegon Area Gamers are nostalgic about clunky old games.


6. Prize Property

Prize Property publicity shot
Prize Property publicity shot

I’ve been meaning to get Milton Bradley’s classic Prize Property. I fell in love with the game in 7th grade (long, long after it was out of print).

The buildings are cool. And the gavel is novel. The game should have replaced Monopoly as a real estate development game.

I doubt I will get this to the table unless I dictate it. The rest of the group is as nostalgic about Prize Property as I am.


6. A Study in Emerald

A Study in Emerald 2nd Edition
A Study in Emerald 2nd Edition

Kevin picked up a copy of A Study in Emerald. This is the (affordable) 2nd edition. Kevin was super-excited to take it for a spin.

Last Thursday we played a game of it. It reminded me of a multi-player version of A Few Acres of Snow. And if you know me, that is high praise. I’m looking forward to playing it again soon.


7. The Place to play these great games

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
109 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, Jan 28, 2016, 6:00 PM
1 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →



The Gaming Annex’s Year in Review 2015

2015: we hardly knew thee. There were big stories in 2015. Lots of laughs and some drama. We hit many of our goals as a game group. But not all of them. This post is to show where we have been but also to let everyone know that the best days are still ahead of us.


1. Game Plays in 2015

Game plays thru the years
Game plays thru the years

Oh boy. I knew my game plays in 2015 were going to take a dip. But 2015 was the lowest amount of game plays since 2009! Why was 2015 so low?

Partly this is due to my attendance. My new job is far more

TI3 Plays through the years
TI3 Plays through the years

demanding. I’ve missed a few Tuesdays and a few Thursdays because of work. This would account for some of my low game plays. But certainly not all of them. I am still playing games 3 times a week typically.

Clash of Cultures plays
Clash of Cultures plays

Maybe I’m playing too much Twilight Imperium–a game that takes 6+ hours.

Alas, this has not been the case. We played 12 games of TI3 last year. We typically play between 10 and 12.

Maybe we are playing other longer games? I looked up my game plays of Clash of Cultures. Lo and behold we played it 12 times last year! That’s almost as many times as we played it in all other years combined. It seems that our group has been playing other longer games lately instead of more (and shorter) games.

Let’s keep an eye out in 2016 to see if this trend continues.


2. Fives and Dimes

Notable game plays dimes
Notable game plays dimes

Fives and dimes is a gaming term used to describe games you played at least 10 tens (called a “dime”) and games you played at least five times (called a “five”). Let’s look at The Gaming Annex’s five and dimes.

Topping the charts are the two main social deduction games: One Night Werewolf and The Resistance. These games get plenty of play. For me, their charm is wearing a bit thin although I did recommend The Resistance last Tuesday (before Bruce showed up–he hates that damn game).

Next is Merchants & Marauders at 14 game plays. I love Merchants & Marauders. I’ve done a huge turn around on this game. And our group (now) loves it too. The expansion has added tremendously to this game as well.

Next is Imperial 2030. The Muskegon Area Gamers love them some Imperial 2030. Imperial is a special game. It’s unusual. And it is also free of randomness. I’ve convinced Kevin to write up a blog for Imperial 2030. Look for that later this month.

And rounding out the “dimes” are TI3 and Clash of Cultures. I love these games. Speaking of these games, I have to schedule our next game session for these. It’s been too long since I’ve played.

Notable game plays fives
Notable game plays fives

I’ve played Witness nine times in 2015. It’s a very good game. I would like to finish the 64 scenarios in 2016.

I managed to play Twilight Struggle seven times in 2015. That is not enough. I may need to teach my wife how to play 🙂

XCOM has become a recent favorite. We got slaughtered on New Year’s Eve. I even picked up Space Cadets recently because I thought if the group liked XCOM, they might like Space Cadets.


3. Attendance at The Gaming Annex

Attendance through the years
Attendance through the years

In 2015, there were 939 attendees at The Gaming Annex’s events. We had our best attendance ever in July with 92 attendees. When you get 939 in a year and 92 in a month, it makes your goals for 2016 very easy: get 1,000 attendees in 2016 and 100 attendees in a single month. Let’s make it happen!!!

Attendance in 2015
Attendance in 2015

Our Top 10 Attendees are seen here. I’m at the top. But notable newcomer Nick Sima is far and away the #2 attendee. We cannot seem to get rid of him.

The group went through some changes in 2015. Charles moved to Maryland (taking my copy of You’re Bluffing! with him, the villain!). And in 2015, we lost Dugas. Not because he died. There was some…unpleasantness. He had a meltdown.

This year has also seen the addition of Prof. Mike and Tasha to our Top 10 as well. Nick Sima, Tasha and Prof. Mike have been welcome additions to the Muskegon Area Gamers.


4. Events in 2015

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

The Muskegon Area Gamers had several events in 2015. Looking back, I wished we had had more. But we can improve upon this in 2016.

The biggest event of the year was obviously CabinCon. Every year, Dusty puts together a gaming retreat. In 2015, it was our second such event. And Dusty picked a fantastic cabin. Eight of us descended upon Into the Woods Retreat in West Olive to spend 3.5 days gaming. We are looking forward to the next installment in 2016. I’ll keep you posted with any developments.

The Brew House in Muskegon
The Brew House in Muskegon

We had an event at the Brew House on Seminole Road. The folks there asked us to come out and play games. And we obliged. The turnout was pretty good at 13 people. We’ve been asked to make another appearance. I’ll try to set something up in February. Keep your eyes on the facebook calendar if you’re interested.

We also had our second Kid’s Gala at The Gaming Annex. The kids always have a good time when we have these galas. I think the vital stats for our last Kid’s Gala was: 16 people in attendance and 60 chicken McNuggets eaten.


5. Odds & Ends

Our facebook page
Our facebook page

Our meet up group has passed 100 members in 2015. We now have 108 members. Obviously, many of them are not regulars. But the door remains open to them.

Our facebook page now has 366 likes. Not too shabby.

I’ve started using google analytics. I am by no means an expert. But I thought I might share some of our data. The google analytics looks at both our website and this blog.

Google analytics for the Muskegon Area Gamers
Google analytics

We’ve seen lots of internet traffic from West Michigan. Grand Rapids, Wyoming, Norton Shores, Grand Haven and Muskegon are all on the list. Someone from Detroit and from Ann Arbor have been serious readers of our blog too. I don’t know who you are, but your readership is important to me!


6. Where the magic happens









Unplayed games in my collection that will get played in 2016

We had a new person drop by The Gaming Annex on Thursday. He’s a local gamer with an extensive game collection. As such, he’s a natural fit for the group. He talked about his game collection, mentioning several games he owned that he has not played. I know the feeling. Collectors often run into this problem. Here is a list of games that I own, that are unplayed but will get played in 2016.

1. Tide of Iron

Tide of Iron
Tide of Iron

Did you play with toy soldiers when you were a kid? I did. Even when I got a little older I imagined ways to turn my toy soldiers into a game where one side must crush the other. My understanding of game mechanics was not so strong so these imaginings did not take off.

But the guys at Fantasy Flight Games solved this. They must have played with toy soldiers when

Squads from Tide of Iron
Squads from Tide of Iron

they were kids. I know this because they published Tide of Iron. Tide of Iron comes with tons of toy soldiers and tanks. Players take these toy soldiers and stick them onto a squad base. It’s quite nifty.

Tide of Iron board
Tide of Iron board

The squad base has a clip on it. This allows a player to give that squad special abilities. There are also cards in the game that players can play to call in artillery strikes and the like.

Tide of Iron has released several expansions. The base game comes with the U.S. and Germany. Fury of the Bear has the Russian order of battle. Days of the Fox has the British order of battle. There are also several other expansions for specialized scenarios.

Tide of Iron seems to have everything I would like in a game: nostalgia (I loved playing with toy soldiers), strategy, lots of replayability and tons of customization. So why haven’t I played it yet? The rules have been intimidating. I’ve been reading the rules to other games and just haven’t gotten around to Tide of Iron yet. I deferred the rules to Kevin. I’m hoping to get a game of Tide of Iron played in 2016…when Kevin is ready to teach me.


2. Star Wars: Queen’s Gambit

Muskegon loves Star Wars: Queen's Gambit way more than the Phantom Menace
Grail Game: Star Wars Queen’s Gambit

When George Lucas announced he would release a new Star Wars trilogy, a set of prequels, I was stoked. Little did I realize in 1999 how badly these movies would suck.

The reasons for the prequels sucking are long and better explained by other blogs. But Episode 1: The Phantom Menace wasn’t without its high points. Among those high points was the battle for the Theed Palace. Lucas, following his formula from the other movies. has several battles going on at once, culminating in a dramatic finish.

Hasbro captures this in their classic Star Wars: Queen’s Gambit.

Jedi fight from Star Wars Queen's Gambit
Jedi fight from Star Wars Queen’s Gambit

The goal for the good guys is to destroy all the droids. The goal of the bad guys is to kill enough palace troopers. But the other battles cannot be ignored. Darth Maul fighting the Jedi can help decide the outcome of the palace. If Darth Maul defeats the Jedi, he immediately goes to the palace where he slices up the Queen’s guards.

Anakin has to stave off the droid command ship otherwise the droid army gets reinforcements. Same with the battle in the field.

The game is card driven, very similar to Memoir ’44 (a game I love). You must manage your hand of cards to complete your objectives while thwarting your opponent’s. There are too many fires to put out for you to complete everything. It seems like a perfect game for me. So why haven’t I played it?

Well, one reason is I

Anakin's starfighter
Anakin’s starfighter

just bought it a few months ago. No one in our group had a copy until about September when I bought it. The second reason is: I’ve been getting Kevin and Nick Sima up to speed on Twilight Struggle and other two player games when we’ve only small groups at The Gaming Annex. But this game is on the 2016 bucket list. I’m sure it will be a hit. 🙂


3. Battlelore

Battlelore 2nd Edition
Battlelore 2nd Edition

I love Memoir ’44 (see above). Battlelore uses the core mechanic of Memoir ’44 and applies it to fantasy battles.

But Battlelore seems to have more going on than basic Memoir ’44. The scenarios are player driven instead of scenario book driven. The armies allow some customization. And there is a currency in the game: lore.

Players decide pick a scenario

Terrinoth Army
Terrinoth Army

card from their deck. This tells that player how he will set up the board and how he can score bonus points. Your opponent will also pick a scenario card from his army, completing the set up. This allows players to strategize at set up and also to play to their own play style strengths.

The armies and the expansions pic1858716_md(of which there are several) allow a player to add some units to his armies. So far there is a great dragon, a hill giant and a squad of razorwings. Fantasy Flight is publishing this game so you can be sure there will be tons of units.

And then there are the lore cards. Players can collect lore in a couple of ways. Lore is spent on lore cards. Each army has its own lore cards, playing to that army’s theme and strengths.

I’ve read the rules to Battlelore twice. I feel confident enough to teach it. I think it will go over better than Memoir ’44. So why haven’t I played it yet?

Mostly because it’s new. At least to me. I’ve read the rules in November and haven’t had any two player sessions since then. I might have to order up a two player session so I can play Battlelore, Tide of Iron and Star Wars Queens Gambit.


4. Mythotopia

Mythotopia from Treefrog Games
Mythotopia from Treefrog Games

I loved A Few Acres of Snow since the first time I played it. A Few Acres of Snow offers tons of strategic and tactical choices in a game set during the wars between England and France in the 1750’s to 1770’s. The drawbacks of this game are: it plays only two and it’s “been solved” with the Halifax Hammer.

Then Martin Wallace announced Mythotopia. His publishing company, Treefrog Games, was lifting the mechanics from A Few

Mythotopia game board
Mythotopia game board

Acres of Snow and applying them to a four player game. I was stoked! I found a copy for trade locally. The wife and I went to Gun Lake to meet a guy from Kalamazoo. I got Mythotopia from him.

And the game remains unplayed (at least by the Muskegon Area Gamers). Why haven’t I played this game?

I haven’t read the rules for one. I’ve been delegating rule readings to others in the group. Kevin and Nick Sima have stepped up their rules reading, which is appreciated. But we haven’t gotten to Mythotopia yet. I’ve read several rules since getting Mythotopia but haven’t managed to squeeze Mythotopia in.


5. The Gaming Annex in Muskegon

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

I will have a New Year’s Resolution blog post in a week or so. But I am promising I will play the above games.

If you’d like to drop by and play any game (not just the ones listed here) we can be found here;







Formula D League: Our first session and a look at the optional rules

I first picked up Formula D at Out of the Box Games in Zeeland in 2009. After I read the rules, I was not impressed. It was roll-and-move. I didn’t think such a game could be compelling. But I taught the game to my little brothers. And we had a blast! Since then, I’ve acquired all the maps for Formula D. (I don’t have any of the maps from Formula De. The maps for Formula De are compatible with the rules of Formula D but not compatible with the rules for my wallet). Our Thursday night group has the right temperament for a league play of Formula D. Last night we had our first session. Here are some of the details of that session along with a look at the optional rules for Formula D.

1. Formula D League: Monaco session

Formula D: Monaco
Formula D: Monaco

We had five gamers last night for the first session. We used the original game board: Monaco. The Monaco board is interesting because it has 1, 2 and 3 stop curves on it. There are also two straightaways that will allow a clever player reach 6th gear.

The game started with Joe in pole position. I was middle of the pack. (Nick Sima was in dead last). Joe rolled a “1” on the black die so he couldn’t move. This is the second time this happened to Joe.

About half way through the first of our two laps, there were some definite haves and have nots. I was in a strong position along with Jake. Matt and Joe were in last.

Nick took a pit stop. He was positioned at the mouth of the pit when I wanted to go into the pit. This prevented me from going in so I played without a pit stop. I had a decent amount of tires, brakes and gears left. I only had 1 body point left because Jake and Nick kept ramming me into the guide rails.

During the 2nd lap, I was in a strong position along with Jake. He and I kept overtaking each other for the lead. Joe, who was in last for most of the first lap, didn’t need to break for a pit stop. He kicked it up to 6th gear and caught up with us. Going into the home stretch, it was going to either be me, Jake or Joe for the win. I rammed my car into Jake but I was the won that rolled a “1”. My poor formula 1 racer couldn’t take it. I was a “DNF” for the Monaco race.

Joe proved too savvy for Jake and passed him in the last few curves. Jake was second. Matt and Nick were a curve behind Jake. The outcome was:

  • 1st: Joe
  • 2nd: Jake
  • 3rd: Nick Sima
  • 4th: Matt
  • DNF: Chris

I think everyone had a good time with it. And I think with some of the optional rules below, the game will really shine.


2. General rules for the Formula D League

Formula D Seabring
Formula D Sebring

Each session will use a different map. There are six map boards to date. And each is double sided. Some of the map sides are not conducive to Formula 1 racing. They are geared to the street racing optional rules–an option outside the realm of this league.

Monaco, Sebring, Hockenheim, Valencia, Singapore, Buddh, Baltimore, New Jersey, Sotchi and Austin will comprise this first season of Formula 1 racing at The Gaming Annex.

I wanted to have a set of rules for a league that negotiated several constraints. I want first place to get the lion’s share of points. This will ensure everyone is trying to win the race. I want to encourage people to show up to league nights as well. So even if you get a “DNF” (or did not finish) you get some points. And I want racers who did finish to get more points than those who DNF. The goal is to have the most points at the end of the season. The season is comprised of 10 sessions, one at each track. To this end, I’ve constructed the following point system. This is not written in stone so feel free to give me feedback.

  • 1st place: 2x the number of players
  • 2nd place: 1x the number of players
  • 3rd place: ½x the number of players + 1point
  • 4th place: ½x the number of players
  • 5th through 10th place: 2 points
  • DNF: 1 point

In yesterday’s game, we had five racers. Joe came in first and thus scored 10 points (2x the number of players). Jake came in second and scored 5 points. Nick scored 4 points (½ times the number of players + 1). We round up in this case. Matt scored 3 points. And I scored 1 point. BOOOOOO!


3. Optional rules: Weather Conditions and tires

Formula D Sinagpore
Formula D Sinagpore

The addition of the weather rules is a no-brainer for serious players. We didn’t use it last night because we still had a novice or two. But going forward, the weather rules will be in full effect.

At race start, you roll a die and compare the result to the map’s weather chart. There are three possibilities: rain, changeable weather or sunny. If the race is sunny, there are no real changes to the rules. Rainy weather makes collisions twice as likely (on a 1 or 2) along with making road handling damage more likely (on a 1 through 5). Due to the cooler temperature, rainy weather helps with engine damage. You only damage your engine on a roll of 1 through 3 instead of the normal 1 through 4.

Now, when the weather is changeable, you reroll on this chart under the same circumstances as when you check for engine damage. Changeable weather starts out as “Sunny” (changeable). But if you reroll on this chart, it could become “Sunny” (invariable) or “Rainy” (changeable). Thus, the weather can undergo some important changes that will effect game play. And the optional rules afford players a nifty decision for how to deal with this: tire selection.


4. Tire Selection

Pirelli racing slick
Pirelli racing slick

Players can decide which tires to use at the beginning of the race. There are three types to choose from: hard tires, soft tires and rain tires. Each has there own pluses and minuses.

Hard tires have no special rules if it’s sunny. However, racers with hard tires will experience less control over their Formula 1 car if the weather is raining. The car will move an additional three space if it is raining and the movement includes any space in a curve.

Soft tires give a racer a lot of control if it’s sunny. The racer may move an additional space on each of his turns. If he overshoots any curve, the damage to his tires, due to the fact that they are soft, is doubled. But soft tires are not very good in the rain. Soft tires suffer the same rain penalty as hard tires. Soft tires also require a pit stop. Failing to take a pit stop will nullify the bonus of the soft tires while tripling the damage from overshooting a curve.

Rain tires are the most efficient way to slosh through a drizzly day. If it’s raining, rain tires cause you to travel one additional space in a curve (unlike the other tires which make you travel three additional spaces). Rain tires, however, are not so good when the weather is sunny. The penalty for overshooting a curve is doubled.

Because of the difference in tire selection, players now have some extra choices when making a pit stop.


5. Pit Stop

Pit Stop
Pit Stop

Players have a few different choices when making a pit stop. They may change their tires to one of the other types listed above. They may then choose to get all of their tire wear points replenished or get two wear points added to any system.

One of the house rules I read that I liked was that you could continue to skip your turn and stay in the pit. This would give the player an additional 2 wear points to any system (up to their starting total). This is a house rule we might try out.


6. Racing Schedule: Sebring is next

Sebring raceway
Sebring raceway

Our crews and equipment will be heading to Sebring, Florida for the second Formula 1 installment of the season. The weather forecast is 88 degrees with a 15% of rain.

The race will be televised live at The Gaming Annex in Muskegon one of these Thursdays, quite possibly next Thursday. Check local listings for details.



7. Get all the details here

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
87 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, Oct 1, 2015, 6:00 PM
4 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →


On the Docket at The Gaming Annex: Rum & Bones

I haven’t been this excited about a game in a while. I do not follow kickstarter. I probably should. But evidently Rum & Bones had quite the strong following. And there were several add-ons and stretch goals. I found out about Rum & Bones on boardgamegeek because it was in the hotness. When Out of the Box Games got a copy, I made the trip to pick it up!


1.  Pirates of the Caribbean?

Rum & Bones from Cool Minis or Not
Rum & Bones from Cool Minis or Not

I really liked Pirates of the Caribbean (at least the first movie). There was plenty of adventure, action and comedy to keep me entertained. Before watching the movie I thought it would be weird having pirates fighting the undead but somehow it made sense.

Now Cool Mini or Not has released a game where players take on the roles of either the pirates or the undead and skirmish to the bitter end. The theme alone has got me hooked!

Not familiar with Cool Mini or Not? You might know of their game Zombicide, another successful launch from kickstarter. Cool Mini or Not seems to be bucking the bad trend I noticed recently in kickstarter games: releasing games still in their Beta stage of development.


2. The components

Bone Devil minis
Bone Devil minis

Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God! I love the minis!

Hmmm, I wonder where the publisher got the name for their company?

The game comes 70 detailed plastic figures. There are 35 per side. Each side has Deckhands, Bosuns and Heroes. Each type of figure serves a different purpose and has different abilities.

There are two factions in the game: basically the living pirates and the undead pirates. With all the a

Tide cards from R&B
Tide cards from R&B

add-ons and stretch goals, there will be plenty of expansions in our promising futures.

The artwork is wonderful. Check out these Tide cards! The color and graphics are great. I am really pleased with the quality.

The game board is two ships connected by three gangplanks. The ships are each on their own game board, suggesting that more ships will be released (at least I can hope!)

The game also comes with some objective tiles which are on heavy duty cardboard and have the same quality artwork on them.



3. Game Play

Rum & Bones board
Rum & Bones board

Rum & Bones is based upon MOBA’s (multi online battle arenas). You spawn troops every round so none of your guys will be dead for long. You sprint them headlong into the fight. Then respawn them next round.

The trick is in how you position your heroes and how to use their powers. To use the special powers will general require you to have gold coins on the hero. You spend them to use a special ability. You gain gold coins at the beginning of your turn (one per hero) and when you kill opposing figures.

Several objective tiles are placed on each ship. The goal is to destroy 6VP worth of objectives on your opponent’s ship before he does the same to you. If the space is free of enemy figures, you are allowed to attack the objective.

Hero cards
Hero cards

You have to plan your attacks just right to kill your opponent’s objectives while still defending your own. At the beginning of the round, you fire your deck gun which allows you target a single area on the board. This can help you soften up your opponent’s defenses.

Once a player has taken all of  these actions, the next player takes a turn. When either player reaches 6VP, the game is over.

The game seems to have a Memoir ’44 feel to it with its sudden death VP threshold. Not that that is a bad thing. I love Memoir ’44. The game also has a Memoir ’44 feel because of the plastic crack. I love minis in my games.

The game rules have tons of fluff in them. It’s almost like reading a comic book with all the extraneous backgrounds of the characters and added artwork.


4. On the Docket?

I’m hoping to get this to the table on an upcoming Sunday. For now, I have to finish the rules.

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
87 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, Oct 1, 2015, 6:00 PM
4 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

Expensive lessons in building a game library

I began adding games to my personal library about 6 months after meeting Bruce, one of our regulars. His game library was quite daunting. And I hate being daunted. I made the promise to get an active library of 500 games. To this end have I been buying, trading and purging games from my collection. Purging, you ask? Because I want the right 500 games. This process of buying/trading/purging is ongoing. And expensive. Luckily I have a very supportive wife who understands that if I didn’t spend my money at Out of the Box Games, I would spend it at the bar. I thought I would share some of the more expensive lessons I learned along the way.


1. You loving a game ≠  Your group loving a game

Space Hulk 3rd Edition didn't go over well in Muskegon
Space Hulk 3rd Edition

Space Hulk 3rd Edition was the long awaited reimplementation of Games Workshop’s popular “man versus alien in desperate battle” franchise. The game came out in 2009 to strong critical and popular praise. I wanted a copy. I also wanted a copy that was fully painted. And I didn’t want to do the painting myself.

A week’s pay later: I had a copy. I got the game to table. I thought it was good.  A squad of heavily armed but heavily outnumbered Space Marines are clearing an ancient spaceship of a Tyranid infestation. Each corridor is teeming with genestealers lurking behind a corner.


But the group rejected it. The Muskegon Area Gamers did find it as charming as me.  An expensive lesson was learned.


2. Games that were fun when you were a kid are not necessarily fun now

Hotels board game
Hotels board game

Board game enthusiasts all have a touch of nostalgia. There are those games you remember having fun with when you were a kid.

When you become an adult you might feel the temptation to buy some of these games to add to your library. The lesson here is: don’t. Those games are not necessarily still good.

Asmodee made a wonderful reimplementation of Milton Bradley’s “Hotels”. The components are top notch (just what you would expect from Asmodee). The game is faithful to its predecessor.

But its predecessor is not good. Do not buy Hotels. Or rather, do not let nostalgia dictate how you add games to your library.





3. To Kickstart or Not to Kickstart; that is the question

Ogre Deluxe Edition
Ogre Deluxe Edition

Kickstarter is really hit-and-miss. There are plenty crappy games being kickstarted. But every now and again there is a real gem. And it’s difficult to tell the difference.

Steve Jackson released the deluxe edition of his Ogre franchise on kickstarter. It’s a 35 lb. box of board gaming madness. And I passed on it. Now the price is much higher.

SJG's Ogre
SJG’s Ogre

Should I have paid $125 for the Deluxe edition when it was on kickstarter? Yes, if the alternative is paying >$125 now.

But kickstarter produces lots of crap (I’m looking at you Exile Sun!). How is a game collector to know the difference?

The thing about kickstarter is that tons of crappy games that genuine publishers won’t touch are being funded. But there are occasional gems that you can get really cheap if you can tell the difference.



 4. Being a completest can be poisonous to a game collector

Valar Morghulis
Valar Morghulis

The logic goes like this: I like a game therefore more of that game must make it better. In practice, this is as often false as it is true.

Take A Game of Thrones: the living card game. We played the heck out of this at Jeremy Pyne’s. Then we got word that the 2nd edition (which is incompatible) was coming out. All our cards are now obsolete. And we are going to start from ground zero.

It is difficult to be a game collector without being a completest–the two go hand in hand. But you must guard against being compulsive when being a completest.

Now we have several sets of AGOT:LCG cards that are obsolete.


5. Trading games = High Shipping Costs

Muskegon Heights Post Office
Muskegon Heights Post Office

Board game geek has a wonderful game trade feature. It is great for connecting to gamers who have the game you want and who also want the game you have. One problem: shipping costs eat away all the savings.

Boxes and padding are expensive. I can get it free at work because there is stuff laying around. But the cost of postage is >$10 or more a game. And there is little savings to be made by bulk trading.

A few gamers tried to sidestep this by shipping their games to me with “media mail”. Media mail is for, well, media. Magazines, CD’s, books, non-advertising printouts, etc. And the USPS busts open boxes that are labeled media mail just to make sure they are in fact media mail. Then they return the boxes to the sender. Lesson: do not use media mail to mail a board game.

The best way to trade games cheaply is via no-ship trades. But there haven’t been any in the Muskegon/Holland/Grand Rapids area in a few years. We need the fellas from GrandCon to step up. Now that I am on the topic, maybe me or Rocky will have to tell Brian Lenz to have a math trade at this year’s GrandCon.


6. Buying a game that is out print…six months later they reprint it

Martin Wallace's A Study in Emerald
Martin Wallace’s A Study in Emerald

This one hasn’t happened to me yet. But I know it will bug the ever living shit out of me when it does happen. What am I talking about? Paying $100+ for an out of print game. And then the publisher reprints it six months later. If I had just waited, I could have gotten for $70 less.

A Study in Emerald is a good example of this. Many people (luckily not me) were vying for a copy on eBay and on BGG. The going price is $200 for what is essentially a card game. The game was super popular but Martin Wallace’s Tree Frog Games couldn’t justify another print run.

And then they finally COULD justify it. And the 2nd printing is slated for later this year. I know Kevin (a Muskegon Area Gamer) is excited. I am really interested in trying it out too.

Adding games to your game library and then having this happen to you can make you discouraged. I don’t know any solution to it other than keeping up with the news to see if there are rumors of a reprint.



7. Buying an expensive game…20 minutes later you realize it sucks

Rex: Last Days of an Empire
Rex: Last Days of an Empire

For us, the game was Rex: Final days of an Empire. We love Twilight Imperium. We love the Frank Herbert franchise “Dune”. When Fantasy Flight was reimplementing the classic board game “Dune” with their Twilight Imperium races, of course the Muskegon Area Gamers would be on board.

We played the game. And Jeremy Pyne won on the first turn. We played it a second time. Jeremy Pyne won on the first turn. The next day I traded it (the game, not Jeremy Pyne).

The game, by all rights, should have been a strong addition to our group. But it was terrible. There are some games you really should play before you pull the trigger and make a blind buy.



Recent Game Acquisitions

This goes without saying: I cannot go more than a few days without buying a game. Now I don’t have a problem. I can stop anytime. But I thought I might shed some light on my recent game pick ups.

1. Formula D: Austin/Nevada

Formula D: Austin/Nevada
Formula D: Austin/Nevada

I’m a sucker for Formula D. I’m also a completest. This means Asmodee will be milking me for the foreseeable future.

The new map has Austin, TX on one side and Nevada on the other. The Nevada side has a jump across the Colorado river. Cool!

Now if I can only talk Dusty and the gang into playing this game.



2. Boss Monster

Boss Monster from Brotherwise Games
Boss Monster from Brotherwise Games

Boss Monster caught my eye because of the theme. You play the boss monster, building your 8-bit world in an effort to defeat the heroes.

I saw an expansion/stand-alone game called Boss Monster II. The game must be more popular than I thought if it’s already spawned an expansion.

I haven’t played it yet but I’ve read the rules. The game should fill a niche in my collection as a “cool down” game at the end of the night.








3. Ultimate Warriorz

Ultimate Warriorz by Matagot Games
Ultimate Warriorz by Matagot Games

Ultimate Warriorz was an impulse purchase at Out of the Box Games’ grand opening. I loved the components. Standees fighting in an arena: love it!

The game shares many things in common with King of Tokyo, a game I quite enjoy. I hope this game is a good alternative to it.




4. North Wind

Klaus Teuber's North Wind
Klaus Teuber’s North Wind

I try to like Klaus Teuber games. Honest I do. Teuber is most famous for all the Catan games. But he is a prolific game designer above and beyond just the Catan franchise. I really like Entdecker (a game I haven’t played in years).

Many of his games seem like they will be good when you read the rules. Then when you play the game they fall just a bit short.

I love the cardboard bits in North Wind. You hire a crew, outfit your ship with cannons and sail to glory. One thing I can say about all of Teuber’s games: they really try to give you a sense of adventure. I hope North Wind delivers!


5. Nations: The Dice Game

Nations: The Dice Game
Nations: The Dice Game

The latest trend in board games is “____: the dice game”. Nations: The dice game is one iteration of this trend.

Nations is a heavy Euro civ builder. It did not go over well in our group. The game is the spiritually hollow successor to Through the Ages.

But Nations: the Dice Game, now this game might go over well with the Muskegon Area Gamers. The game could be a good warm up. It won’t be the main course but could whet your appetite for the epic games to follow.

Plus I love custom dice. 🙂



6. Thunder Road from Milton Bradley

Thunder Road from Milton Bradley
Thunder Road from Milton Bradley

I’m a product of the 80’s. Good games from the that period are hard to come by. Most have not stood the test of time in our modern era of board gaming renaissance.

But Milton Bradley’s Thunder Road is definitely an exception to this. Rated over 6.5 on boardgamegeek (compared to Monopoly’s 4.45), Thunder Road will hit the table when we get the nostalgia itch.

Thunder Road is MB’s answer to Mad Max. Players race down a desert road in a dystopian world. There are armored vehicles, helicopters and speedsters. Players have a team of cars and helicopters and use them to win the race or destroy their opponents.

Thunder Road also serves the secondary goal of being a game on my Holy Grail list. One more game to scratch off the list. Next game: Star Wars Queen’s Gambit. (Yeah right!)

7. Island Fortress

Island Fortress by Frost Forge Games
Island Fortress by Frost Forge Games

I made a horrendous mistake. I bought Homeland: the Board Game. I compounded the error by making Bruce and Jon play it.

Boy was that game bad. It’s so bad that I will never watch the TV show upon which the game is based.

But I salvaged the situation a bit. I traded it for Island Fortress. This game has to be better than Homeland, right?

I don’t know anything about this game. I just found someone desperate for Homeland.







8. Do you want to play any of these games?

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
87 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, Oct 1, 2015, 6:00 PM
4 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →


Building the Better Game Group: When to play which games

CabinCon II is in the books. We had eight of the toughest gamers turn out for four days of gaming debauchery. Most of the event went great. There are some areas we could work on. I’ve been pondering some of the weak points of CabinCon II and I’ve realized an opportunity we have. I’ll share my insights below. Please comment with your ideas and feedback.

1. Background

Rune Wars is a favorite of the Muskegon Area Gamers
Rune Wars

At CabinCon, we started our Saturday with some eight player Formula D. We used most of the bells and whistles. Then we played Memoir ’44 Overlord with eight players. Then we played a few fillers. In the late afternoon, we broke down into two tables. At one of the tables, Jon taught Rune Wars to Matt, Mongo and Rocky.

Rune Wars is a great game, not unlike a fantasy version of Twilight Imperium. As such it is a heavy game. For rules explanation to game completion, Rune Wars took approximately 7 hours. The guys were done around 1am, give or take.



2. Outcome

Lego Angst in Muskegon
Lego Angst

Jon loves Rune Wars. Rocky loves fantasy games. Matt loves Mage Knight. Mongo loves Twilight Imperium. Rune Wars seemed like a natural fit.

It wasn’t.

The game left a terrible taste in everyone’s mouth except Jon’s. It will take a tremendous amount of coaxing to get Matt, Rocky or Mongo to try Rune Wars again–despite the fact that this game aligns strongly with their favorite games–and despite the fact I can personally vouch for this game’s excellence.




3. Other Symptoms?

Muskegon loves Memoir 44
Memoir 44

How did the other games go? To be honest, Formula D and Memoir ’44 were not as well received as they could/should have been.

This is partly my fault for not bringing an Overlord-approved scenario for Memoir ’44. This will be fixed when we play the Overlord edition again (which should be very soon!)

But it also has to do with WHEN you play games–not necessarily WHAT you play.







4. Timing Your Games

Formula 1 racing in Muskegon!
Formula D from Asmodee Games

Some games are really good–but you have to play them at certain peak times. those same games can be quite irritating at other times.

Formula D is a good game. I love it. It’s my favorite racing game. But there is a lot of mindless dice chucking in it. Certainly there are decisions to make that have a huge bearing on your outcome. But this game is too long for a filler (~60 minutes). It’s a perfect game to wrap up a game night, when people are drained from a long, deep game.

Rune Wars is a long, deep game. You should play this when people are fresh and ready, say at 9 or 10 am. Unfortunately, Jon started the rules explanation around 5 or 6pm. This is when people should have already played a deep game and are now ready to relax and laugh while playing a game.

5. Making a good game schedule

Muskegon walks a Relationship Tightrope from Uberplay
Relationship Tightrope from Uberplay

A game night should start with a warm up. A game that gets people’s juices flowing. Ricochet Robots is a good game for that. So is Relationship Tightrope. These games feel satisfying for their length of time and whet a hardcore gamer’s appetite for a meatier game.

After the warm up game, bust out the meaty game like Rune Wars. People will be prepped and ready a heavy game. Their attention will not compromised. If anything, their attention will be at a peak level if the warm up did its job.

After the meaty game, pull out the light fare. Got an hour? Play some Formula D. Got 45 minutes? Play Longshots. Tweak the game to the time frame and the player count.

6. Recent Execution of this plan

Muskegon loves Colt Express from Ludonaute Games
Colt Express from Ludonaute Games

I was the dictator last night. Everyone wanted to try Penny Press and Colt Express, two new games I had gotten. Colt Express falls squarely into the “lighter fare” category. I knew it would be harshly treated by the Muskegon Area Gamers if we played it when we should be playing a meaty game.

For meaty games, I dictated China and Manila. I probably should have picked something a little meatier but oh well.

But the reception of Colt Express, however, was overall very strong. I really believe it was related to WHEN we played it. Had we played this before China, people would have been more disappointed because it’s not meaty and they wanted meat.

I should have started the night off with a warm up. Instead, I started with Penny Press. And Penny Press, coincidentally, was ill received.

I’ll test my hypothesis further, but I really think I’m on to something. Schedule your game nights with 1) Warm up; 2) Meaty game; and 3)Lighter fare.


Hijinks at The Gaming Annex

When it comes to The Gaming Annex, the things I typically worry about are: will we have good attendance? And will this new game I bought suck? This weekend a strange series of events took place that had me worried about something quite different.

1. Saturday, May 30th; 5pm; 49509

Debbie's Castle
Debbie’s Castle

My wife and I had tickets to see Avenue Q, an irreverent take on Sesame Street. The show started at 7:30pm at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre–right down town. I was already prepared to go by 5pm. I was perusing my iPhone nonchalantly.

I got a text from Dusty, one of the members of the Muskegon Area Gamers. He said he was going to The Gaming Annex to borrow some games. He has houseguests, two of which are gamers. Dusty has his own keys to The Gaming Annex so I don’t need to be present to let him in. He texted me about which games to play with his houseguests. I gave him some ideas. He ended up taking Star Wars: Armada and Small World.


2. Saturday, May 30th; 7:30pm; 49503

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

Traffic downtown last night was not too bad considering we were going to a play and the Van Andel was hosting a New Kids on the Block reunion. We arrived in plenty of time to find good parking and find our seats.

Unfortunately it all went downhill from there. For the details about this travesty, please see my review here:





 3. Saturday, May 30th; 9:30pm; 49509

Debbie's Castle
Debbie’s Castle

After enduring the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, we retired back home. I was back on my iPhone–this time it was anything but nonchalant. This was very chalant iPhone usage.

Out of the blue, my brother called me. This is very odd. It had to be an emergency. He said the Annex was unlocked and the lights were on. This also was odd. Why would the lights be on and the door unlocked? I told him to lock it up. Was anything burglarized? Had anyone been rummaging around in there? Nick said it didn’t look like it.

I figured Dusty forgot to lock up when he came by to borrow some games. I will have to browbeat him the next time I see him.


4. Sunday, May 31; 9:00 am; 49441

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

Sunday games start at 10am typically. I get there about an hour early to set up and do some general housekeeping. I arrived at 9am this morning to get the place into tip-top shape. Well, maybe not tip-top; maybe just “I can tolerate this place” shape.

We had bought some new towels for the Annex. I went into the bathroom to drop them off. The door seemed a little off kilter. When I examined it closer, I noticed the door had been kicked in. That seemed odd. Did someone have to take a shit that badly?

Then I remembered what had happened the night before: Nick told me the door to The Gaming Annex had been left unlocked. Now the door to the bathroom had been kicked in. These two things hardly seemed unrelated. I was beginning to get nervous about what was in store for me and the Muskegon Area Gamers.


5. Friday, November 22, 12:30pm; 75202

Texas School Book Depository
Texas School Book Depository

Approximately 12:30 PM Central Time, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Was there a conspiracy? Probably. Did it have anything to do with the recent hijinks at The Gaming Annex? No.






6. Sunday, May 31; 9:55 am; 49441

Timeless Treasures Thrift Store is next to The Gaming Annex in Muskegon
Timeless Treasures Thrift Store

My dad is the landlord. He also runs Timeless Treasures Thrift Store–the store on the west end of the building housing The Gaming Annex. I wanted to talk to him about what had happened. Strange things were afoot.

“Someone kicked in the bathroom door. Furthermore, someone was inside the Annex last night…” I was getting anxious about what mischief might befall the Muskegon Area Gamers. While I love Scooby Doo and his capers, I don’t want to live in one.

My dad unmasked the proverbial villain. He said the bathroom door was not in fact kicked in. Nick simply bumped into when he was moving things to and fro. The door was broken open on accident. There was no impropriety.

“But someone left the door to the Annex open last night. And left the lights on!” I said.

My dad unmasked this proverbial villain too. “This Dusty guy must have left the door unlocked. He must be a real dumbass.” I cannot share my dad’s libelous opinion until I consult my attorney.

Who happens to be Dusty.