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Monday, April 23, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: 5 Days Until International Tabletop Day - Five Tribes

5 Days and 5 Tribes! #numbernerd

Bruno Cathala is one of the hobby's most brilliant designers. He is one of three designers who get their own shelf in our collection, with our current count of his works at 12. Six of his designs are in my husband's current Top 100 Games of All Time. His games are just works of art.

Five Tribes is no exception. While not my personal favorite from his catalog of work, Five Tribes nevertheless is an amazingly fun, thinky, tactical game.  The game consists of a grid of tiles peppered with a metric ton of little meeples in five different colors.  On your turn you pick up all the meeples from a tile and travel to another tile, dropping off meeples one a time along the way so that the last meeple you drop off lands on a space with members of his own tribe. You claim all those meeples for points and you then trigger different special actions and abilities based on their color. Each tile you stop on has its own potential bonus effect as well and when you clear a tile out on your turn, you gain control over it, earning more victory points.

There's more going on in the game. Collecting goods from the market, summoning powerful Djinns, building palaces and discovering oases. But the real bread and butter of the game is the Mancala-esque meeple collection and dropping off.

Five Tribes is a remarkably rich game, enhanced by its expansions (though certainly not requiring them) and one of the best games of 2014 despite that year being filled with outstanding games.

Original Episode

Gag Reel

How the Iron Fist Brought Zen to My Classroom

It's time for testing in our state. We're trying to create these positive and zen environments for the students so as not to overly tax them in order to reduce stress. Students are given peppermint candies to have during the test. Some of us are using essential oil diffusers to wake up the mind with essential oils. I even have my Himilayan Salt Lamp going to help remove negative energies in the room. Sitting in here right now I have never felt so very zen.

Now... I teach Science for the first hour of the day. It's quite a bit of reading and the curriculum lesson itself, I thought, was a bit heavy for the students. So I wanted to do something different, especially since in Literacy they're all taking the Reading portion of the exams. I didn't want to burden and tax them with excessive reading and processing when I was about to ask them to do this on a state exam.

As I drove to school that morning wracking my brain for what I could do it hit me. No, literally... a fist of iron just cracked my skull. In theory, when Danny Rand does his "tai chi" he centers his body so that his chi is strong. Then he uses that chi's potential energy to energize his fist, which then produces kinetic energy and knocks out Luke Cage! Sure, there's magic, blah blah blah, but there it is!

So I had this whole explanation worked out. I had appropriate clips chosen, even showing him doing the whole "calm face" to summon his chi and the fist glow. It was so cool. So then I gave the kids a quick rundown of chakras and calming the body and how when our chakras are out of alignment it can cause problems in our body. So by meditating and doing tai chi, we can center ourselves, store our potential energy to then push out into the world.

I put on some Tibetan bowl music, we meditated with spines straightened to try to align out chakras. Then we all stood together and practiced tai chi! Ended with a little more meditation and then they left.

When I saw some of my students for testing an hour later, they said they still felt good. At the end of the test, there were only 10 minutes left in class and a few of them asked me to put the music back on. They were quiet, focused, etc. So lovely.

I know it all sounds crazy, but we're going to debrief tomorrow and it hopefully put them in a better frame of mind to be successful with their stressful forward exam. GO MARVEL!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: 6 Days Until International Tabletop Day - Concept

Concept is a party game that really has its focus in charades, but you have to use the images that are on the board. I know kids love this game, so we brought it as a weekly game for our game club. As I listened and watched my kids playing the game, I was horrified when I heard "RACIST! RACIST" being yelled from the back gaming room. I didn't know what was going on, so went to find out what it was... sadly, it was a student I had been having some difficulties with and while the comments may have been taken out of context, the yelling of "RACIST" during the game didn't fly. So it sadly left a bad taste in my mouth and, I think, also ended up affecting how the kids perceived the game. While in school there is the idea of fun and appropriate fun. I can understand being overly silly, but that kind of silly I can't have on my head.

We did break the game out again at our Lock-In and while I missed out on the game play (because sometimes people need their sleep), my husband just raved over how brilliant kids were at the game. It's always so shocking that in my club they seem so anti-gamer, but they get to the Lock-In and it's like hardcore. So strange.

Either way, I can't wait to break out Concept again and really start to appreciate how awesome it is.

Original Episode

Gag Reel

Saturday, April 21, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: 7 Days Until International Tabletop Day - Cards Against Humanity

When Cards Against Humanity came on the scene, it blew the party game genre out of the water. How inappropriate is this? It was almost scary to break out the game, because you didn't want to offend people or break friendships or reveal something horrible about your darkest most nonPCness. But boy was it liberating to play with trusted friends with no judgement attached. The level of inappropriateness that was issued was insane.

I literally became addicted to the game. I wanted the expansions. I wanted the BIGGER, BLACKER box to store everything in (even with it's hidden card). I did all the CAH Holiday signups. 

But then the inevitable happened and we lost our group. I felt uncomfortable playing with some people and my current groups I'm too scared to play because... well... I'm a teacher and I'd hate for something to come back and bite me on the ass. I have, though, introduced the game to a few family members and I try to educate the ignorant on using it as a party game in certain situations (a family event for families of fallen veterans and it being literally right next to the family game area....). But I still love the game.

Sadly, I feel CAH has gone in a new direction and it's not as cool, but I still love them and support their absolute breaking of conventions and exposing those dark inner secrets that really make you laugh. 

I honestly don't know how to share with you all my posts that I've written about CAH, because there are so many. I guess use my label tag and browse through and go from there. I just might have to make a page with all the links. I guess that's a testament to how much I love the game. 

Original Episode

Gag Reel

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: 8 Days Until International Tabletop Day - Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter is another game I adore that I also needed all the promotions to! Felicia Day is so much fun to play and actually led to one of my most epic events as a gamer. I wrote an entry back in July of 2015 after playing a session with my husband and our friend Jim. I had played Felicia Day and was very excited about it. As we played, a Crossroads card finally came up that applied to me and what occurred scared me for life. I won't retell it here, but you can read the whole experience here. Just understand that I did in fact post the Crossroads card, but it's too late for you anyways, because I spoiled it.

I also love the game so much that I wrote about it in my Meet Me at the Table series I used to go for the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club (IGGPPC). You can read all about it here.

Like Pandemic, there are varying degrees of success in this game depending on all sorts of things. We played it for the first time with my game club kids at our lock-in and it was a huge success. Shockingly we survived with no traitor. I love the zombies and the cooperative atmosphere of the game. Even ran out and bought the expansion. But seriously... go read the bit about a girl and her horse.

Note: This episode also includes Ashley Johnson (Critical Role) and Grant Imahara (Mythbusters) and I love them so very much.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: 9 Days Until International Tabletop Day - Sheriff of Nottingham

Sheriff of Nottingham is the most fun game to play with your students. Why? Because you already know all their tells and know how to keep a straight face around them. Ha! Sheriff of Nottingham is all about bluffing  and trying to get contraband past the Sheriff. I've been told I'm not a very good liar, but when it comes to this game, I'm actually not that bad.

I loved the game from the first moment I played it. The laughs were nonstop and it even became something I taught as part of a women's event at GenCon hosted by ConTessa. They're a group that supports minority-led gaming, empowering women, people of color, and LGBTQs in the gaming community. It was a great experience for me to teach this game while trying to break my anxiety over teaching games to predominately male players. Until you've experienced situations that make you feel uncomfortable, you won't really understand how damaging it can be. So I appreciated this opportunity and the game itself went swimmingly.

This game is definitely close to my heart for the special moments I've had playing it and I would recommend it to players looking for a bit of fun, coupled with a good bit of strategy. I know it sometimes seems a bit silly, but it's a smart game with some great bluffing.

Note: We got the expansion not long ago and we're breaking it out. I'm going to be using it at my next Tabletop Game Club Lock-In to celebration International Tabletop Day. Really excited about that.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: 10 Days Until International Tabletop Day - The Hare & the Tortoise & Council of Verona

The Hare and the Tortoise introduced me to a whole new series of games called Tales and Games from the excellent publisher Iello. It uses fairy tales to create games, such as Little Red Riding Hood, Aladdin & the Magic Lamp, and The Three Little Pigs. The Hare and the Tortoise, though, was our first introduction to the series and offered a new look at games that feel like they're for kids, but have the ability to completely enthrall an adult. It's a great little racing/betting game.

The other part that I loved was that it fit into my game unit. The students have to write a narrative to go with their game and these games all have accompanying stories. It was really quite nice.

I still share The Hare and the Tortoise whenever I get the chance and several of my students have used it as a Mentor Game and created some really interesting games based on the mechanics.

This past February I wrote a little bit about Council of Verona. See my article here.

The Joy of Gaming - Ray's Rate a Shelf #10

At the beginning of this year, my husband started a Twitter feed, posting a different part of our game shelves and rating the games that are on them. I was so impressed by this activity, I thought it would be great to share it on my blog.

Click the Tweet to see the rankings and the games.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: 11 Days Until International Tabletop Day - Tokaido

Tokaido stands out for me, because I remember my husband was so excited to introduce it to my students in my game unit. He set the directions down for them to play and it became the biggest directions fiasco I have ever had in my classroom. This one group literally sat there and just, like... silently protesting playing because we would not explain to them how to play. See... the point of the research phase is to 1) be exposed to game directions, 2) learn the pros and cons of direction writing, and 3) see what mechanics look like in-game. I am familiar with stubbornness, but that which was demonstrated on that day was beyond my comprehension. It's not a difficult game to play, but reading directions is something many, many people struggle with. The visual impact of 4 sulking pre-teens in the middle of a sea of joyous pre-teens engaging in games is seared into my mind. I did not use this game for the game unit this year. (We actually revamped this portion of the unit slightly, because you have to tailor the units to the students and it just needed some changes.)

My husband, though, brought the game in for my club and it was enjoyed. It, again, requires some thinking, which doesn't always seem to go over well in my club, but for the time it lit their fire, it was a joy! Recently on Daddy-Daughter-Tuesday-Game-Day, my daughter and husband played it. My 7-year-old won (again with support from my husband). My husband doesn't "let" people win, but it was her first time playing and he guided her through it. Her winning, though, was not a condition of teaching the game. Like me, my husband is very firm about character being built through winning and losing.

Tokaido is a beautiful game with a lovely premise and it has definitely found its way into my book of games that I developed a connection with.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: 12 Days Until International Tabletop Day - Qwirkle & 12 Days

I took the opportunity to cover two games in this entry not only because it's a double of Tabletop, but because Qwirkle is a game I just wrote about for my Women Game Designers series this past February. You can read my article here.

12 Days (2011) I like to keep around of the holidays. It is a trick-taking, set collection card game based around the 12 Days of Christmas. My kids break it out for fun and I do enjoy having an occasionally play. I just really love the game, because I like theme games that fit into "events." If you've had any experience with my writing, you should know I love to theme out everything! I mean... goodness... I did 30 days of Star Wars Apparel counting down to the release of The Last Jedi. It makes me happy, so this is one of those games that does that for me. A good family game, too.

Original Episode

Extended Episode