Friday, June 5, 2015

June Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 5: Jamaica (2007)

Jamaica (2007)

My husband bought me this game for our Anniversary this year. I had put off playing it for a while, because I actually wasn't sure what the game was and it didn't interest me right off the bat. Once I sat down to play it, though, I was hooked.

Jamaica is a 2-6 player game where you are a pirate who needs to make it around the island, but watch out for pirates! You use dual action cards and you roll the dice to determine the order of the actions you'll take. Each card has two actions you do (a daytime and a nighttime action). When you roll the dice on your turn, you put the dice in the order that you want. Then you follow the order of your actions on your cards, moving or taking materials in the amount determined by the dice.

This is a fun game with a unique mechanic and it really makes it engaging to play.  It is also a gorgeous game! You can arrange each of the different pirate character decks into a panoramic picture of a pirate scene. I can image making a pretty awesome framed picture with those cards.

 I was torn between what to focus on tonight. We started out with Cartagena and the played Jamaica and it turned into a pirate night, so we pulled out Guild Hall: Seven Seas and Mint Tin Pirates. It was fun, but I think my husband has been playing too many games alone. I'm becoming suspicious of his wins. Hmmmm....

One of Those Moments

I talk about it all the time, but I guess I'll remind you, I have a Middle School Tabletop Club. They are my pride and joy. We have so much fun gaming together and building relationships and learning and just. . . it's amazing! We're a small family and we miss each other and we can't wait to see each other and it's like the highlight of our days. We laugh, we cry, we geek. . . it's wonderful.

I'm always talking about my club to people. I throw it out there all the time. . . yes, it's Middle School. . . we meet every day at lunch (for 45 minutes of gaming). It's hard, yet fulfilling. They are just such a great group of kids! I get to watch them grow and learn and develop into adorable little gamers. It does my heart proud!

So, of course, I use some of the really wonderful Web Series on games to help teach some of the games we play. I mean, seriously. . . I don't want to drone on every Monday or every other Monday about a game. So I look for neat and interesting episodes on the games we play. One of those shows is obviously Tabletop by Wil Wheaton and Geek & Sundry.

The kids just love him. Partly because they know him from The Big Bang Theory and some of them know him from their parents who watch Star Trek: The Next Generation. I mean, come on. . . he's a frickin' star and my kids know it! It also doesn't hurt that their teacher thinks he's da bomb diggity.

So on this average day at the end of the school year, the lunch bell was about to ring and I didn't have any students in my room yet, so I was checking my twitter. I saw a tweet from Anne Wheaton, Wil's wife, about how sick he felt. The bell rang for lunch and my game club students started coming into the room. I was like, "You guys! Wil Wheaton is really sick! Not life-threatening, just been sick for a few days and it sounds really bad."  One of my kids said, "We should tell him to feel better." So I composed a tweet to Anne Wheaton wishing Wil well from my Tabletop Club. I usually don't expect tweets back and it's more about just sending happy vibes out into the universe.

Within a few minutes, though, Anne Wheaton had tweeted my kids back. OMG PANDAMONIUM broke out in the classroom. The kids were already composing responses and asking me questions. One of the kids said, "Let's take a get well picture!" So we all went into the back and posed with our Pathfinder board, since all but two of the kids were meeting for their second-to-last Pathfinder campaign today. Sadly, the whole club wasn't there to participate. Many kids were stuck doing last-minute work for teachers or wanted to quick meet up with friends. But the picture was pretty great.

We tweeted it over with a thanks.

The day went on and I had meetings and things to do. When I got back from my meeting with my principal, there was a message from my husband on my screen. "Wil Wheaton tweeted you."

WHAT?!?!? WHAT?!?!?! I had totally melted. Mine and my students Tabletop Idol just tweeted us back! It was the end of the day and I didn't get to see my kids, but I came up with a great idea for them. I'm printing out the tweets for them and. . . totes geek. . . laminating them. A gift for them to remember how nice they were to their idol and that he appreciated it. And, can I just say. . . what a way to end the year!

I spent most of the night having my little fangirl moment with one of my co-teachers and then my husband at home. Then came time to figure out how to respond. I know I'm probably over-complicating it, but I feel it is my responsibility to demonstrate my appreciation for these two amazing people taking time to make my students feel special. Because, let's be serious here, this isn't about me. This is about my kids and them having the opportunity for someone they love to acknowledge them. Think back to when you were a kid and your favorite sports person waved at you or you saw your favorite singer in person and they winked at you. Do you still remember it and cherish it? My club kids just had that moment. For being nice and caring, they received a special response and it can't be more rewarding than that.

So I tweeted back and my husband was all, "You know they're not going to tweet back again, right?" And I said, "So? I know I did it. I put the good out there and if they do read it, they know the time they took to respond was meaningful."  That was that. Then, at lunch the next day, which consisted of a pizza party and final gaming, I shared the tweet with the kids and I let them decide what to tweet back. They all had so many short little burst messages to say, so I fit them all in. Even if they don't get them or they get buried under all their other response tweets, the kids feel good about getting their message out.

What a wonderful day and, like I said, an amazing way to end another great year of Tabletop Game Club.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

June Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 4: Qwirkle (2006)

Qwirkle (2006)

My husband had been begging me to bring this game back from my Tabletop Club for about a week now. I finally remembered today and figured it was time to get it to the table.

Qwirkle is a game where you have to create patterns in order to earn points. You can place tiles by matching either colors or patterns. You create rows and when you create a row of 6, you have a Qwirkle with gives you 12 points. Within these rows, you cannot repeat a color (if you're doing patterns) or a pattern (if you're doing colors). Each tile you place earns you a point and you earn points for each row you add to or create (up and down, left and right).

I really enjoyed this game. It was funny watching my husband get all flustered. I think it was the most zen game I've played in a long time. It's great for families. Our 4-year-old daughter kept coming downstairs (she was supposed to be in bed) and was very interested. She was pointing out patterns and almost gave up some of our tiles. I feel that she could play it, easily, with help for scoring. The game is listed as 6 and up.

A great family game that helps build valuable skills. Assessing patterns, looking for what is missing, and making connections are all skills that are practiced. The other bonus is that it is easily packed for travel. The tiles are kept in a drawstring bag and can be slipped into a carry-on or beach bag for easy play. You do, though, need a decent sized surface and it should be flat. Might be nice for by the pool or anywhere you can play on a table.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 3: Pie Factory (2014)

Pie Factory (2014)

Pie Factory is a 2-4 player card game. It uses card drafting, set-collecting pie creating game. Players draw cards and try to create combinations to make the highest priced pies. The most and highest priced pies win and there are other bonuses to help push those points over the edge.

It is a fun game and it's always a great time playing it. We just continually run into the problem of the rules. After about 4 plays and some FAQs and inquiries, we think we finally have the game down, but there's one or two things that we're still sketchy on. We're almost all ironed out, though.

Pie Factory is another nice game for traveling. It plays in a reasonable amount of time and the layout is manageable for smaller spaces. You can carry it easily in a purse, duffle, or carry-on. Directions, though, should be worked out by an adult, don't go asking your 13-year-old to figure it out. Trust me. . . I tried. But it's nice for families and the theme is quite fun.

Sadly, my game play this month, so far, has been not an enjoyable as I had hoped. Not because of the games, but the company. I love my husband to bits and pieces and was in total stellar moods the last couple nights, but tonight I was in an emotional funk. While I would love to have a super happy entry on this day of gaming, I am having a day where I am too affected by my job to not feel withdrawn, emotional, upset. That's the price a teacher pays sometimes. Pie doesn't always make everything better, but at least it can take your mind off of things for a little while.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

June Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 2: Noah (2012)

Noah (2012)

Noah is a game that my husband bought for me for our anniversary one year. It was a tin anniversary. This was a tiny tin game. I really enjoy the fast play and the cuteness of the cards (see my review at  It's pretty great to quick throw down and challenge yourself. Math skills are a must!

A flood is coming and Noah needs to save as many animals as possible before the water gets too high. Noah, though, is a big ol’ softy and his heart is breaking for certain animals more than others. His tears are falling, which are probably making the flood waters rise even faster! You need to save those animals as fast as possible so that Noah stops crying and the animals won’t drown.

You have boats and each boat can hold 21 tons of animals. The animal cards have the weight and some special abilities. These cards are played on the boats in patterns. Either boy/girl, girl/girl, or boy/boy. When the fourth boat has sailed or someone runs out of cards, the round ends. Those with cards tally up the amount of tears on their cards. Those are the points you have to record. Noah is a game about the fewest points, instead of the most points. You don't want those tears on your conscience.

Noah plays for three rounds and has some great promos. I got mine through BoardGameGeek. Frogs, and Crocs, and a special boat. Neat stuff.

I recommend this game for the summer and travel. It's easy to take out onto the patio. The materials are heavy enough where, unless you're on the beach and the wind is blowing, you'll be fine. It's a nice game for little ones with emerging Math skills and there's a great story behind it. Plus, it's small enough to slip into a purse or a beach bag and it's a tiny, so it's a little more heavy duty than a box.


Monday, June 1, 2015

June Game-a-Day Challenge - Day 1: Star Realms (2014)

Star Realms (2014) 

Star Realms is a deck building game where you fight against the other players. Each player can use the cards from any of the four factions, which are signified by a ship or a base (symbol in the upper corner). There are some cards that reward you for using the same faction, but it might also not be beneficial to do so. I do, whole-heartedly, recommend this game to anyone who loves classic deck-building or collectible card games, because you get all the amazing feeling of being collectible without dropping hundreds of dollars. And did I mention. . .it's Sci-Fi? If you followed me last November, you'd know I have a bit of affinity for Sci-Fi games. . . .well. . . Sci-Fi anything, because right now I am in the midst of a Sci-Fi reading frenzy! And with summer break on the horizon, I see a great deal of Sci-Fi in my future, as well as something other adventures.

Also, with it being that time of year where families are traveling, I have to recommend this game. It is small and can be easily transported in a small deck box. It only takes a small table to layout.

Also, with it being that time of year where families are traveling, this game might be dangerous for the competitive family member. I love cards games and deck building games. I typically feel it is one of my stronger suites when it comes to gaming. We have several deck building games in our collection. I mean, seriously. . . what dedicated game collection doesn't? Yet, what I found tonight when I played this with my husband, was that he turned rather bitter rather quickly. This is unusual for him. Bitterness tends to run from me or from something I've said or done. Tonight, I was in the cool zone and he just rained an air grrr the whole time. Made me kind of sad, because, to be honest, I thought he had me. I was just enjoying playing with the different effects (ALLY CHAIN EFFECTS ROCK!).

He even looked up something in the book afterwards and was like, "I would have taken you out a while ago, too, if I had known that." Le sigh. All in good fun is how I felt, but man. . . if you have a competitive family, maybe leave Star Realms at home or have your vacation ruined with animosity.

One of my rockin' chains for 27 points.
Tomorrow is lighter fair as I try to make it through my last full week of school.