Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Joy of Gaming - The Magic Labyrinth

We're always on the lookout for new and interesting games for our daughter. She's growing up so fast that it's hard to waste out money on games that are ONLY for little kids and have no interest for adults. For example, we bought Animal Upon Animal, which is great for our young daughter, but we seriously love it as adults as well. When my husband bought this for my daughter, I laughed, because I had it on a list of interesting games to buy for our family.

The Magic Labyrinth (2009)
Essentially, you are moving your pawn (Magician) around the board, trying to make it to a certain symbol that you randomly selected from the bag. But the pawn is a magnet and on the other side of the board is a metal ball. Under the board is a maze and when you hit a wall, the ball drops and you start over. It's a race to see who will make it to the symbol first and earn the token. Players have to remember where the walls were and try to work around them. In order to know how many spaces you can move a turn, you roll a die. Again, if you hit a wall and your ball falls, you have to start over.

Everyone we have shared the game with has loved it and, to be fair, it has magnets... kids LOVE magnets. A definite addition to any family collection and a great game for any event you might attend where kids are playing games. I brought this to my school's Family Night Frenzy in the game room and it was the hit of the room. Several people told me they were going home to buy it right away!

If you're into the art and playful visuals of the game, the artist, Rolf Vogt, is also responsible for a similarly enjoyable game, The Enchanted Tower (2012). I recommend checking it out.

A great addition and one my daughter loves playing!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Am I Back? We'll See

Now that things have found a more level ground again, I think I might be able to return to my blog. Life was too much, too overwhelming, and too unpredictable. A summer off has allowed me to reset some of my systems and help my batteries charge a bit more. Heading into the school year is always going to be hectic, but it's nothing I haven't handled before under more duress. Even though, with this new perception and frame of mind, it would always completely backfire on me.

Over the last year I have played next to zero games. I have, though, played an excessive amount of RPG. I've written about that before, where my husband, our friend, and I are taking turns running our preferred RPGs. It's been going really great! I, though, am apparently really caught up in writing stories for my Marvel character and it's very involved!

But now that the craziness of life has taken a little vacation, I thought it might be time to get back into my groove of sharing some games with my The Joy of Gaming entries. Might even invest myself in some other things if I can get my mind heading in that direction.

So as the school year gets underway for myself and my daughter, I am hoping to turn Thursday nights into game night with my husband. It might even help us get out to our local game group's game nights. Trying to building that routine, because routine is what keeps things consistent and going. Well, with some sporadic moments of unstructured insanity.

Essentially, lets see if I'm back for good! Stick around for more!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Joy of Gaming - The Grizzled

This is a game we discovered at GenCon 2015 and fell in love with. My husband had been playing with friends and they kept losing and losing and apparently it was really hard. Then I started playing with him and he started winning. I like to think I am some sort of good luck charm when playing this game, but I know I'm probably being a bit arrogant about that. I'm destined to lose a proper game eventually.

The Grizzled (2015)
Design team Fabien Riffaud (a newcomer) and Juan Rodriguez (Elixir) have definitely put some heart into this compelling and historically inspired cooperative card game. Working together with your teammates, you have to tackle the mission by eliminating cards from the Trials stack. At the end of each round, more cards are added, but you have the chance to deal out more cards to your teammates to help get through the Trials. You cannot talk or communicate unless you have a speech token, where you only give hints about threats. Threats are the images on the cards that are played (mortar shells, gas-masks, night time, winter, etc.). If you play three of any threat card, you fail the mission. Avoid this and you will be successful. You can give hints using your speech token or use your character's lucky charm. Players have to really be in the heads of their teammates to hopefully understand the actions they take.

Within the round, when you have played all the cards you can play, you withdraw and give support to other players who might need to get rid of Hard Knocks cards or earn back their lucky charm. This is a very involved game with many little things to keep track of and learn, but once you start playing, it becomes second nature and things happen automatically.

The art is by Bernard Verlhac, also known by his pen-name Tignous. Tignous was never able to see the fruits of his creative labors, because in 2015 he was killed in the terrorist shooting at the French publication Charlie Hebdo. The artwork is stunningly gorgeous and is reason enough to own this challenging game. The attention to detail is spectacular and edges itself into contemplative art.

The Grizzled is a great game for most ages. I took the game into my game club, because I have a lot of students who are war-buffs. Sadly, the cards are written in cursive and our district doesn't teach cursive, so at least one of my students could not read the cards. I wasn't playing the game, but I was there and I had to read the cards for him. I might be making a reference sheet for them so that they'll be more eager to play without getting frustrated over the text. I, though, love it, because it's authentic.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Joy of Gaming - Artifacts, Inc.

Like most nerds of the 80s, my husband and I love Indiana Jones. As most nerds of the 90s, my husband and I really enjoy Tomb Raider. As nerds of the. . . well. . . the nerds of today, Nathan Drake is also of great interest! All of this lends itself to my interest in Artifacts, Inc., by the designer of  Empires of the Void (2012), Ryan Laukat. 

Set in 1929, you're an archaeologist who has been caught up in the craze! You want artifacts and to go on exciting expeditions to locate these artifacts. Then you want to sell them to the museums to become rich and famous, as well as earning some super valid street cred.

Artifacts, Inc. is a worke/dice placement game that involves dice rolling (expeditions, buying, and selling) and area control (museum cards). It reminded me of a more involved Machi Koro (2012). You really have to play fast and close, because the first person to hit 20 reputation triggers the end game! Draft the cards that will help benefit your goals, but you are only limited to four additional cards to go with your original set of 4. You can only fill a 2x4 grid with your cards, but you can level up most cards with money that you earn selling all your sweet relics.

We played it as a two-player game and it was well developed and even if you feel a little lost at the beginning, things start to make themselves clear. For example, the letters on the cards have meaning! A worthwhile pick with some pretty interesting mechanics, especially if you're into this type of game.

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Joy of Gaming - Loch Ness

Sometimes I see a game and I have to have it purely for a sense of nostalgia. From 2007 until 2009, my husband and I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland. Whenever I see a game that has anything to do with Scotland, I can't help but want it. This game was at our local game shop in the children's area and I knew I needed to have it, because I could tell my daughter all about Nessie and my husband and I would have something to joke about. Thus was the purchasing of Loch Ness (2010).

Loch Ness (2010)
You are a tourist who is hoping to catch a glimpse of Nessie on the loch. On your turn either roll the die to move Nessie or move your tourist in the hopes of ending up in Nessie's path. When Nessie ends up in the line of sight for your tourist, you draw tiles from the bag and keep the highest number.

Loch Ness uses dice rolling, pawn moving, and points acquired based on random tiles that are drawn.

A fun family game that taught our daughter strategy movements. Turned out to be a great impulsive purchase.