This weekend my wife and I traveled all across the state of Indiana to visit our families for Thanksgiving. We caught up with family members, ate great food, and of course, played some games. Here’s a recap of the games I played and what I thought about them.
Drop Site. While we waited for another person to play a few larger games, my sister, aunt, and I played Drop Site from Bellwether games (review here). At first they didn’t seem to understand what they were supposed to do, nor did they see how the game could be fun. Still, I was persistent in making them play, and by the end of our time together, they were both asking where they could find a copy (here, by the way, in case you’re curious—and free shipping through Christmas!), not to mention creaming me.
For Sale. When the other players were ready, we transitioned to For Sale, a bidding game of flipping real estate. I got this game in a math trade at GenCon, and it has been the most popular GenCon game I scored. Everyone I introduce this game to loves it, and I think the reason is its short play time, simple rules, and the clear goal of the game, which keeps everyone involved and competitive. The artwork helps, too; the real estate properties are numbered 1 to 30, starting with a cardboard box and ending with the space station, and each picture supposedly has an animal in it. I was able to pull out the win during the learning game, but my aunt demonstrated her skill with house flipping in the second game.
Money. We moved on to play a single game of Money, a Reiner Knizia game ostensibly about currency exchange. (In truth, the theme has very little to do with this game, but the veneer of currency exchange gives the game flavor and is not out of place.) Usually I have trouble teaching this game because the scoring system is a bit wonky (vintage Knizia!), but for the most part my family caught on without incident. The scoring system, like most Knizia games I’ve played, is what makes the game terrifically fun. It also doesn’t hurt that this is a bidding game, and I love bidding games. In the end, everyone played reasonably well, but my wife and I tied for the win at 760 points.
Ticket to Ride (iPod Touch). We were in a waiting room, and the high school football game was not very interesting (by virtue of its being a high school game and one of the teams was getting creamed). My wife suggested that we play Ticket to Ride pass-and-play on her iPod. I was skeptical at first, but the game was a great way to pass the time. The interface is well designed, and it wasn’t as difficult to keep track of things as I thought it would be. I had less knowledge of what my opponents were doing (since I couldn’t see their turns), but the game was still quite enjoyable. Ticket to Ride is a fantastic board game (probably my favorite gateway game), and it has made the transition to iOS wonderfully. Well done, Days of Wonder!
Dominion. I’m never sure which games to bring to family events, and usually I’m wrong in some choices. I thought Dominion would sit in the bag unplayed while 7 Wonders would be the hit, but in actuality, Dominion saw lots of play while 7 Wonders gathered dust. (Part of this was a brief parley with some college friends.) I taught my father-in-law how to play, but I’m not sure how much he enjoyed it. In my experience, feelings are generally mixed on Dominion after the first game because most of that game is learning the card syntax and the strange idea of throwing all your cards away at the end of your turn. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to play a second game, so his feelings may always be lukewarm. Still, he did well, though not as well as my wife, who bested me for the top spot by three points. I also played three games with my college friends. The first game saw a three-way tie at 34 points, but since I had had the fewest number of turns, I was the technical winner. The second game I won outright, beating a player pursuing a Duke-Duchy strategy through the acquisition of Great Halls and Provinces. But this player was determined, and when the Duke showed up in the third game we played, he bought Dukes and Duchys wholeheartedly, and there wasn’t much the other player and I could do to stop him. His Dukes were worth eight points by game’s end, and, well, the rest of us might as well not have been playing. It was bad.
Hey, That’s My Fish! After meeting my college friends, I headed to my sister-in-law’s family’s house, where the adults were just about to begin a game of Acquire. Now, you know my feelings on Acquire, and I don’t get to play very often. The choice, it would seem, was obvious. But I wanted to spend time with my niece and nephew, so I decided to forgo my favorite game to play games with them. First on the docket? The game we bought my nephew for his birthday: Hey, That’s My Fish! I had never played this game before, but BGJosh’s review made it sound like something my nephew could play and enjoy. The added bonus is that it’s simple enough for my niece (five years old) to play, too! The game plays quickly and also has its share of interesting decisions. My nephew told me after we played, “I love board games!” (A success on par with @Futurewolfie’s, I think.) We also played several games of Uno and Don’t Break the Ice, but you already know about those, I’m sure.
Incan Gold. The game I was most looking forward to playing with my niece and nephew—in fact, a game I had bought almost a year ago specifically for that purpose—was Incan Gold. Incan Gold is another Gryphon Bookshelf game (like Money and For Sale), and my wife and I, to this point, had only played with other adults. The game started out fresh and fun after we bought it, but playing this simple game with only adults began to wear on us, especially when it was so often requested. But we were both excited to try the game with a mix of kids and adults, and Incan Gold did not disappoint. The kids were competitive with the adults, and there was very little downtime for them, even when they left the expedition. (One exception: my niece was beginning to have a meltdown in one long round when she had bailed early. Thankfully, that round didn’t last too much longer.) All told, the family loved this game, the adults didn’t always win, and this play (four games in all) breathed new life into the game for me, as playing with children is wont to do. I don’t think I’ll suggest it when only adults are present, but it’s certainly one to keep in mind for mixed gatherings.
All told, Thanksgiving was great, not just for the games mentioned above, but those didn’t hurt, either. Did you try something new this Thanksgiving?