Is 2016 going to be great or what?

This is going to be my dream year!

And why is that? It is so very very simple… but before I get to that I will start with a story.

In 845 a city was founded in Germany. I imagine many cities has been founded in Germany, but this is a very special city. It is the city of Essen.

Essen-PanoramaToday it holds more than 580.000 people making it the ninth largest city in Germany. It was not really that big a city until the Krupp-family decided to build an iron works there. Then it really took off.

To be honest, and I do not want to offend anyone, I do not really care that much about that part of the story of Essen. What I do care about is that it holds the greatest board game convention in Europe. Last year (2015) more than 160.000 people attended.

It is the place to be when you are a board game geek like me. I have never been there before, but this year I will be.

… and I repeat… this year I will be.

My friend (may I cal you that?) Thomas and I are going. Four days of board games in October 2016.

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The luckiest man alive (me), and Eva – my wife to be.

It is not the biggest event, although it is so very very close; and yet so far. The biggest event is that I am getting married (read here). Eva said yes, and that will be so amazing. Have only known her for eight years, so I think it was about time?

If I could I would invite every single board gamer to my wedding, but since you would never fit into my garden I will have to contend with “if I could…”

So Eva is going to be my wife, and Essen Spiel will enjoy my company! What could be greater than that?

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Caught between two cities going to the theatre

When you have been working since 1992 it is hard to go back to school, but this Wednesday was school day. Building on my expertise with a business education, but my head hurt like hell, so I was not really that into going when I got home…

… and where was I to go? Of course, as always, to play board games with the group.

We were four people, we did not really know what to play, but I brought along Shakespeare. A game designed by RV Rigal. It is one of the best buys I have made for a long time along with The Gallerist. The Gallerist is designed by Vital Lacerda.

Our host T had bought a new game as well that he would like to try out, and I was like ‘meh’. It is a term I use much and it covers negative indifference; not really expecting much. It was the game Between Two Cities.

During Shakespeare I forgot to keep an eye out for which craftsmen my fellow players had available, so I chose to recruit wrong; lost an entire turn and for some reason that p!$$€d me off. So I had to use a few rounds to get back, and of course lost the game (by one point). Normally I do not get angry, but yesterday was just not a good day. I do however grumble a lot when playing 🙂

Still enjoyed the game though, because I decided to be positive instead of sullen. It was a decision, and it was mine to make 🙂

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Main board of Shakespeare. Last round. I am the red scoring tile; yes I am last, yes I finished last one point behind second and third.

Now comes the ‘meh’ part. I said yes to play Between Two Cities because Shakespeare was over quickly. T pulls out the game, and it is a tile laying game with (simple) drafting; two of my favorite mechanisms.

The game is very simple. You draft some city tiles that allows you to build a 4×4 city. The catch is that you do it with your two neighboring players, and the each tile does some kind of point scoring. So you build two cities. The trick is only the lowest scoring city counts in the end game scoring…

… and because I had chosen to be positive I got to be positively surprised by this game. It really works, and it works well. It is a fast game, it is easy to learn, and it is highly replayable.

I will have to get my own copy because it will suit just perfect for when I play with Save the Children, and the Danish Heart Foundation (an NGO helping adults and children who suffers from a heart condition).

Oh! By the way. Between Two Cities is designed by Matthew O’Malley, Morten Monrad Pedersen and Ben Rosset.

Whether or not you are hardcore board gamers or just want to try out a fun game – Pick it up 🙂

My headache did not disappear, and I went home after that game, took a pill and went to sleep. I slept in, and was late for a meeting; god damn I hate headaches.

 

 

 

 

The outsiders! Are they really that weird?

Sunday afternoon was a day that I had been looking forward to. I was going to be playing board games (surprise), but not board games with the usual crowd.

Instead I had used my contact within Red Barnet – Save the Children to setup a day with one of their local activation groups. An activation group is a group where children who might not have as many friends, is feeling lonely or similar get the opportunity to meet others and have fun…

They are outsiders – not by choice but by circumstances, and they are perfectly normal children who have just had a lousy hand of life dealt.

We played for three hours and it was fun. No; it was more than fun. It was rewarding to see the joy, hear the laughs and people trying to give their best Arrrrhhh to be first player in the pirate shoving game (Walk the Plank). It was giving to see the work the volunteers put into making a difference for some worse off.

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Il Sesto Senso (Mysterium). The Italian version of the Ukrainian game.

… and it took a measly three hours. Three hours of my life spent on kids who gave so much more back.

And now it is time for the proud parent statement. When I arranged this day two of my kids volunteered instantly. They wanted to help, and they wanted to make a difference. We read about people who do not accept each other due to religion, skin colour, weight etc., and here two of my kids just volunteered instantly. (And it was my son who got everyone Ahhhring – god damn it was fun, he really made them get into it).

It is not the first time I have done this, and it will not be the last. Yesterday I had a meeting with the Danish Heart Organization (Hjerteforeningen), where we arranged a day playing board games for children with heart diseases and their siblings.

I met with two women who have dedicated their lives to improving the conditions for children who have a (sometimes) very deadly and infringing disease. I am so looking forward to this as well.

This is also a reason for me playing board games. It was not what got me started, but it is a major reason of what keeps me going.

Just three hours – it was all it took. Should we not all be able to find three hours in our lives making a difference for those that have a hard time?

Never ever charge a laser machine gun and hope it will work out

Don’t worry, it will probably turn out alright…

Famous last words…

Session two of our Star Wars tour in the wonderful game Imperial Assault, where the death star exploded and the rebels are trying to get the Empire kicked off the planet(s) of the galaxy. And I had a flashback back to when I first saw Star Wars. “The Empire Strikes Back” – and they did so in force today…

… we got our behinds handed to us by an Empire that just never missed a dice roll, where we did – a lot. One example is that if my character (The commander) rolls a surge symbol he can stun one enemy. There is a 66% chance of me rolling that symbol, and it did not happen over the entire gaming session that lasted 6 hours and two missions.

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Reckless wookie in Imperial Assault

Our wookie decided that it would probably be a good idea to charge an imperial gun nest single handed. It was not a very good idea, and he got massacred. Three turns later the rebels were crawling for cover, mending their wounded and preparing for the next mission. The empirial liner got away.

As I have written before: Imperial Assault is a very cool game. It really captures the feel of the universe. The game is very similar to other Dungeon Crawlers (games where you dive into a dungeon/on a quest and have to pull through).

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Being decoys for the Rebel cause in Imperial Assault

Where a game like Super Fantasy Ugly Snouts Assault has a lot of humor, and Temple of Elemental Evil is a regular fantasy (knights, rogues, orcs, dragons etc.) kind of game this game is pure sci-fi with Vibro weapons, Jedi knights, The Force and all the other elements that makes us love this story.

Today the Empire won, but as we all know the rebels and the forces of good prevail; we will be back even stronger next time; and I am so looking forward to it.

May the force be with you.

My farm in Espories, Mallorca is prospering

All those bloody choices!

Either we had to control the factions in the French Revolution (Liberté), or we would have to build up a farm in Espories, Mallorca, Spain (La Granja). It is cold and winter in the North at the moment so our host had already made the choice…

… we were traveling to the sunny Mallorca to build a farm.

And I am glad he did, because this board game is very cool.

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Liberté

I am still looking forward to trying Liberté, and we will get around to that as well. What could be more fun than to pull the strings of the French Revolution?

La Granja is a game with a lot of different mechanisms, but they work very well together. You start by playing a card that can be either a villager that assists you, a field with crops, a contract you have to fulfill or a card that ensures better transportation (which of course is done by donkeys), a further development of your pig pen or other bonuses.

Then you get income and by improvements to your farm house… But the real beauty of the game is phase two – the dice rolling. There is a total of four phases, that would take too much text to describe but this video by Rahdo explains it wonderfully.

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Main board of La Granja

9 dice determines the actions you can do, and you then choose one action based on the rolled dice. You do this twice, and then the final dice is done by all. I really liked this part of the game, so my villagers were people who assisted with just that. Blocking or benefitting even more from the rolls.

As you can see from the picture above the blog post the art is very good. The small blue (my colour) cube(s) represent every single good or commodity. They also help you keep track of your contracts scored, and my initial thought was ‘meh; why not different cubes for each resource’, but my doubt was shamed.

The game was easy to learn, and within the first round we all had it. we all had different strategies, and they were all viable. That is a great aspect of a game.

We agreed that next Wednesday will bring another game of La Granja. It really is amazing. My only regret is that the game is not mine.

As always a great gaming night with the regulars. So looking forward to next Wednesday.

If you tried the game I would love to hear your thoughts.

A weekend just ended as a “sharing dad”

All people who are no longer with former partners where they have mutual kids know this feeling. It is so god damn hard when the kids are not here. I hate it because I love my kids, and I like spending my time with them.

Yesterday evening (my two sons) and this morning (my bonus daughter) we had to hand over the kids to their respective mother and father…

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Proud parents

…but that is part of life in our house, and we know it happens, and as everyone else we are quite convinced that we have both the brightest and most intelligent kids in the entire world. The difference is that Eva and I know it to be the truth 🙂 So to all you other parents -> you are wrong.

One of the many reasons for that is that they actually, even though they are teens, love to spend time with us. They are not holed up in their small dens/rooms, and believe it or not, they like to play board games!

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World of Tanks (the board game)

This weekend was no different, and I am not setting a love = willingness to play board games, I am merely being proud of the fact that they are able to put down their iPhones (three of four see this tool as the only true smartphone). They spend time, as all other kids, with the phone glued to the hand, or in front of the computer playing World of Tanks or League of Legends.

This weekend we have brewed the best cup of coffee (yep it is a board game), we have been building the best theater in the age of Shakespeare, and we have pitted Marvel and DC superheroes against each other to see who would pull out victoriously from the mayhem of battle. We have even sent Batman in search of the Joker and his entire squad of lunatics in Gotham, and build up a timeline of events in American history with the boys’ grandmother.

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Timeline

It sounds like we do nothing but playing board games. We do, but this blog is primarily my life with board games, and I feel that it shows if you invest time in putting down your electronic devices, and focus on life around you, you end up having kids that actually want to both speak with you, laugh and have fun. You get to see what fine and wonderful people they are turning into.

People normally comment by using my Facebook page, and please continue to do that because I would love to hear your thoughts. I know this is the second time I ramble against spending time buried in electronic devices – and I do it on a digital blog – go figures.

But do you disagree?

All the best of 2015, and that was really good

The previous post was all about the worst of 2015. It was actually quite hard to find games that I could describe as “worst”; board gaming is just that much fun 🙂

The top five is just as hard, but that is because it is way too easy to find really really good games. In my opinion it has been a great year. Three of the five top 5’s are games from 2015.

Let us look at the list where 1 is the best and 5 is still an amazing game, it just did not make it to the other spots. Did that make any sense?

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    The Gallerist

    The Gallerist. The game by Vital Lacerda. It is really a cool game, and it is designed by Vital Lacerda, who had designed Kanban from the worst list. Running a gallery is a brilliant theme, and the game is just amazing.

  2. The Castles of Burgundy. Build your province in Burgundy using buildings, farmlands, castles, science, trade routes by sea/river and much more. Just a great game with dice rolling.
  3. Dead of Winter. A zombie game where survivors have to make the camp endure during the cold winter. But, and trust me there is a but that really brings a paranoid issue to the board, someone might be a betrayer that works only to make sure the camp succumbs to peril and zombies. The betrayer does not want to be found, so who to trust?
  4. The Grizzled. Another corporative game like #3. Here there is no betrayer, there is only the horrors of World War I, and surviving the war by the support of your friends. An amazing card game, and we have not made it through the war once. It is a really hard game. The sad side story is that the art work was drawn by Tignous, one of the victims in the Charlie Hebdo shooting in France.
  5. Sheriff of Nottingham. Bluff, lie and cheat your wares to the market in Nottingham, but beware the sheriff might let you pass if the bribe is big enough or if the lie is good enough. If not he will open the bag of goods, and if you smuggle you have to pay up. Great bluffing game. I tried it first in 2014 and was like ‘meh’. But I bought a used copy from a board game friend to play with the kids. Fun as hell.

 

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The Castles of Burgundy

I had other games that were on the shortlist but did not make it; Kingsburg (build up your small province while being raided by monsters), Expedition Northwest Passage (discover the northwest passage, and survive in this tile laying game) and the only reason this is not in my top five is that I got to play it only once in 2015, Battlestar Galactica (who are the cylons and will we make it back to earth), Shakespeare (rehearse your play and get ready to show it to the queen), it belongs on the top five and would/should be there and is a game that I will get to play a lot more in 2016.

There are tons more to put here, but I had to *sniffle* choose. I truly hope that your 2015 was as successful as mine in terms of games?