|(c) Lookout Games. Used by permission|
Kathy's parents came into town for a short visit, and we made a point to play as many games as we reasonably could in the available time. We introduced my mother-in-law Ag to Love Letter (designer Seiji Kanai, artists Andrew Hepworth and Jeffrey Himmelman, publisher Alderac Entertainment Group), the micro-game that is all the rage these days. She caught on pretty quickly, but early on Kathy was some kind of clairvoyant savant, because her guards were just taking us down left and right, round after round. Her psychic powers must have waned, though, because I ended up pulling ahead to win.
|(c) Fantasy Flight Games|
Used by permission
Because our kids like the classic word game Probe, we thought we'd try another word game as a family Christmas gift, so we picked up Word on the Street (designer Jack Degnan; artists John Kovalic, Max Winter Osterhaus, and Cathleen Quinn-Kinney; publisher Out of the Box). We played "boys against girls," with my father-in-law Steve, oldest son Patrick, and myself squaring off against Kathy the English Ph.D. and Ag the voracious reader. Does it sound like I'm making excuses? Let's just say that the word on the street is that the girls crushed us.
We tried Taboo, an old party game that we used to love but hadn't pulled out in a while. After a few rounds, though, we switched to Electronic Catch Phrase (Hasbro), which is so much easier in implementation. It's funny, because I remember we were crazy about Taboo years ago. The concept was simple, the easel seemed convenient, and the buzzer was a great gag. But now that we have ECP, everything is contained in one gizmo that you just push buttons on and pass around like a crazy hot potato. It's so much more fun and less fiddly than Taboo, which is now in our pile of games to give away.
|(c) Rio Grande Games|
Used by permission
Yesterday our son Patrick joined Kathy and me for his first game of Forbidden Island (designer Matt Leacock, artist C.B. Canga, publisher GameWright). Patrick was the Messenger, Kathy played the Pilot, and I had the Diver. We thought this was a strong combination, as Patrick could give cards to anyone regardless of location, and Kathy could fly to anyone and give cards. We weren't even worried when the last earthstone space became separated from the rest of the island, since I could fly there by helicopter, steal the earthstone, and swim back. But I got complacent about shoring up Fool's Landing, and when we got two "Waters Rise" cards on consecutive turns, the helicopter pad sank below the ocean, and with it our chance of winning. Rats! From hell's heart, I stab at thee, Matt Leacock!
So all in all, we got a fair amount of family gaming done in our holiday time. We expect to do a little more gaming with friends around New Years, so it's really nice to celebrate this time in the companionship of a shared game. A couple of years ago I posted about games played around this time of year and the social nature of gaming, and that theme certainly played strongly this year as well.
*I've since learned that Rio Grande no longer has U.S. distribution of games for Hans im Glück, the original German publisher of Maori. As it stands, Maori is essentially unavailable in the U.S., at least until Z-Man Games, the new North American affiliate, decides to bring it back.