Ridere, ludere, hoc est vivere.

Showing posts with label Boardgames in the backyard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boardgames in the backyard. Show all posts

Friday, October 16, 2015

Boardgames in the Backyard 2015

Today is probably the last pleasant day in northern Virginia for a while - perhaps our final opportunity for a boardgame in the backyard this year.  Here's a reflection on games we played out back this season.

19 June - Mr. Jack, a terrific deductive duel

Friday, October 3, 2014

Spring and summer photos

As October begins and fall sets in, I thought I would look back at some of games I got to play over the last six months.

My friend Grant G. gave us Goa for Christmas, and Kathy and I really like this neo-classic Euro.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Summer game photos

Now that summer is over, I thought I'd compile some photos of games we've played over the last three months.

The yellow plague outbreak gets away from us.
We love Pandemic, but we have such a hard time winning.  Late last June, the yellow plague took root in remote Santiago, and we neglected to deal with it until the outbreak counter reached the critical point.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Spring game photos

I've been gaming, and photographing, but not posting so much over the last month, so I thought I'd do a little catch-up with a sampling of the things my wife and I have been playing.

Pinot grigio, Anchor Steam, and Traders of Carthage
Traders of Carthage
I've mentioned this obscure favorite a few times and actually posted about this game, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to include my photographic effort to incorporate the juxtaposition of the drinks, the game, and my lovely opponent across the table.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Backyard 24/7

Just a picture this time:  As the weather improves, the backyard boardgaming becomes more frequent.  Friday after work it was 24/7: The Game (designer Carey Grayson, publisher Sunriver Games).
 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"For the Win" on the deck

For the Win final position
This evening I got home from work late, so we only had time for a quick game out on the back deck before Kathy made dinner.  So we played For The Win (designer Michael Eskue, artist Eric J. Carter, publisher Tasty Minstrel), a nice little open-information zero-luck abstract that I picked up in the first Kickstarter I ever backed.  We hadn't played since last July, when I wrote about my initial impression of the game in some detail, so it was fun to come back to this one with fresh eyes.  We just had time for one game, but it was a nice satisfying diversion while the chicken marinaded until it was time to put it on the grill.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Signs of spring: The first backyard boardgame of 2013

Spring has made its long-awaited appearance here in northern Virginia.  The birds are singing, the Washington Nationals are winning (or at least they were before they went to Cincinnati), and the boardgames have finally started to come outside.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Changing history and other fun things with card games

I had a string of boardgame losses last week.  My last post recounted my thumping at the hands of Frank H. in Midway.  The next evening, my wife Kathy beat me in 7 Wonders with the Pyramids of Giza over my Statue of Zeus in Olympia.  And then the following afternoon, she beat me in one of our very favorite games, Citadels in which we used the alternate Tax Collector and Abbott.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Washout

This afternoon's backyard boardgame session was cut short by Mother Nature.  We finished a quick game of Pirateer, but we hadn't got very far into a round of Ingenious Challenges: "Dice Challenge" before rain unexpectedly intervened and chased us inside.  That's the first time we've ever had a game interrupted by weather.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Backyard Traders of Carthage

My wife and I love this time of year.  The crisp air and the fall foliage call us to our backyard refuge, where we start a little fire in the firebowl, set out the cheese and crackers and cocktails, and play our afternoon game.  Today it was our new favorite, a bring-and-buy acquisition at Congress of Gamers - Traders of Carthage (designer Susumu Kawasaki, artists Peter Gifford and You Satouchi, publisher Z-man).

Friday, June 15, 2012

Boardgames in the backyard: Perry Rhodan returns

The first time we tried Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League in the backyard was the first time either of us had played.  It's not a complicated game, but it does take us a little while to come up to speed, so we never finished our first game.  But today we sat down out on the rocking bench in the backyard with our chips and salsa and cocktails, and launched right into outer space for our second round of PR:TCL.

Spring weather brings out the shorts and the backyard boardgames.
Before long, we were picking up and delivering all over the Rhodan solar system.  We came to understand the importance of acquiring technologies early.  We had essentially the same technologies in play by the mid-game, except that Kathy picked up an extra Replenishment card that I never matched.  That extra card draw might have made the difference in the game in the long run.  The lead changed hands several times before Kathy came up with several strong turns and pulled away for a big win.  

As I mentioned before, the game fits snugly on the little glass top table we have out back.  No board in the conventional sense, the play area consists of a sun for a point/money track, six planets in a line, and their associated goods cards alongside them.  There are not a lot of small parts that can get lost off the table into the paver gravel.  Card play is manageable in the available space.  The game play is pretty engaging despite a fairly small set of moving parts.  In our search for games that work outside, this one is a winner.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Boardgames in the Backyard II: Discovering Perry Rhodan

(c) Z-man Games
Used by permission
As a joint birthday gift, my good friend Grant G. gave Kathy and me a copy of Perry Rhodan: The Cosmic League (designer Heinrich Glumpler, artist Swen Papenbrock [webpage in German], publisher Z-man Games).  Grant knows that I play more games with Kathy in a two-player format than I do any other format with anyone else, which makes PR:TCL a particularly thoughtful gift.  As it happens, I'd read a few reviews and already tagged it as a "must have" on my wish list, so I was particularly happy to receive it.

We finally got it to the table during one of our few cocktail hours this week, in the backyard on a beautiful spring afternoon.  (She had a French 75; I had a Margarita.)  We discovered that Perry R. sets up very comfortably on our little outdoor table - a sun with a spiral scoring track, a row of six planets, and five goods cards alongside each planet.  The game is compact, visually very appealing, and relatively quick to set up.  We both picked up the rules fairly quickly.  Money and victory points are equivalent; the first player to reach 70 currency units wins the game.  (The names of the planets, the races, and even the unit of currency are ridiculous and nearly unpronounceable, so I won't bother to look them up and repeat them here.)

Agent Infiltration intervention card
Image uploaded to
boardgamegeek.com
by David Gerrard
Each turn consists of a move action, two planetary actions (load a container with goods, unload a container to sell the goods, or buy a permanent technology), and two interventions (single-play action cards).  Those five steps can be taken in any order, so it is not uncommon to load a container (first planetary action), move to another planet (move action), unload a container (second planetary action), and perhaps play one or two intervention cards, such as delivering a passenger to his/her/its home planet.  Unloading containers and delivering passengers gain money, i.e. victory points.

Some interventions are innocuous, but others have a "take that" flavor, such as switching locations with your opponent or switching contents of containers.  Kathy seemed to get the knack of the game first, but I found my groove and caught up to her after a few turns.  The lead traded hands a few times before we had to stop the game prematurely for dinner.  (We had a late start from having to learn the rules - not uncommon when we pick up a game for the first time).

So we came away with a very favorable impression of PR:TCL as a light, compact, fun game with quite a bit of nuance and tactics to keep it interesting.  I think card luck might turn out to be a significant factor as we play it more, but tactical decision-making still seems to count heavily on the game progress.  We look forward to trying it again.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Boardgames in the backyard: Robber Knights

(c) Queen Games
Used by permission
Now that the weather is nice, the annual challenge for Kathy and me is to find two-player games for our cocktail hour that work on the tiny glass outdoor coffee table that we have in the backyard.  We have a number of favorites that I'll discuss in the coming weeks, but today's game, Robber Knights (designer RĂ¼diger Dorn [website in German], artist Michael Menzel [website in German], publisher Queen Games) is a recent discovery that is quick, compact, and a tight game-playing challenge.

I came by Robber Knights as an afterthought during the FunAgain Games 2012 spring cleaning sale (which at this writing is still going on).  RK was one of those checkout-window, "hey, by the way, before you go, we're selling RK at 67% off - why don't you throw that one in your shopping cart, too?" kind of links (which at this writing is apparently still available at that price).  For ten bucks, based on a cursory review of the boardgamegeek.com entry, I decided to take a chance on it.

We've played twice now, and I have to say that RK is a clever little game-playing challenge.  Players lay up to three tiles in a turn.  Tiles depict various terrain, some of which (cities, villages, castles) are worth points if controlled by a player's knight at the end of the game.  At the time a castle tile is laid, a player may deploy knights from that castle along a row or column of previously laid tiles to claim them.  Previously claimed tiles can be subsequently claimed by an opponent's knight, but only if certain movement and stacking constraints are satisfied.  Once deployed, knights do not move for the rest of the game; they simply hold claim to the tile until it is taken by another player.  So the strategy comes in laying tiles in a way that allows one's own knights to lay claim to points while leaving tiles minimally vulnerable to knights of other players in subsequent turns.

I think of this game as a cross between Carcassone (tactical tile-laying) and Othello (row/column driven shifting control of spaces on the board).  The "robber knight" theme is minimally engaging; the game is abstract to all intents and purposes, and as it happens, that suits me just fine in this case.

Kathy and I have played twice.  In the first game a week or so ago, our scores were tied by pure luck of fumbling around trying to figure out the tactics and techniques of taking and protecting points and preserving resources.  The rate at which you use up tiles and knights is discretionary - one to three tiles laid per turn, and zero to five knights deployed every time you lay a castle tile.  Once you've deployed your last knight, you can gain no more points.  Once you've laid your last tile, you're done with the game while the other player(s) continue until all tiles have been laid.  We haven't quite established whether there is an advantage in harboring tiles for the end of the game, but it certainly seems important to keep track of how many castles you've laid relative to how many knights you've deployed.

In today's game, we played much more quickly than in our first round, albeit more thoughtfully and more conservatively.  We were not eager to spend knights or lay three tiles in a turn unless sure that the point return was worth it or the points acquired would be safe from re-claiming.  I won this afternoon's game by five points, owing in part to one turn of perfect tile luck in which I drew a city, a village, and a castle and was able to deploy five knights to score eight points (including a village that was already on the board) in a protected location that Kathy could not come back and claim later.

I should point out that although tile luck is a bit of a factor, it is tightly mitigated by a semi-ordered tile stack. I'm reminded of the cards in The Speicherstadt, which are divided into four "seasons" that are each shuffled independently and then stacked to form a semi-ordered draw pile.  Here in RK, a player's tiles come in five ordered groups of five shuffled tiles each (plus four specific tiles on the first turn), so there is a semi-predictable distribution of castles, villages, and cities that become available over the course of the game.

Given the relatively quick play of this game, the compact table-space it occupies, and the tight tactical challenges that it offers, I expect we'll play RK a fair amount this summer.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Farming family style

Now that the weather is nicer, Kathy and I like to game out in the backyard.  Of course, deck furniture doesn't make for a lot of table space, so our options are limited.  One discovery we made last year is that we can play two-player Agricola family-style (meaning, without occupations or minor improvements) and just squeeze it onto the available surfaces.  And still have room for cocktails.

Family game board section
It's actually been a little while since we've played Agricola, and a long while since we've played it family-style.  I must say that this is a really elegant game when stripped down to its essentials.  There is very little left to chance, and you really have to know what you're doing against an experienced player.  (In the case of Kathy and me, we are nearly equally matched.)

In today's game, Kathy went long on major improvements.  She got a fireplace very early and fed her family a lot of sheep throughout the game.  She picked up the well about Round 8 or so, and very late picked up the stone oven just for the points.  She also renovated to a three-room stone house in the last round.  For my part, I got the grain farming going and picked up the clay oven early, so my family was eating a lot of baked bread for most of the game.  I got a jump on building rooms to the house and grew the family, and hoarded wood to build a lot of fences for animal breeding.  I never picked up a fireplace or cooking hearth, however, so I could never cook animals or vegetables.  I did pick up the basketmaker's workshop when I renovated to a four-room clay hut.

In the end I won by a single point, by virtue of having two leftover reed to gain a bonus point from the basketmaker's workshop.  It was anybody's game all the way through, and we were both happy with the way we played.  This is still one of my very favorite games of all.