Sunday, April 30, 2006

Favorite Family Games - April 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

We have a fairly nice selection of games for 5, 6, or 7 players, and we try to play most of them at least a couple of times a year. Some games are played almost every weekend, and we still have two games unplayed (Cartagena and Australia). I have been thinking about which games seem to be most popular with the family, and decided to just do a survey. I typed up a list of 30+ games we play the most often and asked each person to put a check mark by their five most-favorite games. I also invited them to place an “X” by any that they would just as soon not play again.

The favorite votes tally was interesting. One game received 5 votes (out of seven people voting); two games received 4 votes; three games received 3 votes; four games received 2 votes; and five games received 1 vote. Nineteen games received no votes, but everyone really wanted to be able to vote for more than five. Natalia marked four games that she doesn’t care to play again (not surprising, since she isn’t a big-time game player in the group), and Dan voted to not play one game. No one else marked any games to never play in the future. Dan voted to not play Tongiaki again, and I know it’s not really popular with Katrina or Sue.

Here are the results:

Votes ----- Game

5 Bohnanza
4 Alhambra
4 Ticket to Ride
3 Around the World in 80 Days
3 Carcassonne
3 Royal Turf
2 Coloretto
2 For Sale
2 Hunters and Gatherers
2 Settlers of Catan
1 Boomtown
1 Circus Flohcati (Flea Circus)
1 Oasis
1 Princes of Florence
1 Through the Desert

The games we enjoy playing, but are not our top favorites are: Africa, Can’t Stop, David & Goliath, Frank’s Zoo, Go Wild!, Hare and Tortoise, Hattrick, Hearts, The Last Card, Mississippi Queen, Mü, Pick Picknic, Santa Fe Rails, Station Master, Tightrope, Trumpet, and Vampire. Tongiaki was on the list, as was Carcassonne – The Princess & the Dragon. There is some question whether we’ll ever play Tongiaki again, and I’m not too certain about The Princess & the Dragon.

These types of card and boardgames are popular with us: negotiation (Bohnanza, Settlers of Catan); tile-laying (Alhambra, Carcassonne, Hunters and Gatherers, Oasis, Princes of Florence); track-laying (Ticket to Ride, Through the Desert), races (Around the World in 80 Days, Royal Turf); card sets or rummy-types (Bohnanza, Coloretto, Boomtown, Circus Flohcati); bidding (For Sale, Boomtown). We also enjoy trick-taking card games, such as Hearts, Oh Hell, and Trumpet. In general, we like a good variety of games, but especially Euro-games.

One type of game missing from the above list is dice-based. We have played and enjoyed Yahtzee, Five Thousand, and Fill or Bust for many years. After seeing Scott Nicholson’s video review about Um Krone und Kragen, I am seriously considering adding that game to the collection. I believe the family would enjoy it more than the other dice games we’ve played, and I think it might even get a vote or two in a future family survey.

Hacienda was not on the ballot, because we had played it only once before the survey. Having now played it twice, I’m betting it might have received some votes.

When not all the family is present for game day, we sometimes play a party game (which doesn’t count in our records), such as Inklings, Scattergories, or Anybody’s Guess. Hugger Mugger is a game I enjoy playing anytime, but it is not strongly liked by most of the family. There are other games (card, dice, domino, party, and boardgames) that we will occasionally play, but the ones listed above are definitely our favorites at this time.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado; April 2006
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Games Played April 29, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

This was an interesting family Saturday game day. Katrina had LASIK eye surgery Friday, and since we couldn’t be certain how she would be feeling/seeing, we volunteered to take a buffet lunch to their house, and I tried to select some games that would not be too stressful to the eyes. As it turned out, her surgery was excellent, and she had driven herself Saturday morning for a follow-up visit with the ophthalmologist, so she was fine for games. She even drove Natalia to a friend’s birthday party in the afternoon and picked her up later.

Before Natalia left for the party, she asked to play Zirkus Flohcati (Flea Circus). With seven players, this game takes a different strategy than with fewer players. It is very difficult to get a card of each color, for example, before all the cards have been drawn. It plays very quickly, even with seven players, so we played two games of it. Results of the first game: Dan and Sue (tied) first; Natalia and me (tied) third; Mason fifth; Katrina sixth; Joel last. Results of the second game: Katrina first; Joel second; Mason third; Sue fourth; Natalia and Dan (tied) fifth; me last.

When Katrina returned from taking Natalia to the party, we played our second game ever of Hacienda. The first time we played, we used the symmetrical side of the board, and we decided to try the asymmetrical side this time. It does alter the game. We have not played this enough to get comfortable with the strategies, yet, so we all allowed Sue to monopolize one corner of the board, including connecting all her land tiles into one very long string. She won the game hands-down, with the rest of our scores fairly close together, but way behind hers. Results: Sue first; Mason second; Katrina third; me fourth; Dan last. I believe we will be playing this game more often, now.

As usual, Mason wanted to play Settlers of Catan, so we finished the day with it. Mason loves this game and has the most wins (ahead of Dan by two at this time). Even though I managed to improve two settlements to cities on two different 8-value sheep hexes, and 8’s came up reasonably often, I still couldn’t manage to grow quickly enough. Amazingly, I bought seven Development Cards, in this order: Soldier, Year of Plenty, Year of Plenty, Monopoly, Year of Plenty, Soldier, Soldier. You would think I would have won the game with those cards, but I wasn’t even close. I didn’t have time to play the third soldier card, and no one claimed the largest army victory points before the game ended. Mason stole the longest road card from Katrina just before she would have won the game. A couple of weeks ago, Sue used a monopoly card to prevent Mason from winning, which allowed Katrina to win. This week, Sue used a monopoly card to prevent Katrina from winning, which allowed Mason to win. Sue figures it balanced out. Results: Mason first; Katrina second (9 points); Joel and me (tied) third; Dan and Sue (tied) last.

While Katrina was absent twice, for short times, the rest of us played several hands of Frank’s Zoo, but decided not to keep score. Also, before Natalia left for the party, we played several hands of Nertz, also without keeping score. Although we really enjoy keeping records of most of our games, sometimes we just enjoy the fun of playing without keeping score. It was a great family day!

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado; April 2006
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Games Played April 22, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

Mason and Natalia weren’t with us for this day of gaming, so the wins didn’t count on our records. The rest of us did, however, have fun.

Our first game was Ticket to Ride, which is very popular with our family these days. Results: Katrina first; Joel second; Dan third; Sue fourth; me last.

We had not played Canyon for quite some time, so I included it in the “game bag.” It uses essentially the same card play as Oh Hell (called The Bidding Game in our family), so we are familiar with that part of it. We modified the scoring mechanism to fit our style of play, however. We believe players should get the same credit for correctly assessing a hand of low cards as for a hand of high cards. So, we do not give more credit for bidding and winning more tricks. The important thing to us is bidding and catching the correct number of tricks. If a person is dealt low cards, he/she should have the same opportunity to move down the river as someone who got high cards. So, our scoring mechanism is this: Correct Bid moves 4 spaces; Bid Missed by One moves 2 spaces; Bids Missed by More than One move 1 space. In the rapids, our scoring is: Correct Bid moves 2 spaces. We find this makes the game much more balanced than the rules included with it. Results: Joel first by a wide margin; Dan second; Sue and me tied for third; Katrina last.

We almost always include a game of Bohnanza, and this was no exception. Results: Joel and Sue tied for first; Dan third; me fourth; Katrina last.

We had a limited time left in the afternoon, so we played two games of For Sale. Results of the first game: Katrina and Sue tied for first; me third; Dan fourth; Joel last. Results of second game: Dan first; Katrina second; Sue third; Joel and me tied for fourth.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado; April 2006
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Friday, April 21, 2006

Gaming with Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins

One key to happiness – GAMES

By far, most of my gaming experience has been with family members, throughout my life. Certainly, I have played games with friends, co-workers, and strangers, but the majority of the time I have spent gaming has been with family.

The first game I can recall playing was Crazy Eights, which my parents taught me to play with a regular deck of cards when I was about 4 or 5 years old. That is also the only game I can recall playing with my parents, until after I was married, and I only remember playing it occasionally with them for a couple of years. My dad enjoyed playing Canasta in those days and joined a neighborhood group that played on a regular (weekly? monthly?) basis. I do not believe my mother cared much for playing games.

When I was about 7 years old, I was visiting, with my mother, with an aunt and uncle. They had two children who were several years older than me, but they were not at home at that time. Another aunt and her son, my cousin, who was two years younger than me, were also visiting there. My younger cousin and I noticed some games our aunt and uncle had, and we asked whether we could play with one of them. They got out Uncle Wiggly for us, and I embarked upon my first adventure with a boardgame. My cousin could not yet read the cards, but I was more than happy to do so for both of us. Because it was the first commercial boardgame I had ever seen, I was fascinated with it. What fun we had, teaching ourselves that game. I know that several times after that, when we both were visiting that aunt and uncle, we were allowed to play that game.

Not long after discovering Uncle Wiggly, my cousin and I were present when four of our older cousins were engaged in playing what appeared to be a much more interesting boardgame. It was Monopoly. We asked to join them, but were told we were too young to play with them. Of course, that just whetted my appetite to play it. Unfortunately, I had to wait until a neighborhood friend of mine showed me his family’s Monopoly game several years later, and he taught me how to play it.

I had three sets of aunts and uncles (my mother’s sisters) who loved to play games. I do not know why my mother seemed to be the only sister who did not enjoy games. The others always played games when we were at family gatherings. I had six cousins in those three families, two younger than me, and four older. There were a few games almost all of us enjoyed playing – croquet, horseshoes, and cards. There were two card games that were the mainstays of these gatherings – Pitch and Rook. I seldom played Rook, but Pitch became my life-long favorite card game. One of my uncles would play Pitch at the drop of a hat, and he was hard to beat. I learned a lot about that game from playing against him. He and another uncle would always split up and be partners with me and one of my cousins; sometimes, we played three-member teams, so six of us could play at the same time. They taught me many variations of Pitch, and I learned to like virtually all of them. I suspect that one reason I enjoyed learning Pitch was because my uncles were great to play with. They always played to win. They were tough competitors, but they always played fairly and had fun doing it. After a hand, they might explain what we had done wrong or could have done better, but they never blamed us for making a mistake – it was always a learning experience. It was always a positive experience, even in losing.

After my family moved away from the old hometown, I only played games with aunts, uncles, and cousins at family reunions or special holiday gatherings. I always looked forward to those opportunities. Since I had no siblings, and my parents were not interested in games, most of my gaming through high school was with friends, and even that was very limited.

Several years after Sue and I married, and my parents had retired and moved back to their hometown, they got more involved in playing games. I was quite surprised. Interestingly, my parents and the two uncles (and aunts) with whom I had played so much Pitch moved onto the same street, within a few houses of each other. They were all retired at that time, and they got together very frequently. Many of those visits involved playing one of two games – Yahtzee or Wa-Hoo (marbles, they called it – a form of Pachisi or Parcheesi). Here’s a photo of our Wa-Hoo board from those days. One of my uncles was so into game-playing that he made his own Wa-Hoo board, which they all played on. Whenever we visited my parents, we almost always played one or both of those games. That was the first time I realized that my dad actually enjoyed games very much. I don’t know whether he didn’t show so much interest earlier because he knew my mother did not enjoy it, or whether he felt he finally had the free time to play, after he retired. I believe he and I could have enjoyed many hours of games together, as I was growing up, but it just didn’t happen. Perhaps that realization contributed to my interest in playing games with our children frequently.

The uncle who was such a game-player even purchased an early electronic baseball game that connected to his TV, some time before we bought our Atari 2600 at home, for us and our kids. He was a major influence on my love of games. He managed a grain elevator, after many years of farming, and I’ve seen him work long hours at the elevator during wheat harvest, and then come home and be willing to play horseshoes or Pitch for a couple of more hours. I think his desire to play games was insatiable.

With three uncles, three aunts, and six cousins who loved to play games, it was natural that I would grow up to be a game-player. It was a most enjoyable way to grow up.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado; April 2006
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

{Originally posted on Gone Gaming on April 18, 2006}

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


One key to happiness – GAMES

As I pondered the boxes on the shelves,
I felt emotions boxed within my soul.
There is challenge, contest, wonder to be had,
Within those wonderful cardboard containers.
Anticipation filled me and drew me closer,
And I felt a desire as yet unfulfilled.

A fictional island came to mind; a place
Not found in reality, only in the mind’s eye.
It is real enough for its purpose. And,
Its purpose is to present dilemmas, puzzles
Whose solutions are to be devised as best
One is able, while besting others in the race.

A vision of desert sands and the famous “ships
Of the desert” popped into my head, reminding me
Of times spent concocting victory plans so lofty
That they could not have been attained in the time
Available for completion. Many trials led to ruin
As there were not enough pastels available to me.

Walls, fountains, and fabulous buildings combined
In my thoughts of those times I was building the most
Elaborate of estates, with the best combination of
Colorful features. It is futile to elaborate upon
The memory; alas, I seldom succeeded in the contest.
Why do these memories seem so strong, as I stand here?

Steel-driving fantasies leap to the fore, as I recall
Straining my brain to make the fantasy roads become real.
Cities loom before me, calling for connectivity,
The set plans woven like cloth on a loom, showing
Where I must strive to build, quicker than my opponents,
All of whom appear to build rapidly with ease.

Primitive roads and towns, great and small, appear
Before me in a dream-like appearance that masks my
Memory of my careful attempts to solve the problem
Of placing problematic tiles as solutions to the puzzle.
Simple directions, but complex decisions, flavor this
Entertaining pastime that often gave me a complex.

Mark Twain would have enjoyed another of the boxed sets,
With river, boxed-in paddle-wheelers, and Southern belles.
The mysteries of the river channel, islands, and time
Made me channel my creativity to choose options wisely.
A race, yes, but an experience to savor, too, as I
Tried to experience victory after victory, to no avail.

As races go, another challenge was different by degrees.
Finish first if possible, but a different criterion
Determined the winner. Take no more than eighty days
Or risk losing to a more determined competitor. That’s
The rub in this fascinating trip. Watch out for the
Obnoxious detective, who’ll trip you up gleefully.

More boxes clamored for my attention, but I had not the time
To give attention to South America, Renaissance Italy, and
Wild western gold towns, among other attractions.
There were cards with circus attractions (fleas), vampires,
Dragons, and beans. Colorful chameleons startled me, as
Colorful dice rolled ominously on the tabletop of my thoughts.

Is this a hobby, an obsession, or a harmless social pastime?
The contests and dilemmas are harmless in reality, but
When I’m involved in the game, it becomes the center
Of my existence for a while. Perhaps too involved, I lose
Track of time. Still, I cannot avoid trying again and again
To be the best of the group. Maybe, next time, I’ll win!

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado; April 2006
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Confessions of a Game Whiner

One key to happiness – GAMES

It’s true, I’m sad to say – I’m a Game Whiner. {Sob}

I LOVE to play games – old games, new games, most games. I love themes in games; I like the artwork on the boards and cards, the background story or history the game relates to, the colorful pieces and fancy dice, the clever mechanics and scoring mechanisms, a bit of chance (but not too much); I enjoy talking about and reading about and writing about games.

But ------ I don’t like it when my “brilliant” plans go for naught because of someone else’s play just before me. Why do other players always seem to build roads and settlements exactly where I was planning to do so on the island of Catan? Why does someone else build the 6-card track from Los Angeles to El Paso, just before I was planning to? Why does another player draw the exact piece I needed to finish a great Carcassone city? Why did someone buy that 11-value purple Tower that I needed to add to my Alhambra? Why did another player add two camels to his caravan, blocking my beautifully-planned huge territory? How could you draw the “Storm” card, just as I was about to play the “Connection” card with the “Occasion” card and move from San Francisco to London in one turn? Why did you play the Queen of Spades on my Ace of Diamonds on the first Diamond trick led? Why do all you folks keep rolling a horsehead and moving the gray horse, when I have my (hidden) double-bet on Earl Grey? Is everyone reading my mind? Is my gameplay so transparent? Why have I won only ONE game of the 48 games we’ve played in 2006?!

Yes, I’m the whiner in our family game group. How can it be that I study the games, I read about them, I exchange information with others on the web, I research new games, I purchase the games, I teach the new game rules, and I have such love of gaming, but I never seem to win?

-------- Hmmmmm – maybe it has something to do with my whining, feeling sorry for myself. --------

{------ or maybe I’m just not a competitive game-player these days -------}

When I start whining in a game, my wife frequently takes a sticky note and writes “NO WHINING!” on it and holds it up in front of my face. Yeah, yeah, I get the point --- but I’m still losing and everyone’s picking on me, and, and, and, ………… {whine, and whine some more} --- "Want some cheese with that whine?" --- "Where’s my violin?" ---- Okay, okay. Very funny.

Well, I don’t know whether I can change my game personality. The family would probably think I was ill, if I weren’t whining during gameplay. Okay, I’ll TRY to cut down on the whining. I’ll take my lumps silently; I’ll simply adjust my plans when good plans are foiled; I’ll keep reminding myself how lucky I am to play these great games with a great family and how much enjoyment we all receive from the time spent together each weekend. I’ll try to work in a little bit of optimism with my normal pessimism. Now, wouldn’t it be something if that changed my “game luck?”

But, I’m not sure what I would do, if I wasn’t whining during a game. I wouldn’t know how to act! And, I think I’m part of the family’s entertainment when I’m losing and whining.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado; April 2006
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

A Different Rainbow

One key to happiness – GAMES

Compliments to Yehuda for his interpretation of meeple colors. My family is a little different from his descriptions.

From the time we began playing 5-player games with our five adult family members, each of us has used the same color of playing pieces for each game. Our favorite colors for games are red, yellow, green, blue, and black. Most 5-player games offer these colors. Occasionally, white or orange is substituted for one them, usually the black choice. In our 6-player games, we often see purple, and some games have brown or gray options.

Here is our lineup: red – Katrina; yellow – Sue; green – me; blue – Dan; and black – Mason. When Natalia began playing some games with us, she wanted to be red (like her mom), and Joel always wants to be blue (like his dad). So, for some games, Katrina and Dan have to remember that they are using substitute colors. Since Natalia rarely plays a game with color assignments, it is usually Dan who has to “sacrifice” his “lucky” color. He gets the gray meeples in Carcassonne and Hunters & Gatherers (borrowed from the Carcassonne game). In Settlers, he has brown. Poor guy has trouble with multiple game personalities, I think. But, he certainly wins his share of the games, so that doesn’t seem to be a major handicap.

If I consider the game-playing personality of each person, this would be our descriptions of the meeple colors.

-- Red: This game takes too long. Whose turn is it? {rhetorical question designed to induce play by someone else} I don’t think you mentioned that rule. Wait, I have to get my pieces arranged in the proper feng shui design. {and modify it as meeples are used} Oh, yes! I finally won that game!

-- Yellow: Now remember, I shared that city with you. Okay, I’ll play here, rather than block your track. Maybe we can work together in this area. I didn’t realize my play would harm you – sorry. Oops, did I do that to you, again? Don’t do that, or you’ll regret it. . . {and I WILL regret it} NO MORE WHINING!

-- Green: I can’t believe you took the exact card I planned to take! I can’t believe you built exactly where I planned to build! I can’t believe you put the robber on me, again! I can’t believe you won just before I would have won! Okay, okay, you won – let’s play something else. Oh no, not Settlers AGAIN! Let’s play a new game, please……

-- Blue: I like everything we play. I haven’t figured out the right strategy for this one (yet). I LIKE this game! Sure, I’ll play a new game – what have you got? I thought that strategy would work, and it did.

-- Black: {silence} {more silence} Is the hockey {football, baseball, basketball, golf, etc.} game on? I’ll sit here, so I can watch TV. Let’s play Settlers. {after he wins the majority of the games each day – more silence, but there is that sneaky little grin, like the cat that ate the canary}

That’s our family rainbow of meeples and the game personalities that match the colors.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado; April 2006
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Games Played April 15, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

We enjoyed our usual family games on Saturday, following our delicious traditional Easter lunch. We played five games; Natalia played two of them, and Joel played four. Everyone won a game (including a tie in one game), except me. Guess I was a good host. Certainly glad I won at least one game this year…

We started with Alhambra. This was the second time we have played this game, and I think we will be playing it occasionally. This was Joel’s first time to play it, and he finished third, which again demonstrates his gaming talent. We all see Alhambra as a simplified version of Princes of Florence. It plays quickly, even with six players, and it doesn’t challenge your brain quite as much as PoF. Results: Dan first; Sue second; Joel third; me fourth; Katrina fifth; Mason last. Mason won this game the first time we played, but just could not get things going in this game. His winning score in the first game was 81 points – the same score Dan won with this time. Interesting coincidence.

We play Bohnanza almost every week, as we did this Saturday. It is one of the few games Natalia enjoys. I find it very interesting that both Natalia and Joel do so very well in this game. Results: Joel and Sue tied for first; Natalia and Dan tied for third; Mason fifth; me sixth; Katrina last.

The other game Natalia enjoys is Nertz (we call it Hell in our family). Seven people playing Nertz as quickly as possible around one table makes a chaotic scene, and we thoroughly enjoy it. Results: Natalia first; Joel second; Dan third; Katrina fourth; Mason and me tied for fifth; Sue last. Dan has really improved in this game; for years, he was always last. Sue and I have played since we were in high school, and we taught Katrina and Mason how to play when they were quite young, so we have had a lot of practice. We all taught Dan how to play the game, when he married Katrina, and he has been trying to catch up ever since. Looks like he has finally arrived. Natalia and Joel learned to play last year, when their great-grandmother (age 96 then) taught them how to play (the rest of us were helping, too). They both love the game and do very well at it, obviously. We’ve played this game twice this year, and Natalia has won both times.

We had played Hunters and Gatherers only once this year, so it was time for another round. Results: Mason first; Dan second; Joel third; me fourth; Sue fifth; Katrina last.

Finally, we played a game of (what a surprise!) Settlers of Catan. It seemed to be a rather slow-developing game this time, but once things got rolling, it came down to a tight finish. Our last several games did not include too many dice rolls of “7,” but this game was loaded with such. It was difficult to accomplish much early in the game, because of all the “7” results. In the last round of the game, Mason had a huge hand of resources and nine points. It was obvious he was ready to win the game. Sue’s turn was just before Mason’s, and she played a Monopoly card, taking most of Mason’s resources, and leaving him unable to win that turn. Big congratulations from everyone else around the table (except Mason), when she managed that coup! Dan played after Mason, then Katrina, then me. At the end of Dan’s turn, I had nine points and a hand of cards that would assure me a win. However, Katrina hit an excellent dice roll for herself, traded for some resources she needed, did some building, and had nine points plus three cards in her hand. She bought another Development Card, and yes, it was a VP card. She won the game! I would have won on my turn, next after her. I couldn’t believe how she pulled out that win. I won Settlers last week (my only game victory this year), and I thought I was going to make it two Settlers victories in a row, but it was not to be. Maybe next time… Results: Katrina first; Mason and me tied for second; Sue fourth; Dan last. It was an exciting way to end the games for the day.

We still have two unplayed games to try – Cartagena and Australia. They are on opposite ends of the complexity scale; it will be interesting to see which we play first. I hope to get both of them to the table in the next few weeks.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado; March 2006
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I Won a Game!!! Hooray!

One key to happiness – GAMES

Yessssss!!! I finally won a game in 2006! The monkey is off my back; the dark clouds have dispersed; the jinx is broken; I’m off the hot seat; etc. ------ Okay, so I’m a little over the top, but after more than three months of not winning a game, it REALLY FEELS GOOD!

After a great lunch (if I do say so myself) that Sue and I fixed, we brought out the games. Natalia was attending a birthday party, so it was just six of us. I was a bit surprised that no one objected to trying a new game, for the second weekend in a row. I have really been looking forward to this – Hacienda. That is one great game, and I don’t think I heard anyone say they didn’t like it. Naturally, for the first time out, we were really feeling our way, and we certainly don’t have a good handle on this game from just one play. But, we all enjoyed it. Results: Dan and Mason tied first; me third; Sue fourth; and Katrina last, but the scores were quite close. I know we’ll play this one some more.

Our next game was 6-player Bohnanza. I thought Joel was going to wipe us out again, but I was very surprised when we counted the gold at the end of the game and found these results: Sue first; Mason second; Katrina third; Joel fourth; Dan and me (tied) fifth.

Mason said he had time for one more game before he had to leave. It looked like another day of losses for me, especially when he asked for (no surprise) Settlers of Catan. Sue and I have the fewest wins of this game, among the five adults. I felt like I was starting off slowly, but I had managed to get on both an “8” and a “6” wheat (quite surprisingly), and those numbers, naturally, came up reasonably often. I also snagged a 3:1 port, so I eventually got rolling. At the end of the game, Katrina and I both had 9 points, but I rolled the perfect number for me, gathered enough resources to build a road and a settlement, and won the game. Everyone was happy to see me finally win a game this year (probably so I won’t be whining so much), and Sue said she had a feeling that it was my day to get a victory. Now, I can relax. Results: Me first; Katrina second; Mason and Sue tied third; Dan last.

After Mason left, the rest of us finished off with two quick games of Fill or Bust. Katrina and Joel finished 1-2 in both games. A nice light way to end the day.

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado; March 2006
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Games Played April 1, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

We had time for only a few games with the family on this day. Natalia had been invited to a friend’s birthday party, and Katrina had to drive her to it and then pick her up afterward, all during the afternoon.

No, I did not win a game, yet, this year. I hope I don’t go all year without a win!

We started with Settlers of Catan. Mason jumped out quickly and held the lead to the finish. Results: Mason first; Sue second; Katrina third; Joel and me tied fourth; Dan last. It is most unusual for Dan to be last in Settlers. Mason now leads Dan by one victory in Settlers. The competition continues.

I was a little surprised when I received no objections to playing Station Master again. I enjoy this game, although it is a bit chaotic. I led the scoring most of the way, which, of course, set me up for the fall near the end. Since scoring is continuous, as trains are completed, everyone knows the relative standings throughout the game. As the last trains are being assembled, players typically make sure the leader (or the top couple of scorers) get negative-score trains, if at all possible. Near the end of the game, I had two passenger tokens on an eight-car locomotive, and the score was looking good, until Joel played a yellow card that allowed him to move both my tokens off that train and onto one with a negative score building up. I dropped from first place to fifth! This is a real “gotcha” game. Sometimes, our family is not fond of this type of game, but sometimes the game transcends its nastiness. Joel probably enjoys the “defensive” plays as much or more than trying to score well himself. I do hope we play this more during the year. Results: Katrina and Mason tied first; Dan third; Joel fourth; me fifth; Sue last.

While Katrina and Natalia were gone, the five of us remaining decided to get in a game of Bohnanza, which Joel won bigtime! He and Natalia both do very well at this game.

After Katrina and Natalia returned, we had time for a short game and Joel suggested Trumpet, which we had not played recently. He must have felt some vibes, because he beat us by several spaces. Results: Joel first; Sue second; me third; Dan fourth; Katrina fifth; Mason last. I really thought I was going to pull out the win (and get the “loser monkey” off my back). I picked up my last hand and saw some great cards. I needed to win one trick quickly, change trumps to match my best cards, and then I had a good chance to breeze to victory. Joel never gave me a chance to win that important “change trump” trick, before he waltzed to the finish line.

It was a fun day, even though we didn’t get to play very many games. Perhaps I’ll win a game, again, someday…

--- Gerald … near Denver, Colorado; March 2006
aka gamesgrandpa -- A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming