Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Family Gaming Records

One key to happiness – GAMES

We have been keeping records of our family gaming wins since January 1, 2001. At the beginning of 2004, we began keeping statistics for all finishes in our games, awarding 8 points for first place, 4 for second, 2 for third, 1 for fourth, and 0 for fifth, sixth, and seventh. We only count games played by all five adults, so our statistics are consistent.

Over the past four and a half years (795 games counted), Mason is our “winningest” player, by quite a bit. Our ranking is: Mason 24.5%, Dan 19.9%, Katrina 19.1%, me 16.2%, Sue 16.1%, Joel 3.3%, and Natalia 0.9%. It is important to note that stats for Joel and Natalia are not indicative of their actual performances. Natalia was only five years old when we began keeping statistics, and Joel was three, so they have only played a small percentage of those games, all in the past couple of years.

The stats for finishing places perhaps give a better idea of our relative game prowess. In this regard, for the 80 games counted so far in 2006, here are our standings: Mason 19.9%, Katrina 19.3%, Sue 16.1%, Dan 14.9%, and me 10.7% of the total points. Joel has played 59 games with us this year, and Natalia has played 21 games. Considering the fewer points they could have accumulated, their success percentages were better than the adults. Of the games each of them played, Natalia’s success rate is 21.9%, and Joel’s is 20.7%.

There are 55 games in our list of statistics, which we have played a total of 795 times. The most popular game has been Trumpet with 94 plays, followed by Bohnanza with 93 plays. Carcassonne is in third place with 68 plays. Many games have been played and counted only once or twice. Game leaders (those who have won specific games more times than other players, or who share that honor with one or more other persons) have these standings: Mason – 21 games, Dan – 17, Sue – 15, Katrina – 14, me – 6, and Joel – 1 (Tongiaki). Natalia just hasn’t played enough games to make this list.

When I complain about not winning games this year, Sue reminds me that she has always been at the bottom of the heap. But, so far this year, she has won 15 games, while I have won only 4 of the 80 we’ve counted. In total, I’ve won 129 of the 795 games recorded, while she has won 128 – we are virtually tied. Interestingly, Joel has won 12 games this year (playing in just 59), and Natalia has won 5 out of 21 played. Both kids have more wins than me, and I’ve played 80 games. This definitely is NOT my year for winning games!

In addition to these statistics, we also have noted record high scores for many games and record low scores for a few games.

What does all this mean? It means we love playing games, we enjoy competition, and we like to keep track of the results of our gaming. It adds to our overall enjoyment of family gaming.

Here’s the list of the 55 different games counted in our statistics, with number of games counted for each: Africa - 4; Alhambra - 4; Alibi - 2; Around the World in 80 Days - 8; Bidding Game {Oh Hell} - 33; Bohnanza (incl. High Bohn games) - 93; Boomtown - 4; Bugami - 2; Canyon - 3; Carcassonne - 68; Cartagena - 2; Cloud Nine - 4; Coloretto - 24; Cube Farm - 1; David & Goliath - 25; Democrazy - 3; Euchre - 2; Flea Circus {Zirkus Flohcati} - 52; For Sale - 3; Four Tricks {a card game I invented} - 1; Frank’s Zoo - 43; Golden Ten - 2; Go Wild! - 13; Hacienda - 3; Hare & Tortoise - 1; Hattrick - 9; Hearts - 32; Hell {Nertz} - 11; Hunters & Gatherers - 55; The Last Card - 8; Marco Polo Expedition - 3; Mexican Train - 1; Mississippi Queen - 8; Mu - 3; Oasis - 8; Office Space - 1; Phase 10 - 2; Pick Picknic - 6; Princes of Florence - 2; Rook - 1; Royal Turf - 14; Rummy 21 - 2; Santa Fe Rails - 3; Settlers of Catan - 59; Smarty Party - 2; Station Master - 3; Take It Easy - 12; Through the Desert - 6; Ticket to Ride - 17; Tightrope {Drahtseilakt} - 11; Tongiaki - 3; Trumpet - 94; Unexploded Cow - 4; Vampire - 14; Where’s Bob’s Hat? - 1. The 56th game, which will be counted eventually, when we finally play it, is Australia.

Of the 55 games, these are the ones we have played in 2006: Alhambra; Around the World in 80 Days; The Bidding Game {Oh Hell}; Bohnanza; Boomtown; Cartagena; Carcassonne; Flea Circus {Zirkus Flohcati}; For Sale; Hacienda; Hearts; Hell {Nertz}; Hunters & Gatherers; The Last Card; Mississippi Queen; Royal Turf; Settlers of Catan; Station Master; Through the Desert; Ticket to Ride; Tongiaki; and Trumpet. I hope to add Australia to this list soon.

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

Monday, July 24, 2006

Games Played July 22, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

While Mason was away to Seattle with some friends for a week, the rest of us played games that won’t count in our family records. We had a great time.

I was surprised that Joel and Natalia wanted to play Huggermugger. Katrina and Natalia were partners; Dan and Joel were partners; and Sue and I played separately. I love to play Huggermugger and have seldom lost that game. I started off quickly, finding the second letter of the secret word on my first turn, but things went to pot after that. I kept getting close to seeing another letter, only to fall just short (like being able to list nine words, when I needed ten). In the meantime, Sue only found one letter, also, and kept getting tough questions. The two teams began acquiring letters, until they both had several. I was beginning to get embarrassed, given my poor showing. Then, I hit a streak – I found that the fifth letter was a blank, so I didn’t have to go for the sixth one, since it would be a four-letter word. In one turn, I managed to get both letters numbered 3 and 4. I knew the word was –UBA, and tuba was the only word I could think of, so I took a guess and won the game. My record continues. It was fun to watch both Natalia and Joel on their team turns – both of them made some real contributions to their play. The problem for them is that the game is designed for people older than them, with lots of references to things they have never heard of. Still, they enjoy the challenge, and they very likely will be beating me on their own one of these days.

The grandkids love to play Nertz, so we played a six-person game of it to the score of 50. Results: Joel first, Natalia second, me third, Sue fourth, Katrina fifth, and Dan last.

I took Inklings to their house for the day, and the four adults played it. I enjoy that game, but only win occasionally. This was my day, although the scores were very close. Results: Me first, Katrina second, Dan third, and Sue last. Natalia got interested in watching us and asking questions about the game. She said she would like to try it sometime, so we left the game at their house. They should have some time to try it before school starts in August.

We hadn’t played Through the Desert for quite a while, so we played a five-player game of that. I was really doing well, leading in three colors and prospects for two very nice areas. But, as normal with five players, one color began running short very soon. It was one of the colors I was hoping to have the most of, so I had to keep choosing white camels almost every turn. Joel took the last two of them and “stole” the white caravan points from me (I finished with the most blue and purple, however). Joel is an amazing game player. Because I had concentrated on trying for the longest caravans in three colors, which was too much to expect with five players, I had ignored my potential high-scoring areas and never got any of them completed. I had also not jumped on very many oases early, so I had not accumulated many points during the game. Although I thought I would score well, I ended up in fourth place! Sue wrapped up a large area, uncontested, and won the game. Results: Sue first, Joel second, Katrina third, me fourth, and Dan last. Dan had started with many points from several oases and was well out in the lead. I blocked him in a couple of places, playing defensively which really hurt his game, but also didn’t really help mine. I certainly used the wrong strategy in this game! I look forward to playing it with six players again in the future – that is a very challenging game.

We had time for one more game, and Joel requested Hunters and Gatherers. The game went quickly, and it was difficult to tell who would be the winner, since we all had some good valleys and river systems. Results: Dan first, me second, Katrina third, Joel fourth, Sue last.

It was a great gaming day. We missed Mason. Next weekend, Katrina has a conflict, and Dan and Joel are going to a local HeroScape competition, so we may not do any gaming next Saturday. The following Saturday will find just Mason, Sue, and me available, so we haven’t made plans for that day, yet. After that, we should return to full family gaming, except for a weekend in September when Mason is going golfing in Arizona. I’m still looking forward to trying Australia – I wonder whether I’ll ever get to play it. . .

I’m holding off on a new game order until after we play Australia, so I need to find a way to get it to the table.

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

Monday, July 17, 2006

Games Played July 15, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

We had a fun day of gaming on Saturday. We got in five games, only one of which is a regular for us.

We started with the popular 7-player Bohnanza. Natalia and Joel always do well at this game, and today was no exception. What was exceptional was the fact that four of us tied for first place – very unusual. Results: Natalia, Joel, Dan, and me (tied) first; Katrina fifth; Sue sixth; Mason last.

We then decided to go with another game 7 people can enjoy, one we hadn’t played in quite a while. Flea Circus (Zirkus Flohcati) is a very easy, light, quick game. We play three games and combine the scores to count as one game. Results: Katrina first; Joel and Mason (tied) second; Sue fourth; Dan fifth; me sixth; Natalia last. Natalia usually does better than that at this game – must have been an off day for her.

One of Natalia’s favorite games is Nertz, so we tackled it next. We decided to play to a score of 75, and the game went quickly. It is a wild and crazy game, with 7 players at one kitchen table! We sit almost elbow-to-elbow, and still have trouble keeping up with all the fast-changing card stacks at the opposite ends. Results: Katrina first; Joel second; Mason third; Dan fourth; Sue fifth; Natalia sixth; me last. Many years ago, Sue and I were excellent at this game, but we’ve really slowed down, as we’ve gotten older. Not surprising. Natalia and Joel have been playing with a card or two handicap, so they do not have to get rid of 13 cards to win. However, they have become so good at this game this year that they now play with the same number as the rest of us, and they still do very well.

I suggested Around the World in 80 Days next, and we had a close game, as usual. I jumped out to a good lead, picking up bonuses for reaching cities first, and Sue was way behind most of the game, but also picking up bonuses for being last at each city. I was in the lead, with a reasonably small number of days spent, when I reached the Pacific Ocean. Then, I got stuck – could not get ship cards at all, and the detective began ruining my day-count. I still thought I had a chance, once I got to San Francisco. Mason hurried in, going many days over 80, but expecting to win by virtue of reaching London first, and hoping everyone else would also take more than 80 days. His strategy looked good for a while. Joel took a few days more than 80, and I took 81 days. Sue then reached London in 79 days, which looked like the winning time. But, Dan finished in 78 days for the win, and poor Katrina could not get the cards to even finish in the last turn. Results: Dan first; Sue second; Mason third; Joel fourth; me fifth; Katrina last.

We had a short time left for gaming, and Sue suggested Trumpet, which we enjoy with 7 players. The only surprise of the game was the fact that I managed to win, with Sue just one space away from the finish. In fact, she and I practically ran away with the game during the last couple of hands. Seven-player Trumpet can be a very nasty game, since it is not uncommon for all three Trumpet cards to be dealt in a hand, sometimes with two of them in the same player’s hand. Results: Me first; Sue second; Dan third; Mason fourth; Joel fifth; Katrina sixth; Natalia last.

It’s been a while since we played so many 7-player games in one day, and it was a lot of fun. Still haven’t gotten Australia to the table, and we won’t all be together for games during the next three weekends, so it will be pressing to get to try Australia by the end of August. I’m already researching my next game order and looking forward to making final selections.

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

Monday, July 10, 2006

Games Played July 8, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

We managed to play four games today. Might have played one more, but for a long telephone call interruption.

First game up (again) was Bohnanza. This is a good game to begin the afternoon, because all seven of us enjoy it. When it is finished, Natalia usually goes off and does her own things for the rest of the day, unless we happen to pull out another one she likes. This was Joel’s day for games, and he easily won Bohnanza. Results: Joel first, Natalia second (she always does well in this game), Dan and Mason (tied) third, me fifth, Katrina sixth, Sue last. Although Sue didn’t do well this time, she holds second place for the most wins of Bohnanza, just one victory behind Mason, overall.

Next up was Boomtown. Although the rules say this is a game for 3-5 players, we’ve found that 6 can play it fine. Joel requested this game, and he won. In fact, he came close to the record high score (held by Sue – 89), with an 86. At the same time, I set a new low score of 26 (I also had the previous low score of 31). Obviously, I don’t understand how to play this game very well. Results: Joel first, Katrina second, Sue third, Mason fourth, Dan fifth, me last. Katrina complains about playing this game, saying she really doesn’t like it, but out of the four times we’ve played it, she’s won once, Joel once, and Sue twice.

Joel also requested Carcassonne. This was a slow game of Carcassonne, with some unusual battles for large cities. Amazingly, I managed to steal a very large city. Dan piled up bonus points with the most barrels and ribbons (cloth), and I made lots of points with several fields, as I had the last time we played. Last time, the final scoring brought me from last to fourth, this time, I led most the game and managed to hold on for the win. Results: me first, Dan second, Katrina third, Mason fourth, Joel fifth, Sue last.

Final game of the day was Settlers of Catan (no surprise). This, too, was a very slow-developing game (for us). Dan and Joel have been playing Settlers online this summer, and the scores reflected that. In fact, Dan simply ran away with the game. Results: Dan first (10 points), Joel – Sue – Mason (tied with 5 points) second , Katrina and me (tied with 4 points) last. Although the game started slowly, it ended fairly quickly. Dan zoomed ahead early and finished fast. Dan is just one game behind Mason, again, in wins of Settlers (18 to 17).

I decided this was not a particularly good weekend to introduce Australia. Unfortunately, I believe we may not all be together for games the next two weekends, so it looks like August may be the month to try Australia, unless we can manage it on the last Saturday of this month.

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

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Games Played July 1, 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

Only had time for three games, again, but we had fun.

We started with Bohnanza, one of the games all seven of us enjoy. Natalia and Joel like this game so much, and they almost always surprise us with their play. It looked like a fairly close game all around, and no one could be certain who would be the winner. After counting our gold, Natalia actually won by quite a bit. We’ve played this game 12 times this year, and Natalia has won three times. I’m the only one who hasn’t won it this year. Results: Natalia first, Joel second, Mason and me (tied) third, Dan fourth, Sue and Katrina (tied) last.

We had played Carcassonne only four times this year, and decided this would be a good day for it. Joel had almost lapped me on the score board, before I had even scored. I had a very slow start. However, I managed to grab some worthwhile fields, and added my pig in one of them, plus I cornered the market in wheat tokens. Before the final scoring, I was far behind everyone, but with the fields and wheat bonus, I came in fourth, much to everyone’s surprise. This was our fifth game of Carcassonne this year, and Joel has now won three of them. In fact, he set a scoring record today of 204 points. Results: Joel first, Katrina second, Dan third, me fourth, Sue fifth, and Mason last (very surprising for him).

I always enjoy playing Mississippi Queen, and we hadn’t had it out for quite a while, so I brought it to the table. Mason and Dan took off like rockets, leaving the rest of us in the dust (or in the water, in this case). I soon passed Sue and Katrina, and managed to pick up one Southern belle in the process. I then built up steam and blew past Dan and Mason, but had to slow to get that last passenger on the last tile, just before reaching the finish. It looked like I had the game wrapped up, and we were talking about my third game win of the year, when suddenly Mason noted that at the end of the previous turn, he had been slightly ahead of me, which gave him the first move in the next turn, and that was all he needed to win the game. I don’t know whether he had realized it beforehand, but it certainly surprised me. Sue had been left way behind for over half the game, and it was looking very bad for her, but she came storming on at the end, and Dan barely edged her out at the dock on the last turn. Results: Mason first, me second, Katrina third, Dan fourth, Sue last.

This must have been “kids” day – the game winners were the three youngest in the family!

Because we had scarfed down three different stir-fry dishes that Sue and I prepared for lunch, just before starting the games, we were all slowing down a bit. The weather was great, so we adjourned outside for three games of Bocce. We play with a regular Bocce set, but not with a regular playing field. We just go back and forth on our front lawn, with the high scorer of each round tossing the target ball for the next round. Katrina or Sue keeps score, and Mason measures for the closest balls, and we just have fun. What added to the fun today was the sudden appearance of a little kitten, probably out on his own for the first time. We don’t know where he came from but he certainly had fun chasing our Bocce balls all over the yard, and even climbed our maple tree. We spent some time and energy keeping the neighbor’s cat away from him, and eventually that cat went home and sulked, while watching us. After we quit playing, the kitten came up on the porch and let everyone pet it, especially Natalia and Joel. We assume he finally went home. He had no collar, so we had no idea where he lived.

We had a great time gaming together, as always. Summertime brings lots of other activity opportunities to all of us. Mason went camping with some friends recently, and Dan is going biking at Winter Park this week, but fortunately we have generally been able to get together at least for an afternoon most weekends. Now, I need to go over the rules for Australia and bring it out for the first time. I don’t know whether to expect us to like it, or not, but I’m eager to try it.

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