May 14, 2006

Barbecue and Baptists

by Susan Rozmiarek

This post is not really about food or religion. As I reported in a previously, Ed and I have had an opportunity to help with some fledgling game groups composed mainly of folks new to Eurogames. As it happens, the first get-togethers for two different groups happened recently on consecutive Fridays. It’s been kind of interesting, because I am used to attending gaming get-togethers in private homes with Ed and I often doing the planning and hosting. These were both somebody else’s babies and were held in totally different venues - a restaurant and a church. I was curious to see how they would work and it was a refreshing break to just attend a game night without the work and responsibilities of hosting.

Gaming at Duke’s Smokehouse in Georgetown

This family gaming group was organized via a Yahoo group by a single mom with young kids who is looking for a way to socialize with other adults. Her hope is to find a set-up where the younger kids have something to keep them busy while the adults play games. John from our regular gaming group stumbled across it and I heard about it from him. He also has young kids and would like a gaming group that he can bring his family to and his wife Gina can play. Since many of the folks who signed up did not know each other, most felt more comfortable meeting in a public place. The organizer chose a local restaurant, Duke’s Smokehouse, for the first get-together. The turnout was a bit light –five families with kids of various ages, but it was enough for two tables of games.

At first blush, this place looked like a great place to hold a games night. It is huge and it has a room off to the side that looked like an excellent place to play. Unfortunately though, the kids would probably not stay entertained in such confinement so we moved to the outside porch that overlooked a huge grassy area complete with balls for the kids to kick around. The brisk breeze was a big concern, but the staff was very accommodating and rolled down some big clear shades that did a great job keeping the wind off of us. The weather was great; the food was great; the music was…..loud. This was not so good for teaching and playing games and trying to get to know people. The kids had a fabulous time running around on the lawn but alas, they required close supervision. There was a getaway path in the corner that led down to a trail along the river as well as a cliff to fall over. I think that Cara, the organizer, and Gina spent most of the time chasing kids rather than playing games. :-(

The rest of us were able to shout over the band and enjoy some games though:

Bunte Runde

This is a little set-collecting game from Reiner Knizia that reminded me a bit of Tutankhamen. You move around in a circle, up to three spaces per turn, and collect wooden pieces of various shapes and colors. These score when all the pieces of a particular shape or color are picked up. It’s a pleasant enough filler, but I feel no need to own it.

Ticket to Ride

For me, this is the board game equivalent of Lost Cities. It’s simple, addictive and I want to play it over and over again. Alas, like Lost Cities, my regular opponents have long since tired of it and no amount of “pretty pleases” and “with cherries on top” will coax them to play. Fortunately, Ticket to Ride is the Best Gateway Game of All Time. So naturally, I spring it on newbies every chance that I get. It ALWAYS goes over well and this time was no exception.


Don’t try to tell me that I can’t possibly enjoy this game because I usually do. Get over it. Katrina and Clive (hope I’m remembering names correctly) brought it. They had combined several sets of Fluxx to make one big deck. Katrina had removed the cards from Stoner Fluxx but she’d missed a few. Sure enough, it had be Kevin, my 13 yr. old son, who drew the “Toke” card. Sigh. I was pretty worried that this would be one of those drawn out games that happens occasionally with Fluxx. With the big deck, the cards wouldn’t be recycled much and I was afraid that this would cause the game to go overly long, an occasional problem with Fluxx. Just as the game started to outstay its welcome though, a card was played that required you to play all the cards in your hand. This forced me to play a Goal Card that gave Kevin the victory. This game is mainly silly, chaotic fun, but there actually is a tiny bit of strategy.

While all this gaming fun was going on at our table, the other table was enjoying Einfach Genial, For Sale, Hey! That’s My Fish!, and TransAmerica.

I think those of us who got to play the games had a good time despite the loud music. I think the place would work if it was on a night without the live music or we played indoors. The main problem was that although the younger kids were entertained, they required too much supervision for all the adults to play. I can certainly emphasize as I can remember those days with my own kids. This was why we started hosting game nights at our own house as it was a safe environment with plenty of toys to entertain our kids and those of our friends. It is so much easier now that they are older.

The group is going to try doing this again later this month but I’m not sure of the details. Hopefully we’ll come up with a few creative ideas for the kids. I felt badly for those parents that didn’t get to play games much.

We were afraid we’d scare off people of we took pictures to post on the internet. John took a few that you can check out here.

Gaming at First Baptist Church of Georgetown

The following Friday found the Rozmiarek family at church. Not just any old church but a Southern. Baptist. Church. Yes, you read that correctly. We were really there. And just what does it take to get our heathen family in a church? Did somebody die or get married? Nope, it was much easier than that. John Gravitt organized a game night at his church and asked if we could help out with teaching games. Yes, that’s all it took. Games! :-)

John was expecting up to 20 people, but not nearly that many actually showed up. It peaked out at three tables of games going at one time though, which is a fine start. In contrast to the previous week at Duke’s, this situation was ideal for a game night. The church is enormous. We were in a classroom in a large building with good lighting and plenty of tables and chairs. We brought our own food but I think there were also vending machines available. Best of all, there was childcare off in another part of the building for the younger children, allowing the adults a relaxing evening of games.

I taught and played both Ticket to Ride and California, both of which I’ve written about before. Both are great introductory games although I think that the theme of California may be a little too “girly” for some guys. The Diamant and Saboteur tables were really loud; you could tell that people really enjoyed those two. Other games played were Crokinole, Einfach Genial, Hey!, That’s My Fish! And Rumis.

Once again, John took a few nice pictures during the evening.

Ed and really had a great time and we’d love to go again. The members of the church were really welcoming, friendly and a lot of fun.

Now we need to host our second neighborhood game night. We had a small but nice crowd the first time but we haven’t been able to fit a second one in our schedule. Although I didn’t blog about it, we had a good evening playing Diamant, Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne.

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at May 14, 2006 3:39 PM


Games, Kids and Church. Now there is three words you'll never hear me say in one sentence. :)

Posted by: Mike C. -- on May 15, 2006 2:55 PM

Great game choices for new or near-new gamers. Sounds like you had a great time. Might be able to get those young kids (non-readers, I assume, or early elementary school) in games like Zirkus Flohcati, Pick Picknic, Frank's Zoo, or Vampire. Of course, I know that they also have to have the opportunity to "blow off steam."

Yes, it is nice when kids get older, and you don't have to watch them every minute!

Congratulations on the great Mother's Day haul. You should get a lot of enjoyment out of those neat things.

Also, thanks much for the suggestions for 6- and 7-player games you made on my blog. With three folks listing games I should look into, I had some great ideas to work on. I've looked at them all on BGG and narrowed the list to 14. Now, I need to do more research, and I need to find out which ones are available for purchase. Then, I'll prioritize the final list, break it into manageable purchases, and look forward to some new games this summer. I really appreciate your taking the time to not only suggest games that fit our family's interests, but also you added comments to tweak my interest immediately.

Posted by: Gerald McDaniel on May 15, 2006 4:04 PM
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