September 26, 2006

Family Gaming for September

by Susan Rozmiarek

I’m going to start off this entry by throwing myself a pity party. Any blogger worth his/her salt indulges in a little whining now and then. It’s expected. Just peruse MySpace or Blogspot and you’ll see what I mean. Oh, wait. Make that a LOT of whining!

So, what is there to whine about in my almost perfect life? Three words – Not Enough Gaming. You probably are thinking that I’m now going to follow with how I can’t find anyone to play with and how hard it is to organize a group but you’ll have to go somewhere like BGG to read those sad tales. We are wallowing in opportunities to game here in the Austin area with numerous groups at both game stores and private homes. I’ve also got a gamer husband and two gamer kids over the age of ten. I should be able to play games every night of the week but can’t because of one simple reason: soccer. Both kids are playing now and that means up to five practices a week and three games with many of Kevin’s requiring travel. No weekends + no weeknights = no gaming. Sigh. I can hardly wait for the holidays. That is, if there’s not a Thanksgiving tournament. Double sigh.

Fortunately, I did manage to squeeze in a few games during the past month. Ever the optimist, I hope to play even more this coming month as we think we might be able to host a game day.

Shear Panic

I’ll just get the required gushing over right away and be done with it. Those sculpted, resin sheep are cute. Ridiculously cute. As in, straight-out-of-Wallace-and-Gromit cute. They look like one of those Danbury Mint collectible figurine series that you see advertised in magazines. Mayfair has upgraded the scoring track and players mats to larger, nicely illustrated, and mounted cardstock. All-in-all, this game is quite the attractive package. Being female, I’m quite the sucker for cute animals. If it had been bunnies or puppies instead of sheep, I probably would have been totally overcome and not able to play the game at all.

The box claims that this is “the best game ewe ever heard.” At least it doesn’t take a lifetime to master as well! This was my second playing, the first being at BGG.con almost a year ago. Shea, Ed and I sat down to a three-player game of it after which I’m still not certain what to think. Perhaps I’m feeling a taste of sour grapes as Shea (unknowingly, but knowing would not have stopped him) set both my sheep up to be sheared in one fell swoop by Ed who gleefully apologized with a grin. This of course, guaranteed me last place. Now, I’m not one to fume and sulk when this sort of thing happens to me. But, I had been taking a lot of time and analyzing my moves with chess-like intensity only to lose control of my fate. Chaos in a “think-y” game is not a good thing in my book. Then again, perhaps it was my own stupidity for not seeing the possibilities. More plays will be necessary to determine which one is the case. There are some clever things in this game, such as how the flock marker advances through the various fields depending on the actions players choose. I am greatly looking forward to playing it yet a third time, despite my reservations, which says something positive about the game.

The ewes are all clamoring to get a better view of the handsome Roger in Shear Panic.

Blue Moon City

I have stayed far away from the Blue Moon two-player card game due to its comparisons to a CCG. I usually don’t have the patience to learn dozens and dozens of special abilities and card interactions and then use my knowledge to construct the killer deck. I start fidgeting even thinking about it. This board game only shares the theme and has gotten mixed reviews. After hearing a few magical words over and over like “tactical” and “card management” it piqued my interest enough to buy it.

Upon opening the box and rummaging around, I was once again bedazzled by beautiful bits. I know, I know, you are tired of hearing that. I’m so shallow. The art work is simply gorgeous and I love the fantastical buildings. It has plastic dragon figures and player colors that include purple and baby blue. Very pretty. Shea was busy with homework so Ed and I decided to play a two-player game of it even though we suspected that this was not going to be the optimal number. Our hunch proved to be correct. I romped ahead of Ed from the get-go, always drawing the right cards at the right time. I drew multitudes of dragon cards and was able to win the race for scales several times with ease. He really didn’t have much of a chance and competition and pressure from more players would have made for a much more interesting game, I think. My choices were pretty obvious and the game was rather boring for me and frustrating for Ed. I did really like how many of the cards have a dual purpose to choose between and I liked the cooperative aspect of the game as well. Hopefully, we’ll get a chance soon to try it out with more players.

Blue Moon City in progress

Besides these two games, I’ve also had a chance to play a few old favorites, Flower Power, and Rosenkönig with Shea. Whichever one of us is not taking Kevin to soccer practice that night is subjected to Shea’s begging to play a quick game before bedtime. So, a lot of our shorter, simpler two-player games are being dusted off and revisited, which is nice. I think Ed played Hive and Schotten-Totten with him.

Side note: For those of you who know our family personally, you might be wondering why there isn’t any mention of Son the Elder, Kevin, in this report. Kevin currently has a brutal schedule of schoolwork, soccer and cross-country running. When he has a little downtime, he is likely to be found online playing his addiction, World of Warcraft. Most Saturday nights he is too busy going on “raids” with his “guild” to take the time out to play a mere board game. Since I have a pretty big pile of games to review, I might have to resort to a little parental bullying soon to get a fourth player. :-)

Posted by Susan Rozmiarek at September 26, 2006 10:24 AM


Here's hoping the Kids don't win! :)

No tournament == gaming!

Posted by: Mike C. -- on September 27, 2006 3:00 PM
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