In this first episode, we talk about Origins, games, channel news, and a group review for Century: Spice Road.
In this first episode, we talk about Origins, games, channel news, and a group review for Century: Spice Road.
Part One: Shelving and Other Storage Solutions
Eventually, for most board game enthusiasts, the conundrum of storing is going to happen.
Most board gamers start out with just one or two games that fit nicely on a shelf or in the closet, but once the bug hits, a dedicated shelf becomes a requirement. And then maybe another one. Then a third…and now you need to maximize space.
So what’s the best way to store games? And why should you care?
First of all, modern tabletop games hold their value. A game kept in good condition, with an intact box with no scuffs, dishing of the top or bottom, or crushed corners, is worth something. Don’t ever tape a box with sticky tape – it will tear the paper– or stack games 5 or 6 high, as the weight from the top games will dish the bottom boxes. If you have kept your games in good condition, they can be sold on or traded to other gamers. But they have to be in good shape and well taken care of if you want to get a good trade or price for them.
Plus, they look so pretty on display! The box art is meant to be appreciated.
Storing games in a climate controlled environment, away from damp, heat, and excessive humidity will keep the playing boards from warping and in good condition. It goes without saying that smoking around cardboard board games makes them really smelly! It’s almost impossible to get smoke odor out, too.
There are some great shelving options out there now. Here are some of the more popular choices.
One of the standards for game storage, due to the depth of the unit, as well as the sturdy construction, is the Kallax shelf from IKEA.
It also comes in white, and in a half size from this one. The problem with a shelf from IKEA is you really need to live near a store to pick it up (shipping is exorbitant) and you need to build it. This shelf runs around $140.00.
I have a half Kallax, shown here in use:
As you can see, the shelves are quite deep and tall enough for Euro game boxes. It’s a very heavy piece of furniture.
More commonly available from WalMart is the Better Homes and Gardens shelf, which looks similar.
However, it is not exactly the same in quality as the IKEA model, so you have to decide if convenience is worth a slightly less well constructed product. You also have to build this one, but it’s a lot easier to get. Selling for about $70, it’s much less than the Kallax.
A thrifty option is to find shelves at a local charity or resale shop. My local Habitat for Humanity always has a selection of bookshelves. I have found some really nice, quality shelving for $30-$50, so it’s worth checking out. Just make sure a shelf is sturdy enough to hold your games, and deep enough to fit the boxes vertically and horizontally. Game boxes can get tall and bulky. Bookshelves often don’t have the shelf width and height you need to store games but there is usually quite a variety to choose from. I have not yet found a Kallax but one can dream…
Another option is track shelving, which you can build if you have the space and the ability to change your walls (they are permanent, so if you rent, it may not be an option unless you want to patch and paint when you leave). Find track shelving at places like Home Depot. This is the bulk of my game storage. The advantages are it’s not that expensive, it’s extremely versatile, and it looks nice.
The system uses vertical hangers like this:
…and prefinished boards that sit on brackets that attach on the hangers. The beauty of this system is you can make your shelf heights adjustable, and the boards are quite wide, so you have deep shelving.
Here is an example of track shelving:
You can also get boards that are finished in a wood grain. One small issue is the brackets create a lower space than the rest of the shelf, so you have to find a shorter game to store there!
Now that you have a shelf, how do you store your games? Vertically or horizontally?
If you check out the box art on many Euro games, it becomes clear that they are meant to be stored vertically, like books. Vertical storage is advantageous for a couple of reasons – it frees up more space, and keeps the boxes from dishing and getting damaged. Games stored this way are also more accessible. Many game boxes are roughly the same height and width, which makes a pretty shelf display. Some games, though, are just too long or big to store vertically, so they have to be stacked horizontally. Three or four high is probably the most you ever want to stack, and make sure to put the heavy games on the bottom! Weight dishes the bottoms and the tops, and bows out the sides. Crushed boxes decrease the value, a lot, and they don’t look very nice.
For games that have lots of cards, it can make sense to store them horizontally unless you are sure the insert won’t have cards flying all over if it goes on its side. Those games tend to be heavy, as well, especially with expansions.
Once you have them on the shelf, then the decision of how to organize them is your next challenge. As you can see, above I have them by designer (Knizia and Feld are all together, but then it’s a hodge podge), or maybe just how they fit on the shelf will work. You can go by color, alphabetically, by genre, player count, complexity, mechanic, theme…just don’t drive yourself crazy. Good luck!
I have seen storage solutions where even large games are stored in large plastic bags or containers, which can make sense if you have space issues or the original box no longer holds the game and expansions.
My dog managed to destroy the box for my copy of Castles of Mad King Ludwig, so I now use a plastic scrapbook case for the game. Craft and hobby stores, such as Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, and Joanne Fabrics all have interesting storage solution ideas. Try the scrapbooking areas for inspiration.
Bagging games in jumbo plastic ziplock bags (I think they are gallon size) is a great solution if you want to pack a full-size game for a trip, especially if you are flying and have limited luggage options. I love the look of game boxes, but sometimes it’s more efficient to ditch them. Just save those boxes somewhere. Saving expansion boxes is more debatable – I don’t save them myself, although some buyers will ask for them.
For long term storage, plastic tubs that seal are really the best solution. Cardboard boxes are too vulnerable to vermin and damp, so put them in plastic. Label those tubs — you’ll never remember what’s in there in a month or two. Hopefully you aren’t storing your games for too long, though — if you aren’t appreciating them or playing them, send them on to a new home that will.
So much for the big games, but what about the small ones? As you can see in the Kallax photo, I have small games in a basket. The Kallax can also hold removable drawer units that can store small games. Sounds good, but there is an even better solution that makes all those tiny games storable, and portable: ditch the boxes and get a photo storage box at the hobby store:
It’s called an Iris Photo Keeper, and sells for around $21 (full price is $40 at Michael’s but wait until they are on sale). Pro tip: at the store open the case and check to make sure the boxes inside close well — I have found the Iris are better made than some of the other brands. The photo keeper is great for storing and getting small card, dice, and micro games to a game night. Just keep the original game boxes in case you want to move any along in the future. It’s portable, convenient, and frees up a lot of space and clutter.
Here is (one) of mine – I have several! I have my small games labeled inside, with player count. It’s not the prettiest labeling job, but at least I know what’s in there.
Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to display your game collection proudly. Have your own storage solutions? Share in the comments!
Next: Part 2: Storing Inside the Box
Today, I’ll be taking a look at Okey Dokey, a TMG release first at Origins and then at GenCon later this year.
Okey Dokey plays 1-5 players and takes anywhere from 16-32 minutes! (No joke, that’s the time frame on the box)
The goal of the game is to play all cards to the table.
To setup, make 5 stacks of 2 Reset Cards each. Then, deal a number of Musician cards based on the number of players. Cards range from 1-8 in 5 colors.
On a turn, you either platy a card from your hand or play reset card onto the table
As you see from the image above, each will be assigned a color. One of the cool things about the game is that, 1. You’ll only be working on one column st a time. 2. A reset card must be played somewhere within the column currently being worked on. 3. There’re some communication restrictions in the game that all players must abide by:
Reset cards, when played, allow the player to dump 0-2 cards and replace them from the deck
The last type of card is the Wild Equals Card. When played, it acts as the card played right before it. Which can help you if you are in a bind. Beware, you set the difficulty of the game by how many equal cards you add to the deck at setup, 0-3..
Running out of cards:
Once the deck runs out, play continues, but players will be unable to draw anymore cards. In addition, when playing a Equals card, you may discard a musician card matching color of the row in which you played the equal card. Place the discarded card underneath the equal card you just played. You may do this once for every equal card in the deck.
Having no cards in hand on your turn:
You will not be able to carry out an action. The game doesn’t end, but your turn will be skipped for the rest of the game.
If during your turn, you are unable to carry out playing a musician card/equal card or reset card, the game immediately ends and the players have lost!
Having played this 4 times, here are some of the things i came across while playing this game. Recently, I have been on the hunt for good solo player games. Even though this offers the option for solo, it fell flat for me. The only change you make for a solo game is that you have a hand of 10 cards. I quit part way though my solo play because it was missing i love about co-op games, other people! The other plays were with 4-5 people each time and it works great! Now some of you might be thinking the sounds a lot like another game, THE GAME! You’d be right!
One of things that I like about Okey Dokey over THE GAME is the theme. The theme of trying to round up a set of animal to put on a concert is way more intriguing to me then just trying to lay numbers on piles. Coming from a large musical family, it’s always nice to see a musical theme in a game!
This game suffers from the “it’s harder to explain that it is to play syndrome” No one want to sit through rules that sound way more confusing sometimes then they actually are. Just jump in and play Don’t get me wrong, the rules are written well but the first run through of any rules are always a stumble.
The final thing I noticed about this game is how fast the game actually is. Whereas THE GAME for me has always seem too long and drawn our for what it is. Okey Dokey delivers the same style of game but in a more enjoyable package.
Welcome back, fearless Bear Clan! It is time. The final age in our game of BLOOD RAGE is here! The final days are upon us…nothing that has come before matters (well…sort of…we had to draft and battle up to this point…but that doesn’t sound as cool). Only the glory matters my brothers and sisters! And thus far our game has been glorious indeed! With quick wits and cunning strategy, we have come a long way on our path to that rainbow in the sky, Valhalla.
So here is our current player board in this epic three player match. I’m kind of happy with how age two went. We pushed a couple stats up with some quests and we repillaged using Tyr’s Challenge to our advantage. But I’ll be honest. It wasn’t perfect. I think we will be okay though if we stick to the plan…cheap or free things and quest like crazy!
And away…we…RAGE! Here’s our first hand of age three…QUESTS AND OH MY! IT’S ODIN’S FANCY CHAIR! Odin’s Throne…this card is too powerful to pass. I want it and I definitely don’t want anyone else to have it. It’s ours…our pretty…our…precious…cough! Cough! Excuse me. No, but seriously, we are going with Odin’s Throne. Who knows? Maybe we will get lucky and we will get some quests passed our way. We will snatch them because the Throne doubles their glory reward. I’ve seen easy 50 points or more just from this card alone.
Onward to hand two! I like this hand, but I was hoping for some quests. That’s okay. This one is all about battle cards and upgrades. I’m currently maxed on upgrades, but I see a combo here instantly. Remember when we drafted the Sea Serpent so long ago? Well…its time for her to shine! I’m looking at two cards here, Eternal Dragons to get the boat points and cheaper entry for my sea serpent as well as Frigga’s Sacrifice. This can be a lethal combo when combined with the Sea Serpent. How’s it work? If we can manage to draft both, we will attempt to get the boat and Sea serpent out and destroy them both with Frigga’s Sacrifice to raise a stat and gain 24 glory points in a single move. But which do we take first? I say Frigga’s Sacrifice because we really want to max some stats and this makes it easier along with our Tyr’s Challenge repillage upgrade. I like this, folks. I like this a lot.
Now that we are feeling good about ourselves again, lets move to hand three! A QUEST! PRAISE ODIN, A QUEST! I like some other cards in this hand, especially the Frost Giant, but we can’t afford him at the moment. The dent to our Rage would be too large. So with some slight trepidation I take the Yggdrasil quest and hope that space is pillaged early in the round so that I can sneak that one in.
Hand Four and we’ve got more quests folks! It’s a coin toss between the two but the Alfheim (Gray) quest may be easier to accomplish since I’m seeing that Blue has been ragnaroked twice. Plus gray is a cool viking color…so there’s that.
Hand Five and I’m actively cackling out loud at my foolish opponents! Eternal Dragons is ours and we will attempt to pull off that wicked awesome boat blow up combo I talked about earlier….EVIL CACKLE!!!
And our last hand. Soak it in, folks. I’m kind of sad it’s over really. Sigh. I like Soldier of Hel of course…but we have zero battle cards. I always like to have one and Thor’s Ascension can be a great one. We just need to use it wisely if we do get involved in a pillage, but honestly, this age we are going with the wimpy strategy. Avoid pillages when we can, swoop in like vultures and repillage the bones when we can.
Like stealthy ninja, Viking vultures.
Look at us. I’m proud of you all…especially of myself. I did a great job. I’m patting myself on the back right now. Congratulations to me.
I’m going to win.
Valeria: Card Kingdoms by Daily Magic Games
Recruit citizens from your kingdom to fight monsters and acquire domains for your secret duke character in this family friendly, fast paced game of tableau building and dice rolling from Daily Magic games by Isaac Vallejo.
Plays 1-5 in about 45 minutes total.
Daily Magic Games has come up with a very clever formula: get inspired by other titles and tweak the gameplay around just a little bit to come up with really fun to play games. In the case of Card Kingdoms, you are going to be strongly reminded of Machi Koro. If there were some things you didn’t like about Machi Koro (such as the length, the take that, and the punishing dice rolls) there’s a pleasant surprise waiting for you in the kingdom of Valeria. Even if you do like MK, this game is different enough to own both. The Valeria Card Kingdoms mechanic requires amassing a personal tableau of cards purchased from a center display, and then acting on the benefits of those cards depending on dice rolls by each player.
The game is a bit of a table hog, as you do need room to put out monsters, domains, and citizens, which are the cards that correspond to dice rolls and will make up your tableau. During the game, each player will roll two dice (very nice, hefty dice with big numbers) and take resources based on the individual two numbers and the sum of both dice – three opportunities to gain a resource, not just two. Every player gets a resource or action on dice rolls – not just the player who rolled them this turn. The rewards vary, with the best reward usually going to the player whose turn it is, but sometimes everyone gets an equal payout on a dice roll. By mid-game, you are rolling in resources. The strategy comes from how you are going use your riches in magic, fight strength and gold to gain victory points. Victory points are also gained through your personal hidden goals from your duke character, chosen at the beginning of the game.
The game is given good depth by categorizing citizens and others with class icons (healer, mystic, warrior, merchant, shown on the top right of the cards) and the need to match those icons to acquire domains and fulfill hidden goal requirements.
The decisions on your turn are straightforward. Will you fight monsters? Recruit more citizens to help you gain more resources? Buy up a domain, which gives special effects and powers? There are a good variety of decisions to be made in two actions each player has per turn, without the frustration of never having enough to spend. Even the currency, magic and gold, are interchangeable in most cases. There’s little downtime since no one is going to agonize too long over a decision.
Due to the excess of resources, the game goes quickly, since the end is determined when a number of card stacks are empty. Fought all the monsters? Game’s over. Bought all the domains? Game’s over. Bought up a player count-determined number of citizens? Game’s over. Add up your points, all done.
Change up the citizens in the center display for replayability. There is one small expansion, available at this time on BGG’s Store, and a funded kickstarter for a larger expansion that will be available this summer.
The artwork is excellent. The illustrations are gorgeous, on nice thick card stock. The box has a well designed insert with card dividers, a must for these types of games.
All of the Valeria games have the same characters, artwork, and similar themes, which works to tie in the brand and makes it easier to learn other titles in the series (also based on other games). Nothing new here, but that’s ok, because the fun factor is all there.
With quick turns, lots to do, and a moderate strategy demand, play is enjoyable. There is very little player aggression – a couple of cards take resources, probably just enough to satisfy those who want a little take that, but not enough for players who like conflict every turn. There’s no need to track what everyone else is doing, particularly, although it will be obvious that some players are collecting certain resources and a clever person could buy up what they needed to block point generation. My opinion is why bother, but it certainly could be played that way.
This game is in the sweet spot for families. It plays up to five and it does well at all player counts (including a solo mode!). The rules are easy to grasp and there’s no complicated decision making required to play, but you can play strategically to maximize your score. With something for everyone on a turn, no one feels left out and it requires engagement on someone else’s turn. The theme holds up and is integrated well.
Luck Factor: Quite a bit. If you don’t like being at the mercy of dice rolls, you may not like this one. However, it’s certainly mitigated by the numerous opportunities you have to score from the dice rolls.
Decision making: moderate
Player Interaction: optional, with a minimal amount of take that, but it’s there
Math skills: there is a bit of adding of lots of small numbers at the end when scoring.
Strategy (long term planning): moderate
Tactics (reacting to the game state): moderate
In this post I will be taking a look at the IOS adaption of the card game Jaipur
One neat thing that this app has added is a single player campaign mode
The last feature I want to touch on is playing online. In order to play online, you will need an Amosde screen name. These online matches are fast-paced and timed. Which brings me to my only negative point to the app. If you timed out during a match, you will automatically forfeit the match and there’s no way to reverse it
This app is a great adaption of the card game. A lot is packed into this app and for the $2.99 price tag, it’s really worth the purchase. As stated before, my only negative point deals with the timing out during an online match.
If this sounds like something that interests you, I would look into this enjoyable app!
by Mindy Basi
There are certain comments heard at the game table that can give you a heads-up as to what’s going on during game play. Although a phrase or comment might seem simple enough, it just might mean a little bit more in the context of how the game night is going. Have you heard any of these comments?
“Whose turn is it?”
Typically, this is a polite way of saying somebody at the table is taking way too long on their turn. In fact, it could be that one player has taken so long people have actually forgotten whose turn it is. Conversely, it could be that a player isn’t indicating when they have finished, or the next in turn order isn’t paying attention.
For the majority of games, it’s either indecision or wool gathering, but in a small number of cases the turn order changes or gets interrupted, causing confusion about who goes next.
When this question comes up a lot, it might be time to implement solutions, such as encouraging those who take too long on a turn to think about their moves ahead of time, perhaps offering help if it’s appropriate, or having players do actions that affect only themselves while the next player starts her turn. If it’s inattention by one person, then they aren’t engaged and maybe they need to play another type of game that keeps them interested. Sometimes you just have to accept that some people take too long on their turns. If the offender is around the same skill level as everyone else but just likes to deliberate every move, there’s not much you can do about it unless you are really good at giving pointed stares. If other players say it to you, apologize and hurry up!
“May I see the rulebook?”
Obviously, saying this is purely situational, but in most instances there is probably something going on that is causing a conflict.
If you hear this phrase while you are explaining a game, it could be your fellow gamer is not an auditory learner and needs to read to follow along. That’s ok, everyone learns differently. However, you might consider that your teaching style could use some improvement if the other players aren’t following and asking to see the rulebook themselves. For new players, unless you absolutely must see the rulebook, paying attention to the explanation is the courteous thing to do. When you teach, make sure you know the game beforehand so you aren’t looking up the rules (although let’s face it, it happens).
It might be that your favorite game has so many confusing icons and procedures you can’t get through a round without looking something up. Player aids can help, so if you love a game and it doesn’t have any, find some on BGG.com or make your own. Consider that some games (*cough* Race for the Galaxy) have so many icons and have such a learning curve that it might be better to find something else to play if you have new people, reserving the icon-heavy games for a regular group that knows them.
It could be that a rule needs clarification. A game that needs constant clarification, however, might end up finding its way to the trade pile eventually. There is nothing worse than everyone either arguing about a rule or an interpretation, or waiting around while another player scours the rulebook to figure out if they can legally do some clever move on their turn.
If someone grabs the rulebook in the middle of the game, and it’s not icons or definitions, it might be they are suspicious a rule is being broken somewhere, or someone isn’t playing correctly. That can be a problem. Good game play is built on trust.
“I play with this house rule.”
House rules can be handy to fix one flaw in what is otherwise a great game, but beware. Removing components or altering game play can end up tipping the game balance so in the end nothing works exactly as the designer intended it. The best example of this is Monopoly, where house rules made it easier but turned it into a game everyone loves to hate (it’s just not that good, even if you play it as intended). Use house rules judiciously, and explain them clearly for new players. If a game needs too many house rules it probably needs to be replaced with something better. There’s only so much you can do to fix a fundamentally broken design.
“Have you played many board games?” – or “what kinds of games do you play?”
If someone asks you this before you sit down to the table, they are trying to assess your skill and experience level. If you haven’t played many games, say so. Let people know what you like. Honesty really is the best course for questions like these, because once you are knee deep in hour two of resource management and meeples, you may wonder why you aren’t playing Dixit with the other group.
If they ask it after you have come in last in a game, it’s more of an assessment of your performance, or perhaps they are trying to be nice, in a backhanded way. It’s still a rude thing to say. “What would you like to play now?” is much nicer.
Accommodating a new player’s tastes and skill level is a friendly thing to do. Honesty on everyone’s part is also beneficial. Be forthright about what kind of commitment and skill level a game requires. A group can say, “this game is complex, takes about 30 minutes to explain, and takes 2-3 hours. Are you still interested?”
Players, know what kinds of games you like to play. That way, you don’t get sucked into games you dislike or that make you feel uncomfortable. If you aren’t in the mood for a brain burner like The Gallerist, dislike co-ops, hate coming up with funny phrases, don’t like lying to other players, or guessing things from weird pictures, be forthright about it. Not every game is for everyone.
What if you take a chance and on turn one you realize you would rather gouge your eyes out than play another round? If you want to leave, do it soon enough that it doesn’t change the game state (and realize that many games require an entire new board set up with a different number of players, or can’t even be played if you bail). Be polite about leaving but realize it can be disconcerting for the other players. The better alternative is play it through, do your best, and never play it again. You can’t form an opinion on what you prefer if you don’t try out different types of games.
Explaining what players will be doing in a game before starting is a good way to make sure everyone has a good time at game night. “This game has us all telling creative stories,” or “this is an aggressive game with lots of tactics,” or “this is a co-op where we all work together to win,” or “this game is complex and takes about 2 hours,” helps people decide what they want to do. No one wants to have to leave a game or sit and be miserable. On the other hand, encouraging people to try something new is a good way to be able to have variety of games people will play, and lets everyone get games they like to the table. Experienced gamers, be flexible — you might think you don’t like a certain genre, but some games can implement a mechanic well and in a different way.
On a final note, you may think someone’s game should be burned in a pit, but you don’t have to say it. “it was interesting,” is all you have to say.
“I am going to leave now.”
If this isn’t said at the end of the night, your game group might have a problem. If a stable game group or a welcoming environment is important to you, make sure that a player isn’t leaving because of a conflict with another person, a bad time in a game, a lack of games offered that they want to play, or some other reason you can correct. “Is everything ok?” said privately can sometimes get you an explanation. However, it’s very important to respect people’s personal space and privacy if they don’t want to talk. If something did happen at game night to cause discomfort or an issue, it’s up to the game group to address it. That’s a topic for a whole other article!
Are there other phrases people say at the game table that are more than they seem? Add them in the comments section!