Match Report 25th October 2010

Yacht on fireWell the group was small, but the munchies where huge! This week saw the return of Natalie and Liza (enjoying the brief respite from their educational studies) joined by Daniella and Crispin. Pauline had planned to join us but sadly was laid low with a cold, Malcolm was visiting relatives, Alex was touring Florida, Ben was watching one of the boats in their flotilla explode (hmmm – thankfully everybody got off safely) and Ian was cramming more homework in preparation for yet more exams.

Dixit (Age 8+, 3-6 players, 30 min playing time)
Players nearing the end of a game of Dixit
Fresh (well actually exhausted) back from the Spiel at Essen I suggested we start with one of the new games Dixit. This years winner of the coveted Spiel des Jahres award, described in brief here. This game (despite being simple and non confrontational) seems to create very strong reactions with people either loving or hating it a “Marmite game” as Ian put it. With Daniela falling in the camp of those that really like this game then it come as no surprise that she triumphed in this game, although without her oft heard cry of ‘ I don’t really understand this game’!

Patrician (Age 8+, 2-5 players, 50 min playing time)
Players midway through a game of Patrician
Moving on we gave another run out to Patrician, a more tactical game described here. On this occasion Natalie triumphed which heralded time for the munchies. With an apple cake prepared by Daniela and cup cakes prepared by Natalie we were spoiled for choice and this distraction may have contributed to Crispin failing to win through on any of the games.

Bohnanza (Age 8+, 2-7 players, 45 min playing time)
Munchies - Apple Cake & Cup Cakes. An important part of any games night!
Lastly we came to the ever popular Bohnanza (described in more detail here). This game was marked by much complaining on my part against the restrictive practices of the ladies who seemed to be picking on me, refusing to trade and then accusing me of sharp practice, as if! With the female dominance and Crispin distracted by the food it was no surprise that Natalie and Daniela tied for first place in this game.

So whilst the group was small we had extra munchies and managed to get three games in and a really great evening.

Essen Spiel 2010 – An Amazing Trip

Essen Spiel 2010 - Day 1 The Crowds Queuing to Get In
The Spiel is the biggest games event in the European calendar and sees people travelling from all over the world. It occupies 44,100 square meters of exhibition space for 4 days, from 10am and till 7pm, with over 760 exhibitors from 31 nations. Last year it attracted over 150,000 people.

A common theme that runs through my blog posts concerns the events I attend and how friendly / sociable everybody is (given the nature of the activity this should in truth come as no surprise, however society today almost conditions us to expect the reverse).

Essen Spiel 2010 - Day 4 The team just before we head home - Rob, Phil, Simon, Ian, Daniel, Paul, Ben and me
Well for this trip (being my first to the Spiel at Essen) I had talked to friends concerning how to get there and where to stay. This research eventually revealed that there was a group of gamers driving up from Exeter, meeting another car load from Hemel Hempstead and others from around the country once they got to the hotel in Essen; and they just happened to have space for one more passenger and a room available. So taking the plunge I met up with the group (knowing none of them) and headed off to Germany on Wednesday lunchtime and what a great group they were. Paul Grogan deserves special mention as both the organiser (very efficient), driver and as my guide around the show on the first day. It may seem strange that you need a guide however the show was unlike anything I had ever seen before (see attached photos) and a guide was most welcome, as the show was spread across eight halls.

Essen Spiel 2010 - Day 2 Crowds of people
The number of people was quite amazing. I had been told to expect crowds but what was to me most notable was that they represented a complete cross section of society. This was not the preserve of

Essen Spiel 2010 – Anecdotes

What follows are my memories, comments and images, as well as those of my travelling companions, from the 5 day trip to Spiel Essen 2010.

Essen Spiel 2010 - Day 4 The team just before we head home - Rob, Phil, Simon, Ian, Daniel, Paul, Ben and me
I should start by listing the team that helped me with my research, patiently answering my questions and even playing one ‘fluffy’ (the disparaging term used by board gamers about lightweight games) game with me. Paul Grogan (trip organiser from Devon), Ben and Rob (also from Devon), Simon (from Bracknell), Ian and Daniel (from London), Phil (from Hertfordshire),  Paul, Dave and Mark (from GameLore in Telford), Tim, Chooi and Philip (from Manchester) and finally my room mate Tim (from Newcastle). Thanks guys.

· Paul awoke on the Thursday morning to discover a settee at the foot of his bed with no recollection of how it got there. This was not because of alcohol, but rather

Sheffield University – A Games Evening

Attendees at the Imagination Gaming event at Sheffield University playing TransEuropa
On Wednesday evening, 13th October 2010, Imagination Gaming descended on the Coffee Revolution at Sheffield University’s Student Union. The event attracted a wide range of interest from students still studying for their A Levels through to those of more mature years, with plenty of people from the campus itself. Interestingly the majority of the university students were from

Match Report 11th October 2010

Incan Gold - The Temple
Another good turn out saw the return of Matt, plus Daniella, Crispin, Malcolm, Alex and Ian.

Incan Gold
To get the evening going we started with Incan Gold, a light push your luck / exploration game that has something of the feel of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom about it. At the beginning of each turn each player decides if they want to push on into the temple or run off with the treasure they have found. In this game finding treasure is one thing but getting it out safely and back to your tent is a key part of the game. As it is only once the treasure is in your tent that it counts towards victory at the end of the game.

Incan Gold - Some of the players
After five rounds (the game only lasted half an hour) Daniella emerged triumphant with a huge pile of treasure; the rest of us someway behind, and Ian very unusually

GameCamp 9th October 2010 – The Games

James, Rowena, Jurek and Andrew learning how to play Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico (Age 12+, 3-5 players, 90 min playing time)
When I saw a game of Puerto Rico being set up, described by Stuart Dagger (editor of 'The Counter') as “a work of pure genius”’ I felt called to ask if I could join the other players. As is my wont I wandered over and asked if there was space for one more player – thankfully they said yes.

Rowena, having played Puerto Rico once before, took on the mantle of guide and tutor to the rest of us and battled manfully against our constant questions and the rules. However, with the support of caffeine and perseverance on everybody’s part, the game

GameCamp 9th October 2010 - Overview

GameCamp - Lots of games
An early start (but not as early as some who got up at 4am!) saw me wandering down Richmond High Street just after 8:30. Not a very busy place at that hour so perhaps no great surprise that I spotted some fellow gamers, like myself, trying to work out where how to find GameCamp. The guys I had the good fortune to hook up with where Neil Mayer of thru-the-portal and Mark Rivera the man behind the Boardgames in Blighty blog and so a very interesting hour was spent disusing the future of social game playing in the UK. Interestingly Mark is also using games within his church community to help bring people together.

After coffee and breakfast the GameCamp broke out into its respective streams, the un-conference, the GameHack and playing games.

GameCamp - People gathering around the pizza's
The GameHack was sponsored by Cadbury’s and offered the opportunity to design a

Board Game Dates for October

On this coming Saturday 7th October there is GameCamp, a one day event being run as part of the London Games Festival 2010. This consists of:
  • Talks about games design, play and anything else, I would imagine, board game related.
  • The opportunity to play a wide variety of board games.
  • Game hack offers the opportunity to design and test games for the day
  • Munchies 
This could be a really interesting day with many people present from both the video gaming fraternity as well as obviously board gamers. As their web site states "GameCamp is about more than making games: it’s about playing them, thinking about them and how they affect our lives for good or for ill." Further details can be found on the Game Camp web site

Later in the month there is the Spiel 2010 at Essen, four days of the largest games show in Europe. More details can again be found on their web site I have never been to this before but have been told I will be blown away by the scale of the event covering 12 halls and that regularly gets around 200,000 people through the doors!

Then on the 26th October we will be having our next Social Afternoon with Games bringing together young and old from within the Crowborough parish community of St Mary's. It will run from 2pm till 5pm in the church hall.

My experiences at these events will obviously be posted as time permits on this blog.

The Good Things of Childhood Should Last a Lifetime

Following our summer trial of the "Social Afternoons with Games" at St Mary's, Crowborough, Peter Lanaway, a highly regarded English teacher at St Gregory's school in Tunbridge Wells (until his retirement), kindly took the time to send me this feedback.

I would encourage anybody who doubts my  belief in why these modern board and card games are such an excellent tool, to read his comments.

I have intermittently played board games: when I was young; when my children were young , and nowadays with my grandchildren. Games also tend to appear at larger family gatherings, especially at Christmas.

We have hitherto stuck to traditional games: draughts, dominoes, chess, cards, -especially whist and crib,- Othello, Battleships, and tiddleywinks, at which I used to be amazing... Games for larger groups have included word games such as Boggle and Lexicon. ( I have never taken to Scrabble.) Jenga is an unfailing winner. Of the bigger games, Monopoly has never appealed as its outcome is