Match Report 19th September 2011

A very unusual evening, 2 games with dice!

Monday saw the welcome return of both Natalie and our pilot friend Alex (so often in other parts of the world and rarely able to be with us these days). To these two were added our regulars Crispin, Daniella, Gwen (with pins sticking out of her feet!) and Ben. Alex and Ben were a little late so we began with a couple of hands of Straw.

Once all seven expected players had all arrived we split into two groups, the oldies and the youngsters. Although I think my presence in the latter and Alex's in the forma my undermine this naming!
Pirate Cove & Stone Age - The players

At one end of the table Alex, Gwen Crispin and Daniella decided to play Stone Age, a game Alex had never played and Crispin and Daniella had each played only oncebefore. It is one of Gwen’s favourites and she regularly beats me when we play the 2-player version, so I duly warned the other players to watch Gwen very carefully.

Pirate Cove - The board and player mat (ship)
At the other end of the table 3 of us tried Pirate Cove. This is a Days of Wonder game with delightful components and a good reputation on boardgamegeek as a fun game. With the game board laid out before us Ben, Natalie and myself set sail in search of fame and fortune. Early in the game Ben and Natalie's ships arrived at the same island and as you would expect with rival pirates

How to Pass The Time In Hospital – Part 1

A quick recovery, an unexpected delay and 5 games!

My long suffering and increasingly active game playing wife had to have an operation on her left foot last Saturday resulting in lots of holes, stitches, bruising and, very unpleasantly for her VERY squeamish husband, 3 pins sticking out the end of her toes! On the upside for me she cannot get out so I have a willing captive with whom to play games.

The operation went well and by 2pm Gwen was: fed and watered, expert with the crutches, dressed and waiting for the surgeon to visit and give her the all clear to go home. Frustratingly, he finally arrived well after 6pm meaning we had four hours to kill in a hospital room; thankfully I had thrown two games in the back of the car for just such an eventuality.
San Juan - A game in hospital

We started with San Juan (a gift from Tim on my trip to STABCON last summer - thanks again Tim). This is a simple and relatively fast card game where players seek to build up the optimal set of plantations, commercial and monumental buildings. More importantly it can just about fit onto one of those wheelie tables found at the side of hospital beds.

I had hoped that as well as fixing her foot the medical staff might have injected her with some magical ‘losing serum’ (regular readers will know that Gwen wins most of the games we play together), sadly this was not the case she beat me – strike one to Gwen!

Games in a Pub - 18th September 2011

Property, Trains, Boasting and Espionage a strange but fun mix of games

As expected the return to schools and universities impacted our numbers and the additional absence of my wife (recovering from an operation) meant the ratio of ladies to men swung heavily in favour of the males.
For Sale - The debris at the end of the game

We started with a gentle game of For Sale, the property trading game where you can buy anything from a Cardboard box to a Space Station. I think I had the Card Board box and Martin the Space Station but in the end it was

The Importance Of Theme And Mechanic When Selecting What Game To Play

A conversation during one games evening

An interesting conversation ensued at our last Monday games evening concerning the games we like and dislike. Not surprisingly everybody's list was slightly different, buy interestingly as much as we enjoy playing games there are equally individual games, or game themes or mechanics that we dislike. This conversation might be summarised as:

• Crispin likes the lighter games particularly ones with more social interaction e.g. Bohnanza and Saboteur, but ‘doesn't do’ co-operative games e.g Castle Panic and dislikes Galaxy Trucker and RoboRally.

• Daniella likes pretty much any game (and wins many) and loves RoboRally.

• Ben likes the generally likes the funnier games including Landlord, Braggart, Galaxy Trucker and Saboteur however he will play pretty much anything but doesn't generally enjoy some of the more thoughtful games such as, Alhambra, Seeland and League of Six, dislikes RoboRally but enjoys games such as Blokus and would happily play an exclusion game such as Bang.

• Gwen and I like pretty much anything but with a tendency towards more medium weight / tactical games but no exclusion games e.g. Bang. More specifically ‘Gwen doesn’t do’ SciFi games and Kevin ‘doesn’t do Railway games’ (Kevin keeps this quiet but you might have noted the absence of Ticket to Ride in my collection).

• It now seems that all of our group dislike Race for the Galaxy, claiming it to be to complex (check out this video for an unbiased assessment and form your own views).

Why do I recount the conversation? Because if this group of people who like playing games (and have probably seen many more games than your average UK resident) find there are games that they dislike, I suspect that if one of those had been their only ever encounter with games it might have left them thinking "I really don’t like games". A view that seems common to a large percentage of the UK population and one that could demonstrably be based on only a limited exposure to the games available today.

Match Report 12th September 2011

Where did everybody go?

With the return to school and university it was no great surprise that our numbers halved but thanks to our faithful core group, Crispin, Ben, Daniella and obviously my wife Gwen, we managed 5 Monday night.

As people arrived Gwen and I were finishing off the latest of our duels at Gobblet (an abstract two player wooden game I picked up at the local Hospice in the Weald charity shop for £1, full price when new around £25). A game that typically takes us 5 to 10 mins and over the last week we have played 20+ times, over breakfast, dinner and coffee. I had a clear lead in these encounters, which is very unusual since Gwen has something like an 80% victory record against me at 2-player games and sad to say I think the tide might be turning on this game too!

Alhambra (Age 8+, Players 2-6, 60 min playing time)
Alhambra - The game components

Alhambra - Kevin's Alhambra midway through the game
With everybody comfortable we started the evening with a game of

Review – Alhambra

2 to 6 players, Ages 8+, 60 Minute Playing time
This review will provide a brief overview of the rules (to give a flavour of the game), why we liked it and who we think it might appeal to.
Alhambra - The box and the Builders Market board

A classic Eurogame and Spiel des Jahres winner from 2003 Alhambra was designed by Dirk Henn and published by Queen Games. The game sees you in the role of one of the master builders at the time of the Moorish Sultans of Granada competing to build the most impressive walled palace or Alhambra.

Building your Alhambra you will have to manage your resources and outbid the others as you seek to add extravagant pavilions, beautiful gardens, long arcades, richly furnished chambers, comfortable seraglios and high watch towers whilst always paying attention to the wall that will protect your

Games in a Pub - 4th September 2011

The numbers hold up and we play 12 games in one evening
Patrician - The players pondering their next move
With so many ups and downs over the last 9 months as we have tried to build a group of Social Gamers in Crowborough I approached last night with some trepidation. We had had a really good turnout for the event two weeks earlier but would the numbers hold up and would people who said they had enjoyed themselves return or as has occurred in the past disappear into the distance.

Meeting Martin in the car park as I was carrying in the games for the evening (somebody who was joining us for the first time but had spotted our Facebook page and ‘Liked it only the day before) was surely was a good sign?

Match Report 30th August 2011

The challenge of picking the best game for the number of players
The Monday (on Tuesday) night gamers enjoying some munchies

Another good turn out with 11 this time, Daniella, Malcolm, Liza, Leonie, Chris, Effie, Sinead, Crispin, Joe, Gwen and obviously yours truly. On this occasion we had apologies from a further three Ben, Claire and Brian. I am sure the imminent start of school for two and University for another two will cause number s to drop but it is tremendously encouraging that we continue to attract such a broad range of people.

Given the nature of the evening i.e. a social evening with games (where people arrive at different times and we can never be 100% sure of how many will turn up) we can at times stumble into a good game that when played with too many people doesn’t quiet deliver and so it was on this occasion.

Caracassonne (Age 8+, Players 2-6, 60 min playing time)
Carcassonne - The players watch as Sinead considers where to place her next tile
At one end of the table I led six people in a game of Carcassonne which included the two expansion sets, “River” and “Inns and Cathedrals”. The interplay between the players and the suggestions, normally

Family Camping Holiday In England

The view from our tent, just before another deluge
Friday saw us heading up to Rutland for the Bank Holiday weekend to meet our nephew and his family for a few days camping - in the pouring rain!

It was no surprise that both he and I took quite a few games with us and that given the weather we played many of them. More details on these a little later. However it struck us that there were some important points to note from the weekend that might be of interest to other families and parents with young children.

1. That the two 7 year old boys had each bought only one cuddly toy with them so improvised endlessly (when it stopped raining) with sticks, logs, trees, etc (found around the camp site) and their imaginations in re-creating Star Wars speeders, light sabres characters and situations. It is amazing to see how much fun children can have when