Friday, December 26, 2014

The family that plays together stays together

A philosophy we live by, as demonstrated by the shelves and shelves of games and other forms of entertainment we have.  If we had more money, we'd travel. But in lieu of that, we make the most of what we have.  And for the plentiful days of bad weather that Ohio provides, especially in the Fall and Winter months, we have quite a selection of games to play.  Though video games, and new game apps, occupy the boys, there is still room for family games and family time.  So much so that they still ask for board games as well as tech stuff (and sometimes in some years, instead of tech stuff).

Here are some that we received this year, some by request, others by revelation.  In addition to some old standards, like Battleship and Scattergories, that were requested, and some for the youngest, including an awesome kiddie version of Scrabble so he can join our annual Scrabble game on New Year's Eve, the following should prove some fun hours in the upcoming year:

Based on the battle at the end of The Hobbit, the game (and its partner game War of the Ring) is based more on the books than the PJ movies.  And a good thing, since that helps it stay closer to the source material.  These games were the request of my 16 year old, and while ostensibly for multiple players, they are probably easier to play between two players.  The rules and flavoring and events mirror the books and the feel that one has when reading Middle Earth from Tolkien's perspective.  Not games made for a brief half hour to kill, the War of the Rings has been a joy, and this promises to be just as fun. 

Years ago, my parents bought a game called Labyrinth for our boys.  It was by a game maker named Ravensburger Games.  It was fun and well received, but we didn't play it often since even then, the older boys felt the pull of growing up, leaving our third son holding the bag with Mom and Dad.  But now our youngest has discovered it, and can't get enough playing Labyrinth.  Our boys, being good big brothers, have rotated playing it as well.  So given the quality and experience with that game, we found this product from Ravensburger.  We don't know if he'll like it as much, but if it comes close to Labyrinth it will be money well spent. 

When I was in high school, I had the idea of taking the board game RISK and adapting it to a World War II setting. I  even drew up rules and everything.  I never bothered sending it in, which is good news for everyone else but me.  Only a year or so later, a game called Axis and Allies was released, taking certain basic game concepts not unlike those in RISK, and multiplying them for a full blown WWII contest.  Two other games came out at that time: Fortress America and Shogun (or Samurai in other editions).  The latter two didn't have the same fanbase or numbers to sustain them like WWII had.  Still, I played Shogun once, and it was a blast. Now, with the miracle of, we were able to find an intact version for a reasonable price.  We'll see if it lives up to my memories.  Now if only I could find an intact version of Dark Tower for a reasonable price!

For years, decades perhaps, Avalon Hill was the undisputed master of historically inspired strategy and tactical games.  The old cardboard chits piled high in those days, and AH did an admirable job of combining scholarship with fun game play.  Some games were more complex than others, though striking a right combination between playability and historical accuracy was always key.  This is, as one could guess, based on the American Revolution.  The Historical Notes section of the rules makes clear this is not some modern Multi-Cultural PC version of events, but one that seeks to make actual events and players in the Revolution come alive.  We already have one Revolutionary War game, this one should add nicely to the collection. 

Based on reader recommendation, I couldn't find a rating for this that was under 4 of 5 stars.  It's in a historical genre completely out of my league.  Though I've studied some Asian history, most of my focus has been on Chinese if anything at all.  My knowledge of Japanese history comes in mostly toward the post-Industrial era.  It's certainly a pretty game, but we'll see. We may play Shogun first just to get the flavor of the period, since the two seem to be coming from similar historical settings. This also has a similar 'feel' to the game Mansions of Madness, which can only bode well for the game.  We'll see.  

But so far, enough games, as well as a couple in holding for Twelfth Night, and those our youngest received, that should keep us busy in addition to our store of games we already have.  A merry season indeed! 


  1. Ah so Santa's delivered Yedo for the holidays but you haven't got to play it yet?

    Though I don't think it's anything like Mansions of Madness (the times I've played it). For one thing (and one of the reasons I love it), ALL the rules you need to know are on either the board or the player cards. There's almost nothing to try and keep track of in your head, yet there's a lot of strategy to it.

    I eagerly await hearing how ya'll enjoyed it.

    Oh you'll probably want to play it once on "geisha" mode (which is mostly removing a few specially marked cards from their decks and not having the guard on the last turn) just to get a handle on how it plays before doing Samurai mode.

    (pssst, Dave you want a hint to give you a leg up on your family? Go for your bonus cards as fast as possible so you know what to work towards the rest of the game.)

  2. Will do. We're making one game a week. Plus trying to get in Mansions of Madness and a couple others we always do. It was busy this year, so we're behind. We'll get there though, and I'll give a full report!


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