Games Gist

Family Gaming

Three Months and Forty-Two Different Games

In the first three months of 2007, I played 42 different card and board games. Why, it was almost “gamer heaven!” There is one primary reason for my opportunity to enjoy such a variety: my participation in three very different gaming “groups.” 

I enjoy playing a large selection of games with my family of eight, weekly. Our games include at least six players, usually seven, and sometimes eight. This restricts the number of games we can play, because many games simply cannot accommodate that many players. Fortunately, we have been able to stretch a good number of games that are officially designed for five or six players, so that seven or eight of us can play together. Our game preferences also limit the games available to us, since we rarely play party games, which generally are aimed at groups of eight or more. But, we have acquired a good variety of excellent games that we can all enjoy simultaneously. 

Late in 2006, a new game group was formed in the area where I live, by citizen k (BGG username) – the West Denver Gamers. We meet weekly, and the number of participants has varied between two and nine, depending on everyone’s schedule. Most times, at least three or four people are there. We usually split into two groups, if there are more than five in attendance. This has given me the opportunity to play games that allow only three, four, or five players, which include some excellent choices. I would not be able to play those games with my family, because we prefer to all play together, rather than dividing into smaller groups. 

In addition, after citizen k and I got acquainted at the game group nights, we began playing games one afternoon per week, when our schedules allow it. This gives me the chance to play some games that I would not be able to play otherwise. Some of the games are strictly two-player, while others play well with two, but could accommodate more players. It also gives us both the opportunity to play more lengthy games than could be played at our game group meetings, including wargames. 

Gaming in these three quite different circumstances is a real golden opportunity for me. I have never before had the opportunity to play so many great games of such variety as I am now enjoying. The West Denver Gamers group brings together an excellent choice of games, both older ones and new ones. I would not have the chance to play some of the these games, outside of the group (or one like it). Many of the games would not interest most of my family group, even if they accommodated seven or eight players, but I have an extensive curiosity about a wide variety of game types.  Here is a list of the games I played in the first three months of 2007: 

  • Afrika Korps
  • Alhambra
  • Around the World in 80 Days
  • Bohnanza
  • Boomtown
  • Carcassonne
  • Cartagena
  • Coloretto
  • Drakon
  • Elfenland
  • Foppen
  • Hare and Tortoise
  • Hellas
  • Hunters and Gatherers
  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Loot
  • Lord of the Rings – The Confrontation
  • Manhattan
  • Munchkin
  • Nertz
  • Oh Hell
  • Pick Picknic
  • Pickomino
  • Puerto Rico
  • Railroad Tycoon
  • Risk: Godstorm
  • Scattergories
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Silverton
  • Station Master
  • Stonewall Jackson’s Way
  • Taboo
  • Take It Easy
  • Thurn and Taxis
  • Ticket to Ride
  • Tigris and Euphrates
  • Trumpet
  • Turn the Tide
  • Verräter
  • Wooden Ships & Iron Men
  • Zirkus Flohcati

I consider that to be a rather eclectic group of games. The range of complexity, length-of-play, published age, and level-of-challenge is wide among these games. Notice that pure abstracts are missing from the list; most games of that genre really hold little interest for me, although a few can be entertaining when I’m in the right frame of mind. There are only a few light wargames here, although citizen k and I may bring more of them to the table this year in our two-player sessions. A few years ago, I would not have even dreamed of playing such a wide variety of games in a three-month period. Life is good! 

I would enjoy playing every game in the list again. Some, I have played only once, so I might grow tired of them after a couple more sessions, but many of them I have played repeatedly and still enjoy immensely. Several of those that I have played only once were most entertaining, and I certainly hope to play them another time. It is possible that I may not have a chance to play some of these games again in the future, and I am sorry to contemplate that possibility. Fortunately, I will have enjoyed them at least once in my lifetime. There are a lot of great games I have not yet tried, but may have the opportunity to do so, by participating in these three different gaming “groups.” I look forward to the remainder of this year with great anticipation; I wonder what new games (to me) I will get to encounter. 

March 31, 2007 Posted by | Family Gaming, Games | Leave a comment

Gaming at Estes Park

We took the family to a cabin in Estes Park CO for a family retreat. The grandkids are out of school, as well as their parents (who are teachers) this week for spring break. We all had a great time and played quite a few games. We played these card and board games: 

  • Scavenger Hunt (x2)
  • Taboo (x3)
  • Risk Godstorm
  • Lord of the Rings Confrontation (x2)
  • Loot (x4)
  • Scattergories
  • Bohnanza (x2)
  • Pickomino
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Station Master

 This list does not include games played on a Nintendo 64, online, or on the PC. 

Scavenger Hunt is a fun and funny game. Dan, Joel, and I played two games. We randomly drew a lair card each, to determine which scavenger we were playing. I drew the Hyena, Joel drew the Leopard, and Dan the Crocodile. In past games, it appeared that the Crocodile was the most powerful scavenger and usually won the game. However, by using the special ingestion power of the Hyena, I kept grabbing low-score carcasses, while the Crocodile and the Leopard were fighting over the big carcasses, which allowed me to win the game (barely). We were all at a score of 90 or 95 for the last round, and I managed to get a 10-point carcass back to my lair before they could drag their loot home. In the second game, Joel wanted us to play with two scavengers, each, so we drew randomly again. Joel got the Leopard and the Vulture; Dan was the Crocodile and the Jackal; I was the Hyena and Lizard. We agreed that each scavenger would score separately, and we had to designate which scavenger we used for each turn. Joel put the Vulture into flying mode over the savannah for the entire game and scored carcasses with the Leopard. I made a mistake of taking one carcass with each of my scavengers at the beginning of the game, which divided my points. Joel’s die rolls consistently beat Dan’s Crocodile, even with its +3 bonus. It was again a close game, and Joel won. 

We played Taboo, males against females. If I recall correctly, the females won each game, although they were all close. Taboo always includes a lot of laughter, as the current player tries to think of a clever clue without saying the forbidden words on the card. We had only a few instances of someone saying a “taboo” word, although there were some very tough cards. One of my cards looked easy; the word was CLIFF. But, every clue I thought about used one of the words I couldn’t say, until I said, “First name of the postman on Cheers.” 

This was my first time to play Risk Godstorm, a game that Dan and Joel have enjoyed a lot. Joel, Dan, Mason, Kassi, and I played only a two-Epoch game, which took two hours. Part of the length was due to the fact that Kassi and I had not played it before, and it took us a lot of time to decide what to do during our turns. Early in the game, Mason and Dan had been whittled down a lot on the Earth board and were battling it out on the Underworld board. I managed to cut back Kassi’s Earth forces, and she began challenging Dan and Mason in the Underworld. Joel made some good moves to recover a lot of Earth territory in his last turn, but I had the most Victory Points and won the game. I can’t imagine how long it would take to play five Epochs with five players, unless they were all well-experienced. 

Lord of the Rings Confrontation was interesting. It looks like (and is) a simple game to learn. Knizia amazes me with many of his game designs. How he managed to keep a reasonable flavor of the book in a game that looks and plays much like Stratego on a very small board and with only a few cards is almost incomprehensible. Dan and Joel had played this several times, and the Dark Side always won, no matter who played it. So, Dan let me be the Dark Side for the first game, and I did indeed win. But, I surprised him by also winning the second game with the Fellowship side. I managed to move Frodo around one side of the board by himself most of the way (which was a dangerous ploy, but fairly true to the story), while decoying the other side with Legolas. When I neared Mordor, Dan had one character there, and I joined Sam with Frodo and used a mutual sacrifice card to eliminate his character, while he had only two characters near the Shire. Careful card play, matched with the characters’ powers, make this an interesting game, different every time. I liked the quick play, easy rules, and LotR flavor. A neat game for two people. 

We all enjoy playing Loot. That has become a favorite with several of us. Dan, Joel, and I played two games, followed by two games with Dan, Sue, Katrina, and me. We didn’t write down the scores, but enjoyed all four games. I do recall that Joel beat Dan and me in one of the games. In the first game, I was dealt the Admiral, which came in handy later. In one of the games, I was dealt the green pirate captain, but never drew a single green pirate ship in the entire game, which made that card useless to me. That was hard to believe. Loot plays very differently, depending on the number of players (not too unusual, I suppose, in gaming). I enjoy 2-player games, 3 or 4-player games, and 7 or 8-player games. The game box says it is playable by 2-8 players, but it is a bit unusual to find a game that is as much fun with 2 as with 8 players. Loot is such a game. But, naturally, you have to play differently, depending upon how many players there are. It is fairly common in a 2-player game to be able to save many of your treasure ships, without playing pirates on them, while it is rare to be able to do so in an 8-player game. With more players, you really have to attack other ships carefully and pay attention to all the ships on the table at the same time, so no one gets a large treasure without a tough battle. I like this game very much. 

Natalia has become a fan of Scattergories and asks to play it whenever the rest of us are willing to do so. We allow her and Joel to use the letter rolled on the die, plus one other letter adjacent to it (in the alphabet) for their answers. In a five-player game with Natalia, Joel, Katrina, Sue, and me, the final scores (three rounds) had everyone but Joel at 16 points, while he had 10. Joel probably will be scoring very well with a couple more years of living and education, and Natalia is getting better at it. In a couple of years, she will have to play just the same letter that the adults do. 

All of us enjoy Bohnanza, and these two games were fun. Joel is a whiz at this game. He won the first game we played this weekend (as usual). Results: Joel first (11 gold); me second (10); Kassi, Mason, and Natalia (tied) third (9); Sue and Katrina (tied) sixth (8); and Dan last (6). In the second game, the scores switched quite a bit, although Joel was still in the top two. It was the first game of Bohnanza that we have played in 2007 that Joel didn’t either win or tie for the win. Results: Sue first (13); Joel second (12); Dan and Katrina (tied) third (10); me fifth (9); Kassi, Mason, and Katrina (tied) last (8). 

Pickomino is an easy game that has become a family favorite. With eight players, it only takes three or four worms to win the game. Results: Me first; Kassi, Natalia, and Katrina (tied) second; Joel fifth; Sue, Mason, and Dan (tied) last. 

Mason had really missed playing Settlers of Catan for the past couple of weeks, and he requested I bring it to the retreat. With 7 players, we play to only seven Victory Points. I couldn’t get anywhere in this game. I was first player and started on a nice 5-8-9 intersection, which did okay for me. But, I got almost completely cut-off and surrounded by other players very quickly. I finally decided that I had to go for the best finish I could get with Development Cards. I managed to buy only four of them, but two were VP cards, with two Soldiers. I had hoped to get the Largest Army, which with the VP cards and my one city and one settlement would have won the game, but Dan beat me to the Largest Army and won the game before I could steal it. Results: Dan first; Joel and Mason (tied) second; Sue, Kassi, and me (tied) fourth; Katrina last. 

Kassi has really taken to Station Master, which everyone else seems to like, too. I really enjoy this game. When the first two trains had been scored, these were the standings: Kassi 129, Mason 97, Joel 93, Sue, Katrina, and me (tied) 70, and Dan 45. The final results were: Me first (234); Dan second (196); Mason third (179), Kassi fourth (159), Katrina fifth (137), and Sue and Joel (tied) last (117). With two trains left in the game, my hand was three yellow cards (no point cards). At the time, Dan’s score was 214, while I was at 204. On my last play, I played a card that allowed me to shift three passenger tokens from one train to another. I moved two of Dan’s tokens from a high-scoring train to one that ended with a negative value. He lost 28 points, while I gained 30, giving me the win. Scores in this game change rapidly, and it’s important to keep up with the relative standing, to make the best decisions on where to play which cards. With 7 players, it can be difficult to get your passenger tokens on the trains where you want to be, because they often fill up before you have a chance to commit yourself. It’s very rare to be able to get more than one token on any train, but it can happen, especially with the few 8- and 7-passenger locomotives. Joel enjoys playing “spoiler” and playing negative value cards on other people’s trains, but that doesn’t seem to be a good strategy for winning. You have to have passenger tokens on trains and try to make them score with high positive numbers, so defense doesn’t work well with that many players. 

We all had a great time, and I enjoyed learning two new games (and winning them). Next weekend, Mason and Kassi won’t be joining us. I’d like to get out Drakon again, but will have to see what the rest of the family wants to play. 

March 27, 2007 Posted by | Family Gaming, Games | Leave a comment

Games Played March 17, 2007

We had a great St. Patrick’s Day. Sue and I fixed a meal of favorite recipes – Herbed Pork Medallions, Special Twice-Baked Potatoes, Antipasto Salad, and Crème de Menthe Cake (for a green dessert). After the big lunch, we decided to work a bit of it off by playing Bocce in the front yard. Dan won easily, and we were sure that was correct, even though he was the scorekeeper.

It was Kassi’s day to select the card/board games. She had not played Station Master, but she wanted to learn it, so that was the first game. Kassi certainly is a fast learner, and she won the game. With 7 players, you sometimes have no chance to place a passenger token on a small train, because it gets filled before your turn. However, with the same number of locomotives on the table as there are players, there are lots of choices throughout most of the game. Somehow Kassi jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it. Results: Kassi first (284 points); Mason second; Sue third; Joel fourth; me fifth; Katrina and Dan (tied) last. It was the start of a bad gaming day for Katrina and Dan. 

Bohnanza was up next, although Natalia chose to not play with us this time. Joel has a real knack for this game. I believe he has won or tied for first every time we’ve played Bohnanza this year. Results: Joel first; Dan and Kassi (tied) second; Sue fourth; Katrina and Mason (tied) fifth; me last.

We couldn’t talk Natalia into playing Trumpet, either. It was a wild game. I did not get dealt a trumpet card until the last hand, the only person not having at least one sooner, and both Katrina and Sue had two trumpet cards in their hands at least once. At the end, Joel and I were jumping each other down the stretch, with Joel ending up on the penultimate space. In the last hand, Joel led to the first trick, but didn’t have a winning card. On the next trick, Sue led. Every suit she had in her hand was a suit I was void in, and I was holding a trumpet card. Katrina, Joel, and Dan played after me, but they had to follow suit, so I won the game. Results: Me first; Joel second; Mason third; Sue fourth; Kassi fifth; Dan sixth; Katrina last. 

Natalia finally joined us for the last two games. Kassi had brought out Settlers of Catan, but decided she would rather play all shorter games, so it never made it to the table. The next game was Pickomino, which is becoming a frequently-played game for us. With 8 players, the scores are very low in this game, especially if there are lots of scratches, as there were today. However, Sue acquired 5 worms, which is not easy in our group. Results: Sue first (5 worms); Mason second; Natalia, Kassi, and me (tied) third; Joel sixth; Katrina and Dan last (zero worms).

We finished the day with three quick games of Zirkus Flohcati. We always add the three scores together, to count as one game. Katrina had the best score at the end of the first game, with Mason one point behind. Natalia scored the only gala of the day in the second game, to move into third place, behind Katrina and Joel. But the third game was the decisive one. With everyone picking on the leader, Katrina, when we had the chance, she scored the fewest points of the three games, while Mason scored the most points of the three games and surged ahead for the overall victory. Results: Mason first; Kassi second; Joel third; Katrina fourth; Natalia fifth; Dan and Sue (tied) sixth; me last.

We played no medium or heavy board games today, which was a little out of character, but it was a fun day. Although Trumpet is basically a card game, it does depend on the movement on the board to make it the interesting game that it is. Pickomino is a push-your-luck dice game, and the other games we played were strictly card games. We really enjoy a wide variety of card games, only a few of which are played with a regular deck of cards.

Next weekend, we all plan to be on a family retreat (the beginning of school spring break for our two students and two teachers) in Estes Park, Colorado. We will pack a lot of games, although we may not play many with all of us in them at the same time, so perhaps only a few will count in our family gaming records. Along with books, DVDs, and maybe some puzzles, we will have a lot of indoor entertainment with us, although we plan to also tour part of Rocky Mountain National Park and do some shopping in town. Everyone looks forward to this annual adventure.

March 19, 2007 Posted by | Family Gaming, Games | Leave a comment

Games Played March 10, 2007

Wow, what a fun day of family gaming we had on Saturday. We played six different games and one of them twice, including a game we had not played before. 

The first game we played was Coloretto. We didn’t play this game at all in 2006, and this was our first play in 2007. I’ve expanded the game so 7 can play, and it is as much fun with a large group as with a smaller one. We play three games and total the scores to count as one game on our family records. Katrina scored big in the first game, and we couldn’t catch her during the next two. Results: Katrina first (53 points); Dan second (47); Sue third (46); Mason fourth (44); me fifth (43); Joel sixth (40); Kassi last (27), only her second time to play this. 

Drakon Next up was a new game I’ve been wanting to play – Drakon 3rd Edition. This is a neat game. Although designed for a maximum of 6 players, we tried it with 7, and it worked fine. I need to find another character (Hero) token, and I don’t like the fact that all the characters are the same color. I may try to find 7 painted miniatures, or I’ll paint the bases of these tokens, to help differentiate them. We played only with the basic rules, plus we agreed that Drakon could not be moved to the starting chamber. That didn’t turn out to be a problem, because the game ended so quickly that Drakon was never in the game. We had 4 chambers placed very early that allowed us to draw gold coins, plus a teleport chamber that allowed us to re-enter the treasure chambers repeatedly. The game was over quickly. I drew only four coins to win the game – 2 threes and 2 twos. Results: Me first (10 gold); Kassi and Sue (tied) second (9); Katrina and Mason (tied) fourth (6); Joel and Dan (tied) last (5). We expect to play this some more. 

The third game of the day was Around the World in 80 Days. I really like this game. Sometimes I win and sometimes I don’t even finish. This was one of those latter days. Mason was unbelievable in this game. He moved to a new city every turn and finished well ahead of the rest of us, and used only 68 days to do so. We were amazed. We were further amazed when Joel also finished at 68 days, only two turns after Mason. That means Joel did even better with his time, since he also had penalty days added, after Mason got to London. Katrina and Sue also tied at 76 days, with Katrina finishing just ahead of Sue. Dan hit 80 days exactly, while Kassi ran to 84 days. I was holding three train cards when Kassi finished, but I needed one train and two ships, so I could not finish. If I had had enough ships, I was in a position to actually finish in fewer days than Mason and Joel, but it does no good if you don’t have the cards to finish the game. Results: Mason first; Joel second; Katrina third; Sue fourth; Dan fifth (although he was the second to reach London); Kassi sixth; me last (did not finish). 

Next, we played two games of Pickomino. This is a neat, easy, quick game, even with 7 and 8 players. Natalia decided to join us for the second game. Worms were not too difficult to obtain in the first game, but we had terrible dice rolls in the second. Results of game 1: Sue first (8 worms); Joel second (4); Dan and me (tied) third (3); Katrina fifth (1); Mason and Kassi (tied) last (zero worms). Results of game 2: Me first (4 worms); a 5-way tie for second – Dan, Katrina, Mason, Natalia, Sue (3 worms); Joel and Kassi (tied) last (zero worms). Poor Kassi ended with no worms in either game, although she acquired them along the way, but had them stolen or lost them with bad dice rolls. 

We thought we could entice Natalia to play Trumpet with us, but she declined. This was a fairly long-playing game, for some reason. With 7 players, it is difficult to catch more than a trick or two in one hand, and sometimes it’s easy to go several hands without catching any tricks. Joel had mostly bad hands of cards, and he had a tough time. Once the rest of us left him behind, it was almost impossible for him to catch up, since he had no tokens to jump over. The game came down to the wire, with Kassi on the next-to-last space and Katrina one space behind her. I was about three spaces behind Katrina. Kassi thought she had won, when she was able to play a trumpet card, but Joel played a trumpet card to beat her. On the next play, Katrina played the winning card. Results: Katrina first; Kassi second; me third; Dan fourth; Mason fifth; Sue sixth; Joel last. 

We also thought we might get Natalia to play Bohnanza, but she just wasn’t in the mood for games. We all enjoy this game very much, with fast and loud trading going on constantly. Kassi won with a good margin, for this game. Results: Kassi first (13); Dan and Katrina (tied) second (10); me fourth (9); Sue and Joel (tied) fifth (8); Mason last (7). 

We certainly enjoy our weekly family gaming. We still have Ave Caesar and Silk Road to try out, but I’m not sure when we will get to them. I was glad to see Drakon go over well. This was my week to choose games, and I had “threatened” to only get out unplayed games, but I knew that would not be very popular, so I only brought out Drakon in that category. Everyone was glad to see old favorites on the table, with Drakon. It is a little difficult to believe that we didn’t play either Settlers of Catan or one of the Carcassonne games this weekend (but, I wanted to play other games, so I didn’t get them out). I’m sure Settlers will be on the table next weekend, because Mason and Kassi are selecting the games.

March 12, 2007 Posted by | Family Gaming, Games | Leave a comment

Games Played Recently

I had the opportunity to play Railroad Tycoon recently and thoroughly enjoyed it. The board is huge, but still gets crowded with track, especially in the northeast. The mechanics are excellent, and it is a challenging game. For a first time, I felt I did well, finishing second in a 4-player game. I enjoy some railroad games, and this one is based on the PC game by the same name, a game I have played many times over the years on my computer.

I have also played several games of Silverton, another railroad game. These games have been 2-player, and although I have lost each one, I think I am improving. I would like to try Silverton with three, or preferably four, players. I believe that would significantly change the game.

 Manhattan is a neat game. I’ve played twice — lost terribly the first time, and won the second time. The first game was a 3-player, and I kept trying to compete with both the other players, while they avoided competition with each other. Not a good strategy on my part. The second game was a 4-player, and although the board was more crowded, I enjoyed watching the other players jockeying for position with each other and leaving me some opportunities for spreading out and dominating 2 (and sometimes 3) areas. It’s a neat game that I could enjoy playing anytime, but preferably with 4 players.

Scavenger Hunt is a hilarious card game, if you don’t mind the theme (scavenger animals fighting over carcasses on the African savannah). I played two games of this recently, 4-player games. Both games were won by the player (different players) with the crocodile scavenger. My son-in-law has played it with his family numerous times, and he said the crocodile almost always wins. It’s possible there is an imbalance here. We may need to modify the characteristics of the crocodile for future games.

I was glad to have the opportunity to play Alhambra two days ago. I really like that game, but have never done well at it, with 5 players. This was the first time we had played with just 4, and I managed to win easily. Maybe I need to just play 4-player games!

 Finally, I recently enjoyed a game of Hellas. That is an intriguing game. I even won it. Having the right cards at the right time makes a big difference in this game, but that’s true in many games. There are aspects of many games in Hellas. I see some tastes of chess, Tongiaki, Carcassonne, Risk, and even Memoir ’44 in it. That is a weird combination, but Hellas combines these elements in a fun and challenging game. It has tile-laying, combat, card management, exploration, area control, resource management, and can involve bluffing and surprise moves. A fun game for two players.

March 5, 2007 Posted by | Games | Leave a comment

Games Played March 3, 2007

Mason and Kassi were out of town on Saturday, so there were only six of us for games, following Joel’s last basketball game of the season. It was Joel’s turn to select the games, and he picked Alhambra, Scattergories, Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride.


Alhambra is a very interesting game. With five or more players, it is almost impossible to make any long-range plans. The tiles and money available change drastically between your turns, so you simply have to make the best decision, given the items available. After the first scoring, I had one point! It’s not as bad as it sounds, since someone else had 2 points, but it wasn’t a good start. I did better with the second scoring round, moving well up into the pack. At the end of the last segment, I managed to purchase a perfect tile, extending my wall by two sides and getting a third Tower piece, giving me the majority in that type. I won, for the first time ever. Results: Me first; Sue second; Joel third; Katrina fourth; Dan last.


Joel selected Scattergories for two reasons: 1) he had never played and wanted to learn it; and 2) he knew it was a favorite game of his sister’s and wanted to have something she would like to play. That’s pretty neat, for a younger brother. Since Joel is 9 and Natalia is 11, we give them a slight advantage in this game. When the letter is selected (for all the answers to begin with), we let them also choose the letter before or after than one in the alphabet. Their answers can begin with either of those two letters. It makes it a little more equal, and both Joel and Natalia did very well with that handicap. In fact, they amazed us with some of their answers – things we hadn’t thought of that were excellent answers. We didn’t make a note of the final scores, but everyone had fun playing it.


Settlers of Catan with 5 players is a fun game. Usually our Settlers games are quite close, at least among the top two or three finishers. This one, however, was a runaway for Katrina. When she got her tenth point, Dan had five, and the rest of us had four. It didn’t seem that she had any better locations than the rest of us, but the game just went her way. She stole the Longest Road from Sue, and just kept on rolling. Results: Katrina first; Dan second; Sue, Joel, and me (tied) last.


Joel loves to play Ticket to Ride, but only gets the opportunity when Mason and Kassi aren’t at game day. Unfortunately, he had a rough time of it on Saturday. He kept all three long-distance tickets to begin the game. He probably shouldn’t have kept both a southern and a northern route, but the worst part of it for him was that Katrina and Dan also had southern routes, and he got blocked out early. I drew only short north-south routes, but managed to create the longest continuous track, beating Dan by only one piece on the last play of the game. Unfortunately, my short tickets didn’t give me enough points to win. Results: Katrina first; Sue second; me third; Dan fourth; Joel last.


It was pretty much Katrina’s day, winning both Settlers and Ticket to Ride easily. My Alhambra victory was nice, being my first in that game. I believe I get to choose the games next Saturday, and I certainly plan to get at least one un-played game to the table. I’m leaning toward Drakon at this time.


— Gerald … near Denver, Colorado

      aka gamesgrandpa    A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

March 5, 2007 Posted by | Family Gaming, Games | Leave a comment

Games Played February 24, 2007

We had time for only four games this Saturday afternoon, but enjoyed them all.

We started with Settlers of Catan. With seven players, we play only to a winning score of seven, rather than ten. This was about an average length game for us, a little over an hour, I believe. We had two ore hexes on “9,” and “9” was rolled frequently.  Ore was in great surplus. Near the end, it was a close race among Katrina, Kassi, and Joel. It looked like any of them could win. On Katrina’s turn, she played a Monopoly card, collecting most of the ore cards in the game. She still wasn’t sure she could win, but finally figured the right combination of upgrades and building, plus the one VP card she had, and pulled off her second game win of the year. Results: Katrina first; Kassi second; Joel third; Sue, Mason, Dan, and me tied for last.

Next up was Bohnanza, a real favorite.  It is difficult to estimate the number of gold each player has, until it’s counted at the end of the game. It looked like Dan had wrapped up the win, until Joel (as usual) counted his gold. He tied Dan for the win, which means Joel’s record still holds. We have played Bohnanza four times this year, with seven or eight players, and Joel has won (or tied for the win) in each of them!

Natalia wanted to play only Nertz this time, so we played several hands of it, not keeping score, with eight players. I believe Mason went out three times, Kassi once, and Natalia once.

We finished the day with Carcassonne (with The River, The River II, Inns & Cathedrals, and Traders & Builders expansions). Joel decided not to play this time, so there were only six of us. Everyone was doing well at the beginning, except Katrina. Finally, she scored a huge city, to jump in second place behind me. I had a good lead virtually all the way through the game, but Dan acquired almost all the trade goods, of all three types, which meant he would have a tremendous bonus at the end of the game. I still thought I might  be able to win. Near the end of the game, I managed to tie Dan in the number of barrels, which I thought might wrap it up for me. But, Dan found one more opportunity to grab another barrel just before the end of the game. The 30 points bonus for the most of each kind of trade good pushed Dan past me for the win by 23 points. It was an exciting finish. Results: Dan first; me second; Mason third; Sue fourth; Kassi fifth; Katrina last.

The next game up was Drakon, a new game for us that we haven’t yet played. I’m really looking forward to trying it, but Mason and Kassi had to leave, so we called it a day. One of these days, I’ll actually get that game to the table, I hope.

February 26, 2007 Posted by | Family Gaming, Games | Leave a comment

Games Played February 17, 2007

The whole family was together again on Saturday for games – great fun! And, we managed to play 6 games that counted in our family records, plus several hands of Nertz that we don’t count (because of the general chaos of playing it with 8 players on the same table). Alphabetically, these are the games we played:


Bohnanza is a game we play almost every weekend. With 7 players, it is a wild trading game, and it plays quickly. We have played this game three times in 2007, and Joel has won all three times. I do believe this is one of his favorite games, and he never ceases to amaze us when we count the gold at the end of the game. For some reason, it just doesn’t seem he is doing as well as he is, but he has a knack for it. Results: Joel first; Sue and Mason (tied) second; Katrina fourth; Dan fifth; me sixth; Kassi last.


I enjoy playing Hunters & Gatherers, but have seldom won it. In fact, I haven’t won this game since September 2005! But, Saturday was my day. I got off to a fairly fast start, and fell behind about mid-game. Early in the game, I placed a hunter in a valley that looked promising. Later, everyone managed to share that valley, except Sue and Dan, which was their downfall. The valley ended up worth over 30 points. Joel tried and tried to steal the valley, but wasn’t able to get the necessary tiles, so 5 of us added more than 30 points to our scores with the animals in that valley. That was the last item we scored, and Sue and Dan were in the lead at that time, but the rest of us passed them with the points from that single huge valley. Results: Me first; Katrina second; Kassi third; Mason fourth; Joel fifth; Sue sixth; Dan last.


Loot is becoming a family favorite, thanks to the nice generosity of Jason Little, who sent us the game free just before Christmas. Joel and I played a 2-hand game on Thursday, and he won 63-37. This is also a favorite of his. On Saturday, we played with 7 players, which is pushing the limit, I believe. But, we have found that it is fun for every number from two to seven. With 7 players, it’s rare to be able to keep one of your own treasure ships, although it does happen occasionally, especially with low-value ships. For the high-value ships, the competition can be fierce. Unlike the 2-hand game, in which you can build up a substantial hand of pirate ships (and pirate captains, if you are lucky), in a 7-hand game, you have little time to accumulate pirate ships. This situation requires a different strategy, forcing you to use your resources wisely. The game plays extremely quickly with 7 players, and we all enjoy it. Results: Joel first; Sue second; Dan and Kassi (tied) third; me fifth; Katrina sixth; Mason last. This was only our second game of Loot to count in our family records. Kassi won the first one with a score of 23; Joel won this time with 18. Unfortunately for her, Katrina holds the record low score of 2, in our first game.


Next up was the card game Oh Hell, a long-time family favorite. I have always enjoyed this game. It was only the second time we have played with 6 or 7 players. Saturday was a 7-player game, so we could play only seven rounds. I managed to stay scoreless (the object of the game) throughout the game, a rare event. I was very fortunate in two hands to receive only low cards and no trumps – perfect for a zero bid. Results: Me first; Mason, Kassi, and Katrina (tied) second {they each missed only one bid during the game, so it was a very close game}; Sue fifth; Joel sixth; Dan seventh.


Natalia decided to join us for a game of Pickomino. She must have had a premonition, because she won the game, her first game win for the year. We had more bad dice rolls/selections in this game than in previous ones, so lots of the top-value dominoes were turned over and not available for scoring. With 8 players, the scoring is low, and lots of stealing goes on. I don’t consider this a children’s game, necessarily, but Natalia and Joel were the top scorers. Results: Natalia first; Joel second; me third; Kassi fourth; Mason fifth; Sue, Katrina, and Dan (tied with no points) last.


Naturally, we got in a game of Settlers of Catan (Mason and Kassi chose the games for the day, and this is probably Mason’s favorite game). With 7 players, we use our modified start for the game and play to a score of seven, rather than ten, points. It was a close race among Dan, Mason, and Joel. Joel claimed the Longest Road, but Mason stole it from him. No one managed to get the Largest Army. Finally, Dan got a good roll on his turn and ended the game. Results: Dan first; Mason second; Joel third; Katrina, Kassi, and me (tied) fourth; Sue last.

It was a fun day – Joel’s YMCA basketball game in the morning, lunch at our house, and games all afternoon. That’s what family is all about.

February 18, 2007 Posted by | Family Gaming, Games | 2 Comments

Games Played January 27, 2007

One key to happiness – GAMES

We had a limited time for games on Saturday afternoon, but enjoyed what we did play.

We first played Elfenland, which I have extended with additional player pieces to accommodate 7 players, but Joel elected not to play, so we had the regular 6 players. It was a fairly tight game, and I thought I had a chance to tie for first or at least finish second, but Dan and Katrina came on strong in the last round to pass me. Results: Dan first; Katrina second; me third; Kassi fourth (first time to play this); Sue and Mason (tied) last. We all enjoyed it, and I believe we will see it played more this year.

Next up was a new game – Loot. Katrina was driving Natalia to a friend’s house at this time, and Dan and I played a couple of 2-hand games of Loot, while the rest of the group was bowling on the Wii. I had played Loot with a friend and won both 2-player games. I later took the game to a local game group night, played it 4-handed, and lost terribly. I beat Dan in both of our 2-player games today, but did not do well in the six-player game. I guess I should only play this one with a single opponent. Results: Kassi first; Dan second; Sue third; Mason fourth; me fifth; Katrina last.

We finished the afternoon with a game of Hunters & Gatherers, with 7 players. This was Dan’s day for gaming, and he pretty well left the rest of us in the dust on this one. Results: Dan first; Mason second; Sue third; Katrina fourth; me fifth; Joel sixth; Kassi last.

Dan won two of the games we played and finished second in the other one. A great day for him.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to play and count family games for the next two weekends, and I’m looking forward to trying more of our new, un-played games. Guess I’ll have to wait a while…

— Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa — A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

January 30, 2007 Posted by | Games | 3 Comments

Summary of Family Gaming for 2006

One key to happiness – GAMES

During 2006, our family gaming group of 8 players played 31 different games a total of 136 times. We only count the games that all 6 adults play (5 adults early in 2006, before Kassi joined us). There were other games played, but not counted, when one or more adults were not present. Here is a summary of our year.

32 plays: Bohnanza
25 plays: Settlers of Catan
9 plays: Carcassonne
7 plays: Around the World in 80 Days
5 plays: Flea Circus; Through the Desert
4 plays: Alhambra; Boomtown; Hunters & Gatherers; Nertz; Ticket to Ride; Trumpet
3 plays: Royal Turf; Station Master
2 plays: Cartagena; For Sale; Frank’s Zoo; Marco Polo Expedition; Pickomino; Tongiaki
1 play: Australia; Canyon; Catego; Dragon’s Gold; Elfenland; Fill or Bust; Hacienda; Hearts; Hoity Toity; Mississippi Queen; Oh Hell

Game wins, including ties:
Mason —— 32
Katrina —– 27
Dan ——– 26
Sue ——— 24
Joel ——— 23
Gerald —— 14
Natalia —— 7 (Natalia played only a small number of games)
Kassi ——– 5 (Kassi joined us in September)

Points for game finishes, as a percentage of games played
Joel ——– 20.8%
Mason —— 18.3%
Katrina —– 17.4%
Natalia —– 16.9%
Dan ——— 16.6%
Kassi ——– 15.2%

Sue ——— 14.3%
Gerald —— 11.9%

This indicates that although Joel won only 23 games, compared to 32 for Mason, he finished better in a higher percentage of the games he did not win than did anyone who had more victories than he did. It could be argued that he was the most successful game player in the group, although he did not play as many games as the adults. The same reasoning shows Natalia as more successful than Dan, Kassi, Sue, or Gerald, for the number of games she played.

Notes (wins included ties for a win):
Dan was the only winner of Catego and Fill or Bust. He shared with most wins in Alhambra; Frank’s Zoo; Hunters & Gatherers; and Royal Turf.

Gerald was the only winner of Canyon and Dragon’s Gold. He shared with most wins in Elfenland.

Joel had the most wins in Bohnanza; Carcassone; For Sale; Tongiaki; and Trumpet. He shared with most wins in Hunters & Gatherers and Pickomino.

Kassi shared with most wins in Frank’s Zoo and Hunters & Gatherers.

Katrina had the most wins in Around the World in 80 Days; Station Master; and Through the Desert. She shared with most wins in Elfenland; Flea Circus; Hunters & Gatherers; Royal Turf; and Settlers of Catan.

Mason was the only winner of Australia; Oh Hell; Cartagena (2 times); Hoity Toity; Marco Polo Expedition (2 times); and Mississippi Queen. He shared with most wins in Alhambra; Pickomino; Royal Turf; and Settlers of Catan.

Natalia had the most wins of Nertz.

Sue was the only winner of Hearts. She had the most wins in Boomtown; Hacienda; and Ticket to Ride. She shared with most wins in Elfenland; Flea Circus; and Royal Turf.

Two games had a 4-way tie for most wins: Hunters & Gatherers (1 game each) and Royal Turf (1 game each). The only time we played Elfenland, it ended in a 3-way tie. Katrina and Mason both won Settlers of Catan 6 times. Joel had the highest number of wins in one game, with 9 victories in Bohnanza. We counted Nertz 4 times, and Natalia won 2 of them.

It was a great year of games, and we are certainly looking forward to at least as much fun in 2007.

— Gerald … near Denver, Colorado
aka gamesgrandpa — A grandpa who is a mile high on gaming

January 16, 2007 Posted by | Games | Leave a comment