What Games These Days?

August 18th, 2022
While I used to play a lot of board games, this is something I've had less time for since having kids. Last week my extended family got together for a vacation, however, which meant a lot more time for gaming! Thinking back, here's what I played over the week, in roughly descending order of time spent:

  • Brass Birmingham x1. My second time playing it. Solid game, but way too long: 3.5hr for three players. Didn't help that we started at 9:15pm. I'm still hoping this will get faster with more play.

  • Go x3. I've been playing with my dad since I was little. My play suffers from overfitting against my dad in particular.

  • Wingspan x2. My first time playing. I like it a lot, and would play more. Reasonable length, good movement, could have slightly more player interaction.

  • Boggle x15. Mostly playing with adults, though a few rounds with Lily (8y). Rules with Lily were that she had no minimum length, if we both wrote the same word only she got points, and I couldn't use any words she didn't know.

  • Power Grid x1. We've been playing this for a long time, but it's still different enough each time to be fun. I like the expansion maps, but we didn't have any with us and just played Germany.

  • Race for the Galaxy. We drafted (first six-cost developments, then everything else, with a "draw two, ditch one") and then played three games with our decks. Stevie went for mining and novelties with produce-consume, I went for genes and developments. We used the first two expansions, without takeovers. Probably the game here I've played the most of over the years.

  • Bridge x3. Very popular game among my aunts and uncles, but almost all of us play it some. We play rubber bridge and there's some disagreement on whether should play as if you were instead playing duplicate; I'm on team "try to win by the rules you're using."

  • Spoons x7. Very silly game. Lily (8y) could play with us, but Olivia (6y) found it too frustrating. Next time I'd have younger kids use a hand of just two cards, and be able to take an initial spoon with just a matched pair.

  • Modern Art x1. Highly auctiony game with minimal theming.

  • Ticket to Ride: Europe x1. Solid game, not too heavy.

  • Jaguar x3. A variation of Briscola Chiamata. Very lively trick taking game with conspiratorial table talk.
  • Writey Drawey Game (x2). Generally very funny, from a combination of misinterpretations, silly sentences, and bad drawings.

  • One Night Ultimate Werewolf x5. The kids like this game a lot. A couple years ago we got really into it, but after I noticed they were starting to get much better at lying I said I'd only play games with 5+ people, which they're rarely able to assemble. Unrelatedly, this is also my favorite game to play virtually, since it's a very good fit for video calls.

  • Set x3. Lily (8y) can play with us now, and is better than a couple of the adults.

  • Twin Tin Bots x2. First game was with Lily (8y) and Anna (6y), both of their first times. We used only one robot per person. It took them some getting used to what changes were and weren't allowed, but pretty fun. Then a larger group of kids (10y, 8y, 6y, 6y, 3y) wanted to play and I foolishly agreed. They got bored and frustrated after a few turns and wandered off.

  • 5x5 Go x4. While most people don't have the patience for a 19x19 game, 5x5 is fun even if you're very new. I also really like how quickly people learn with 5x5.

This was a good range of games, ranging from ones for people who are really into complex German-style games (Brass, Power Grid, Wingspan, etc) to more varied options (Boggle, Set, Spoons, Werewolf).

Games I saw others play included Scrabble, Quacks of Quedlinburg, and Azul. Scrabble isn't for me (not good for thinking on other people's turns and so too much waiting) and I haven't learned the other two yet.

Games have been a big part of vacations for a long time:

Summer at my grandparents' in Tennessee, 2009

Looking back five years, the biggest change was no Dominion. Looking ten, no Carcassone. Fifteen, no Catan. I don't think anyone brought copies of any of them; they're a bit played out for us. (Probably least sick of Carcassone.)

I also realized something about how people's gaming experiences differ. I've always seen learning new games as an unavoidable problem: it's not especially fun, but it's worth it occasionally as a way to pull new games into rotation and get some variety. This turned out to be the most common view among my relatives, but two of them are actually pretty excited about learning new games, seeing it as something fun in itself. This time I agreed to learn one new game, which was Wingspan (last time was Brass).

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