Family Reunion Time

June 24, 2011

Next week I’ll be taking a much needed vacation with my family. We’ll be heading to Wisconsin Dells to relax, have fun doing some touristy stuff and most importantly visit with my extended family. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen some of my cousins – who, like me, are now married with children – the last time I saw a lot of them were at my Grandparent’s funerals. I’m looking forward to chatting and spending time with them. And when we get together we play games.

I have fond memories of visiting my Grandparents’ house as a kid. The crossword puzzle was always completed by Grandma before we were even out of bed. Playing Boggle against her was a losing affair. And at night we gathered around the dining room table to play poker and “Cayman Rummy” – a rummy variant they invented while vacationing in the Caymans.

They’re will be plenty of card games being played, but here’s a list of games I’ll be bringing for the trip. My criteria for bringing a game are: portable/small, easy to learn, plays quickly and multiple players. Obviously not every game meets all 4 criteria but here we go:

Travel Blokus
Although this is only for 2 players, how can I pass up bringing one of the few games specifically designed for travel. Plus the game can be taught and played in about 15 minutes.

This is one that meets all 4 criteria. I’ve had good success introducing this game to several people and they all enjoy it.

Another game that has been a hit after introducing it to several people. I think people enjoy the creativity it allows.

Space Hulk: Death Angel
I think some of my cousin’s children will be approaching – or already in – their teens years. I’m thinking I should be able to get a group of young men to rally together and slay some genestealers. Plus the box is so small I can’t justify leaving it behind.

Wits & Wagers
A trivia game for up to seven people that isn’t boring. Plus it plays quickly. Although the box is pretty big… maybe I’ll throw the components into a smaller box to make room for another game.

Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers

I’m bringing this instead of regular Carc for two reasons: 1) my little sister has the Big Box so I don’t want to be redundant if she brings that and 2) it’s my most recent game acquisition so it still has that new game shininess.

King Me!
Another one that meets all 4 criteria. I actually like this game more than I thought I would after a few plays. A little bit of psychological warfare in a small package.

I’ll let you know how these games go over.

Thanks for Gaming

December 1, 2010

I had a nice long Thanksgiving weekend visiting family and playing some games. My family has always played games during Holiday get-togethers. In the past it consisted mainly of card games with a sprinkling of party games. We still get in some card games, but have been playing more board games lately. I played a couple of favorites, but I was also able to try out a few new games. I also had a good experience with introducing a new game to my in-laws.

Russ and I tried a few turns of Julius Caesar. We were both learning the game for the first time so many mistakes were made, but I’m eager to play it again.

My little sister brought along Trivial Pursuit Bet You Know It. The four of us kids were each on our own team while my parents teamed up. This is a Trivial Pursuit game that is actually a blast to play. The questions are probably a bit easier than the traditional Trivial Pursuit games I’m used to, but it made the game move along. The betting mechanic adds a lot of fun. It keeps you involved through out the whole game. And who doesn’t like betting against their siblings.

The best of the new games was my latest pick-up: Dixit and the expansion. This game just won Spiel das Jahres (Game of the Year awarded by the German Press) and I think it was well deserved. The game play is simple enough for my 4 year old to play along, but it offers challenges for any age. The cards are beautiful. We used the scoring track for each game, but it seemed like it was just there to make it a ‘game.’ People kept wanting to play longer just to see the cards and be creative with their clues.

My wife loved the game right away and encouraged me to bring it along to her families’ Thanksgiving dinner. I should mention that my wife’s family doesn’t really play games. I can literally count the number of games I’ve played with them in the ~10 years I’ve known them on one hand. After dinner we urged a few family members to try a new game. After a few rounds we had several spectators and everbody was asking about this new game. I knew I had a winner when Great-Grandma B asked me to bring it along when we come for Christmas!

So this year I’m thankful for having a wonderful family and great games to enjoy with them.