February 2012


My ranking, so my rules. I was hoping for a top ten, but the best I could manage was a top nine, a couple of dis-recommendations, and a pair of “looking forward to checking out” stores…

I’ve ranked them with my own classifications:

Good Selection and How is the Physical Space? A game store needs to have a good selection, but often this can mean that the games are shoved into tiny spaces due to store sizes/rent by square footage size equations. Spacing makes the store attractive to the point of not feeling like you are in a coffin surrounded by cardboard boxes.

Sales or Coupons? A local game store has a hard time competing with the on-line world. And I want to support local businesses, but they gotta give us a LITTLE somethin’. I’m often not looking for an on-line price at a local game store, but I do want to get it for less than MSRP and feel like I got my money’s worth. Hence, I search the local facebook and twitter feeds of game stores and pounce when I get wind of a sale.

Where is it? The closer, the better!

Service? Most of the time, I don’t need too much help, but in the certain cases with specific games, trying to get what you want can be a bit more challeging. So having friendly folks that know a few things (and if they don’t, they should at least be willing to assist you!) helps in a pinch.

So… here’s my list after a couple of years of board game madness:

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First, why does Marvel Comics oppose mutant rights?

Secondly, one of my favorite statistics stories (yes, I have favorite statistics stories… which already means I have ascended to “Major” on the nerd scale – deal!) is featured here, the man that invented the students t-test to figure out how best to make beer.  Seriously!  I heard this story during my Six Sigma training way back when…

Quick mini-game review! I finally picked up Flash Point Fire Rescue and got to play the Family Version with Max and Valerie Villaraza-Steele last night… We lost twice (building collapsed both times) but that’s because I misunderstood the chain reaction effects of explosions (i.e. it’s not EXACTLY like chain reactions in Pandemic, it’s a LITTLE different)…

Val and I replayed it a third time with the RIGHT rules and won the game by rescuing 9 of the victims (sadly, the family cat didn’t make it) just as my heroically tragic fire fighter was crushed by a full building collapse just as he was practically in the exterior doorway…

But hey – GREAT GAME! Everybody at Casa Steelaraza (Max included) really liked it.

So as mentioned in comments earlier, I picked up Ticket to Ride Asia and Agricola at the big Doctor Comics and Mister Games sale a couple of weekends ago.

We’ve already played TTR Asia with Val’s sister and boyfriend before. It’s awesome and this version will see lots of play, especially the team version.

That said, even after reading the instructions and watching a couple of videos, I’m still not 100% certain I’ve got the rules for Agricola down. Anybody out there play it before and if so, any suggestions on how best to teach it to others?

I also managed to acquire Sentinels of the Multiverse from a fellow game bud who got it but wasn’t that enamored with it. This one looks easy enough to get the rules, but I’ll need some fellow nerds to test it with. I suspect Val won’t be as big on this one, but I might be able to get her to try it once before she later recoils from the overall theme of it.

Other game news:

Since WHEN did the game Battleship involve aliens? And will we see the cheating version of Battleship in the movie in which one player hangs a peg or two of his/her ship OFF the game-grid in order to make certain that they don’t lose? (No, I never did this, but played more than one person who did pull this during my formative years.)

Dominion on the iOS? Yes, it’s a weird thing, but apparently some fan created a basic (no expansion) version of Dominion for the iOS platform. The response from the designer was “we won’t bug you if you release it for free, and the real version is coming out soon enough, so go ahead”. I downloaded it and it’s a good implementation! Go ahead and search iTunes for it, it’ll pop up.

Another version with all of the expansion cards can also be found online here. You just need a net connection. I definitely prefer the iOS version – I found the isotropic version a little buggy but it DOES have all the cards.

I also re-discovered ONE pet peeve of the #1 Dave-rated game “Ticket to Ride” this weekend, and coincidentally, also was reminded of it by a rant by Ryan Sturm on this week’s Dice Tower podcast. There is one flaw to the basic set, and that is this – the train cards for the basic game are really SMALL. The way around it is to play with the standard sized train cards from the 1910 expansion – and this is what we did with the game this Saturday. So to sum up – if you want a nice elegant version of TTR without having to buy other expansions/sets, my two cents – get Ticket to Ride Europefirst. It might be a little more expensive, but with extra game mechanics (tunnels) and no “hobbit cards” in the set, you’ll start with a better representation and understanding of the game play of the other sets.