Gaming Stuff

These are the hangers-on. All gamers have them, and often refer to this list as a “shame list”. These are games that were purchased with the full intent of playing them at a table, but for whatever reason, they haven’t made it to the table. I haven’t given up on any of them, and I have excuses … ummm…REASONS for why this is the case!

(1) Battlestar Galactica/Dead of Winter

(2) Road to Enlightenment

(3) $how Manager

(4) NetRunner

(5) Castles of Burgundy/Canterbury

(6) Nothing Personal

(7) Ora Et Labora

(8) Police Precinct

(9) Spyfall

(10)Ca$H N Guns!


All of these games have one major issue – I haven’t played them yet myself. So teaching them to other people becomes a challenge. And some of them have daunting manuals.


Games in the 1,2,4 and 7 slots have at least 24-32 page of manual(s) – yes, some games have the “plural” of manual. However, most of them require the right group of people – those that will not only “get” the game but actually WANT to play it!



More specifically, however…



So in my last blog entry, I wrote about visiting a board game café in London called Draughts. Draughts was awesome, we had a great time and Valerie and I listed a few metrics that made the experience awesomer:

“…it is possible to create a board game cafe that I can get Valerie into for a period of time.  Said board game cafe needs to be well lit, possess good airflow, a decent amount of space, friendly staff, good food and drink, and have a nice library of good to great games kept in a clean condition”

Now, what I did know is that the folks over at Endgame, a game store in downtown Oakland have been working on expanding into an adjacent space to have their own board game café, appropriately called “EndGame Board Game Café” since some time last year.

I missed contributing to their Kickstarter but it’s safe to say that despite the delays with their building permits with the city of Oakland that I’m still doing my rendition of the lady in the old Mervyn’s commercial.

I’ve been watching them struggle, and hoping and wishing… that someday, I would have a board game café within driving distance of our house.

Additionally, after our family Draughts experience, both Max and Valerie are on board with this as well, providing that the previously mentioned metrics held.

Sadly, the EndGame Café is still not yet open. Last I heard was “maybe December” from folks at the store a couple of weeks ago.

But then… lightning hit! Another first in the Steelaraza Household!

Valerie scooped me on board game news.

As Yoda once said: “No, there is another.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 10.02.15 PM

Two board game cafes in the Bay Area…? WHAT?!?


(with apologies to Jesus Jones for the title)

Recently I discovered that the Canadian dollar vs. the US dollar was soft. If anybody wants to know why, this is what I was able to locate.

Previously in a blog entry I mentioned that our family love for Carcassonne. Yes, Carcassonne is more Valerie’s game than mine, but I vainly continue to search for a new expansion that’ll give me an edge to victory.

To that end, I continue the never ending search for esoteric Carcassonne expansions that have not yet been released in the United States. I started with godboma solely on (a) availability, (b) they had done me right on the Carcassonne mini expansions a few months before they saw print in the US and (c) shipping from Canada to the United States is a lot cheaper than other countries. 

Sadly, I discovered that was internet dead.  😦

Over the last year, I discovered a liking for the worker placement games made by Uwe Rosenberg (Agricola, Caverna) and decided after a failed attempt to get the at-that-time out of print game Ora Et Labora at a game auction that I would attempt to try to find a copy of it.

What I did learn is that the game was going to be reprinted this year. So rather than shell out 2-5x for it’s out-of-print status, I decided to be patient and wait.

So… where do these things all align?


Our TRIP! We’re heading on a cruise to the Nordic Countries later in 2015! The trip will start in London, go over a wide range of stops in the north from Dover to Dover, and the trip will conclude in Paris!

Watching Max grow! Max’s intelligent and sharp observations about his day, life, and the universe are really something. His latest kid obsessions are Minecraft and his new Linux Lego-Guide-Simple-To-Build Kano computer. Once he clears the Kano blocks, I suspect he’ll be programming in python in short order.

New stores nearby! Both Safeway and The Habit are coming to Alameda Landing, which is within a long walking distance of our Bayport community…Safeway is, well, Safeway. But it’ll make getting the essentials a LOT easier than driving to the other side of the island to get them. The Habit is my “mid-range burger joint” (above FiveGuys and InNOut, to be sure) – their mocha shake is great as is the BBQ Charburger.

The EndGame Café! I love the idea of a eat-n-hang out board game area.  Additionally, I may be able to learn the rules of stuff I already have… and that leads me to…

Learning about games I already own! Caverna, Castles of Burgundy, Show Manager and Junkyard Racers, I’m looking at you!

Drooling Over Games I want to own! Xia: Legends of a Drift System, Dead of Winter and Police Precinct, I’m looking at you!

Looking at Board Games coming to iOS that I’m interested in! Galaxy Trucker and Twilight Struggle, I’m looking at you!

and other stuff in the works! As Max would say, 2015 is going to be “epically awesome”!

Yee hah!

So the first Saturday in April has been dubbed International Tabletop Day, a faux holiday in the vein of Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you!).  I wish I could say I’m spreading the word today, but this day I’m keeping it closer to home.

However, I did get my seasonly (semi-monthly?) board game evangelism on early. Last weekend I enjoyed two rousing sets of gaming of Agricola and Suburbia with a couple of friends. I’ve raved about these games before, but this one was a bit special in that I got to teach these two games to the board game enthusiast friend who set me on my path at the tender age of five with Monopoly and later, he created variants that featured a ROAD THROUGH THE CENTER OF THE BOARD featuring our own neighborhood streets.  (This was the 80s, folks.  It was either D&D, computers or inventing your own fun.  But it was way before Monopoly ended up with 9 million other flavors, so he just had licensing lightning in a bottle and didn’t know it.)  🙂

In terms of Agricola – he enjoyed both of them, finding Agricola a little thinky (it is but it’s just so much fun, even when I lose!) and he won Suburbia handily with a series of heavy factories that easily took the other business borough and my suburbs with a bad reputation.

To them I say “Lots of fun, guys! Let’s do it again sometime!”  But in order to properly honor the ACTUAL International TableTop Day, I have a brief list of games I want to try out in 2014… (more…)

A few weeks back, the iOS version of Agricola hit the iPad world, and I, long owning the original game and finding the manual indecipherable, was hoping that I would finally figure out how to play this game.

And to my pleasant surprise, I did. I understood the worker placement, the setting up of the engine, the multiple resources, and at last, I got the mechanics of the game.

However, before I sat down with the iPad to play this, so did Max.

And I’ll also be blunt — I’m not sure if I’m writing this because I’m impressed or terrified of his ability to understand the rules to this game. It’s a game that, right on the box, is rated 13+.

However, before you call me a bad dad for even THINKING of teaching this game to him, let me offer an explanation in my defense. While driving him to school, I let him play with my iPad. It motivates him in the morning to eat, get dressed and get a move on. Besides, if he does it in a timely fashion, he may get an extra minute or two of playing.

Aside from arm chairing when Valerie or I use our iPads, this is his ONLY game time.

So what does he do?

Over the course of a few car trips to school, he figures out how to play “daddy’s new game of Agricola”… by himself.

(Remember, I’m driving and assuming he’s playing Pitfall or Minion Rush.) (more…)

There’s has been an explosion of board game adaptations for the iOS iPad – so much so that it’s been hard not to INSTABUY them.

However, if you do NOT already own these real world board game equivalents – I will make a few suggestions – as well as call out folks that these games would be perfect for that are likely not playing these games yet. (more…)

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