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…)


So lately my gaming has been mostly with Max.  As a result, we have no longer playing the Euro Calvinballs of Carcassonne or Alhambra as much.  Instead, we have been playing one of the following:

Pitchcar, Flash Point Fire Rescue, or King of Tokyo.

Much more below the tag!


So now that Valerie is more gainfully employed (yay!) I’ve been modestly knocking a few items off the game acquisitions list.

On the “buy local, but only when there’s a sale” self-mantra:  Dr Comics had another 40% off games sale on the 1st, and similarly, Black Diamond Games had a Ding and Dent sale on the 9th.  I suspect another EndGame auction will happen this year, but it’ll likely be in the spring like last year.

1)    Carcassonne Expansion Quest (Part II, go here for Part I):

I finally managed to pick up a few expansions I hadn’t managed to find elsewhere.  I picked up Carcassonne Mini Expansion (love that river tile!), Carcassonne Festival, Carcassonne: The Wheel of Fortune, Little Buildings, The Tunnels and The Plague.  The last two of these were originally promised to come out in mid-2012, but then the US distributor and the German distributor of the game expansions decided to part ways, leaving the US folks in the lurch.

Well… pbbt on that! 

I located copies of the expansions via the great community of folks at Board Game Geek, and all was well with the universe.   The rest of the expansions fall into don’t want it (Catapult) or too rare to easily acquire (Spiel stuff like Die Schule and Die Windrosen), so I think for the time being we’ve achieved Carcassonne parity with the universe.

We’ve played with the Mini, the Festival and Little Buildings so far.  They were okay, not spectacular.  I wouldn’t recommend any of these unless you’re CarcNerds like we are.  I suspect the next game we play will mix in The Tunnels and the Wheel of Fortune.

2)    Suburbia:

I discovered this game and realized that it seemed like a lighter version of Castles of Burgundy (well… okay – probably not, but I’ll stand a better chance of getting it to the table with Valerie as she likes the theme of Suburbia a lot more!) as a Euro Board Game version of SimCity with a bit of mechanics from Lords of Waterdeep/Alhambra/Eclipse thrown in.   Due to these similarities with games we’ve previously played and mutually enjoy, the rules were easy enough to attempt to tackle without too much hassle.

The game in a nutshell with other games as analogies:  While you build your “boroughs” (Alhambra-ish) to gain population, money and reputation (Eclipsian)– there are public and private goals that give you extra victory points at the end of the game (Lords of Waterdeepy).

YMMV, but watching this might help.

More craziness under the more tag…


So for the New Year, our family game group decided to pull out an old favorite, Alhambra.  While Valerie’s game is clearly Carcassonne, I’d have to say that after a few rounds on Ne Year’s Day, I think my version of EuroGame CalvinBall is Alhambra.


basic box for Alhambra

Alhambra starts as a card trick taking game, with the prize being (a) a tile for your Alhambra and (b) if you get the value in addition to the right amount or more of color for the tile, you get an extra turn.  So the ability to get multiple actions means you can do more things, such as get more money or yet another tile, reassemble your Alhambra, and more.


large Alhambra formation toward end of the game

Points in the game are assigned by (a) the color of the tile acquired and within that, whether or not you are first (or first, second or third) in that color holding, (b) the longest continuous outside wall you have formed around your Alhambra, and (c) other stuff.

In the basic game, the value of the tiles (i.e. which colors are better than others) is fixed, which means that after a while, it’s pretty easy to figure out which tiles folks are going to try to get first.

Image scoring lists by color and reserve board to keep tiles purchased but not in your structure

The basic “gold” anniversary set version of the game was recently featured on Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop as well!

However, with expansions, the expansions basically allow to selectively “break” some rules and/or add variations, but only at certain times.  Additionally, there’s other ways to make victory points as well.

Now, while we do get fairly expansion crazy with Carcassonne, we temper the crazy a bit when we play Alhambra.  Why?   Read on!


1)      Castles of Burgundy – This appears to be Settlers of Catan meets Alhambra, and it keeps staring at me while I’m at Barnes and Noble on my lunch break.

2)      King of Tokyo – it’s a goofy “King of the Hill” meets “Yahtzee” sort of game.  Monsters beat up each other in Tokyo.  You roll dice and can either fight other monsters, gain powers, or gain hit or victory points. Ultimately, it’s the theme that sells this one – I suspect Max would like this one.

3)      Lords of Waterdeep:  Scoundrels of Skullport – an expansion for Lords of Waterdeep.  Need I say more?

4)      Carcassonne expansions – there are still a few left that we haven’t found yet… (see previous) chief among these are Der Tunnels, which still hasn’t received a US release.  Guess I’ll be checking with my Canadian friends for this one!

5)      Agricola – While I’ve sat through multiple instructional videos on youtube, I still haven’t fully grasped Agricola yet.  I still hope to be able to learn Agricola to the point of being able to teach it to the rest of the family.  I’m hoping that the upcoming iPad adaptation may help move this forward.

Honorable Mention:  Eclipse on iOS.  While I understand how to play it already, having the iOS do the work on upkeep of things will make for a smoother experience.

Now that I’ve brainwashed some of you folks on the recent (within the last 10-15 years) renaissance experienced in board games, I’m going to talk in annoyingly long detail about our favorite family game, Carcassonne.

For the basics, you can go here.


About the ONLY game that has more expansions than Carcassonne is Magic The Gathering. Carcassonne has an ever increasing expansion list, and many of these expansions can’t even be found in a standard US game store (local or on-line) because its manufacturing company, Hans Um Gluck, is in Germany. As such, getting the latest expansions before the US release can be an expensive challenge.

Unlike Magic the Gathering, the concept of rarity is not one of market driven scarcity, but one of “they haven’t released this in the United States yet, so where on the Earth can I buy this where the international shipping fees won’t kill my interest for this expansion set”? (Hint: Where the French hosers … uh… hose.)

But that’s why I’m here. To tell you what the Carc Maniacs over at Steelaraza like, so that you can hunt it down yourself! So if you like Carcassonne like we do, here’s how to spruce it up!

If you don’t like Carcassonne, I gotta ask: Seriously, what’s WRONG WITH YOU??? STOP READING THIS!!! Otherwise your eyes will roll-over in your skull and bad things will happen. I’ve seen it before. It’s not pretty.

Those that are interested, read on…


Just a FEW gaming mentionables over the last few weekends:

(1)  Last Saturday was the EndGame auction.  I put up four games for auction and sold three for some store credit.  I plan on holding onto the store credit in order to pick up the Carcassonne and 7 Wonders expansions that are coming out later this year.

I also put out a winning bid on a couple of games:


2008 Campaign Manager.  Hey, it’s a McCain vs. Obama battleground state card game?  (What could possibly go wrong?)  Even as a curiosity, the game was only $5.  So even one play, and it was worth my hard earned green.  Or red and blue states.


$how Manager – it’s a Euro game with a theme similar to NBC’s “Smash”.  (And is it wrong that every time I hear the NBC announcer say “Smash”, I add “Hulk” and an exclamation point at the end?)  In terms of the game, you are a producer.  You cast musicals and depending on your mix of characters, you gain money and prestige.  Most victory points at the end of four musicals, wins.  It’s designed by Dirk Henn, the designer of Alhambra.  I had been eyeballing it since I thought the theme plus liking the game designers other works, but it’s MSRP was $60-65.  I got a shrink wrapped, not yet cardboard-punched copy at the auction for $22.  Oh yeah, I do believe I will be attending this auction next year.  🙂


(2)  It’s that time of year again – 25-40% off items at Dr. Comics and Mister Games!  (As mentioned earlier – Saturday is traditionally the 40% daily special day for board games, but that’s not necessarily the case this time – so call them first!)