Cats in Tanks…That Would Be THE Game For Us

The point of reading rules is to one day play the game, right? I certainly hope so because over the past week I have been reading a lot of rules. Since cleaning the library/office/gameroom and sorting the games into Go, Keep, and We’ve Never Played This Piles someone has to read the rules for Never Played This Pile. That someone is me.

Plus, I have other games that we do play that have rules that need to get read. One of my roles around here is teacher of games. Teacher of games comes with the lofty sub-roles of researcher of games, purchaser of games, piler of gamers, and eventually teacher of games. I take these roles semi-seriously.

Researcher of Games is the most fun. Taking into account the likes and dislikes of each family member, such as our girl loves games with tanks, but hates games where she has to build the pieces, I know I can be relatively certain if the game has tanks that I or our boy won’t mind building she will enjoy the game. Another factor, current interests around the house, for whatever reason around here diseases that wipe out humanity or humanity is attempting to wipe out is a current trend, perhaps having a pharmacist in the house pimping flu shots has something do with that. Cats or cute animals are also always possible. Thus, the day I find a game with cats driving easy to assemble tanks our girl and everyone else will be very happy indeed.

Other factors during researching games, replayability. How many times will we play a game before the game ends up on the shelf, is an important consideration. Unfortunately, other than legacy games which have a built in number of games, determining replayability is a crap shoot, aided by free rules online (if available), reviews, and years of experience. Suffice to say even with everything inline there are games that looked great for us and were total crap.

Purchaser of Games is the most serious role. Games are expensive.  I try to avoid paying full price if possible. You should to. Maybe one day games will come down in price to make them not only affordable but desirable to purchase. As it is, shopping around is a must.

What do I do with games when they arrive home? Toss them into a pile. Not the best method, explaining how we have a large pile of games that we have Never Played. Something we are working on.

Teacher of Games, I read the rules, I break out the pieces, and I teach the games to the family. Most of the time I enjoy the role. After reading the rules I generally want to teach the game to others. Lately though I am attempting to get the children to learn the rules and teach them to us. This is important to being a good gamer. Good gamers can teach games to other people, spreading the joy of playing games to others.

All of which leads me to where I started, I have read the rules to six games, mostly disease related and mostly with similar rules, and I am hoping that we play them before I catch the flu…guess that pharmacist has more influence on games than I thought. 🙂



Games We Play: Imperial Settlers

A few months ago our boy picked out Imperial Settlers by Portal Games and we just played our first game. He picked out the game because you can play as the Egyptians, he has a big thing for ancient Egypt.

Imperial Settlers is a card game where each player plays as one of four civilizations-Barbarians, Romans, Egyptians, and Japanese. The goal to score the more victory points. Victory points are accumulated via card actions. Simple enough.

Each player has a center board that represents their civilization. Divided into three areas-production, features, and actions cards are played on either side of the board and represent the various actions a player can take or receives. Such as, cards in the production row produce goods at the beginning of a turn for use during the turn. Feature cards are long term such as storage of goods or do X and get X. Action cards require the player to do something to get something, such as pay X to get X.

Players have access to two types of cards, faction and common. Faction cards are specific to that faction and common cards are in a central draw pile for everyone. Fundamentally the only difference between the two is that most faction cards require you to discard a card in play to use. To put either type of card into play, a player pays the build cost, typically an amount of wood, stone, or people, then places the card in the appropriate row and has immediate access to the card unless a production card. Production cards activate at the beginning of a turn.

There are five rounds to a game. Players perform each of the phases together starting with drawing cards. At the start of each round players draw one faction card. Then the first player (first player token passes each round) draws common cards, laying them out for all to see. The first player chooses one, then the next, and so on. Then a second round of common cards is drawn, only the last player chooses first and the order is reversed.

Next up, gather resources from the faction card, production cards, and deals. Deals are an interesting mechanic. Pay a food to turn a card into your hand with the deal symbol into a permanent addition to your faction. For example, I have a card that has the deal, make one food. I pay the cost, one food, put the card underneath my faction card with the deal showing and at the beginning of each turn I get a food.

The action phase where players take turns performing one action. When a player passes they are done for the action phase. When all players pass the action phase is over. Actions are build, deals, raze (essentially sacrifice a card in your hand or ANOTHER player’s card that is in play to get resources), take an action on a card in play, trade people for goods (need a good or have excess people turn in two for any one resource or a card).

Our first game went fast. The biggest hiccup, our girl refused to listen to my advice (and the game’s advice) not to play the Japanese as they are the most complex out of the box. She had to work extra hard to get going, I feel if she had attacked she would have done better, but for our first game nobody wanted to attack, focus solely on seeing how the cards interacted.

The one thing all of us noticed was card draw determines the flow of the game. For our first game the cheap cards, did not appear until round 3. This made for a very non-productive first and second turn. With a better mix of drawn cards the game would have been exciting and interesting throughout.

Despite that we had enough fun to give it another try or two. Rules are easy. Play is easy. Overall a good first game.

One Turn, Six Hours A Learning Experience

Build, paint, and play that was the plan for the weekend. Build, paint, and play Warhammer 40k. Our girl had a great idea for a girls vs boys game. Excellent, except for a few things.

  • The players with the most experience, myself and our boy would be on one side.
  • The players with the largest armies, again myself and our boy, on the same side.

Other than those things the only other issue, the same issue we keep running into because our printer/scanner is not the best we flip through the indexes when we need to refer to a unit’s stats. This happens often. For our boy and I this is less of an issue because we have played a lot of games with our respective armies. For everyone else, problematic.

Building and painting went well. I mean, I finished another unit of Death Guard and Nurgle demons. I even painted a Demon Prince for Barb’s army; that makes at least one unit painted by me for each player. Our boy painted a unit or two of orks. Everyone else, not so much. Barb did finish her Hell Drake and it looks great. I doubt there will be another Hell Drake. Watching her paint and assemble the model showed me that I don’t want to deal with hassle. Shannon worked on her Tau, fiddly models, that look great, but make me really glad I am not building an army of them.

Game Day: The table is a mix of buildings and deathworld forest. Objective and Twist cards drawn from Open War.

  • Boys Objective Card: Each side designates a figure that is the courier, kill the opposing courier and win.
  • Girls Objective: Turn 3 a meteor crashes into the warzone, control the meteor at the end of turn 5 and win.

The Twist cards were uninspiring as there were already two objectives (we play slightly differently with each team having an objective instead of one objective for both teams) and there was only one psyker.

Set up, as expected, took a while as there were five armies to deploy. However, as I watched I removed my army to make the sides closer to even. Plus this left me to flip through the books and offer advice to both sides. Having someone to flip through stat books did allow players to focus. Still our goal is to have an easier way to refer to stats during a game.

Boys Side: Our boy’s entire ork army minus his plane and helicopter.

Girls Side: An Imperial Guard force of a Leman Russ, Chimera, and 25 infantry. A Slaanesh force of a Demon Prince, Hell Drake, and 10 Chaos Space Marines. A Tau force of a Devilfish, a Stealth team, a Battlesuit Team, a Warlord, and 20 some Tau.

Based on appearances, our boy should win handily. Based on objectives he should lose because his courier was in the middle of the board; their behind a building. Opening turn, girls get first turn. Barb descends upon the unit covering our boy’s courier inflicting heavy damage; this was the best their side got during turn 1.

Our girl couldn’t see much and didn’t move much. In fact her Leman Russ was the only thing of hers that moved and then missed most of the time. Shannon’s Tau looked and sounded fearsome.  Unfortunately no matter how many troops you have, no matter how many bonuses to hit, and rerolls you get shitty die rolls are still shitty die rolls and Shannon saw more than anyone’s fair share.

At the end of their turn, roughly 20 orks were dead or fled the field. Then the green surge happened. Our boy tied up most of the Tau in hand to hand, which eliminated their ability to shoot, the demon prince was killed by his dreadnaught, and the Leman Russ locked down by a Battlewagon.

Then the game ended. Not because a courier had died, but for the simple reason 6 hours had passed from start to the end of turn 1. If everyone had more experience playing the game would have gone a lot faster and with time this will happen. Until then slower games, but much smaller. 🙂

Model Growth

Building a model has plenty of things to teach the builder, especially when the builders are children. As part of Warhammer 40k armies have vehicles. Vehicles are two things, expensive and in many pieces. Thus, being a good parent I had each child earn the money to purchase their vehicles. Unexpectedly, they worked harder than I expected and earned the money in record time.

Expensive not out of the way, but covered by their diligent work.

Next up, many pieces.

Games Workshop models, all varities, have directions. The quality of the directions have changed over the years with the most recent directions being the best; high resolution images, multiple views, and easy to follow steps. Older instructions are bad. Just plain bad; low resolution images, single view, and often five of more steps giving with one illustration with no indication of what order the pieces are assembled.

Our children got kits with older instructions. I told them that I would be there to assist with the models expecting that I would be the one building the entire kit. A big reason I am pushing 40k on the kids are the numerous skills that they can learn, especially building models.

Patience, building a model takes patience. Rushing a build, as our son found out, can lead to some interesting problems, such as their not being enough space for the driver without breaking off some other parts.

Problem solving, reading and interpreting instructions is one thing, figuring out how pieces fit together another and when something goes wrong, see above, how you handle or solve the issue is another.

Creativity, they could build the kits as is or they could get creative. Our boy added parts from one kit to another and our girl worked out the look that appealed to her most.

Three skills I am more than happy for them to learn. Still I expected to end up building the models. Imagine my surprise when they built all of their kits with minimal assistance from me. Our boy learned the hard way that rush building leads to complications, such as the driver not fitting without some modification. He learned to interpret the instructions, such as when one image shows at least ten different parts going on the same piece at the same time. He learned how to problem solve when interpretation failed and he had to cut off a piece to get other pieces in place. Our girl watched her brother and decided not to rush the build. Good for her. She still had to learn to read the instructions. Interestingly enough she did not run into the same issues as he did.

When they finished I had offered suggestions and confirmed parts a few times, showed them how to use rubber bands to hold parts together, put decals on, and reinforce that they could indeed build their own vehicles. Now I have to deal with them on the tabletop. 🙂

Final Thoughts

No the blog is not coming to an end. This is about our thoughts about our back-to-back comic book convention experiences. Over all a great time.

All of us found unique items that appealed to them and most of us. The shopping while entertaining and took up most of our time was not where the great time came from though.

For Barb, meeting Wil Wheaton and spending quality time with all of us was here great time.

For the kids, again Wil Wheaton, missing a day of school, being away from home, and last but not least the stuff they bought with their own money. 

For me, family time, family time, and more family time. I got to watch the kids grow. Each of them was faced with one or more delimas, all money related, where they had to make a choice. Our boy spent 45 minutes weighing the pros and cons, eventually settling on the realization that “want” is not a good reason. As a result of his decision he got a great deal the next day.

Our girl, she went with “want,” but she’s younger. Watching her deal with spending money was insightful, as there is a process. Like I said, growth.

I met several new artists who I hope to talk to again. Met a famous artist whoover omelets. Saw Wil Wheaton’s head. And had a lot of fun.

As always there are the things we learned, such as hotel choice really matters, All Seaons in Kalkaska,great. While Comfort Inn in Wixom with the stains on the ceiling, bed, bathroom, and no forks, bad.

Sleep is mandatory.

Children need their own room, a thought for later.

Pace events better.

Know where local food nearby is located

Pack more snacks and food from home to reduce cost

Rest more

Talk to more people

VIP passes are a thing and may be worth the cost

Go with things in mind, cuts down on impulse purchases

Did I mention sleep?

Puddles and Whiskers will return tomorrow.

Games We Play: Food Can Wait, We Are Gaming

We are a gamer family, you know this, but I like to establish some credentials first. 🙂 While home we play big games. Games that take time and space to play. Such as Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Warhammer, and Forbidden Stars. Between big games we play smaller gamers. Games that take little time and space to play. Such as Get Bit, Roll For It, and Tiny Epic Galaxies or Kingdoms.

Our boy, after watching Tabletop Star Realms episode, wanted a deck of his own to take to school. Awesome, he wants to teach his friends how to play and start his own gamer group. Fully behind this and secretly hoping traveling games would travel with us, I got him his own deck.

And that deck went to school the next day. My only guidelines, no playing class, no variant rules (he likes to make his own rules that ensure his victory and everyone elses dislike of his variant rule), and if you get the deck taken away from you at school you are on your own for getting a new deck.

Each day a new game report, mostly interrupted games-lunch ended, recess ended, the wind started, and so on. He is getting his friends involved. At home we already play Star Realms, so all this did was increase the frequency of games. Surprsing to me, he began to bring Star Realms with him everywhere we go. Now, I have tried prior to this to bring games and have had no luck engaging people, which is why I expected the same result.

I was wrong and I am glad to be wrong. Provided someone is sitting across from him he pulls out Star Realms and a game ensues. And because of these experiences we have started to amass knowledge on the do’s and don’ts of gaming at a restaurant.

For games like Star Realms, two sides with a central row of cards, figure out a way to layout the game to take up less space, in this case the explorer cards which are always available are stacked underneath the draw deck, still visible and easy to draw. In addition, loss the authority life counter cards, they take up too much space, a napkin and a pen more efficient and space saving.

Learn how dining works. This is more for the kids playing than the adults. Waitstaff have a rhythm, some are good, some are bad, most fall between that. They want to greet, take your drinks, bring you drinks, take order, bring food, and check out how things are going. Adults know this. Kids may know this, but when deep in a game could care less.

Thus, games have to wait until they know what they want to order. Thankfully ours have learned how to order. Games need to proceed quicker than at home. Nothing irritates waitstaff like having to wait for a game to finish or clear out before food can be served. Of course, if the waitstaff has already demonstrated they are screw ups, an extra minute of holding plates wont hurt them.

Be prepared to explain to the waitstaff they game. Some waitstaff has genuinely been interested in the game. Just don’t let you overeager children explain, take the time as an adult to learn the game (you should be a gamer) and explain to the waitstaff. Service goes up when the waitstaff are also gamers.

I’m sure we will learn more as gaming continues. 🙂

Learning By Living

In an effort to convince myself that I am really am on the mend, I spent the day out with the family. A beautiful day of driving to and fro observing the colors and wildlife, although are cows and horses wildlife? For this purpose, as we drove past, yes they can.

I think I have mentioned how having a home, not an apartment, is a constant learning experience for us. I am hoping that by the second go-around with the seasons we will be ready, for example having gone through one winter here I know the following:

  • Get the windows sealed in October
  • Purchase at least 150 pounds of salt before the first snow fall, we have a HUGE driveway
  • Purchase a snow blower, but allow the snow to compact a bit before blowing the driveway
  • Purchase a third shovel, because three people shoveling is much faster
  • Put at least 70 pounds of sand in the trunk of the car for the ice rink that the driveway can become

We moved in at the very tail end of summer last year, thus have no frame of reference. All I know from last year is mow the lawn in stages to avoid collapsing from exhaustion. However, since the warm-up began we have learned the following:

  • We should purchase some form of riding lawn mower, not because we are lazy, but because almost 2 acres is a lot and instead of having to mow for a month and a half or so, going to have to mow for at least four months
  • A hose is a necessity
  • A second rake is a necessity
  • Lots of charcoal for grilling, lots
  • Opening one window does nothing to improve the internal temperature, however opening a second window on the opposite side creates optimal air flow, fans are not a necessity
  • Outdoors is fun when you don’t have to share your backdoors with neighbors less than twenty feet away, thus lawn furniture is a must

I know we are missing out on several other things, I watch the neighbors do “stuff” and I know we are not doing what they are doing, so I wonder what do they know that we don’t know…I guess we will find out over the next few months.

So while we learn we continue to enjoy our time here, the kids attempted to fly kites, mostly running around dragging kites, and we cooked out. Both of these things are activities we have not had an opportunity to do or see and both, especially the kids playing outside, make us smile…even if the kites crashed into trees, were drug along the ground, or in one bizarre case ended up wrapped around one child’s neck…don’t ask us how and we were watching.