Wednesday, February 15

Becoming a New Kind of Geek

So, sometime about three weeks back I became a boardgamer. It started slowly, popping into Games of Berkeley when I was in the area, getting a Risk variant at Toys ’R’ Us, then… wham! A thread about 2 player board games on Metafilter led me to, and then it was all over.

“The Geek” is a comprehensive database of board games, complete with ratings, reviews, and forums as one might expect. Its coolest feature is GeekLists. Users can create lists of games, adding commentary, and others can add to the list or just comment on the individual entries. Some of my favorites: Couples Games, The Most Overproduced Games Ever, My Carcassonne Research, and All the Flavor, Half the Calories. Wicked addictive. Wanna see my profile?

As I recently wrote, there’s a game store down the street, though for true selection I go to Games of Berkeley. There are various online sites (Fun Again seems good, and sometimes necessary) but because of the shipping, it’s usually worth it to buy at a store unless you need to hit up Ebay for something out of print.

Here’s what Cait and I have been playing:
Lost Cities
Great two-player card game that’s quick-moving and has good opportunities for tempting fate, but also only requires half a brain. Good for playing during a conversation or when watching quality television programming.
Carcassonne: The City
This game is beautifully presented, with a nice wooden box, pretty art, and four colors of happy meeples. It sounds more complicated than it is (as we discovered teaching it to two different groups of people), but is well worth learning and playing. Cait’s gotten quite good at trying to steal my residential areas, which are often worth mega points. The City is a stand-alone game, but the original Carcassonne has a ton of expansions that I’m thinking of trying out to add some different flavors to the mix. (There are also other siblings: the two player Knizia designed The Castle (which The City borrows from), the prehistoric Hunters and Gatherers, and the latest (and U.S. exclusive to Fun Again), The Discovery.
San Juan
A slightly more involved game. I like that it has a fair amount going on and has the potential for multiple strategies. (“Do I build up my production to get cards, or can I get by without and build more monuments instead?”) It’s the card game cousin of the well-regarded Puerto Rico, which I haven’t played yet. Might give that a shot, too.
Risk: Godstorm
Nice re-imagining of Risk in mythologic times, based somewhat on the mechanics from Risk: 2210 A.D. Haven’t played the full version more than once, but we’ve used the board and pieces for regular Risk. Cait can kick my ass at Risk, since she’s good and I make stupid decisions. (The phrase “creamy center” has come up to describe some of my overextended, underdefended positions.)
Settlers of Catan
The original eurogame gateway game. We don’t actually own this, but play it with our friends Ian and Tiara. It’s good times, though I’m quite bad. Also, it proves the phrase that “randomness is lumpy.” Frickin’ 9 never came up! Looking for the card game version (which I think is being re-released) since it plays with two.
Kill Doctor Lucky
Haven’t actually played this yet, but it’s themed as the prequel to Clue. I.e.: people running around a mansion trying to kill someone. From the manifesto’d Cheapass Games. I’m planning on using my Pixar Monopoly pieces with this one, so it might end up being Kill Doctor Sulley.
So, wanna play a game? I’m all about it.