Pack O Games 2

Behold! Chris Handy has brought forth another batch of delightfully chewy micro-card games guaranteed to freshen your breath and brighten your smile. I was a proud supporter of the first batch of games back in August of 2014, and I’m excited to introduce Pack O Games SET 2!

packogame2

Each of the games available through the Pack O Games Kickstarter feature 30 cards, 1 inch by 3 inch in a tuck box the size of a pack of gum. The gum sized design is brilliant. It’s way better than my Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup shaped design, and you don’t have to worry about those pesky food allergies.

Chris was nice enough to send me some of the new games, and my son and I played a few of them:

  • Rum is a push your luck set collection game, with a nifty timing mechanism that not only keeps things tense but also makes the available draw pile work with a limited number of cards.
  • Orc is a quick and simple hand management game that has just enough strategy to make it worth playing multiple times.
  • Gym puts you back in middle school PE, where you need to pick teams for events and deal with bullies. This features some great art by Vjekoslav Zivkovic, who does art when not on nuclear submarine duty.

I also got to look at Sow, a mancala inspired game about planting seeds and collecting bouquets of flowers. I didn’t get to play it, but I have a sense that it will end up being my personal favorite. I wanted to play Sow, but my son wasn’t all that interested in giving this one a try. Apparently, gardening isn’t quite as exciting as stabbing orcs with spears, if you are a twelve year old. I did take a picture of the wheelbarrow cards and sent it to my sister-in-law. Jaime loves wheelbarrows.

Orc was my son’s favorite of the bunch. He loved this one. He wanted to play it again and again. I enjoyed it as well. It’s a very clever design using a limited number of the same kind of card to make up the contested regions, the troops that are deployed to gain control of those regions, and the population of the region that scores for you at the end of the game.

Rum is another example of a very skillful use of a limited number of cards. I was a little worried when I first heard about this one, since I am currently working on a pirate themed card game, but luckily, it’s wildly different than mine. Handy is a good designer, and it would have been sad if he had met his end after accidentally being bitten by scorpions and then falling into a random pool of acid.

Rum cards have two playable ends, one with a single bottle and the other with two bottles. Creating groups of like-colored bottles allows a player to gain control of captain cards. Each captain card increases in value as larger sets of bottles are played, with the indicated value shown by turning or flipping the card.

The parrot card drives the game clock and keeps the draw pile, or shipwreck, stocked with cards. Bottles that wash up on the beach can be added to a players hand or can be used in a set by all players if they remain face up on the beach.

There is a lot going on in Gym, and I imagine it will benefit from repeated play. It gets a little chaotic at the end, but there is a mechanism that uses the coaches to keep things from getting too crazy.

Check out the Pack O Games SET 2 Kickstarter from Chris Handy at PackOGame2.com, starting March 3rd and ending April 1st!

2015 in Review

This year was a bit of a transition for me. My work environment changed a lot, and I finally made the move to management. I spent more time working and less time playing games, or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I spent less time playing board games.

A Critical Hit

If anything, 2015 was the year of RPGs for me. I joined a regular Dungeons and Dragons Encounters group that met every Wednesday night at my friendly local game store, The Crazy Squirrel. This was good for me in a couple of ways, beyond the fact that it’s just plain fun. First, it helped me get out of my comfort zone and made me sit down with people I didn’t know. I tend to stick close to my good friends when it comes to playing games, and this forced me to loosen up a bit. It also gave me a creative outlet that I sorely needed. I’m starting to realize how important it is to my happiness and well-being to always be involved in some kind of creative process. Regardless of whether it’s writing, cooking, building, performing, or painting, those are the times when I feel most connected to a sense of self. I plan on exploring this a bit more in 2016.

Games of 2015
I still played a lot of board games, but not as many as I have in previous years. There were certainly some standouts this year, but nothing hit the table quite like Pandemic Legacy. If you haven’t had the change to play this, you are seriously missing out on a real gaming adventure. Other notable games included Mysterium, Cacao, and Codenames.
About 2016

I’m going to be 50 years old in a couple of months. I choose to look at this milestone as that point in a journey when you have reached a certain distance and altitude where you can look over, with some sense of perspective, both the path behind you as well as the landscape of what may lie ahead. I suppose one could also look at it and say that it’s all downhill from here, but I like it better my way. I can’t change the path I’ve already traveled, but I can take what I’ve learned with me as I move forward. Here’s some wisdom that I have gathered over time:

Keep an eye out for poop in the road so you can avoid stepping in it. If you think something might be poop, it probably is poop.

If you pick up all the cool rocks you find as you make your journey, you will end up with heavy pockets filled with rocks. Enjoy your experiences. If something is that cool, then take a picture with your phone.

Don’t say all of the words that you hear inside your head. Words are powerful and you should use them responsibly.

Look more than a couple of steps down a path before you start walking. There may be an owlbear.

Automate your savings.

People are more important than things, but always keep in mind the rule about poop.

Summary
I give 2015 four out of five stars. There were some pretty good plot twists and turns and some reasonable character development. The writing was consistent, if somewhat predictable, but I am leaving the theater feeling like my money was well spent.

Dice and Cardboard

Recently, I’ve been getting back into tabletop role playing games. These are those games, like Dungeons and Dragons, that your parents warned you about because they have been linked to things like creativity and not being popular with stupid people. I’m still playing a lot of board games, but I feel like there’s been a shift somewhere in my gaming brain, and the pie chart that displays my thought allocation that was previously filled mostly with family strategy games is now filled with RPGs, and of course, pie.

I recently finished the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set adventure. My buddy Joe was our DM and was nice enough to run it for our significant others and my son. We had a really great time, and I can’t say enough about the value of this starter set. We spent about six months going through the adventure in the starter set. Now, we didn’t play all that often, but we may have played eight or nine times over those months, and it was a lot of fun. By the way, DM stands for Dungeon Master. Also FYI, OG stands for Original Gangster. Apparently, this is a good thing. I had to ask about this last week. FYI stands for Flying Yellow Insects.

I also ran a short adventure at a local RPG convention, using the Fate Accelerated rule system. It was a spy thriller set in the 1970’s and I called it “Dr. Disco vs. the agents of F.U.N.K.” It’s always nerve wracking running adventures in those situations, but I was glad that I did. I had a great group of players and it was a total hoot. I’m already planning the sequel.

I’m getting ready to run our starter set crew through the Princes of the Apocalypse adventure. Getting started with a new campaign is always the most difficult thing for me, but once things get moving, it gets a lot easier.

On a housekeeping note, I’m experimenting with new comment protocols. I’ve disabled the normal WordPress comments, and enabled Facebook comments. I’ve also created a Twitter widget that will follow the hashtag #ggthinks. I’m interested in seeing what’s easier to use and what allows for better feedback and interaction. Try them out and see what you think.