Thursday, April 26, 2012

(Gaming) Life after Baby

As followers of this blog are well aware, I experienced a major life event in the last few months: the birth of my first son. While I am so grateful to have him around, there is one area of my life that has required a lot of adjustment: gaming.

My primary gaming partner before the Farmerlet arrived was my wife, but now with the (understandable) demands on her time, our gaming interactions have changed. So what have I been up to in the recent weeks? Find out below!
As I hinted in our last FDQ, games in the @FarmerLenny household have been a bit more on the casual side lately, but casual does not totally cover it. Here are some games I've had a chance to discover/explore in the wake of my son's arrival:

Belfort. So I say that games have been casual, and I open with Belfort? No one will believe me... This is one I played on a Saturday morning with some friends. I had won a copy in a Tasty Minstrel Games Twitter contest (thanks, Tasty Minstrel!), but hadn't gotten a chance to play it. One Saturday morning, we decided to change that. Belfort is long with lots of moving pieces, but it was surprisingly smooth. (I give major kudos to the visual design of the board, which provides constant cues to players.) I enjoyed my first play quite a bit and look forward to playing again. Unfortunately, as things have been more casual, that time has not yet arrived.

Wiz-War. On the same morning I played Belfort I also tried Wiz-War. I'll quickly summarize my feelings on this game with "not for me." Admittedly, we played the rules wrong, but I think I preferred it the wrong way because the game ended a lot sooner. If you like Ameritrash games, you'll probably like it. I only like Ameritrash games that are on the border of Euro, and that does not match this game's description. Not. For. Me.

Roll through the Ages. I got this one in anticipation of my son's arrival. I had read reviews, and it seemed to fit the gaming niche of "short," "could be interrupted," and "not a brain burner." I found a used copy cheap on Amazon, so it didn't break the bank. Keeping with other games in the Gryphon Bookshelf Series, the game is simple to teach and quick to play yet still offers satisfying decisions. It's not my favorite game ever, but I enjoy it and am looking forward to more plays.

Through the Desert. After I failed to trade an old CCG in a recent math trade, @BGJosh came to my rescue and traded me Through the Desert for it. I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, but I knew I liked Reiner Knizia and had heard this was one of his best. This game has been a huge boon! Not only does it play in the super-short window, it's also a very satisfying abstract. My wife enjoys placing camels around the board and beat me our first several games. (I blame her extensive knowledge of actual camels.)  This game is exactly what I expect from Kniziaand that's not a bad thing.

The Lord of the Rings (co-op). I received this in a recent math trade. It's another Knizia game, which seems strange for a thematic title. I played the game in mixed company: half of us loved Lord of the Rings, the other half didn't care so much. I think the game would be better among Lord of the Rings fans. While the game was fun otherwise, since the thematic layer is a bit thin, I think it would be more immersive with players who love the universe. Also, next time we are not playing on the easy level: Sauron starts at 12. How's that for tension?

Crokinole. Okay, so if I ever complain about never winning anything, you have my permission to slap me. Mayday Games hosted a contest on Board Game Geek several weeks ago for In Cahoots, an expansion to their Eaten by Zombies! that they're currently raising support for on Kickstarter. I enter pretty much every contest on BGG, usually expecting to win. I diligently read the rulebooks, scan the Kickstarter campaign, and acquaint myself with the game in general to enter the contest with the maximum number of entries. But as this contest was for a zombie game (and I don't care for zombies), I answered all the questions blindly and did poorly as a result. Well, wouldn't you know itthis is the contest where my name is drawn, and I didn't even know a Crokinole board was one of the prizes! I was thrilled. My wife and I had tried this game in a game store once, but I put the idea of ever owning one out of my mind. They're expensive. They're huge, and thus probably impractical for home use. I was afraid that my wife would want it out on the curb: a 28" disc is a hard thing to hide. Well, it turns out, this game has quickly become one of her favorites. She even tweeted that she was "addicted to criminology" (iPod's autocorrect version of Crokinole). It has remained on our coffee table for a week without cries to put it away. I don't really understand why it is ridiculously fun, but it is. Essentially you are just flicking discs around, except that if an opponent's disc is on the board, you have to hit it. Rounds go quick, I'm not very good at it, but this game is super fun. It is the ultimate in games that can be played in between feedings and crying stints, and believe me, we have. This one isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

The baby's arrival has also resurfaced old favorites, namely Pandemic and Stone Age. When a longer game is called for, my wife likes Pandemic because other players do some of the thinking for her (she can be a bit distracted when the baby is making noise). She likes Stone Age because it generally feels lighthearted and straightforward.

So...that's what I've been up to. What about you?


  1. How many games have people just handed you for free in the past year? There's 2 on this list alone, and I know there's like 3-4 more. Lucky jerk.

  2. Three to four is an exaggeration. I think the only other one I won is Money.

    Of course, in high school, I did win that N64. And that backpack full of stuff. And that block of CDs. And...

  3. I definitely recommend you try Roll Through The Ages: The Late Bronze Age. It's available as a free download on BGG; kudos to Matt Leacock for making it and putting it up there. It adds another level of depth, switches up the costs on some items, and extends the game. I found it to be great for gamers in my group looking for a little more depth.

  4. Thanks for the recommendation! The copy I bought had the scoresheets thrown out and only included a stack of Late Bronze Age ones. When I realized this, I printed off the base game ones online. My wife hasn't been interested in the more complex version yet, but I think she's getting there. :-)

  5. I have numerous cousins who enjoy Crokinole, it is always found on a side table during family gatherings. Where do you stand on the powder/no powder controversy? I confess to never playing myself but enjoy hearing the discussions. It always reminded me of "table top" Curling. This could be since the Uncle & cousins who adore the games are the Windsor branch of the family . . .

  6. Qtip, I'm still fairly new to the game and wasn't aware of a "powder controversy." I hope never to be involved in such a thing. :-) It is a lot like curling, which makes sense, as the game is supposedly of Canadian origin.

  7. I'd love to try the LOTR co-op game sometime. I've owned a copy for practically a decade, before it (apparently) blew up in popularity. I've only played it once, though, because my family didn't like it and nobody else seemed interested in trying it. It seemed really difficult, though; we played on easy mode and didn't even get close to winning. Maybe later printings fix some imbalances?

  8. Hehe... I find it amusing to see the gentle ways that we say that we hate games while trying not to piss off publishers that might give us future review copies. I wasn't a huge fan of Wiz War, either, but I'd at least be willing to play it a few more time.

  9. @Kevin--We should play. It was difficult on easy, but didn't seem undoable (obviously--we won!). More hobbit bodies would have been strewn about Mordor had we played on normal.

    @Josh--I have zero hope of Fantasy Flight ever sending us anything. It's more to avoid the wrath of Wolfie. Using the choice words I would normally reserve for Wiz-War would only confirm his suspicion that I am overly biased against FFG.

  10. I saw someone who claimed to get a review copy of something from FFG one time. So, it's apparently possible... in theory.


We'd love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment to add your voice to the discussion