Friday Night Gaming - For Sale, Shadows Over Camelot

We had a family meeting Wednesday night and decided to do a game night Friday evening. Jacob and I will be on the coast at Adventure Cove camping with the Cub Scouts while Matthew and Julie will spend the week at Camp Ireland at day camp - we needed some time together with just the four of us. Consensus was to start with a light opener then tackle the new Days of Wonder release Shadows Over Camelot.

I was eager to finally try the light auction game For Sale. I recently picked up the Uberplay reprint and was able to teach the game in less than 5 minutes; we played in about 20.

For Sale

Jacob, Julie, and Matthew during our game of For Sale.

This was a big hit! Jacob pulled out the victory with Julie and I close behind tied for second. Matthew wasn't that far back and everyone enjoyed it. I love games with a simple mechanic or two that can be played quickly. For Sale is played in two phases: first is the buying of properties, second is the selling. When buying properties, a number of cards are turned up equal to the number of players who then bid in clockwise fashion for the privilege of getting the best property. When a player passes he gives half of his bid (rounded up) to the bank and takes the worst available property. The player with the highest bid after all of the other players have passed pays the full amount of the bid and gets the best property. This is repeated until all of the properties have been auctioned.

Next comes the selling phase. In addition to the property cards, there are an equal number of "checks" that correspond to the income from selling cards. This phase starts with a random draw of a number of checks equal to the number of players - the checks are valued anywhere from 0 to $15,000. Each player secretly chooses a property to sell, then all players simultaneously reveal. The best property revealed gets the best check, and so on. Simple but elegent, this one should come out often.

We then decided to learn and play the new cooperative game Shadows Over Camelot. Coop games are generally a big hit in my family, and for many reasons I like Jacob and Matthew to play games where they work together rather than against each other.

20050723Camelot

Jacob and Matthew strategize in Shadows Over Camelot.

The production of this game is, as expected, first rate (read about the mechanics here). Learning the game was not trivial - I'm glad I was able to observe part of a session at work first, as learning from the rulebook was a bit challenging for everyone. We misplayed a few rules in our first game, and I suspect we are violating the spirit of the discussion/cooperation rules. Who cares - we had a blast.

20050723Camelot2

Julie, Jacob, and Matthew examining the board.

We lost our first game to the siege engines but it was close. Everyone wanted a re-match tonight (Saturday) so we gave it another try. It played much faster this time and we won fairly easily. In both games we played without the traitor - I wanted us to win as a group before introducing that element of the game. Next time we'll give it a try.

Reviewing the Boardgame Podcasts

I somewhat reluctantly started listening to Podcasts about a month or two ago. I say reluctantly because initially I didn't really see the point of downloading amateurish audio content, plus the mechanics of listening in the "early days" (5-6 months ago) were a bit of a pain. I did listen to the first 6 GeekSpeak episodes last year on my PC but dropped out for several months. This June I took the time to wire up iTunes and my iPod to a few Podcasts using the fantastic iPodder software and subscribed to the trifecta of GeekSpeak, BoardGames To Go, and The Dice Tower. They are now regular commute listening for me, and Jacob has even been requesting Geek Speak when we drive out to the coast. I've listened to each enough to write some commentary, so here goes.

As far as boardgame oriented Podcasts go, this is the one that started it all. Derk and Aldie (Aldie and Derk?) continue to innovate with BoardGameGeek and GeekSpeak sets the benchmark by which the others will be measured. This show has the A-list guests and the shows continue to improve. Some highlights include Mike Fitzgerald, Peter Sarrett, and Guido Teuber. I'm less fond of some of the interludes in the show - the Origins reporting by Ted Cheatham was painful and the audio quality of Aldie's soundseeing tour of the Gathering was poor. When they stick to their core, which is interviewing notable guests. This podcast also happens to be Jacob's favorite, mostly because of Derk's antics. Maybe it would hurt the chemistry, but at times I do wish Derk would tone down the sarcastic digs against his guests (and Reiner). I guess I expect more respect for the guests - a few pokes now and then are fine but keep it professional. Think of GeekSpeak as the Daily Show of boardgame Podcasts.

Mark Johnson has maintained a popular weblog for some time and recently started producing a Podcast on boardgames. Mark's Podcast is more of a solo effort and has a keen focus on reviews, session reports, and special topics of interest to Mark. Mark is also experimenting with including his kids on Podcasts - I think this is a great idea when done in moderation. It is difficult enough for the run-of-the-mill amateur Podcaster to maintain a level of quality to keep audience interest; with kids on the show I think the challenge is even greater. Mark is at his best when he covers special topics, and his intro shows (Intro to Podcasting and Intro to Boardgames) are top notch. I particularly like Mark's humility (Derk could use a bit more of this ) and willingness to listen to listener feedback and adjust accordingly. Think of Mark and Boardgames To Go as the the Jim Lehrer of Podcasts. A bit dry at times, but solid content worth tuning into.

The Dice Tower is the brainchild and production of Tom Vasel and Joe Steadman. For entertainment value, The Dice Tower sits right in between GeekSpeak and Boardgames To Go. I appreciate that Tom and Joe aren't trying to just be another Derk and Aldie - they've taken a unique approach to their shows, relying on banter and the push-pull of their different interests. Tom prefers European-style boardgames while Joe is a grognard wargame enthusiast. I particularly enjoy their top 10 lists (favorite publishers, favorite gateway games, etc.) as it is interesting hearing their different views and the ensuing dialog. At times their banter becomes a bit too vitriolic for my tastes - I understand they are good friends and the jabs are probably good natured, but without knowing them (and seeing body language) the exchanges seem a bit over-the-top at times. I suggest they tone down the conflict and keep it civil without losing the healthy debates that make the show entertaining. Think of the Dice Tower as the Hannity and Colmes of boardgame Podcasts.


Well, that's just one man's opinion and I'll keep listening to all three and hope to see even more (unique) Podcasts show up on the net.

Keuka Lake 2005

Here are some snapshots from this year's visit to Keuka Lake in western NY (we do this every year).

Julie's college roomate Deb joined us for the July 4 weekend; I took her new husband Eli and son Philip out sailing on the flying dutchman.

Philip loved playing Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper (my new favorite). Recommendation: listen to the GeekSpeak interview of this game's designer Mike Fitzgerald.

We had a rousing game of Bang! that everyone enjoyed.

At the very end of our trip last year we picked up a used Walker Bay rowboat. This is now one of Jacob's favorite activities, though Matthew certainly enjoys being a passenger.

We had a great skiing year - Jacob was able to get up and stay up on a slalom ski (not shown here) and Matthew was able to ski on two.

Jacob and I spent three mornings out fishing deep for lake trout. We did reasonably well, cooking fish for two meals. This picture was our big surprise - a 19 inch largemouth caught about 40 feet below the surface.

How to Make a Small Fortune in the Boardgame Business

Have you ever heard this quotation?

How do you make a small fortune in the boardgame business? Start with a large one.

This quotation often gets attributed to Reiner Knizia, but it is a general statement for just about any hobby/lifestyle business that involves capital investment. Here are some other examples:

The funny thing is that in just about each of these industries, someone attributes the origin of the quotation to a specific individual in that business. Clearly this saying originated from some context... wonder where?