Ticket to Ride: Europe, Walk the Dogs, and Parthenon

There's been just a little bit of gaming around our household over the last few weeks. High time for a post with a few photos.

About a week ago I returned from a business trip in Memphis and joined Jacob, Nick, and Julie in a game of Ticket to Ride: Europe on a late Friday afternoon. Nick was new to Ticket to Ride but picked up the rules easily. Maybe there is some correlation with having two football players play the game, but this was the most confrontational game of TtR I've ever played.

Ticket to Ride: Europe

This was mostly due to Nick focusing on very small routes and doing whatever he could to disrupt our progress (mostly Julie, but he got after Jacob and me as well). While it wasn't very successful, it did make for an entertaining and tension-packed game (mostly positive energy) as Nick tried to figure out who to mess up next. I think he learned that this isn't really a viable strategy but he sure did have some fun along the way.

The next day KC and Rita joined us at our home for an overnight and some final planning for the launch of HAVOC: the Hundred Years War. We did manage to squeeze in a bit gaming though, including a couple of our new games from SimplyFun. Saturday night we played Walk the Dogs, my first play of it with the family. The kids really liked the game, though I somehow managed to pull off a surprise win by collecting five consecutive puppies. This is a pretty chaotic game but enjoyable nonetheless.

Walk the Dogs

We also gave the junior version of Eye to Eye a try, and this was an even bigger hit. As easy to play as Apples to Apples, I think this game is a bit more fun. I you are a fan of Scattergories give this one a try. It does seem to be a bit overpriced for what you get, but maybe I'll find some other use for all those little wooden cubes.

On Sunday morning we played a 5-player game of Parthenon: Rise of the Aegean. We again were able to play in just over two hours and response was overwhelmingly positive. We did run into a kingmaker decision on the last turn, where Jacob was the Archon and could choose another player to damage pretty seriously (no commodity production that turn). He chose to hurt KC, possibly because KC had been a bit more vocal in stating his ability to win that turn (I was in the same position). This allowed me to win the game, but it was a hollow victory.

Parthenon

I coached Jacob a bit after the game, suggesting that it might have been better to hurt Matthew or Rita, who were unlikely to win that turn. This is a tough call and raises some concerns about the game, but maybe this was an unusual occurrence. In any case, we had fun and I look forward to playing again soon.

Magic: the Gathering Ad Campaign

Has anyone else noticed the massive ad campaign in progress for Magic: the Gathering? I've seen adverts in computer gaming magazines, the dropped a CD for Magic: Online in PC Gamer this month, I'm flipping channels here in the hotel and see a TV commercial for Ravnica, the release due later this month. Maybe it isn't a "massive" campaign, but I suspect it is a healthy launch.

Hiking Cascade Head

I'm a bit late in reporting this, but oh well. It was a cool hike with some cool photos so better late than never. We spent Labor Day weekend out at Salishan and Julie was anxious to get out and hike somewhere. I suggested Cascade Head, having heard some great things about the scenic views from there. The trailhead is just a few miles north of Lincoln City off of Hwy 101 (I'm listening to Highway 61 Revisited right now… maybe I should switch to Jackson Browne?) so after about a 20 minute drive we were off on our adventure.

Apparently the trailhead was moved a few years back to ease road congestion - park at Knight Park near the boat ramp and walk up the road from there. The low parts of the trail wind through public land including national forest, but as you get near the head the trail is contained within Nature Conservancy land. There are quite a few restrictions on land use in this area, so check ahead before attempting anything unusual (like backpacking / camping).

Family Photo at Cascade Head

The early parts of the hike are within an old growth Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir forest. The trail is very well maintained here, with plenty of foot bridges and planking to get through the squishy areas. Before long the trail opens to a meadow with the first glimpses of the coast stretching south from the head. While this isn't a terribly strenuous hike, pretty much the whole hike in is uphill and there are a few steep parts.

As we were hiking through the meadow, Jacob spotted a slithery critter that I was able to pick up and play with for a while. I love snakes.

Snake at Cascade Head

We continued to climb, but it became clear that the boys were not going to be interested in making the final climb to the peak of Cascade Head. Julie was kind enough to allow me the opportunity to finish the hike, so I high-tailed it up the top for some spectacular views of Lincoln City and beyond, including the Salishan spit.

All in all, a great way to spend an afternoon and I highly recommend this hike if you find yourself on the beautiful Oregon coast.

Walking in Memphis

I'm heading to Memphis early tomorrow morning, spending two nights there with Thursday night opening. So far my queries on BGG and Spielfrieks have been met with silence. Any gamers in Memphis interested in hooking up Thursday night?

VH1 Classic Rocks

I suppose VH1 Classic is supposed to rock, but it sure does. This is my default live TV channel to have on while I work (must get back to work…) now. Currently enjoying the sweet sounds of ELO, "Last Train to London".