Games. We Like ‘Em.

This weekend’s GURPS Fantasy game ended on something of a cliffhanger. Well, I suppose it doesn’t count as a cliffhanger if the person has actually already fallen off the cliff, plunged 150 feet, and died…or did he? I’ve seen enough Doctor Who episodes to know that very often what looks like a perilous drop at the end of episode two might turn out to have a bit of scaffolding right underneath it at the beginning of episode three. (Two Geek Points if you can identify the story.) Is this the end of Fuzz the pseudo-Kender?

But I’m not here to talk about RPGs, though I’ll say that I really want the new Unearthed Arcana book, as well as the d20 Weapons Locker. I’m here to talk about other games. Becky doesn’t do the RPG thing, but she enjoys board and card games, and lately we’ve experienced a bunch of fun new ones.

We recently discovered Apples to Apples. which I already discussed here. This has quickly become a new favorite of ours, and is always good for a quick round of fun and laffs. We’ve also been getting a lot of mileage out of a two-player game, Starship Catan, which has the resource management and building aspects of the classic Settlers of Catan, but with a different flavor.

A few weekends ago we had dinner with TJ and Mary, and met another couple they’re friends with. There we played a game called Wise and Otherwise, a sort of Balderdash-type game involving bizarre proverbs from around the world. Very cool and funny. We also did a round of my new eBay acquisition, Scotland Yard, which we originally played with April and John back in Illinois. I was Mr. X, but didn’t succeed in avoiding the dragnet.

Lately we’ve been seeing good things come out of a company called Fantasy Flight Games. I mostly know them from their d20 Role-Playing Game supplements, but they have also been bringing in a lot of board games.

The first of their games I played was Cave Troll, a fun game about exploring a cave looking for gold. Becky and I have played it two-player, and enjoyed it, and then brought in two more players for a quite different game. It’s a nice game with a little bit of strategy, but not overwhelmingly complex. We then got Magdar, which we call “Balrog” because the premise is oddly familiar: Dwarves have mined too deep and awakened a demon of fire. However, these being Dwarves, the goal is to grab as much loot out of the mine as you can before the demon destroys everything. It’s also a lot of fun. Then, last weekend, Dan and Jen brought over Citadels, which was really interesting. Players are building a citadel comprised of various buildings, and each turn take on a different occupation, each with its own special ability. It was a really neat and subtle game, and I’m looking forward to playing again.

The games are very well done, with nice artwork and sturdy pieces. The box contains everything you need to play, including dice (hint hint, Steve Jackson Games.) All of them have been easy to learn and fun to play. And they’re not pricey: Most cost around $20, which is less than we have to pay to go see a movie. Dave T. has gotten the game Wreckage from them and says it too is a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to checking out more of these.

Speaking of Dan and Jen and games, we also got some Mahjongg on that weekend, which we’d been missing. Hopefully they enjoyed it enough to play again.

Speaking of Steve Jackson Games above, after concluding two recent GURPS sessions, TJ pulled out Illuminati. I hadn’t played that in years and forgot how much fun it was. I have fond memories of playing that with Anna, Kurt, and Chris back in the day, with Anna declaring that I was about to win and needed to be stopped — on turn two, when I was miles away from victory. That one might be a bit too cut-throat for Becky, but we’ll have to give it a try. I also got reminded of the Illuminati: New World Order collectible card game after reading a series of nutty conspiracy theories regarding it. Ironic, it being a game based on nutty conspiracy theories.

We’re lucky to know so many people who share this interest. I don’t know why boardgames aren’t more popular. They are usually no more expensive than other forms of entertainment except they can be used over and over with different results. And many, such as mahjongg, are good socializing games, where you can play while sitting around shooting the breeze. Viva los board games!

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