Mayfair Makes History

26 08 2013

525695_10151633300925958_1966269745_nIt’s no secret that one of the biggest events in gaming happened just over a week ago, in Indianapolis. Yes, we are of course referring to Gencon. Mayfair Games, one of the world’s top publishers, and gatekeepers of the Catan franchise, had HUGE plans for the con this year. How huge? Well, let’s find out…

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What You Missed…

19 04 2013

What more could you ask for in a week of posts? Three reviews, an interview, and a ton of news! #boom

Specifically…

spacesheepcoverWe shared news of the interesting-looking Space Sheep, a real-time customizable cooperative game from Stronghold Games.

Then I talked about Grail games a little bit—and how I was recently able to snag one of the games at the top of my Grail list. Update: I talked about moving to the next game—Magic Labyrinth—and I found a copy of this out-of-print gem for $34 shipped. Awesome!

Then we talked about yet another expansion for the hit game Battlestar Galactica: Daybreak.

Review #1 was a Double-Take Review of Reverse Charades. Spoiler Alert: We loved it.

Then we broke some news about another Smash Up expansion, sweet tiles for The Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game, and Mayfair’s Facebook contest—which we didn’t win… 😦

Then we interviewed Randy Hoyt and Tyler Segel from Foxtrot Games about their upcoming game Relic Expedition.

Review #2 was The Crazy Creatures of Dr. Gloom.

And finally, Jeremiah gave us his first impressions of the print-and-play copy of Relic Expedition. Once I get a chance to play it (I’ve been ridiculously busy!), we’ll have a proper back-and-forth on our thoughts.

Have an awesome weekend. We’ll see you next week!





2013 Origins Awards Nominations Announced!

4 04 2013

The Nominees for the 39th Annual Origins awards have been announced via the GAMA Web site.

Making a HUGE showing in the list of nominees is Wizkids Games, with 5 titles up for an award! Not bad for a company who just several years ago had shut down operations. Wizards of the Coast, also with 5 nominations, continues to make an impact on the gaming industry. While Catan moguls Mayfair Games make a showing with Catan Junior and Clash of Wills. And we can’t forget AEG bringing 3 nominees to the table this year including Love Letter and the much beloved Smash Up!

Here are some quick highlights of the games nominated:

Crossroads

 Best Board Game –

Hot Rod Creeps – Cryptozoic
Kingdom Builder – Queen Games (Read our Review)
Lords of Waterdeep – Wizards of the Coast
Mage Knight – WizKids (Read our Review)
Mage Wars – Arcane Wonder

smashcover

The nominees for Best Traditional Card Game are –

Doctor Who the Card Game – Cubicle 7 Entertainment/Treefrog Games
Legendary – Upper Deck
Locke & Key – Cryptozoic
Penny Arcade: Rumble in R’lyeh – Cryptozoic
Smash Up – AEG (Read our review)

catanjrBest Family, Party or Children’s Game –

Catan Junior – Mayfair Games (Read our Review)
Escape: The Curse of the Temple – Queen Games
Love Letter – AEG
Once Upon A Time 3rd Edition – Atlas Games
Quarriors! Dice Building Game – WizKids Games (Read our review)

For the complete list of categories and nominees you can visit the GAMA website by clicking right here.

Feel like a game got slighted? Are you pulling for a favorite to win? Let us know! Sound off here in the comments, or shout out on Facebook and Twitter!





Move Over Monopoly—Catan in the Classroom

27 03 2013

– by Jeremiah

image from BGG user kilroy_locke

image from BGG user kilroy_locke

For years, math, stats, and economics teachers have been trotting out the Monopoly board in their classrooms to help give students some hands-on, applicable life lessons. While the game is horrible, the idea is sound. From the get-go, gaming with my children has been chock full of teachable moments; at their current ages those lessons have been more about sportsmanship, being gracious while winning or losing, and learning to operate within the rules (or NOT cheating). As they grow older you can bet the lessons at the game table will grow with them.

A middle-school history teacher in Franklin, MA, has gone Euro with this concept in his classes. Teaching the struggles of early civilizations, and the conflict that can arise over scarce resources through The Settlers of Catan. A recent article in a local paper featuring the teacher and his students has caught the attention of Mayfair Games, and has gained some traction across the gaming community.

From the article:

“We can’t bring them back to Mesopotamia, Egypt or Greece, but this (Catan) brings it alive,” Brady said. “One student was so frustrated because he was winning at one point, and the other kids froze him out and wouldn’t trade with him. He said flat out, ‘I now understand why people go to war.’ ”

This is yet another step in not only promoting a great hobby, but also in breaking new ground in teaching future generations. So let’s have a discussion here about it! What games do you think should end up in the classroom? and Why? We would LOVE to hear your thoughts. And who knows…you just might inspire someone to break new ground in their classroom, too!

Thanks for reading, and leave your suggestions in the comments!





Mayfair’s Catan Junior—A Double-Take Review

22 01 2013

catanjrWell it’s probably not a surprise to you that there were more than a few games found under the Christmas trees in our homes. We both ended up adding a copy of Mayfair’s Catan Junior to our growing collection of kids/family games, so we thought there’s no better time to post our thoughts in yet another Double-Take Review.

Let’s be honest: If you’re a gamer, you probably have friends who tell you how much they LOVE Settlers of Catan. Catan is to board gaming what Dark Side of the Moon is to Pink Floyd. Or Kleenex is to facial tissue. Or “Particle Man” is to They Might Be Giants. Or Coke is to Cola. Or, well…you get my point. Anyone who has had a close encounter with the geek level of gaming has played Settlers of Catan. It’s not a bad thing; Catan has probably done more for board gaming than any other title since (gah!) Monopoly. So we won’t go into much detail about the original version of the game; if you want to read about it, there are about seven million reviews, tutorials, and commentaries on the game scattered throughout the Internet.

Playing Catan Jr.Catan Junior isn’t just a simplifying of the already massive hit title. The rules are somewhat streamlined, for sure, but there is also a re-theming to the game. Instead of building settlements, cities and roads, players are now swashbuckling pirates, building pirate lairs (instead of settlements and cities), and pirate ships (instead of roads). The hexes are now represented by individual islands. You start with two lairs and one ship, and you can only build lairs next to ships, and ships next to lairs. The point of the game is to be the first to build seven lairs.

The trading has been changed to be a little more kid friendly. There is a marketplace on one end of the board, and one of each of the five resources (now Goats, Wood, Gold, Molasses, and Cutlasses) are placed at a booth in the marketplace. Players can trade 1:1 with those resources (only once per turn), or 2:1 for anything not in the marketplace—or for an advanced variant, you ditch the marketplace and trade with other players. And you can also purchase Coco Cards, which feature Coco the parrot on the back. These give you various free goods, or allow you a free move of the Ghost Pirate Captain (which we’ll explain in a second), and one that allows you to build a lair or a ship for free! In addition to the great stuff you get, having the most Coco cards will allow you to build a lair on Spooky Island (which is the Desert in this retheme), putting you one closer to the seven lairs you need.

The thief has been replaced by the Ghost Pirate Captain (who starts on Spooky Island), and rolling a 6 (in this game there’s a single d6) allows players to move the Ghost Captain to an island and take two resources of the type that matches the hex he was placed on. And like the thief he stops production from that hex until he’s moved again.

Your turn consists of:

  • Roll to produce goods on islands
  • Trade
  • Build

And that’s it. They move along quickly, so there’s little downtime.

Firestone—The components are great. The resources are big and chunky and perfect for my kids’ little hands to grab. The ships and lairs are small, but they do the job. It’s very colorful, and the pirate theme is a hit with kids.

Jeremiah—Yeah, I totally agree; we love the resource tokens (although my wife got a little flustered because the cutlasses were tough to stack), I suppose I would have preferred wooden ships and lairs—the plastic ones seem a little fragile to me. But I will say they have survived at least four plays thus far, so they are surprisingly durable. The retheme is great, although I’ve taken to calling the Ghost Pirate Caption the Dread Pirate Roberts, but we’ll just call that a house rule for now…

Firestone—I’ve played three games: a 2-player, a 3-player, and a 4-player, and it seems to scale well, though people were getting cut off right and left in our 4-player game. And by people, I mean me.

Jeremiah—I actually haven’t played a 2-player game yet, because every time we pull it out both of my boys jump at the chance to play it. So most of my plays have been 3-player, and once the boys talked mommy into playing, so we played 4-player. With 4 it does get a little crowded, but I agree: It’s a short game, and it’s actually about perfect in play time, so before it gets too cut-throat it’s over.

Firestone—One downside I’ve seen in my three games is that it seems practically impossible to come back once someone gets ahead of you. And if they’re building lairs that are cutting you off, it’s just that much harder to come back. But since it’s short, I can live with this one complaint about it. Oddly, in my house, my 8-year-old isn’t all that excited about playing this—he’ll play, but it’s not his first choice. I’m not sure if that’s because he’s used to playing “deeper” games with me and this one seems too simple, or what. I do know that my almost-5-year-old LOVES this one. He needs some help with decisions and strategies and the whys and wherefores, but he has a blast playing. He’s cuckoo for Coco.

Jeremiah—Both my 4- and 6-year-olds are all about this game. I do have to help the youngest one pretty often. The strategy to buy CoCo cards seems to be the choice of youngsters everywhere! They’ve figured out the value of getting a free lair on Spooky Island and have exploited it very well. In fact, both of my sons have figured this out, and it somehow works, because most of the time they pull out the win.

Firestone—This is a great, great family game. It’s ideal for introducing kids to Euros, and the process of creating engines where you get this, to turn into that, to get you VPs. And one of the best things is that you won’t feel as though you have to dumb down your play—the kids have just as much chance to win as you—but the game is still interesting for adults. Am I going to bring this to game night with the fellas? Of course not. But it’s a game for kids, and it’s very good at it.

Jeremiah—Yeah, we both pretty much agree on this one, the rules and theme are super accessible for kids. I will say that I “renamed” the Ghost Pirate Captain because my oldest son lately has been super tweaky about anything remotely scary. (Like when his younger brother impersonates zombie carrots… Yes, zombie carrots weird him out.) Spooky Island he’s okay with. But I felt like I needed to hold back on the ost-ghay irate-pay. The game is close enough to the original that it also holds my interest and isn’t total kids-game fodder. And as I said, it’s short enough to hold the attention of my 4-year old!

Firestone Final Rating—As a game for adults, it’s maybe a 6 or 7—it’s fine, but I don’t much like that it uses dice to control resources…so if people don’t roll your number, yer outta luck. BUT, as a kids game I give it a 10. It’s the perfect game to introduce kids to Euro-game concepts.

Jeremiah Final Rating—Completely agree, I’d say a solid 7 for adults playing with kids, the board is laid out well enough that you shouldn’t get hosed for resources even though you’re relying on the dice. And yeah score it a 10 for kids: awesome gateway into euro style games, great theme, perfect rules scaling of a classic game, and solid re-playability.

Get Catan: Junior on Amazon here!

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, and Like us on Facebook!





What You Missed…

14 12 2012

tileWith life speeding up for us around the upcoming holidays, we’ve fallen off of our usual weekly rhythm. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had an exciting week here at TOG! Here’s what you missed…

We started the week out with exciting news about Star Wars the Card Game as Fantasy Flight released their always thorough and helpful tutorial videos.

We also completed our 2012 Christmas Holiday Gift Guide!

Our Kickstarter Weekly featured a nifty project for your copy of Catan—you gotta check this one out!

This week also brought good tidings of great joy for all of you Fluxx fans, as Looney Labs and Playdeck launched the Fluxx app in the iOS app store!

Again, we thank you for reading, and hope you come back next week for more gaming news, reviews, and interviews!





Modular Settlers of Catan Board—Kickstarter Weekly

13 12 2012

tileHere’s a way cool project for all of the Settlers Of Catan fans out there: Modular hex-pieces that hold the Catan tiles. Each hex is made of plastic and holds the land tile inside. Each edge of the frame also has a small magnet, so when you start forming the board, the magnets hold it to the neighboring tile perfectly. Once they’re “stuck,” the whole board can move around as one piece—no more fidgeting, fidgeting, fidgeting to keep the tiles in place throughout the game.

SettlersYou can keep the tiles in the frames, and they’ll fit in the box once you’re done. This is such a simple and wonderful and useful idea. I hope they do this for other hex-based games, such as Twilight Imperium III!








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