Some needed gaming relaxation

To say that Tuesday was a stressful afternoon at work would be a huge understatement. It was a rough day with challenging interpersonal issues that boiled over into some incredibly tense conversations. Things eventually resolved before I went home, but I still left the building in the throes of an anger/stress hangover.

I decided to stop by Tin Whiskers on my way home to take some deep breaths and have a quick 10oz. They ended up having this really great beer brewed with cactus called Electric Love. It was super smooth and easy drinking, with just the right balance of fruitiness. I sat and unwound while talking with a great barkeep about all the new taprooms in downtown St. Paul.

IMG_1316.jpgOnce I got home we decided to head to Game Center for dinner and a game, since we hadn’t been there in a long, long time. We picked out a new game called DragonStone Mine! This is a game that involves stacking different colored gems on spires of your tower until someone completes all 6 spires. You then score points based on how many single color spires, or fully rainbow spires you have. There’s cards you play to throw everyone’s plans into chaos, as well as some random chance when you’re mining for gems (drawing from the bag).

My only complaint about the game was that the instructions were not as clear as they could have been. It took us a turn or two before we really understood the turn order and all the different options. Otherwise, it was a fun, quick, game that didn’t take all night to learn or play.

It was nice to get back out and enjoy some time at Game Center. It helped me calm down after a stressful day, and reminded me that there’s more to life than sucky work.

Trains (the game)

The family hit Fantasy Flight Game Center on Tuesday night and we tried out a new game, called Trains. It’s a unique combination of a deck building game, and a board game. The goal of the game is to expand your rail lines across the map, building stations in various cities, to earn more victory points by the end of the game than your opponents. You achieve this by building a deck of cards with which to lay more track, build stations, and buy more cards (as in traditional deck building).

We had a fun time for our first time out with this game, and got the hang of it pretty quickly (we’re all experienced deck builders). Having a board added a very unique aspect to the game. Not only was the goal about collecting victory points, but there was a spatial element to contend with. As players built around the map it changed the cost of routes, meaning that strategies need to change part way through. There are also random sets of cards to purchase that change every game, meaning that what worked in one play-through, may not be as effective this time around.

We had a really fun time learning and playing Trains, and if you’re a deck building fan I think you’d really enjoy it. It’s familiar, but different enough to make it more engaging that just another set of artwork on the same old deck building concept.

Machi Koro, the game

Earlier this week the wife and spawn and I got to spend some time at the game center. I’ve been wanting to try the game Machi Koro for a while, so before we left, I watched a quick YouTube tutorial on the game so that we could give it a try.

It’s a simple card game where you are attempting to build four landmark structures in your city before your opponents. It combines some elements of deck building, where you purchase establishment cards from a central store, but unlike deck builders, the cards become part of your city on every play going forward. Players roll dice to see which cards take effect on their turns, and sometimes this means that another player’s roll can benefit you. As you build all of your establishments, the gold starts flowing fast and furious.

Eventually, you build up your establishments to the point where you’re collecting enough gold to build the 4 key landmarks that win the game for you. The first person to build all four of the landmarks wins. It’s a fun and quick game, and we picked it up really easily tonight, and had a great time. If you want to learn how to play it, I’d suggest this Watch it Played video, as it gave me the quick tutorial that helped us jump right into playing.

Beer and Bikes in Spring

Normally when the weather gets nice I ride with the Beer and Bikes group on Wednesday nights to various taprooms. This week it was pouring rain, and despite three of the members deciding to brave the rain, I opted for getting rained on tomorrow morning during my run instead. I drove down and met folks, and because of a scheduling issue with a private party at the taproom we intended to go to, we ended up at one of my regular haunts, Northgate Brewing.

The guys who run Northgate love soccer, and they love board games, which means they have a nice bookshelf with games on it for people to borrow. I got to introduce the gang to Citadels, a game that I’ve played many years ago, and it was a ton of fun. Once people got the hang of the strategy of the game it got to be pretty intense. My friend Michael ended up winning, but it was a hard fought victory. The whole experience made for a really fun night with friends, with lots of laughter and frivolity.

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Board games and beer

Whoops, forgot to post this last night, so it’ll be a 2-fer today. I forgot because my son and I were having a great time at a local brewery that was hosting a Settlers of Catan night. They asked people to bring their own games, but then they gave a free beer to anyone who won a game at the various tables.

My son and I hit up a great pizza place next door and grabbed a pizza to bring with us (there ended up being a mix up and they delivered the pizza to the brewery for us), and then found a table to set up our game. We met up with two young guys who were there to play as well and we started a game. It ended up being a great round, with almost every one of us approaching victory at the same time. In the end one of the other guys won, but we had a really great time.

I love how beer and board games go together so much. Two of my favorite things in the world, and I love being able to experience them while spending time with my family.

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Catan night at Tin Whiskers!

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