From One Link to Another, Happy Birthday!

Go Zelda

One of my favorite video game series of all time turned 20 years old today. That’s pretty amazing to me. For the majority of my life, I’ve been playing video games of some sort. Some of my fondest memories of my childhood revolve around the little gray box hooked into my television. Celebrate well, young Link! I’m sure Ganon is out there waiting to seize the Triforce of Power once again.

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World of Warcraft Owns Me

I’ve been a bit consumed lately by the succubus that is Azeroth. I downloaded the demo for WoW back about a week before Thanksgiving. I haven’t stopped playing it since. I was so addicted during the demo, I made my mom go out on Thanksgiving weekend to pick up the retail copy of WoW at Best Buy. If that’s not sick, I don’t know what is. I do have two pretty decent characters to show for my absence around here. I have a level 16 Troll Hunter and a level 8 Tauren Druid. Hopefully I’ll get back to posting on a more regular basis (regular for me anyway). Until then, For the Horde!

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Puerto Rico: Observations from a Rookie

Wow! After playing my first game of Puerto Rico the other night, I must say that I’m impressed with this game. i can certainly see why it’s so highly rated on BoardGameGeek. There sure is quite a bit to digest in Puerto Rico as a newcomer, but if you just get down to and play you start to get a sense of some of the different strategies and options available to each player.

After a quick, five-minute rule explanation while the game was being set up, we jumped right in to the deep end. I was paying with four experienced players, and they were all extremely helpful whenever I had questions. The first three or four turns went by with ease, and I felt like I was sort of holding my own. As soon as we started to hit the mid- to later game I realized how some of my earlier choices were starting to come back to bite me in the ass.

All of the other players had either purchased the wharf, or at least one of the larger buildings by this point in the game, and I was the only one stuck without either. I would’ve had a chance to buy one of these had a passed on a non-essential Large Warehouse purchase. As everyone else was receiving loads of victory points towards the end, my early success quickly disappeared.

After the final round wrapped up, we all started counting up our scores. I brought up the rear with 34 VPs, fourth place scored 40, third had 41, second had 43 (I think) and the first place finisher racked up 47 VPs. Even though I lost pretty badly, I did thoroughly enjoy this game.

I was able to see a few different strategies during this game which allowed me to get an idea of what you need to do to win. The winner went for a more balanced, production and building technique. He used his factory to produce lots of gold which enabled him to build some helpful large buildings during the end game. in contrast, the third place finisher went for a more shipping only technique. This allowed him to get ahead earlier in the game, but he never had the money to get one of the larger buildings to assist at the end of the game.

I guess it’s a good sign that I want to play this again. I feel like this is the type of game that you get much better at after multiple sessions. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to play again soon.

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Various Board Game Thoughts

Like most board game fanatics, I’ve been trying to read as many of the Essen ’05 reports I can find. In doing so, I’ve come across quite a few games which seem very interesting to me. The main one’s I’m interested in are Aloha, Aqua Romana, Big Kini, Hacienda, and Mesopotamia. These games seemed to have the most buzz since they were featured in almost all of the reports I read.

There were also two other games that caught my attention in a few different reports. Those were Fettnapf and Wordwild. Both of those seem like fun, light games that my wife and I would enjoy. I’m sure she’d wipe the floor with me in Wordwild once she got the hang of it. She’s a sucker for word games.

Other than that, I’m sure there will be more games that start to share some of the spotlight soon. The atmosphere at a convention like Spiel doesn’t really suit some games. I’m sure we’ll hear some good things once people get some of the less hyped games home and put them through a good play session with their normal game group. I’m looking forward to hearing the updates.

On a related gaming note, I’m going to be introducing my in-laws to Ticket to Ride this evening. I hope it goes over well. They like to play board games, but they don’t really branch out past the typical American staples. I’m hoping this will give them a taste of what’s out there besides Trivial Pursuit and Monopoly. If all goes well, I plan to convert them to full fledged “Geeks” by Thanksgiving.

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Ticket to Ride

Lately I’ve been wanting to get back into some sort of gaming that doesn’t involve a computer of some sort. Back in college, I used to play Warhammer 40k and Magic: The Gathering. I gave up Warhammer because it took too much time to paint my figures and get them ready, and I never had anywhere that was close by to play either.

After quitting Warhammer, I started playing Magic: The Gathering. This was right around the time the Invasion block was rotating in, so it was actually a good time to start up. I played pretty seriously for about a year or so. I went to tournaments, read online strategy guides, and bought singles on eBay. In all, I probably spent over $1000 on that game, and I had a bit of a “Come to Jesus” moment once I realized half the cards I owned weren’t valuable in the Type 2 environment any longer. That’s when I decided that this game wasn’t for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think the game is fun. I love the strategy involved and the different options one has when building a deck. It’s just that I don’t have the desire to dole out that much cash for a hobby. With that said, I’ve been looking into some of the more strategic, German type, board games that are out there. I played Axis & Allies some when I was in college and I always had a great time. So I started browsing around Board Game Geek just to see what’s hot.

As I was browsing over the different Geek Lists, I realized that Ticket to Ride was getting almost universal acclaim. Every review I read billed it as the perfect gateway game. The gameplay mechanics are simple, yet it still provides enough depth strategically to challenge each player. I’ve now played it 2 times offline with my wife, and 2 times online. I have to agree that this is an excellent game. It’s not bogged down by unwieldy rules interpretations, and the game flows smoothly from beginning to end. The only thing bad about this game is the fact that it’s a gateway game. It has introduced me to a whole new world of gaming. The only good thing is that this gaming hobby is nowhere near as expensive as Magic or Warhammer.

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