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"Curiouser and curiouser."

My journey trying to kidnap people to the gaming Wonderland.

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Great expectations - How I met new people and didn't run away screaming. True story.

Miira Auroora
Finland
Vantaa
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I concider myself to be very lucky. I have plenty of gaming partners in my life, so I don't actively have to scout for new players. I know this is not the case for many people. Finding similar minded people to spend time with is agonizingly hard when you're an adult. When you're a child it's a piece of cake. I have been to a few meet ups, just for trying out something new, but I've had some horrible experiences, so I often settle for what I have. Which is plenty.

Once my husband and I went to a TableTop Day event that smelled liked man sweat. Yes, you read correct. And to make things even worse no one there wanted to play any games we brought, and we ended up playing a 2,5 hour game of some horrible Kickstarter card game about making video games. I'm sure it was supposed to be a filler, but the guy owning the game didn't know the concept of teaching a game. After that he wanted to play Battlerstar Galactica, but we opted to leave. If a 30 min game took 2,5 hours with him, how long would a 3 hour game go? 6 hours?

So we've had some bad luck. But, of course there have been some better ones, but none that really shook the earth. I just have a really low tolerance when it comes to badly behaving people, or people that smell. And usually they are the same ones.

In the end of August a board game café named Taverna opened it's doors as the first ever board game café in Finland. That is such a huge milestone for our hobby. I belong to a facebook group of board game enthusiasts and we talked about organizing a group meet up there. The café is in Tampere which is about 160km drive from where I live, but I really wanted to go. Even if I didn't really know anyone there personally. When the day came last Saturday Jani, my niece Maiju and I headed to Tampere with excitement and hope.

Taverna - Finland's first board game café by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

When we came there it was 12.30pm. The place was already half full, which was amazing since they open at 12. We met Mikko and Tuomo who are what you could call board game celebraties in Finland. Meaning they do a lot of great work for our hobby. We got invited to their table and started playing games with them. Slowly more people started arriving and soon the place was full. We started of with some Rhino Hero which is an awesome Haba dexterity game. In it you're building a tower with cards. You have a hand of cards that you are trying to get rid off. Some let you put more than one card on you turn, some force the next player to move the rhinople up etc. It's a fun game to start the game day. I want to get a copy for our family game nights.

Jani playing Super Rhino. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

After that we played some Monikers (which is basically Time's Up!), Mikko's self-made copy of Snake Oil and Maiju and I got in a game of Seasons. It was fun to see people enjoying their time. I ate a chicken salad there which was good and I was happy there were healthy foods available. But it's a café so I had to take some cheese cake too A little cake never hurt anybody.

Maiju is concidering her next move while I eat cake. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

We also tried the new Lautapelit.fi release, Dokmus. It's somewhat similar to Kingdom Builder. You are trying to conquer spaces on the board made of squres that keep changing orientation in the course of the game. At the start of each round you choose a guardian that grants you a power to move your pieces or the board, or gives you the first player token. You get points for going to ruins or temples. You also get more points if you get your pieces on a temple on each of the squares that make the board or if you find all the temples on one square board. You have 3 pieces to place each turn. It was light fun, I think it has some nice things in it. We were wondering if all the scoring is balanced but it's hard to say after just one game. I think it could be a hit with families.

Tuomo thinking about his next move, while Maiju looks like she has a plan already. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr
Me trying to explain to Jani that he shoudn't invade my area in Dokmus. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

We played a game of Castles of Mad King Ludwig which is always so much fun! When I saw that in the café's shelf I knew I had to get people to play and we got the full 4-player game going on. My scoring cards were a bit dull, they were all about medium sized rooms. At the beginning of the game there were none showing up for so many turns. Just my luck! Towards the end of the game some came up, that sured me the second place. My castle was ugly but efficient!

Humble beginnings in Castles of Mad King Ludwig. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

After that we got someone new to our table. A girl named Sini came to the café and sat with us. We took out For Sale which I had actually never played. You know, so many games, sos little time.
Anyways, Tuomo tought us and we played a couple of games. For sale is a bidding card game where you try to buy houses low and sell high. It takes about 15 minutes and is quite fun. And I don't generally like bidding games that much. Because I suck at them

The classic For Sale. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

We ended the night with a game of Concept. It was getting a bit late and we had almost a two hour drive back home. Concept was perfect for ending. I usually don't like it that much but this time it was fun. No marital disagreements accured I'm glad to say I had so much fun, and judging by what others have said, the meet up was a success. Plans have already been started for our next meet up in November.

A game of Concept to end the evening. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I did buy myself a small souvenir while I was there. I got the new Broom Service: The Card Game as an impulse buy when we visited the Lautapelit.fi store in Tampere near the café. I was shocked to see that the cards are miniscule! I mean the box could easily hold normal sized cards. Anyways, I'm looking foward to trying that game out soon-ish.

Next time I'll have something to write about Roll for the Galaxy, Perfect Alibi and Welcome to the Dungeon. See you then and thanks for reading!

Seasons. I lost. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr
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Mon Sep 12, 2016 9:02 pm
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My top-20. The 2016 edition.

Miira Auroora
Finland
Vantaa
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I'm a little early this year. I usually do this in October but I felt like doing a list now. I'm having a fever and am just lying on the couch with nothing else to do. I'm going to change my rules this year, to allow me to list games that I don't own. We regularly loan games from our public library, so some of these games are readily available to us, even if not on our own shelf. Because of limited space, I just can't buy every single game I want. But, if the game is on this list, I'll probably buy it eventually, if we don't already have it.

So here we go!

20. Dale of Merchants
Dale of Merchants is a small deck building game, where you are trying to make 8 market stalls before other players. They need to be in ascending order from 1-8. With cute art and fast play, this has become a family favorite. There is a standalone sequel coming this year which I'm really excited for. It can be used as an expansion for this one.

A squirrel from Dale of Merchants by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(Year before no.20 was Fortune and Glory, which I haven't played in months)

19. Glass Road
I debated whether I would put Glass road or Fields of Arle here, since they are both excellent Uwe games. I chose Glass road, because it's easier for me to get to the table, since Arle is a 2-player only game. I could have also chosen Le Havre, but this is my choice now. Ask me tomorrow and I might change my answer. That's the way I am I like how I get to build my small Bavarian village and see it change over the course of Glass road. And the role selection mechanism is interesting and something I really like. The resource wheels are also ingenious and very helpful during the game.

Glass Road by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(19. Was Legendary encounters: Alien, which I still like, it just didn't make the cut this year)

18. Isle of Skye: From Chieftain to King
I like Carcassonne. But, I like Isle of Skye more, because of the varying scoring each round and each game has. Tile laying has always been something I enjoy and I feel Isle of Skye gives it a breath of fresh air. I don't own this as of this moment, but I'm sure I will at some point.

Playing Isle of Skye at the in-laws. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(Last year 18. was Abyss, which I still love love love, but it just didn't fit in the top 20. If I made a top 25 list it would be on it. Maybe once I get my hands on the expansion it will rise again.)

17. Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar
If you read my blog, you know I LOVE worker placement games. It gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Like I'm really doing something. What I like about Tzolk'in, is the sense of time. My workers actually have to spend time while doing their jobs instead of just taking everything from the bank immediately.

Playing Tzolk'in. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(Year ago 17. was Seasons, which you'll find later on this list)

16. Rococo
Rococo is a new game for me, I bought it earlier this year. Both me and my husband Jani like it very much, which is why it is already here on this list. Rococo is basically an area control game with a hint of deck building on the side. The theme of making fancy dresses and coats is different, and I like that. I just got the expansion, and it's interesting to see, if that boosts the game up next year.

Late night Rococo with my mother-in-law. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(16. was Hanabi last year, which is still fun, but not on the list this year. )

15. Dungeon Petz
Another worker placement game. In Dungeon petz you are an imp in the pet business, growing these cute and sometimes a little dangerous little pets for your dungeon lord masters. This is a challenging game with lots going on, especially with the expansion, but it is so worth it. There are a lot of rules, but they all tie in with the theme. This was number 8 last year, but do not be alarmed, I love it just as much, there are just some shiny new games that needed a place on this list. This game is never leaving my collection.

Dungeon Petz with Aino by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(No.15 was Carcassonne South seas last year.)

14. Kingsburg
Kingsburg dropped a little, from number 4. last year. No biggie, it's still a fun game. In it you are building a kingdom with dice as you workers. I prefer to play with the To Forge a Realm expansion, as most people do. This has become a classic in our household, so I suspect it will be on this list next year too. You could just as easily put Alien Frontiers here, which I like just as much I like Kingsburg, and they are rather similar, but a little different at the same time.

Afternoon Kingsburg. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(14. was Imperial settlers last year, but you'll find it later this year.)

13. 7 Wonders: Duel
I'm a little surprised to see 7 Wonders duel here. I guess it really has grown on me. I'm often a little wary with games that are for only 2 players, because they are so limiting. Can't bring them to game nights. But for husband and wife game nights they are perfect! 7W: Duel resembles it's big brother in a familiar way yet it still is a very different game at the same time. There is an expansion coming soon, and I'm really looking forward to that.

7 wonders: Duel by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(No. 13 was Dixit last year, which has been replaced by another game later on)

12. Elysium
Oh, Elysium! I fell in love with Elysium instantly, and have been waiting for it to get an expansion. And nothing. I guess it didn't sell that well. It is a set collection game with a neat mechanism where you cards need to go to your Elysium to get points, but once you transfer them to it, they lose their powers. There is some confrontation so that's turning all the Care Bears away, but this is such a beautiful and good game, it deserves some more attention. Please Matthew Dunstan! Bring us some more Elysium!

The beautiness that is Elysium. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(12. was Shadows over Camelot last year, which has fallen of the list because no one ever wants to play it with me )

11. Mysterium
So, Mysterium is the game that dropped Dixit of the list. Why, you ask? I just love the pressure of trying to go into someone's mind, and get the clues in time. I also like to be the ghost, which is sometimes agonizing when people are talking about their interpretations of my clues, and they are SO wrong! I need to get the expansion soon, because I've started to wish for more cards. Maybe I'll use my ten thousand Dixit cards.

My sister as the ghost in Mysterium by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(11. was Coup which is still loads of fun with the right people!)

10. Seasons
Seasons just keeps rising. It was 17. last year, and now 10. I love just about everything in this game. The art, the game play, the dice. You name it. I still haven't gotten the second expansion, but I haven't felt like the game is lacking. My niece and I sometimes play this at BoardGameArena to get a quick game in before going to sleep.

Seasons vith Maiju-Amanda by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(No.10 was Splendor which I still like. I tend to play it more on my iPad, than the physical copy.)

9. Alchemists
Worker placement with a puzzle element? Yes! Alchemists has dropped two spaces but that is normal. Tomorrow it might be two spaces higher, you never know. I really like the puzzle-y nature of Alchemists, coupled with a worker placement game. The theme is something I like, and it fits. There is an expansion coming, which is going to be either awesome or too much the game is not light already. I like how the app really makes the game play easier, but I know there are people who despise that. Luckily, I don't play with that sort of rubbish people

The Bottles from Alchemists by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(9. was Ticket to Ride Nordic which had to give way to newer and shinier games)

8. Small World & Small World Underground
Small world dropped a little due to the fact that the setup is soooo long now with how much stuff there are! Nevertheless, I still love this game but I want someone to set it up for me.
Having said that, HOW AWESOME IS THAT THERE IS A NEW EXPANSION COMING?!
I must have a disease.
I prefer the darker look of the Underground version. And I like the Tales and Legends expansion, which I think many don't like. Any how, Small world is a great game. And don't even start with the "Vinci is so much better game" bullsh*t. That game is an ugly and stupid cousin of Small world.

Untitled by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(A year ago no.8 was Dungeon petz which is still on the list)

7. Deus
I also like tableau building games and Deus is a tableau building game with some conquering elements. The cards are the crux of the game, but you can't ignore the board. There is an Egyptian themed expansion coming out and I'm stoked!

Reading my cards in Deus by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(Number 7 was Alchemist which we just saw a few steps earlier)

6. 7 Wonders
As cool as baby wonders is, I still like the base game more. I love drafting, and this is a fine example of such a game. We have played our copy so much that I have to change the sleeves soon. I own all the expansions and even some promos. Don't have much else to say, you all know this game.

7 wonders by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(Surprisingly 7 wonders was number 6 last year too! Way to go buddy!)

5. The Voyages of Marco Polo
You knew this was coming. From the designers of Tzolk'in comes my new baby boy. I just love this game! Dice worker placement is something I always like, so I knew even before I had played Marco Polo that I would absolutely love it. And I do. Luckily I have many family members who like this game, so it hits the table often. I need to introduce it to few friends who I think would love it. My husband and I sometimes play it online even.

The Voyages of Marco Polo. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(last year number 5 was Pandemic which is my husband's favorite game. Dropped of the list, maybe because we haven't played it that much this year?)

4. Imperial Settlers
Did I mention I love tableau building? In any case, Imperial Settlers is a fun civilization themed tableau building game with cute art. It has some card drafting, variable player powers and resource management. So very much a euro game. It does have a bit of confrontation, but I don't mind that. With lot of expansions there is tons and tons of replay value here. And more is on the way.

Atlanteans from Imperial Settlers by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(No.4 was Kingsburg which we already saw on the list)

3. Caverna: The Cave Farmers
As I mentioned before, I love worker placement games, especially when I get to build something of my own. In Caverna you get to build a farm and mine you own caves. Many of it's mechanisms are straight from Agricola, which a lot of people prefer, but to me Caverna is the better game. Don't get me wrong, I actually like Agricola and am planning to buy the new Finnish edition so I can play it with my mother-in-law who doesn't know English that well. I made some Fimo dwarfs for my copy of Caverna with my nieces, that's how much we love the game. It is a huge table space devourer and the box can barely hold all the pieces, but once you get it on the table it's all good!

Caverna with my custom playing pieces. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(No.3 was Small world, which appeared a little earlier this year)

2.Trains: Rising Sun
So Trains was number two last year, and it hasn't changed this year. I like this deckbuilder very much and prefer to play it over any other such game. The look of it is a bit dull, I'll admit, but I just enjoy playing it. The board brings the game more strategy than just buying cards for no reason whatsoever. The train theme isn't even my favorite theme. I like how I can play this game with gamer friends or even with my non-english speaking mother-in-law. There is text on the cards but once we explain all the symbols and the meaning of the cards, she is good to go and has played this many many times.

Trains! by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

(No.2 Hasn't changed)

1. Five Tribes
So we finally hit number one, and it still is Five Tribes. Why? I have no idea. I just love it! I guess the mancala like gameplay is so appealing to me. I like how in each game I can go for different things and still succeed. I like the expansions for it but can play vanilla too. I just played this last week and would play again anytime.

Two-player Five Tribes going on. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

There you have it! My favorite games 2016 edition. It kills me to have to leave some games(especially Mombasa, Abyss and Broom Service) off the list, but there are only 20 spots. Maybe next year I'll do my top25 so I don't feel too sad leaving some of my favorites off the list
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Wed Sep 7, 2016 2:32 pm
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Going mad while trying to catch a thief from above and below Naqala with plenty of goods in his pocket.

Miira Auroora
Finland
Vantaa
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Hello people of the BGG!

Things are a bit better than last time, and I'm confident that my family, or The Clan as we call it, will get through anything! Just wanted to tell you I'm feeling a bit better and thanks for all your lovely words! heart

Tree of Love in Puumala. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

You know what is the best kind of therapy?

NEW GAMES!

I made a small order last week. Nothing too fancy. Except oh yeah, Imperial Settlers: 3 Is a Magic Number and Oh My Goods!!
You know I'm a huge fan of Imperial Settlers. I haven't yet had a chance to play the new expansion, though, but just owning it makes me happy. I love these small expansions that don't really change the game that much, but add a little extra to it. Okay, I'll admit I love the big expansions too! The upcoming Imperial Settlers: Aztecs has me basically drooling already.

Oh my goods! was also a must-buy for me, since I'm a Pfister Pfan! I've been meaning to grow my collection of easygoing card games, but always something bigger and shinier comes along. Oh my goods! is despite the stupid name a very fun little game, that I'm happy to have in my Alex P. collection.

Speaking of lighter games, I've been really enjoying Sushi Go!. I even got some of my family members who typically are hard to get to game nights, to play it when we had our women's sushi night. Sushi Go! is a very basic drafting game, with cute art. Not much more, but it doesn't need to be more. A light little game for those occations when big games are a no-no.

Sushi Go! with appropriate snacks. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Then a couple of days went by, and I saw that a (F)LGS had gotten Five Tribes: The Thieves of Naqala and Tides of Madness. Without actually thinking too much about how I really don't want to buy anything from them, I clicked order and gave them my money. I LOVE Five Tribes, and even though Thieves add very little to the game, I mean, it is only 7 cards or so, I needed to have it. They basically are an alternative for djinns that offer a one time action which is often a bit confrontational. So if you are a care bear player, skip this one.

The Thieves of Naqala expansion to five Tribes by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Tides of Madness I wanted because of all the cool kids said it was fun. Peer pressure, I tell you. I had less than zero interest in the first game in that series, Tides of Time. But then they added the madness tokens to the game, and suddenly the game seemed much more interesting. Tides of Madness is a 2-player only drafting game which has only 18 cards. You win by points, or if the other player turns mad before that. Simple. The Cthulhu theme is pasted on but it kinda works. But even if you hate Cthulhu, you might like this game if you like neat little card games. It might not have much staying power because there really are only 18 cards, but I'm having fun at the moment, so that's all that matters.

Tides of Madness by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

On last Saturday we had a game night with my niece Maiju. We had made plans to play Ryan Laukat's Above and Below. I was really anxious to play it, after having heard so much about it. I wasn't sure what to expect because roleplaying is not really my thing, but I love worker placement and building stuff. As you might know, the art in Above and below is ridiculously beatiful and is all done by mister Laukat himself.
You are building a new village after your old one got ransacked by barbarians. Little did you know, that below those pretty meadows is a vast system of caves, that call for explorers. While most of the game is pretty straightforward worker placement, the exploring is done by little pieces of stories read from an encounter book. Then you are given a choice what to do next and you roll dice after which you either succeed or not. Usually you get some kind of reward, but can be punished also, if your intentions are dubious.

Three brave villagers in Above and below. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I must say, I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed Above and Below. After playing a few games, the stories will come up again, but I didn't mind it as much as I thought I would. I loved building my village and so what if I met the well-dressed spiders two games in a row. Above and Below is not a very complex game, but what it offers is highly enjoyable. Even my husband loved the game, which is rare. I don't think any game will ever dethrone Pandemic for him

Maiju is reading a story in Above and Below. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Whew, there you have it! Quite a lot in just a week. I'm waiting for my copy of Rococo: Jewelry Box that should come today in the mail! YAY! Looking forward to trying that out. I have no idea what to expect.
Looks like Summer is done and Autumn has arrived. I've had my last swim in my beloved Lake Saimaa, and I think it's time to bring out all the candles and lanterns. I love Autumn!

Untitled by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr
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Tue Aug 30, 2016 12:01 pm
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Running away to Quadropolis with just a towel and a Big book of Madness with me.

Miira Auroora
Finland
Vantaa
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Firstly I apologize for being absent for five weeks. These past few months have been horrible. A person close to me has been exploiting me mentally and financially and that just finally took it's toll on me. Without going too much into detail, let's just say things have been rough.

And that's the reason I haven't written anything here, because I've been so mentally strained, that I haven't even played that much games for the past month and a half. I've had some great games I could have played but once I took out the rule books I just didn't have the strenght to really read them with thought.

But, this is a blog about games not mental health, so I'll try to cook up something gaming related.

Quadropolis. Yes, still liking that one. Sadly I had to return the game to the city library but I can always get it back. I do have concerns about the longevity in the long run but for now, Quadropolis gets thumbs up from me. My niece and I tried to come up with our own variants to the game and all in all had a blast. Not much to say here that hasn't been said before. You all know the game by now

Shop 'till you drop. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I did manage to learn and play The Big Book of Madness. My husband loves co-op games, so I figured we should give this one a try. It has a sort of Harry Potter like theme with monsters and magic and all. Every player gets their own character and abilities but the gameplay itself is pretty same for everybody. Collect elemens, do some magic and try to close the Big boog of Madness that's unleashing monsters to the world. Same old, same old. I like the overall look of the game. It's Iello so you know it's gorgeous. And it is pretty hard actually. Jani didn't really like it though, which is odd concidering how much he likes co-ops.

The Big Book of Madness by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

What I'm so sad about is that I had Above and Below from the library but I just couldn't get the rules down in time, and I had to return it. But my husband reserved it again from the library so I should get it back this week. I really need to give it a try. Everybody keeps raving about the game. As you all very well know, every Ryan Laukat game looks stunning!

Above and below by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

My husband and I decided to take a week away from everything and run away to the cottage. Not that one week could heal something that has been bothering me for months, but you need to start somewhere. I even took a game bag with me, but we didn't even touch it. So sorry Shakespeare and Marco Polo for sitting in the corner for a week

I was so looking forward to Shakespeare but my brains just melted when I was trying to read the rule book. And it isn't even a very complex game. I guess that tells you the state of my mind is now. But Sun, sauna and swimming put me right back on track. Or so I choose to believe.

Therapy by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I wish I had more to write right now, but I guess I'll have to get back on you some other day. Just wanted to say I'm here even if it doesn't seem that way.

An evening at Lake Saimaa. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr
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Tue Aug 16, 2016 11:03 am
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A relaxed wife is a good wife a.k.a. How I spent my 7 days vacation.

Miira Auroora
Finland
Vantaa
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Howdy all!

I finally had my first bit of Summer vacation and we went back to our Summer cottage. It was the Midsummer and that basically means that every Finn goes out of town to the country side. If possible. That's how we roll.

I'm on vacation! by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Before we left, though, I taught my niece Maiju to play Madeira. It had been awhile since I last played and I thought she would enjoy it. But I'm not sure she did We played twice in a row and while she didn't say she hated it, I did see a familiar expression on her face. Too bad. I really like Madeira and I know it is a bit much for some people. There's so many things to do and to remember to do, that I can see why some poeple might not like it.

Untitled by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

The drive to the Summer cottage is a long one. It's about 275km and it takes about 3 hours. So we don't go there every weekend. I'd like to though. We had my husband's mentally disabled sister with us this time, and she was so excited to stay there with us. Their parents were there already and she was really pumped up to travel with us instead of them.

I've often written about her here, but not so much lately. That is because her life has been a little different for a year or so, after she got engaged. It has been difficult to get her to spend time with family. She has spent all her time with the fiancé even though she doesn't have the mental capacity to understand what it really means to be in a relationship. It has caused her to have seizures more frequently and her mood swings a lot. But being engaged is a way to show herself that she is normal. Because she has a really hard time accepting that she is disabled.

We had taken some games that we knew she could easily play with us. So no big euro games, this time. I didn't want her to feel left out.
The first game we played together was Zooloretto: The Dice Game. It is a fun dice filler that actually captures the heart of the big Zooloretto family quite well. In it you either roll two dice with animals on them and locate them on these trucks on the board, or you take all the dice from one truck. Pretty simple. Everybody has their on zoo sheet, where you track which animals you have and how many. You can only fit a certain number of each animal, and excess will make you lose points.

Sister-in-law playing Zooloretto: The Dice Game by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

She actually really enjoyed the game, and with a little help she actually won one game! The whole family enjoys this game as a quick thing to pull out if you have 20 minutes of free time.

Another game we played together was a family favorite Las Vegas. It's a game we play together as a family almost all the time. We play with the neutral dice variant, where you have 8 of your own colored dice and two neutral colored dice. We do have the expansion, but we left it out this time. There were trash talking and threats being thrown in the air and everybody laughed. So much fun.

Money! by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Afterwards we made some crêpes with raspberry jam and just sat by the lake in our gazebo.

Crêpes! by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I thought I might miss playing some more complex games, but really, just being there made me relax. Jani and I went fishing almost every day to have some Us time. Being with the family is great but can be also exhausting.

Lietvesi, Lake Saimaa by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

When we got home there was a surprise waiting for me at the library. Copies of Quadropolis and Keyflower. Yay!

Borrowed from the city library. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

So exciting! I wanted to try Quadropolis for two reasons. 1) It's a Days of Wonders game and 2) Everybody seems to like it! For some reason I had reservations towards it for a very long time. Do I want to play another city building game? Do I like the overall look of the game? Who is the designer, should I have heard of him?

Keyflower I wanted to try because I have two promo tiles that I got from Spielbox, and I want to know if I should keep them, or give away. I've never been drawn to the look of the game, but people I usually trust have praised the game, so who knows? Maybe I'll like it. Let's keep an open mind!

To keep or not to keep? by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I've already managed to play Quadropolis, first with Jani, me and my friend Hanna, and we all loved it! We did only play the classic version because we spent way too much time cooking Second time we played with Maiju, and she thought it to be entertaining too. I can see this game being a hit with my mother-in-law. The game is very abstract, and I can see some people have a problem with that. There are many city building games that feel more thematic. But, this one is charming and fun. You should try it!

Quadropolis by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Jani is thinking hard. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

This week is probably going to be quiet on the gaming table, since Maiju is on their cottage until Friday. We're going to try Keyflower on Saturday if everything goes as planned. I have reserved Above and below, Shakespeare, Sushi go! and The Big book of Madness from the library but I'm not sure if any of those will come beofre Saturday. We'll see.

Jani and I have our 6th anniversary togehter tomorrow, and he is taking me out to dinner heart We usually go to this place where we had our first date. Time flies when your in love. kiss

Untitled by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Until next week, be good and play more games!
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Mon Jul 4, 2016 10:48 am
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A well-earned vacation looms ahead, while the first spark of spicy peppers numbs the tongue.

Miira Auroora
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Hi!

It's been awhile hasn't it? Feels like I haven't done anything to report to you guys, but let's look back at things that have happened since my last post.

May was exhausting in many ways, so at the end of it we decided to take a long weekend pause from things and ran away to our summer cottage. We took some games with us but ended up not really playing anything, but a few games of Jaipur. We spent our time mainly fishing and bathed in the sauna. It was refreshing and helped me get my mind off of things, which is usually very hard for me to do.

On the Lake Saimaa. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr


The next couple of weeks turned out to be even more busy, but the long weekend gave me energy to survive
I managed to sneak in a game night with my husband and my niece. We played Power Grid: The First Sparks, which is a Power Grid spin-off set in the Stone Age. I really like Power Grid, so I was curious to see, if the game would work in another setting. Sometimes it seems hard to get people excited about a game where you build electricity networks...
Of the three of us my husband was the only one who really liked First sparks. Maiju and I liked it OK, but prefer the original. First sparks does look nice but it just feels less exciting. Jani liked the theme of it more, so maybe that's why the game seemed to appeal to him more than us ladies. Who would've thought?!

Power Grid: First Sparks powered with Dr. Pepper by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr


After First sparks we tried out Scoville, a game of planting and harvesting hot peppers. I'll admit, the only reason I was interested in this game, was how colorful and pretty it looked. The game is good, but we felt a bit underwhelmed. Maybe we needed more players, or probably the expansion, but everyone felt like it was a good family game, but not exciting enough. Bummer, it looks so nice and the components are good. Maybe we should give it another chance?

Playing Scoville with ice cream on a lovely summer day. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr


This past Saturday we also wanted to play some games with family. My brother-in-law is a teacher and is on vacation now since school is out for the summer, so we took out The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game which hadn't seen daylight in a looong time. I made myself a Hobbit deck, which turned out not to work on the scenarios we ended up playing. I need to buy more packs to get better cards. We are so far behind with the game, but it's fine. We never intended to follow it faithfully.

My playmat for LOTR:LCG by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr


We also played Broom Service again, and I still like it very much. I wonder what the upcoming card game version will be like. I've been considering about buying the board game for us, but since money has been a bit tight lately, I haven't pulled the trigger. There's a long list of games I want, so we'll have to see what happens. I heard that Lautapelit.fi is going to publish the new version of Agricola (revised edition) in Finnish, and I'm tempted to buy that so we could play it with my mother-in-law who doesn't speak English that well. I need to win the lottery!

Summer time Broom service. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr


I really feel like I need the 51st State: Master Set. Yes, it's very similar to Imperial settlers, but still I need it. The theme is something I'm sure my husband would like. He is not the biggest fan of IS, but I think it's the cuteness of the game and not the mechanisms that bugs him. Or the fact that I never let him win...
Maybe I should make an acquisition proposal for the library about 51st state. They already have the original, but I have 0 interest in that one.

We'll see.

1,5 weeks to go and I have my first vacation week, yippee! We're going back to the cottage and I can't wait. I'm already making a list of games I would like to bring with us, in case the weather sucks. My mentally disabled sister-in-law is coming with us, so I'll have to come up with a few games she can play with us. She likes Splendor, so that's going to be one of them. I've been thinking about getting My First Stone Age for her as a present. I think she would like it. The regular Stone Age is just a little bit too much for her. We've been worried about her retrogression lately. It's a long story but basically there was a person working at her dormitory which caused all things to go wrong, and now that she is out of the picture maybe things will get better.

Well, I guess that's it for this time. Talk to you soon-ish!

Ilo says hi!
Ilo playing with us. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr
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Sun Jun 12, 2016 3:23 pm
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Lewis and Clark hopped on a broom and flew through the Panama canal only to discover Sultaniya instead of Indians.

Miira Auroora
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A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to try the Kennerspiel des Jahres winner Broom Service with my niece Maiju. I say pleasure, because it was such a pleasant surprise. I know I'm so late to the party, but honestly, I just wasn't that interested in the game before. Maybe I had too many other games on my mind at the time.

Broom service reimplements Andreas Pelikan's earlier game Witch's brew, which I haven't played but have known about for some time. I wish I had played it, though, to see the differences between the two games. I'll just have to rely on what other people have told me. All I know is that Witch's brew is clearly a card game, while Broom service is a board game with an actual board. With the help of one Mr. Pfister, the two guys have come up with a charming game.

The lovely cards of Broom service by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

The cards have beautiful art by the one and only Vincent Dutrait, and are colorful and pretty. But the board itself looks like something Ravensburger put out in the 80's. I guess it's functional, which is more important. In Broom service you are basically a potion delivery service in this magical land, where there are two types of witches: brave and cowardly ones. In each of the 7 rounds of play, players choose 4 cards and the manner of which they wish to play each card. The brave version is of course better, but uncertain. Because only the last player to declare a certain card brave gets to actually act that way. All the cowardly ones always succeed, but get less stuff done. This is very interesting mechanism, one that Maiju and I really enjoyed. The game also comes with variable ways to play the game. I guess you could call them mini-expansions. Gamers probably want to add a little more in their game, and the basic version is something even families can play together. We really enjoyed the few games we played of Broom service.

Coffee and games, two things I love. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I also got to play a Lewis & Clark which also has the art by Vincent Dutrait. It was just a coincidence. In Lewis and Clark you play the famous explorers, gather equipment and meet new people while exploring the way to the Pacific coast. The game has cards you can buy in deck building style and the cards can be played in two different ways.

The lovely board of Lewis & Clark by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Each player has their Corps of Expedition board where they store all the equipment they get and if they have helpful Indian friends, they are also put on the canoes on this board. You can expand your board if necessary. The components are pretty and colorful, which I always appreciate. I don't have time for ugly games. I've only played once but I did like my initial play. Time will tell, if my opinion changes.

Hi! by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

On the same day we played a learning game of Panamax. It is commonly not regarded good as a 2-player game, but our third gamer had disappeared into thin air. (Hockey was on...)
Panamax is designed by the same fellows (+1) who designed my beloved Madeira, so I was secretly intrigued. I was worried about the theme not being interesting to me, but actually it wasn't boring as shipping cargo in the Panama canal sounds like. We just had a really tough time with the rulebook. Maybe we were tired or something, but I felt like we couldn't find answers in the right places and the layout was a bit messy. But, after all the rule corrections and small errors we made, we managed to play the game (semi)correctly and did enjoy it. Need to play with more players soon.

Panamax learning game going on. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

To finish off my new to me list, we tried out Sultaniya. This was an impulse loan from the library, all because I wanted to see if it would work as a thematic filler for Five Tribes. Sultaniya is a tile laying game with variable player goals. It's pretty cool. It's light and fast, so works well as a filler. I was maybe expecting just a little bit more from it, but I will definitely play it some more.

I need more palm trees! by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

My week ended in a surprise arranged by my friend for my husband and me. She had bought us a overnight stay at a spa hotel by a beautiful lake. She had arranged us a private jacuzzi with a candlelight bubble bath, all this and even more, because she thought I was too stressed out and needed to get away for a day or two. Life is really good at the moment.

Summer life. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I'm still just as pale as last time, though.
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Mon May 23, 2016 7:59 pm
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A feverish week ended in board game paradise, when the Gates of Loyang opened and brought the Sun out.

Miira Auroora
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Firstly, I have to brag a little. My review of Grand Austria Hotel got published in the biggest Finnish board gaming site, Lautapeliopas.fi and I'm so thrilled and happy and giddy about it. Yay!

Now onto my week. So I had fever for almost four days straight, and I felt miserable that I had to cancel game day on Ascension Day. But I just barely could get out of bed, so I simply had no choice. Who gets sick in May anyways?! As a result, I was so bored I had to reserve a few games from the library. So Broom Service, Panamax, Power Grid: The First Sparks, Lewis & Clark are coming my way soon. Fever makes you do things.

Oh look, purple hair! by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Luckily, I felt good enough on Saturday when we celebrated my niece's 20th birthday. I even put on some purple hairchalk. That's how festive I was feeling. After all the eating and entertaining guests, Maiju and I opened up a bottle of apple cider and took out At the Gates of Loyang. This is how we are. Instead of going out to a bar she opted to stay with her aunt Miira and play games. How cute is she?!

The Gates of Loyang are wide open by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I really like At the Gates of Loyang. But it is SO different than all the other great Uwe games. And it really is a 2-player game, at least to me. I might try it with 3 at some point, but I'm not interested in the 4-player variant. Sadly we had only time for one game, it was getting pretty late at that point in the evening. I guess I was still convalescent.

Happy customer waiting. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

On Sunday it was Mother's day which I of course spent with my family. My mother was doing some gardening when we went there which was a good coincidence, since my gift for her was a new rose bush for her garden.
My mom doesn't play games anymore, other than maybe the occasional Codenames. But they have a game room, nonetheless, and after all the ice cream and having fun with their dogs Ilo and Vuokko, my niece Maiju, my husband Jani and I went to their game room to play a game of Power Grid. We all like Power Grid and since I had reserved it's sister game, Power Grid: The First Sparks from the library in my fever moods, we wanted to play the original one so it is fresh on our minds when we eventually play the other one.

Power Grid. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

On Monday we went to see my parents again, because we had made some plans to eat good food together and enjoy the sunshine. Maiju was there too, so games had to get played. Besides, my husband and my father wanted to watch some ice hockey since the world championships are on.

We actually started outdoors on their patio, but it was getting a bit chilly despite being the warmest day of the week. It really felt like Summer had arrived. Our first game was 7 Wonders: Duel which we both love. I went for the blue cards and won the game pretty easily. I first thought about going for the science cards but soon realized there weren't that many around, so I had to do something else.

7 wonders: Duel by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

After 7 wonders: Duel we played another game of Loyang. Still liked it. Nothing new to report here. After that we took out Deus which you all know I love. We had a really tight game and quite suspenseful right until the end. I lost though If I had just had one more turn...

Playing Deus by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I just love this game.

Me, myself and I. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

After Deus I was still craving for a game. We decided to play Dale of Merchants since it is fast but good. They have the sequel Dale of Merchants 2 on Kickstarter now and I'm seriously thinking about breaking my No-Kickstarters-vow. Dale of Merchants feels like a racing game disguised as a deck-builder. Excellent for the end of the night quick game. And it's adorable!

Dale of Merchants fun in session. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

All in all my week ended up being quite good despite it's horrible beginning. The Sun is shining and it is hot! I even tried to get some tan on my skin, but it never happens. I'm just too pale.

Me pale as one can be. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr
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Tue May 10, 2016 10:35 pm
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A Maid of Honour survives a week of ordeals, while on a train to Elysium via Bora Bora.

Miira Auroora
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Whew, it's done. My friend got married this past Sunday and life can now continue it's normal course. These past three weeks have been exhausting but I would still do it again.

A couple of weeks ago we had her bachelorette party and went to play some glow-in-the-dark mini-golf. Not a board game but it was fun still! And I won, so there's that

My friend at her bachelorette party. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

The week after that was horrible with work and all the other wedding-y stuff, but I decided it was necessary for my mental health that I get some games to the table. You see, I sometimes have a hard time to relax, and board games help me do that the easiest.

We went to see my mother-in-law one evening, and I took Rococo with me. My husband and I really like Rococo and this time was no different. I went for the decorations instead of dresses in the beginning, and that helped me win a few ties that were crucial for my victory.

My hand made playing pieces for Rococo by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I had also gotten Ora et Labora from the library and needed to play that no matter what! That meant I had to do all sorts of things with glue and glitter in the night, but it wasn't so bad. Well, if you look at the dark circles under my eyes, then it really was bad. But I really like Ora et Labora, so it was worth it. I liked how my player board looked at the end, but sadly I forgot to take a picture of it

Ora et Labora by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

I also got to spend some time with my niece Maiju one day, when she agreed to help me with some maid of honour business, after which we played some games. I was pretty tired and didn't want to play anything new, so we made some coffee and took out Trains. We played with the Tokyo map. My husband was grumpy because we used only the cards from the base game, and not the Rising sun which he likes more. But I was too tired to mix them, so he just had to live with it.

Gonna lay some rails! by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Playing Trains while having coffee. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

After trains I wanted to play Elysium. I can't recall all the families we had, but we had the one with the Oracle. It was a tight game but Maiju won, I came in second and Jani last. I think we were all within 9 points from first to last. I don't mind losing, I was having so much fun it didn't even matter.

The beautiness that is Elysium. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

We also got to go to a concert with my parents, and I really needed that to take my mind off of things. They bought tickets for themselves and Jani and me, and I'm so thankful for that. Otherwise we wouldn't have gone, because of all the things I had on my mind. My parents are the greatest. heart

Jarkko Ahola and Laura Voutilainen by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Then came the wedding day. It went by pretty fast and I was exhausted by 9PM. But it was a beautiful ceremony and everone had fun. Yay! Im happy for my friend and her new husband I hope they enjoyed their special day.

Unfortunately when I got home I got really bad acid dyspepsia and even though I had taken several medicines, I was in pain for many many hours. And in the end the meds didn't even help, and it wasn't until Jani gave me a glass of milk, which actually helped and I managed to fall asleep for a while. Go figure.

But despite having little-to-no sleep I really wanted to play Bora Bora today. I had tried to read the rules the other day, but I was too tired and it was a fiasco. We tried again today and you know what? I really LIKED it! WHAT? I like a Stefan Feld game? Unprecedented. And even Jani liked it which is even more peculiar. I hope to play it again soon-ish, because Jani won and that just won't do!

Bora bora player board. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Thanks for reading and I hope you have a great week!

Now I need some sleep. zZz
(stupid internet made me type this whole post 2 times...Aargh, will I ever learn to save a couple of times while writing).

Tired Tibetanspaniel Vuokko. by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr
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Mon Apr 25, 2016 10:20 pm
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Procrastinating instead of sleeping. ( Now with really bad iPhone pictures!)

Miira Auroora
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I hate stress. Even more so, I hate when multiple things cause me stress at the same time. I had to turn down an invitation to a game night, and if you know me at all, you know I won't do that lightly. This maid of honour business is really consuming a lot of my time.
But, I decided I will try to be as positive as I can. Only two more weeks, and then life continues as it should.

I have managed to get some games played to de-stress. I taught Arboretum to my niece Maiju a week ago. Arboretum is such a beautiful game and I find it to be pretty clever, too. In it you play these tree cards to your tableau i.e. arboretum to form paths of lovely looking trees. They come in many colors and are numbered from 1 to 8.

Untitled by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Maiju learned it very fast and won more times than lost. Aargh, why did she have to grow up?! Nowadays it seems she always wins everything...

I then tried to teach Arboretum to my mother-in-law which was a disaster. I don't get it! She plays many more complicated games with us without any problems, but after 4 games she just didn't get it. I was planning on adding Arboretum to our Summer Game Box but now I'm disheartened and not sure. Our Summer Game box is this big box we keep with us in our car when we travel to our Summer cabin or anywhere else. We keep a bunch of small games there, that are also easy to teach.

I also managed to teach Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small to Maiju after borrowing it from the library. They didn't have the expansions for it and I'm afraid that this game really needs the expansions. The base game felt a little bit lacking, but was fun enough, so we played it a couple more times in a row. I'm not really a huge fan of the regular Agricola, I'm more of a Caverna girl, but the baby Agricola I would consider buying.

Baby Agricola by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

This week I got my husband Jani to play a few games on Yucata.de with me, when our table was full of stuff and I really wanted to get my mind off of everything. We played some The Voyages of Marco Polo which we both love. I'm not sure if we ever had played it as a 2-player before. In our first game I made a few idiotic mistakes but ended up winning barely. I asked my niece to make profiles for Yucata.de, boiteajeux.net and boardgamearena.com too, so we could play games even when I don't have time to visit her. We already have played Seasons, Dungeon Petz, Concordia and Deus together. My husband has yet to play any other than Takenoko or Marco Polo, but we'll get him on board with us eventually

Untitled by Miira Hartemo, on Flickr

Playing online isn't of course the same as playing with the physical game, but it does offer a nice substitute when you don't have opportunities to go to a game night. I have a couple of games reserved from the library, that should come maybe this week or the next. I just need to find the time and place to play them. I'm especially looking forward to Ora et Labora which I have actually never tried before! As you can see the Uwe kick is still going strong

Don't know how much games I will be able to play this week, but I'm going to go play neon light mini-golf, so that's a first! Have a great week everyone!
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Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:59 pm
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