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The Greek Connection
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
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and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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Here's another one of those travel GeekLists. This time it's about my recent trip to the motherland, the country of Socrates, souvlaki & sun, to name a few stereotypes (that, by the way was the signal to all readers without a sense of humour to stop reading now).

So, Greece also gave the world its first geometry, measure, logic and rational thought (any relation to some current occupants is purely coincidental), democracy, ethics, rhetoric and aesthetics. Greece also gave the world yours truly, and yours truly was just making his annual pilgrimage to see the family, eat some good food and complain about the heat. Oh, and also to play games and meet some gamers. These are their stories.
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1. Board Game: Backgammon [Average Rating:6.51 Overall Rank:910]
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
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and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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Of course, this would be the first game that I posted, backgammon, or as it is known in Greece, tavli. This being the national sport, it has its own cult-like following, behavioural norms, stories, traditions and variants. For those you can read an excellent page here.

In general, I like backgammon because it makes for a quick 2-player game, it has some tactical and strategic elements, but with the various reversals of fortune that are possible happening often enough, still light enough to be enjoyed, even if the occasional game drags on for too long.

I play with the girlfriend almost every day, and it still has not gotten old. Some say that it is all about luck, and some take it too seriously, but still, it is easy to learn and can be played by both the young and old.

In Greece, it is traditionally (at least in my family) played until one player wins 7 "points". The three main variants are played in sequence, starting with portes, then plakoto and then fevga. The one who won the previous game starts the next one. This is a picture of the endgame when I finally beat my tavlimaster uncle, 7-5:













By the way, I highly recommend airBaltic, great prices & service.

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2. Board Game: Babysitter Game [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
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and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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We did not really get to play much in the first few days because we were travelling to Greece with our friends that had a 10-month-old baby, and between the sightseeing and the touring around, we didn't have all that much time.

Apparently he was quite camera shy, so he managed to turn away at just the right moment. If only he would turn away from electrical outlets.
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3. Board Game: Pinochle [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:1413]
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
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and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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This isn't exactly about Pinochle, but about Biriba. To learn more about the game, click on the Wikipedia entry link, but to say the least, this is how some older people in the touristic countryside spend their winters.

And when I say some people, I mean my grandmother, and her vicious gang of cardplayers. Apparently it gets quite cutthroat, and they have many house rules. This is probably why it took forever for Grandma to explain the rules to us, as she would tack on rules as the games progressed. Her English is rusty, so she would explain the rules in Greek, I would translate for my girlfriend and our friends, then we would play, Grandma would break the rule, and then we would repeat the process.


All this took place in Mytilene, the biggest town on the island of Lesbos, where my mother's side of the family comes from. That's right, my mother is a Lesbian. Her mother too. I have all sorts of Lesbian relatives, cousins, uncles and so on. In fact, you could call me a proud half-Lesbian man.

Anyway, Biriba was one of the most fun I've had in Lesbos in a long time. Even though it's a "game for old people", with the right partner you can have lots of fun. It made me want to look up Bridge and other such games.
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4. Board Game: Ligretto [Average Rating:6.26 Overall Rank:1769]
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
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and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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Coming back to Athens loaded with some homemade fig and peach marmelades, we finally had some time to play, and I had carried a few games from Finland. Ligretto was quite the "hit" (heh heh), but I am at this point starting to get tired of playing it all the time. Still, it was a fun two games.
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5. Board Game: Roll Through the Ages: The Late Bronze Age [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.38 Unranked]
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
badge
and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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This was the first time that I could try the expansion, which I have laminated. The trading did not really play a big part, as expected, but the new ending conditions and more chances for interactivity helped. Also, the changed costs & benefits make the game more balanced.
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6. Board Game: Power Grid [Average Rating:7.99 Overall Rank:11]
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
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and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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Now, time for some real fun! With the occasion of dropping off a game from the previous Greek Math Trade, me and the girlfriend took the tram down to Glyfada where after a nice burger we met
Spiros Alvertis

ATHENS, GREECE
ATTICA
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Anastasia Zioga
Greece
Glyfada, Athens
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Dimitris Vasiadis
Greece
Vari
Attiki GREECE
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along with a hypersupercrazyactive beagle. We played the custom made Greece map for Power Grid, and while I don't remember much about the game, I remember having a lot of fun and finishing quite late.

Oh, we also had the natives try this:


Hilarity ensued.
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7. Board Game: Rosenkönig [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:807]
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
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and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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I am a follower of all things board game café -related, and perhaps curiously, Athens is home to at least three that I know of, and one of them, Playhouse, being part of a Greece-wide chain. Perhaps this has more to do with the Greeks' coffee culture than with board games, but still, it's impressive.

For me, sitting in a café for 4-5 hours, as some in Greece do would be insufferable, unless I was reading or doing something really interesting. I also tend to finish a coffee in 3 minutes. But, those non-Greeks reading this should understand that this is how some Greeks socialise - instead of bars, dance clubs or stadiums (they go there too), cafés is where Greeks go to talk, network, watch sports on tv, fall in love, fight, catch up with old friends, etc. Even though I don't really do that, I often wish Turku had more than 2 places that you could do that.


So, off we were to the Playhouse in Athens, which is located in a student/alternative/dirty/fashinable/anarchist/genuine/chaotic/charming (depending on your point of view) part of town, Eksarcheia.



One of the ways to get there was through Kolonaki, one of the more upscale areas, and the contrast was jarring. I think I spotted the border between the two when we walked by a riot police bus (they were playing tavli inside).


At Playhouse they have an excellent environment where you can try dozens of games, have coffee or other delicacies and meet wonderful people. The games bring the people together, and even though they have a big 2-player collection, it is easy to make new friends. When we were there they had at least 2-3 people whose sole job was to explain games. This was very nice, and they knew what they were talking about.


War of the Roses was the first game that we played, and it did not really impress me. Too abstract and impersonal for me, and 2-player games were never really my thing.
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8. Board Game: Lost Cities [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:260]
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
badge
and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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Board game cafés are definitely something the hobby needs, in order to popularise better games to the unwashed masses. Because they sometimes charge you for the time you remain there, they are probably not the best for gamers, who have their own games anyway. But, in general, I am glad that they are there, and that they also allow you to meet new people and play new games.


After 2 (yes, 2!) Nutella shakes, we played Lost Cities. Now, I don't know if we played it wrongly, but I really really really did not see why so many people like it. I like my Knizia medium-well, and this was rare. The theme was so pasted on, I was wondering if we dropped some under the table.

Samurai and Modern Art are such great games, but this? Not so much. And I know this is not about 2-player games, because I really enjoyed Times Square.

shake
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9. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:19]
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
badge
and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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For our final game of the night at Playhouse, a game explainer come off shift, and along with another player, we played 2 games of 7W.

This is the heaviest game they stock, and this is why we played it twice, I usually hate playing the same game twice in a row. It was quite fun, and the game flowed well, despite some duplicate building and some serious tactical errors on my part.

Many thanks to the Playhouse crew!
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10. Board Game: Myths and Legends [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
badge
and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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I was also able to meet some other nice people, actually all of them on the same day, to conclude some math trade business, namely:

provokator provokatorious
Greece
Attiki Perissos
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Dimitris Drakopoulos
Greece
KALLITHEA ATHENS
ATTIKI
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Mike Papazogloy
Greece
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Gerasimos Morezinis
Greece
Kallithea
Athens
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Special thanks to provato for giving his Hotel Tycoon parts for a friend of mine.
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11. Board Game: Hellas [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:1685]
Finland
20100 Turku
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All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellec
badge
and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory.
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Notes for next time:

- Το μαγέρικo της Νάγιας review It seems that the taverna blew up after a gas leak, claiming the life of the owner. So sad...

- Visit Playce & Playtime, return to Playhouse.

- Play with more people from the GrEEK Guild.

- Play Drum Roll, Souvlaki Wars, Briefcase and as many more Games by Greek designers - Παιχνίδια Ελλήνων σχεδιαστών as possible.

- FREEDAY - ΠΟΔΗΛΑΤΕΣ..Για οσους αγαπουν το ΠΟΔΗΛΑΤΟ !

- Why we should all go to Greece
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