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Writings about games and other stuff

A blog about my relationship with the gaming hobby and about life in general, and whatever pops into my mind.

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What an exciting week! (non-gaming content)

Linda Stenström
Finland
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I mostly write about games, but even my blog title says "...and other stuff",so here's some other stuff.

This week has been quite exciting for us. We usually live a very quiet life which we are happy about. This week brought some things out of the ordinary.

A couple of months ago when we had the 8 month health check for the little guy, the doctor suspected there might be an issue with his eyes. She wrote a letter of recommendation to an eye specialist, and this week it was finally time for the appointment. The clinic is in Helsinki, which is not a big city on an international scale, but to us it is. I mean, we do live in the middle of nowhere. OK, so Jens has lived in Helsinki a big part of his life, so he had no trouble finding his way around. Of course, finding a two room doctor's office in a huge building could have been something of a challenge, but they had a very good description on their web page, so we found it.

Anyway, the doctor was very nice and professional, and she said that she couldn't find any issue with the little guy's eyes. But we have a new appointment after six months, by then it should be more obvious whether there is something wrong or not. But chances are good that nothing is wrong, or that it corrects itself when he grows up. So that's good news.

While in Helsinki, we went to Fantasiapelit's store, it's in a new location and I hadn't been there before. The store was the first thing we saw when we got out of the parking garage. We didn't have time to go there before the appointment, but afterwards we did. We couldn't just walk by it two times! (Most of the time we order games online, but when we go to Helsinki it's something of a must to visit at least one game store.)



Some time ago I wrote about Mannerheimin Lastensuojeluliitto (MLL), which is a Finnish child welfare organization, and about joining the local MLL association. So, I've been a regular member for some time, and I have been attending family activities they organize. Anyway, some time ago the head of the board for the local association asked me whether I would like to join the board. They needed more members in order to be able to legally make decisions. I promised to think about it. This week was the spring meeting where they were to choose the new members for the board, and now I'm a member. I have no previous experience of such work, but I guess learning by doing might work pretty well. ☺ Also, the head of the board said there were no particular responsibilities, they only needed more members to be legal. But it turns out there were a couple of tasks that needed named persons being responsible for them, so now I'm also responsible for membership matters. Yikes! But I'm happy about new challenges.



And then, as a suitable finish for the week, I went to a family activity with the boy yesterday. There were some girls there who were taking a babysitting class. They were there to meet families and get a chance to practise feeding babies, changing diapers etc. Part of their class was to practice babysitting in a family home, and some of the girls hadn't found a family yet, so I volunteered. So one of the girls will be coming to our place and practice babysitting in May. That's a little exciting, the little guy hasn't really had a babysitter yet.



Also, and this has nothing to do with the exciting week, but anyway. In addition to playing board games, I really love reading. So it's been such a delight when the little guy has started to show interest in books. He has a bunch of those cardboard books for babies. I have read to him every now and then for several months already, and he has never disliked it, but now he has really started to show an interest. He pulls out his books, and if I pick up one of them he gets really excited. He clearly recognizes the ones we read most. ☺ Three Billy Goats Gruff is his favourite story! And he also has a cardboard song book with the Itsy Bitsy Spider which he likes very much.



So that's it for today. Thanks for reading and have a nice day!
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Today 1:27 pm
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Easter Holidays part 2

Linda Stenström
Finland
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Hi there! Here's the rest of the games we played during the Easter Holidays.



On Saturday we went to see my sister and her boyfriend. We didn't plan on playing anything since the little guy was awake during the visit, but at some point we found Kangaroo and decided to play. We played two games. Kangaroo is a super simple game where on your turn you play a card from your hand to capture the kangaroo of that color. If someone else has that kangaroo you take it from them, unless they can play a card of that same color to protect it. The player with the most kangaroos when the deck runs out, is the winner!



The little guy wanted to play, too. I let him keep the kangaroos I caught.



Kangaroo cards



On Saturday evening we had time for a little gaming. Since Jens had wished to play Sultaniya the previous day but I was too tired then, we decided to play it now. My game didn't go very well, I was concentrating too much on using the djinns to get a certain tile in a certain place, which took so much of my time that by the time Jens placed the tile that finished the game, my palace was not even nearly finished.

It seems to happen a lot these days that I don't do too well in the games, and afterwards I can see where my strategy went wrong. I blame the tired mommy brain for that. (The little guy slept to almost 7 am today, what a luxury! He's woken up at 5 am several days this week. Zzzz....)




I didn't do that well in this game of Sultaniya, but it's still such beautiful game, so who cares about winning?



On Sunday it was time for Easter dinner with the in-laws. We brought some games, but there wasn't a lot of time to play. It's funny how on these occasions people always say they want to play, but when someone then suggests a game, no one has time or they are too tired. We did get a couple of games on the table, although I guess it can be argued whether the first one is a game. It has an entry here on BGG, so it has to be a game. The thing I'm talking about is Rory's Story Cubes. We have several sets and brought along some of them. We thought people would like it, with several kids there and everything. In the end no one was really interested, and it was just Jens and me telling a story to ourselves. Well, we tried. Luckily there are people who like these, and I'm looking forward to play it with our son when he grows up.




Our story



The last game for Saturday, and also the last game for the holidays was again Kingdomino. Even if several of the people at the dinner party had talked about playing, only one person joined us in this game, that being the little guy's 16 year old cousin. He's a smart kid and we have played a lot of games with him already when he was pretty young. It was nice to get a chance to try playing with more than only two. Three players was fun, didn't really change anything. One thing Jens noticed, and it was that when choosing tiles, the person choosing first and the person choosing last would sort of change places, whereas the person choosing the middle tile would choose it again next turn. I didn't pay attention to this, but Jens said it happened several times.



So that was our Easter. We did get a decent amount of games on the table, considering how much time we spent in the car or by the food table. And of course, having our little one limits the time we have for games.



Thanks for reading and see you next time! Have a nice weekend!
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Fri Apr 21, 2017 8:09 am
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Easter Holidays

Linda Stenström
Finland
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Hello again dear readers.

I thought about writing a few days ago, as to keep the time gap between my posts smaller. But there was only one game played, so not much to write about. But now with the Easter Holidays over, there is a little more to write about.



That one game we had managed to get on the table before Easter was Kingdomino. I'm happy to notice that our Hotness Shelf system seems to be working, Kingdomino has been on the shelf since we bought it, and it has been one of the more played games lately. Since it was just hubby Jens and me playing, we decided to try the two player variant where you use all the tiles and make a 7x7 kingdom instead of 5x5. We also used the optional rules that gives you extra points if you manage to build your kingdom with your castle in the middle and no holes. Building a bigger kingdom was surprisingly more challenging, but it was fun. For me it also added a little more strategy to know that all the tiles were in the game, while Jens felt that it didn't matter.



Finished big kingdom



During the Easter Holidays we went to visit several people. On Friday we went to our friends' place to have lunch. They have a daughter who is a little older than our little guy, so it was fun to see them play together. And the food was delicious. And of course, it was good seeing our friends.

On Saturday it was my sister's turn to get a visit from us. She and her boyfriend recently moved to a new apartment, it was our first visit there. That was also a very nice day, and my sister was delighted to see her nephew.

On Sunday it was time for Easter dinner at my in-laws'. Jens's both brothers with their families were also there, so the little guy got to see all his cousins. Even though they are all a lot older than him (they are between 10 and 16 years), they played with him a lot.

On Monday Jens had work, so I was at home with the little one. We went out for a stroll and played in the playground for a while.




We did get some games on the table in between all the socializing and dinners and lunches and desserts.

On Friday we didn't play any games at our friends' place. With a baby and a toddler around there was no time, especially since they didn't take their naps at the same time. But when we got home and the little guy was in bed for the night, me and Jens played some games. First up was Cacao, a light and quick tile laying game. It was a close match, during the game it seemed like I would win because I had the majority in all the temples. But when Jens started counting his coins at game end, it seemed like he would win by a lot. In the end he won by one point.



I had lots of workers near the temples


We have been thinking about picking up the Chocolatl expansion for Cacao, any experiences?




After Cacao we pulled out Qin. Jens says it feels like Tigris & Euphrates light. Anyway, it's also a tile laying game, but also area control. We like it very much, it's quick, at least with two players, but still has a lot of strategy. We recently bought the expansion board, and now it was time to try it. We played two games, one on each side of the board. There are no new rules with the new board, but the obstacles and starting spaces are different. On one side of the new board there is a mountain range across the board, and you can only get around it in one place, and on the other side there are paddy fields next to the villages which makes them harder to reach. We liked the new board, it gives great variation, still keeping the game simple. I think Jens won both games, too many times I played I tile that let Jens use it on his turn. I'll have to use a better strategy next time we play.



The mountain side of the new board...



...and the paddy field side.




After Qin, Jens wanted to play Sultaniya. It's not a heavy or very long game, but I was getting a little tired and wanted to play something small. So we ended up playing Diamonds instead. Diamonds is a trick-taking game where you collect gems by winning tricks. It's a rare game in the sense that it's a trick-taking game that works very well with two players. We really like trick-taking games, but most of them can't even be played with only two.



One of my hands of cards during Diamonds.



Last game for that evening was Pickomino, or Heckmeck am Bratwurmeck as our copy is called. It's a quick little game where you roll dice to get as high a score as possible in order to collect worm tiles.



All the worm tiles lined up on the grill at the start of the game.



My first worm tile and the dice roll that let me get it.




You know what? I'm going to end this post here, and save the rest of the games we played during the holidays for my next post. I think you had enough to read already in this post, and if I'm going to write the rest in this post, then it'll take ages before I'm done.

So, to be continued...

Thanks for reading and have a nice week, all!


(By the way, if you haven't already, feel free to check out my Instagram pics here -> https://www.instagram.com/rinuda86/ )
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Wed Apr 19, 2017 7:43 am
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A most beautiful game, a flip the table moment and more

Linda Stenström
Finland
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Yet another week or so has gone by. Spring is here, finally. Or ok, I guess it's been here for a while, but we live in Finland... A friend of mine posted a pic, it looked like it was black and white but it was actually a color photo. That's how grey the weather can be. But we've had sunshine for a couple of days too, that has been nice. Today seems to be a grey day again. It's so wonderful when I can take the little guy out to the playground. He likes the baby swing, and just crawling on the ground looking at what's there is a lot of fun for him. Sand, grass... Everything has to be tasted.

Now we have also managed to get some games on the table. Last Friday we played two not-so-new games. Well, one old, and one that's maybe from a year ago or so. So the old one was Fjords, a neat little two player game. First you take turns placing the tiles, and once the board is complete you start placing your markers in order to control tiles and score points. The player with the most points after three rounds wins the game. I knew I had played this game before, but that was three times ten years ago, so it was like learning a new game. I had no memory of the game whatsoever. But it was nice, and short games that are good for two players are what we play most now. You don't want to have a big long game on the dinner table when the little guy wakes up from his nap and demands lunch.



Finished game of Fjords




The other game for that day was a Carcassonne game. It's one of the newer ones, apparently it's from 2015. But I feel it's a game that hasn't got very much attention, not as much as the Around the World Carcassonne games in any case. The game I'm talking about is Carcassonne: Over Hill and Dale. I collect Carcassonne games, so for me this was a must have. But to be honest, I think there's nothing new in this version. It's more like a mix of things that are familiar from other games or expansions in the series. I would also say it's one of the simpler games in the series. Yes, it differs a little from vanilla basic Carcassonne, but for me it feels very much like playing original Carcassonne with different art. As you can see in the pics, the colors of this version are more bright and childish than in many of the other Carcassonne games. So, it's a nice game, but not one I recommend if you don't collect the series. I would rather go for one of the more different ones.


Carcassonne: Over Hill and Dale




This week we also managed to play several games. On Wednesday we started off with a new to us game, Kingdomino. It's a quick little tile laying game where you take tiles on your turn and try to place them in your kingdom. But you can't just take any tile. Every round there are as many tiles available as will be needed that round, and the player who took the least valuable tile last round gets to choose first. It's a very quick and easy game, but building a kingdom worth lots of points isn't all that simple. In the future we will probably use some of the optional extra rules, at least in two player games, to make it a little more difficult. We played two games, since it was so quick.


Finished kingdom in Kingdomino



After that it was time for another new game, Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City. In many places you get the impression that this game is an expandalone and that you can combine it with the other Machi Koro titles. This is not the case though. Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City is a standalone game that can't be combined with Machi Koro or its expansions. Anyway, neither of us had played this game or the original Machi Koro before. I'm not going to try to explain the game, I have a feeling I wouldn't be very good at that. Go look at the game page if you like. We set up the game and started playing. Not going deeper into the rules, I can say that you roll dice to activate card abilities. Jens got a good start, he earned money and was able to buy more cards and earn more money and construct his landmarks. I on the other hand had sooo bad luck with the dice rolls. I barely earned any money, I couldn't afford to buy more cards, and as Jens bought more cards he got the cards that let him steal the little money I had. I think four coins was the most money I had at any given point. I knew very early on that I had absolutely no chance of winning the game. I don't always like the games I play, but I try to not be too grumpy about it. Finishing this game was dreadful, though. I just wanted to flip the table, go to bed and never look at the game again. We finished the game, Jens obviously won. At least he was nice enough not to go for buying lots of cards but rather construct his landmarks as soon as he could so the game would end.


I didn't manage to buy many more cards than these in my first game of Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City




I was in a really bad mood when we finished Machi Koro. We talked for a while about what went wrong. It seems that if the dice rolls are not in your favor at the beginning of the game, there is a risk that you never get your game going properly. I guess this problem might be bigger in two player games than with more players.



I didn't want to go to bed being in a bad mood, so I asked Jens to play one more game, one that I had a decent chance of winning. He gave me a few options that he would like to play, I don't remember all of them, but he said that those were all games he thought I usually win. We ended up playing 10 days in Asia. The 10 days in... games are rummy type games were you try to collect tiles to make a complete journey through, in this case, Asia. My start setup was a mess, but I managed to draw good tiles and very soon had a nice journey with many train trips. I won this game, and now I was feeling much better and went to bed happy.


My winning journey in 10 days in Asia




On Thursday we again had a chance to play. Even though I had vowed never to look at Machi Koro again, I was now in a better mood and was ready to give it another chance. So we played a game. This time I did much better. Jens still won, but I was only one coin away from being able to construct my last landmark on my last turn, when Jens on his turn then activated a card that let him steal half of my money. Taxes... So he could then afford to construct his last landmark and win the game. After this game I increased my rating from a 5 to a 7. Time will show if the problem we had in the first game is a common problem or if I just happened to have incredibly bad luck.


Looking a little better this time




Later that day, during the little guys second nap, we pulled out yet another new game, Sultaniya. The game is absolutely gorgeous, it's easily the most beautiful game I've ever played. Someone said, was it Tom Vasel perhaps (don't quote me on that!), that losing the game doesn't bother you because you just admire how beautiful it is. That's true, I lost, but didn't mind. Playing the game and constructing the palace was so much fun. So what is the game about? Each player tries to construct the most beautiful palace for the Sultan in order to win the game and become the Grand Vizier. It's pretty much multiplayer solitaire, not very much interaction between players, but the downtime is very short. Wonderful game, I must say.




Sultaniya is a very beautiful game




We still had a short while before we expected the boy to wake up, so we squeezed in a game of Kingdomino.



Now Jens has shifts at work again, so there probably won't be any more games this week. Not unless I pull out some game that I can play solo. I was surprised at how many of our games have solo variants. I would like to play solo more when Jens is at work, lately it has just seemed that I have a million other things to do when the little one is asleep. And playing games with a 9 month old who is learning to walk and pulls down everything he can reach, well, that's not really an option.

Also, you might have noticed I mentioned some of the games are new. Ahem. Games just seem to appear from nowhere, how can that be? whistle There's no such thing as too many games, right? I'm not going to list all the new games, but yes, we have bought more games again.

When you're on adventures in the gaming world, you sometimes come upon bad rulebooks. We haven't had that happen for a while, but this week I came upon not one, but two such rulebooks. The first was for Agricola: Family Edition. We have the Nordic version of the games, so I read the rules in Finnish. The rules seemed OK, no huge grammatical errors that would have indicated it was a bad translation. Only, when I started going through the components I thought a lot of them were missing from our copy. But it didn't seem like any punchboards were missing. Strange, indeed. I logged on here to look at the forums for the game, in case someone else had noticed the same. I found the English rules, and realised that the rules in the Nordic version has a component list littered with errors... I haven't read the rest of the rules yet, but I'm a little concerned, are there more errors? The translation seems so good, that spotting errors will be difficult. I'll have to read the English rules and compare them, or maybe skip the Finnish rules altogether.

Another game with a not-so-good rulebook was Trambahn. Again I came here to check the forums, and it seems other people have also noticed that the English translation is not that good. But I found answers to my questions, so I think I know how to play the game.

Last thing for this post is a funny little conversation I had with Jens. We talked about our collection and the games we want to play. Jens is much better at teaching games, so if it's a new to us game, or a game we have forgotten the rules for, he usually does the teaching if I haven't also read the rules. But he said that he would be happy if I could teach some games, too. Of course, I said. He told me there was one game in particular he would like me to read the rules for and teach him. Without thinking about the fact that there probably isn't a game that I would be better at teaching, I immediately answered yes, of course. Which game? He told me. Panzer Grenadier: Airborne (Introductory Edition). That's a wargame. I have never played a wargame, or even looked at the rules for one... But challenge accepted. I will try to read the rules at some point.




Apparently I promised to teach this game to my dear husband




So that's all for today. Thanks for reading and have a nice weekend all!
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Sat Apr 8, 2017 12:26 pm
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Rearranging the games (again), toys, power outage and maybe a game in there somewhere

Linda Stenström
Finland
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Hello again.

I looked at my logged plays. One play since my last blog post. That was Carcassonne: Star Wars. I have written about that before, so I won't do that now. The session wasn't much of a game. My friend M came over, we haven't had very much time to see each other lately. So we played a game, but mostly we just talked. Girl talk, you know. It was a little like "talktalktalktalk oh we have a game going on here". Long pauses between the turns, forgetting to place meeples, forgetting to score, no battles...

Other than that, no games again. I guess that's life with a little kid. And now with hubby Jens having had night shifts at work, we haven't seen each other much.

We did (or actually Jens did) rearrange our games again. Better order on the shelves in the library, and new games on the hotness shelf. He also put our old EXPEDIT shelf (predecessor to KALLAX) in the living room, some of our smaller games are stored there now. The bottom shelves are reserved for the little guys toys. One of his favorite things to do is to empty all the lower shelves in the house...



Changed the games on the hotness shelf



The EXPEDIT moved in to the living room. Most of our small games are in the drawers.





And since there were no more games played, I don't have anything more to tell you about games. Not even any new games that have arrived, which I suppose is a good thing. whistle So you can stop reading if my personal life doesn't interest you.



One night last week, was it Sunday I think, we planned to play games in the evening. But there was a storm, and we had a power outage, which is really rare here. During the almost ten years I lived in this building, there has been a few maybe minute long power cuts. Now the power was gone for three hours. First we thought that we could play in candle light, but it got very dark very quickly, as it does around here this time of year, and there was no chance of getting enough light to play, without risking to burn the game. So we just talked. It struck us how vulnerable one is in a situation like this. We live in an apartment building, so when the power is out, there is no way to heat food. Had the power gone ten minutes earlier, the little guy would have gotten his evening meal cold. Also there is no way to warm the house, now it wasn't a problem, but in the middle of the winter it could be. And of course, no lights. And I couldn't even find our flashlights so we had to make do with candles.
We also noticed that we are so used to being able to charge our phones basically anywhere, so actually having to try to save the battery was very strange. I tried to follow a discussion on a forum to get info about the situation, but at the same time taking care not to use the phone too much.
Luckily the power outage only lasted for three hours, when the power returned I checked that no kitchen appliances of such were still on, and then I went to bed.



I mentioned the little guys toys. It turns out that both Jens and me love toys. Legos, train tracks and stuff. As a little girl I mostly played with cars and such. I had some dolls, and played with Barbies when I was a little older, but my favorite toys were the cars and Legos. So we are both really excited about buying toys for our son. He still plays with baby toys, but we have a box of Duplos. And we also have a wooden railway waiting for him. Me and Jens have been day dreaming about getting lots of sets for the railway and building a huge city in the living room. And then Legos...


I guess we're not ready for building railways yet... But the little guy was very fascinated by the battery powered engine.




But life isn't all about toys. When I'm done writing this, I need to continue being grown up. There is an election coming up, don't know what it's called or if there even is an English word for this, town council maybe? Anyway, I'm not usually very much into politics, but I think it's important to vote if you can, and right now there's so much going on in our town that I really think it's worth taking some time to check what candidates there are.
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Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:37 am
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New favorite, a disappointment and daily life

Linda Stenström
Finland
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For several days I have been thinking about writing, it's been a few days since my last post. I checked, it's more like two weeks already. Funny how fast I loose the flow if I don't write for a few days.

There hasn't been very much gaming now, either. The little guy is feeling better, but we are still parents of a little boy. Sleep is precious.

I have been attending family activities with the little guy, and we have been outside in the playground a couple of times, his first times in a playground. He's too small to play there, but he likes the baby swing. This week we have also enjoyed the sun, finally, it feels like it's been grey outside for months. But we did have rain for a couple of days, too. One day when we were outside I didn't bring any rain gear, so we were soaking wet when we got home. Gotta love the Finnish weather.

Some time ago I wrote about my thoughts about joining a local family activity association. Well, I decided to join. In April I will host the family activity cafe a couple of times. Today the chairman asked me if I could do a quick translation for her, just a leaflet about the association's activities. These things tend to make me nervous, but the translation was quickly done. And even if I'm a little nervous about the hosting thing, I'm looking forward to that. Nice to be able to do something good for the community, and also nice to have some responsibilities outside home, now that I'm home with my baby. I'm really happy that I can be a stay-at-home mom, but sometimes it's good to have something else to do.



We have played some games, though. When we had our last shopping spree, I also ordered Port Royal Unterwegs!, but it was out of stock then. It arrived last week. We really like Port Royal, and I thought this would be a good addition, but it was kind of a disappointment to me. It's a stripped down version of Port Royal, but turns out it was too bland for my taste. I wrote a review about it, you can read it here.



Trio of Port Royal


Should I stop drawing cards now or try to get a black ship?




One evening we played a two player game of Dokmus. We had played it before with Jan, but now we decided to try it with just the two of us. With only two players you only use five boards instead of eight, but I was still concerned whether it would be too easy to place our markers when there were not as many players blocking. But it turned out to work really well with only two.


Dokmus




We also played with Rory's Story Cubes one day. We collect those, eventually we will probably buy all sets. I think the story cubes will come to good use with the kid when he grows up, but for now we use them as a creativity exercise for us adults. It's not always that easy coming up with stories.



One day the doorbell rang. It was the postman again. This time the package contained two games that Jens had backed on Kickstarter, Burgle Bros. and Fugitive. We have only had time to play Fugitive, but that we played six times in one evening. Fugitive is a two player card game where one player takes the role of the fugitive and the other of the marshal. The fugitive plays cards face down to escape, and the marshal tries to catch him by guessing the numbers on the cards. Really fun little game. And the game box is really cool.


The box looks like a briefcase.



It's just a detail, but the marshal's notepad adds a nice touch to the game.


Trying to decide which card to play next.



So that's pretty much what I've been up to lately. Hope you all have enjoyed this week, and have a nice weekend all!
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Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:52 pm
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Games played March 8 - March 11

Linda Stenström
Finland
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Couldn't come up with a better title.

I'm sooo tired. I'm not going to write a diary here about the baby's doings, but lets just say that he's teething. The last few nights I've been pacing around the apartment with him for hours.

Last week we didn't play much, which was a little surprising since Jens had his winter vacation. We went visiting older relatives and had some friends over and such, so no time for games. On Monday Jan was at our place for some gaming, but that I already wrote about.

On Wednesday we played two games. First we played Patchwork again. Both of us has gotten better at balancing between buying new patches and earning buttons. It was a tight game, but if I remember correctly I won by I few points. Or Jens won by a few points, who cares.

After that we played one of our other new games that we hadn't tried yet, Rocket Jockey. It's a card game about delivering cargo from one planet to another, but the rocket jockeys are bored so they compete in who is able to land on the most planets before actually delivering the cargo. We were left with a "meh" feeling after the game. I hope that it will feel better after a few plays when we get used to how the cards work, but I'm not sure that it will.


Rocket Jockey



Then on Friday, after some trouble with the delivery, Planetarium arrived. Jens had backed it on Kickstarter and had been waiting for it to arrive. He was really excited about it. I read the rules and thought it seemed nice, but didn't really understand why he was quite so excited. On Saturday we played it, and now I do understand, it is a brilliant game. On your turn you move a marker on the board. If you manage to make a matter token and a planet collide, you get to take the matter token. Then you can play an evolution card which scores you points. The cards cost matter tokens to play, but you also have to fulfill other requirements such as planet type. During the last turn of the game you can play final evolution cards in addition to the normal evolution card. Most of the final evolutions don't cost matter tokens to play, but you have to fulfill a lot of requirements. So in order to be able to play your final evolution cards, you need to play such evolution cards during the game that the requirements on your final evolutions get fulfilled. Really a brainburner, I look forward to playing again.


Planetarium



Yesterday we didn't play anything, and today Jens isn't even home yet. But I received a package today. When we had our shopping spree I also ordered Port Royal Unterwegs!, but it was out of stock then. Today it arrived. It's a stripped down version of Port Royal which we like very much. I think Unterwegs! will be easier to teach to people who don't play as much as we do.
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Mon Mar 13, 2017 8:01 pm
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Don't you just love it when packages arrive as they should?

Linda Stenström
Finland
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Quick post, something of a rant. I'll write more later. Also, I won't mention any company names in this post, because my intention is not to shame any particular company, but to share the experience.

Hubby Jens sometimes backs games on Kickstarter, so every now and then a new game drops in. Some time ago he received information that Planetarium had been sent to shipping. He followed the tracking page regularly, and after some time there was the information that the package had reached Finland. Then nothing for several days which was a little strange, since deliveries within Finland usually doesn't take that long, regardless of which company that handles the shipping. Also there was no info as to which company handled the shipping in Finland, was it the same or some other? Yesterday Jens again looked at the tracking page, and according to that they had attempted to deliver the package on Thursday and the recipient had been informed about where to pick it up. Nope. There certainly had not been any attempted delivery, we were home all day, and Jens had no information whatsoever about where it was now.

Jens looked through e-mails and stuff to find any information. I could see the despair on his face. No info about where the package was, which company handled the shipping, no contact information. As a last resort he decided to call our local corner shop. They have a desk for picking up deliveries, both from the Finnish Post and other delivery companies. As he talked on the phone, I could see a glimpse of hope on his face, and when he ended the call, he was shining with happiness. The package was indeed there, finding it hadn't been easy since these days you can't just look at the name on the packages but you need all sorts of tracking codes and stuff. But the lady at the corner shop had known where to look and found it for him.

It was a happy husband who opened up the package later that day.
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Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:44 am
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Baby's first visit to the game store, the Hotness Shelf, what we have played and other things from the last few days

Linda Stenström
Finland
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I have a feeling this post will be something of a novel...

So, in my last post I think I wrote about the new games that arrived, and the fact that Jens by mistake ordered a booster for Star Realms that we already own. And as I wrote in that post, the mistake was a good excuse for me to order more games, because I really wanted the Promo Pack 1 for Star Realms. Yes, it could have waited, but I wanted it now. And ordering just a booster pack is silly, so I had to take some other things too. Yes, it is silly, because the shipping cost would have made up more than a third of the total price... So I ordered Carcassonne: Star Wars and the Animalia set for Rory's Story Cubes. That package arrived last week. Jens had also found some games on sale, so we received a third package of games last week. It contained Imhotep, Dokmus, Planet Steam and the Dominion: Sauna/Avanto promo.

One would think that three packages of games is enough to last us a couple of months. But no. whistle We needed to go to Helsinki, so we decided to pop into the Lautapelit game store. We went there the whole family, so it was our boy's first visit to a game store. He was happy sitting in his stroller looking at people and all the colourful things in the store. And of course, since we so seldom go to the actual physical game store, we can't just leave empty-handed. Jens had showed me a video review of Patchwork some days before and I really liked it, so we decided to buy that. We also bought the expansion board for Qin. We hadn't planned to buy more than those two, but we happened to find one game of iello's Tales & Games series, The Grasshopper & the Ant, so we decided to buy that too.

But we have been doing other things than just shopping games. We decided to put up a shelf in our living room, which we call the Hotness Shelf. There we put some of our new games and other games we are excited to play at the moment. In our old apartment we had our games in bookcases in the living room. It sure was an impressive sight, but not really an aesthetical one. And it wasn't very practical either. Sure, the games were within easy reach, but the bookcases took up a lot of space, and when they were full we had to store some games in the closet. In our current apartment we keep our games in the walk in closet, which leaves much more space in our living room. But as Jens said, with all the games behind a closed door, you can't really tell by the interior decoration that we are gamers. Also, we are the kind of gamers who seldom play the same game many times in a row, which is a shame. So now we keep some games on the Hotness Shelf that we try to play more, and every once in while we will change the games on the shelf. Of course we will also play other games, but when we just feel like playing something, especially just the two of us, then it's good to have some games within easy reach.


The Hotness Shelf



So, with many new games and a new Hotness Shelf, have we had time to play any games? Yes. When we got back home after our trip to Helsinki on Saturday we did play some games. First we tried The Grasshopper & the Ant. The rules were super easy, almost so easy that we wondered where the game is in this game. But playing it wasn't that easy. You take turns being the ants and the grasshopper, and with more players there are also red ants. The ants player secretly chooses which colour cards they want to collect, and the other players try to guess which colour they chose. If the grasshopper's guess is right, then the grasshopper gets the cards, and if the grasshopper failed in guessing the ants player's choice, then the ants player gets the cards. There are two game modes, but in both the point is to collect cards.


Tales & Games: The Grasshopper & the Ant



Next game we played was Star Realms. That is actually one of the games we have played quite a lot. Now we mixed in the new cards. They were nice, nothing special about them but nice variation.

Then we played another game of The Grasshopper & the Ant. Both games we played were the easier Autumn mode.

After that we played Patchwork. Really nice two player game. Easy rules, simple design, but not too easy to play. You need to balance your use of time so that you get as many patches as possible, but you need to be able to pay for them. This game I expect will get played a lot.


Patchwork



Last game for Saturday was Carcassonne: Star Wars. I used to think this was just a re-themed version of basic Carcassonne, but after watching Dice Tower's video review I realized there is one major difference. The features are pretty much the same, except they have different names of course. But in this game, if two features are combined into one, a battle occurs. Also, planets, which are the equivalent of cloisters, can be attacked if you place a tile adjacent to them. Battles are solved by rolling dice. It may not sound like much, but for me it was enough to justify Carcassonne: Star Wars being a different game and not just a re-themed edition. Also, I got the impression that the expansion will go further with the battle mechanism.


Carcassonne: Star Wars



On Sunday we didn't play anything. It was a beautiful sunny day, and Jens's both brothers came to their parents place with their families and we went there also. We had a lovely outdoor day with sledding. Our boy also sat in his new baby sled for a while, and he seemed to like looking at the world from that angle. Usually outside he sits in his stroller. We did bring a couple of games, but there was no time to play.

On Sunday evening Jens was chatting with our friend Jan and they realized they both have a day off on Monday, so they decided Jan would come to our place for some gaming. He showed up at about lunch time on Monday, and we started playing. First was again The Grasshopper & the Ant. Now with three players we got to use the red ants role too, and it worked well. I was a little concerned how it would work, since the red ants are pretty passive, they also try to guess which colour the ants player chooses, but as a reward they only get a random card. But it turned out it was a very well working way of giving the other players something to do, since there are only two more active roles.

Jan brought one of his games, Habitats, and we got that on the table too. It's a tile laying game, but with a scoring different from in any other tile laying game I've played. Also, I think it looked very nice.


Habitats



Then we played Dokmus. It's a game where you place pawns on terrain boards, and in the end you get points for having pawns adjacent to temples on as many boards as possible, but also for having pawns adjacent to all temples on one board. So you have to balance between spreading out your pawns and concentrating them on one or two boards.


Dokmus



We discussed a little about trends in games and game themes. Right now a little heavier thematic games seems to be very popular, but we all felt we kind of missed the more abstract and simple games were the rules are very simple, but you really have to think about your strategy. Dokmus was exactly the kind of game we felt we wanted to play more of.

Last game for the day was Carcassonne: Star Wars. As I expected there were many more battles with three players than there was in a two player game.

Jens and Jan also played Patchwork and Schotten Totten a couple of times while I was looking after the boy.

Today on Tuesday we haven't played anything. We went to visit my grandparents, it was lovely seeing them. And apparently there's some new video game that has just been released, Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Wildlands I think. In any case, Jens is glued to his PC so he won't be much company tonight.
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Tue Mar 7, 2017 7:23 pm
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Look what the mailman brought!

Linda Stenström
Finland
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Well, not exactly, we had to go and pick up the package from our local post office.

So, last weekend hubby told me there was a surprise. By the way, my hubby does have a name, Jens. Anyway, Jens told me there was a surprise. First he didn't say anything else, but later he revealed that it was a package from the game store Fantasiapelit, containing the United booster packs for Star Realms. Well, I know Jens well enough, so I guessed that four small booster packs of 12 cards each weren't the only items in the package, but he wouldn't tell me what else he ordered. On Tuesday Jens received a message that the package was available for pick-up. That morning we had our son's 8-month health check (he's a healthy kid, everything was good) and after that Jens went to pick up the package from the post office. And as I guessed, there was more in the box than the Star Realms boosters.





So, as you can see, there were four other games in the box. Schotten Totten, Ninja Camp, Welcome Back to the Dungeon and Rocket Jockey. As Jens had had a night shift on Monday-Tuesday night, he was very tired and we didn't play anything on Tuesday. On Wednesday we did get to play. Our son woke up at 6 am and after making sure his mummy and daddy were up, he was happy to play by himself. So we played the first game for the day at 6.30 am.


We started our day with a game of Ninja Camp. It's a card game were the playing area is made up of cards. On their turn players move their ninjeeples (ninja meeples) from one card to another, and then pick up the card they started the turn on. So during the game the playing area gets smaller and smaller, and at some point players can't move their ninjas anymore. The cards you pick up are worth points, and the player with the most points wins the game. It was a fun and quick little game, very good with two players, although it was for 2-4 players if I recall correctly.




Ninja Camp



The ninjeeples are pretty cool.




The next game we played that day was Schotten Totten. It's a card game for two players were you compete over boundary stones. At the start of the game nine boundary stones (tiles) are placed in a row on the table, and on their turn players play a card next to one of the stones, on their side of the row. When there are three cards each on either sides of a stone, the player with the higher value combination of cards claim the stone. The first player to claim three adjacent stones or any five stones, wins the game. Also a very fun and fast game.



Jens won the game of Schotten Totten by claiming three adjacent boundary stones.




Then of course we had to play Star Realms. For those who don't know, Star Realms is one of my favorite games at the moment. It's a deck building game where you try to build a good deck in order to be able to buy better ships and bases, and destroy your opponent. The goal is to make your opponent(s) run out of authority (basically life points). The market cards are divided into four factions, and by playing cards of the same faction you get additinonal actions. I have been looking forward to getting the Unity booster packs. There are four of them: Heroes, Missions, Assault and Command. The Heroes was a familiar concept, the difference between the new United: Heroes and The old Crisis: Heroes was that the old heroes only have a scrap ability, but are cheaper. The new ones also have a primary ability, but they cost more. The Missions are, well, missions. At the start of the game the players are dealt three missions each, and by completing those you get rewards. If a player completes all three missions, they win they game. The Assault and Command packs both contain faction pair cards, i.e. cards that belong to two factions instead of just one.



The new cards for Star Realms.



We played two games, one were we used both Gambit sets (Jens said he had never played with gambits although I'm pretty sure he has) and the Missions, then one more game without gambits or missions. The gambits and the missions don't really suit our playing style, but it's fun to have them, it's not like they would be impossibly expensive or take up lots of space. The gambits felt a bit fiddly, and we didn't like that the game ends when a player completes all their missions. The faction pair cards I really liked, though.



A game of Star Realms in progress.




The other two games in the order we haven't played yet. Jens is at work today, so no games today. I hope I'll have time to read the rules for Welcome Back to the Dungeon and Rocket Jockey tonight when our son goes to bed. Actually, he is in bed now. I started writing this during his nap time, but didn't manage to finish it before he woke up. And it's no use trying to write a blog post that makes sense while you're trying to look after a baby who tries to climb on top of everything. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that our son learnt to stand up against support last week, and now he wants to stand up all the time. Or climb on top of things. Sometimes he just forgets the little detail that he can't stand without support, and lets go of whatever he's holding on to. I get a mini heart attack every time he does that... But back to the topic. Jens told me that apart from the Star Realms boosters, his idea with this order was that all the games are short and easy games that are good for two.

Also, with this order one sort of funny thing happened. We have a big collection, and sometimes when I see a game in a game store, I find myself wondering whether we own the game, or if it looks familiar because I have played someone else's copy of it and/or it's on my wishlist. Now with smartphones it's pretty easy to log in to BGG and check, but before I had a smartphone, I remember at least one time when I didn't buy a game that looked interesting, because I wasn't sure whether we already had it or not. Well, Jens knew that there was one more booster pack for Star Realms that we didn't have, in addition to the four United packs. So he ordered the Cosmic Gambit Set. Which we already own. Well, we have friends who also own Star Realms, we'll just give away the extra gambits. But it was the Promo Pack 1 that was missing from our collection. So that gave me a good excuse to place a new order. And of course you can't just order a small pack of cards, that would be ridiculous. My poor, poor wallet. whistle
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Thu Mar 2, 2017 6:28 pm
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