A Gnome's Ponderings

I'm a gamer. I love me some games and I like to ramble about games and gaming. So, more than anything else, this blog is a place for me to keep track of my ramblings. If anyone finds this helpful or even (good heavens) insightful, so much the better.

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [108]

Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Traditional games for Father’s Day

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As sort of a Father’s Day gift, we picked up one of those traditional game sets when we were browsing at Goodwill. You know what I’m talking about. A collection that has chess, checkers, backgammon and such.

This one is a fiberboard box with a decent veneer. There’s a Chess board on top, two more wooden boards that fit into slots and a tray at the bottom. The boards include Backgammon, peg solitaire, Snakes and Ladders, Chinese Checkers in the tray, Ludo/Parchesi and perhaps the most unusable Mancala board I’ve ever seen. (They are tiny pits next to the solitaire board) In addition, it has a deck of cards and a set of poker dice.

Yes, I already own at least one version of most of these games. I’m not such a game snob that I don’t like a lot of traditional games. Chess and Backgammon and Checkers (if you play with the mandatory capture rule) and Mancala (when the pits are bigger than 3/4 of an inch) are all classics for a reason. I have to admit I don’t like Chinese Checkers but I have been taught it with both capture and no capture rules so I never know how it will be played.

In a lot of ways, this set is as much a piece of furniture as some games. If our coffee table wasn’t devoted to LEGOs (honest, we glued LEGO base plates on the top), this would be a coffee table item. As it is, it will still live in the living room.

And it’s real role will be to help introduce our son to these traditional games. Having it handy and in sight will keep him aware of them.

I’m actually pleased to have Snakes and Ladders like this. I don’t like the game but it is very accessible for a four-year-old so it will be useful. It will be nice to move on to Ludo or Backgammon though. And I can teach him Lines of Action with the Checkers pieces.

While my focus is on modern gaming, I still have an appreciation for traditional games. Especially Go, which isn’t a part of this set Still, traditional games are going to be played a hundred years from now and longer than that. They are both the origins of gaming and it’s ever present bedrock.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Today 1:46 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Parent breaks or Fidget Box part two

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The rules for Down, a tiny little nine-card game designed to be played in your hand (and one I know I’ll review sooner than later), includes the term ‘parent break’ which is when you hide from your kids for a few minutes in the bathroom. I love it.

While I have yet to hide in the bathroom to get a game in, I definitely understand that idea. A lot of my gaming is done while keeping one eye on our four-year-old snacking or drawing or playing with play dough. Unfortunately, any game involving dice or pawns is more interesting than whatever he’s doing so it’s cards only. (And this is why I have played Pocket Landship so little :’( )

Heck, I have a tiny fidget box of solitaire games that basically exists for parent breaks.

It’s an interesting niche. A game has to be a solitaire game, take up minimal playing space and playing time and be playable while being largely distracted. It’s something I didn’t look for a few years ago and now I’m accumulating them. (It doesn’t hurt that you can find a number of games like this in PnP)

I also wonder how long I’ll be needing games that are suitable for these kind of parent breaks. At some point, either our son won’t need as much supervision or HE WILL WANT TO PLAY GAMES WITH ME BY THE RULES!!!

Still, I can state that parent breaks are a real thing and a perfect time for a quick game. Sometimes, they are all the gaming I’m able to do and they do provide a helpful mental break. A coffee break for my mind and they only take a few minutes.

We all need a break now and then, clear the cobwebs from our brains and de-stress. Parent breaks, of one kind of another, are how keep it together. And sometimes, they can be tiny solitaire games.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
3 Comments
Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:16 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Too Many Chefs - I crafted it for the novelty

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is really a cheat since, while I’m making a copy for fun, I don’t see myself ever playing Too Many Chefs from the 2018 Nine Card Contest. (Not to be confused with the myriad of games called Too Many Cooks)

It’s actually a six-card game, since two cards are player aids and one card is instructions. The six ingredient cards do extra duty since they are also role cards.

Okay, the idea of the game Is half of you are bad chefs who want to spoil the meal and the other half are good chefs who want to save it. Deal out role cards, remember what your role is, then redeal the cards as ingredients. You can either add your card to the pot or throw it away. Table talk is encouraged. If the resulting meal is positive, good cooks win. Negative, bad cooks take the day.

There’s also a fifth player option where the fifth player plays the health inspector and wins if they out what cards are in the meal. Frankly, that might be the most interesting role in the game.

The odd thing about the game for me is that there is no accusation mechanic. Really, there can’t be since the cards, after they assign their roles, get redealt. And I do wonder if that is a crucial loss of control in a social deduction game.

On the other hand, I have to admire the minimalism of the game. Even a game of Werewolf using regular playing cards uses more components by having more players. And the ingredient cards have some interesting interactions. For instance, spices knock out the most expensive ingredient. Which could be sauce or it could be worms. So the game has more considerations than just negative and positive cards.

All that said, I’d be hard pressed to imagine ever playing the game. For one thing, I’m not much of a social deduction player (although the right game and the right group could change that) The card interactions are interesting but I don’t know if they actually ‘work’. More than that, needing exactly four or five players definitely limits it. And while I don’t have a problem with short games, Too Many Chefs clearly is very short. If you have the time, The Resistance or something like that seems like a better choice.

All right, here’s where I can see Too Many Chefs working. When you are waiting and you don’t have any table space. Like waiting line or sitting in the hallway at a convention. Having access to even an airplane tray and the time a flight takes opens up the options well beyond Too Many Chefs.

Nine card games, by their very nature, have a novelty factor. Sometimes we are just amazed that the bear dances at all but sometimes the bear dances well (Cunning Folk, Bomb Squad #9, Farmers Finances, among others) Too Many Chefs feels like a bear that is just amazing because it dances but it is fascinating.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1954876/wip-too-many-chefs-...

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Thu Jun 14, 2018 9:41 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

My fidget box of solitaire games

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Pretty much since the get go in my gaming, I have always had a game in my bag or coat pocket. Truth to tell, that’s actually how I started with the travel version of Catan and the Hip Pocket line.

And PnP has become a part of that. My travel bag of stuff for the preschooler has a copy of Bonsai Samurai and a laminated paper copy of Hive, just in case I need a game. (It’s never happened but IT MIGHT)

However, I’ve gone a step further by making a tiny case of solitaire games. One that doesn’t live in my bag but is easy to throw in at a moment’s notice. The goal is to have games with minimal footprint and minimal playing time easily on hand at any time. It’s basically a fidget box.

It has a rotating content but Elevenses For One and Murderer’s Row seem to have a permanent place in it. To be fair, both of those games are kind of my gold standard for minimalist solitaire games. Plus, I can play Murderer’s Row splayed in my hand and I could finagle a way to do the same with Elevenses For One if I wanted to.

The prototypes for Akur-Gal and I Am Lynx (nine card version) are also currently in the case. Honestly, since the eighteen card version of I Am Lynx will probably fire the nine card version, the fidget box will be the only use I have the nine card version. Tiny, quick game that’s played all in one hand. That’s perfect for the fidget box.

I have to admit that I feel like I’m embracing a weird ideal for games with the fidget box. I’ve filled it with such slight games. My taste in solitaire games leans toward shorter games that are easy to get on the table. By the very nature of the fidget box, that pushes that to the extreme.

(Well, Elevenses for One has enough meat on it that it is still a choice when I have more time to play a game)

On the other hand, the fidget box has seen a lot of use for me. It fits a very, very specific niche but it’s a niche that fits my needs right now.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:04 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Laser Battlefield - tiny little battle to the death

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I found Laser Battlefield when I was going through the older Nine Card PnP contests. I made a copy since it was ink-light and didn’t require any other components. I didn’t even realize that it had a solitaire mode until I was done making it

Laser Battlefield is a duel between two spaceships shooting into a three by three grid of shifting mirrors that bounce their lasers around.

Two of the cards are the ships, shielded side and unshielded/damaged side, meaning they have two hit points. The other seven cards are the mirrors, which are color-coded so they only bounce a specific ship’s laser. One of them is actually a color changer, letting you bounce off the other mirrors. They are laid face down and only flip when hit.

You shuffle and place the mirror cards in a staggered pattern that forms a three by three grid with two open spaces. The ships are placed on opposite sides, shields up. There, ready to play.

You get three actions on your turn. Move one space around the grid, shift a card to fill in one of the empty spaces (sort of like on of the sliding puzzles) or fire. However, you can’t fire twice in a row. Oh and you always face into the grid. No sneaky firing along the edge First person to hit the other guy twice wins.

The solitaire option has one ship be a drone that always fires, moves right and fires again. The drone can’t shift mirror cards but it can ram you.

After I was done making the game, I played a couple solitaire games on the easy setting. Paused, and tried out the regular setting. Then got it out again and tried it on hard. (The harder you choose, the closer the drone is to you)

While the drone could ram me, it also followed a predictable pattern and I controlled the mirror grid. I never felt like my back was against the wall. On the other hand, it was an interesting enough puzzle that I kept playing it. I am convinced that two-player is the sweet spot.

Laser Battlefield borders on a hidden gem for me. I don’t think it will have the long term replay value to really reach that point. But being such a simple build definitely adds value to it for me. I don’t know if I’d buy it but it was definitely worth the five minutes it took to make.

This might be damning with faint praise but, if Laser Battlefield even sounds vaguely interesting, it’s so easy to make that it’s worth checking out.

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1744398/wip-laser-battlefie...

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Fri Jun 8, 2018 11:47 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Thanks Yucata for adding Macao

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don’t know how long it’s been since I last played Macao before it got added to Yucata. Four or five years at least but I’ve considered it one of my favorite Felds I’ve played. Getting back into it on Yucata has only confirmed it.

Macao is the one with the wind rose. It easily falls under the description of point salad but you can believably get away with describing it as a pick-up-and-deliver game driven by resource management.

I’m not going to go through the rules but I kind of have to talk about the wind rose. It’s really a seven space clock that you fill with cubes. Every turn, a die for each of the six colors of cube gets rolled. You choose two dice and put that number of cubes on that number on your clock. Each turn, the clock ticks one space and those are the cubes you have to work with that turn.

Macao is not the first game that requires you to plan ahead or even program your moves ahead (indeed, compared to a lot of programmed movement games, Macao gives you a lot of latitude) but it’s still a pretty original way of doing it. And all the elements of the game tie together pretty well. The core of the game is simple but it gives you lots of choices.

While I was already a fan of Notre Dame, Macao was the game where I started really paying attention to Feld. I have not been able to remotely keep up with his output but Macao is one game I’m glad I’ve experienced.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Thu Jun 7, 2018 6:05 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
8 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

My Print-and-Play May

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
May was kind of a blowout month for me as far as print-and-play was concerned. I spent more time crafting games than I did actually playing any games, PnP or otherwise. I have a feeling that May will be my craftiest month of the year.

Okay, I made Lady or the Tiger, The Council Of Colbridge, Ambagibus: doodle art version, I am Lynx/9 card version (twice in fact, because I did a bad job laminating the cards the first time), Spring (both decks, partially colored by our son for Mother’s Day), Akur-Gal/ light art, Galaxy Conquest, Iuni, Dyna Mice, Nuclear Solitaire, I Am Lynx/18 card version, YXZ, Spheres of Influence, Dodgeball Derby, Orchard, Until the Candle Burns Out, Scuttle, Tiniest Show on Earth, Hotel Escape, Bottom of the Ninth, and Laser Battlefield.

The fact that I started looking at this year’s Nine Card PnP contest and past contests in May has a lot to do with how many games I crafted. It also means plenty of them were smaller builds. (You know, nine cards and all) At the same time, I made some projects that were larger, at least by my standards, Iuni and Scuttle in particular. Those are both ‘regular’ sized decks of cards.

Actually, I just learned or relearned that Jellybean Games has a very nice download page, which is where I got both Scuttle and Lady or the Tiger. I’m currently working on a copy of Village Pillage. I’ll probably end up making all the games on their download page. They fill a nice, funny beer-and-pretzels niche I’ve been wanting to craft.

For me, there is a definitely dichotomy between crafting games that are either published or trying to be published (and, yes, I’ll spend money on files) and games that are put out there by generous PnP designers. I love both sides but they have different pluses. (Probably more polished and play-tested versus more experimental and innovative) Of course, sometimes games make the jump from hobby PnP to published

I have also been reading about more advanced crafting techniques. At some point, I know I should branch out past heat laminating copy paper to make cards, tiles and boards. However, I have also realized that the cost of crafting will go up by a good percentage when I do that since we already have the tools for my current method. More than that, my current method lets me make sturdy components that make for good beater copies. I have a feeling that I’ll still use my current method for first copies and games will have to earn better materials.

I know that the summer is inevitably going to see a serious slowdown of my crafting. Particularly when we do any traveling. That said, I am hoping to switch gears and actually try getting more of the games I’ve crafted played. At the very least, some of the solitaire games.

Originally posted at wwww.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
2 Comments
Mon Jun 4, 2018 5:53 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

I finally go to the Adventure Zone

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As a rule, I am not interested in watching or listening to other people play games. I know there are whole genres of videos of people playing board games, role playing games and video games but I think it generally falls under the category of watching someone else eat.

However, Carrie recently introduced me to the Adventure Zone, a podcast of a family playing D&D and other RPGs and I’ve been enjoying it. I think a big part of it is because they are podcast comedians first and RPGers second but still RPGers.

Many years ago, I tried listening to Kevin Smith’s Crimson Mystical Mages, which may have only lasted one episode. It failed for me because it was just dirty jokes with the game falling apart as a game. The Adventure Zone works because it may be funny and irreverent but it’s still a story and game.

They do play a bit fast and loose with the rules but I’m cool with that. There are times when I think we all could learn something from that. Dedication to rules should be reserved for conventions and other official events

Adventure Time may become a regular part of our routine.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Tue May 29, 2018 10:49 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide

Wandering Stars is the start of a good idea

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Indie Megamix Mixtape has been by go-to over the last couple years when I want a quick little RPG fix. While I am in the middle of two or three longer RPG books I’m reading off and on, sometimes I want to be able to read and process something in one sitting.

In almost the same sitting, I read My Mother’s Demons, Dyin’ Day and Wandering Stars. The first two were emotionally strong works. Just reading Dyin’ Day was a little traumatic for me. Then I got to Wandering Stars... which is a party game.

That was quite the jump, let me tell you!

Okay, here’s the elevator pitch. The host sets up an obstacle course/puzzle that the players have to solve. (And by that, I mean redecorate the entire house ) You can’t use your arms or walk standing up if you’re by yourself. You have to touch chests for one player to use one of their arms and their eyes have to be closed. You can only talk if someone touches your shoulder and you have to talk to the ceiling.

I have a very loose definition of RPG. Wandering Stars doesn’t even come close

Which isn’t to say that it doesn’t sound fun or, quite frankly, a riot. It does sound like it’d be a lot of work for the host so, unlike almost every other game in the Mixtape, it will take a lot of prep work. Which isn’t a flaw, it’s just a necessity of the form.

What is a flaw is that two pages is not enough to make Wandering Stars a functional set of instructions. It is the form of the Mixtape format but, boy, it does not serve this game well at all. There needs to be a discussion how you develop obstacles and challenges and puzzles. Full examples of a complete setup would also be good.

Because, if you are taking the time and effort to turn your whole house into an obstacle course, you don’t want to do it purely by trial and error. A bad first experience will be your last Wandering Stars experience since why go to the trouble again?

As it stands, Wandering Stars is the outline of a good idea. As well as quite a break from deep, serious little RPGs

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
0 Comments
Sat May 26, 2018 3:39 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
Recommend
9 
 Thumb up
0.30
 tip
 Hide

Found an RPG that was too much for me

Lowell Kempf
United States
Chicago
Illinois
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dyin’ Day is a short form RPG about a father taking his babe, no more than nine years old, up the mountain to kill them because a prophetic dream told them to. And, unlike Abraham and Isaac, the game definitely ends with the killing.

Okay. I hit a wall with this game. As a daddy, this game is one that I cannot handle, period.

It’s a two-player game from the Indie Megamix Mixtape. It openly admits that Trollbabe was a major inspiration, which wasn’t remotely a surprise. The babe player is the GM and creates the trials and tribulations. The father player uses the mechanics from Trollbabe to resolve them.

Dyin’ Day is an interesting game for me. It’s well grounded mechanically (no surprise given its pedigree) and does a good job evoking the setting of a folklore Appalachia in its two pages. But it hit me with a theme I flat out cannot handle.

Originally posted at www.gnomepondering.com
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Wed May 23, 2018 4:57 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5  Next »  [108]

Subscribe

Categories

Contributors

Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.