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.
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Packing a bag for the beach

Lowell Kempf
United States
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Over the weekend, we decided to have a gaming picnic on the beach with some friends. As the go-to-guy when it comes to games, not to mention the guy who has the largest game collection, I ended up being the one in charge of bringing games (and sandwich fixings!)

I have long felt that audience and setting help determine the right game for the right occasion. And, let’s be honest, that’s probably never more true than when you are playing outside, in the open and far away from any tables. Yes, I suppose I could have brought a small table along but I don’t think it would have been worth the effort

Games that are good for the beach have a pretty strict criteria in my book. They should be relatively short and light since you’re effectively at a party with plenty of background noise and distractions. The pieces should be heavy enough to know get blown away in the wind and water resistant. The game shouldn’t rely on you having a particularly flat surface to play on.

Heh. According to my rules, the best thing to bring to the beach would be a set of dominoes. Mental note: If I am ever stranded on a desert island, make sure to have a set of dominoes with me

Having just said that, I have to admit that I didn’t bring a set of dominoes with me. Instead, the first game I reached for was Pickomino, which has been an old reliable friend when it comes to picnics and outdoor gaming. Domino scoring tiles and dice and nothing else. The play style is yahtzee with a chance to steal points from other players. It’s perfect. Mind you, it didn’t get played this time around but it will probably always be in my collection, thanks to just how convenient it is to play anywhere where gravity works.

I also included Army of Frogs since you could soak the bakelite tiles in Lake Michigan and they’d be none the worse for the wear. It is a game that I haven’t played enough of yet but it seems full of promise, both as a light abstract and a game you can play just about anywhere you have enough space to put the frogs. Sadly, we didn’t end up playing that one either

The games that did end up hitting the sand were A Fistful of Penguins and Qwirkle, which I almost didn’t add to the bag but Carrie asked me to include it and pointed out that all we needed was the bag of tiles so I could leave the box at home

I’ve already talked about A Fistful of Penguins in earlier blogs. It is a light dice game that only last three rounds, had just enough dice manipulation to keep interesting and consists of plastic dice, plastic penguins and plastic chips. Really, it’s pretty much ideal for playing on the beach. Folks had a lot of fun with it and there were tons of “Moose und Squirrel” jokes.

However, as my wife predicted, Qwirkle was the hit of the picnic.

Qwirkle, as most of my readers already know, is Scrabble with language replaced by colors and symbols and the board replaced by open placement. Since the wooden tiles are big and chunky and only require a reasonably flat surface, it works well outdoors. The only thing you need is a way of keeping score.

It’s a longer and deeper game than the others I brought but it was also a game that everyone was familiar with and enjoys. I don’t know if Qwirkle would by my auto-picnic game (particularly because it was long enough to be the central focus of the whole picnic) but it was a great choice for a gaming picnic for folks with like Qwirkle.

By no means are the four games I chose the end-all-be-all for outdoor, beach picnic games. However, for this picnic, my game bag served me well.
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