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Archive for July, 2011

I want the black horse… no, the brown one.

July 28, 2011 Comments off

Giro Galoppo has been around a few years, but I had only heard of it fairly recently as a game similar in mechanic to Ave Caesar. Anyway, it sounded like the sort of thing we’d all like around here, so what the heck, let’s order a copy.

Opening the box took me back to my time in the early 90’s when I was first introduced to German boardgames with their lovely wooden pieces and well illustrated and produced cards and boards.  I mean, who wouldn’t love little wooden horses, all in different colours, with coloured jockeys to go with them.  You can mix and match and then name your horses.  All win so far.  Plus the set up involves placing fences and hedges around the course to add some variety.  Times have changed though, as you no longer have to go through the hunt for a rules translation like we used to: the box contains a shiny colour rulebook in German, plus a black and white booklet containing translations into several other languages.

The mechanism is fairly straightforward, everyone selects a number card from their hand; lowest numbers move first, if you land on someone else you bump them back, and you can’t move onto a fence or other obstacle.

Actually, although this game is aimed at children, this is one of the harder ones for Miss B to play right now as it involves a fair degree of thinking and planning ahead.  B is getting pretty good at making instant decisions, but trying to guess what other players are going to do is an important part of this game.  She loves the horses and riders though, and the deeper understanding will come with time.  Again, this was fun as is, but would be a lot more fun with more players.

The verdict from Miss B (aged 4½): “I liked the game because we keep bumping into each other and I liked me being yellow and Daddy being green.”

The game: Giro Galoppo (Selecta Spiel), 2 to 5 players, aged 6+.

Even bigger than a gigantosaurus?

July 25, 2011 Comments off

I’ve been talking about this for some time, and this being the first Monday since Miss B’s preschool ended for the summer I figured it was a good opportunity to go for it (for the last 4 years I have been an all-day dad on Mondays instead of paid work, which has been a brilliant experience).  So we took a train into London with the intention of seeing dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum.Miss B meets Dippy

We finally arrived, despite having to take a longer route around the underground due to part of the Circle & District lines being closed, but we finally arrived to be greeted by a huge queue. Luckily, one of the museum staff came around a few minutes later and said that we had about a 45 minute wait from where we were, but if we went round the corner there was no queue at the side door.  A few minutes later we were in!

I don’t remember ever having been to the NHM before, so this was as much a treat for me as for B, and we weaved our way around the building until we found our way to the glorious Blue Zone and the fossils and other excitement contained therein.  Pretty soon we reached the main dinosaur gallery (just reopened after a few weeks of cleaning) and trailed around amongst hordes of other visitors over the raised walkway, down the slope past the life-size animatronic tyrannosaurus, and then were watching 3D virtual worlds and trying to spot the tricerotops trundling between the trees.

Basically, we loved it.  A classic father-daughter geek-out.  OK, B was terrified by the animatronic rex, but she talked about it incessantly for ages afterwards and made sure I took photos.  And the joy of discovering that dinosaurs aren’t in fact the biggest things ever, and seeing the enormity of the model blue whale was a great experience.  I’m sure we’ll be going back some time as we barely scratched the surface of what was there.

Next time I’ll be back to games and stuff, but I just wanted to ramble on about a bit of fun for a while.

Do you want a ride in my helicopter?

July 18, 2011 Comments off

I first heard about Forbidden Island from a Geekdad review. It’s a nice sounding, nice looking cooperative game, and looked intriguing, so some time later I went and bought a copy to try out.

Miss B thoroughly enjoyed laying the tiles out to make the board.  In fact, it occurs to me that there is some good opportunity to allow for creativity and let her put the map together however she wants instead of using the regulation layout.  Maybe next time.  The four treasures have a great look and feel to them and the illustrations on the tiles were a great topic of conversation, so even before starting play we were on to a winner.

I’m not sure Miss B really got to grips with the game mechanics, but the nature of the game (fully cooperative, with all cards visible on the table) meant that I could advise as much as she liked, which in general meant that I would suggest a couple of things to do and she would choose one of them.  She was playing the pilot character and loved the idea of being able to fly anywhere and give people rides — this was helped by the fact that she ended up getting all the helicopter lift cards.  The only simplification we made was to allow cards to be traded anywhere, not just when pieces were in the same location.

I really like what I have seen of this game so far.  It’s a lot of fun as a sort of semi-roleplay game, though I’m sure it would get a lot better with four players.  Miss B certainly seemed to like it, so we’ll be playing again.  So, over to management for the official word…

The verdict from Miss B (aged 4½): “This game was excellent because both of us won the game. My favourite bit was how the island sinked and I loved it because we escaped on a helicopter.”

The game: Forbidden Island (Gamewright), 2 to 4 players, aged 10+.

No, poppet, it’s a merchant ship, not a battleship!

July 7, 2011 Comments off

Everyone likes pirates, right? So Loot, a pirate themed card game looks to be a winner. With Miss B armed with her new card holder (more on that another time, I’m sure) I dealt out the cards, explained the basics of the rules and we were off.

This is a really simple trick-taking sort of game, where you pile pirate ships onto merchant ships until you have the strongest attackers, at which point you capture the ship and take the gold.  Challenges involve playing the right colour pirates at the right time, and counting up the number of skulls on the pirate ships to determine the strength of an attack.  Oh, and playing the Admiral at the right time.  All of these were overcome and after a couple of plays, B is playing confidently without much help.

So far we have only played this as a two-player game and it is proving a lot of fun for Miss B, and pretty OK for me — the pattern of play tends to involve a few battles, then a few turns of drawing cards, then a couple more battles, and so on.  I suspect that with another player or two this would liven up a lot as you would have more choices each turn.  I’ll see if we can rope Mummy in some time.  It’s also worth knowing that we use the full rule set when we play, so I think the 10+ recommended age is rather over the top.

We have definitely established a firm favourite here, though, and I suspect Loot will stay at the top of the games pile for some time.  I’m actually looking forward to playing this with some rum swigging adults one of these days too…

The verdict from Miss B (aged 4½): “That’s really really good, but I don’t think I like the pirate captains.”  A couple of plays later and she has changed her mind on the captains, which make the game much more exciting, apparently.

The game: Loot (Gamewright), 2 to 8 players, age 10+.