What is a good way to spend a day of holiday break? A games day! Even better? A road trip games day, one involving Friend, Friend’s Cousin, and me! My brother, a usual Games Day fixture, says the city is evil, and so he didn’t join us. We travelled to the Board Room Game Cafe, on Barrington Street in Halifax.
Board game cafes are great for trying out games before you buy, hanging out with a lot of other people who enjoy board games, and buying new games from the vast selection, from people who can actually answer questions about it. They have ‘Game Bosses’ who will help you learn games (if they’re not busy). I particularly like this one was well, because they have like 12 craft beers on tap. We arrived around 2pm, after lunch at the mall (bad idea on December 27th, the first shopping day after Christmas!) and walking from a cheap parking lot.
Geek Out – Pop Culture
This is a party trivia game.
First pick when to Cousin and he chose Geek Out! Pop Culture. He owns the regular version, but hadn’t played this one before. Either way, it was a good start to the day. Although I did horribly. I’m definitely better at his version, and enjoy it more. I’m still not great at it, mind, but better. Cousin won; Friend and I didn’t really have a chance.
Party card game
My pick next and I chose Dixit. I enjoy this game, though not really enough to ever buy it (Although if you’re a writer, especially a fantasy writer, this would be an amazing game to purchase to use as visual prompts). I do like playing it when we’re at the Cafe, however. In this game, you play beautifully illustrated cards in an effort to fool some (but not all!) of your opponents. I’m not really good at this game (I don’t think I’m quite imaginative enough) but I do love looking at those illustrations!
We were all neck and neck for the first half of this game, until people started taking some more risks and Friend pulled ahead to take the win.
Worker placement game
Friend chose Stone Age next. My first worker placement/resource gathering game I played was Catan and I don’t really enjoy that game. you can pretty much lose on your first move, whether that’s because your turn was last, or you made a mistake. It’s pretty hard to come back from that. Stone Age, however, seems a lot more balanced, and there are more things to do and choices to make on your turn. It’s just plain fun to play! It’s even fun to lose.
Good thing, too, because Friend won. This game is definitely on my wish list. No one in our games group owns it.
Back to Cousin to pick. He chose, based on a recommendation from the Cafe’s Game Boss, brought Banana Matcho to the table. This is a fast-paced dice-matching game… that we played completely wrong! There is a legend in the instructions that we thought was as-is, and not symbolic. (We thought we needed three blue dice to get points, but really we just needed three matching dice of any colour). We didn’t realize our mistake until we were packing up the game, but it was still fun. I’d never pick it, but would enjoy playing if someone else chose it. I think I really just like throwing dice.
Another win for Friend.
Okay, so it was my turn again and I failed miserably. We were sitting right next to about half of the Cafe’s retail stock and I kept getting distracted by this box for T.I.M.E. Stories. I also checked it out a bit when I went up for my first pick. I decided it was time to try something new and big. It was about time travel, which I figured would interest everyone at the table. Unlike most games, however, there was very little information about the game on the outside of the box. There was just the blurb of the game’s story, and a picture of the board, which looked interesting. I figured we’d try it out.
Well, the rules were quite involved and on about page five I was starting to get annoyed because we hadn’t even figured out how to set up the game board. I don’t mind spending time trying to figure out a game, but don’t want to spend a lot of time doing that on a games day, especially at the the cafe, because we want to get as many games in as possible. We finally got to a part in the instructions that said something along the lines of:
“Sometimes this game can be so long you need to back it. This clearly happens so often that we even designed the game box so you can put everything away and ‘save your spot’ until you can play again.”
That’s about the time we quit and packed up. Friend and Cousin were nice enough to let me pick again. I picked…
Tile placement game
I wanted a guaranteed winner so I chose Lanterns. Friend and I had played this a few times previously, both at the cafe and with our old game group member who owned it. This is another one of those games that I enjoy playing, but not really enough to buy, so I’m happy to have the chance to play it at the Cafe. In Lanterns, you place tiles, building a board, to collect colour cards that you turn in for points. It’s simple, fun, and doesn’t take a lot of brain power. I like it.
I even won this game! Woo!
Deck building game with a fantasy/medieval spin
Friend chose next and she chose Dominion. I have seen this game (or, at least, its expansions – and it has a lot of expansions!) all over the place, but never played it. The box was so big and heavy that I always thought it was some kind of board game, maybe like Catan. It was nice to finally check it out!
It was not a board game – it’s a deck building game, much like the DC and Marvel Legendary games that Brother and I own. This one, however, is not focused on superheroes and other comic characters, but is based on a medieval town. Friend says it’s like the Resident Evil game that she owns. it was easy to learn and fun to play. I liked it. I’ve even added it to my wish list, although I’m not sure if I will ever buy it. I’m not sure we really need another deck building game in the group, even if it’s a completely different theme. I really like the box – which is a weird thing to say about a game. All the cards are sorted and divided in the box AND it’s labelled. Awesome.
More awesome – this was another win for me!
Classic word game
Cousin chose Scrabble next. I don’t think I need to say much about this one. We played a deluxe version that had the scrabble board on a lazy-susan type thing so you could turn the board to face you properly. Friend was not happy about the game choice, although she won, so she was happy about that, at least!
Strategy / military simulation game
My last pick was Memoir ’44. This game simulates various battles that were part of the Invasion of Normandy. Every time I’ve visited the Board Room Game Cafe, I’ve looked at this game, but never picked it up to play. My interest in military history is not necessarily shared by the rest of the group. We’d spent a lot of time at the cafe that day, however, and played a lot of games. I figured this was the best time to try it, even if we were starting to get tired. The game is made by the same people that made Ticket to Ride, so I figured it would be good and the box promised that it was easy to learn.
As we went through the instructions and set up, I decided that even if we didn’t like it, at least setting it up was fun, with all the little soldiers and the like. The basic game (there are a lot of expansions that include extra pieces and/or additional scenarios) includes several different scenarios and suggests we use Pegasus Bridge as the scenario for a first-time game. It made sense – it was fairly straight forward and it was adjusted to include regular troops and not the special forces it should have. It is not a very balanced scenario, however, as the Germans here were surprised and the game set-up reflects that.
Players sit on either side of the board and are Nazis or Allies, depending on which side they sit on. It’s meant to be played as a two-player game or in teams. We just played how the board got put down – Cousin on one side of the table as a Nazi, Friend and I across from him as the Allies.
Friend and I won! I don’t think Cousin enjoyed it much, but I don’t know if that was because he was tired, didn’t like the game in general, or because he was the Nazi and we slaughtered him. I can’t imagine that anyone playing the first time, and having to be a Nazi in the Pegasus Bridge scenario, would enjoy the game, unless the Allies received really crappy cards to start.
This game is definitely on my wish list.
Tsuro of the Seas
Tile placement game
Friend had the last pick of the night and chose Tsuro of the Seas. This is a game that we own within the game group, but it was a nice easy one to end out the night, at this point we were pretty tired! Just place tiles, don’t fall off the edge of the world, don’t get eaten by sea monsters. You know, normal stuff. :) I died very early in the game, but Friend and Cousin were able to battle it out for quite a bit, but friend was the victor!
Board Games Day Results
We finally packed up about 11:45 pm. After ten hours and nine games, here are the results:
Cousin – 1/9
Friend – 6/9
Me – 3/9
Also, I picked up Tiny Epic Galaxies, which had been out of print until recently.