Episode 141 – Mensa Mind Games


Alan went to Mensa mind games. He shares the experience and the winners. There is a lot about playing 30 games in 4 days. Besides trying to grasp rules quickly, you need to be able to play well with others. 🙂


Akropolis –

Gartenbau –

Trekking Through History –



Stephen: Wow, that’s a cool background.

Alan: I tried to find something that had like gayish type things and that looks vaguely like meles or game pieces or something like that. I’m not sure where it’s really

Stephen: from. I was gonna say it’s probably some slightly pornographic Japanese anime or something. That’s true.

Alan: Here’s the tentacle portal right over here, so that exactly right. Alright,

Stephen: I’ve got a small game update, but man, you had a big weekend with a big game update. So let’s hear what’s going on. You’re probably eager to talk.

Alan: It was Mensa mind games this last weekend, and it’s the first time that I’ve been in multiple years because of Covid.

Even though they had it last year, for instance, it was, we were still worried if there’s any event that might be a super spreader event, it’s gonna be one where you’re sitting at tables facing each other, you’re touching meles and cards all the time, shared. You’re eating together, that kind of stuff.

And even then we had thought that we wanted to go to it, but it turns out, also my last year was when I was often going out to California, taking care of mom, taking care of the house, that kind of stuff. And it was exactly the wrong weekend. So finally, Colleen, because this was in Columbus, Ohio, which is only two hours Southwest.

Yes. It it was very convenient for us to be able to zoom down there. I it was wonderful. It was the biggest it’s ever been in terms of people, I think it was like 389, almost 400 in the past. I think it got to be like 360. It seems to be based on what kind of hotel they get and what the main room is.

Usually. In this case, the way they expanded is it wasn’t just the main ballroom filled with tables and chairs, but they actually took over all kinds of side rooms. And actually that’s better for some people cause. There’s a certain den that goes with all those people being in one place. And even if you’re concentrating and stuff, there’s some games that are, that make you break out laughing or that you just, you roll a bad, you get a bad rule.

It’s fuck. They had lots of side rooms and in fact, also some are, it’s necessary to have. A different setup. And anybody who’s ever played werewolf, you play that with a series of chairs in a circle looking at each other, and there was a variation on that called Blood on the Clock Tower that was that, and so that was actually a room dedicated to that for the entire weekend.

Cuz you had to funnel 390 people through 12 at a time. You know what I mean? That really a lot of coordination. It was 56 games this year. And the way Mensa mind games works for those who are just tuning in. Mensa gets submissions from all different kinds of game manufacturers and publishers and they get eight to 10 copies of the game.

They provide extra copies of the instruction so that it’s not just one person trying to figure it out for a group of 2, 4, 6, et cetera. They get put all, A to Z along the tables and. Everybody play tests, things. They have a nice randomizing algorithm that everybody plays. 30, but it’s not 30 of your choice.

You’re assigned which 30 you wanna play out of. And in this case, out of 56, you’re playing, more than half of them. We’ve had as many as like into the seventies in the past. So besides the ones you’re assigned to play, I always end up playing things just that I’m interested in or that someone else needs to finish their set.

And so I, I play another extra dozen, 15, 20, depending on how much time and sleeplessness. I’m willing. Yeah. Yeah. That’s a

Stephen: lot of gaming. It’s a lot of gaming. It’s like anything that you do a lot of, at some point you’re kinda like, I need, I’m done with gaming. Even though you love the game, doing it so much can be Yeah.

Wearing uhoh, did it

Alan: freeze? It can be. So what one of the things that assists in not letting you. A little bit of a stutter there. Yeah. Okay. Because the games are of all different types. Instead of being, okay, I’m gonna play only world conquest games, I’m gonna play only resource management games, or award games, or party games or whatever.

It isn’t that, but it really is random in terms of everybody has to play whatever there’s assigned. And so even people who love abstract strategy games, they still have to play. The kid games or the puzzles or the word games, or whatever else it might be. And that’s the whole point of this is out of all those votes, everybody gives their top seven on a ballot.

And all those things are tabulated to find out which five are the men of select games for the years, the ones that everybody says these really are. And it’s not just I like it or I don’t, there’s judging criteria that are set out for aesthetics quality of instructions re replayability play value, those kinds of things.

I’m sure I’m missing one, but it’ll come to me and in fact, I can I even go over here? I have my little spreadsheet that I can pull up. So let me just let me grab everything and un hide all my columns.

Come on buddy. So yes, they are aesthetics, instructions, originality, play, appeal, and play value. Okay. And then an overall category so that after you put in five points for each of those various different things, there are some games that even if you can’t, this is straight out of are you a deconstructionist or not?

It can be that you score things on each of those different things, but the score really doesn’t matter how much you wanna play it again, how much you’re willing to pay for it, that kind of thing. So there’s an overall category that you can put points into that as well. Definite games ranged from 10 bucks to 140, if I remember correctly.

So there are some things that out of quality of materials or out of the amount of work that went into making this thing come in. Some things have literally a single sheet or a sheet printed on two sides. Others have. A booklet, a pamphlet of 78 pages that go to every one of the charts that say, Hey, when you’re traveling across this terrain and you’re under this kind of monster and here’s your, they have all that detail, some of them.

And so you play and play. Another cool feature is that after everybody was random, if you get randomly selected, for instance, one year Colleen and I went and we had like none games together. Wow. And it’s kinda we enjoy each other’s company. We don’t wanna play everything together, but it’s also, it’s as much against the odds of getting everything d as it is to get none.

So we were like, Okay. See you on Sunday, and and so what they do now is groups of people, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, can ask for a greater number than ordinary set of games that they match on. And that’s not changing the randomness of it, but it is looking for sets of things. So we played with two other couples whose company we really enjoy, like the first eight games of R 30 that by coincidence they happen to match.

And even then you’ll look for who’s got five outta six? Four outta six? And then you stick around, like I was saying I did The blue sheet is the ones that you’re trying to concentrate on. The yellow sheet is the ones that, or all the other games, but you don’t have to play. And yet I like the company of certain people and I don’t mind.

I, I, I do that. Okay. So it used to be only Friday, Saturday, Sunday. And it getting through 30 games in two and a half days was a big task, like sleepless nights almost. Now that they’ve added Thursday and they don’t start Thursday at like after work. They started it at 10 in the morning.

So it was very easy to do 10 games a day. That’s the pace that Colleen and I tried to maintain. And I think we’re actually ahead like 11 on first, a 12 on a second. You also concentrate on what are the games are gonna be hardest to get through the ones that take maybe 90 minutes. Yes.

Instead of 20, the ones that have four to six to eight players instead of two. And so we really did it. It’s fun to just dive in, but also in between you’re always thinking I’m gonna put, one or two or three stars on these things for if I don’t get to Acropolis, which requires six players or whatever.

It’ll be hard to get that people together later when a lot of people already have played it or whatever. So there’s a certain amount of. Strategizing about getting through the game. It’s the metagame

Stephen: for gaming. Exactly.

Alan: And I don’t know, I’ve been, it’s kinda funny, I don’t mean to sound murdery, but almost every year I help a lot of people that don’t.

I am, Colleen and I are both so much spreadsheet kings and queens that you just automatically look for. And what different ways can I sort this so that I get an idea of what are the ones that I critically get through instead of just, I’m gonna start A and go to Z And then you find out that all those w games are bears to get through and now you’re trapped.

We had a wonderful time. They had, food available hospitality, the usual snacks and drinkies, and also meals in the hotel. So you didn’t have to go offsite, which can take away an hour, two hours, depending on, I whe whether you’re driving or walking. And Im, we, it’s funny, we had actually a bad patch.

We played a couple of the worst games in our first sets of games. Wow. And so it’s like we played a game called World Cups. It was just, there’s nothing new. It’s tedious. They’re the they’re trying to simulate like the World Cup matches and how you get to, and it was. They picked the wrong things to emphasize.

They, there was like the wrong amount of data for what you were trying to get through. I don’t know, it just was not well-balanced, if you will. And so you’re ready to go and then you’re getting a couple, it’s is every game gonna be like this year? That everything’s become data heavy, that everything is, it turned turn out to be that way as well.

Then you have a great set of half a dozen games where you’re laughing and like you get insights into, you know this, I know how to this works. I know what the winning conditions are relatively early. Some are just beautiful to play. I always love, as you walk back and forth to go to the games table to get the next game.

Of course you’re glancing around you and one of your corporal, it was one of those that immediately it catches your eye. Bright colors, beautiful patterns, a mosaic forming on the table, right? There wasn’t so far as I could tell a game this year where it’s like a party game where everybody’s cracking up, everybody’s laughing, and that burst out off in a corner and you’re like, oh, I wanna play that.

Let’s go over there. So there wasn’t anything like that this year, but there were tons of quality games. And then just kinda walk through it, survey plays and plays. You turn every turns in your balance, they tabulate and then those games are given away. They have a, like the hosting group, in this case, Columbus area, Mensa, gets to keep a copy of each of those games.

So for all the work and volunteer time and rigor that goes into this, getting a 56 new games is bountiful. It’s fantastic if they’re trying to make their games collection grow. The national office also gets a set because they’re gonna take ’em to the ag with, our annual gathering coming up in July.

But everything else is given away. And in some cases, manufacturers don’t just supply the minimum. Eight. There was, I think Spy Alley, if I remember right, gave away like 14 copies. And in one year we had 30, someone who was trying to, seed. If you’re looking for who are the influencers in the gaming world, mentions are a pretty good bet, right?

And so give away 30 copies of a $15 game. 4,450 bucks is. Nothing in advertising, if you will, compared to if people like it they’ll tell their friends, right? So then they have to have a randomized drawing of everybody in order, from one to 3 89 and then back around, so 3 89 and then 3 89 again and back up so that the first one’s called get their choice of whichever game they want.

And people do it on the basis of, this is my favorite, or this is the most expensive one, or this is the one that’s gonna be perfect for my kids. All kinds of criteria for that. Usually, of course, the Mensa Select games go quickly, and in fact, I, the winners this year, if I remember right.

Let’s see, where’s that list? It’s Acropolis, it’s Boo, it’s Miller Fiori. It’s Treking through history. And why am I missing one? Isn’t that funny? Let’s see. B boom.

And Garba and they really a very good variety. Some were like a beautiful diagram type thing. Some were just a card game that has great twists to what you’ve played before. One is a city building game with unique tiles, and you have to make sure there’s a, the city features of you need water, you need police, you need barracks, I should say, those kinds of things.

And so it really seems to work that you balance out all people’s tastes and interests and all that kind of stuff. And that the choice is, Hey, everybody for Christmas, here’s what MEA thinks are the best game of this year. And really, we’ve hit, we’ve done, Renza has done very well. Past winners are something that have become classics like categories and I assume people just rattle ’em off. A whole bunch of different things are, you should have ’em in your family game collection. You know what I mean? Colleen and I were not lucky in the drawing in terms of we weren’t called until in the 200 and 300 s but luckily our taste does not always match the, everybody in the crowds.

And I, and it’s funny, I always do a huge spreadsheet. I keep track of everything that I can, not only the ones that I and she have played, but also the buzz, the rumor of, hey, I didn’t get a chance to play decorum, but a lot of other people liked it. And so then I do a little I laugh about a fun per dollar thing.

I’d rather get a copy of a $50 game than I am mostly positive towards, than a free copy of a $15 game. Cuz I’m gonna go buy it, I’m gonna go get it for 12. You know what I mean? It worked out great. We didn’t get any of the men select games, but on our list we got numbers like 1, 2, 5, and nine.

We got, we because we were late into 200 and 300, and then we wrapped around again to get two games each. So we came home with here

Stephen: props show and tell

Alan: Sashi battle shapes, which, and you wouldn’t know it from the name of it, but it’s One of those cool like rubic snake type things where it’s triangles that are connected together 3D and they have different colors on the various different sides.

And so the challenge is to make the top or even the entire thing have a certain pattern to it. Red versus black versus created that kind of stuff. And it’s a great combination of just a fidget toy where I’m gonna put, I should have it out on my desk where you just kinda play with it and then let it sit cuz it’s symmetric and beautiful and, but then to try to get it purposely into something, you really have to think of how does this work and tie together.

And it really, I, I love puzzles like this, right? But there were any number of times when I’m like, wow, I’m so close. But then kinda like Rubik’s Cube, in order to get to the next step, you have to undo. Three or four or five applies, moves so that you can flip it inside out on the one thing and then put it all back together.

And of course, sometimes when you’re trying to do that, you get lost in the details and I randomized it. I

Stephen: didn’t help it at all. You know what that sounds like, you know how it, everyone finally figured out that all this Google capture identifying streetlights and bikes, it’s to teach the ai how to identify it.

So that game exactly is maybe it’s got a small little AI in there and it’s teaching everybody how to be safe. Crackers, like to be able to pick locks and stuff. That’s what this

Alan: Hey, we’re gonna conquer diseases by knowing how proteins fold. Yes. Is a simulation of that, I really, so like I said, that was, and actually this was my top choice, but Colleen got called first and she’s my total sweetheart and got it for me.

Nice. So then, so then I had to, she really liked Four Corners Galaxy. There we go. Get in on the camera. Isn’t that funny? How does it decide that it’s too, because it’s got black. That’s what it is. This one, it’s ave a very cool thing. So each of it’s got square tiles and you make a tableau of them.

And then the tiles have a celestial body in the center and partial ones on each of the corners. And you’re trying to make it so that you can get three in a row or four in a row, kinda like connect four. But, and it’s not only, it’s Rose Cosm diagonals, but any of the. Combinations in the corners, you have to make it so that those four corners all match.

And then there’s not only are you placing tiles, but you can you get, you draw cards that you can shift them or you can trade places, or you can rotate them. And so it quickly goes into combinatorial explosion. You have a just 3, 4, 5 tiles down there, and you really have to think about what’s the next one I’m going to place or trade or move or that.

And I honestly, I usually see quickly, deeply into what I’m shooting for. But then if you’ve got three people playing, there’s no way that it will be in the same configuration as what you want to be. And so it really is the, a little bit of luck and a little bit of trying to keep track of.

All the ways in which you could get ahead and then take advantage of it when it occurs. You know what I mean? And it’s beautiful, at it without, I’m trying to think. It looks like this. Oh yeah. So let me again we’re dealing with the black. Yeah. There like that. See, so see how the cards are, somewhere matching and some are not.

And while you’re playing it, this is might be the bright colors on the table game that I did want to get like

Stephen: corco. Okay. And what you were saying about the game, describing it for any other game players, any developers out there, that’s the key. More often than not, it needs to be simple gameplay that becomes almost emergent.

That can have a million combinations. Cuz that’s what I mean, magic. The gathering the card game is immense. Select game back, 25 years ago. Exactly. And everybody’s oh, it’s too hard, blah, blah. I’m like, actually it’s not If you know how to play magic, the rules are very simple. But where it gets complex in the fun.

Part of it is the cards. Each card does something different. And then the interactions with the cards. So yes, absolutely. It can get complicated. Like flux people are like it’s so confused with flux. I’m like, it’s simple. Just don’t overthink it. Just read the board when you’re playing, and that’s a key to games,

Alan: honestly, that I compare it to some people really like, where you have a plan and you execute the plan step by step and you win.

Others are I’m gonna surf. I’m gonna observe what’s going on. And each time make the most incremental progress towards victory that I can. But I know that I can’t commit myself to any certain plan. I have to all be aware that the world shifts. And there were many that were exactly like that.

In fact, one of the cool ways that we, in fact here, I’ll show you the next one. So we got a copy of.

Bad excuse you though. And it’s what the heck does that mean? I think it must like Sam Max and whoever, contributed to it, and it’s all black. Wait, let’s see if I can get it to tune in. There we go. That’s what it looks like. It actually comes in this handy trash bag. And so people were immediately mocking of it and Colleen and I sat down to play it.

And hon, honestly, this is one of those polarizing games. We had half a dozen people unbidden go up and say, oh, you’re gonna hate this one. I hated this one. They’re like, they, you’re not supposed to try to influence others, but of course you do. You tell people who, which ones they can look forward to playing and which ones were like, it didn’t work for ’em.

Everyone really reviled this game. And then Colleen and I sat down and was like, Actually, this is cool. It’s tic-tac toe with variations. There’s not only one board, there’s nine boards that are each three by three. And you not only win by getting three in a row column of diagonal, but you can get it where it’s a corner or where it’s they don’t touch, you know that it’s one here and in each of the corners and don’t get a chance to just place your x excess and o’s where you want.

There’s actually three different tile types and the one you have to place, you get by rolling a random a, a dye. And so all that just lends enough to, you can’t just make a plan and then crush your opponent with it. You’re continually like, I really need an asterisk and I’m not getting an asterisk so I’m doing other plans over here, but while I’m doing that and I’m, then I’m like, am I trying to win or am I trying to thwart her?

And how much the balance of that, it just turned out to be a. Like, how could a game of tic-tac toe surprise you? This one could? Because like after you get, after somebody wins the game, not cats, but wins the game. You claim that and then you’re playing kind of a meta game of where are the tiles and is there a thing that they start overlapping between the sets of nines?

And I don’t know, we just thought that this was like an adult child game. You’re thinking not only of do I like playing it, but can I bring this to a family gathering? So we’re thinking we’re right here to get there with Colleen sisters and they don’t like word games as much as they like card games that have a fun little random matching element or something like that.

So there’s one that we, it was called, what was I thinking? That’s just like a verb, a noun. And you shuffle those two decks and you flip ’em over and they make things like Name an intelligent animal or something like that. And it’s I’m gonna make a pun out of it. Smarty cat or something like that.

Or is there really well, besides human beings, is it whales or dolphins or white mice? You know what I mean? It, we really and it goes fast so that you don’t have to like, commit to, there’s some games as usual where they’re the big dominion type game. You’re gonna get a lot of cards and build a lot of things, and you’re gonna put together winning victory points outta resource management.

And you gotta commit to an hour and a half, two hours to get to the conclusion of it. Some part of how we, you, we had to play. Test games was you do this setup, you play a couple games to see what’s going on, and then you say, will any of the intermediate moves turns be different than what we’ve already done?

What is the end game involved? And then you try to push towards that. How do you simulate the end game and see how much would you accumulate and what would be the master stroke that would get you there and stuff. There’s a, I don’t think we gave any game short shrift. There’s some games that was like, after two moves you’re like, wow, this is it.

There’s not much else going on. One not only are you looking for which games you love, but which games not, you wouldn’t even take it free. Magnetar was one that was like, it’s kinda it really pretty has different stars that have different positive or negative scores and the kind of energy to them cuz whether they’re Nova or Exploit and it’s, but it was just kinda like playing.

Turn it over. Did I make you to a hundred yet? No. Go again. Like it was as simple as that. Like playing war, nothing to it. And but there’s others that betray their interesting complexity. We love one game called ecosystem Colden Coral Reef, where the cards are like nine different cards and it’s, there’s coral and there’s plankton and there’s crill, there’s sharks and whales, there’s clownfish and eels, and you build an ecosystem in your set of 25 that the points awarded are, if you have this next to this they, symbiotically get along.

And so you get points if you have a predator in the same row where they’d be able to like, like sharks do, swoop in and get something. You get points. It really teaches the cool lesson of one guy specialized in whales, had a whole bunch of whale and a whole bunch of crill, but the monoculture. That could be killed off by whale blight or something like that.

Doesn’t get as much points, as many points as if you really build a diverse interacting ecosystem. And it’s, and while you’re playing it, it’s beautiful. You know what I mean? It’s all colorful cards. And the e looks really

Stephen: just like eels do, and it’s actually an effective way to teach ecosystem rather than, cuz a lot of educational games suck because they’re too, hitting you over the head with lessons, and it’s, it they’re not exciting.

L let me interrupt before I forget. Heavy

Alan: handed, the whole point of this is this,

Stephen: right? So here, let me make two quick comments you made me think of I wanna jump in. So about the game that everyone said, oh, we don’t, like a lot of times perception of the game influences. Whether you like it and understanding what the game is really trying to accomplish.

An example I have is magic. The gathering is basically an advanced form of war. You lay down cards, your cards are bigger, you win. That’s magic. There was another card game I met the people. They were from Euclid, and it was a trading card game, but it was based around Euchre. It was a trick taking game.

And the problem was they didn’t explain that well enough to come out. So when we were playing it with people were thinking of it like magic, and the strategies and stuff aren’t working, and they’re like, this game’s stupid. It sucks. But once you realize, oh, it’s like euchre instead of war, and you treat it like that, suddenly it’s a whole different game.

So I think some, that’s a big thing is getting people to understand what your game is to

Alan: absolutely do it. One of the joys of getting through your list of 30 is then you can play whatever else you want. And because you’re not judging, you’re displaying. We, the Mensa has. Probably a dozen good game explainers, instead of sitting down and from the 30 78 page booklet trying to dope out, how do you set it up and all that kind of stuff.

Someone that sits down and says, this is a resource management game. And so the point of getting victory points is to accumulate them. And the way you do it is this, and what you’re trying to stop others from doing is this. And like they give you the key victory conditions and elements of what you’re thinking while you’re playing.

And that cuts through the first hour of setup in some complex games, like the hunger, like mil fi. I’m trying to think. There really are like mil fi one because it’s really well balanced in terms of. You’re growing up in, in Renaissance, Italy, and you really can be a tradesman or a voyager or a, we wealthy gentry, but trying to hold onto your land, you can.

And so the kinds of things you can do in each of those areas, you’re mo making incremental progress in each of those things. And you really don’t know, again, based on some kind of randomness, what you’re going to have to play and then do the best you can with what you get, if you will. So it, we as after we had gotten done, sometimes we were won.

It was wonderful to have someone explain things to us to get to then let’s play. And sometimes it was us explaining, right after we had Liked some AAB Bezo more than others had. When people asked us about it, then it was like it’s this. And the reason we found a cool is because it’s got these additional complexity.

And then what’s fun is sometimes you get wonderful feedback during the game thing. You’re aware of who’s getting what. Cuz like in your local group, you want don’t everybody get the copy of the thing because we’ll have three of that. We won’t have but a father and son that we had explained the game to, they ended up getting a copy.

So purely our explanation helped them to play it in a different way than other people played. And be more satisfied with

Stephen: it. So cool. The other thing I was gonna comment on about playing with people and I, there’s lots of games where it’s kinda one strategy candy Land, and there’s other games which you can have different strategies. Magic’s a perfect example. There’s so many ver variations. I have a friend who we chuckle about his strategy for any game. He plays from magic to Dungeons and Dragons to board games. Card games is always the same, to build up big power, play a big army and defeat you.

And games that don’t do that, he doesn’t like he did not like dominion. When we added in curses cuz it took away his points. And we didn’t have a lot of cards that let you play more cards. It was very hard to play it because you didn’t have as many combos and he didn’t like that cuz he couldn’t build up.

So he didn’t like that game after that. But the thing is, knowing this. I use that against him for some of our card games. I’m like, okay, I know Brian’s going to wanna play big stuff and this, so I’m playing, I can The one Star Wars card game he plays these big ships and he wants to just pound on you.

The problem is every ship can only fire one time. So if he has one big ship and I’ve got seven little ships, my seven little ships will go first, defeat his big ship and then he gets all ticked off because he didn’t even get the fire at once. I’ve got 12 dice here and I can’t even hit you. Yeah, because I hit you seven different times.

That’s right. You’re

Alan: a dread knot and that means you, you take, you turn like the Queen Mary, you’re enough Super Bowl. And sometimes that’s what matters.

Stephen: Exactly, yes. And that’s some of the most fun games is ones you can have a variety on and play different ways in different times. Katan is a good gateway game for that cuz it’s got a few strategies that you can employ to be a little bit different when you play it for people,

Alan: That’s right. And I, we’ve talked about this before. You learn so much about people by how they play games. Like your friend who is an accumulator and a holder, honor, if you would. Yes. And wants that work to matter. And there’s other I don’t know, everybody seems to have this concept of the rules Nazi, they. Not only care about the game, they care about playing a game exactly by the rules. And sometimes the rules are written. Written a little ambiguously. Yes. And yet you’ve got 400 smart people in the room. But they’re certain that they know how this should be interpreted. And it’s is it worth the fight?

Is it worth saying? I don’t think so. Because like how I almost do it. It’s not only what it says, it’s how would that aid game play or how would it hinder gameplay? And that’s the one that I want, how I want to interpret it is to make it a funner game. And some people can’t get past, it says should instead of, could.

Stephen: Or, and we, I’m gonna tell you a little bit about the DC deck motor. Cause I got that whole Kickstarter. We’ve played some but that’s one of the problems with that game is some of the wording is ambiguous. It makes it like, should we, especially when you combos magic the gathering on the other hand, they very specifically, after version six, went through to create wording that you knew exactly what it did and when.

And that’s right. Even if it’s new cards. Cards you’ve never seen, you haven’t played in a while. You can almost every time figure out exactly what’s affecting what and how things are playing because Yes. Yeah. And it’s not just that they, they use colons, they use commas in different ways. They use certain keywords at certain times and other keywords at other times, play as opposed to enter the battlefield.

That’s two different things. That’s right. Gaining a card is different than buying a card. Yeah.

Alan: So I don’t know we, over the course of this is event has been running like 30 years now, right? We’ve kinda learned who we wanna play with and not, and what kind of people we wanna play with and not, and sometimes people portray themselves soon enough that you’re like, I gotta go freshen my drink.

I’ll see you. I know we do have things we could play together, but I got other friends I wanna play with and they still have games that we match on. And I’m really not a jerk. I don’t say I don’t like you, but it really is that part of the enjoyment of the weekend is to not get trapped with some, like for instance, if you got a game where every, everybody takes turns and there’s a certain assumption that while you are sitting there and other people are taking their turns, you’re still looking at what’s going on, right?

You’re playing ahead. And so when it comes to your turn to play, you don’t put down your book and say, where are we? You’ve been thinking ahead and you take

Stephen: your turn for the love of God play.

Alan: You know what I mean? And everybody who doesn’t do that, who doesn’t seem

Stephen: to tune in between, or

Alan: if they.

This is a minor case of that somebody had a big plan and then it gets thwarted and all they can talk about is how good it would’ve been if they would’ve been able to make their move. That is not available. That move doesn’t exist anymore. So move on. The contingency plan is your life, like having no contingency plans.

You’re either really happy or you’re distraught over it didn’t work out and that that the others that are, they’re rushing they’re rash about how they’re moving things and sometimes it’s they complain about I didn’t know that was gonna happen. It’s we all did.

We could see that coming a fucking mile away and you just didn’t bother to think ahead.

Stephen: And you get the ones that that not every game is chess. Not every game do you have to sit there for 20 minutes agonizing over everybody else’s possible moves. That’s right. That’s right. Flux is a perfect example of one that you can pay attention but don’t really make plans because it all change by the time it gets back to you anyway.

Yeah. And, but you also, it’s one of those games where, It doesn’t matter to take forever to play a card because again, things will change. It’s just such an interesting game in that respect, deck builders and trading card games, that’s some of my favorites. There’s a little bit of, some strategy of what are they buying and what are they playing.

If you’re paying attention, then you

Alan: get an edge because I don’t know, you and I both have good memories, used to play a game called Acquire that you know has building hotel chains and you trade in stocks and you, and it’s never trying to make your one. I want Continental to grow and take over the world.

You’re always trying to be in on the deals cuz that’s how you get more cash to be able to be flexibly. What else you buy. And not to be a jerk, but like it’s seven people and there’s seven, four, let’s say four people and there’s seven different stocks. And I could probably tell you hardly ever missing who’s got what because they buy three shares at a time and you keep track of I care about Continental, so who else is buying it so that I can stay in the majority position and.

And that’s just part of what you do. There should be no surprises. And I don’t know, we don’t, I don’t take notes of it, but it’s just, you think about what matters to you and pay more attention. Yeah. If you’re playing hearts, you pay attention to hearts and to spades. Cause that’s where the queen’s gonna come from and those, the points are coming from.

And so we saw that also regularly that some people were really good about. They could you probably have seen the movie rounders. The guy could say, you probably have a straight that you’re going for the ends and you’re not gonna get it cuz they already out one card and you’ve got three of a kind, but you’re trying to push me out because you think I might get the straight.

And he just went around the table and said not only what they had, but what he thought their strategies were. Bam. Accurate. That’s a little bit of what you’re trying to do in the

Stephen: game is not only play the game, but play the players. Read what they’re trying to do. Yes. You know what I mean?

Gina, when we used to have a clue. That’s another one of those games that I don’t pull out and wanna play often because it’s just, I, there’s much better things that cost a lot more money for me. But Gina and her kids liked Clue, and we had the Scooby-Doo version or something like that.

Okay. She was magnificent at that game. I’m looking at my card, I’ve got two or three weapons, I’ve got two or three people, two or three rooms. I’m like, okay, I’m getting close. I’m, I’m getting an idea. And then she’d go, okay, I solved it. And I’m like, how the, did you do that? I’m like, and she’s because they got this.

And I’m like, Wow. She could and with just had notes all over paying attention to what everybody was doing and oh it’s probably that. It’s probably that. And she got it. Isn’t that wonderful?

Alan: I love Culling is so smart and but, and I know that, but it’s still wonderful once in a while to be just impressed.

There’s a game called Tryon. It’s 20 or 30 years old now. You try to find a thing that links three things together, and I’m pretty quick at that, but she’s amazing at it. And so it’s really good for me to get like my ass kicked, get humbled once in a while and realize that, whatever I think about, Hey, I got a great vocabulary, so I’m good at all.

Word games. I’m not the only one. Colleen’s really good at Scrabble, really good at quibbler. All those things she does word, it’s wonderful to see someone stretch. Like they for, this is funny, there’s a game they’re called Catapult Feud, where you actually are, you have a little catapult, a working catapult, rubber band, little, black cannonballs or catapult balls.

And you build a little castle and you put your men on it. And then the point is to shoot balls at each other, hopefully not putting one’s eye out, right? And so I’m like I got good eye hand coordination. You actually handled the catapult and aim it and so we’re, you get like four cannonballs and I was like one and two and one.

And so I was, I had her on the ropes. I had gotten, she was down to one and I still had four and was one shot. She just blew Myle up and got all the guys knocked off. It’s like I’ve been, I was ahead and she just master stroke killed me and it was like, good for you. I don’t have any ego in this.

It was just pretty cool that she really, every time she shot, she got better at how much to pull back, where to aim that she, the stereotype would be, any ball sport a guy is gonna do well and the ladies not so much cause they just haven’t done that as much until you go up against a lady soccer player and they would kick your ass.

It was very cool to have Colleen she’s a good shot. How cool is

Stephen: that? Wonderful. Annie Oakley. Yeah. Yeah. And you know that there’s also something I’ll give Colin, kudos. That boy, when he was a little younger, we played a lot of games. He got some games that are his favorites. And when he was younger, especially, even now, he has the time to take a game and just dissect it.

And he sits in his room. He used to play some of the card games by himself. Okay. And he, what combos worked and who, how many cards are in there with this? And his brain clicked to a completely different, higher level.

Alan: But the problem is his almost moves in his pocket and he’s ready to wheel them on you.

That hasn, lot of this

Stephen: much. And not only for the games he’s studied, but it’s like the mechanics. I know if it’s a worker assembly or a, buildup game or it’s a card game. I know these are the mechanics. So here’s the how to make those mechanics work the best. And his brain just clicked to a higher level.

The problem is he’s Grand champion at a lot of these games. It’s I don’t even wanna play you because you’ve played it a hundred times. I played it five, so you know, I’m still, and it’s been three years so I forget half the strategies and stuff. So when you play ’em, it’s like close. But it is like some of the games you play, it’s alright, I got 47, that’s my high score.

He go, yeah, I got 79. Screw you, man.

Alan: We’re, yeah, it’s not close. It’s, half again as much. Exactly.

Stephen: But on the flip side too, when he is playing, he’s not being real social. He’s staring at the game, he’s concentrating, watching everything, and he is got his moves meta. So to me that’s not as much fun.

I’d rather lose a game every day and enjoy being with everybody and having a good time.

Alan: Yeah. You, it’s funny we’ve played, there’s also like a relatively new phenomenon when, let’s see the island game there, a couple island games came out where it was a cooperative game instead of a competitive game.

Stephen: Forbidden Island, desert Island, the game

Alan: strand on island to escape and pandemic was like that. Yeah. And there are so people, some people that are so inured in it’s competition, not only in the game but in their life, that what, every time that they do something without consulting with others or they do something that it, you can tell that it really doesn’t.

Aid the group. It’s specific to them. You have to continually hold them back from the other frame of mind and say, but if you do that, then I can’t get through. She can’t get the resource, the overall of us trying to get ahead and not have the building go up in flames. That’s what matters here.

Not that you can escape there. I’m sure there’s a variation of this game where it is about who gets out and do you know what I mean? Yeah. But that isn’t this game. This game is about everybody gets out, no man left behind. That kinda thing. So we had some evidence of that where people, they’re, they just don’t, can’t easily toggle their mind into a co cooperative way of thinking.

They’re not chatty. Perhaps they’re not. They’re so used to keeping their plants to themselves so they can’t be thwarted. That when they try to talk about I’m thinking of this and this, and what does everybody else think? It’s really hard for people to reveal because it is, comes across to them as vulnerability and Right.

And copping to, I’ve given you, I’ve given it away and that’s exactly what you have to do in some of those games. So that was cool to see. I love that. Those kinds of games, it’s a refreshing change to play that instead of every man for themself or, yes. So I’m trying to think the, like I mentioned, besides boo of Propolis Boo was probably the cutest.

That was the one that everybody said, oh, you wait until you play. It’s a little game. There’s an eight by eight grid that is a quilt on a bed. And there’s cats and kittens and they jump up on the bed and then if one jumps too close, boo, it moves the other cat or kitten off.

Stephen: Like one jump, one fell off and the others rolled over thing.

Alan: And so it, and it, every, everybody after a while you weren’t saying boo, you’re going boo. You know what I mean? Everybody kinda said it the way you’d poop a cat on the nose. And it just was the cute game of, that kind of happens once in a while. That what’s the most beautiful one? What’s the cute one?

What’s the, I never played anything like this before. And so I have that kind of thing of what game made me laugh out loud. What did I think was really beautiful? What had the in inner message that they’re not heavy handed about it, but every kid’s gonna come away going, oh, it’s better to have balance and things like that.

Colleen and I’m gonna show last one word up. This is just we after we had gotten our top three and it was gonna be Colleen’s choice. She, we hadn’t gotten her a word game and we, she loves those. And so it’s out of what I had played or read about, like this is a relatively cheap one.

It’s probably a $15 one, but compared to one called One Word, which was quite pedantic, it really is meant to teach vocabulary. But it’s kinda like for junior high in high school and not to be weird to Colleen and I, we would be p past that. You know what I mean? So we tried to get something, this, or word heist or Not one word.

That was the pedantic one. We just said, then let’s take something home that we’re gonna pull it out the next day and play it. You know what I mean? Let’s get something that, that isn’t about maximizing value and stuff like that. So in the overall, just had such a wonderful time and have I, not only did I, we win these four, but I bought three more for us that were, that look worth the money, if you will.

One I haven’t bought yet, it was called Painting the Roses. It’s based on Allison Wonderland, the queen, staying off with their heads, et cetera, et cetera. And it’s beautiful. And it’s like in one of those where the little pieces are 3D printed, so it really looks like a white rabbit. It really looks like the red queen and the way you place things it, there, there’s deductive logic involved.

You can not only tell from where someone places something according to certain rules, but if they didn’t place it over here, then that negative information gives you information as to what it must be. Nice. I love those kinds of things and Colleen is really good at them too. So while we were playing it, it, we could say, this is something that.

We’ll enjoy playing and we’d have to be careful how we introduce it to people that they just wanna throw cards. They don’t necessarily, but if they get into it, it really is cool to exercise your brain in a mathy way or in a logic way, or in a, in ways that you don’t necessarily nowadays get as much a chance to do that.

So there were a couple Matthew games where, you have four dice that have numbers on them, and then you have to make an equation. It’ll get to one of the numbers on the board. And I’ve always been really quick with that. Oh, seven plus four plus four divided by five is three.

And look, three is right there. And I hope I just said something that was real. I think I did right. 1115 divided by three. Yes. That’s why. But to see that another, we were looking sometimes We have nieces and nephews that are now having kids, and we wanna be the gamey aunts and uncles that are gonna be introducing games and then get better yet.

And so it, we were looking for things that, what could adults and kids play and not think the kids are just gonna be, I’m getting steamrolled. You know what I mean? Adults just know more words. They know more trivia. They know you gotta have something that kind of equalizes it. Sometimes it’s the random drawing of a card rolling of a die, and sometimes it’s just li I one of my nephews is named Nick, and we’re playing abalone, if you remember this, it’s, black and white and you push and move and we’re playing.

And it was pretty standard the last time we played and now we’re playing. And he’s he does a move where l I go. He’s really getting it.

Stephen: He’s thinking three moves deep.

Alan: He said a trap for me that if I go to the obvious thing, then boo push and he wins. And it’s, and I just got, and one of these things where I look up at him and he’s looking up at me and smiles and is today

Stephen: you are a man.


Alan: brain is working at a higher level. How cool is this? Yeah. I really was so happy. Like when kids, you tease ’em a little bit and they get almost pissed because you’re laughing at em. They don’t realize you’re teasing, you’re laughing with them and they could rejoin with another pun, another little zing.

And so when you first see a kid gets a sense of humor, it’s a breakthrough for me because a sense of humor makes everything easier. It’s a sign of intelligence. It’s makes every conversation playful instead of only information exchange. You know what I mean? And that’s a lot of, a little bit of what I’m looking for in games do is.

What’s it gonna do to contribute to the betterment of humanity? Young mean, everybody played a resource management game and then took that game into their life. They wouldn’t go into debt. They wouldn’t, buy a crappy car or a crappy watch, that’s a depreciating asset. They think of what is an asset, and I’m being happy handed here because not everything is a stock market game.

And yet you gotta hope that those little hints can become bigger thoughts over the course of time that they’ll see, lang isn’t only about being able to afford more and more expensive meals if you take care of. The necessities of life in an inexpensive way, then you can get the special things exactly that sweater that you want, because you didn’t have crepe Suzette every night.

You had beans and rice and saved

Stephen: a ton

Alan: of money. You know what I mean? So

Stephen: anyway, so about the family game. So first of all, I noticed we’re both preparing for winter since we had our two days of summer. Now we’ve got winter coming again in winter. Exactly. Then but I know a lot of parents, when they have kids, they don’t play a lot of games because all they know about is Candy Land and Monopoly and hearts.

It’s oh, that’s the games. But, if there’s, pass on to people with kids, some of these cooperative games because kids do get them like Forbidden Island or Forbidden De Desert. Yeah, that’s what it was. Forbid. Yeah those are great and pandemic even for slightly older kids.

And there’s a few other good ones out there because they’re not competitive, so you can help the kid and it’s helping everybody on the board as opposed to trying to play a poker or hearts or rummy where you’re looking at their hand, what they have. So it’s I know if I play this, let’s go defeat ’em.

You don’t wanna do it, that’s right. I always liked teaching the kids how to figure it out themselves, making them think and do the game. And that’s where some of these cooperative games are really good because pandemic’s a great one. It’s an educational one cuz you see the spread of the disease, absolutely. And everybody has to work together with your special skills to defeat it. And let me tell you, you cannot always defeat it.

Alan: Honestly we, we did, pandemic Legacy where it’s 12 months. We played one, one a month for a year and we were sitting pretty, or so we thought by month 10 and 11 and then things went to hell.

We, we lost, we, you get two chances to, and we lost twice badly. And we were kinda just like, how could we have done that any differently? We really had just the right roles enough re power resource placement on the board. And yet if the world, if that was to happen, you get a two front war from both yellow fever and red death breaking out, you really might strain resources and all you, and it’s also.

You have to be perfect everywhere. All it has to do is find one opening and boom, it spreads. And those are great, terrible lessons to learn about. That’s how we have to run the world. Yeah. You can’t have unlimited airfare. You can’t have one guy that has to get to his high school graduation, but he’s

Stephen: patient fucking zero and infects

Alan: the comment.

You know what I mean? So we also, adults mostly probably 10% kids. And even then they’re not necessarily playing kid games because little smart mentions are, little adults in a lot of ways. But while you’re playing the kids games, you really are thinking that, what’s the.

Intended audience of this, what’s the lesson that it teaches? Is it still fun? Like you say, you don’t want to play a heavy-handed thing. I sure am learning history. I sure am memorizing dates, in fact, right? Yes. It’s not, so there’s a game called Fast Track really good. That was, I can see how kids would love this.

There’s a game called Outnumbered, where you use like a superhero, heroes and Villains motif, but it’s still got enough math in it going on, and a little bit of intelligent board placement as to, don’t let things creep as fur further down the board. Get them early. So there’s a little bit of prioritization going on.

I could see a couple of the kid games were still they really would be good for that transition between five to 10, 10 to 15, 15 to 20, whatever else it might be. When do you get to a college game? When do you get to a, I don’t know. I the games themselves usually have a little suggestion as to, how long will it take to play the age range that it’s intended for?

And sometimes when it says all. It might not be the case. Sometimes when it says like four to seven, it really is meant to be four to seven. It’s a kid’s game, I’m trying, I’m what I want. Is there anything else I really wanted to mention? I, fuse countdown is one of those cool things where I.

You roll dice and there’s a whole bunch of different dice. They’re colors and numbers and features. And then you have, everybody has a little card where you’re trying to make patterns. These three total seven, or you stack ’em on a pyramid. It has to be in this order and you’re all playing together.

So you get, you roll the dice and then you try to make it so that. Everybody gets at least one because there’s a penalty for not doing that cooperative. And there’s a timer going on. And so it’s this is by definition limited in amount of time that you’re gonna be playing this. And it’s not meant to make you frantic, but it is meant to say everybody keep in mind, like if you claim a die, you’re also glancing around and you’re saying, what are the odds of him getting the six that he needs?

Exactly. Versus, I don’t wanna claim the six if he really needs exactly it. I’ll wait for any black six and it so that’s another one where I think that it will teach kids about don’t only stare at the table in front of you, keep a little bit of track and be willing to make and also as you make.

Maybe multiple sacrifices, if you will, of well, they needed it more than they needed it, more than me. But then if you’re getting nothing done because you’re murdering yourself all the time, you have to be a little bit more assertive and say, I’m falling behind. I really need to get some of this done because with the amount of time we have left, how am I gonna fill my two cards?

And both of my cards are like five dice, not three. And there’s a social dynamic going on as to how to put in a bid and not force it one way or the other, but how to appropriately say, I need help. And out of that simple of a game, maybe I’m making more of it, but I don’t think so.

That’s what you learned is when you lose one time because somebody was really good at claiming what they needed and everybody else got screwed. It’s is this guy the 1%? He’s the fucking sociopathic green head that’s gonna, I got everything I want and you guys can go scratch.

You don’t wanna teach that lesson, or at least you don’t wanna make it. That’s not a way to win. We did not win the game because somebody sure had their cars full, but that is the way to win anyway,

Let’s see. Don’t Cross Me was funny because it had letters and numbers that you play, like rummy sets, either three in a row or three of the same kind.

But there’s all kinds of penalties for you doing various different things. Or you get cards that you can play penalties on other people. And they were snarky, they were rid, very written, very whitly to be able to say like, when do you lay it down? It’s haha. You know what I mean? Little. Not meant to be crushing blows, but just, it’s not only you get a little, it’s a little irritation.

And then are like, some people, as a game player, they are happy to do what they want unless somebody crosses them and then they’re determined to get them back. Some people really have that vengeance. You know what I mean? And this game, Absolutely invites, if not, requires it, of everybody in the game.

And so if you’re that kind of person, you’re gonna love this game because you’ll have to, part of the game is getting back at other people and knowing that if you offer first offense, you can expect to get it in the face. Someone’s gonna come after you and, so it’s NICE’s.

I I don’t think I’m being too preachy. That’s what you’ll learn about people is how what they are when stressful situations are given a time thing or a, let’s see. Garden Bar was beautiful. Mosaic was beautiful. Very much better. Some games are much better with multiple players because it’s not only about the combination of what can happen, but you introduce more pieces.

And Mosaic, which is two, is black, white, and gray, and boring. You break into colors and then you have all the, the red and the yellow together make orange. And then as you play that, it’s a much more beautiful blossoming of the game. And I, some things I think, because again, from time pressure Colleen and I played probably half a dozen things where we did each other’s and then filled in for each other.

And it might have been that we should have saw it to make it a four or a six to just get a fuller version of the game and that we were under appreciating it. Because it really isn’t meant to be a two-player game when you have it. That no matter what you do, they’re gonna go right after you. It eliminates that randomness of, it’ll be three people’s turns before it comes back around to me. How do I plan ahead that much or how do I not plan because I know I’m gonna get thwarted all the things we’ve already talked about. Anyway, some that were one called mind management, where you’re a spy master that’s recruiting other people and there’s rogue agents that are trying to track you down.

And the game is very different if you’re that recruiter versus you’re through those rogue agents. I think it’s much more fun to be the recruiter that’s sneaking around and escaping than the rogue agents who are like trying to discuss it could be here, and then if they get you, then they, yay we win.

And if they don’t almost follow, someone says you could have had them, the little blame game kicks in. You know what I mean? So that’s funny. I, anyway, the roles that you take on can be, if it’s not native to who you are, I could see that being very uncomfortable. And most of the time people graduate to, am I gonna be the supplier of resources?

Am I gonna be the one that shoots? Am I gonna be the, you know what I mean? It’s fun. We talked about this a little bit before. When I play my Dungeons and Dragons games, I, there was a time when it was like, whoa, I’m a big guy and so I’ll play the big guy. Cause I’m familiar with being the big guy.

It’s such a refreshing thing to be, but I’m also a smart guy, so let’s play the magic user or the cleric. And once in a while I wanna play the Thief or the Demonn hunter in, in Diablo terms where you’re shooting at range. And it matters how fast and angel you are, not how much of a tank you are. And it’s cool to put your head right in a different space and the different way.

I like that, that games were a chance to take you outside of yourself. A little bit of roleplaying, a little bit of the world isn’t always who you were what skin you were born into. You know what I mean? And that’s right. That’s nice.

Stephen: Agreed.

Alan: So I sure did talk a lot.

Stephen: I’m sorry. No, yeah. I expected you, you had a whole weekend of gaming.

That, that’s a big part of life.

Alan: It really was fun and we’ll do it again. Colleen sometimes gets she gets more worn down by the work of it, you know what I mean? And she doesn’t like playing all the different kinds of games as much as I do. One of the but I think that the bad first day was so much when she was saying, this is why I don’t wanna do this cuz this is shitty and the games are shitty, da.

But then as it got better, we’ll see if I can lure her to come with me or whether it’s going to be. Why don’t you go off and do that four day thing and I’m gonna take baths and I’m gonna go walk on the beach and I’m gonna relax and watch chick flicks and read my books and stuff like that. So it could be that’s gonna be, ushering

Stephen: me out the door type thing.

She’s gonna be retired next year that’s the time pressure of work

Alan: is no longer

Stephen: there. That’s right. And where is mind games next year? I don’t even

Alan: know, actually. They’re still taking bids, I think through the end of April. So for the first time in a long time, they didn’t have the announcement of where next Game is I don’t know.

I don’t, they didn’t even announce who was bidding for it, so we’ll see. Yeah.

Stephen: You could come along and she might have some exciting museums and tours or something to do too. A city she hasn’t been to.

Alan: We have talked about that, that, I really like when I go play pinball.

You know what I mean? And it that she doesn’t wanna do that, but hey, if we’re in Pittsburgh, she can go to the College of Knowledge in the zoo and all those things you just said. Yeah. While I go and, teenage it up over here, play in my by pinball games. And then get together for dinner and relaxing in the evenings.

You know what I mean? Except pinball, I play until 10 o’clock at night. If she really would be a pinball widow, so Isn

Stephen: isn’t that a who song? Pinball. Pinball. Widow. Widow.

Alan: I think so, exactly. Yeah.

Stephen: I had some gaming this weekend and actually it worked out well because we had a major website go live on Thursday, so I would’ve been having problems if I had traveled down to Columbus and that, so it worked out, unfortunately.

Though I probably would’ve pushed just to change when that went live, but whatever. It worked. In our area. There used to be a place called the Malted Meatball, and me and the kids used to go there. It was a great place. It was one of those you could go in and just borrow games and sit there and play like a

Alan: gaming cafe is a, within the last 10 years or so, a new phenomenon that, that’s point of going out, have a sip drink, but many good games there,

Stephen: The best part of this one though was they had amazing milkshakes that was like their claim to fame. They were like six bucks. So when I took the kids and I told ’em, two milkshakes only, I’m still spending 50, 55 bucks, yeah, exactly. It was a good time. We always thought, now

Alan: that’s a $5 shake. Okay. Yes.

Stephen: So they mal people closed last year. It was very sad. Covid hurt ’em. They struggled to stay open. But they did close and we missed them. But there’s a game store up in Akron called Full Grip Games, and Colin and I went there, I don’t know, three or four years ago, and we walked in and it literally was like one table with five games stacked on it, and then some magic cards in the thing.

And I’m like, Yeah. Okay. How? Yeah. We don’t

Alan: need to come back here. Yeah,

Stephen: surprise, they’re not only still around, they probably have the biggest selections of games to buy in the area. Now, out of the three game stores I go to, they have the most games. So I walked in Friday night, I was meeting up with some friends and I was like, this is not the store I was in before.

It was Wall Towa game. And I was like oh, this is not good. This is bad. Yeah, my wallet, what’s good? It was like, it was every, it was like two or three copies of every expansion for Dominion, and everything. So the reason we went though was because they just opened a board game cafe and it was called the Green Dragon Inn.

And it’s connected to them. And we said, okay, let’s check it out. I loved it. It was a it looked like you were in d and you were stopping at the end with adventurers. They had decorations, it was really a nice place. You’re frozen a bit. Oh, sorry. What the heck? I have nothing running, so I’ve


Alan: what is the spreadsheet that I was referring to?

Otherwise I killed off everything.

Stephen: Okay. It just popped up, said my internet connection’s unstable, so I don’t know if it’s my router or I, or it’s just internet that sucks around here, which it probably is. Anyway so

Alan: DMV Tavern, it’s like a, the Bard Tavern.

Stephen: Okay. Yes, very much nice decorations.

It, they didn’t have the milkshakes, but they had lots of alcoholic drinks. Okay. And they had games to borrow. They had 700 games to borrow. Wow. Yeah, they have a back room you can rent. It’s 25 bucks for two hours or something like that. And people go play d and stuff. In

Alan: clubs can rent that place and have a central location to gather it.

Yes. And a big table. Cause sometimes you need that.

Stephen: Okay. Yeah. Yes. And that is the one complaint I had about this place. They had normal tables for a bar or a pub, so booths with tables and stuff. And there were only three of us playing and we were playing DC deck builder and we didn’t have enough room on the table.

And even Ben didn’t have enough room. Yeah, exactly. Okay. So the tables really could have been a little bigger there. And there’s a lot of games I could think of then I’m like, yeah, we wouldn’t be able to play it here. The table’s not big enough, so we were meeting up to play the DC deck builder, which I’ve got pictures.

I’m gonna put ’em up on the our group. Tons of cards.

Alan: When you opened the box, like you said, you were getting the omni collection of everything. Yes. So like how many expansion packs?

Stephen: 20 it was I think seven big expansions and a smaller expansion, a whole bunch of promos, and then a mat and some, extra bonus stuff.

And it was just ungodly amount of stuff. Yeah. All above that is a

Alan: cool feature of games where it’s not only the game itself, but they actually have it, expansion packs are to be expected. They’re one called Sherlock Files, where if you solve the three cases that are included, then you’re done with the game.

Of course it says more things coming and then that’s one of those, you get a couple new ones each year and it keeps the game alive. Conflict encounters long ago was the first one that I knew that was like that, where it wasn’t just the initial set. They added one and two and three other sets that really.

Added to and changed the game. Yes.

Stephen: In a different way. So anyway. Okay. So we played one of the newer sets. There’s a video game from DC called Injustice. Okay. And you, it’s a battling game like Street Fighter or Mortal Combat, but it’s all DC characters, so you can be villains and superheroes.

They put that into the card game. They made an injustice set and we played that and it was a lot of fun. We had a great time learning how to play it, yeah. Good time. Love the green dragon in. So then On Sunday, Colin and I played the same set, and Colin and I played impossible mode where we added the everything to it.

I didn’t do that Friday. We were discovering the game. And they’re game players, but not big game players, so Colin and I, oh my gosh, it was a blast. We had such a good time. So it’s like street fighter video game, but as a card game, so we’re attacking each other and trying to knock each other down while still battling the foes.

And the arena itself has things that can happen. And there’s events that pop up and, so it was just trying, oh my gosh, what? It is just it was really difficult. We didn’t win the game. He had more victory by a little bit, but, okay. Overall the game defeated us. Fun, fun expansion injustice for DC Deck Builder.

And then we also played the new Star Wars deck builder, which I was hesitant about. And you’ll understand why, because Star Wars has the rebels in the empire, right? So you have two sides and pretty much any card game with Star Wars, you have cards for the rebels and cards for the Empire, and they don’t mix.

You might have some bounty hunters and neutral cards that either can have, but everybody has their own. So any game like that has to be balanced in some way. If the empire just has all this powerful equipment and big ships and stuff, they’re gonna win almost every time if there’s not some balancing factor for the rebels.

Yeah. And especially in a deck builder, this one I was hesitant about because there’s only certain cards you can buy, only certain cards I can buy. So I. It has to be like you have a card that has a four hit point ship. I have a card that has a four hit point ship and that’s boring.

So we tried that and it was fun. There are some flaws with the game. The Empire really does have an easier time to win it. It, once they get to, several rounds in, they’re just lots of ships and stuff like that. And it’s really

Alan: dependent on what the movies are about, is that the rebel really have to be ready to say, it’s long odds.

I gotta make the perfect shot. I gotta, yes, I got seek incentive overpower. So it captures that. Even though as a game, you don’t necessarily want that. You want it to be where there’s a chance of winning. Yes. Besides the long shot.

Stephen: Okay. And. It is a deck builder, so you have a row to buy and Thunder Stone has all the cards available for everybody starting at the beginning.

Whereas most other deck builders you add to the row as things get bought. So the problem in that comes in, in, in this one, not all of that, but in this one the problem comes in is if out of the six cards, if four of ’em are all imperial, my choices are limited on what to buy. And if I can’t buy ’em or they don’t fit what I’m doing, it doesn’t help.

Yeah. So he’s buying two or three cards. I’m not buying anything. He buys two or three cards. I buy one, he buys two or three cards, I may, okay. So that’s one of the problems. So hopefully this is one of those games that come out with expansions that come out with more cards because it’s good. But it needs a little bit

Alan: more needs balance, need some.

Okay. Alright.

Stephen: So I had some gaming anyway. Not as much as you, my brain’s getting ooze out my ear. But the DC deck builder, I’m I just have it sitting on the table and I’m like, let’s see who we can invite over or call in. You’re not doing anything. Let’s play a game. I paid for this stuff. Damn it.

Alan: Another thing I should mention by the way, is cause you just said it, there’s ways in which these games can be improved, added to, et cetera. That’s one of the opportunities of this whole thing is you fill out comment cards that go back to the manufacturer for every single game you play.

Not only the ratings, but like comments. And so I was regularly looking for, what have we already talked about? These instructions were written a little bit ambiguously. This is unbalanced. The boy, this your, the money you’re charging, I expect higher quality. Or this is if this game is supposed to be for kids, but it’s got flimsy pieces or things you could swallow or things you could snap off, you’ve gotta work on that, right?

You can’t just have something that Billy’s gonna be disappointed cuz I played it twice and then it broke. You know what I mean? So that’s really. I think that most of these games, I used to think that we actually did things on a pre-release basis, and I actually put that in one of my posts about it.

And then my friend Nevin corrected me and said, no, they really are out in the market. Maybe not right. Sometimes they’re Kickstarter and Indiegogo and stuff, but they’re really all available. And then I hope version two, second printing is where they’ll actually correct some of the imbalances, omissions, whatever else it might be based on it.

I know we’ve seen a couple times that they really did do that that the second version after, I hope us maybe many others, gave ’em some feedback. They’ve fixed what was wrong. There’s also been somewhere one game long ago, they had like really beautiful metallic balls that actually like, made a little glass sando noise as you moved them, but then the production version was like plastic and not something you’d leave out on your desk and invite commentary.

It was cheap and it had been a $90 game. And I think it was still a $90 game, but for things that were cardboard instead

Stephen: of

Alan: marble, it just, what a bait and switch. There’s been a couple that have been like that too, that in order to keep production costs down, they made it, that it wasn’t of the same quality.

I love games where while you’re holding the piece in your hand, it feels good. One called Kowai that was like little relatively shaped rocks kind of manca, but it just feels good to have a little worry stone in your fingers while you’re waiting to

Stephen: play. You know what I mean? Anyway, hive is like that.

The pieces for Hive are fantastic and they could very easily print a version of that’s just cardboard hexagon pieces and it would play fine. But there’s something about the weight of those pieces and the thickness of them and clunk when you put ’em down. Exactly.

Alan: Going to a casino where they really have clay things, and versus plastic, it just feels totally different.

Long ago we, I had a regular monthly poker game and on one of my trips to Vegas, I had actually got. Tiles chips with a e b on them in my colors and good clay so that when we would regularly take money off the table and play with chips instead, it just felt so great to get that little clack noise of throwing things into the pot or, like when you can play all the, have you’ve seen people, like on the poker TV shows, they have all these little hand tricks where they like, flip this, move it around and it like, and these chips invite that. They invite you totally with ’em. You know what I mean? So nice. Totally. By the way is like a German family word that I don’t know that anybody else in the world uses it.

It’s what my mom used to use when it’s like a cat that’s trying to get something under the door. It’s little paw coming. That’s foing. That’s cool doing.

Stephen: There’s our word of the day.

Alan: There’s our word of the day. Exactly.

Stephen: So good gaming weekend

Alan: all around. Absolutely one of our more focused shows, but with every good reason.

Yes. We just have had a fun immersive or discovery experience and, but lemme take two minutes. This doesn’t happen spontaneously. The people that put this together, the national office really does a great job of collecting the games and making the lists up the local group. James and Rachel Nelly and their kids were fantastic hosts, tons of volunteers.

Somebody has to keep those munchies and drinks stocked in the hospitality suite. Somebody has to negotiate with the hotel to make sure that you have a variety of tables so you can play the variety of games around rounds. And so it really was easy for everybody to just sit down and have fun and concentrate on what they were there to do.

The temperature in the rooms was right. The number, the amount of space we had for the number of people was right. Hats off to all the cool people that were involved in making this. Matt, the it guy from the national office was, I think it the national office’s guy on site. And he just, he knew his stuff.

He knew how to arrange things. He knew how to, questions got answered. Things got taken care of. And like I said James and Rachel were they were perfect hosts. Hats off. And I, whoever wasn’t, Laura Mitchell is our R V C for region three, and she was involved in some of that coordination and the volun, I just, it’s so nice when people put it’s, I think for instance, Carl and Laura didn’t play games or they played casually.

They didn’t, they weren’t a judge. They were too busy doing hospitality aspect and that’s, I’m asking a lot of someone who lets playing games to instead stay in the background and just make sure that everybody gets all the peanut M and MSS they want. Absolutely. You know what

Stephen: I mean? That’s a Yeah.

That’s a job.

Alan: Yeah. So thanks Mea. Thanks. Thanks to all my friends that we had a chance. Lots of good friends to play with. Lots of new friends made, I just. It hasn’t always been good. Sometimes it was the wrong combination of too much pressure. This was a joyful year, and we actually, Colleen had, because she took four days off with me and she had stuff to get ready for Monday, we like did the Irish goodbye. We left right after the game giveaway and didn’t do our usual of hugs and goodbyes and stuff like that. And Sorry everyone that we didn’t get a chance to say thank you for your game.

You are such a good company. All that kind of stuff. Cuz usually we do that and I don’t want people thinking that we’ve become, we got our games, where the fuck outta here, yeah, I’ve sworn more in this episode than I usually do. It’s the enthusiasm.

Stephen: Gaming must do that to you.

Alan: Exactly. It’s a different section of me comes out. Yeah. So I’m glad you had a wonderful time Green Dragon to make sure I visit that. Yeah. Maybe sometime we’ll meet up down there is the one that you said Yeah. Is now wonderfully stocked. So take.

Stephen: And for the DC deck builder, they’ve got oversized character cards that my sleeves don’t fit and I can’t find sleeves.

So I was looking, I asked him, they said, oh, we don’t have any. He’s that’s weird. And he looked, he said, okay, they’re this size. He says, if you want some, I’ll order some and we’ll have ’em. I’m like, please do. So that was cool. And real quick, one more shout out before we go. I put it up on the group.

I I fell prey and I backed another Kickstarter. But this wasn’t for a game. It was for game. A supplement. It is these plastic see through placeholders and card holders and peace holders. So it works, it’s universal, works with whatever game and they stack and connect. So you can put all the card things there and easily pull the cards out and they don’t get knocked over and drinks spilled on ’em.

And the pieces, all the pieces are in different spots. You’re not mixed just all over the table and stuff. Yeah.

Alan: So see that’s really in the era of 3D printing I’m surprised it took as long as it might have to get people to start producing. These are the perfect little token holders.

These are the perfect card separators and stuff like that. CBH has done a couple things like that for the trekking through history game is like the fourth in the series. The first one was trekking the national parks, if I remember right. Actually made it where the little holder that goes around, like pretty much made it so that they’ll stand up better, a little holder for a piece that is a better enough weight on the bottom so it doesn’t fall over easily.

And just such a simple supplement, but it really makes the game better. You know what I mean? So I’m hoping that all of us gamers who have all those little complaints that they can throw things out into the make sections and the Kickstarter sections and someone goes, I got a 3D printer. Let me crank some out.

Do you like these? And that could be a whole little side business for people. Yeah. Is those kind of

Stephen: supplements? Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. All right, cool. Good talk, man. Love

Alan: it. Absolutely. Almost a pleasure. We’ll see you in a week. Very good.

Stephen: Thank you. Steven. Colleen said hey.

Alan: Okay. Yeah.

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