Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In Galaxy Far, Far Away ....

Since my first son was born, I have been excitedly waiting for my kids to get to the age where they could become my movie buddies. That time has finally come and it was worth the wait.

Over the holidays, my two boys, a friend of Tristan's and I went and watched The Hobbit. We ate McD's, laughed, talked and watched a movie and it was amazing. My boys and I have also watched G.I Joe and Star Wars Episode 4 over the past couple of weeks. Furthermore, we are planning on going to watch a pile of movies at the theater this summer starting with G.I Joe 2 in March.

I have learned that most parents struggle through the teenage years but this is what I am truly look forward to because even though I am looking forward to the movies themselves, it is the time together and conversation that makes these trips truly magical. Leading and guiding my boys through the path of life and all of its landmines. Having the opportunity to answer the hard questions away from the ladies. This is the work that I enjoy.

Thank God for movies and roadtrips :)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Collectible Card Games, Acquisition Disorder and Me

I love card games. This love starts back when I was a kid. My dad played cards all the time. He taught me math by playing crib and we frequently went to tournaments on Friday nights. Then in 1994 when I was attending high school, I discovered a little game called Magic the Gathering and the hobby of Collectible Card Game (CCG).

Let’s pause a moment and explain CCGs. A CCG is a collectible game where you buy a starter deck of cards to learn the game. From there, you can buy randomized packs of cards, rarely more than 15 but usually 10 cards to a pack, to build and expand your decks to be better, stronger and win more.
We would play every day in the school library. There was a thrill to opening a new pack of cards and not knowing what was inside. From there, I ventured into my all-time favorite CCG which was Star Trek. I love Trek and this put me in control of some of my favorite characters from the Next Generation mythos. Over the next several years, I bought into several different card games because I could and because the art was cool and because I had to have them.

Let’s pause again. My name is Cory and I have an Acquisition Disorder (AD). This means that it is almost always a losing battle when it comes to stuff and the acquisition of said stuff. You see, I am like a dwarf ... I see something shiny (like a diamond in the stone) and even if it means my demise (the wall falling on my beared head) I cannot help but acquire the shiny bauble (even though I am now dead).
And there is the problem with CCGs, they are addictive. The pursuit of better cards which are hard to find and expensive to acquire becomes all consuming. Furthermore, I person with AD will be forever in pursuit of more in a CCG because there is always more. This lead to my burnout from card games for the better part of 10 years. I did not believe I would ever come back. But I did ....
 Once the Giddy Goblin in Hanover opened up and I began working there, the cards began to call out to me because of my AD. Around the same time, I discovered a little game published by Fantasy Flight Games called Lord of the Rings. They were marketing it as an LCG with the difference between it and a CCG being that the Collectible part of the hobby had been replaced by a fixed distribution where individual packs of the same name all have the same cards as well as a full play set (maximum number of the same card) for deck-building purposes. This definitely spoke to me since I am now married with 3 kids and can no longer afford the collectible market like I once did. So I did the math.

Magic releases 4 sets a year and to acquire everything, I would have to buy 3 boxes of each set and probably still need to do some trading to get the rest. A booster box is 36 booster packs and costs about $120. So that is a yearly cost of $1,440.
Lord of the Rings costs about $35 for a core set and I needed 3 to get everything. After that it is a monthly commitment of $12 for an adventure pack and a semi-yearly commitment of $25 for an expansion. This works out to a year one expenditure of about $299 and a yearly expenditure of $194 going forward.
And the conclusion is that for less money a month, I could acquire all that an LCG had to offer and still be able to play a great game. But I told myself that I would only commit to one.

And that lasted for the last year because now I am considering getting into 2 more LCGs, Star Wars and NETrunner. So I have again been doing the math taking into account for my AD. I have not bought either yet because once I do I am all in regardless. This will be a struggle to determine enjoyment versus cost.

Hmmmm, What to do ...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Games of 2012

With the end of 2012 imminent, it is time to sum up the games of year. This year saw my collection balloon greatly, mainly due to the fact that I have a local dealer ... err I mean game store ... in the area. I cannot say enough good things about The Giddy Goblin. Great store, Great Owners, Great supply of games, Great group of people who play there. Enough of the love fest and onto my top board games of 2012.

1. Trajan - A Stefan Feld design and  probably one of his best to date. This game has a little of everything game mechanic wise but the belle of the ball is the mancala. It will truly make your head spin trying to figure it out and get it to do what you want. The game is punishing if you make a mistake but yet you are never truly out of the running. This is what I like though, a good and meaty board game which takes several plays to learn and many more to master. Looking forward to playing this a lot more in 2013.

2. Village - In Village, you control one of several families vying for fame in a simple village. This is a worker placement game at its core but with a twist. That twist shows up in how you handle family members. This game comes with 4 generations of one family and as the time track makes one full circuit then a family member must die. Depending on where that family member is on the board, he/she will go in the town records or an unmarked grave. That is where this game becomes great. Not only trying to maximize points through the worker placement but also through managing which family member will die and when is so important. It really feels like you are trying to bring honor and fame to your family.

3. Seasons - In seasons, you are competing against up to 3 other spell slingers to become the best sorcerer in a 3 year competition. How this is done is through rolling dice and collecting mana from the four seasons to power magical items and familiars. However, what really makes this game so great is the card draft at the beginning of the game. You start with 9 cards and keep one then pass the our 8 to the next player. You continue to draft one card at a time until you have 9 cards. Afterwards, you must take the 9 cards and split them into three piles of 3 cards to be used in each of the 3 years. This card draft really does have a way of making every game feel different and for that I am thankful.

4. Eclipse - Eclipse is an economics game hidden behind an space exploration/extermination theme. It is simple in its design and elegant in it play. It is big and epic and sits lots of people. On the the downside, it needs a very big table to play 6 players and it does bog down towards the end. However, with experienced players who try to plan when waiting for there turn this game really does shine.

5. Mice and Mystics - I bought this game because of the promise. That promise was a co-operative game with a narrative story arc centering around a prince and his cohorts turned into Mice to escape the evil spreading through the castle. This game has not disappointed. It comes with two books, a rulebook and a storybook containing all the scenarios. The kids and I have only played twice but we are looking forward to playing through the entire story in 2013. Hopefully, another story will be released in the new year as well.

As for 2013, I am looking forward to 2 new games from Stefan Feld (Rialto and Bora Bora), Suburbia (a city building tile laying game a la Simcity), Terra Mystica and Tzolk'in: The Mayan Calendar. And those are just the ones from late 2012 or early 2013. Add on top of that a road trip to Gen Con in August and 2013 is shaping up to be a great year.

Hope to see you at the table in 2013!