Thursday, July 26, 2012

Batman Blooms

The Dark Knight Rises

An amazing movie to end an amazing trilogy. The best batman movies of all time and the best superhero trilogy ever made. The Dark Knight Rises does not disappoint. It is true that Heath Ledger's role as The Joker couldn't be topped by Bane or Catwoman, but Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway really hold their own in the film. I was actually very pleased with Anne as Catwoman even though I was worried. That gives me hope for the new Superman movie Man of Steel as well, because even though there are big names, I am a bit worried to see how Amy Adams does as Lois Lane. Anyway, not totally off topic, there was of course the Man of Steel teaser trailer in front of The Dark Knight Rises. The trailer was a bit confusing to everyone I think, but I still think that this new Superman movie has great hope.

Knowing a bit about Bane from my comic book reading and Batman novel reading, I was pretty pleased with how the movie was done. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also does a great job as a supporting cop/detective role. The movies are just so well done, and this last movie ties all the movies nicely together. Very happy with it.

Garden Turned Flowers

Well, for those who knew of my pot garden last year (a garden grown in pots...not a literal pot garden), this year I decided to just plant flowers. I am very happy with that decision. My Dahlia plant is especially doing well, and it is by far my favorite. Anyway, check it out! The pictures turned out great too.

Remember to take time to smell the Dahlias and only 6 more days until the beginning of AYPAD (A Yoga Pose A Day) and that is How Lou Sees It.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Game A Day In Review

A Game A Day

70 straight days of playing a different board game each night and writing a review. From Day 1 I wasn't really sure how many days that this project would last; I was hoping that I could make it past 40 days. Thanks to the support of friends and family letting me borrow some of their games, the support of Rio Grande Games, Minion Games, and MindWare for their game donations, and especially the amazing support from The Wife who put up with me blogging every night and playing a game when the day didn't even have time for it. A big SHOUT OUT and THANK YOU!

I am still amazed that I made it this long. And yet, there are many more games out there to be played. I will definitely continue to review the games that I own and have played for you all. You will be able to find a list of all of my game reviews which I will organize alphabetically. I love board games. Sometimes I will just find myself reading reviews and rules to board games just for fun. This has really been a really fun project and I have enjoyed it immensely and I hope that you have as well.

If you didn't notice, most of my reviews were 3 fingers up (equivalent to an 8 out of 10 or better. This is because most of the games I played are games that I actually own...and why would I buy a game that I don't love? So, there are a lot of 4 fingers up (or 9/10) which are all amazing games, but the top games that all received a thumbs up (10/10) are listed below (Chess and Scrabble are not included in this list just because they are so well known already, but they also received the full 10/10 thumbs up):
Top 10 (listed alphabetically)
Now on to the Scoreboard results. The Wife and I were pretty much neck and neck throughout the project although The Wife had a winning streak of like 13 games in a row I believe. In the end, I came out on top (even with my losing record, I had the most victories):
Lou                      32-35-3
The Wife              28-39-3
Nicole                  3-2-0
Nathan                 2-4-0
T.B.I.L.                1-0-0
Sauron                 1-0-0
F. I.                      1-0-0
Jackie                   0-1-0
Spencer                0-1-0
Bryan                   0-2-0

I did not get to play all of the games that I would have liked to, but that is one of the great joys of board games. There are so many fun games out there that all offer something a little bit different. Some of the games that I did not get a chance to play or review include (consider it my watch/wish list in no particular order; I have played a lot of these games, but I do not own or have easy access to them):

Tsuro, The Resistance, Black Friday, Friday, Crows, Flash Point Fire Rescue, Ricochet Robots, Fearsome Floors, 7 Wonders, 221 B Baker Street, Nuns on the Run, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride Europe, Alhambra, Le Havre, Blokus, and the list goes on and on.

Thank you again for supporting this project by checking out my blog. I may be taking a break from the Game Reviews for a while, but don't fret everyone. I have a new project on the horizon. Everyone prepare for (drum roll please) .... A Yoga Pose A Day. Now, it may be a little while before I start this project. I have to start some research and find a killer Yoga outfit, but I plan on at least attempting a different Yoga Pose every day and posting a picture to prove it! If only they had a Yoga themed board game. Get excited folks and that is How Lou Sees It! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

AGAD is Finally Settled

Day 70 - Settlers of Catan
Designed by Klaus Teuber

After 70 days of a game every night, we finally wrap up this project with one of the greats, Settlers of Catan. Tomorrow night I will be writing a summary or review of the A Game A Day (AGAD) project, but for tonight I write a short review on one of the major players in bringing the popularity of board games back to the U.S. and the game that introduced many to the wonderful German strategy type board games. Catan won the German Board Game of the Year (Spiel des Jahres) award in 1995. I still remember the first time I played Catan. It was like nothing I had ever seen before and I was addicted (more on this tomorrow). Some of the key elements that set the game apart include its great replay value with different board set up each game. The game still has the luck element with the die roll, but strategy is key to winning. The game has great player interaction as players trade resources and use knights to steal goods. Players strive to gain the most victory points by building settlements, cities, longest road, and buying development cards. The game is very easy to understand and it is really fun. I do have a few issues with the game. My main issue with the game is that only 3 to 4 players can play the game as-is (you can purchase an expansion for 5 to 6 players). I actually own The Rivals for Catan (a 2 player card version - which is also really fun) so I can play with The Wife all the time. There are other expansions for Settlers of Catan (including an expansion with a 2 player variant), and I have played a couple of them that really change up the game and make things more entertaining. I highly recommend the game to everyone and that is How Lou Sees It.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Best Wedding Present Ever!

Day 69 - Freeway Frenzy!
Designed by Leif Nelson and Solomon Wong

If you don't know what to get a couple for a wedding present, consider this game. Especially a couple from Utah who can appreciate roads in a constant state of construction.

It may not be the best game ever but it is a fun theme and think of the wedding card, "As you face the twists and turns of marriage, don't be discouraged by the barricades that stand in your way. Together you will meet your goals and return home."

Basically, everyone has a set number of errands to complete and you have to find the best route to take. Barricades will cause you to have to sit out two turns before you can pass by. If other players roll the "Frenzy" then they can continue to hinder your way, or lose their own turns due to road rage or gain another errand or be sent to a specific location for a potty break or to pay a fine. First person to complete all his errands and return home wins.

Nothing complex here, just a great family game, and that is How Lou Sees It.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Scrabbled Eggs and Butts

Day 68 - Scrabble
Designed by Alfred Mosher Butts

Mr. Butts is an inspiration to us all. An unemployed architect lives the American dream...creating a board game enjoyed by generations, plus the inspiration for one of the most popular apps out there. Who wouldn't want to be Mr. Butts? (Or even a member of Mr. Butts' posterity.)

This simple crossword game is easy to play and yet has a bit of strategy to it. Do you save your Q or Z for a triple letter or triple word, or do you get it on the board so you don't risk not being able to play it? Not much else to say about game play as I'm sure you all are familiar with this game, or some variation of it.

The Wife thoroughly enjoys this game too and grew up with grandparents who played it every Sunday, kept a running tally of wins, and they attribute their incredible mental capacity this still have to this game.

So play for fun, play for your health, and play to win. And that is How Lou Sees It.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Risky Business

Day 67 - RISK: The Lord of the Rings
Designed by Stephen Baker and Jean-Rene Vernes

How do you make a classic like Risk better? Add a Lord of the Rings theme with multiple ways to play! I think that this is one of the few "themed" classic games that actually improves on the original and really adds to the game other than just the "theme."

First of all, let's look just review RISK for a moment. World domination made easy. The game still has a lot of the luck factor, but that is what makes the game unpredictable and entertaining. Strategically attacking certain locations and fortifying others. The game can last a long time, but that is half the fun with RISK. A big SHOUT OUT to my old physics teacher who had an old school computer version of RISK that was played quite frequently.

RISK: The Lord of the Rings (Trilogy Edition) really provides a lot. The map is obviously different than the usual world map (a map of Middle Earth) and the game includes 4 sets of armies (2 evil and 2 good). The pieces are good quality and so is the board and cards. So, you can play normal RISK on the new board, or you can play the "point" version, or you can play different team versions as well. The game can be played with the fellowship (represented by a ring) moving along throughout the board. The ring is used as a time piece limiting the game to a certain length (which I really enjoy) and in certain versions of the game if the good team destroys the ring they win, and if the evil team captures the ring along the way they win. [Funny story about this actually. It takes a while to set up the game, and after all the time and effort put into this, the evil team captured the ring on their very first turn. The game was over within a few minutes after it took us about 30 to 40 minutes to set up the game. If I remember correctly, we decided to note the win, but restart the game using the same set up.]

I highly recommend this game to fans of The Lord of the Rings and fans of RISK. If you have not played RISK before, I would probably recommend playing the original prior to playing this version, although it isn't necessary. It is a very well done game and I really enjoy it when I have the time to play it and that is How Lou Sees It.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"Mono Polly Has." - Yoda

Day 66 - Monopoly: Star Wars

Monopoly is one of the most well known modern board games of our time (over the last 100 years). The game is so popular (especially here in the U.S.) that there are now over a thousand different versions of the game (CRAZY! I know!). The versions that don't really have any involvement with land in any way are especially disturbing to me. I do have a copy of the original Monopoly, but I do enjoy playing my Star Wars (original trilogy) themed version. The main differences between the original and the Star Wars besides just the theme is that depending on what character you choose to be, your "motels" and "hotels" will either be represented by the light side or the dark side. Everything else is pretty much the same with Star Wars locals being used instead of the well known Park Place etc. The Wife did make a good point as we played tonight though; the location groups on the board have bold letters declaring the planet on each location and then in smaller lettering below that is the name of the actual location. It makes it a bit harder to realize what place you landed on and who owns it etc. The game really is a good game, but the back and forth of the game can get a bit frustrating at times. When the length of a game can get up past 2 to 3 hours, I think that there probably is something a bit wrong with the game. Monopoly is created for 2 to 8 players (some versions only 6) and on average the game takes 1 to 4 hours. I don't think I would mind the length of the game if I were to enjoy the game the entire time, but it gets long and drawn out. There is some strategy in mortgaging properties and in trading, but a lot of the game is luck - one of the reasons that the game can last so long. When Monopoly is compared to any of these more recent games, it is just left wanting. Monopoly may have been the game of games 50 years ago, but oh how times have changed and that is How Lou Sees It.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The King Stands Alone

Day 65 - Chess

Chess could well be the board game of board games. One of the most popular games around the world, the game is iconic. I love Chess. I may not be the greatest at it, but hands down Chess is one of the greatest games ever created and I really enjoy it (maybe not as much as the Hungarians, who like to play it while in the swimming pool, but I like it a lot). The game simulates medieval warfare, or at least the game is filled with terminology from the time; Castle/Rook, Knight/Horse, Bishop, Queen, King, and Pawn. I like the movement of the different pieces and how this contributes to strategy (see also Hive). The game is simple and yet to play the game well, one must think ahead and plan ahead. The player must think defense and offense. I really don't know what else to say about a game that is already so well known. If you are unfamiliar with the game, I encourage you to learn. The game is one of the most well balanced strategic games of all time and that is How Lou Sees It.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lou May Have Had the Winning Carrot, But I Killed the Most Bunnies!

Day 64 - Killer Bunnies
Designed by Jeffrey Neil Bellinger
Guest Reviewer: The Wife

Lou has asked me to review tonight's game. I first played Killer Bunnies 6 years ago and with a very large group of people. I was so intrigued by the game play and the fact that in the end, the winner is determined by randomness. (Yes, there is a way to improve your chances, but really it comes down to fate smiling down upon you.) Surprisingly, I didn't introduce Lou to this game even after my enjoyable introduction to it. He was talking about it one day and reminded me of it. We borrowed it and knew it would have to be in our collection some day. We purchased it last year on a whim and have enjoyed many nights with this devilish rabbits.

Game play is pretty simple. To start, you place two cards face down in front of you in a first and second position. You will play the first card on your turn. Draw a card.  And then move the second position card to the first and place a new card in the second position. So there is a little planning required on your part. There are Very Special cards that can be played directly from your hand and you also can have Special cards face up off to the side that you can also play.

Basically it all boils down to you  need to collect carrots and you want at least one Bunny in the Bunny Circle while you destroy your opponents bunnies. Why the destruction? You are only capable of winning if you have a Bunny in the Bunny Circle. (At the end of the game, if you have carrots but no Bunny in the Circle, your carrots go to the person with a Bunny with the most Kaballa Dolla.) The game ends when all the carrots are collected and this is where the randomness of the winner comes in. Throughout the game, you have collected carrot cards. At the beginning of the game, a mini version of the carrot deck was shuffled and set off to the side. The winning carrot was already picked by the last card in that mini deck. You pray that you have chosen wisely as you have purchased, traded, and stolen carrots. One by one the losing carrots are shown until finally the winning carrot is revealed. Whoever possesses the winning carrot is the winner. It doesn't matter how the game was played. It doesn't matter if this person only has one carrot while someone else has all the others. It all comes down to that initial shuffle of the mini deck.

This can be a REALLY frustrating game for people who don't enjoy luck based games. However, for me, this randomness takes some of the pressure off to perform splendidly at every moment. And on top of all this, the cards are DELIGHTFUL! So cleverly written. Quite frankly, that is what makes the game worth it, and that is How The Wife Sees It.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ready, Set, GO!

Day 63 - Go

One of the oldest games known to man; placing white and black stones onto grid lines trying to gain the most territory. I am just learning how to play the game and I must say that the idea behind the game is very simple, but there are many situations that I am still very unfamiliar with and the game would be confusing and a bit overwhelming to any newcomer. I am giving Go three fingers up for now with my current knowledge and experience with the game, but this is a game for those willing to spend an hour and half or so playing one of the most strategic abstract games ever made. One of the main things that makes the game challenging in a different way than most games is the fact that you can pretty much place your stone anywhere on the board. You are not really limited or guided at all to where you place your stone. Beginning a game (especially for those not familiar with the game) is like walking into a store you know nothing about and someone says that you can choose any item from the store (but just one). It is kind of an overload. The game is well known for being a very challenging game and it makes an appearance in the movie A Beautiful Mind. It seems like a game that Einstein and Hawking could play for hours on end and that is How Lou Sees It.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What Sign Are You?

Day 62 - Aquarius
Designed by Andrew Looney

"When the moon is in the seventh house
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars"

As the box proclaims: "The card game where the person with the longest hair goes first." In the game Aquarius, each player has a secret element goal card and each player is trying to connect 7 segments of their element to win. The game is made up of 5 different elements (air, earth, fire, water, and ether) and these are played similarly to how dominoes are played. The game is brilliantly simple allowing younger kids to play the game as well. There are action cards as well in the game that allow goal cards to be switched or cards to be moved. I like the artwork and the simplicity of the game. It is a nice size (just the size of a pack of cards) and is ready to be taken and played anywhere you go. I think it would be a nice game to gift to parents or grandparents who grew up in the 60's. I think Aquarius is a good time (and it looks like the newer version has some nice changes and additions as well) and that is How Lou Sees It!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Swipe It, Swipe It Good

Day 61 - Swipe
Designed by Garrett J. Donner, Wendy L. Harris, and Michael S. Steer

This little dice game is made for 2 to 6 players although it really doesn't play as well with 2 (probably the best with 5 or 6 players). The game is nice because it all comes nicely packaged in the little blue parallelogram as seen in the picture (great for travel; take and play anywhere). The components (10 dice and 50 chips) are nice enough for the price and game. The play of the game is completely determined by what a player rolls with his dice (and he can't change any of his dice) and doesn't really leave any skill left to the game. Actions include taking chip(s) or dice from the middle or from other players. The winner is the one with the most chips after the chips from the center have been exhausted. The game just doesn't have any substance to it. It could be a nice mindless game to play with friends while doing something else (like chatting or playing a different game). Not the greatest dice game on the market (but you do get to roll dice and get chips) and that is How Lou Sees It.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Power Hungry

Day 60 - Power Grid
Designed by Friedemann Friese

Power Grid is seriously one of the best board games out there. If you are unacquainted with the game, then it is about time that you do. I would like to meet the German game designer Friedemann because he sounds like a character and a half. He is well known for liking the color green (all of his game covers have green on them and he has died his hair green before) and all of his games (at least in German) begin with the letter "F." He owns his own game company called 2F.

In Power Grid, 2 to 6 players compete to power the most cities. This is done by bidding on more advanced power plants, buying the required resources to power your plants, and by spreading your power grid to more cities. The game includes a game board that has Germany on on one side and the U.S.A. on the other. This is nice because it provides a different city set up and dynamic during each game. Each map is also divided into regions and only a certain number of regions are played with each game providing even more variability. There are multiple kinds of power plants available (plants that run on coal, oil, garbage, uranium, or wind) and one must upgrade their plants to be able to power more cities. There is a set number of resources and the game has a great way of simulating resource availability (supply and demand) which increases the price of the resource as it becomes more scarce (resources are limited, and you may not even have the resource you need available when you need it). The turn order is determined at the end of each round which helps benefit the players who are behind (or those who strategize to be placed in a certain spot). The game is just chalk full of great game play and the game components are fantastic as well.

I really think those that enjoy the Ticket to Ride games would also enjoy this game. Power Grid is a bit more complex in strategy and game play, but it really is not too overly complex. Power Grid does take about 2 hours to play (maybe a bit less), so those that don't like longer games may have a bit of an issue with the length. Power Grid is a very innovative game that I like to recommend to pretty much everyone (including my thermodynamics teacher - random) and that is How Lou Sees It.