Friday, December 11, 2009

Let the Games Begin

Winter brings the gamer out in me.  I can't help it.  I love puzzles, strategy and competition.  I wanted to find new amusements to keep Michael and I busy these cold and winter nights.  A person can only watch so much television or read a certain number of books.  The mind needs a different type of stimulation every once in a while.  However, most of the games I have played in the past are old standbys like Scrabble, Monopoly and Uno.  It was time for an different diversion.

I currently have a subscription to Games magazine.  It's my favorite magazine because it includes crosswords, logic puzzles and most of all, game reviews.   Games has a year end evaluation of card, board and video entertainment.  Their reviews are a great source for finding new products from single player to party games.  I wanted to find a card game that I could play with Mike.

After browsing through the lists of card games, I found one that intrigued me.  It's a two-player game called Lost Cities.  The adventure game requires the players to start of expeditions through the rain forest, desert and mountains while looking for abandoned cities.  The challenge is that each player has a limited number of movements to make.  Each expedition must be made sequentially and any uncompleted explorations are penalized.  The player with the most points wins.  The game's strategy involves a balance between aggressive exploration and conservative expansion.  I admit, I haven't won against Michael yet.  He is a very good strategist.

Michael requested the game, Carcassonne, which I thought was because he is a Francophile.  I found out that the tile-laying, two-player game is engaging and I can win against him.  Carcassonne is based on the medieval city in France.  Players get the chance to build cities, roads, cloisters and farms.  The key to the game is that each person has a limited number of pawns to deploy.  The pawns represent thieves, monks, knights and farmers.  Each playing piece when positioned properly adds points to the developer.  Once all the tiles have been played,  each player's score it tallied.  The winner has the most points.  Winning the game does demand some luck but also requires foresight in how the land  can be developed.

The last card game I discovered was a fluke.  I was on the website ordering Lost Cities and Carcassonne.  I found a inexpensive card game, Solo for one dollar.  What a deal!  The only catch was that the cards were written in Scandinavian (hunh?).  They included instructions in English so I thought, 'what the hey!'  It was a fun, diverting card game.  Way better than the American pasttime, Uno.  Solo is based on the Crazy Eights format but has special action cards.  Along with the change direction and color cards is a swap hands or change all hands action card.  Plus, it's fun to remember what the cards mean since they are in Scandinavian.  Ben had the best time playing Solo with Michael and I.  I highly recommend it for your next family gathering.

I hope I have motivated you to consider playing with your loved ones tonight while it's cold and dark outside.  If you don't own a favorite card or board game, it might be time to look for one of the games I have listed.   Turn the TV off, close that book and let the games begin!

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