Fastrack – NHL Edition

Filed Under (Dexterity, Family Games, Kids Games) by Will Bain on Aug 24, 2014

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NHL FastrackFastrack by Blue Orange Games is Major Fun. It is a Keeper.

It now comes in an NHL edition.

The game remains the same: try to get all of the discs to the other side of the board. To do this you must fling them with an elastic band through a narrow slot in the board. Your opponent is trying to do the same thing. Through the same narrow slot.

Madness ensues!

01 AwardThe game is brilliant. Fast paced and nerve jangling. What has been added in this edition is NHL themed artwork. The board is designed like a hockey rink. The discs are hockey pucks. NHL logos adorn the edges. It’s a nice touch.

2 players. Ages 5+

Fastrack was designed by Jean-Marie Albert and is the NHL edition is © 2014 by Blue Orange Games.

Masters of the Gridiron

Filed Under (Family Games, Thinking Games) by Will Bain on Aug 20, 2014

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Masters of the gridiron 2Given my previous post about GenCon, it is only appropriate that the Major Fun Award goes to a game about football. Let me introduce you to Masters of the Gridiron: the card game that can unite casual gamers and football fans all across our fair land.

One of the things that I really love about games is the way the designers take events and activities in our physical world and translate those situations into cards and dice and tokens and the vast panoply of game mechanics. In many ways I think this is the most artistic aspect of game design (as opposed to the graphical art that decorates the box and cards and etc). There is a fascinating, understated beauty to this process of simulation and representation.

Masters of the gridironSports Mogul took on the daunting task of representing the game of American football and in the process, created the accessible and engaging card game. Each player has a deck of cards that represents a specific pro team from a specific year (we played with 8 teams from the 2013 season). The cards are divided into three categories: offense, defense, and playbook. Offense and defense cards depict actual players. The top half of the offense and defense cards contains numbers you will need for the card game while the bottom half contains vital statistics from the 2013 season (these are not vital to playing Masters of the Gridiron). The playbook cards represent different types of scoring drives and which players work best in those situations.

The game ends after each team attempts 9 scoring drives. Your scoring drive consists of one playbook card and one offense card. Your playbook card tells you which what to look for on your offense card and which players receive bonuses. In general you look for the player that has the highest rating for the play you have chosen (high numbers win). Once you reveal your offense, your opponent gets to choose one defense card. The play card says what kinds of defense work against the play so your opponent wants to choose a player with a ranking that is higher than your offense. If offense is higher, you score. If the defense is equal to or higher than offense, you fail.

Each player gets to be on offense and defense nine times. In between plays, the teams get to draw cards to replace the ones that were used. At the end of the game, scores are tallied.

There are some complications, but they are rare and are handled very well in the slim rule sheet. In the end, Masters of the Gridiron is very simple and yet offers a lot of interesting choices. You have to manage your resources (players cannot be used more than once) and you have to choose between going for touchdowns or kicking field goals.

01 AwardFor those who want more, there is a great deck building and drafting mechanic that allows the players to draft their own teams. Each deck comes with additional cards that can be swapped with others in the deck. It is also possible to combine different decks into a dream team. Each player comes with a salary. If you play one of the deck-building games you have a pool of money with which you can build your team. Now you have to decide between drafting a few top end players (and having many lower players) or having a more solid (if less exciting) team.

We had fun just playing with the teams out of their boxes. After the first series of plays, the game is very intuitive and does a great job of evoking excitement of football without requiring any detailed knowledge of the game. Casual gamers will appreciate the laid-back strategy of the card game and football fans will have a lot to discuss as the games unfold.

GO COLTS!

2 players. Ages 8+

Masters of the Gridiron was designed by Conor Milliken and Clay Drelough and is © 2014 by Sports Mogul, Inc.

GenCon 2014 – A quick observation…

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Will Bain on Aug 16, 2014

As I was leaving GenCon today I witnessed the rare convergence between two forces of geekdom.

As the exhibition halls and large public venues of GenCon were closing down, the gamers streamed out of the convention center and went looking for sustenance amid the food trucks and pubs along Georgia Street. They were met by the inrush of blue and white clad Colts fans moving toward their Lucas Oil cathedral.

Exhibit A:

Cosplay gencon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exhibit B:

colts fans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Each group eyed the other and I’m sure saw “The Other.” And yet, I can’t for the life of me think of a significant difference between the two groups.

We have a long way to go.

GenCon 2014 – Major Fun Games in Play!

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Will Bain on Aug 15, 2014

Some photos of Major Fun Award winners being played at GenCon:

Tsuro Giant sized Tsuro by Calliope.

The Calliope booth was HOPPIN! It’s a great group of people who are producing some of the most beautiful and fun games out there. Several of their new games have been nominated for Major Fun and are up for review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PandemicPandemic is a personal favorite of mine and I was a little envious of the board these guys were playing on. I am a small enough person that I will envy the newest, flashiest edition.

From right to left: Mike (Westfield, IN) and Jason (Indianapolis) and Michael (Las Angeles, CA).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemming Mafia Lemming Mafia from Mayfair is silly an cute and combines lots of cool elements as your lemming race to the end of the pier in concrete galoshes.

From right to left: Andy (Berkeley, CA) and Robby and Mithila (both from Indianapolis).

 

 

 

 

 

Hoot Owl HootHoot Owl Hoot is a very basic cooperative game from Peaceable Kingdom that is geared for younger players. Lots of cooperative games are very complicated but Hoot Owl Hoot strips the experience down to a few clear mechanics and proves to be very exciting.

Pictured is Debbie and her two kids Aurora and David from Oak Park, IL.

 

 

 

 

Cross WaysAnd finally Cross Ways from USAopoly. Great strategy game for lots of people or even just two people.

Paul (Spartanburg, SC) is learning the game from one of Major Fun’s own play testers, Heather (Indianapolis).

 

 

 

 

GenCon 2014 – Fun and Games

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Will Bain on Aug 14, 2014

I am not a photographer by nature (NO you say with only the barest disguise to your sarcasm…) I often don’t think about taking pictures and when I do I suck at it. With those disclaimers, here are the cool things I have seen at GenCon that I actually managed to photograph (with only the minimum of hand-blur).

It's hard to depict Florida in the medium of hexagons...

It’s hard to depict Florida in the medium of hexagons…

 

Giant board games are cool. Catan is very cool. Thus we have giant cool squared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then there are the giant Lego robots…

Lego Brick World RobotsComputer guided robot vehicles. This is how we will travel between exhibition halls at GenCon 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And one of my favorite events: Cardhalla. Every year folks build intricate structures out of cards from donated collectible card games. On Saturday the structures are destroyed in a hail of coins and there is an auction to see who throws first (all money goes to charity). I can’t think of a better use of collectible card games…

Cardhalla 01

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a lesson to be learned here. I can almost feel it…

Cardhalla 02

GenCon 2014 – Trade Day Thanks

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Will Bain on Aug 13, 2014

A quick shout out to those I talked to on Trade Day. It was great to meet you. Thanks for sharing your ideas and games and time with me.

Kathleen Mercury (www.kathleenmercury.com): great session on teaching game design to middle school students (full semester course in which the students design and build a board game).

Rudolf Kraus (Rhode Island College): great session on teaching game design in an undergraduate, college seminar.

Sean Duncan (Indiana University): Games and education

Chris Hamm (Indianapolis): Game development in Indianapolis & his game Strife.

Beth Koenen-Seelbach (Indianapolis): Games and after-school care programs

Chris Corbett (ACD Distribution): Hospitality room and Meeple Monthly magazine.

Cassidy and Chris (Calliope Games): Nice to meet you in person and lose all your game demos…

Tara (Peaceable Kingdom): With whom it has been proven I have NO telepathic link…

Al and Joe (Out of the Box): Thanks for teaching me a game that had already won a Major Fun Award! Obviously there are too many for me to keep track of…

The folks at Indy Game Developers: Michelle for showing me the story-telling games and the two young folks who taught me Demon Dice. Yours were the only names I did not write down and were therefore forgotten. I will find out when I visit your booth…

Joell Palmer (Amtgard): organized the foam sword fights in Union Station and talked to me as the melee roiled not more than 10 feet away.

 

GenCon 2014 – Set

Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Will Bain on Aug 13, 2014

A few more pictures wrapping up Trade Day for GenCon. This is what GenCon looks like in the quiet moments before the storm:Exhibit Hall - Before the Storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So quiet. So empty. You’ve got to do SOMETHING until those tables fill with goodness.

Playing Set

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Set is one of the earliest winners of the Major Fun Award. It’s a personal favorite and a fantastic game to take when you are waiting around for the festivities to kick into gear. If you don’t know the game you should. Pictured are three gentlemen from our eastern states: (from right to left) Chris and Patrick (Richmond, VA) and Evan (Boston, MA). Thanks, guys, for letting me take your picture. Hope you are having fun.

GenCon 2014 – Strife at Trade Day

Filed Under (Musings and such...) by Will Bain on Aug 13, 2014

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Strife Creator - Chris HammFor those who don’t know, this weekend is GenCon in Indianapolis– one of the largest gatherings of game enthusiasts in the world. Here are some pictures from Trade Day which is the day before the official festivities commence.

I met Chris Hamm at one of the seminars. Chris is from Indianapolis and is the proud creator of the game Strife which he is debuting at GenCon. Strife is being published by V3G Games which is also right here in Indianapolis.

Check out how beautiful this game is!! (my crappy phone camera doesn’t do them justice) Chris demoed Strife for me. I can’t speak for all our game tasters but I would love to see it submitted for a Major Fun Award (I’m talking to YOU V3G!!)

StrifeAlso check out Chris’ blog “Life in Games” for more information about Strife and other games that Chris loves. He’s part of an active game community that was instrumental in bringing this project to life. Chris and Strife will be with V3G (and their game Incredibrawl) at booth 2727. Make sure you say hi.

More pictures and posts from GenCon to come…

 

Blurble

Filed Under (Family Games, Kids Games, Party Games) by Will Bain on Aug 13, 2014

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BlurbleDeluxeBlurble is a game like Anomia that gets a lot of laughs and game-play-mileage out of making you sound stupid.

You aren’t stupid. I know this because you are reading this web post. You also demonstrate great taste and a fine appreciation for the playful side of life. And in that last regard, Blurble is the game for you.

Just be warned: the longer you play the game, the dumber you will sound.

The game consists of a big deck of cards. How many cards, you ask? I’m not quite sure, but at a guess I would say more than 11. Yep, the box lid confirms there are more than 11 cards (489 more to be exact). The cards have pictures on them—illustrations of objects that are easy to identify (although one card had a plate of nachos that I was SURE was a pizza).

The game starts with a person called the “Blurbler.” Say it out loud. GO on. Now say it more than five times in a row. That kind of silly stupid tongue tied feeling is something you are going to have to get used to a lot. The Blurbler turns to the first person clockwise and flips up a card. The two players then races to say a word that begins with the same letter as the object in the picture.

Blurble cardsBUT (and notice it is a big but…) there are legal words and there are illegal words. Words cannot be proper nouns, numbers, contractions, or contain fewer than 3 letters (when we played we misread the rules and so disallowed anything with less than 4 letters—harder but still tons of fun). Words may never be used more than once in a game. Finally, the word cannot name the image. For instance, if a picture of a cat comes up you cannot say cat nor can you say catatonic nor can you say vacation (va CAT ion). That last one you might be able to slip by the other players (who act as judges) but they could call you out for illegal Blurbling.

01 AwardAs the game goes on you do tend to get faster but you also tend to run into words that have already been used. You will find yourself tripping over some of the most basic words because you just can’t remember if the word has been used before.

One thing we really liked about Blurble is that you are not penalized for saying an illegal word. If you say an illegal word you just have to keep trying. Players just keep shouting out words (and a lot of gibberish) until they say a legal one.

Major Fun for lots of ages and big groups of people.

2-12 players. Ages 8+

Blurble was designed by Grant Bernard and is © 2011 by Bernard Games.

Rumble in the House / Rumble in the Dungeon

Filed Under (Family Games, Kids Games, Party Games) by Will Bain on Aug 11, 2014

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Rumble in the houseA while back we awarded King of Tokyo with a Major Fun Award. Giant monsters rampaging their way through a major metropolitan city. What isn’t there to like?

Well, Flatlined Games has lowered the stakes a little (you are fighting over a house instead of a city) but kicked the rampaging into overdrive.

Rumble in the House (and it’s virtually identical twin Rumble in the Dungeon) distills the fighting game down to its most basic core: move monsters, remove monsters. Cram a bunch of hare-trigger psychopaths (like Cthulhu, a Chicken Man superhero, and a penguin packing dynamite) into a single flat and watch the furniture fly.

For all its parts, the game is beautifully simple. There are twelve room tiles that make up the board. Arrange these as you like. There are twelve monsters on little plastic stands. Place one in each room. There are 12 monster tokens. Each player chooses 2 at random. Keep yours hidden! These are the monsters you are trying to protect as long as you can.

Rumble ComponentsOn your turn you can do one of two things: move one monster (if it is alone) OR “pick a fight.” If there are two or more monsters in a room, you get to remove one from the game. Fights in the house are very fast and very decisive!

As monsters are eliminated from the house, you must place them in a line. Play until only one character remains. Points are determined by the place of your monsters in the line. The first two monsters score nothing. Zero. After that each monster scores points by their position in line starting with one point for the third monster and going up to ten points for the one who walked out of the house. You take the score of your last monster.

The game is played over three rounds. Each time, you build the house, draw new secret monsters, and then RUUUUMMMMMMBLE!!

01 AwardRumble in the Dungeon is the successor to Rumble in the House. The location and characters have changed and a treasure chest has been added to the basic mechanics. Moving and fighting are still the main actions, but if you can get one of your characters to carry the treasure chest to the dungeon’s entrance, that character can leave and earn 10 points. Moving and fighting continue even if someone succeeds in removing the treasure (instead of fighting for the treasure you are now fighting over who let someone else abscond with it).

Rumble in the dungeonYour first game is the longest and that’s only because you have to punch out the pieces and glance through the rules. The artwork on the pieces, the box, and the rules by Kwanchai Moriya is fun and colorful. We loved looking at the pieces and making up stories about how one character defeated the other. It’s a very light game but it lends itself to lots of replay. I also appreciated that even when your monsters have been eliminated you still get to influence the game.

Spite becomes a powerful force for Major Fun.

2-6 players. Ages 8+

Rumble in the House was designed by Olivier Saffre and is © 2011 by Flatlined Games. Rumble in the Dungeon is © 2012. Worldwide distribution is being handled by the good people at Iello.