Thursday, May 26, 2011

Games Galore

One of the great things about April and Perry, other than how fantastic they are as friends, is that they are gamers. Now when you see the word, gamer, there is a stereotype that pops up. It's a nebbish, late 30-something male, overweight, unemployed and living in the basement of his parents' house. He probably went to college but his degree in business management really hasn't gotten him anything. He held a job for 5 years but got laid off or, probably, fired and he's thrown up his hands and quit looking. Mom would love it if he'd stop playing on the computer and find a job.

Gamers aren't like this. I fall into this category as do April and Perry. They are "hard-core" gamers, too. Walk into their dining room and you'll see a stack of games on the sideboard. Perry regularly combs the Internet gaming sites looking for new games. They have a regular Monday game night where they get together with a bunch of people to play games. They like role playing games but also have dice, card and board games. As I planned my trip to Connecticut in November and this trip to the wedding, I planned around being in Youngstown for the Monday night game session.

We played just a couple of games on Wednesday, Wits and Wagers and Say Anything.  In Wits and Wagers, all answers are numbers and they are based on trivia such as, "In 2005, how many people in New Zealand claimed 'Jedi' as their religion." You answer and then bet on whose answer is the highest without going over the actual number. Bets have a 2-5 to 1 winning and, at the end of the game, you can bet it all. I don't remember who won, but it was fun.

Say Anything. It's hysterical and prone to lots of silly and very ribald comments. I had played this with the crew in November when I had passed through and it's one of those venerable chestnuts you pull out because you know it's going to be fun.

You have dry erase boards on which you write an answer to a question. "In my opinion" starts the question so you want to give an answer you think the reader will choose. Then you bet on which of the answers is most likely to be picked. The potential for answers involving "vibrators" or "in bed" or other similar sentiments is high, particularly if it's late and the group has imbibed. I don't remember who won Wednesday's game. I think Perry won Monday's version.

On Monday, mom and I arrived at April and Perry's much earlier than expected. That allowed us to play a couple more games. Another chestnut of gaming is Carcassonne. In this game, you draw a tile and then use it to build a city or a road. You score points when your "meeple" claims a road or a city that gets completed.

I had played this with them back in November. It was a bit confusing at first, what I was supposed to do, but I got the hang of it. I don't like strategy games and there is a small amount of strategizing here. But the game is quite dependent upon what's on the tile you draw. I finally got the hang of it and I won this round.

After Carcassone, we played Munchkin Booty. I am familiar with Munchkin. I have given one of the various expansion card sets to various friends of Carole for birthdays and Christmas for many years. I had never played it before.

It will take maybe another couple of games for me to really get the hang of what you do and what the cards mean. They are silly, witty and full of puns. I had a great time and I see why people like to play it.

After this, Joe and his wife, Belinda, arrived and it was time to haul out a brand new game, Dixit. This was different. You have to think when you play this one.

You're given a handful of cards. Each card has an image on it which can only be described as "surreal". On your turn, you pick a card and come up with a word or phrase that describes the card. Once you say that word or phrase, the other gamers must pick a card from their hand that they think best represents what you have said. These are laid on the table and mixed. Then you bet on which card is the speaker's. Points are awarded based on whether you successfully pick the speaker's, don't pick the speaker's or have your card chosen.

As this was the first attempt at this game, we played it until Joe and Perry won. I'm on the fence about it. Some of the cards I had in my hand were weird, in a disturbing sort of way. I would play it again but I don't think it's something I would own.

After this game, we played a game I am adding to the wish list. I love Apples to Apples and Say Anything is great too. But playing a card game with killer bunnies, trying to kill bunnies and trying to be the person who has the magic carrot at the end was so much fun. There's strategy with this game in terms of "Do I want to kill Perry's bunnies because he has 3 carrots and he can't win the game if he doesn't have bunnies alive at the end of it?" That's the extent of it and that's the kind of strategy I like. Belinda won this and she was very excited because I guess Greg, who wasn't in attendance, usually wins. My mom had fun playing games too, which made the evening special.

I wish I lived closer. I could see a once a week game night where you get together with friends, order pizza or something else, have snacks and beverages and spend 4 hours playing games. I grew up with games and we bought a lot of games when Carole was growing up. While I love playing WOW, stepping away and playing Mille Bourne or Sorry or Uno or Carcassonne or Dixit or Killer Bunnies would be a great way to spend an evening. Sometimes I wonder if all the games that could be invented have been and then something shows up and, wow, this is great.

Solo games are a lot of fun, but they really can't beat the social interaction of a bunch of friends laughing over "In my opinion, what is the worst thing you can say on a first date?" No, I won't put down the winning answer.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


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