Small World board game
Brain Freeze board game
Steampunk Rally dice game
Lift Off! Get Me Off This Planet! board game
Dixit Odyssey card game
Sheriff of Nottingham board game
Forbidden Desert board game
Takenoko board game
The Little Prince: Rising to the Stars board game
Roll for the Galaxy dice game

Top 11 Games and Experiences YTD

Gen Con 2016 board games

Three cheers to my Gen Con traveling buddy!

Wow! I’ve already played more board games so far this year than I did all of last year!

So far this year, I’ve already played 142 different games!

Whereas, during 2015 I played 132 different games.

How do I know how many different board games I’ve played?

Because I like to keep track of the games I play. And this year I started tracking my board game plays with a new app that I really like — Board Game Stats.

For a number of years I’ve tracked the games I play on and via the BGG app. (That’s also what fuels the side banner on this site showing my recent games played.)

However, this year I decided to try Board Game Stats and I love it!

Now rather than just record that I played a certain game, I also record who I played with, where we played as well as the outcome.

Board Game Stats app

The Board Game Stats app is fantastic!

With the app, it’s so easy to do right after playing a game. A couple taps while putting the game away and it’s recorded. So simple.

Taking a look at games I’ve played during 2016 so far, here’s what I found:

  • 326 total plays
  • 142 different games
  • 93 different players
  • 17 different locations

While numbers alone don’t tell stories, looking back over the list of board games I’ve played, good memories come flooding back.

And that’s why I keep track — to bring to remembrance the fun times with friends and family.

As I looked over my list this past weekend, I started thinking about my favorite gaming moments for the year so far.

In some cases, I thought of particular board games I’ve had a blast playing. And in other cases, it’s more about the experience overall.


Top 11 Games and Experiences 2016 YTD


11. Abyss

The first board game on my “favorite games I played this year” list goes to the board game Abyss. I’d looked forward to playing Abyss for a long time. And finally playing it at SaltCon this year made the wait totally worth it. I was hooked. I was also lucky enough to get a copy as a gift for my birthday the following month and discover that it was a hit with the family as well. Score!

SaltCon 2016 Abyss board game

Love the art style and game play of Abyss


10. Ice Cool

If you’ve seen our recent review of Ice Cool, you’ll already know that Ice Cool was the first game to hit our table after coming home from Gen Con 2016. I never would have guessed that either a children’s game or a dexterity game would make my “favorite games I played this year” list. But we’ve had a genuinely fun time flicking penguins all around their icy school.

Ice Cool board game

Flicking penguins around is lots of fun.


9. Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

Deception is another game that has taken our game table by storm. It’s a deduction game that’s hit its mark with our family, our extended family, and our friends who we’ve played it with. It’s already one of our most-played games of the year and for sure will be showing up on our Game Gift Guide before the holidays.

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong board game

Deception is a very fun group deduction game.


8. Luchador with Mark Rivera

When you get a home visit from a game designer from another country who’s great to visit with, engages with your family, and convinces your daughter to play a game she was previously uninterested in, it’s definitely going on my “favorites” experiences list. Thanks again Mark for the visit and fun games of Luchador!

Luchador dice game

We had a great time playing Luchador with the game designer, Mark Rivera.


7. Scythe

I was very impressed watching the Kickstarter for Scythe reach $1.8 million. Yet I was also cautious to see if it would live up to the buzz. I shouldn’t have been worried. Because the next thing you know, I’m recording my video review of the 17 Things I Love About Scythe. There are so many aspects of the game I really enjoy that it’s a “no brainer” to go on my favorites list for the year.

Scythe board game

Vying for control of territories and resources in Scythe.


6. Star Wars: Rebellion

Fantasy Flight Games sure knows how to make the most of their Star Wars license for board games. If you check their website you’ll see 11 Star Wars themed games. The catch for us players is that they’re all so stinking good! I was able to play Star Wars: Rebellion last month in a 4-player game and it was awesome! It was a tense battle between the rebels and the empire the entire time. It’s a longer game, but very well worth it. I so want to try it as a 2-player game — the consensus is that’s the way it really shines.

Star Wars: Rebellion board game

Star Wars: Rebellion is a fabulous Star Wars game. Looking forward to playing again.


5. Dead of Winter

Since I detest zombie-themed everything, it’s quite surprising that I’d list Dead of Winter #5 on my “favorite games” of the year list. Yet, we’ve had a blast playing Dead of Winter. It’s a cooperative board game where the objectives change slightly from game to game. In addition, each player has their personal objective they’d like to accomplish as well. Who knew that trying to survive as a colony against zombies could be so fun?

Dead of Winter board game

I’m not a zombie fan, but I’ve had a lot of fun playing Dead of Winter.


4. Memoir ’44 Game Night

Our annual Memoir ’44 game night around D’Day was once again a super fun night. During our Memoir ’44 game night last year we played an Overlord scenario with a battle map. This year, we wanted more action. So we split up with multiple copies of the game to have a bunch of head-to-head matches instead. Since it was during the summer, dads brought their sons along to play as well. It’s a good thing guys have loved it enough to go buy copies for their family because we’re going to need even more copies to repeat the fun, and growing, game night next year.

Memoir '44 board game

Fathers and sons playing Memoir ’44 — so fun!


3. Birthday Gaming in Washington D.C.

Finding myself out of town on business for my birthday this year, I ventured out to a board game store that evening in Washington, D.C. I found one (Labyrinth Game Shop) that had opening gaming schedule for that night so it sounded like a good omen. However, I was also ready to just take a quick glance and leave as well. But to my delight, it was a packed place and I met a number of people that I enjoyed playing board games with. It was so cool to spend an evening with total strangers over shared enjoyment of board games! It totally made my day, my birthday, and my trip!

Labyrinth game store

We found a spot to play Between Two Cities.


2. SaltCon

Once again, SaltCon, our local board game convention, was so much fun! This year I went for all 3 days and played games late into the night each day. I love meeting up with friends I’ve made at past SaltCons as well as making new friends each year. SaltCon is all about playing games. There are some exhibitors and other events, but at the heart it’s just pure board game playing. And oh what fun it is! You can see my full recap of SaltCon here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

SaltCon 2016 playing

SaltCon is all about open gaming.


1. Gen Con

Topping off my “favorite game experiences” this year is hands down my trip to Gen Con! Having heard about it for years, I finally took the plunge and ventured to Indianapolis for 4 for days of gaming goodness. The spectacle was amazing. But the best part of it was meeting so many wonderful people that I’ve only know virtually for years. Publisher contacts, podcasters, and other board game reviewers that I’ve communicated with only through email and social media were there in force and I love meeting them in person!

Such a wonderful hobby full of very friendly people!

Gen Con 2016

So happy I could finally make it to Gen Con this year!


Looking back on the year brings out a huge smile. It’s been awesome!

There are also way more than 11 great board games and experiences that come to mind. But I’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

Unfortunately, it means games like Bring Your Own Book, Lanterns, Burgle Bros., Jamaica, Roll for the Galaxy, and Cosmic Encounter just missed the shortlist.

And who knows what the next 3 months will bring as the year winds down. After all, we still have plenty of board games from Gen Con that haven’t hit our table yet.

Here’s to looking forward to even more fun friends and family gaming memories ahead!


Luchador is dice rolling fun!

Luchador dice gameModern dice games have come a long way from their early beginnings. While many games still rely on a number of pips on each side, it seems that more and more games are designed with a wide variety of symbols on the dice.

With such designs, the possibilities are endless.

And today we’re jumping into the ring of Mexican wrestling with our review of Luchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice.

Last year my wife and I were lucky enough to spend an evening with the Luchador game designer, Mark Rivera and his family in London. I first connected with Mark years ago (long before he came up with the idea for Luchador). So much of the evening was spent visiting.

But we also took advantage of the time to play our first game of Luchador with Mark and his son.

Luchador dice game

Hop in the ring for a fun dice game!

Even though my wife and I’s tag-teaming match ended in a loss, I knew Luchador would be a game I’d be playing again.

Well, that day finally came this last month after I met the gents from Backspindle Games at Gen Con. They’re the publishers of Luchador and they sent me home with a copy of the fun dice game. I quickly got it to the table with my boys — who energetically dove into the lucha libre theme and had a great time.

Especially Caleb.

He can’t seem to get enough. He’s a dice-rolling fool and is always challenging others to a game.

See how to play Luchador as well as why Caleb enjoys it so much in his video review.


Can the whole family enjoy Luchador?

At its heart, Luchador is a straightforward dice rolling game. Players roll dice and compare results. However, with the addition of a Mexican wrestling theme, all of a sudden the game takes on a new life.

With the lucha libre theme, players now have reasons to cheer for certain results. And that makes for fun for all ages.

Even kids can join in the fun once they understand the different dice results.

Seeing images of different wrestling moves on the dice is so much easier and more fun than comparing numbers of pips to determine who takes damage.

Luchador dice game

Pick your character, grab your dice and start rolling!

Luchador can also be played with advanced rules that add a few more elements for older players who want more options. With the advanced rules, players have more decisions to make in how to use their dice. Rather than using them right away, they can set them aside to hopefully build up to even more powerful moves.

Luchador dice game

Play with the advanced rules for even more options.

That being said, not everyone is going to enjoy the Mexican wrestling theme.

The teen boys we’ve played with as well as the guys at our monthly Guys Game Night have all had a great time playing. They all get into the smack-down theme and get a kick out of it — especially when playing with 4 players in tag-teams.

Yet we haven’t had as great of reception among the ladies. Brooke and mom have been content to sit it out. (Until today! Check out our update at the end.)

You’ll have to be the judge as to whether you’ll have the same results in your family.

Luchador dice game

The colorful dice goes great with the theme.


Take it to the mat

One of the things we love about Luchador is all the additional material that comes with the game.

We’ve already mentioned the fun of the wrestling dice themselves.

However, Backspindle Games didn’t stop there. Instead, the game is full of colorful characters – colorful in standies, cards, and even in name.

Much like lucha libre itself, each character has a unique and fun name as well as colorful costumes. The standies themselves don’t affect the results of the dice rolls. However, they’re a great addition to get players into the theme of the game.

Luchador dice game

We frequently pick to play with Bam Bam En Fuego.

When you’re up against an opponent, it’s always more fun to see him/her standing there opposite you.

Each character also has their unique card with special moves and flare to go with their damage results.

But to top it all off, there’s a physical wrestling ring!

Sure you can roll your dice on any simple playing surface. But why so that when you can have an actual ring, complete with ropes, to have your duel?

The ring is awesome!

Luchador dice game

Playing in a wrestling ring is sweet!

Both players roll their dice simultaneously and any dice that fall out of the ring, don’t count. It can be a bit frustrating to see a good die result end up outside the ring. But it’s a very fleeting feeling because of the light nature of the game.

And when the dust settles, the winning players even have a championship belt they can raise up to celebrate.

It’s these extra touches that help the game theme shine through.


UPDATE (9/17 evening):

It just so happens that the day we posted our review of Luchador, we were lucky enough to have Mark Rivera stop by our home for a visit!

Turns out he was over from London this week for his daughter’s wedding here in Utah!

We were more than happy to return the favor of a visit like he did for us in London last year. We visited for a while and then Caleb set up Luchador for some wrestling time.

This time however, Mark convinced Brooke to play and she joined him on a team against Caleb and I.

It was a close match with all 4 of us low in strength with many Pin attempts ending in fails. However, they put the smack-down on me and Mark sent my strength plummeting with a mighty final blow.

Brooke and Mark were victorious.

Luchador dice game

Brooke can do some serious damage.

Quickly followed by Caleb’s call for a rematch.

While the second match started out very balanced with many tag outs, this time Brooke and Mark put the hurt on us much earlier. They quickly pinned Caleb and he couldn’t escape.

Once again, Caleb and I were defeated. Bummer.

After Mark left, I asked Brooke what she thought about Luchador and she said, “it was a lot of fun”.

Sure winning may have something to to with that. But I could tell she was having a fun time throughout as well.

What a great afternoon!

Luchador dice game

We had a great time playing Luchador with the game designer, Mark Rivera.


How does Luchador score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Luchador dice gameLuchador! Mexican Wrestling Dice scores high on our boys’ “let’s play again” game meter. Games seem to fly by so quickly we seem to always roll right into matches one after another.

With such a fun environment to play in, it’s also tempting to leave Luchador set up on the table so future matches can emerge on a whim.

Thanks Backspindle Games and Mark Rivera for a fun family dice game!

Grab a copy of Luchador for your family.


Ice Cool is so hot!

Ice Cool board game

Ready to flick penguins around their ice school?

It’s time to review our 2nd most-played game this month — Ice Cool.

Don’t let the name fool you. This game is hot!

At Gen Con 2016 last month, Ice Cool was one of the hot games that sold out rather quickly.

I hadn’t heard about it at all before Gen Con. And it’s probably not surprising because Ice Cool is published by Brain Games out of Latvia.

Coming home with 13 games from Gen Con, Ice Cool was one that I was super excited to play because I thought it might go over well with the family.

And boy, was I right!

Ice Cool is a blast to play!

Check out Caleb’s video review to see what Ice Cool is all about. (And catch some actual game play footage in the middle.)


Can the whole family enjoy Ice Cool?

Read more »


Deception: Murder in Hong Kong is a huge hit!

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong board game

The title may turn some off, but the game is a blast.

If you saw our recent review of Clue: Harry Potter edition, you’ll know our family enjoys deduction games. Whether it’s a competitive or cooperative board game, we like trying to crack a tough case.

And today we’re excited to share another deduction game we absolutely love playing – Deception: Murder in Hong Kong by Grey Fox Games.

Deception has been such a hit in our family that it’s shot past a ton of other games on our “to review” shelf.

This isn’t like a checkout line at the grocery store – first come, first served.

Instead, it’s like at a desert buffet where the tastiest treat gets eaten first.

Or in this case – the game most played is the game next reviewed.

And with more than 15 plays in just two weeks, Deception is screaming for a review.

Read more »


Brooke loves Clue: Harry Potter edition

Harry Potter Clue

We love Clue. We love Harry Potter. Will we love Clue: Harry Potter?

If we were to ask readers to name the most popular board games in the world, we imagine the game Clue would be in the top 5.

The list would probably include Monopoly, Chess, CheckersScrabble, and Clue.

As such, we most likely don’t need to introduce you to Clue.

However, we do want to tell you about the version of Clue that we’ve played a lot as a family since we bought a copy last year — Clue: Harry Potter edition.

And perhaps the biggest fan in our family is Brooke.

Check out Brooke’s video review of Clue: Harry Potter to see why she loves it so much.


Why Clue: Harry Potter is a hit in our family

Read more »


What’s a MOD X?

MOD X board game

X marks the spot!

Does your family like abstract strategy games?

For those who are unsure, “abstract strategy” games are board games that aren’t covered in theme. Game pieces are typically generic and players all begin on equal footing.

These type of games present challenges where players square off in a competition of wits. The game play revolves around how well players can maneuver their pieces to achieve the winning condition.

In the category of abstract strategy games, there are a lot of games where the winning objective is, “Get 5 in a row”.

However, even though they have similar objectives, there’s always a twist.

Perhaps you’ve played a number of such games.

We know we’ve played a bunch of them. And some of them are even in our Family Favorites.

If you like these type of games, we’ve got another game for you to check out: MOD X

Watch Caleb’s video review of MOD X to see if it’s a game your family might like.

Can the whole family enjoy MOD X?

Read more »


And Then There Were 2

The Board Game Family zipline

We’re ready to hit the ziplines!

August has been an emotional month for our family.

I’m sure you’ve had some of those.

The month started out with an emotional high as I went to Gen Con 2016!

Having anticipated going for a number of years, I was very excited to finally go. I had a wonderful time!

And while I was in Indianapolis, the rest of the family was spending time having fun in California.

The week after was spent catching our breaths and watching the Olympics.

But we knew the relaxing wouldn’t last forever.

We had big changes coming for our family and we we’re gearing up for the shift.

Read more »


Chocoly – playing with chocolate!

Chocoly board game

Ready to make a chocolate bar?

Grab yourself a tasty chocolate bar, sit back, and enjoy it while you read our review of Chocoly by FoxMind.

Because, as the name implies, this family board game is about chocolate.

And we love chocolate!

We also love tile-laying board games. And that’s exactly what Chocoly is!

We enjoy playing tile-laying games because we get to take an active role in building the outcome as we go. It’s fun to see the result when we’re done and know it turned out that way because of our choices.

And even though Chocoly doesn’t use real chocolate in the game, we still have fun playing.

Read more »