Board game blowout weekend
Our nephew (and cousin) returned last week from his 2 year church mission and we got to spend the extended weekend with their family catching up on many things as well as playing lots of board games!
For those that aren’t familiar, missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints serve on a voluntary basis for 2 years away from home. Families keep in contact with their missionaries through weekly letters and phone calls on Christmas and Mother’s Day. So after 2 years of tremendous experiences (for both missionary and family), a missionary homecoming is a wonderful time.
Knowing that we’d be spending a long weekend at their home, and that Jake loves playing board games, we had the tough choice of which games we should first introduce him to upon his return. We wanted to take games he’d already be familiar with, but we also wanted to play games that we’ve added to our game shelves over the last 2 years that we thought he’d love.
Load up the car with board games!
The last board game we played with Jake before his mission was also one that he teamed up with Trevor to do a review of – Code 777. And while we thought of taking Code 777 for old-time sake, it was one of so many board games that didn’t make the cut and get packed for the trip to Ely, NV.
With limited space and careful packing, we were able to take a bin of 18 board games and card games for a fun family weekend!
Of course, we knew going in that we wouldn’t have time to play them all, but we wanted to make sure we had a good selection to choose from for a variety of players and situations. We made sure to take some strategy board games, cooperative board games, short & quick card games, 2-player board games, and some group/party games.
We didn’t want to just play board games all weekend because we also wanted to spend time visiting, swimming, riding 4-wheelers, and watching some football games. So while not all of the board games were played, we did end up playing 17 different games over a couple days and pleasantly re-introduced Jake to more of this fantastic world of board games!
So which board games topped the list for this fun family weekend?
Great to be together
We arrived late Thursday night and had a great time catching up with Jake and the rest of the family. We also loved seeing the puppies that were born just the week before. Puppies without their eyes open yet – precious.
But we couldn’t just head to bed, Jake was anxious to see what games we’d brought. After spreading them all out, the boys got in a couple games of Hive. Fantastic 2-player game!
The next morning, the boys and I started the day off big with a game of Battlestar Galactica. We were having such a good time playing that we hardly knew that 3 hours had passed when the Cylons eliminated the last of our population. For those unfamiliar with the board game Battlestar Galactica, it’s a cooperative board game with “traitors”. In this game the “traitors” are Cylons. The humans are trying to get to Earth while the Cyclons attack and try to sabotage the fleet.
The really cool thing about Battlestar Galactica is that loyalty cards are dealt out twice during the game. At the start of the game everyone gets a card secretly telling them if they’re a Human or a Cylon. Then mid-way through the game more loyalty cards are dealt out. So even though you may be working as a human at the start of the game, mid-way through it turns our you’re a Cylon after all. Those loyalty cards are still kept secret (until you choose to reveal yourself) so there’s a lot of doubt creeping in among the players in the game which makes for fantastic dynamics.
It turns out that in our game the humans were getting soundly defeated when we reached the mid-way point of the game, so most of us hoped to get a Cylon card anyway to finish the destruction.
We had so much fun that we all wanted to play again and left the game on the table to come back to later. It was time for a lunch break anyway.
After lunch, more family members had arrived and we played a couple quick games of Spot it! It’s such a quick and simple game that it’s easy to play over and over again.
After riding a while on the 4-wheelers, Jake was interested in trying Memoir ’44 and Trevor’s favorite – Smallworld. Jake was wiped out in the first couple games of Memoir ’44 and didn’t take to it right away. But after reviving his troops for a couple other scenarios, ended up putting Memoir ’44 on his “definitely like” list.
Likewise Smallworld was a fun game as we rattled through a lot of different races and powers, conquering each other’s lands along the way. But in the end, Trevor walked away victorious…again (no wonder he loves Smallworld).
While the boys were playing Memoir ’44, I introduced my sister to Kingdom Builder – a board game that I thought she’d really like. And sure enough, she enjoyed figuring out ways to best place her settlements across the varied landscapes to achieve the scoring goals we had in the game. Since every time you play, you randomly select 3 of the 10 different ways to score points in the game, it makes for a good variety of play. And that variety keeps it interesting and fun.
Friday night wrapped up with a relaxing dinner, swimming, more visiting, and a late movie.
Saturday packed in more board games
Over breakfast Saturday morning the boys played a game of Gloom. Now Gloom may not be such a pleasant way to start a day. After all, in the card game Gloom you’re working to make your family as miserable as possible before they die while at the same time trying to make the family members of the other players as happy as possible. Quite the odd game – but very silly. And the see-through cards are simply awesome!
Saturday was a great day to play games that might cause more of a ruckus. So we pulled out King of Tokyo and the battles begun. Everyone had fun trying to get their dice to roll just right to be the last monster standing and we played a few games of it switching out different players (since only 6 can play at a time).
Since more people wanted to play games at that point we pulled out another card game, Timeline, and had the challenge of setting out world inventions, discoveries, and events in their proper order. For a simple card game, Timeline presents a challenge and fosters a lot of discussions when you realize which things and events came before or after others.
Then we were ready to freeze our brains and played a couple games of Anomia. For a game that causes your brain to freeze up, there sure is a lot of shouting. Anomia is a tricky card game that keeps everyone on the edge of their seat looking for matching symbols with each flipped card to see if they need to jump into action and be the first to shout out a word that matches the revealed category. You see the match, then see the category, and poof – your brain goes blank and weird sounds blurt out. Lots of fun and lots of laughing!
Later, over lunch we all teamed up to play Say Anything Family which worked out great. Pairing up in teams allowed for plenty of time for visiting and eating while we thought up and voted on silly answers in the game.
Then it was time for some football. It’s hard to let a Saturday go by without watching NCAA football.
But Jake couldn’t wait much longer and we introduced him to Alien Frontiers. Alien Frontiers is all about rolling dice and making the best decisions you can with what you roll. With many options to choose from, each turn players are left to determine if they should build more ships, generate energy, mine for ore, develop their colonies, steal from other players and many more options. All those decisions lead one to think it’s a very strategic game. Yet, while strategy plays a big role, it still comes down to how the dice role. Another great board game with balance of strategy and luck.
After that game we had more time to chill and visit more before a few people pulled out Pandemic and Caleb and I gave Seven Card Samurai a try. Pandemic is a great cooperative board game and we really recommend you give it a try. It turns out that this game of Pandemic ended with a relatively quick defeat. The outbreaks started to get out of hand then a nasty triple outbreak pushed it over the top. And Caleb and I learned that even though Seven Card Samurai says it can be played with just 2 players, it isn’t as fun that way. It’s a game better suited for more players with more options when it’s time to steal cards.
Later that evening we pulled out another game that we hadn’t played before but had heard was a good family card game – Bohnanza. Who knew that a game about bean farming could be a hit. It’s been around for about 15 years and has continued to grow in popularity. I don’t know why the recommended age is 13+ because Caleb had a great time and was a master at planting his fields and trading well to manage his hand of cards nicely. He also wanted to play again when we got home, but we had to remind him that Bohnanza was his cousin’s card game, not ours. He was bummed to hear that.
Then it was time to get another board game to the table that I had a hunch my sister and her kids would really like – 7 Wonders. We played with a full 7 which meant a couple people teamed up – which worked out fine for some of those just learning. We really like 7 Wonders because of the simultaneous play. Every player is engaged in the game the whole time with constant key decisions. Make a card choice, then pass them on. Make a card choice, then pass them on. And pretty soon you’ve built a civilization and you compare scores.
You can tell 7 Wonders is a hit because last night for our weekly Monday Family Night, mom was on Activity and she chose to play 7 Wonders. We know she like a game when she’s the one choosing to play a game for the activity. She squeaked out a 1 point win over Trevor on Saturday night (61 – 60) and pulled of a 5 point win last night. Way to go mom!
And while most of the family turned in for the night after 7 Wonders, the boys and I, realizing it was our last night together had to at least get in another game. It was a tough choice because we really wanted to play Battlestar Galactica again. But ultimately decided that Jake really need to play The Resistance.
So we scurried to the basement and had a fantastic time playing The Resistance. And of course, one game of The Resistance just isn’t enough – we’re just getting started. Normally Caleb wouldn’t be staying up until midnight, but this was a special occasion and he was in with the gang. And I don’t know whether I should be proud of this or not, but he pulled the wool over my eyes and completely fooled me in our 3rd and last game. He was a Spy and played it amazingly well.
It was tough to pull away on Sunday afternoon (and the kids had to get in one last game of The Resistance) but it was a great weekend spent with family and hearing about Jake’s experiences on his mission. And we all had a great time laughing and visiting while we spent a bunch of time around the tables with some cool family board games.
I can’t wait until Thanksgiving…
If you didn’t want to read all that (or even if you did), here’s the quick list of the board games and card games we played this past weekend:
- Battlestar Galactica
- Spot It!
- Memoir ’44
- King of Tokyo
- Kingdom Builder
- Timeline: Inventions
- Say Anything Family Edition
- Alien Frontiers
- Seven Card Samurai
- 7 Wonders
- The Resistance