Was Santa Good to Me?

Another Christmas has come and gone, and my game collection has grown as a result.  This Christmas was a good one, mainly because Samantha is at an age (21 months) where she could really start getting into the excitement of opening presents and seeing family.  And while I feel great about the new games I was given, I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t get more opportunity to play throughout the holidays.  But let me start this report with something positive:

What I got…

It all started back in November with my BGG Secret Santa, when he sent me Kachina and the expansions for Chicago Express and War of the Ring.  Gwen then added PitchCar for our anniversary (on December 16) and Tobago for Christmas.  I gave her 10 Days in Europe (completing our “10 Days” collection for now), Masters Gallery, and FITS.  Then I also picked up Grind, Revolution!, and Word on the Street from my in-laws.  And in true Dirty Santa fashion, I both bought and ended up taking home a copy of the new party game, Life’s a Pitch.  Using some Christmas money, I’ve also picked up Traders of Carthage and the White Moon expansion for Ghost Stories

A mostly complete picture of my Christmas game haul (except the party games, which were still in the trunk of the car because we went to the Emergency Room instead of the party)…

I’m looking to pick up another couple games or expansions as well, with some of the leading candidates being Opera, Cosmic Incursion (Cosmic Encounter expansion), the Alea Treasure Chest, Macao, the Tribune Expansion, or an extension for PitchCar.  Which I get will depend totally on availability, patience, and whatever mood strikes me.

What I missed…    

As I mentioned, I didn’t get to do a few of the things I had really hoped to over the holidays.  I missed one regular game night because Gwen wasn’t feeling well (so I sat up in my game room after she went to bed and played Pandemic and Roll Through the Ages all by myself), I wasn’t able to participate in the extra “I’m off work/out of school” gaming opportunities at Hypermind because of family and work obligations, and I had both my New Year’s Eve party-game-a-palooza and Dread RPG game cancelled because Samantha developed a full-body rash that scared the bejezzes out of us.  Yes, Gwen and I spent New Year’s eve in the pediatric ER at UNC hospital because our little girl was red, itchy, and swollen almost beyond recognition.  Thankfully, she’s much better now, even though there’s a possibility of her having more flare-ups before it completely goes away.  At least, anyway, she’s better enough for me to be able to make game night tonight.

What I played…

But don’t fear too much that I had a gameless holiday season.  I was still able to make a couple of game nights, and had a great time at both.  Gwen and I also managed to play a couple of games of Word on the Street with her brother and his fiance.  We played boys vs. girls, and they beat the crap out of us.  I also got in a game of Apples to Apples Jr. with my side of the family (woot. woot.  I was so excited.)

My soon-to-be-sister-in-law Chipper, my brother-in-law Kevin, and Me

But I did have the chance to introduce Tales of the Arabian Nights to my brother Tony, beating him (like it matters) in a nice two-player game.  He had a good time, and while this game has definitely lost a lot of its luster for me, I think that it’s still an enjoyable experience every once in a while.  Plus, with its size and weight, you can use it to fend off bears, invaders, and religious zealots handing out informational pamphlets.

Obviously, Gwen and I also tried out several of our new games.  We played a few games of PitchCar, but it’s really a lot better with more players.  We’ve gotten Masters Gallery to the table once and 10 Days in Europe a couple of times, and played FITS on a few other occasions.  

But the Big Hit from Christmas was…

Tobago!  I got it on Christmas day, and even with all the concern and distraction over Samantha, I’ve played it 8 times already!  Gwen and I played it first with Tony, and then five more times so far just with the two of us.  And then I took it to game night last week and played it with two different groups of players.  And the cool thing is that everyone seems to really enjoy it!

I’ve never seen anything exactly like how Tobago lets players build the deductive arguments to determine where the treasures are.  It’s so much more fun and interesting than something like Clue, where the answer is predetermined.  And the inclusion of the amulets and the little powers they give you add a very nice level of complexity and potential tactics.  Overall, it’s a relatively light and incredibly fun game, but it’s one that, for me at least, has also been surprising in how much thought and decision-making it can support.  

Like I said yesterday, I got several rules wrong in teaching it the first few times, but that was more due to inattentive reviewing of the rules rather than any real confusion in the ruleset itself.  I have found it a bit hard to teach so far, though, or at least longer to teach than I think it should.  But again, maybe I just need to work more on my delivery.  

Gwen has already said that she likes Tobago more than Pandemic, and it may even rival Princes of Florence and Ticket to Ride.  That’s good for me, since I like it so much as well, because any excitement she has for gaming leads us to play more games!

Samantha on Christmas Morning (prior to the rash), and then her crazed father holding her while wearing a pink Snuggie!


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