Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Calliope Games: Got ‘Em!


Got ‘Em is  a delightful way to corner your friends- literally! Trap their pawns in one of two games of escape and capture. In Bright Got ‘Em! you outsmart and corner your opponents through savvy card play, sly movement, and clever placement of blocking walls. In the still-casual but even-trickier Brainy Got ‘Em! you toss aside card actions in favor of a purely strategic challenge.
Surround yourself with friends and family and get ready to enjoy two great games that hold more fun than any four walls can contain!
My family is super competitive- so I knew this game would be a hit in our house. The game is pretty simple to play. It does require a bit of planning ahead and thinking strategically to survive so the age range of 8+ is pretty accurate. The color side is provides easier game play and the colorless side is more for older kids and adults!
I love strategy games, but just do not have time to play them most times because they take hours on end and tons of focus to win. Got ‘Em! challenges my mind, but does not take hours to win. Actually sometimes the game goes by so fast we can play five or six games with in an hour!

Buy It: You can purchase Calliope Games: Got ‘Em! for 20.81!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tabletop–Wil Wheaton hosts online gaming show

Rod Roddenberry’s website (where the son of Gene Roddenberry sells and promotes a lot of Star Trek replica merchandise, among other things) put me onto a new Internet series on gaming.  It’s not about video games.  It’s about good old-fashioned “game night” games, board games with dice and cards and tokens, and it’s called Tabletop.
If you’re a fan of Wil Wheaton, it’s the show for you.  Wheaton is best known for his role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation and as the young star of the Rob Reiner/Steven King film Stand By Me, but he has been quickly branching out as a stellar guest star on series like Leverage (as a superb IT villain) and Big Bang Theory (where he often plays himself), showing he’s gone beyond the kid actor thing.  And even if you’re not a Wheaton fan–like you thought Wesley Crusher should have been left on Rubicun III–give this series a try anyway.

Tsuro game in play on Tabletop.
My favorite thing about Wil Wheaton is he seems to thrive at all things geek and nerd.  He’s not apologetic in the least, and in chatting up his love for games and TV and books, he is bringing everyone along for a fun ride.  He’s a regular at San Diego Comic-Con, and I saw him at a Star Trek writers panel with Star Trek authors where he showed a great rapport with fans, and seemed to love talking about what he liked (and didn’t like) about Trek.

Wil Wheaton with authors Kevin Dilmore and Dayton Ward on a panel at Comic-Con in 2008.
Tabletop is an online half-hour, biweekly series just beginning and in its first five episodes, which is a bit like Comic Book Men and Celebrity Poker, but far, far better than both of those shows.  In fact, the introduction, production values, and content should get some network exec to take notice.  This is the first online-only series we’ve taken note of here at borg.com that we think is worthy of another look and we think a wider audience is out there for this show.

Tabletop has host Wheaton playing a few board or dice games with some friends, including explaining quickly and clearly the game’s rules, and just chatting it up around the table with people like Rod Roddenberry, Felicia Day (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Monk, House, M.D., Eureka), Colin Ferguson (Eureka),  Grant Imahara (Mythbusters), James Kyson (Heroes, Hawaii 5-0), and Neil Grayston (Eureka).  I think it would be an interesting twist to add in other celebrities, maybe genre actors or legends Wheaton himself is a fan of, but may not previously know personally.  I’d love to see someone like Billy Mumy do an episode and see what these guys would talk about while playing Apples to Apples, or pull some obscure old games out of the game closet that are long forgotten but still fun, like Bionic Crisis or the Star Wars board game.

Which brings us to the episode with Rod Roddenberry, where they covered a few games including TsuroThe episode intrigued me enough that I wandered past a game shop this weekend while hanging out with family and I bought it.  We were able to pull out the board and playing pieces and start playing at a local coffee shop in minutes.  Just as I had discovered watching the players in the episode of TabletopTsuro is a blast.  In a nutshell, you have 35 cardboard tiles that players lay out one by one, in turn, and each tile has a different set of paths, some straight, some crisscrossed, some coming back at you.  The goal is to create a path for yourself and maybe even knock others off the board and be last player on the board.  Even the barista stopped by and commented how awesome the game looks (it has the beautiful Chinese red dragon board, parchment divider page, and cool rune playing tokens) and I passed along Wheaton’s show and the game shop across the street that had one more copy in stock.
We’ve played it three times so far and I can’t wait to play Tsuro again.  Thanks, Wil Wheaton!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tabletop, Geeks, Games and Me

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 Tsuro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I realized recently that I may have been wrong about myself, and where I fall on the geek spectrum.
See, I don’t feel like I have many of the biggest markers of true geekdom. I have never been a comic book fan, and I’ve never been to a convention. I’ve never played a RPG or LARP, but I know what the initials mean (I think) and I certainly have gamer friends. I’ve never managed to finish the entire LOTR series of books, and even the movies leave me a little cold. I’ve never dismantled a computer (but I know people who have), and my coding knowledge stops at basic HTML. I find video games fairly boring.
But–I did read the entire Shannara series, by Terry Brooks, in fifth and sixth grades, not to mention the Harry Potter series as an adult. I did play on my high school quiz team, my high school sweetheart was a Mathlete, and I did score a perfect score on my (verbal) SAT. I did teach myself HTML back in 1998 to put up my first webpage, and I remember the sheer thrill of figuring out how to make images become links. I’ve been blogging for about nine years, and I remember playing video games that were all text (“You go into a room. In the room, you find an Orc”). I’m obsessed with Game of Thrones and have read the first four books of the Song of Fire and Ice series.
My husband is a little easier to peg, I think. He played Dungeons and Dragons in his youth, treasures his battered copies of the Dragonlance novels, and can tell you more than you want to know about X-Men and the Avengers (before the movies came out, of course). He can also tell you lots about techno music and the impending zombie apocalypse, introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and enjoys Chemistry Cat a little too much. As a result, my girls already have opinions about their favorite superheroes and are waiting to be old enough to love Buffy.
I don’t remember the first time I read Wil Wheaton’s blog, but it’s been a regular read for me for at least the past year, and slowly but surely, I’ve become intrigued with gaming. Wil’s new webseries Tabletop got me hooked; I’ve seen every episode, but the real kicker came when my girls caught me watching an episode and wanted to see what was making me laugh. It was the Ticket to Ride episode, and they were instantly hooked! They have seen every episode now, and their favorite is the episode featuring casual games. So for their birthday, I bought Tsuro, and we have really enjoyed playing it! Lucy even likes to say, “Stop getting up in my dragon grill,” because one of the Tabletop guys said while they were playing. I think sometime this summer, we will end up owning both Zombie Dice and Get Bit, and then we’ll decide on a bigger game to purchase that we’ve seen on Tabletop, probably Settlers of Catan or Ticket to Ride, once we feel ready.
Are we raising geeky/nerdy children? I can only hope so, as one of the great accomplishments of my adulthood has been embracing the idea of being a geek or a nerd: a highly intelligent and passionate person who dives deep in each enthusiasm and is inherently curious and engaged in the world, someone who wants to share those passions with anyone who might be interested, and someone who always has a new fact or opinion to bring to every conversation. What’s not to like about that?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tsuro is one of my favorite casual games in history!

Tsuro is one of my favorite casual games in history, and one of the most popular games we’ve played on Tabletop. 
When I found out the game’s designer was Kickstarting a new version called Tsuro of the Seas, I backed it immediately.
There are 24 days to go, and right now, they are just 800 bucks short of funding… so if you want to make this happen, you know what to do.
(via Tsuro of the Seas… A game of treacherous waters. by Ray Wehrs — Kickstarter)

Tsuro is one of my favorite casual games in history, and one of the most popular games we’ve played on Tabletop.
When I found out the game’s designer was Kickstarting a new version called Tsuro of the Seas, I backed it immediately.
There are 24 days to go, and right now, they are just 800 bucks short of funding… so if you want to make this happen, you know what to do.
(via Tsuro of the Seas… A game of treacherous waters. by Ray Wehrs — Kickstarter)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kickstarter Alert: Tsuro of the Seas

Tsuro of the Seas box

Overview: The original Tsuro is a wonderful tile-laying game which is easy to learn, fits up to 8 players, and offers some excellent opportunity for strategy. Calliope Games now has a Kickstarter campaign for the sequel. Tsuro of the Seas still keeps the same basic mechanic, but throws in an additional element of luck and danger: daikaiju — giant monsters — roaming the sea that will devour your ship!
Players: 2 to 8
Ages: 8 and up (though younger children can learn the basics)
Playing Time: 20 to 40 minutes
Retail: $40 on Kickstarter, plus other options for extra rewards
Rating: A superb new twist on an already-fantastic game.
Who Will Like It? If you like the original, you’ll definitely want to take a look. The artwork in Tsuro of the Seas is of the same caliber, and you can even get some prints of the artwork as Kickstarter rewards. The game does throw in a much higher degree of luck, but the seafaring theme and possibility of being eaten by a daikaiju are both a lot of fun.
Tsuro Components

You are captains of an Imperial Red Seal ship, braving the treacherous seas to spread the word of the Emperor. But there are daikaiju out there, so not only do you need to beware of hitting the wrong path, but you’ll also need to steer clear of these ship-destroying beasts. The artwork is all done in a Japanese style that fits the theme, and the tiles are made to look like wakes in the sea.
  • 1 game board
  • 56 wake tiles
  • 10 daikaiju tiles
  • 8 ship pawns
  • 2 dice (1 gold, 1 blue)
I saw a pre-production prototype at GameStorm so I’ve seen the artwork and a sample of the red ship, but haven’t gotten to see final quality components in person. However, based on the original Tsuro, I would except Calliope Games to use the same quality board and tiles, which were made of a heavy cardboard with rounded corners. The artwork (as you can see from the photos here and on the Kickstarter page) is gorgeous and the little ships look really great.
The Tsuro of the Seas board is a 7×7 grid, larger than the original 6×6 grid. Each daikaiju tile has 5 numbers on it, corresponding to the four cardinal directions and a rotation, which are used for movement. The wake tiles have paths on them that connect to two points on each edge of the tile. Unlike the original, there are some repeated tiles in this batch.
The wake tiles are shuffled and each player draws a hand of three. Then a number of daikaiju (based on the number of players) is placed face-down on the board, using the dice to determine where they are placed. The coordinates do not appear on the outside ring of squares, so no monsters will appear at the edges of the board, though they may travel there later. Once the daikaiju are placed, each player chooses a starting spot for their ship.
Each turn has the following steps:
  1. Roll to see if daikaiju move.
  2. Place a wake tile.
  3. Move along the wake tile path.
  4. Draw a new wake tile.
If a 6, 7, or 8 is rolled, the daikaiju will move. The player then rolls a single die, and checks each daikaiju to see how it moves. (The daikaiju are numbered to indicate the order that they are moved.) Based on the number rolled, each daikaiju will either rotate 90 degrees, move one space, or stay still. Wherever the daikaiju moves, anything it covers — a wake tile, another daikaiju, a ship — is removed from the game.
Also, there should always be three daikaiju on the board. If any are removed (either by going off the board or by being devoured by other monsters) then a new one is placed when the 6, 7, or 8 is rolled next. (But when the new monster is placed, none of them move that turn.)
If you’re still alive after the daikaiju move, then you place a wake tile in front of your own ship, and then follow the path to its end. If the tile extends the path of any of the other ships on the board, they move as well until they reach the end of their respective paths. Any ship that goes off the edge of the board or moves into the space with a daikaiju is eliminated from the game.
Finally, if after all of that you’re still alive, then you draw a new tile and play passes to the next player.
You win the game if you’re the last player remaining on the board. If two or more players exit the board on the last turn of the game, they share the victory.
Optionally, you can play Tsuro of the Seas without the daikaiju — it’s not exactly the same as the original Tsuro because of the larger board and some repeated tiles, but it would be a fairly similar experience.
As I mentioned earlier, I got to play a prototype of Tsuro of the Seas at GameStorm this year, and I’m really excited for its release. The original was on our Best Board Games of 2011 list, and you may have seen it on Wil Wheaton’s TableTop as well.
The addition of the daikaiju makes for some interesting changes to the game. For one, there’s just the random luck element as you move around — you don’t know whether any nearby monsters might move toward you before you get another turn, so you have to take your chances to pick a direction. But another significant effect which you may have missed just from a read-through of the rules is that because the daikaiju eliminate wake tiles, they clear more room for movement.
In the original, if two players run into each other, they are both eliminated — because if you follow the paths, they’ll both end up off the board where the other player started. In Tsuro of the Seas, this may not be the case. Following the path somebody came from may put you in the middle of the board somewhere because the paths can get broken up by the daikaiju.
There definitely is a higher luck factor in Tsuro of the Seas, but it can make for a very fun experience, not knowing where the monsters are going to move next. You do need to check the rules carefully about when players are eliminated by monsters, but it is still very easy to pick up and play, and you can quickly teach new players.
I also love that it’s a game that fits up to 8 players, because there aren’t many quick-playing games that can handle that many players at once.
Tsuro of the Seas is slated to be launched in August this year at GenCon, but Calliope Games is hoping to use Kickstarter to build up buzz and convince retailers to stock the game once it’s released. If you back it now, you’ll find a lot of cool swag (including prints of the artwork from the game). Whether you kick in for a copy now or wait for its release, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Tsuro of the Seas.
Wired: Giant monsters, cool Japanese ship pawns, beautiful artwork — not to mention a fun game.
Tired: Not all players will like the luck factor, but they can play without the monsters.

Tsuro Of The Seas Awarded Springboard Seal Of Quality!

May 26, 2012 By Leave a Comment

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Double Double Dominoes

Filed Under (Family Games) by Major Fun on May 28, 2012

Think of it as Scrabble with dominoes. Not Scrabble, because it has nothing to do with words, but Scrabble-like, because you play it on a board, and there are places on the board that give you extra score. Not dominoes, because you find yourself doing a lot more thinking than you’d be doing in your basic domino game, but domino-like, because it uses domino tiles, and luck is still a major factor. Better yet, think of it as an invitation to many hours of gentle, mildly competitive, genuinely absorbing family fun.
It’s easy to learn. There’s only one sheet of rules (though the rules come in a booklet, that’s because they are translated into several different languages). The only problem you might have would be if you think of the game as a variation of dominoes. It’s something quite different, and, if you enjoy thinking, much more engaging.
Note the red tiles (I decided not to call them dominoes). They’re the ones that are placed incorrectly. If we were thinking of them as dominoes, then we’d also think that the red tiles were perfectly acceptable. But as tiles, as used in the game of Double Double Dominoes,  the end of one tile can only touch one other tile.
So many choices to think about, so many places you can put your domino-like tiles, that you find yourself thinking and thinking, even when it’s not your turn.
And then there’s the track that you use to keep score. Which also keeps you thinking even when it’s not your turn. Because if anyone plays a tile that has a number that matches the number your scoring piece is currently covering, you get bonus points!

And then there’s the strategic value of covering the high-scoring spaces. And the extra strategic value of covering a high-scoring space with a “double” (a tile where both numbers are the same), because you get double the score. And an extra turn. And, speaking of doubledness, you might notice that there you play with two complete domino sets (56). How doubled is that?
Your beyond school-age folk will find it a sweet filler-type game – nothing to get too serious about, but interesting enough to keep your attention all the way to the end. Your kid-like people will have just as much fun. Racing around a track will keep them focused, raking in bonus points will keep them smug, while you can concentrate your superior powers on the hunt for the highest possible score in a single play.
Double Double Dominoes is recommended for 2-4 players (with the optional purchase of an expansion set, you can play with up to 6 players) 8 and above and takes less than an hour to play. Designed by Seth Johnson an Jordan Weisman, distributed by Calliope Games, Double Double Dominoes is Major Fun.