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Some context: I grew up playing hundreds of board games with my family of 7. Everything from friendly to competitive to collaborative. Until about college I basically assumed that other people wouldn't really want to play but there's definitely a growing number of people getting into board games right now. The problem is when I say "I'm into board games" people think "oh that's nice he likes to play settlers once in a while instead of going to a bar" and they don't realize that I'm addicted in the way that a bay area craft beer snob is addicted to good beer (good beer is cool, no offense).

So last night the fruits of my first adult paycheck arrived and it was glorious. I'm living in a house of 6 people who are willing to play but definitely not convinced board games are the best thing to do with every evening. I tried to pick out a set to get us started that would have a mix of mechanics that could gauge what people are into. I also had to get a few new ones I want to try. Also have a weekly game night going with some friends from high school so I'm excited to see what people are into. Crucial moment in household vibe curation as we move forward these next weeks, must convince these crews that board games are the future.

The list (roughly in order of how ill introduce them)
7 wonders
Camel up
The game
Power grid
Race for the galaxy
7 wonders duel
Terra mystica

Ones I haven't played yet:
Russian railroads
Glass road

Games I already had:
Betrayal at the house on the hill

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Glass Road and Terraforming Mars

This weekend I caught up on board games in a big way with Allie. We played a Uwe board game (Glass Road -- the one pictured here) that had been wrapped on my shelf for way to long. We also played one I got this week called Terraforming Mars which is newer and getting great reviews.

Both games are awesome, though Glass Road I imagine being much better with more than two players. The cool feature of this game was the way resource management worked, with two dials that rotate when there is an empty space, simulating turning the available resources into more valuable ones: brick and glass. Its a tough mechanism to fully predict because you have to manage a lot of moving parts. The game over all is pretty simple, building a village on your personal play mat and choosing actions with cards. This game mostly got me excited about playing Cottage Garden, the new Uwe that uses Patchwork's mechanism as a base.

Terraforming Mars was one that I read about this week in and it got really great reviews. We played it twice with three players and it was fun both times, but I still don't feel like I've got a hang of the strategy. The concept is especially fun in this one because you are all working together to terraform Mars and make it habitable. It feels like you're playing as Elon musk building cities and space technology with the goals of increasing the temperature, atmosphere, and amount of ocean.

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Through the Ages and Tzolkin

Allie, Lauren and I took advantage of a short weekend home in Virginia and played a few board games (interspersed with DC sports losses).

I first played Through the Ages with my dad in Seattle a few weeks ago and Lauren and Allie were new so we're still playing the intro game which takes out the wars and aggression between players. Definitely felt like the right amount to learn in a first game but now I want to play again with the full rules. It's tricky for me because I've been playing with different groups of people so I have to teach the same game a few times if I want to play it again. That makes it hard to play games like this where the rules suggest an intro (modified) game. That being said, we thought it was crazy that Vlaada Chvatil designed this game given the others of his that we've played (codenames and galaxy trucker) are so completely different.

Tzolkin is a game we started playing last year, so no modified rules in this case. On your turn, you choose between placing and removing workers, and then between each turn the gears move, putting your workers in better positions where the actions they can take are different.The longer the worker stays on the gears, the better the action will be when you take it off. Tzolkin is painful because it always feels like there's whole chunks of the game you aren't even playing, you have such limited time and resources that you have to pick a pretty limited strategy early on (or so we've found so far). It can be frustrating like this, but it also makes each move feel important, so that's a plus.
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Card Kingdom, Seattle

Back in a happy place this weekend when my dad and I visited card kingdom Friday night. We talked about how more bars/board game stores should team up like this: you can borrow any game they have on their shelf (they keep one of each open) and play it in the bar/restaurant while getting served. This time I showed him 7 Wonders Duel, and we bought Through the Ages. I found out Vlaada Chvatil designed Through the Ages, which is crazy because he also designed Codenames, Galaxy Trucker and lots of other very different style games.

We played Through the Ages in Leavenworth after going to their Octoberfest during the day (an interesting choice...we only made it through the first third of the's super long, but awesome). It's like 7 Wonders but super long instead of super short, and it's turn based so I'll need to find a couple people willing to sit down and play all afternoon one of these days.

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Galaxy Trucker

This weekend, Allie was in SF which meant we could play a new game! By new I really mean new for my roommates, I love Galaxy Trucker. I think I should have taught this one earlier actually because it's really fast paced, there's no waiting for an opponent to think through their turn (everyone's grabbing and playing pieces to build a spaceship at the same time), and it's a completely different and satisfying feeling to build and rebuild a ship. Evan getting his ship absolutely destroyed in the final round was tough though.

It's also a quick game, 30 minutes or so max, which makes getting buy in to play much less difficult.

I was hoping we'd also get to Terra Mystica (pictured in the background) but we never got around to it. I've only played that one once but it's kind of like a more intense and thematic Settlers of Catan. Thankfully with no dice rolling.

For now I'm hopeful that games like Ticket to Ride and Galaxy Trucker will reinvigorate my house :)

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Betrayal at the house on the hill

This game is great if you don't mind (1) feeling like you can't really control what's happening (2) feeling like you're always about to lose (3) possibly betraying your friends and trying to kill them all.

I've found that in most cases, people actually enjoy number three a disturbing amount. This game is what the title suggests, you're exploring a haunted house, revealing tiles that represent rooms each turn as you go upstairs, fall to the basement, and hopefully find the stairs back up again.

We had 6 people playing last night and it was a great game for us because a lot of my friends were happy getting into the over the top horror scenes and ridiculous tasks you're required to do.

The best part is always the haunt, where someone (the game decides) betrays the group and usually becomes some sort of monster or horde of monsters. This time my friend Bina became an alien and transported the house to a new dimension. The goal of the rest of the crew is to find the organ room in the house ( and some other things along the way ) and play a song that sends the house back to our home dimension. It's ridiculous.

My character died before the game got interesting, but it's still fun to sit on the sidelines and laugh.
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7 Wonders Duel

Homemade soup, 7 Wonders Duel and a cold beer = excellent tuesday night. If you look closely you can see Erin not participating in board games which is why we've been forced to play two player games. It's tough, but the more we play the Duel version of 7 Wonders the more Josh and I like it. It feels very different every time, and we ended up going with very different strategies. I think part of it is that you get to "draft" 4 Wonders rather than have one set handed to you in the original game.

I'll be heading to Palo alto today since our house is facing a board game lull... Also because there are a lot of old high school friends there now.

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It was a big weekend for us.

(7 Wonders & Power Grid)

I think I've taught 10 or so people out here 7 wonders and it gets very different reactions depending on how uncomfortable people are not knowing what's going on the first round.

Josh (to the left in the 7 wonders picture) and I agree that 7 wonders duel -- a two player version -- is more fun since you can really block your opponent more effectively.

The other game we started this weekend was Power Grid. We only played an hour to teach people, but it didn't get a lot of love.

I've reached a critical moment in board game introduction in our house because people have been willing to play but not loving the recently taught ones. Besides josh they mostly like quicker, competitive games. I got the specific complaint that our other roommate named josh doesn't like waiting for other people to play. So I've already bought three more games that I think they'll like more: ticket to ride, galaxy trucker, and code names.

I think galaxy trucker will be popular since it's super fast paced and you're never waiting for someone else to play their turn.

So many board games still to play :)
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This week I taught a few people Hanabi and The Game (easy to learn, collaborative card games) and then some friends from home camel up last night. Jackie's snapchat definitely captures the awe / disappointment in my board game obsession. "the game" was by far the most popular, then camel up, then Hanabi.

The problem with camel up is 7+ players makes it hard because you have to wait for 6 people to go before you get another turn. Since it's a betting game, as people go the options keep getting more limited. It makes it very hard to feel like you can control your destiny.

Persisting question: how many weekly board game nights can I get going?

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Last night I taught Camel Up to three of my roommates. None of them made it into this photo due to rude gestures at the camera. I don't think that was entirely indicative of the experience though, since there was a lot of celebration over beating me in game 1 (and 2)...

Camel up is polarizing. Some people I teach it to (Allie - see Cape Town ticket to ride post) can't stand it because it's a rolling the dice game and hard to feel like you're in control. I like it because it's a probability game and it kind of makes fun of typical roll the dice move the mice, or in this case camels, games where there's very little brain necessity.

I'm optimistic it'll get played again, I think my roommates like beating me and shorter games more than any specific mechanics. 🤕💁🏼
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