Favorite Christmas Songs

Every year you hear the same tired old tunes drug out from the archives.

Rocking Around The Christmas Tree.  Blue Christmas.  Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

They have their place, but it’s nice to hear a tune that is original (and not horrible) or a great redo of a classic holiday tune.

Here are some that I really don’t tire of hearing for the month that is “the season”.  No particular order.

Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year by Rosie Thomas.  Upbeat but not too pop.  She just sounds like she is having fun singing it.  Plus, the chorus is kind of catchy.  Fun song.

Christmas Time Is Here by MercyMe.  Their disc “The Christmas Sessions” is a nice holiday collection and this is the catch of the bunch.  This is just a nice, jazzed-up version of the song.

Driving Home For Christmas by Chris Rea.  How does this not get more air time?  

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? by Ramsey Lewis Trio.  First of all, it’s Ramsey Lewis.  The arrangement is fantastic.  I can listen to this one all day.

My Favorite Things by Tony Bennett.  This version is off the collection “A Swingin’ Christmas Featuring The Count Basie Big Band”.  I know, I know is this even a Christmas song.  Who cares?  It’s got Basie and Bennett.

Have a great Christmas and/or holiday season!

What I’ve (We’ve) Been Playing

Between a trip to the beach with family, the jaunt to the WBC, work lunchtime gaming and the discovery of a local (shudder!) gamer I have a few things to write up.

In Magnificent Style

I love everything about this game.  The components are sturdy and the colors are great.  You set it up in about three minutes.  I can knock off a full game in about an hour and it has a very small footprint!

Pettigrew

Pettigrew and Trimble move towards Cemetery Ridge.

This is a simple “push your luck” type game but with a historical flair.  You are in command of Longstreet’s assault on that fateful day of July 3, 1863.  With three divisions (Pettigrew/Trimble/Pickett) under your command, you move your butternut forces across the fields past the Codori farm and smoking remains of the Bliss barn.

In the three times I’ve played the game, I have come out on the historical short-end of the stick.  In my last play, I got three brigades across the wall and captured the Union portion of the line on Cemetery Ridge.  However, the remainder of the support troops were broken up along the Emmitsburg Road.  At least Bobby Lee didn’t fare better than me!

My ONLY complaint about this game is that the first few times I touched the counters, I got a nasty brown stain on my fingers.  However, a quick rinse took care of that.  If that is the only gripe about a game, I think it is a winner!

Castle Panic

My co-workers and I are always looking for decent coop games for play during lunch.  Like a moron, I passed up D-Day Dice at WBC.  However, I had scored a copy of Castle Panic prior to the convention.

My kids, brother and I played a few rounds of this at Cape May a few weeks ago and loved it.  I introduced my co-workers to it recently and it’s a hit.

Trolls, goblin and orcs. None shall pass!!!

Watching the Bad Guys slowly move towards your castle keep knowing that you don’t have the resources to fend them off can be nerve wracking. You quickly learn how to swap cards amongst yourselves in order to keep the game (and the humans) alive!

This game is really simple to pick up. I see it having a pretty high replay value even with the younger crowd.

Road Kill Rally

This was another game that I picked up prior to WBC.  Politically correct-No.  Fun-absolutely.

In essence, the players race around a track trying to eliminate pedestrians as they go about their daily business.  You rack up more points for the elderly or the young.

Every player tricks out their car with a variety of weapons and defense systems.  Players also gain points by damaging opponents if the opportunity raises its head.  Boy, does the opportunity happen frequently!

Road Kill Rally!

This was another game that we broke out during our beach breaks.  The boys loved it and Uncle Dave had a blast, as well.  More on this to come.

Last but certainly not least is 1812:  The Invasion of Canada from Academy Games.

Invasion of Canada

I was able to break this one out against a local gamer that I met up with on the Geek.  We played two games and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Previously, I had only had the pleasure of playing my sons in the game.  Playing against a rather intelligent adult (who has a good amount of gaming experience) made the game even more enjoyable than it had been previously.

With the randomness of the cube draw and the variety of cards at any one time, the games are always changing and in flux.  We have already determined that this game will be back on the table next time that we get together.

World Boardgaming Championships – 2012 Edition

Resort sign

We arrive at the rather beaten-up Host.

Things #1 and #2 arrived at the Lancaster Host for the 2012 edition of the WBC.  This place is a total pit.  I’m thankful that we are locals and can just drive to the championships in a matter of minutes and aren’t reliant on staying here for any period of time.  This year we are just stopping by to do some shopping and maybe hop in on a demo or two.

Immediately upon entry, that delightful whiff of gamer washes over us.  Pungent yet slightly acidic.  Yankee Candles would have a winner with this one!

We head downstairs to the vendor area.  I have a wish list but I really do not need to buy anything.  I’ve been fairly active with trades on BGG as of late, but I know my willpower will disappear once I see the first dealer.

There!  Uwe and Academy Games beacons me.  I purchased 1812  over the winter and it has been a winner.  My sons and I have played it numerous times and I have not grown tired of it.  This time I fall easily for Strike of the Eagle.  I am really looking forward to his treatment of Gettysburg and the first day’s fighting.  That area of the battle (along with Culps Hill) has long been neglected by game designers.  I feel there are so many interesting opportunities and “what ifs” to be had.

Moving on-we arrive at the Victor Point Games table and I suck up Malta Besieged and In Magnificent Style.  I really enjoyed The Wheatfield and wanted to purchased these two games for their solo play alone.  The subject matter of both interested me, as well.  Hermann showed me some maps of an upcoming Gettysburg project and lo and behold-CULPS HILL!  Wonderful!  Put me on the pre-order list now.

Our next stop is the GMT booth.  What I purchase though is not a fine GMT product, but Second Season football.  I’m a chump for a good sports game.  We have all of the Strat-o-Matic, APBA, Pursue the Pennant, Dave Koch, etc games on a myriad of subjects.  I have been playing APBA’s soccer game as of late just to get my fix for football European-style.

Second Season looks like and plays like a great game.  My 12-year old picked it up and started playing without me even looking at it.  I started flipping through the rules and was impressed that even linemen get their true time in the spotlight in this game.  I will really need to write something up on it.  Looks super and appears to play very well solo.

My last two purchases were Death Ride-Halifad Ridge and Iwo Jima by Grognard Simulations.  I had just been kind of staring at the boxes not knowing what to think when another gamer walked by and gave me a great review of them.  At the price they were listed at, I jumped.  So far, I am pleasantly surprised by the rules, components and nice sturdy box.  Plus, I sent a question to their Sales email address and proceeded to get a response in about five minutes.  Again, a review will be forthcoming.

All in all a good time.

Here is the collection from one day of shopping

Mister X-Scotland Yard

We here are the most awsum IT shop in the world have been slacking on our lunchtime gaming duties.

With that in mind, we decided to try a new game on our table.  Mister X-Scotland Yard makes an appearance.

In the past we have played co-op games like Pandemic and Red November.  It’s just fun to pit yourself and your co-workers against the “The Man”.  Mister X is a co-op game with the twist that one person is the “bad guy”.

Quick Rules Rundown

Basically, one person is Mister X and the rest are gumshoes from Scotland Yard.  The coppers (or “bobbies” in this case) move around London using cab/bus/underground tickets in an effort to end their turn in the same location as Mister X.  Mister X moves in the same manner but only needs to reveal his location every few turns.  He reveals what mode of transportation he uses, but that is pretty much the only clue that the boys in blue have to move in on his location.

Movement tickets

These are the passes/tickets used for movement around London.

It’s a very easy game to learn and you can really squeeze a bunch of games into a short time period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First Play with Lunch Crew

As we only have three players at lunch, we opt to throw an extra detective in the mix that is controlled by the other two officers.  I have found that playing with only two detectives it is very difficult to track down even an average Mister X.  After a quick run through explaining resource management (which ticket to use and when to use it), we begin play.

The two rookie detectives pin down Mister X (after an entirely brain-farty move on my part) and the game wraps up to a much deserved thumbs up!

The game is afoot!

The game is afoot!

New games to my collection 2011-12

2011 was a good year for my game collection.  Between WBC coming to town in the summer and an surprising onslaught of Christmas gifts, I have a few to write about.

I’ll begin with some recent acquisitions.

APBA Soccer

I was very hesitant to pick this game up.  My boys and I are HUGE soccer fans and I have been really looking for a game that will scratch that itch.  I played APBA and Stratomatic games as a high-school and college student, and recently introduced the boys to the joys of SOM basketball.

The reviews for APBA were really mixed, but I took the plunge.  As of this date I am pleasantly surprised and enjoying it.  We’ve knocked off a few games using the 2010-11 English Premier League card set.  I’m having none of the problems with lack of offense/shots on goal that others mention.  Not having individual defensive ratings seemed odd at first but, to be honest, I’m just enjoying the game too much to mind it.

Phantom Fury

I have to say that I’m enjoying the heck out of this game.  I have played it a few times the whole way through and have yet to win.

As a brief intro, this is a solitaire game based on the 1st Marine Division and their attempt to secure Fallujah in November 2004.  You (the player) are in charge of a company of Marines, a few M1A2 Abrams and some Iraqi troops.  Victory conditions require you to take command of a block of neighborhoods, all the while keeping your losses at an acceptable level.

I find the game to be incredibly challenging and have had a blast playing it.

On a side note, the game was developed and shipped from France.  I ordered the game on January 3rd and had it at my house by the 13th and paid no extra shipping.  Kudos to Nuts Publishing!

Next post-the Christmas gifts.  Those being Dominion, Tikal, Puerto Rico and Mister X.

Pandemic Follow Up

We just finished our second game of Pandemic.

After not grasping a decent strategy and the proper use of Player Cards in game #1, we pulled together and fairly breezed to a victory in game #2.

We drew scientist, operations and dispatcher.  After a little discussion we came to the conclusion that for a three-player game, we believe medic/scientist/dispatcher would be the optimal mix of roles.  However, we could be dissuaded.

Regardless, we played an easy game so we only had four Infection cards mixed in the deck.  By the second turn, we had cured one disease.  Great start.

Things took a bad turn for a few moments as several Outbreaks occurred in rapid succession.  We kept our cool and focused on talking out strategies and movement.  With decent placement of some research centers we were able to Share Knowledge a few times rather quickly.

Next thing you know, we had three Diseases cured and all of the cards in our hand to finish off the last one.  Quick finish and victory!

Round #3 in the works.  This time we are swinging for the fence and using ALL six Epidemic cards.  Let’s see how that works out for us.

 

Pandemic – First play and thoughts

This game is fun.  I’ll say that right off the bat.

My co-workers and I cracked this one open for lunch-time play.  I had glanced at the rules the night before as there really aren’t much to them.  Explaining them took but a few minutes.

We Begin

The game begins with each player being assigned one of five roles (scientist, researcher, dispatcher, operations, medic).  Each role has a special capability that gives that player “super powers” in a given area.  Since we were only playing with three players, we came up with dispatcher, operations and medic.  In essence, without the scientist and researcher you are handcuffed by needing to utilize more cards to cure a disease and share information.

Setup is quick.  You shuffle the Player cards and give each player three to start.  The cards allow you to move from city to city in a rapid fashion OR to cure a disease.  You must allocate your resources to find a balance between the two needs.  At that point, the initial outbreaks are placed on the board.  All players start the game at the CDC in Atlanta.

Play

The flow of the game is quick and simple.  Each player gets four Actions per turn.  An action can be used for movement from city to city, treating disease, curing a disease or building a research center.   Lots of chatter is needed to see which player is going to address what issue with the resources at hand.  You CAN’T show your cards to fellow players, so communication is essential.

Once a player finishes his actions, two more Player cards need to be added to his hand.  A max of seven cards per hand is allowed, so you must let other players know what you plan to discard.  If you make poor use of your cards through travel or discarding, you may end up without the necessary number of cards to cure a disease.  No disease cure, no win.  Simple.

After you draw your cards, you need to infect a few more cities at a rate dependent on the Infection rate.

Finale

We lost.  We didn’t grasp certain strategies initially and by the time we had cured two diseases, we ran out of Player cards.  Stick a fork in it, it’s done.

Pandemic - Round 2

First turn of Game 2

Thoughts

This game is a blast.  It is simple enough that I could teach my middle-school and upper elementary school sons to play it in a few minutes.  That is just what I plan on doing once we finish up at work.

This is reminiscent of some other great cooperative games, such as Red November and Space Alert.

For me, it looks like this one will have a high replay value.  I know that once we were defeated by the system, we were going to set it back up and give it another go.  You just HAVE to beat this thing.  Great game.  I give it an 8.

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