Game Renaissance

I figured I’d try something a little different blog post-wise.  (I end up ranting about politics, but I originally thought of my blog as a space for any random rant that could pop through my head…)  Something uplifting is needed…at least for me in these times…

So I’m a big fan of board games, some card games (video games not so much, though I did have a couple PC favorites, from way back at the birth of PC CD-ROM games, namely 7th Guest, and Timelapse, but I want to talk about board games).

While I was a big board game (and cards, rummy, spit, egyptian rat’s screw etc.) fan as a kid, my immediate family wasn’t/isn’t into games (not to mention that, well, sitting down together, in the same room, at the same time, and enjoying each other’s company… um, yeah).  and I didn’t have too many friends, as the years went by, who were into board games either, so I didn’t really get to play much.  I played the classics, and they’re classics for a reason, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly, Clue, and Scrabble, and others.

(It’s this version and this version only! my nostalgia says so. 🙂 )

Anyways, it felt like we had the same-ish games for the longest time, just new variations… Lord of the Rings Risk, the myriad of Monopoly varieties.  But in the past couple years, perhaps related to Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop, I feel like there’s been a resurgence and now there’s quite the renaissance of board/card games.

I thought I’d mention some games I have played that I thought were great, and others I am really interested in.  Throw my two cents into the ring.  I guess some things I like about games:

a) puzzles: puzzles and more puzzles, thinking, strategy etc.

b) story telling, creativity

c) uniqueness

d) physical board games with characters

I don’t know, whatever strikes me.

Before I get to the new games, I thought I’d mention some old games I’ve played in the past, pretty far past, that might be pretty obscure.  At my grandmother’s house, there was the Uncle Wiggly game.  The pieces must have been lost by my mom and her brother decades ago, replaced by a dried rock-like piece of what maybe was gum and a penny.  I’m, um, not sure if it was associated with Briar Rabbit stories, or if it was more just a nice kid’s game.  Anyways, I believe this was the version my mom had as a little girl:

A game I loved as a kid and played circa 5th grade (mid ’90s) was By Jove.  Me and this other gal loved it.  I was big into mythology and it was a Greek mythology game.  I’ve never seen it anywhere.  I think her folks were teachers and they got it from some educational thing.

You got to play as Greek gods/goddesses and you could get stuck in the labyrinth with the minotaur and yeah.  I loved this game no one’s ever heard of.

Ok, entering the 21st century:

Games I have played that I loved:


It’s very much family friendly, only I’d recommend for kids maybe older than 4.  It’s a memory style game, essentially, so if they can handle that.  I played it with my relatives, the 8 year old loved it and the 4 year old was a little too young to actually play, but we kindof let him play his way or, well, he’d be on a team with someone, and he was still having a blast.

(oh, I guess I should say I’m not endorsed by anybody.)


This is also a family friendly game.  Now this game I think can be played with the little guys.  They might not understand the mechanics of how the magnets work, but could enjoy, then, the “surprise” of the dynamic.  Again, the 8 year old and 4 year old really loved it.  The game was well-made, with good art, and I loved that it was easy to assemble, packed nicely into the box, and that the box was also the board.  It was a fun game for kids and adults.  Now, it was hard for me to find, as I had to order it online internationally, but other than that…  and I never would have heard of it if it wasn’t for the GameNight! guys and their glowing review. (I believe the instructions come in German, English, and French altogether.  probably because it’s a European game.)

Ok, now moving away from the family friendly:


I’ve mentioned this game before and I’m really into it.  It’s not that it’s obscene, really, but not for little kids.  The humor is more adult humor and the subject is American history.  I’m no parent or child specialist or anything by any means, but I’d roughly guess for high schoolers on up.  It’s technically a card game as opposed to a board game, but I feel it plays more like a board game, if that makes sense.  i.e. that the cards are the board.  It’s a time travel game based on American history.  I think that once you get the hang of it, it’s not that complicated to learn how to play.  I think the fun is the humor within the timelines… hey, my character is a hippie and just wants to save John Lennon and legalize marijuana…or maybe, when playing the game, I won’t necessarily do something that helps me win, but just for kicks, like kill Hitler or make Sarah Palin president.  You read through the timelines we’re creating… hey, we’re in a peaceful alternate reality, we saved the Titanic and the Lusitania, saved Lincoln, JFK, MLK, and Lennon, prevented WWII and saved the twin towers.  or, um, we’re the anarchic reality where we just really screw everything up.  Not to mention ending the world in, I think it’s 1962.

The game has a couple expansions, early American history, the Gore expansion (1999-2008), and some extra identities.  (I wish it also came with a box to contain all that together, but friends of mine have found such a box elsewheres on the internets with no problem; to play überchrononauts.)  I wish and wish and wish they had a post-2008 up ’till now expansion so badly…so I can, you know, do some not nice things to a certain you know who and change the course of the 2016 election…but they could also throw Great Recession in there as well, and so on.  People tell me they will definitely make this expansion, but it can’t come soon enough.

I guess it goes without saying that you’d have to be into American history to appreciate the game, as a possible downside.  The game plays pretty fast.  It can play a lot of people.  I hear it also has a decent solitaire component, but haven’t tried that yet.  A solitaire component is always a plus for me.  and it is a small portable game.  You do need a fairly large flat space to lay the cards out in, though.

and for the even more adult-themed (aka teenager on up):

Epic Spell Wars:

I guess this game isn’t exactly along the lines of the other games I’ve listed here.  But I don’t always prefer the same genre or what not.  This game is not complicated, is not a thinking game, is not a strategy game, etc.  It’s quick, and basically random.  Do what the cards say.  It’s just good silly metal-y impish fun.  Very colorful artwork and a nice totally superfluous volcano just for ambience.  I hear there’s an expansion now, which I have yet to play, but hopefully soon.  I think it plays from 2-6.  I think it’s best when you have at least three people.  It goes very quick, again.  It’s more one of those, just have fun with it things.  I like the voices, see following:


Onto games I have not played myself:

Mice and Mystics:

This one looks completely family friendly, but due to all the small parts and somewhat complicated gameplay, I’m roughly guessing slightly older kids, I don’t know, maybe ten, give or take with some help from others.  As Wil Wheaton describes, I’m a good case for this game, as it’s maybe hard for me to get into RPGs and this is a cross between an RPG and a board game, to make the RPG concept a little easier to understand for the uninitiated, plus actual characters to move across rooms.  I absolutely love the artwork and character tokens, clearly a lot of quality was put into this game.  I love the dynamic of flipping the boards over, and various other physical dynamics, like moving downstream.  And I like the storytelling bedtime story aspect of this game.

Some potential cons: It’s a very expensive game.  It’s going to take up a lot of space and has a lot of parts.  The beautifully painted character tokens they use on Tabletop are not what come with the game.  I believe they come in a neutral off-whitish color so that you can paint them – which I imagine would only be for some people.  But I think the tokens are still detailed and interesting to be visually neat even if not painted.  It could potentially be a little complicated for younger people and maybe potentially a little too “childish” for older kids, so maybe the age-range walks a fine line.  But I’d play it as an adult.  I like, keeping with child-friendly, that the characters don’t die, per se.  Another con might be that the whole package is only one story, so it might not be incredibly replayable.

However, pros, there are expansions and new chapters.  I don’t have the money for this now, but it is certainly on my wishlist.  I also think you might need to have at least four players, but I am not sure.

Mice and Mystics on Watch It Played

Mice and Mystics additional chapters, chapter 3, Meeple Power

Tales of the Arabian Nights:

Ok, this game I would really love to play.  First off, it doesn’t sound family friendly.  I don’t know the recommended ages, so I’m going to say it’s for adults.  It sounds like this would not be a game for everybody.  It sounds like it isn’t so much a game as it is story-telling and choose your own adventure, such that if you’re in it for the story, you’ll like it, but if you want a concrete game structure, plan, strategy, ways to win, not so much.

I don’t know, honestly, if I’d be able to find three-ish people willing to play a game that could take hours and is not exactly game-like and more focusing on stories/choose your own adventure.  Also, I could see how the rubric/matrix set up might confuse or turn off people.  I imagine that while it sounds a little complicated at the start, that you’d get the hang of it.  In any case, I think I’d be an ideal demographic for this.  The concept really appeals to me and I’d love to play it.  I also think it would have immense re-playability.  Finding other people who’d like this might be the challenge for me.  But I think it’s a neat concept.  I guess, like Mice and Mystics, it’s also a combination of RPG with board game elements.  and, again, I love myths and folklore and so on.  and I read a bunch of choose your own adventures as a kid.


Anyway, I think I’ll call this a stopping place for now, and maybe make another one of these.

Related Links/Sources/game players:

(it might just be me, but I prefer watching people play games, playthroughs, friends having fun, over reviews)

GameNight! people by Board Game Geek

Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop: YouTube and Geek and Sundry

Beer and Board Games from Blame Society

Watch It Played



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