Friday, August 24, 2007

Board games and thrift stores

I love board games--since my son was born we don't play nearly as often as we used to, but we have tons of games down in our basement (none, of course, suitable for a nearly-3-year-old). Back in college I was part of a historical simulations club where we'd play a strategy game that would take an entire semester (trust me, there's not much geekier than that). It seemed that for many the pinnacle of that type of gaming was World in Flames, a WWII game, but to me it always seemed like that game had players' hands very tied politically. So it was basically a game of planning the strategy of troop movements. The game I ended up playing each semester that I participated was Empires at Arms, a Napoleon-era game where political bargaining and manipulation and diplomacy determined most things. A great game.

My wife and I never play games like that--we'll play word games like UpWords and Boggle, shorter strategy games like Settlers of Catan (when we have a third player) and Carcassonne and such things as well as Blockus and others. So last night we went to a new Goodwill store and I found one game by the makers of Settlers and another by the makers of Carcassonne. For two bucks each I couldn't really turn that down. Rio Grande's game is King of Elfland, which looks like a pretty fun game of creating villages and collecting gold--far more elaborate than Carcassonne (part of what makes Carcassonne great is that it has relatively simple rules but that allow for fairly deep strategy and repeat playing), but still fun.

The other game (from Mayfair) reminds me much more of those semesters-long games in college. It's a fantasy game of trains and rails called Iron Dragon. The box says games take four hours... Yeah, little chance of us finding time to play a game like that, since we'd have to leave the game board up for multiple days and keep our son away from it. But still...it looks fun, and maybe someday I'll play it with my son. And set him on the road to geekdom (in case the types of stories I read to him haven't already done so).

I also picked up a copy of Gene Wolfe's The Wizard--I've read the first half of the series (The Knight), so I have been planning to read it. But it hadn't captured me as much as some of Wolfe's other books--I just finished the first two books of the Long Sun sequence, and I hope to get right to the last two soon, whereas it's been half a year since I read Knight, and I didn't feel the urge to pick it up from the library yet. But for thrift store prices, it's certainly worth it.

5 comments:

TK42ONE said...

I always liked board games as a kid, but my parents hated them. So I've grown to like card games better.

And checkout Candyland, Hi Ho Cherio, and Chutes and Ladders. My 3 year old girl loves them. But she insists on putting the stems down on the cherries. Oh, and try bingo too. Might be a simpler place to start.

Daniel Ausema said...

Good suggestions. My wife just found a Pooh matching game, so I'll think he'll like that too. But those are certainly classics that he ought to have, that every child ought to (at least Candyland).

I like card games too--we played a ton of Rook in college (once euchre got old). And after college that same group moved on to pinochle, which is fun too. Poker never really interested me though.

Elliot said...

Thrift stores = awesome.
Board games = awesomer.
Thrift store board games = Awesomest!

You might want to check out the "Days of Wonder" board game company.

I know a few people who didn't really like the Knight all that much, but who ended up loving the Wizard. Maybe that'll be your experience.

Elliot said...

PS: The Book of the Long Sun is one of my favourites.

Daniel Ausema said...

I was curious about your thoughts on Long Sun--the impression I'd got from Inchoatus was that they consider New Sun the pinnacle of Wolfe's work and Short Sun a worthy successor, but Long Sun merely something to get through to be able to read Short Sun. So I'd put off reading it until now and found myself pleasantly surprised. I'll have to chat with you more about it once I read the last two books.