Somehow, I convinced my wife that a night in with boargames could be a date night. Well, we did end up at a nice Italian restaurant beforehand (which was good) but the still, we ended up in a game shop and bought a board game. Some progress! Actually, one for the adults and another for the squirts.
The Kessel Run is a store that I happened to notice while driving the other day in my neighborhood. While I’m not sure how other cities run, Ottawa is a rather stiff town. It’s Canada’s capital, so it has a lot of bureaucrats but it’s also the country’s IT capital. Not vidya games, that’s Montreal. Just plain IT. Nortel was here before it went kaboom. Let’s just say that those two character types don’t always see eye to eye, right?
So we’ve been somewhat starved when it comes to geeky outlets. Hobby stores abound but not geek. There’s Fandom II that’s been around for years and like 4 blocks from parliament but every other store has come and gone. Games Workshop has had a dozen stores over the years, never one lasting more than a year. There’s one other that opened recently, Monopolatte, which is a coffee shop / board game scene. Busy as all hell, which I think relates to a shift back out of the virtual world into the social.
Kessel Run is sort of like that, minus the food. Tons of board games, just astounding really. Then a real kick on the XWing miniatures and Warmachine (similar to War40K). My wife had been intrigued by what I found online, so we made a pit stop. Sure enough, one of her old students is working there (the thing with teachers is that ever year they see ~200 new faces, so after a while…everyone knows you.) Spent 30 minutes looking, then got the 2 games and went through the back room. Which is a rather large gaming room, where about 10 tables were running an XWing game. Neato.
The Magic Labyrith
First up was The Magic Labyrinth,a puzzle game for younger folk. I firmly believe that kid’s games are awesome games for life. Their simplicity is more about building skills than exercising them. I still like playing Trouble and Connect 4.
The game is pretty neat. There’s a board on top that you need to navigate your peon through, to get one of the items laid out. The catch is that under the board you have a magnetized bearing that can hit the hidden walls beneath. So you need to remember where those hidden walls are while the items up top move around the board. More or less walls, depending on the challenge you want.
The wife and I played 3 games and it was a blast. There’s just something about being next to the goal and hitting a wall on the last move to get you going.
Pandemic is a cooperative board game, which is not something you see that often. If you’re working together, then these types of games tend to fall on the side of random more so that strategy but due to the mechanics, I think it works out pretty darn well.
Each players has a role (Medic, Scientist, etc…) that has some special feature in the game. Either you can cure with less actions, move around freely and so on. This part plays a major factor in the game.
The point is to cure 4 different types of diseases before you a) run out of cards, b) run out of infections or c) create too many epidemics. You can only have 7 cards in your hand at any time, and you need 5 of the same color to cure a diseases at a research station. There are a dozen cards of a given color in the deck, so discarding needs to be really thought out, especially if you’re multiple players. Plus you can increase the difficulty by adding some bad cards to the deck, which really can mess with a game.
Moving around the board is also important as you need to keep the diseases in check to avoid an outbreak. That part is pretty neat. The curing aspect, combined with the roles mentioned above, mean that teamwork and communication is key to win. I’ll write a more involved post later but suffice to say that the game plays pretty differently the more players you have due to the way the cards are distributed.
The good news is that even though we lost a couple matches we figured out what we could do to improve. One match we clearly dominated and another was down to the wire. So, random be random, but still fun.