Monday, November 30, 2009

New Games on my Radar

Every so often a new release game or game expansion catches my eye. Here's a list of games released in 2009, or due for release in the near future, that I currently have on my wishlist.

Commands & Colors: Napoleonics - Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm a big fan of Richard Borg's Commands & Colors series of wargames. The next installment in the series will be Napoleonic warfare and is expected to be published late 2010 or early 2011. Can't wait.

Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #4: Imperial Rome - I simply love C&C Ancients. This expansion pack provides more Romans and pits them against enemies such as the Parthians, Ancient British, Teutonic Barbarians as well as more Roman on Roman Civil War fun.

Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #5: Epic Ancients II - Rules, cards and battles to play this great game in 'epic mode' on two boards laid side by side. Two to eight players can enjoy these larger games.

Rush n' Crush - I enjoy racing games and I enjoy combat games. Rush n' Crush blends these two themes together nicely in what has been touted as faster, more bloodier, version of Formula De. Published this year by Rackham and AEG, Rush n' Crush is set in the AT-43 universe on the war-torn planet Ava, where the inhabitants have invented an auto racing sport involving armoured racing cars, twisted speedways filled with dangerous obstacles, and no rules racing. Sounds like a lot of fun for 3 - 6 players where there can only be one winner.

Letter of Marque - Recently published by Fantasy Flight Games and designed by Bruno Faidutti this is a light bluffing game with a theme of treasure, temptation and trickery on the high seas. I've enjoyed Faidutti designed games such as Red November and Diamant (with Alan R. Moon) so am looking forward to Letter of Marque.

BattleLore: Heroes Expansion - OK, OK, more Richard Borg and C&C goodness in the form of mighty Heroes for BattleLore. This expansion introduces player-created Leaders and Champions to augment your camp's forces in battles.

BattleLore: Dragons - This BattleLore expansion provides three deadly dragons to unleash on to your battlefields. Cool.

BattleLore: Creatures - This new BattleLore expansion includes sculpts of the previously limited Earth Elemental (now billed as a Rock Elemental with new rules), the Hill Giant (now a Forest Giant) and the brand new Hydra.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gaming with Grandma - 104

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother (AKA Grandma) and 8 year old daughter, Maddie.

Our game this morning was Formula Motor Racing, designed by Reiner Knizia and published by GMT Games. I'd purchased this game earlier in the year but had not broken the shrink wrap on it until today. For Grandma and Maddie it was their first play but I'd played it before.

I had fond memories of playing this game with some mates at the famous Young and Jackson pub in Melbourne back in 2004 before we attended the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix. (On a side note the pub is well known for the beautiful nude painting ChloƩ, painted by French artist Jules Joseph Lefebvre in 1875 - click on the link to see the painting, oh, and I do recommend the pub's own beer brand, Naked Ale, made in honour of ChloƩ).

We decided to play three races and the winner would be the team with the most points at the end of the season. Grandma was yellow, Maddie was purple and I was green. The non-player teams were red, blue and orange.

Game 1:
1st - Maddie - 10 points
2nd - Blue - 6 points
3rd - Grandma - 4 points
4th - Wayne - 3 points
5th - Wayne - 2 points
6th - Red - 1 point

So after Game 1 the teams were 1st Maddie (10), 2nd Blue (6), 3rd Wayne (5), 4th Grandma (4), 5th Red (1), 6th Orange (0).

Game 2:
1st - Grandma - 10 points
2nd - Wayne - 6 points
3rd - Maddie - 4 points
4th - Blue - 3 points
5th - Orange - 2 points
6th - Blue - 1 point

So after Game 2 the team standings looked like this - 1st Grandma (14), 2nd Maddie (14), 3rd Wayne (11), 4th Blue (10), 5th Orange (2), 6th Red (1).

Game 3:
1st - Wayne - 10 points
2nd - Blue - 6 points
3rd - Grandma - 4 points
4th - Red - 3 points
5th - Orange - 2 points
6th - Maddie - 1 point

Final season standings were 1st Wayne (21), 2nd Grandma (18), 3rd Blue (16), 4th Maddie (15), 5th Red (4), 6th Orange (4).

Going into the last race of the season it was still any one's game. Through clever play (and a little luck) I managed to pull out a win on the final race to gain enough points to push me to the final 1st place.

Grandma and I thoroughly enjoyed the game. Maddie said it was OK but wasn't too keen on the 'take that' aspect of the card play. You could see her enthusiasm for the game start to wane whenever she lost a car or had a bad card played on one of her cars. I suspect (and hope) that as she matures as a gamer she will come to enjoy games where one can interfere with opponent's plans.

I believe games are an important way to learn how to cope with challenges and setbacks. Always trying to help my children learn life lessons I pointed out to Maddie that both she and Grandma were actively targeting Daddy with bad cards throughout the three games. I explained to her that rather than getting upset I accepted that I would most likely not win but instead chose to enjoy the challenge of trying to do my best despite the odds stacked against me. Let's hope a little of that philosophy has sunk in for her.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Kids can sometimes take things too literally

I was sitting with my three year old daughter Georgia.

"OK, Georgie, imagine you had one apple and I gave you another apple," I said. "How many apples would you have?"

"Two!" she exclaimed.

"OK, now imagine if I took an apple away," I said. "What's left?"

She points to her left.

We all cracked up laughing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Family Vacation

We got back on Saturday from a week-long family holiday at the beautiful Noosa region of the Sunshine Coast here in Queensland, Australia. We're very lucky that this area is only a couple of hours drive north of where we live in Brisbane.

We coincided the holiday with my friend Steve and his family and we all stayed at the Coral Beach Noosa Resort at Noosaville. Steve and his wife Fran have two little boys aged 6 & 4, so we had a combined gaggle of four kids aged 8 and under.

Maddie enjoying the beach at Noosa Heads

We all had a lovely time eating, drinking, relaxing, and swimming at the pool, saltwater lake and beach. Although I took along a few card and board games, none got played. We were all pretty tired at the end of each day, and after the kids were in bed we only had enough energy for a few quiet drinks.

A ferry trip on Noosa River looking towards Noosa Heads

I took my Xbox 360 along so was able to play some two-player Spec Ops missions from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare with Steve. I don't get the chance to do much co-op gaming and it was a very enjoyable experience. I may be tempted to get onto Xbox Live next year but the only problem is sparing the time.

Georgia and I having fun in the sun

We had a wonderful time on our holiday. The girls had a great time swimming at the pool and beach every morning and my wife and I enjoyed some delicious seafood and getting away from the everyday rat race for a while. Now it's back to work and dreaming about the next trip.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Modern Warfare 2

Today was the international release day for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. This is the sequel to the acclaimed Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare that was released back in November 2007. As it is the week of my birthday I decided to spoil myself and pick up this latest installment in the Call of Duty series.

I do enjoy a good FPS so while the wife and kids are asleep this evening I'll be firing up the Xbox 360, cracking open a cold beer (or three) and taking on those terrorists.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Gaming with Grandma - 103

Another Saturday morning gaming session with my mother (AKA Grandma) and two daughters. Our game of choice today was PitchCar Mini. This was a game I recently received in a trade offered for my Formula De Circuits 19 & 20 Suzuka & Melbourne by Tony Archer (BGG User aPilgrim). The trade went very smoothly and I know I'll definitely get more use out of PitchCar Mini than the game I traded away.

Maddie about to flick her car around the track

I've played both PitchCar and PitchCar Mini and enjoy them both. PitchCar Mini is probably more suitable for smaller children and saves on space required for set up. I would love to eventually get another set for larger tracks as well as some of the cool expansions.

The winner is the first player to finish three laps of the track. We played three games with 3 year old Georgia joining in on the 3rd game. Surprisingly she pulled off some great shots but still needs a lot of practice to perfect her flicking style. Maddie at 8 years old soon picked it up and Grandma improved well over the three games.

This track set up was fun with players being able to set up shots that would whiz around the curves and into the straights. I went on to win the first two games easily but only just pulled out a win on the 3rd game after coming from behind on the last lap.