Friday, January 05, 2007

Going Home

Holidays are weird for me. Especially Christmas. It is, of course, all my parent’s fault. They had to move out, taking my brothers with them, just as I was starting my post-secondary education, winding up an 8-hour drive (10-12 hours by bus) away in what amounts to the middle of nowhere. Well, next door to the middle of nowhere anyhow. This pretty much leaves all the other holidays open for my wife’s family to own.

Not to say that this is a bad thing. I like my wife’s family. I even have delusions that they like me too. Well, they at least accept me. Or put up with me. At any rate, I’m pretty sure that I’m welcome (I kid, we get on well). We always find things to talk about. I can help set the table, or help in the kitchen. I always find that the time passes without too much tedium, and the food is always good.

But, (you knew there was a but, right?) something is still missing.

Oh yeah, games. My family has always played games. One of the reasons that I have a deep seated love of gaming is the time I spent playing when I was younger. Even more now, when we gather we give games, we share games, and we play games. Going home isn’t so much about the location, which never was home, it’s about finding the time and people to play with.

So my holiday trip home this year was filled with games and these are them

Deflexion (link)

Gave this as a Christmas/birthday gift to my youngest brother. A strategy game with lasers, what could be more perfect? It turned out to be quite a bit of fun. Very spatial, thinking about all those mirrors and bounces. A whole lot of potential for strategic depth in there. Overall, a good gift, and a fun game.

Killer Bunnies (and the Quest for the Magic Carrot) (link)

The funniest card in the whole game (to this point) is the weapon “Green Jello (with Evil Pineapple Chunks)”, because nothing is more evil than killing a bunny with dessert. This is an overly complex game with a slightly distorted sense of reality. I like it, and I’ll go into it more later.

Munchkin (and Munchkin Fu) (link)

If you have not played this game, please find a friend who has it. Failing that, find a local game or comic shop and get a great game to play with everyone you know. Munchkin not only epitomizes all that is great about social card games, but it’s hilarious while it does it. And there is a Munchkin for everyone. Every true and pure geek with fall madly in love with this game and want to collect all of the various expansions and off shoots. This game will remain a favourite for years.

Seafarers of Catan (link)

I’ve played Settlers, so getting the rest of the Catan expansions is pretty much a no brainer. You wouldn’t think it, but just adding the ability to cross the water and a single, rare, land type really does alter the whole strategy of the game. I played this a bunch of times, and I had to rethink my whole Catan domination plan. I can’t wait to get Knights and Cities.

Crib (link)

A classic of my family, something that was passed down from my Grandfather. Wherever two or three of us gather, the cards and board usually come out.

Backgammon (link)

There is nothing like being schooled in a classic board game of strategy and luck by your mother to make you realize that there may yet be something to learn. I’m pretty sure that the thing I have to learn is that I’ll never be better at Backgammon than my Mom. It’s one of her favourites and I love getting to play with her.

Kirby: Canvas Curse (link)

I couldn’t wait to spend my Best Buy gift monies on new games for my DS. I ploughed through about half the game (maybe a little more) in the time I spent away. The game is simple, fairly short, but very well produced. Going back through the time and line trials really hones your skills and makes you think about efficient moves.

Elite Beat Agents (link)

I couldn’t say no to a game where synchronized dance is the answer to all the inconsequential problems of the world. I’d read so much about this game I had to play it. I still can’t beat the final level (even on easy), but It’s probably because my tapping and dragging skills are not what they should be. This one turned out to be too much fun not to share.


Last year I reconnected to a lot of things. I reconnected to people on the internet, through their blogs and the creation of mine. I reconnected to my love of games and design. I reconnected to drama and storytelling. I reconnected to programming. Last year, as fast and peculiar as it was, was about reconnection.

This year is about games.

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