Rob’s Fantasy Tennis League Rules (for reference)

[I’m playing in a Fantasy Tennis League this year, organized by my friend and sometimes-BAJTOTW-commenter Rob. I find myself referring back to the rules, which involves opening up an attachment, so I’m going to post them for my own reference and also anticipated someday-nostalgia. I haven’t followed tennis before, but Rob’s enthusiasm is contagious.]

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Let’s give it a go!: Mice & Mystics


Why? This is the latest acquisition in our cooperative board game kick. After playing Robinson Crusoe (recommended 10 and up) and realizing how long it took us to understand all the rules, we decided to go down in age (9 and up!) rather than to anything that might be even more complicated.

How’d it go? The idea is that you were once important people in a kingdom in which some treacherous things are afoot, and your only hope to save the kingdom was to transform yourselves into mice and engage various missions around the castle. Each game is a chapter from the story with a prologue and story moments as you advance through the game. The game itself involves teaming up to fight various enemies: cockroaches, rats, spiders, centipedes, a cat, a crow; sometimes these have boss powers depending on what’s going on in the story. The tokens for the game are miniatures of the different characters (see photo), and this is good for adding atmosphere.

Downside is there’s a lot of dice-rolling and this can get a little repetitive after awhile, so it’s not the kind of thing you are going to spend an entire day engrossed in, but it’s clever and fun and nicely paced.

Will you do it again? We’re through Chapter 7! Beckie has her two characters that she always plays [Nez, the tinkerer; Tilda, the healer], I always play one [Filch, the scamp] and rotate a couple others [Lily, the archer; Collin, the leader], and the remaining character we only play when required [Maginos, the ineffectual old mouse-magician]. The game has 11 chapters, so I bet we’ll finish it; like I said, it does get a bit repetitive, so I’d be less confident if there were 15. We’re already talking about whether we should check out this other cooperative game that involves zombies.

Let’s give it a go!: Robinson Crusoe

[Psst: Maybe when we play this again, we could put a photo here…]

Why? We wanted to play a cooperative boardgame, which led to extensive research on and the construction of a List of Finalists, an examination of all the games at the local games store, and finally, a complicated elication procedure designed to get each of us to offer our true preference, as opposed to what we thought the other person wanted. This was the unanimous winner!

How did it go? The basic premise of the game is that four people are stranded on an island (an Explorer, a Cook, a Carpenter, and a Soldier), and then one follows one of a variety different scenarios that provide an objective and tweak the basic rules (Scenario #1 is just getting off the island). We’re playing an easier version where we also add a helpful dog to the four castaways, and so it hasn’t had the oh-my-God-this-is-completely-impossible element that has marked our first stabs at some cooperative board games. The game has an enormous number of cards, which on top of the varied objectives, gives this really diverse replays. We’ve had to go to Google to try to resolve some rules ambiguities (with cooperative games, it can be hard to distinguish a correct interpretation of rules from a collusively wishful one).

Ultimately, it was all a lot to keep track of at first, but getting the hang of play was not bad, and working together to win has been fun.

Would you do it again? We already have played it a few times now, and will again. I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to do the scenario with the cannibals, though.

let’s give it a go!: squabbles

[Note to blog proprietors: Here’s another post that would be enriched if it became with a jaunty photo of the boardgame in question.]

Why? We received it as a boardgame for Xmas from Beckie’s brother.

How’d it go It’s speed scrabble, if you’ve played that. Each player tries to build a crossword grid as fast as possible from Scrabble tiles, making everyone grab more tiles when they’ve finished, until the bag is done. The main difference is that sometimes there are these tiles that make you draw cards, which do things like force you to break up one of your plurals or give you bonuses for each Q. If you get ahead it’s a lot of just saying “grab… grab… grab…” since you just have to add one new tile to your grid.

Would you play it again? Sure, it was fine. The 200 tiles were a little long for a two-player game, so we’d maybe pour some out. But, we were just in the mall today and it looked like this game was retailing for $40. It’s not enough of an improvement over the speed game you can just play with Scrabble tiles for anyone who already owns Scrabble to purchase this for themselves.

Let’s give it a go!: Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective

[The notes from our first case, along with the casebook and map]

Why? This is part of our cooperative boardgames kick. It can’t all be Robinson Crusoe, and the $120 sticker price has delayed our purchase of Mice & Mystics. Plus, I was aware of this game when I was a kid and so have always been curious how it worked, as I love mysteries.

How did it go? The game comes with ten mysteries, which are real original stories and not something like Clue or Scotland Yard. You visit different locations, which correspond to different parts in a puzzle book. You’ve got a map of London that provides the keys for the casebook, along with a newspaper that has some pertinent details (and many red herrings).

We had fun working together to solve the mystery, which was more difficult than either of us were expecting. We did figure it out in the end. The game has to involve an entirely nonlinear story since it can’t know what order you are going to reveal the clues (beyond controlling when particular names or places are revealed). The game was originally written in the early 1980’s, I think, and it could mostly be done now as a hypertext game on a computer, which would have some advantages from a story perspective. But, of course, we wouldn’t likely sit there are read together to do it if it was just hyper-text, and having to actually look up the leads invoked more thought about which lead to follow up next than mindless clicking.

Would you do it again? Yes. I don’t know if we’ll get through all ten mysteries, but it was entertaining enough certainly to give another go.

Beckie and Jeremy finally shut someone out


We’re talking our recent collaborative obsession with Letterpress (playing under the username Beckie+Jeremy). If you’ve never seen Letterpress, this is probably the worst possible outcome screen to show you, since we control all 25 squares. But, you can see the act of perfect destruction unfold here.

Also, here’s a screenshot of the shutout victory amidst an unblemished collection of other, less extreme, Letterpress triumphs: