Sunday, March 8, 2009

What I Should Not Talk About In My Blog: Vol. 1: Board Games

The results are in! As a consequence of my recent poll What Should I Not Talk About In My Blog?, I have decided to talk about each of the options, aside from the winner (loser?) here on in. My readers would much rather hear of LAN parties and Electrical Engineering theories than stock exchanges: well, my wish is your command! You only have yourself to blame!

Apparently my readers may have been burned by financial markets

First off in my series: Board Games

Not all board games are created equal (shouts out to Andrew Dougherty)

Compiled here are quick reviews of ten selected board games, least favourite to favourite:

10. Checkers
I am of the opinion that any game that can be solved beforehand is not worth playing (i.e. tic-tac-toe, not even worth a review).

That being said, how is it that I always lose in checkers?!? Call me a sore loser, call me what you will. I blame it on fate. Not enough strategy, not enough excitement. The one thing that would make this game better is if they kept the original name: English Draughts (and if it were accompanied by such BEvERageS).

Rating: F

9. Jenga
You take a block from the middle and you put it on the top, you take a block from the bottom and you put it on the top. Ok, I'm not totally a hater. The catch phrase lives up to its name.

Pros: The practical application of scientific principles
Cons: The impending doom

It's ok, but it doesn't get me excited - there's better games out there. And are these really the building principles we want to be teaching our future engineers and architects? I never want to be in a building made by someone who likes this game.

Rating: D+

8. Cranium

A pretty great team-focussed game with some fun variety, and use of creative skills. Always better with more players. Hard to play with less people.

If you wind up with the Canadian version, good luck answering any of the Data Head questions. Seems our history and famous people just aren't historic or famous enough. My favourites include excusing myself for misinterpretations of what my clay sculpture was supposed to be and drawing with my eyes closed.

Rating: B-

7. Sorry
I'm not sorry to say (har har) that this is actually a great game. Although you might argue that it is predetermined by the cards (as in #10) you are dead wrong. Some cards you can choose what to do with, and boy, can this game turn around fast! There is also something strangely satisfying about hitting the board really fast with your pawn on all the squares as you count.

Pros: Not a lot of strategy
Cons: Never knowing who is going to win until the very end

Rating: B-

6. Apples to Apples
Good game: minimal setup, can accomodate lots of players and a sure-fire way to induce laughter. You can use a card in your hand (usually a noun) to match a card drawn by the dealer (usually an adjective), who then chooses the winner. The result is a mix of sketchy and hilarious comparisons. The part I really enjoy about this is being able to play towards the dealers preferences, and also learning more about their sense of humour (or lack thereof).

Hours of entertainment, and difficult to run out of combinations.

Rating: B

5. Scrabble
Sometimes the classics never go out of style. I for one am I big fan of word games.

Pros: Oozing with strategic options
Cons: Playing with people who can't make decisions. Those smarmy people who know all the two letter words. Also, trying to spell words with K J Q Z X V P, come on!

Rating: B

4. Axis and Allies

Also known as Risk on Crack, this game simulates World War II, in which you play asa a superpower with your allies to achieve domination.

I have many great memories of playing this game, however, much of that time was occupied with setting up the board. This game takes forever to set up! The end result is worth it though. My housemates and I once attempted to solve this problem by setting up a war room in the house ("ze bunker!"). However, like the game, we started but never finished.

Rating: B+

3. Chess

Speaking of classics, Chess is king (yesss!). I was once part of the chess club, and believe it or not, that made me cool. Take that, school sports teams.

I'm a bit of a strategy buff, but this is the ultimate. Having all sorts of opening moves, strategies for different parts of the game, different pieces, and different outcomes is what makes this game classic. The neat thing about this game is the ability to develop one's own 'style'. My only complaint is how long it can take to play.

Rating: A-

2. Settlers of Catan

Incredible. And frustrating at the same time. Trade resources and build cities, settlements, armies, and roads. Many different ways to win, many different things to do, expansion packs for different types of play and an all around good time. One thing that some single player games lack is some sort of interaction factor between players aside from responding to another player's moves. The whole aspect of trading resources in this game really helps that out.

However, player interaction is a two-edged sword. I have never witnessed more fighting in my life from a board game! This game tears friends and family apart, otherwise I would give it full marks!

I will never forget one weekend a few years back when I went to a campus group retreat, which a bunch of us instead dubbed "Settlers Weekend". Completely out of control, haha.

Rating: A

1. I will save the winner for next blog post, since this one won't do it justice!


  1. i think we all know what the number one game is: it's totally..... (i don't want to ruin your next post).

    this is great, but i will challenge that chess deserves the number 2 slot instead of settlers for the following reasons:

    1) timeless longevity
    2) for a time it brought balance to the force/the cold war.
    3) i was also an avid player in elementary school and was once Brant County Chess Champion in my age group.

  2. Settlers of Catan should be called Settlers of Satan.

  3. settlers of catan is amazing

  4. Dave - good points. That one was tough, I think I could have gone either way. Also, remember the time I was destroying Greg, and the next day the pieces on the board were mysteriously misplaced? We should play sometime. p.s. thanks for not ruining #1.

    Annie - HAHAHAHAHA. It's true. "The Devil Made Me Do It" is an apt excuse in this game.

    Damon - couldn't agree more, until you see #1!!! (hint: it's not laser chess, feel free to look that up though, it's pretty rad)

  5. #1 has to be Battle of the Sexes, I just know it.

  6. I can't wait till I'm back in Canada getting decimated in all of these board games!

  7. Sherry put the pieces away because she was having a party!!! I had control of the board!!! you were lucky to avoid defeat...

  8. I am glad that Deflexion (aka laser chess) at least made the comments section of this blog. I feel that if it were a more widely recognized game it would have made the top ten.

    I know, I know. I know you too well.

  10. sure Greg, just like the time I supposedly got you drunk as we were playing and that's why you lost twice and once in under a minute! I used to love chess so much that in kindergarten I chose to play chess during nap time. The chess clocks add a whole other dimension to the game making it way more intense.

    Dave, I'm impressed how well you know your history (ie, #2) My dad would be impressed. He had a chess book of all the famous chess matches that mapped out their games move by move. I'm a bit embarrassed to say this but I may have read it a few times.