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Monthly Archives: June 2014

More Than Just a Gamer

Looking back at my 30 years I was not a real and passionate gamer. Yes I love to play games, but that is really something that children or kids like, playing. For me, there was nothing specific and special about it, just play and play. I played video games on my childhood and teen era, I got glasses from getting to close to television while playing Nintendo and Sega, it had been an addictive moment but I guess it’s just a phase in my life which already over. As time passed, I play to kill time, yes it still offered me pleasure but not as bad as when I smaller.

I managed to move on, I let go gaming and no longer pursue to have the newest and most updated consoles or games, I played what I can and nothing serious can be achieved from it and thought I just wasting my time. The last things that I hold on were a PSP and a PC but now they’re just a memory. When I eventually knew about board games, things were greatly changed. I immediately stop playing any video games (aside games from my android phone) and really really take board games into my religion. Everything about board games really drawn me into something fantastic, impressive and amazing all at the same time. I play and play and play, I started collecting board games, not only just playing it.

Shelf of Board Games

Shelf of Board Games

What’s the point by collecting something? Well as you can see taking ownership on something always feel good, it makes us secure in a way that we partially can describe. It gives us sense of belonging, a trophy to remember, monumental, milestone to live by. It gives us meaning to what we do, not just playing it, killing our time. The short would be “you have what you play” which pretty much sums up the whole idea of collecting games. When we share our game stories to other people, to tell them interesting and awesome moments during our gaming session, those people would (some or even one of them) inevitably ask about what game is it, and do you have it or not. This is a cry for achievement, a proud feeling to have the thing that is the center of the conversation.

So there are 2 different things in one unity, playing and collecting, and both of these things have their own issues. Playing is not as easy as it looks, maybe people see that “Why playing is difficult? All you need to do is play!” Well the problem with that are sometimes we don’t have the time to play amidst our usual day to day activity in life, and we don’t have someone to play with (not that you always or may want to play solo). So there you go, playing needs 2 most important aspects, friends and time which not most of us have at the same time. The same goes to collecting, though in different aspects. Collecting games has money and space issue. Money because you need to purchase games from time to time in a regular basis. And to be frank shipping to my country is a killer, just as expensive as the game itself. The other aspect is the space, when you are serious in collecting games, you need a specific space to keep those games in good condition, that rings “Shelf”. You need shelf and it doesn’t come free with the games and also the shelf needs space in your place. More to it, as your collection grows, you need an extra shelf to keep it safe and organized. Extra shelf means extra space, which really leads to take more space in you house (you need bigger place eventually that of course it doesn’t cheap at all).

Playing Board Games

Playing Board Games

So in short, I am not just a gamer. I am something more, more involved in the board gaming industry. I am the market catalyst, the drive of game publishers and proud being one. I know it’s a money spender (drainer or whatever you may call it) but it has to be done. I want to have a great collection of games that accompany me, my life and family throughout the end of this life, so I can keep playing games and share this hobby til the end, a board gamer enthusiast! One day, maybe I could even design a game, maybe…

 

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Posted by on June 26, 2014 in Article

 

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Cooking Has Never Been This Easy

Game Box

Game Box

Fish Cook Review

I love cooking! Well, at least cooking foods that I really like. Not really if you don’t like the foods right? Fish Cook is a game from James Earnest’s Cheapass Games. As you notice games from Cheapass Games are all unique, they’re all cheaper than other games. The reasons are the game components are not really complete (you need several other components that can easily be found on other games). I must admit that the first time I found the game, I was astonished and hard to believe. The game did not come with dice and money. Cheapass games wants us to get the rest of the components by ourselves. I think their reason is to make the game retail price cheaper, since you can get dice and replacements for money from other game’s components. Here is a short explanation about it from the publisher’s website:

Our traditional business model is printing games in the $5-$15 range, which ship with only the bare essential pieces. This helps us reduce our inventory risk, and essentially puts half of the manufacturing burden on the consumer, who must still provide spare parts like dice, counters, play money, and so on. Thus, we can sell a game that might be worth $40 with all the bits, and meet our customers halfway. It’s especially convenient that the best chips for Veritas, at least at the time of this writing, can be found really cheap. If those chips were in our box, we could never give you such a good deal!

James Earnest is the founder of Cheapass games, which he founded on 1996 along with his most famous board game titled Kill Doctor Lucky, which won the Origins award for the best abstract board game in the following year. He mostly designed all of Cheapass games titles and most of them are free to download. Some of his games are Deadwood Studios USA, Unexploded Cow, Veritas, Pairs, Buttonmen, Falling, Witch Trial and of course Fish Cook.

Now let us look deeper into Fish Cook. I know this game from a friend of mine who ordered this game and I was curious to ask him what kind of game this is. I did find the game curious because of the game box, colorless with simple black texts and sketch and white background. Now that’s not something that you see in most of board game boxes.

Game Components

Game Components

Not much theme in the game, it’s a cooking game I suppose which involves collecting ingredients along the way. Players are chefs that need to create original dishes for their restaurants to gain profits. In the game, chefs also have to go to market to get all the necessity ingredients in the recipes. After collecting the ingredients, they can cook recipes and sell it to gain some profits (naturally they need to sell the dishes higher than the price of the ingredients to make a profit, the bigger the margin of their profit is the better so they can collect the most money at the end of the game).

I already mentioned the game box art, which is… standard. The rest of the components are also standard but the cards are better with colorful artworks. Not much of commissioned artworks on this game and everything is just based on the necessity for the game to be play-able. The game comes with 4 parts of game board (made from thick paper material), cards, game round and first player tokens and also ingredient tiles in 6 types. Players need to provide 12 6-sided dice and the money in different denominations (preferable denominations up to 100 value to keep track the money easier).

The game consist of several rounds (based on number of players, 3-5 rounds) shown as days. In each day players will have to go through 2 phase, day and night. During the day phase, each player will take turns clockwise to collect ingredients / buy recipes. There are 6 different types of ingredients as well as 6 different grades of fishes. Ingredients are filled by rolling a die to determined how many of them added to the supply. Fishes are presented by the dice which rolled before each day starts. The dice roll results determine how many fishes are available and in what types. The price of the ingredients and fishes are vary based on the stock of the specific type at the moment. Ingredients / fishes with surplus supply are cheaper than the ones with small amount supply, which really related to basic economy principle of offer and demand.

Players can also take his turn to buy new recipe instead of ingredients. They buy recipe from the available (cooking school) with the cost of 5 coins, or buy a recipe from the top card of the draw pile with cheaper cost, 2 coins. The recipe cards consist of the required ingredients to make the dish (fish is the only ingredients that always presents). First grade (die value of 1) can only be used for a recipe that required grade one fish, unlike Sixth grade fish that can be used for any dish (since Sixth grade fish is the highest grade), but of course the higher the grade is, more expensive the price is (but more flexible). A day phase ends when one of some certain conditions is met, these conditions are when all players have pass their turn (if a player pass his turn, he can take his turn again in the next turn), when one type of ingredients (not fish) is out of supply or when there is no fish left on the market. Once a player trigger this, all other players take one final turn (including the triggering player). Pass the firs player token to the left player who triggers the day end and the night phase starts.

The Game Board

The Game Board

Starting from the player with the first player token, he cook one of his recipe (if any) and gain profits. If he cooks a recipe from his hand, he gain the bonus as well (return the ingredients and fish required by the recipe). He can also cook an already played recipe from his tableau or from another player’s tableau or even from the available recipe on the center of the table. When he cook his own recipe he gets the bonus as normal, but if he cook a recipe that belong to another player, the bonus goes to the owner of the recipe and the player will have a chance to steal the recipe. The player roll one die and if the result is equal or higher than the bonus value, he can take the recipe and place it on his tableau. During the night you must pass your turn if you cannot cook anything, and if you pass while you still have fish, you must throw one fish away. The night phase ends when all players’ fish are cooked or discarded. Player then can keep his leftover ingredients for the next day. Next day begins, refill the markets and the cooking school.

After the last day is over, the game ends and final scoring is taken place. Players who has the most recipes in each fish grade get points based on the value of the grades (if there is a tie, all tied players received the bonus). So the player with the most recipes of Sixth grade fish gain menu bonus of 6 points and the player with the most recipes of Fifth grade fish gain menu bonus of 5 points and so on. Each player then sum his coins and points together to the the total points, the player with the most points win the game.

In overall, this game is simple and easy to explain. It’s straight forward, players collecting ingredients and cooking dishes to get more money. The game is very economic and it’s crucial to get ingredients cheaper than the money and potential bonus of the dish to get a good profit margin. Sometimes players are faced upon situation that they need to get ingredients and / or fish in higher price, this will determine how big the profit margin players receive in compared with the efforts and turns invested to complete the dish. If the profit is not really good, it’s better to find a better dish (of course considering that maybe you want to earn the most grade of fish). Players will often take new recipes from the deck or cooking school, but it’s a valid and important strategy to steal another player’s recipe to cancel their majority on grades of fish.

This game can be played by 2-6 players under 30-45 minutes and it has a good theme for either adults and children, men and women, it’s about food, everyone loves food.

Ingredients

Ingredients

My Thoughts on The Game
Okay, first of all the game looks minimalistic interesting and to be honest after a first play, I was hooked so I bought the game (instantly, as it’s as cheap as 6 bottles of beer). It was supposedly provides cheap games to play but in the end some of us (my friends and me) bought a special set of dice and money tokens for this game, which led us into extra expenses. The game is very straightforward, buy ingredients, cook and score points but there are some points of strategy or tactic in this game and also decision making. This is also a game that I usually bring to meetup for it’s flexibility (newbie friendly, easy to learn, and short game time and it ranges up to 6 players), very flexible (if you are bored with 7 Wonders, which is more newbie-intimidating).

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2014 in Board Games, Reviews

 

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The Uninvited Guests

Hi there, you, me and other fellow geeks must have experienced this “uninvited guests” at least once in life, or often (you decide). And right now you might wonder what kind of guests are “uninvited guests”? Let’s be honest, us gamers, really happy to have game buddies orbiting around that are vigilant to take seat for gaming session with you since our hobby here (or activity) does need the presence of others (not you, solitaire players), physically, not saying online mode of board gaming session is not board gaming but it isn’t. Seriously, please just be focus and serious here, I’m talking the good old session with your friends (or anyone / anything else) happily sitting around the table playing board games with you. Ah… those happy times (well, I’m about to get there in an hour or two). So if you’re not a solitaire player, then playing board games cannot be done just by yourself. You need another partners (at least 1 other victim to bully around). And partners come from invitation, you ask your friends, colleagues and more to play with you. The good thing (which we all hope) they respond and willing to play, but not all the time they can manage your invitation. I live in a place where board game is an alien, that usually followed by a question by others and Monopoly as my respond. Yes, it’s not a common thing, not like karaoke or video games Hence we do not have a big community (yet) but it’s growing. With this scale, there are not many gamers lying around to be invited and most of them are not always available. So this leads to the gaming partner issue.

Gaming Group

Gaming over local gathering

What issue is that? It is when you want to play but no one’s available to play with you (no I’m not gonna resolve this to solitaire play, better read rulebooks or browse BGG). Getting someone to play with you is not a trivial quest, sometimes it’s so damn hard, either they’re busy or it’s just you’re not the one person they want to hang out with (*bitch). Either way, it’s a problem for us gamers and one of the solution is to invite all your friends and see who’s come up to the task of true friends (no I’m kidding), willing and able to play with you. So you start sending / broadcasting, here, there and everywhere (by texting, calling, posting request on social media, email , forum thread or maybe BBM broadcast) which will significantly raise your chances (or not) to get gaming partners. Well it’s a good effort though. But based on my experiences doing this kind of shit, there are people that just prefer doing than talking which is generally a good idea (compared to the opposite). Yes, I did invite them over for a game or two, yes I do expect all of them to come (cannot be picky with this kind of thing, can’t I?), but I do more appreciate them to answer to my invitation first rather than unexpectedly showed up without confirmation. Beside it surprises me, they also screw up the session big time! The reason is they ruined the gaming group formula. Let me explain, if you want to gather some friends over a game session, you need to think / plan what to play and how many additional players you’ll be needing. The thing is if you desperately try to invite anyone or everyone and ends up with an odd number of players that would give you and your group a headache to start with. Most Euro games (yes we often play Euros) are suitable / best with maximum number of 4 players (at least games on my collection) and having 5 players in the group is kinda a pain in the ass. It’s good if you have 6 (you can divide them into two 3-player groups) but 5!!!!??? Okay, there are nice amount of 5-player games out there but I don’t have that much and sometimes 5-player games take more times and not the best number for games (not talking about party or filler games). The fifth player is surely an uninvited guest and if he/she’s respond to my invitation first before barging into the session, I am sure I can find another solution of games.

A scheduled game session on progress

A scheduled game session on progress

Look here, how hard can it be, to reply to an invitation? just push a button or type a text can’ be that hard right? I could prepared more suitable games for the group and evade this kind of problems. If you are them, think again. I know you’re invited by me but we feel you as uninvited if you did not give feedback, so give feedback to be invited! It’s a small things but also important, I will definitely appreciate it if you give us heads up!

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2014 in Article

 

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