Today is a good day.

Today I get to post the second of our community case studies, this one from Neil Blaiberg of London, UK.  Neil has kindly offered to share his own experiences with gaming with his 5 year-old son, and shared some of the games and the lessons those games have taught him.

You can read the entire case study here.

I am always looking for more community input, so if you have a story to tell, please do contact me.  I would like to keep this feature running biweekly as long as possible, and it will take continuing input from the community to make that possible. Help me make this the best gaming experience resource on the Internet!

With several more case studies being written, you can count on tuning in on November 6th for the next installment!

Monday RoundupWell, it is Monday once again, and that means it is time for the Monday Roundup.  Each week, the Monday Roundup brings content from around the ‘web that I haven’t yet posted or commented on in another post.  This week, we have three references for those of you interested in gaming in the classroom.

Over the last week, I have seen a few reference fly by on Twitter and stumbled across a few more through my good friend Google.  In each case, the articles talk about the best board games for the classroom.  I am not an educator, but the picks generally do seem relevant and I could see how to make use of them in an age-appropriate setting.  Some, I have even used at home.

So let’s check them out.

Mathpickle

Great name for a website, right there, and it does look like an interesting site to explore.  They have a section on K-12 Games in the Classroom, which hits on a number of games such as Qwirkle, Go, Dvonn, Yinsh, and others.  People who have been following along for a while, know that I am a big fan of TED talks, and will recognize the World Peace Game talk referenced on Mathpickle from one of my earliest blog posts.  It is definitely worth clicking around a bit, and checking out some of their videos.  Cool site.

Board Games By Grade Level

Education.com has an article that is basically an index into lists of games sorted by grade level.  This is handy, as it clearly separates Preschoolers, Grade Schoolers, Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers into different groups.  Links lead out to other articles on the site that go into some of the games for each grade level.  The games listed are (in my opinion) a bit hit and miss – they have some terrific games such as Set (reviewed here), Balderdash, and 10 Days in Africa, but have some pretty mundane choices such as Connect Four and Guess Who.

Glory

The last article I ran across introduced an interesting sounding game called Glory, coming from Civic Games. The game sounds very well-designed, by teachers for the classroom setting.  particularly interesting is that the game is made to run in 40 minute sessions over a longer campaign. I highly recommend reading the article, as it is an essence a case study of how the game was employed with students and their reactions.  It’s a good read.

That’s it for Monday Roundup #5 – I hope everyone has a great week!

 

I mentioned the other day that I had a serious blemish on my resume as a gamer. I had never had the Ultimate Gaming Experience. Tired of hiding my head in shame, I was finally able to sit down at a table with my oldest son and three good friends and play Twilight Imperium, by Fantasy Flight Games. We were hoping for the 6-person game, but one of our friends could not make it… so 5 it was.

Ultimate Gaming Experience - Twilight ImperiumWe were all in the same boat, never having played before.  We all studied up on the rules ahead of time so we could have as quick a ramp-up time as possible. I’m very glad we did that – it would have been a very slow start if we were all learning from scratch at the same time.  My friend, who bought the game, had done some serious work getting the box organized to make set-up as easy as possible. I’m also quite glad he did that… it is a very real-estate and piece-intensive game, and his organization of the box made a huge difference in getting the game set up and running quickly.

All that preparation did pay off, as we were up and running within about half an hour.  The first couple of turns were predictably slow as we got a handle on how the game really worked in practice, but it started to move at a good pace after that.

And what a game it is!  I will put up a full review sometime in the next few days when I get a chance to fully write it, but I can certainly say that I now understand why people get so excited about Twilight Imperium.  It is just MASSIVE in scope and, given that we were really rank beginners, there is no doubt a whole level of depth that we haven’t even seen yet.  The game took us about 7 hours to play through with a couple of pauses here and there for breaks, and ended up with me winning a tight game as Jol-Nar (a technology-oriented race) having never actually fought anyone! That was actually a really good thing, as it showed that there really are multiple paths to victory and that the game was certainly very intense, despite the fact that I wasn’t picking on my neighbours.  We loved it… so much that we did the unthinkable…

… and started a second game back-to-back.   Just to see more of what the game had, we put the five race cards that we played with in the first game and dealt out the five remaining, so we’d be playing entirely with new races that we hadn’t seen before.  That game also took about 7 hours, but almost two hours were spent in back and forth over the last victory point (and win condition).  My son squeaked it out at the very end by achieving his secret objective, and nobody saw it coming.  It was great!

So, with that, our Ultimate Gaming Experience lasted about 14.5 hours, having started at noon and ended about 2:30 am.  It’s been a long time since I’ve played a single game for that long – it was probably when I was my son’s age.  That a single game can keep my attention that long in one span and leave me feeling sad that it was over is a testament to what it is.  This will make it both onto my shelf and onto my Top 10 List soon enough (hint: expect to see an updated Top 10 List in the next week).

In all, I can see why people said that I haven’t really had the Ultimate Gaming Experience until Twilight Imperium.  It really is a remarkable game and is quickly going to become one of our favourites.  It will be challenging to get groups together to play such a long game very often, but it really is a cool experience, and delivers what gaming does best – an opportunity to connect with family and friends while playing out an epic back-and-forth struggle. If you haven’t yet had your own Ultimate Gaming Experience, I can’t recommend it enough.  It takes you back to why you play board games in the first place, and does it with truly epic style.

Do you have a Twilight Imperium story to tell?  Share it in the comments below!

 

I have just finished a small update to the website.  I have included a new section in the “About Me” area called “Websites I Visit“. Astoundingly, this page is about… the websites… that I visit.

Right now, it is just a starting point, and I am just keeping it updated as I work through all the board game-related content I peruse periodically (or regularly).  Expect the starting list that you’ll see there to grow in leaps and bounds in the coming weeks. There is some great content out there, and if you know of any that I should know about, please reply in the comments below!

Also on the docket this weekend is a new gaming experience for me – I am going to be sitting down to my first game of Twilight Imperium tomorrow with friends and my oldest son.  I am told that my resume as a gamer is incomplete due to not having this experience, so I’m going to finally be rid of that particular shame.  I can’t wait to try it out – I’m told the 6-player experience is something else!  Have you played?  Tell us about it below!  In turn, you’ll see writeups this week – likely a post on the game session itself, and the other a review of the game.

Lastly, don’t forget to check on Wednesday, when we post our second community case study.  Our first case study has been the most popular feature on the website, so you won’t want to miss the next one!

In fact, don’t miss a thing at all… go use the little subscribe widget on the right side of the screen and sign up for our updates! You will receive e-mail notifications of posts and changes we make to the website to make sure you can stay on top of the latest from the Board Game Agent.

People who have been following this blog a while will know that I am pretty new to the whole Kickstarter thing, but am developing a real interest in how it works.  You will also know that I am increasingly becoming a big fan of Mantic Games, the UK-based company focused on bringing compelling tabletop games with high-quality components and miniatures to your gaming table at a price point that is very reasonable.

Mars Attacks KickstarterSo, it was with great interest that I heard a couple of weeks ago about a Kickstarter campaign for a new game from Mantic: Mars Attacks. Mars Attacks is based on a set of 1960′s collectible trading cards from Topps, which subsequently became comic books, and 1996 feature film directed by Tim Burton (and starring, well, everyone), and is recently being reintroduced as part of a 50-year anniversary campaign. This is going to sound crazy, I know, but it is about Martians… attacking.  Us.

Mantic, in collaboration with Topps, is turning Mars Attacks into a scenario-based miniatures game based on cinematic action and wackiness that is the hallmark of the Mars Attacks brand. Designed by Jake Thornton, the designer of both Dreadball and the soon-to-be released-at-retail Deadzone, the game is targeted to be a tactical, but not overly complicated miniatures game. To my view, this game looks to be a fantastic entry/gateway game for those looking to get into the hobby with lots to offer the veterans. High-detail miniatures true to the fiction, heroic feats and larger-than-life cinematic events look to make this a terrific game that is growing in scope as the Kickstarter continues.

My intention was to follow the Mars Attacks Kickstarter, but not necessarily participate.  I would say my tower of iron will lasted until about… oh… an hour after the campaign launched. The game looks to be too much fun to let it pass by.

More than that, Mantic really knows how to run a Kickstarter campaign – the folks at Mantic are highly involved in the comments section of the campaign, constantly answering questions and evaluating feedback, seemingly shaping much of the campaign in real time.  Truly amazing.  Dreadball and Deadzone have been runaway hits, and Mars Attacks is currently on a pace to meet or exceed both.

Mars Attacks - The Miniatures Game -- Kicktraq Mini

As it sits today, participation in the Kickstarter is an incredible deal (at any pledge level) which is just getting better and better as each stretch goal is smashed. If you haven’t already, go check it out. The game is already good, and with our help can become something amazing. The Mars Attacks Kickstarter is running for another three weeks – get involved!

Disclosure: I am a backer of this Kickstarter project, but am in no way affiliated with Mantic Games or Topps and am receiving no compensation for this post – I am posting this because I think the Kickstarter is the beginning of something special, and I’m proud to try and help in my little way.