Board game recommendations

Here’s a few board games that I love, and think are great for kids:

  • Settlers of Catan (3-4, or 5-6 with the extension box): reasonably straight-forward, very replayable (randomised board), minimal language dependency (just numbers & icons), lots of player interaction (negotiation and trade). [info, buy, iOS, Android]
  • Ticket to Ride (2-5): as long as they can figure out where cities are on the map, it’s just colours. Strategic thinking helps, but it’s not required. Player interaction is mostly in figuring out where other people might go, and going there first. [info, buy]
  • Carcassonne (2-5): tile- and pawn-placement game. Try to build the best landscape and score points. Fairly strategic, but a lot of it comes down to what tile you draw. The rules are very simple. [info, buy, iOS, Android]
  • King of Tokyo (2-6): like Yahtzee, but you’re playing as giant monsters trying to destroy Tokyo city. Very fun, plays fairly fast, but does involve player elimination. [info, buy]
  • Kingdom Builder (2-4): a favourite of mine. Randomised board and goals each game. Try to place settlements on the board to get the most points. [info, buy, iOS, Android]
  • Love Letter (2-4): fast-playing bluffing/guessing game, with all the rules on the cards. [info, buy]
  • Sushi Go! (2-5): pick a card, pass your hand on, and repeat, then score. Adorable art, with reminders on the cards. It was designed with kid-friendliness in mind. [info, buy]

A Card Game

I learned this really neat card game on New Years. It works best with three people. You deal out the entire deck (with two jokers) between the three; the aim of the game is to assemble a full suit in your hand.

When it’s your turn, you pick another player. They have the option of putting up to three cards from their hand face down in front of you. You may pick the pile up. If you don’t, you have to say the suit of a card you want. They have the option of either adding another card to the first pile (if they made one), or making a new pile of two cards (which must be of the same suit). You may now take either pile (if there are any). If you choose not to (or they put down no cards), you may name a card of the suit you mentioned previously. If they have that card in their hand, they must give it to you. If they do, you get another turn (you can target the same player again), ad infintum.
Once the current player doesn’t name the correct card (or picks up a pile), their turn ends.

Jokers count as wild cards: you can give them up instead of a named card, or put one down with another card in your second pile (which have to be the same suit). But they don’t count as a card in a complete suit: you have to get all the real cards for that.

And that’s it, really. It’s easy to play once you get the hang of it, and there’s a whole lot of tactics involved. It’s a bit like Go Fish, I suppose, but with so many steroids it’s not even funny.

Poetic Names

This isn’t really a gaming post, but it’s something that could be useful in a game, at least.
For the novel I’m working on (pseudo-medieval fantasy), I’m trying to come up with the names of heroes of a recent war, who are already being made into songs. The novel follows the story of one of these heroes.

The names I have so far are:

  • Daxos the Ironhand, a fierce warrior with a magitek arm.
  • The Sellsword King, actually a prince of one of the kingdoms fighting for independence.
  • Zorlock’s Three, a group consisting of two wizards and a warrior (my protagonist is Zorlock, one of the wizards).

Bar these, I can’t really think of any other similarly-evocative names that tell the reader a lot about the character in question. It has to do that, and also capture the romance of an epic song or poem, as would be told by bards, etc. Does anyone know if there’s a good generator for such things, or simply suggestions?

In Praise of Everything Steampunk

I love steampunk. This last week, I’ve gone on a bit of a steampunk-themed Google binge, and I want to share the results of that with you. (And if you don’t know what steampunk is, just read on).

First, goggles. Goggles look awesome. People make steampunk goggles out of pretty much everything: swimming goggles, welding goggles, preserving jar lids, binoculars… Check out these awesome creations I found: ranging from plain and simple to beautifully complex.


Amazing customized goggles made from a myriad of parts from The Dark Power
Home-made goggles from EPBOT

Second, ray guns. Again, there’s a huge variety: some people spraypaint Nerf guns, and others who make them out of stuff from thrift stores.

Steampunk Nerf gun
Beautiful hand-made gun from EPBOT
It’s got a saw handle. How is that not cool?

There’s a guy who will custom-build you a steampunk laptop. It’ll set you back about $7,500US, but isn’t it amazing?

Finally, some random steampunk pics that illustrate just how fun the genre is.