Category Archives: Tabletop Tuesday

Each Tuesday, we are going to play a tabletop game. It could be a board game, card game, pen and paper game or anything in between.

Catching up

We’ve both had a busy week with life and work, which has left us little time to blog. Still, each night we put away some time to have date night. Things have calmed down again, so we are back in blogging business, but you, our faithful readers, have been left out in the date night cold. Here is a short (Amanda’s note: short? lol.) recap for the past week of what we got up to.

Saturday was my company’s Christmas party. Yeah, yeah, Christmas in February. The party is usually scheduled for mid to late January to avoid scheduling conflicts with all of the other festivities going on in December. This year, it happened to be scheduled for that weekend that we got two feet of snow, so it was rescheduled to now. We carpooled with a few friends who also work for the company. The party started at 6 with some casual conversation and greetings from everyone. We caught up with a few other people who work for the company that we don’t see very often. Dinner was served around 7:30. We enjoyed chicken marsala, crab cakes, broiled veggies, salad, and hot rolls, all served buffet style. Dessert was an assortment of cakes, pies, and fruits. The CEO gave a short speech, some funny awards were given out, and a short game of Left Center Right rounded out the night with the overall winner taking home a Fitbit Charge HR. Sadly, we did not win, but it was a quick, fun dice game. The party gave us an excuse to dress up and go out on the town, which we really enjoyed. It was also a lot of fun to take another (albeit short) road trip with friends.

On Sunday, we visited my parents. We’ve mostly been trapped indoors all Winter, as evidenced by our long, long string of indoor date nights. We hadn’t been over to visit my parents since around Christmas, which is way too long. The weather was gorgeous for the drive over to their house, making us super ready for Spring. We arrived early in the afternoon and stayed until about dark chatting and catching up on life. We had a really nice visit, and now that the weather is finally getting better, we’ll be spending more time visiting family. Hi, Mom!

Monday Movie Madness for this week is Idiocracy. A few days ago, Amanda saw this movie mentioned in an article about the presidential primaries, but she had not seen the movie, so she didn’t get the reference. I couldn’t let that stand, so I went over to the DVD shelf to grab it, then realized I didn’t own it. I really couldn’t let that stand, so we bought it on Amazon. The movie describes an average Joe, played by Luke Wilson, who is frozen in an experiment and wakes up hundreds of years in the future. After all of that time, everyone had become increasingly dumb through stupid people having dozens of kids and smart people having very few. When Joe wakes up, he finds his average present-day knowledge makes him the smartest man in the world. After a series of misadventures, he meets President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, played by Terry Crews, who puts him in charge of making food grow. Everyone is about to starve to death because all of the crops are dead and no one can figure out why they won’t grow. This all leads to more comedic misadventures in dealing with the incredibly stupid people of the future. The movie is one of my all-time favorites, so I’d highly recommend watching it if you haven’t. Buy Idiocracy on Amazon. This is a link to the digital copy. For some reason, the DVDs are wildly expensive, so either rent or buy the digital version.

Tabletop Tuesday this week is a classic: Go Fish. We didn’t bother to look up the rules because everyone knows how to play Go Fish, right? We played one round and ended up with a tie. I made a corny fishing pun, which, this many days removed, I can no longer remember. You’ll have to believe me that it was very clever. However, after the round, we sat down and thought about the game we just played and realized nearly every game would end in a tie. It turns out we didn’t remember how to play this game as well as we thought. A quick internet search later, and we had the actual rules. For our first game, we were only matching up pairs of cards. The rules we found online said that you had to have all four of the same card to count it for points. We redealt the cards and started guessing, then started fishing. Knowing the actual rules made the game turn out much differently. Instead of a tie, Amanda ended up thoroughly stomping me, 10 sets to my 3.

On Wednesday, we made 550 paracord survival bracelets using a tutorial we found on Youtube. Amanda bought the supplies for this back in August or September of last year. We had intended to make them before we went on the cruise last year, but, as with most of our projects, we got distracted and didn’t do it. We came across the supplies the other day in our crafting storage area and decided that we should finally make them. This was a really easy and fun project. It took us about an hour total to make both. I made a standard bracelet and Amanda made an anklet, both of us using the standard cobra weave. Amanda showed off her teenage-girl friendship bracelet skills by telling me to tape down one side to prevent it from moving around while I was weaving the cords. The tutorial said to really tighten each loop, so I took that to heart and used as much force as I could to tighten each loop. My finished bracelet is extremely stiff and will hold whatever shape I put it in. Amanda didn’t use nearly as much force on the loops, so her anklet came out much more flexible. We really enjoyed this simple crafting project. I looked around YouTube for some more patterns after we finished. There are a huge number of different weaves and patterns that you can do, so I’ll be making a few more of these in the future just to try out different styles. For the cobra weave, we used about a foot of cord for each inch on our wrists. Being a D&D and Pathfinder geek, I’d love to find a weave that is more dense so I could have 50 feet of rope. None of the weaves I found would give me anything close to that, other than one tutorial I saw for a belt. Oh well. Guess I’ll have to look more into that later.

Video Game Thursday this week is Stardew Valley. This game is taking the internet by storm, and for good reason: it’s a lot of fun. It’s an RPG farming and adventure simulator in the style of Harvest Moon. However, tonight was only part 1 for this date. I use a Linux laptop for most of my day to day computing, and with Steam and video game developers always increasing their Linux support, I’ve even been able to play a few games. Unfortunately, Stardew Valley is not currently supported on Linux. Fortunately though, Steam has the in-house streaming option and I have a Windows machine. Why not just use that machine and skip the laptop? Because it should do what I tell it to, that’s why. So, Amanda played Stardew Valley and I played Make Linux play Stardew Valley. One of us had way more fun than the other. You can guess which one. In between Googling for answers, rebooting, recompiling, and generally cursing my misfortune, I was watching Amanda play. The big advantage of me being behind Amanda is that she learned all of the lessons the hard way and has been able to pass them along to me. She is the Ghost of Stardew Valley Future. Your crops die when the seasons change (except for a few types that we didn’t have) so Amanda lost a few thousand gold worth of crops really early on. She also found a lot of the cool features before me, but I’m not going to mention those because spoilers. It took me until pretty late in the evening to figure out that I had a problem with my wifi driver which was causing the streaming to crash, so I fixed that and went to bed. It seems we have been having more and more frequent issues with setting up games the day of the dates. We’re going to start loading everything and getting it ready before the day we play in the future.

Friday was Stardew Valley: Part 2. Now that my laptop is set up, playing is a breeze. As a pleasant side effect, the fix also got rid of an annoying crash that my wireless card would suffer after being online for a random number of hours, and usually right in the middle of me uploading pictures for a post. I’m mid way into Summer after the date tonight, so here are a couple pointers we’ve learned along the way:

  • Start clear-cutting your trees early. With 50 wood, you can make a chest in your house that gives you 36 slots of storage. Crafting a couple of those will greatly help you at the beginning since your inventory space is so limited.
  • Items will stack to a maximum of 999.
  • Go explore the community center as soon as it is available.
  • Save at least one of everything you get for the first year, especially gold star items, but even trash. Just keep making chests if you run out of space.
  • Start working your way down through the mines as soon as you can. Valuable copper, iron, and gold can be found in the mines, all of which will make your tools better and your farm easier to manage.

There are so many more things to do and see in the game, but we don’t want to spoil too much. You can pick up Stardew Valley for $14.99 on Steam or Good Old Games. Warning: it’s extremely addicting. You’ll wonder where time has gone when you look up and realize it’s 3 AM. But there’s time for just one more day before bed. Crops are coming up, your fishing skill is really close to the next level, you’re almost at another level in the mines, and oh, the festival is coming up. Just one more day…

Well, folks, that mostly catches us up. We’ve had a busy, but great, week. I’m still a tiny bit behind on posts, but expect those, along with your regularly scheduled updates, starting again tomorrow.

Sequence

Tabletop Tuesday this week has us playing Sequence. We’ve had the game for a while and have played many times with friends and family, including the most hilariously long losing streak Amanda and I have ever been on. We were playing teams once with Amanda and I on one team, Amanda’s college roommate and her fiance on another team, and Amanda’s college roommate’s parents on the third team. We lost three or four games in a row before anyone noticed, then lost a couple more after that. It was getting late into the night, so everyone else felt bad for us losing so much and they let us super cheat. Somehow, we still lost. The whole night got funnier and funnier as our losing streak dragged on, especially when we lost while cheating. Good times.

Starting Sequence

Sequence is part card game and part board game. It is a cross between Poker, Bingo, and Connect 4. We quickly reread the directions, since it had been a while since we haven’t played since Amanda’s family came down last summer. It was very easy to pick back up. You play with a large deck of mostly standard playing cards, with multiple copies of each card To start, you draw an amount of cards depending on how many people are playing. Since it was just us, we each started with 7 cards. The board is a large grid of spaces marked with the different playing cards. The object of the game is to play cards to cover 5 spaces on the board in a row. There are two spaces for each card on the board, so it involves some strategy. Because there were two of us, we had to make two sequences to win. Each turn, you play a card, place the marker, then draw a card.

With three easy steps, you’d think it’d be easy to remember, but last night, we had a really hard time remembering to draw a card. By the middle of the game, we both were down to 4 or 5 cards in our hands, so we just drew back up to 7. (Amanda’s note: Which is why he won. Because he drew the cards I needed. Obviously. Also, spoilers.) The game took about 25 minutes, but through a couple really lucky draws toward the end, I managed to complete two sequences within a couple turns and won.

Finished Sequence board

Sequence is great for two players or two to three teams of two players each. It’s a really versatile game because of all of the different players it can accommodate. We definitely recommend adding it to your library for your next tabletop date night.

Links:
Buy Sequence on Amazon

We Didn’t Playtest This at All

Tonight’s Tabletop Tuesday game was We Didn’t Playtest This at All. It is the game of winning and losing, but mostly losing. It is extremely fast paced, because each round only lasts 1-5 minutes. The entire objective is to win, but you don’t win if you lose. There are points, but the points only matter if you haven’t lost, which you probably already have, but don’t know it yet.

We Didn't Playtest This at All Setup

The game is chaos. Utter chaos. And trolling. Who goes first? Pick at random. Spin a coin. Whoever’s coin spins the longest goes first. Smack all of your opponents coins. You go first. Pick a number from one to five. Did you pick an odd number? You lose. But, out of spite, because you just lost, another player also loses. But you still lose. I win, but only if every player is wearing blue. If I don’t win, I gain points. Any time I gain points, I point to a player. That player loses, unless they are singing. Strict regulations.

We Didn't Playtest This at All cards

That’s roughly how this game goes. Are you confused? Yeah, you’re among friends. The game is designed for 2-10 players. We played with two, but it’d be a great party game with more people. It encourages you to be ridiculous and funny, and even gives you blank cards to make up your own silly rules for the game. The version we got comes with the Chaos Pack expansion, which adds even more insane rules to the game. Overall, it was a lot of fun.

We didn’t keep track of wins and losses, because at the end of the day, you just lost The Game.

Banana Sold Separately

Links:
Buy We Didn’t Playtest This at All plus the Chaos Pack on Amazon. Includes a banana.*

*Banana sold separately

Thomas Kinkade Disney Puzzle 1

Tonight’s Tabletop Tuesday is the return of Puzzle Mania. We had a lot of fun doing the Legend of Zelda Puzzle last month, so we decided to make it a regular thing. We’re not puzzle addicts. We swear.

Amanda’s brother loves puzzles, so for Christmas, we bought him four reasonably difficult puzzles and gave them to him mixed up in a single box. This sounds cruel and unusual, but he really loves puzzles. He spent around 16 hours straight trying to complete them before giving up and finally going to bed. Anyway, this lead to us realize that our puzzle addiction will get expensive. After researching some, Amanda found that you can buy multipacks of puzzles, sometimes getting four puzzles for the price of one, as was the case for the puzzle we are doing tonight.

We started the first of a four-pack of Thomas Kinkade Disney-themed puzzles, Lady and the Tramp, based on the painting of the same name. After completing the Zelda puzzle, we sat down and evaluated how we could do puzzles better in the future. We started by rearranging our initial setup to allow us easier access to all of the pieces. For this puzzle in particular, we used our TV as a giant visual aid for the design. Since these are Thomas Kinkade puzzles, very high resolution copies of the original image can be found online. That let us see the tiny details of the puzzle much more clearly. More importantly, this meant that we didn’t have to pass the cardboard box back and forth because we could both see at the same time.

The puzzle was 500 pieces, same as the Zelda puzzle, but this one was more difficult because it was smaller, measuring 18×24″. We spent about 3 hours working on it, but only got maybe half way done.

Lady and the Tramp puzzle

To not let our puzzle addiction get out of control, we have resolved to only do a single puzzle every month. We also struck a deal with our friends to trade puzzles when we finish them. They have a truly insidious Doctor Who puzzle of Van Gogh’s exploding TARDIS. We are both looking forward to it, and are terrified of it a the same time. We spent about 2 hours at their house one evening trying to help them out and got practically nowhere. Brutal.

As an interesting note, we came across an article on CBS News from a couple years ago while searching for puzzles. According to the study referenced in the article, solving puzzles, along with reading and other activities that engage your brain, helps prevent the plaque in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s. So not only are we having a fun date night together, but we’re also exercising our brain to be healthier, so we can remember these dates nights for longer. Two dates and a lifetime of memories in one!

Links:
CBS News article about puzzles helping the brain
Buy Thomas Kinkade Disney 4-in-1 puzzle from Amazon

Loot

Tonight’s Tabletop Tuesday was Loot, a card game that friends recommended to us a couple years ago (thanks, Lucas and Val!). It is a pirate-themed card game for 2-8 players. And if you’re going to play a pirate card game, you need to do it right: wear pirate hats and talk like pirates. And no pirate theme party is complete without listening to a little pirate metal, ala Alestorm.

Loot game box topped with a pirate hat

Loot is pretty simple to pick up, but takes a bit of planning for a few turns in advance. There are four kinds of cards: merchant ships, pirate ships, pirate captains, and an admiral. There are a total of 100 points worth of merchant ships with each ship ranging from 2 to 8 points. Your goal is to have the most loot (points) captured at the end of the game. Each turn, you can play one card from your hand, or draw from a central pile. That’s where the strategy comes in.

The interesting part of the game is managing how you play because you have only one action each round. When you play a merchant ship, if no one uses a pirate ship to attack it, you get to add its loot to your collection. If someone does attack it, you have to defend it if you want its loot. There are four different colors of pirate ships with values ranging from 1 to 4. You can’t use a pirate ship of the same color as anyone else who has played a card on that merchant ship, and you have to defend with an equal or higher value ship than was played to attack you. If it comes back around to your turn and you have the highest value of pirate ships on a merchant ship, you win it. If the points are tied, the merchant ship just stays in play, contested.

The four pirate captains (one of each color) and the admiral work as trump cards. To use a pirate captain, you first have to attack or defend with a pirate ship of the same color. After a pirate captain is played, only another pirate captain or the admiral can beat them. The admiral is special because it can only be played as a defense on a merchant ship you play, and it doesn’t require you to have played a pirate ship to defend first. Whoever plays a pirate captain or the admiral last, wins the contest for that merchant ship, so it’s almost always better to play a pirate ship to defend your merchant ship first if you also happen to have the captain of that color.

Loot Gameplay

The game is a delicate balance of hand size and collecting loot. The other thing you have to plan for is that once the draw pile runs out, as soon as any player runs out of cards, the game is over. If you are holding any merchant ships in your hand at that time, their point value is deducted from your final score, so you want to play the high-value merchant ships as early as you think you are able to defend them. Players can also discard their pirate ship and captain cards, but not merchant ship cards, as one of their actions to try to end the game faster.

The game is best played with more than 2 players, honestly. When Amanda and I play, it typically devolves into a war of who can get the most cards in their hand the fastest, so we typically end up dealing the draw deck back and forth. One person typically gets really lucky and ends up with most of the pirate captains and the admiral, so it involves even more strategy trying to determine where to spend your enormous collection of pirate ships in trying to sneak past the trump cards. Is that little two point merchant ship really worth spending pirate ships on, or should you save them for a bigger haul? In tonight’s game, Amanda got the admiral and all but one of the pirate captains. I tried as hard as I could, but just there was no overcoming her pirate captain onslaught. I put up a solid 46 points, but Amanda scored 51 (with one 3 point ship remaining contested, for those at home counting) for the win.

It was a great pirate-themed date and we’ll certainly be playing more of it in the future.

Links:
Buy Loot on Amazon
Loot on Board Game Geek

Sentinels of the Multiverse

Tonight’s Tabletop Tuesday activity is Sentinels of the Multiverse. Sentinels is a cooperative card game where the players are super heroes trying to beat a super villain before he completes his diabolical plot. We were backers of this game way back when it was on Kickstarter. We have the Second Edition, plus the Rook City, Infernal Relics, and Shattered Timelines expansions because the game is so much fun and has a great replay value. The Second Edition box came with plenty of storage room for the expansions, but we have gradually completely filled it up. The game is set in a (mostly) fictional comic book universe. The cards are given flavor texts from “issues” of the comics, but those comics, for the most part, don’t exist. They have released a few issues with different characters’ back stories though, and they are fun reads.

((Editor’s note: I have no idea why, but our camera decided that we live on Krypton under the light of a red sun, so these pictures are not the accurate colors.))
Sentinels of the Multiverse Box

Each game starts by choosing a villain to fight, an environment to fight in, and super heroes for the characters to play. You can randomize any of these for a more challenging game. For our game today, I played as The Mighty Ra, God of the Sun and Amanda chose The Inhuman Tempest. We had to foil Baron Blade’s attempt to crash the moon into the Earth from his secret base in Atlantis.

Ra and Tempest player cards

Ra’s theme is the Sun, so he is a pretty straight-forward fire damage nuker. All of his cards and abilities revolve around preventing and dealing fire damage, and more fire damage. Tempest is a hybrid damage and support character. His theme is storms, be they healing rains to help the players, violent floods to wipe away the environment, or brutal lightning to destroy his enemies. Together, they are a pretty strong team.

Baron Blade is attempting to use his mad science to drag the Moon into the Earth. Why, you ask? Does a mad scientist really need a reason? He has a lot of damage prevention mechanics, including force fields and floating defense stations. To simulate a timer for his plot to be complete, once 15 of his cards are in his discard pile, he succeeds. What the players have to do is reduce him to 0 HP before that happens. Because a villain is never really down and out, each boss has two different modes for every game. Once Baron Blade’s first plot is defeated, he hops in a mech suit and attempts to destroy the heroes. The players then have to drop him to zero health again before they all die. And the players have to do all of this while handling whatever the environment throws at them as well.

Since the game is cooperative, the villain plays automatically, as does the environment. It is really good game design. First, the villain takes his turn, simulating the villain doing something the heroes have to react to, in typical comic book fashion. The villains turn is accomplished by playing the top card of the villains deck and doing whatever the card says to do. Next, the players take their turn in order around the table. Each player turn consists of playing one card from the hand, using one of the character’s powers, and drawing one card. There are also cards that can affect what happens at the start and at the end of turns.

Sentinels of the Multiverse game play

We actually got fairly unlucky this game. Baron Blade is ranked as one of the easiest bosses to defeat, and Atlantis isn’t usually that bad either, but the combination of the boss and the environment proved to be more than our heroes could manage. Since we chose to fight him in Atlantis, we had to deal with toxic seaweed, a kraken, and a few other of the worst hazards Atlantis had to offer in the first couple turns. We also got an environment card that allowed us to do double of everything every turn (play two cards, use two powers, and draw two cards), but the villain got to play at the start of every turn as well. That turned out to be our downfall. Our hands were not very good at the start, which is why we left the card in play to get through our decks a bit to find the cards we needed. However, we didn’t draw the cards we needed, so we didn’t have quite enough damage and cleanup to handle how fast Baron Blade built up from playing each turn. We finally got rid of that effect, but we were already too far behind the curve to recover.

The kraken killed me, and we only had one or two more turns before Baron Blade’s plan succeeded, and we knew we were going to lose. But heroes can’t lose, so, deus ex machina, we completely disregarded the rules and decided to have some fun (aka, cheated really, really hard). Since I was dead, Amanda used a power to heal all players, and due to a “clerical error”, instead of healing 2 HP, I healed 25. Then, we enacted the one-card-for-a-mulligan rule, where you can discard a card and search your deck for any four cards you want and put them into your hand, oh, and play two of those now, again due to “clerical errors”. Did I say two? I meant four. And draw two cards. Then, because the villain has no idea what’s going on, he skips a turn. And the environment skips its turn too, because it also has no idea what’s going on. After that, we declared the “I win” rule, so we automatically won and the Earth was saved!

Yeah, yeah. We lost. Blah, blah, blah. But it was a lot of fun being silly in that loss. It is definitely one of the most memorable games of Sentinels we’ve ever played, and since our goal for the year is making memories, I’m going to count this as a win.

Current record:
Cooperative: 2 wins, 0 losses

Links:
Buy Sentinels of the Multiverse from Amazon

Legend of Zelda Puzzle

For tonight’s Tabletop Tuesday, we did a 550 piece Legend of Zelda puzzle. Puzzles make a great date because they allow you to work together toward a common goal, and when you’re finished, you have a nice display to remind you of your hard work together.

zeldapuzzlebox

The puzzle we chose is the Collector’s Puzzle of a Legend of Zelda Map.  We both really enjoy the look of cartographic wall art and the Legend of Zelda franchise. The puzzle featured the fictional language of Hylian among the familiar details of the map. We took the time honored approach of trying to do the border before moving onto the inside pieces.

gizmopuzzle
It was surprisingly a challenging puzzle due to the edges being the same color and pattern, as well as the monochrome design. We should have started earlier in the evening, because we didn’t complete it even after almost 5 hours of work.  It is highly detailed and has many pieces. We’re looking forward to finishing it on a future date night and getting a frame to place it in our house.

puzzle

Pandemic

To have 366 nights of dates (Woo! Leap year!), we have scheduled a few repeating dates, so we are going to play a different tabletop game every Tuesday. Tonight, we are beginning Tabletop Tuesdays with Pandemic.

Pandemic is a great date game because it is cooperative, so you can spend time strategizing together. However, Pandemic is hard. Old-school Nintendo hard. You play as a team from the Center for Disease Control that is trying to cure four diseases (color coded blue, yellow, black and red for your convenience) before they wipe out humanity. The different diseases start out affecting different parts of the world, but will spill over to neighboring territories if the infection gets bad enough, and it probably will. Each player has a special set of abilities. Amanda played as the Scientist, who can cure diseases with less resources. I played as the Operations Specialist, who makes the board more easily traversable. With only two players, you need to get around the board quickly to prevent major outbreaks.

Pandemic character cards

This game requires a lot of cooperation and planning moves two or three turns in advance, then scrapping those plans because an Epidemic happened somewhere and that region is now in horrible shape.  You lose if a disease gets too widespread (running out of disease markers), too many outbreaks occur, or if you run out of time (represented by cards in the player deck). You win only if you cure all four diseases before you lose any of those ways. It’s challenging, but that’s a lot of the fun.  We played on “easy” mode with only four possible Epidemics, which is still pretty difficult. The Epidemic cards reset the disease deck, which quickly makes areas with infection much, much worse. An Epidemic in the first few turns can mean an instant loss.

Pandemic Starting position

That being said, we got extremely lucky. We cured the Black and Red diseases thanks to Amanda’s Scientist and eradicated Black entirely before the first Epidemic hit. We quickly eradicated Red after the Epidemic, then moved on to curing the third disease, Yellow. After a couple more lucky turns, we had gathered enough cards to cure Yellow, but the disease was really widespread, so we couldn’t eradicate it. That left only Blue.  Thanks to my Operations Specialist, we both got back to Blue’s territory quickly, did a short tour to hand off a few cards, then cured Blue to win the game.

Pandemic Pieces

We had a lot of fun playing and we’ll probably play again later in the year after we’ve played through more of our other games. We also had a third wheel on our date tonight, but he just stayed off in another chair most of the night.

Pandemic Third Wheel

Current record:
Cooperative – 1 win, 0 loss

Do you have any Pandemic glory or horror stories? Have a recommendation for future Tabletop Tuesdays? Let us know in the comments.

Links:
Buy Pandemic from Amazon