Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Game Night!

It's Tuesday at Here at Cold Antler Farm and that's means Game Night! It's a new tradition here, and it is a hit. Farmers, writers, musicians, or just the everyday variety of friends and readers—they come here for a potluck dinner and a game. But don't think you'll get just any sort of meal and any sort of board game, this is a very certain taxonomy of the species. We eat good, home cooked, farm-raised food and the games are not what you will find on most mall shelves. No darling, we play awesome games. The kind of games that win German awards for making you fall in love with meeples.... That's Game Night. We drink and laugh and talk seeds and piglets between sips of hard cider and spoonfuls of soup hand-crafted by a chef fit for a bistro menu. It is high class geek fantastico.

Tara and Tyler of goingslowly.com are regulars. Truthfully they are the co-founders of Game Night and helped make it what it is now. They are recent imports from the midwest, living here in Veryork in a trailer on their recently purchased land, while building straw bale and thatch-roofed house. (These are our people!) Besides being fans of the same games I am, Tara and Tyler are cookbook authors and have graced this farm's table with meals both charming and simple. We have trades wood for sheep over bits of crumbly lemon cakes and shouted over shutgunning Zombies with potato soup in our hearts. Tara has made meals that made me squirm around the spoon with joy, Tyler brought his knife sharpening kit once and made my chef's knife a force to be reckoned with. They make any game or any meal better. Come to Game Night and meet them!

For those of you already writing this off as lame. I get it. If you are (like I was) suspect about board games and convinced they are horrible time sucks and boring traps, I can not suggest Wil Wheaton's Youtube Show, Table Top enough. The games this show features are not your run-of-the-mill games. They are clever, super fun, usually European imports. Some are more about storytelling or role playing and others are really all about dice and chance, but all of them are awesome. I say this as someone who can not sit through a game of Monopoly and avoids any dinner party where Scattergories or Win Lose or Draw is mentioned. I refused to play board games for years because that was all I knew. But now I watch TableTop every Thursday and have bought several of the games featured it in. Each of these fancy games costs anywhere from ten to fifty dollars but I don't see that as anything but an investment. I can buy a game like Catan once and host endless dinner parties with great friends and never get tired of it. The most commonly played games here are Settlers of Catan, Zombie Dice, Tsuro and Gloom. But I just got my hands on that game Agricola, which is as daunting as it is exciting. I am upping my gamer ante with that one…

So tonight is Game Night. It's an institution. I have 4 pounds of pork shoulder in the crock pot and at least six people showing up, possibly eight. (I better sweep up the dog hair). I feel like I'm getting ready for the school dance, all wound up over the chance and laughs.

So folks, consider possibly setting up a homestead game night of your own, wherever you are. It's a great way to really connect with people, learn about them, and enjoy a night. I feel like we don't spend enough time with our friends away from screens and dinner tables. To eat a good meal and then retire for a night of high-stakes laughter, a few puffs of pipe smoke, and harmless ribbing at old inside jokes is a blast. It makes the winter warmer, the food taste better, the community stronger. It's here to stay at CAF.

P.S. Do you know what game is coming in the mail today!? Glen More! The game of living in ancient Scotland and running your farm and clan! Perfect!

photo by tara alan of goingslowly.com


Blogger Stacey said...

I just visited friends in Philadelphia over the weekend and we spent time Sunday night enjoying some good beer and playing Catch Phrase. it's a more mainstream game but I know exactly what you mean!

February 19, 2013 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

In addition to Catan we love Pandemic. The players work together to beat the game (which is NOT easy and doesn't happen every time) which is a nice change of pace.

February 19, 2013 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

There's a whole episode of TableTop about Pandemic! It looks great!

February 19, 2013 at 10:01 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

What do you guys play? It doesn't have to be one of these games, it could be Sorry or Scrabble!

February 19, 2013 at 10:02 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Catan, Agricola, Arkham Horror (love love love this one), War of the Ring, Discworld, Several D&D "short games" like Ravenloft and Lords of Waterdeep, Diplomacy, Cards Against Humanity, Apples to Apples, Carcasonne, Shogun, DungeonQuest....

That's off the top of my head! We have no cable and get together with friends often for game nights. I love it. So happy you have the joined the ranks!

February 19, 2013 at 10:17 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

here is a video of Glen more


February 19, 2013 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

hey Amanda, what do you rec as a beginner RPG?

February 19, 2013 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger jules said...

We play a game my Husband grew up knowing as Marbles. It's like Sorry, but with marbles. Give us a good drink, and some good friends, and we get pretty cutthroat at sending folks 'home'. We also play a mean Scrabble. I grew up playing card games in MI. Lots of card games, and Cribbage!

February 19, 2013 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I can recommend Small World and Stone Age, another Euro game. Nuns on the Run is hilarious, especially with a lot of people (and can be played with up to eight).

As for RPGs (even if I'm not Amanda), I'm a huge fan of 7th Sea (d10, not d20). It's a swashbuckling game, you play hero characters in a 16th century Europe parallel world. It's a great game for beginners because the rules are easy to learn and, more importantly, it encourages just trying things out as your character. You don't die easily in 7th Sea and you can totally swing from that chandelier or engage those three ruffians in a dark alley. For beginners, who are not yet sure what they can and cannot do with their character, that's awesome. We once played a homemade steampunk version of it that took place in 1880, that was one of the most brilliant games I have ever played.

If you are okay with a more deadly system, then Call of Cthulhu (the d100 edition) is very easy and it's a great game, especially with the right game master who can tell a creepy story. But in CoC, you very probably die or go insane in the end, it's almost a fact.

If you are looking for something small to try RPGs, then try Lady Blackbird. It's free, all you need to know on 16 pages or so. It's a steampunk-ish adventure for up to six people and it's doesn't require all that much preparation.

you probably know Fiasco from TableTop, but I thought I'd mention it because it's such a brilliant game, somewhere between RPG and improvisation theatre.

Aaand...I'll stop here. I could go on, I love RPGs with a passion and I'll be thrilled to read about your take on them here, whatever you end up playing.

February 19, 2013 at 10:55 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

Although it has it's detractors for being too simplified, I ran a very fun 2 year long campaign of D&D 4th edition. It's easy to understand, goes fairly quickly and is your standard fantasy type world. The prepackaged starter kit has everything you need to begin. I'm about to start a newish RPG game based on The Lord of the Rings and will let you know how that goes, too. Honestly, there's an RPG fr every taste, from the mind numblingly complex to relatively simple.

February 19, 2013 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Is that the red box, Amanda?

Lovecraft folks, how adept with his work do you need to be for games like Call of, and Mansion, and Elder Signs?

February 19, 2013 at 11:20 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

The red box is perfect for beginners! I like having people try out D&D because so many other games share the basic mechanics. CoC benefits from a GM with some experience, but it was my husbands first try as GM and he did really well. Only half of our group had read any Lovecraft, but everyone enjoyed it. It's more of a mystery adventure game than a sword and sorcery one, so there's a lot of appeal for folks who aren't into fantasy. You can dip your toes in playing the Arkham Horror boardgame, which can be finished in a few hours. If you like the mythos, it's a LOT of fun. We would play it with appropriate music in the background by kerosene light and let me tell you, it would get creepy.

February 19, 2013 at 11:26 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

Amanda, come to Game Night!

February 19, 2013 at 12:40 PM  
Blogger Philippa Grey-Gerou said...

If you're ever back down in PA, we'll have to get together for a Munchkin night. It's our favorite of the Tabletop oeuvre. Even my 72 yo mother loves this game and gets crazy manic whenever we play. It's a thing of beauty!

February 19, 2013 at 1:05 PM  
Blogger Amanda said...

If I get this new job tomorrow, I can afford to make my way up there one of these days! Keep your paws crossed for me! I'll bring a car full of games, a harp and some homemade wine. ;)

February 19, 2013 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Zombie Dice is one of the few games that fits the bill of being short AND interesting. In my game crowd, at least, we pretty much have to double the play time listed on the box. Another game that I like for short play is Spot It!, which is five games using the same cards in one little tin. I think it's get better as you drink more beer.

I LOVE Alien Frontiers, which I describe as the game of space yahtzee. There are multiple strategies for winning, so it's really varied in the gameplay. I also recommend Cyclades, in which you start every turn by paying tribute to a god in order for his/her favor. The catch? You have to out-bid your fellow players, without knowing how much money each has.

Catan is a good gateway into the world of super nerdy boardgames, but there's only so many times you can make a "I've got wood for your sheep" joke. :-)

February 19, 2013 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger Robin Follette said...

We play cribbage most often. If there are too many for cribbage we switch to Rummikub. I like Mancala a lot. I love rainy weekend afternoon games.

February 19, 2013 at 2:56 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Very happy to see you have gotten a game night going. We usually have at least one game night a week at some friends' house. I highly suggest 7 wonders to add into your game cabinet.

February 19, 2013 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The nice thing about Lovecraft is that you can read up on his stuff fairly quickly and run a great Cthulhu campaign after readingfor example the Wikipedia page on the mythos.
You don't need to use any of his Elder Gods ect. - many of the best Cthulhu adventure are basically detective stories that take a supernatural turn only in the end or even not at all.

If you are interested, I have a couple of play reports from my Cthulhu rounds written up: two Gaslight campaigns and one set in 1920's Arkham

February 19, 2013 at 4:32 PM  
Blogger DanT said...

I agree wih you Jenna about games, I play games at least 5 times a week - with real people, face to face. It is wonderful.
I play duplicate bridge 3 times a week: go, cribbage, dominoes, backgammon, scrabble and several of the German games like Carcassonne: depending on who is about.
We also have 2 dulcimers in the house.

February 19, 2013 at 5:49 PM  
Blogger Tiffany said...

Every August, a group of us that used to work together spend a long weekend at a friend's camp in Northern Maine and play long running rounds of Apples to Apples, Bananagrams, Scrabble and Taboo. It doesn't matter that we've played them a million times, we just end up laughing and joking and having the best time! It's like the rest of the world goes away and it's just the lot of us at camp, having the time of our lives.

February 19, 2013 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Yay for Munchkin!!

February 19, 2013 at 11:14 PM  
Blogger blind irish pirate said...

Merp. I love me some Tsuro.

February 19, 2013 at 11:17 PM  
Blogger MIB said...

Jenna, you should share this post with the As Seen On TableTop tumblr--Wil has been collecting pictures and testimonials over there.

February 20, 2013 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger Mindy Smith said...

We love Dominion (and all of the expansions) and Carcasonne at this homestead. Play on, Jenna.

February 20, 2013 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger Carol G said...

I haven't tried many of those games, but I am a Settlers of Catan fan...actually I have Settlers, Cities and Knights and Seafarers. I love Cities and Knights best - much more challenging and changing - it's Settlers on steroids. Wish I had some friends around here who like to play. My husband and I tend to fight when we play and sometimes playing with the kids is too easy. My oldest daughter has gotten quite good though, so I am loving playing with her nowdays. Your description of game night would be awesome! I'd love to try some of the new games as well.

February 22, 2013 at 2:35 AM  
Blogger Woodhaven Place Homestead and Garden said...

We love 7 Wonders, I think someone else talked at it also. It is super fun!

February 23, 2013 at 10:31 PM  

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