Category Archives: Games

Off-Day Distractions: The $700 Lineup Game

I'm stealing this from Sean McInhoe at The Athletic, but he did it with hockey, and I'm suggesting that we do it with baseball, so it's totally different.

We'll need a slightly bigger team, and a bigger budget due to the longer seasons, but we can make this work.

  • 10 players needed
    • 2 pitchers
    • 1 catcher
    • 1 first baseman
    • 1 second baseman
    • 1 third baseman
    • 1 shortstop
    • 3 outfielders (any combination of right/center/left)
  • $1 per game appeared in for whatever team you are signing the player to. (Example: The Phillies can sign Pedro Martinez for $9)
  • The team gets the full career WAR of that player (Pedro's 83.9 bWAR for $9 is a pretty good steal)
  • You can spend up to $700.

Here's my sample Phillies team. They're pretty stacked (Ryne Sandberg's 68 WAR for $13 didn't make the cut)

Pos Player Cost WAR
P Pedro Martinez $9 83.9
P Kid Nichols $21 116.1
C Benito Santiago $136 27.3
1B Jimmie Foxx $89 96.6
2B Joe Morgan $123 100.6
3B Tony Perez $91 54
SS Julio Franco $16 43.5
OF Hack Wilson $7 38.9
OF Hunter Pence $155 30.7
OF Hugh Duffy $34 43.1
TOTAL $681 634.7

Who did I miss?  What franchise would run away with this?

Games: Post-2017-Holiday Edition

Been a while since we've had a games post, and, like I'm assuming many (some?) of you, I recently had a chance to play some games with family. Holidays are good for that. Some quick rundowns:


Outfoxed - Someone 'round these parts recommended this one last year, but it was out of stock. I kept it in my Amazon wishlist for a year and we bought it for the kids this year. A good logic mystery solver game for kids. Almost like "Guess Who" but racing against a board and not quite so lame. Too easy for the 8 year old, but still fun for him, and right about perfect for the younger ones.

Memory - It's an old standby, but I've played so much of a PJ Masks version of it lately, and my kids enjoy it, so it gets a mention.

Pokemon - The 8-year-old has gotten really into Pokemon lately, and it's a perfectly fine card game for that age. Every game is different, the characters are fun, luck plays a big role, but not too big, and the amount of variables are enormous. I'm sure we'll be playing this for years, and Aquinas enjoys just collecting the cards too. He also got a DS with a Pokemon game from his godfather. At least it also came with Mario Kart so I'm entertained.


Dice City - My b-i-l's new game. Only played it one time, but it certainly seemed like it could stand a few replays. I think who you play against would probably make a lot of difference. Roll 1 die for each of 5 sections of the board, and the die determines which action you can take. Give up some actions to take other ones. Gain resources from the rolls, use those resources to buy things or build things or attack people. Use those things you bought or built or attacked to gain victory points. I kept to the straight-forward strategy and aimed for the highest value options and won handily while the others playing tried different approaches. If the game is really balanced, replay value could be high. If it's not... much less so.

Betrayal at House on the Hill - One of the more fun games I've played in a while. Starts as cooperative, with everyone picking a character and then exploring a haunted house while various events, items, and omens act upon you (either increasing or decreasing your character's base stats). Die rolls based on your character's stats affect your progress and performance (this sounds more dungeons and dragons-y than it is). All the while, you keep moving closer to the moment when someone in your group betrays you, and then the game becomes that person vs. the rest of the group, in one of 50 different scenarios (chosen based on what triggered the betrayal). You never know who will be the one betraying you, so that adds a nice surprise element. Plus, the betrayer usually gets to control monsters, and both sides have specific goals that are at odds with each other, with secret information that only their side possesses. I am amazed at the replay value here, and I can't wait to try it out again (we played 3 games of it, and I'd happily play all 3 of the specific scenarios again).

I Should Have Known That - Trivia game. As the name implies, general knowledge stuff that everyone *should* know. You get 1 point for each right answer and somewhere between -3 and -8 for each wrong answer. I finished in the positives 1 time out of the 4 we played (and at 0 another time), and I'm probably fair+ at trivia. A worth entry into trivia games, and it moves quickly (4 questions on a card, each person in the game takes 1 turn reading a card, and then you're done, and can move onto another game).

Linkee - Each card has 4 trivia questions. The 4 answers are all related in some way. It may be super obvious or more attenuated. Buzz in whenever you think you know the relationship, because that's the only answer that really matters, but if you get it wrong you don't get another shot at that round. It was okay, but I've played better.

One Night Werewolf - This was a blast. Would love to try it with more people than we had (7) and mix up the roles more than we did. Short version: lots of werewolf roles that you know and love and the others, all of which take night actions in order (as directed by the phone app that auto mods the game for you), and then you have to find a wolf the next day. If you succeed, village wins, if not, wolves win. Some players try to get themselves lynched, some players switch the roles of other players (so can accidentally switch who the wolves are, for example... you can end up being a wolf and not knowing it), etc. 5 minute rounds (plus ~1 minute for night actions), and huge replay-ability. Highly recommend. This would even be the thing that would get me to get a smart phone.

So what did you play over the holiday? What new games did you get? Who wants to come down here and have a game night with me?

The Games We Play: Christmas Wrap Up

Did everyone give new games for Christmas? Did everyone get new games for Christmas? Games were popular in our household, so I thought a rundown might be appropriate.

Kids Division:

Connect Four - My kids got it from someone. It's a classic at that age for a reason. Simple, but the game holds up, and they're loving it.

Race To The Treasure - DG shared this one during the last Games post, and I'd like to echo his recommendation. My kids have enjoyed this game immensely. The mechanic is simple - draw a tile, place it on the board, build a path that collects the required keys and get to the end before you draw too many troll tiles. I was worried the game would be too easy - and it borders on that - but we've just made it more difficult by requiring 4 keys instead of 3. Aquinas has played the game a number of times on his own too, and has made variations as he sees fit. I can't recommend this one highly enough.

Outfoxed - RPZ recommend this one. When I looked (a week-and-a-half out or more)I couldn't find it anywhere that would get it delivered before Christmas, so we didn't get it, and haven't played it. But I read up on it, and it seems strong enough that I'm excited to chase it down in the future.

Grown Ups Division

King Of Tokyo - Highest recommendation for this game, particularly for more casual gamers. Simple mechanics (roll dice, pick the ones you want to keep), multiple ways to win (smash other players, gain points), multiple ways to accomplish those tasks (roll dice, buy cards, hold the city), and cards you can buy during the game that effectively make each game significantly different. Aquinas is 7 and loves the game. He's not the greatest at it all the time, but once or twice he has come up with fantastic strategies that I didn't see, and won the game with them. So it's easy enough, but complex enough to be enjoyable many times over. Also, by Richard Garfield, the same guy what made Magic: The Gathering.

Hanabi - A simple cooperative card game that is incredibly difficult to win. There are 5 colors and 5 numbers. The goal is to create a pile of each color, in numbered order (Blue 1 - 5, Red 1 - 5, etc.). You play with your cards facing away from you, so all the others can see them but you can't. You then move around the circle either playing cards from you hand (if it's the next card on the stack, you can play it, if it's wrong, you discard it) or giving hints to other players. There are only a few of each card number though, and you can run out of hints to give, so you need to be very careful about your path forward. I played this with some darn intelligent folks and we never won (though we found out we were handcuffing ourselves a little bit, which might have changed 1 out of like 4 results... Maybe.). A great challenge.

500 - Look, it's a classic, and we played a bunch of it.

Adult Division

Cards Against Humanity - I'm well aware that I'm late to the party on this one, but I've played it now, and yes, it was fun and funny and awful. There were a number of things that I needed to avoid googling. So I felt good about that?

Codenames: After Dark - A slightly racier, more scatological take on the original, which is a great party game. Basically, the clue givers give a single word clue and how many cards on a common board that the clue applies to. They can't say anything more or otherwise hint in any way. The trick is that some of those words on the common board belong to the other team, and one is an assassin, so you need to be careful in your clues, and good luck in your guesses. The After Dark variant sets it up so that the clue givers are often in the position of saying things like "boob" or "poop." It's not really particularly adult, but it tries to be. Still a very fun game, and I recommend any version of it.

So what did you get? What did you give? What did you play? What are you excited to try?

Tabletop Times: The latest hotness for Christmas

So, this title just sort of came to me.  I'm gonna roll with it.

Someone asked earlier for Christmas gift ideas for their board gaming friends.  So, here's a more comprehensive list featuring some of the most talked about games on, or as it's referred to on the site: The Hotness!

Fair warning, I have not played all of these, but I've heard many good things.

Codenames: Pictures - One of the biggest games from last year has a new trick to it. Instead of trying to get your team to guess code words, now they need to select the correct pictures that your clue directs them to.

Terraforming Mars - While I have not played this, I have heard many good things.  Develop the right atmosphere, water, and living conditions to terraform Mars to just the right condition and earn the most points while doing so.

Mansions of Madness (2nd edition) - A wonderful mansion exploration game in the vein of Betrayal at House On The Hill, but with the Cthulhu mythos instead.  Very fun and adeptly controlled by the app that you'll download when you get the game.

Love Letter Premium Edition - An expanded game of Love Letter (now up to 8 players) with nicer cards and heart tokens.  I'm planning to pick this one up for the kiddos.

Scythe - A personal fave, if you can find it.  Set in an alternate universe 1920's Europa, this area control game has a touch of combat and lots of strategy to keep you busy.  Expansion Invaders From Afar is due out any day now.


Old Favorites - Games that are not new this year, but still really fun and highly recommended:

Castles of Burgundy - This is often called a "couples" game.  Great for 2-4 players, and my personal all time favorite.

Viticulture Essential Edition - Great game about making wine in Italy.  Essential Edition gives a little bit of the Tuscany expansion (the best parts).  Pour a glass of your favorite wine and enjoy!

Lords of Waterdeep - Fun worker placement game set in D&D town of Waterdeep.  Send warriors and mages on quests and develop your underground empire to take over the city!  (and earn victory points)

Terra Mystica - Deep and immersive area control game.  Take control of 1 of 14 races (6 more in the expansion) and expand across the land.  Earn Victory Points!

Splendor - Quick and easy game about growing you gem empire and earning prestige from the nobles.  Plays in about 30 minutes with 2-4 players

Forbidden Island / Forbidden Desert - These are pretty similar games.  By the same designer as Pandemic.  Find the treasures before the island sinks, or find the parts to you airship before the sandstorm takes over.

Pandemic - The ultimate classic co-op game.  Race across the globe to fight diseases, build research stations and find the cures.  If looking for a longer more immersive experience, check out Pandemic Legacy Season 1 (Season 2 out next year)

This is just the start.  The wide world of table top games is ever growing.  Check out your friendly local gaming store to see all the wonderful options they have in store!

The Games We Play: PunMan Goes to Geekway

Geekway to the West is a 4-day Board Game Convention held in St. Louis around the middle of May.   This year I got to go for my second time in three years.  I logged in playing 16 amazing games over a three day span (I didn't stay Sunday).  I wanted to give a quick rundown on the games, along with a few good stories.


Forbidden Stars -  Shouldn't have started with this one.  Very complicated.  Ended up stopping early.

XCOM: The Board Game - Neat cooperative game controlled by an app.  Dug this one, would like to play it again.

Medieval Academy - Dull card drafting game where you are trying to be ahead of everyone else on a number of tracks.

Boomtown Bandits - My biggest surprise.  Western Themed game where you are trying to rob different locations.  You roll dice in place of gunfights.

Good Cop, Bad Cop - Fun, quick little hidden role deduction game.

Viticulture - Incredible worker placement game about building a winery.  Love this game.

Commissioned - Cooperative game where you play one of the apostles spreading the gospel throughout the Mediterranean.  Much better than you'd imagine a Bible game to be.


Twilight Imperium - Supersized complex 4x game (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate).  We played 6 hours and didn't finish.

Mysterium - Dixit meets Clue.  One player is the ghost trying to give the other players clues as to whodunit.

Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia - A touch of dark humor surrounds this worker placement game.

Codenames - Party style game where two teams compete to see who can find their agents (with clues given by the spymaster) first.

Spyfall - Party style game where most of the players are trying to find the spy, and the spy's trying to figure out just where he is.

Scythe - Favorite game of the con.  Not yet released.  Another 4x ish game set in alternate universe 1920's Europe.  Incredibly intricate with neat components and interesting mechanics.

Tsuro - Simple game about staying on a path longer than your opponents.


La Granja - A mix of Agricola and Stefen Feld.  You're a farmer looking to create the best farm.  Neatest part is the cards which each have four possible purposes.

Blood Rage - War, confrontational game set in the last days of humanity in Norse Mythology.  Fun albeit imbalanced.


Scythe was the most sought after game of Geekway.  The kickstarter was last fall and it's due to be out this summer.  They were giving away one copy in the Play and Win contest.  However, EVERYONE wanted to play this game.  There was a sign up sheet, and it's only by the grace of my friend getting there early on Thursday that we got on the list high enough to get a chance to play.  The bummer is that the friend who got us on the list, didn't get to actually play the game.  Highlight of the game was the main creator of the game (Jamey Stegmaier) coming by to ask how we liked the game and if we had any questions.

The game plays on a set map, there's five factions that all have a specific starting space.  The map is a hex grid and the hexes have different resources like wood, metal, oil and food.  There's also villages that help you produce more workers.  You have a character piece that can engage in battle, visit the factory (which gives you some extra abilities) and have encounters (which give you a choice between three different benefits.)  There are also mechs that you can deploy that also help in battle and carry workers to different locations.  The action is dictated by the player boards, all of which are different for each player.  (All players have the same actions though, it's just different how they work together).  The board is split into 4 sections, each section with a top action and a bottom action.  The top typically give some benefit, whereas the bottom allows to you to a special action using one of the four resources.  The goal is to end the game with the most money.  The game ends when someone has played 6 stars on the accomplishment board.  There are several different ways to get a star, including winning combat, completing an objective, achieving maximum popularity or power, and deploying all your mechs, among others.

Now, it could be all the hype.  This game has been pretty hyped up for a while, ever since the box art was released.  So there are some pretty high expectations.  However, I loved playing this game and have not been able to stop thinking about it since.  The world created here is really cool, and the mechanics of the game all work together in such an intricate way.  I want to play all the different factions and I even want to try the solo player automa version.  I'm kicking myself for not backing the Kickstarter campaign, as all of the Collector's Editions are sold out.  I'll take the base version at this point.  I'm even considering doing the print and play to get to play it sooner (yes, there is a free print and play version linked on the Stonemaier website).  I predict that this game will be on many "Best of 2016" board gaming lists.

One other quick funny story happened when we were playiing Spyfall.  In the game, there is one spy, and the rest of the players have a card with the name of a location.  The spy is trying to figure out the location, the others are trying to find the spy.  This is done by asking questions.  My friend asked me the first question in one game, "How did you get here?"  I answered "I drove." He immediately called me out as the spy because the location was the Holy Crusades.

The con was a great time of board games, friends, and fun.  The Play and Win gave us motivation to try lots of new games, and everyone was super friendly, especially the people who came and taught us Twilight Imperium and Scythe.

If you haven't been to a gaming con, I highly recommend them.  If you're in ST. Louis (Rhu) I definitely recommend Geekway, and get your tickets early.  There's also the ever popular Gen Con in Indy, Origins in Ohio, BGG.Con in Dallas, and many many others.

What have YOU been playing lately?

My GeekwayTop 10:

  1. Scythe
  2. Viticulture
  3. La Granja
  4. Boomtown Bandits
  5. Mysterium
  6. Blood Rage
  7. Euphoria
  8. XCOM
  9. Commissioned
  10. Good Cop Bad Cop

The Games We Play: Christmas Gift Ideas!

Ah, it's that magical time of year when we rush to the mall to get our favorite gamer friend/spouse/child/grandma a new game to unwrap on Christmas morning.  Philo asked me to put together a list of some good game ideas.  I haven't played all of these, but I've heard good things.  Anything with a * is one I have not played.

Party Games:

Codenames* - One of the hottest items discussed on Dice Tower and BoardGameGeek is this great new party game.  Played in teams, one person on each team is trying to get his teammates to pick the right cards, which lay in a grid of 5X5.  It's Password, but better.

Spyfall - Played with a group of people, everyone draws a card.  All the cards except one have the name of a location on them (same location), one cardholder is the spy.  The people with the location card have to root out the spy by asking questions to the other players to make sure they know where they are.  They spy is trying to figure out where they are, without looking too out of place.

Say Anything - Similar to Balderdash, the reader asks a question, everyone else writes down their answers, then everyone tries to reason out what everyone put.

Telestrations - Think telephone meets Pictionary.  First person gets a phrase, they have to write down a picture of what that phrase is, next person looks at the picture, and comes up with a phrase.  The weirder the phrase, the funner this gets.

Wits and Wagers - Trivia games are fun, but it's much more fun when people don't know the precise answer, but try to get close.  Ask a question, everyone writes down their answers, then make bets as to which one is the closest to the right one.

Modern Day Classics 

Ticket To Ride - One of the first modern board games I played.  Still great fun, especially with kids.  Start the game by selecting tickets with route between two cities.  Next, collect cards to be able to place trains on the various train paths to complete your route.

Settlers of Catan - Build your settlements and cities and roads in between.  Gather wood, ore, grain, brick and sheep (baaa) to build more and more and get to 10 points first!

Carcassonne - Classic tile laying game.  Draw a tile, place it on the board, place your meeple to get points for your roads, castles, cloisters, and farms.

Dominion - The game that started the term "Deckbuilding."  Build up your deck with money cards, kingdom cards, and victory point cards.  Also has about 10 expansions you can add to it.


Shadows Over Camelot - Co-op game in the setting of King Arthur.  Search for the holy grail, Excalibur, and Lancelot's Armor.  Fight the black knight and the deadly dragon.  Fend off the Picts and the Saxons.  And most of all, watch out for the traitor in your midst.

Pandemic - The world is a sick place, and it's your job to find the cure.  Race across the world searching for the cure, while treating the deadly diseases.  Also, for a longer, deeper adventure, try the new Pandemic Legacy*

Forbidden Island / Forbidden Desert - Putting these together since they're similar, but still very different.  You're working together to find four items and get away before the island sinks, or the desert overtakes you.  GREAT with kids


Dead of Winter* - I've been pining to play this for over a year now.  I don't know much about it other than it's cold outside, and zombies are lurking around every corner.  Everyone also has their own agenda, but still trying to work together

Mice and Mystics - Wonderful adventure game that is kid friendly.  Your kingdom has been taken over, and to escape, you and your friends have been turned into mice.  Escape through sewers and basements and kitchens.  Has a campaign mode that takes you through an entire story.  Also has many expansions.

Descent: Journeys In The Dark* - I've heard a lot about this one.  Plays similar to M&M, I think.

Personal Favorites - These are games that are my personal favorites, but sometimes tastes can differ, so just warnin' ya.

Castles of Burgundy - The first time I played this, I knew I had to have it.  You're placing tiles (buildings, mines, animals, castles, etc) on your board (estate).  You get points, bonuses, goods to ship, etc.  Great for couples (so I've heard)

Trajan - Same designer as Castles.  A Mancala-esque mechanic drives this game.  You're trying to ship goods, influence the Senate, gain territory, all in the name of getting victory points.

Terra Mystica - Area control game that doesn't involve fighting.  Take control of one of 14 races (20 with the expansion) and stake your claim.  Build dwellings, trading posts, temples, strongholds and sanctuaries.  Send your priests to the cult track, and build your engine to build the most magnificent empire ever.  (Judged on victory points)

Lords of Waterdeep Worker Placement game in a Dungeons and Dragons setting.  You play a Lord of the city of waterdeep, recruiting warriors, rogues, wizards and clerics to do your bidding, to gain favor and.... wait for it.... victory points.

Splendor - You are a gem collector trying to be the best and most prestigious in the land.  Buy mines to help you get more gems which help you get more gems and points.  Incredibly quick to learn and teach.

These are some of my favorite and most talked about games right now.  Let me know if you have questions about any other types of games.


Also, what have you been playing lately?