Big Group? Uneven Number of Players? Play These Games!

When you have too many people show up for a game night, or if you don’t have an even number of players to do teams, try out some of these favorites:

ScribblishScribblish – Cranium, Hasbro – 2009
4-6 Players, 20 minutes playtime
This game never fails to entertain. The basic premise is you take a phrase, draw it, and pass it. The next person writes what they think you drew and pass it. The next person draws what the last person wrote. You can only see what the previous person did, so it’s like a game of telephone, but with drawing. We’ve played this with kids and adults, and it’s always fun. There are ways to keep points, but this is one we just play for fun.


werewolfUltimate Werewolf – Bezier Games
5-75 Players, 30 minutes playtime
I first played this game at an engagement party. Weird, yes, but it was fun because it got everyone, young and old, involved in a game together. In Werewolf, people are secretly determined to be werewolves and villagers. The werewolves decide on people to kill every night, and the next day the villagers decide who they think is the werewolf who they want to kill. There are different ways to play with characters who have other skills, like a seer or doctor, so that you can change up the game and keep it fresh the more you play it.


DixitDixit – Asmodee
3-6 Players, 30 Minute Playtime
Pick a card, and tell a beautiful story that somehow relates to that card. Everyone else will play a card they think fits in the story. Points are rewarded if you guess the correct card or if someone guesses your card. This one is fun and fast-moving for all ages.



Smart Ass
Smart Ass – University Games
2-8 Players, 30 Minute Playtime
Smart Ass is a trivia game with questions about who, what, and where. The reader will start at the top, and you have ten clues to guess the answer. You advance around the board until you get to the middle and are declared the Smart Ass. Be careful to avoid dumb ass spaces along the way!


QuelfQuelf – Spin Master Games
3-8 Players, 30 Minute Playtime
Oh boy. This game can get intense. It seems innocent enough: roll the dice, move around the board, follow the directions on the corresponding card. Easy, right? One time Ninja ended up with ice down his pants, I had to write an epic poem, and my friend had to lock herself in the bathroom until we asked her to come out… which we didn’t know we had to do. This game is a ton of fun and even has a smaller card only version we’ve played.


We also have some classic favorites, like Scattergories, Say Anything, Cards Against Humanity, Cranium, etc. What are some of your favorite big group games?

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Come Geek Halloween Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer – The Early Seasons

Buffy-Dress-CrossbowI first watched Buffy when I was in college. My two friends and I would spend night after night crowded around a laptop binge-watching the series. Despite it being dramatically ruined not once, but twice, and my previous knowledge of the show, it was still exciting to watch for the first time. Buffy was my gateway drug into the world of Joss Whedon, and it will forever be one of my favorite shows.

Recently, my friend started watching it on Netflix. She has a few ideas of what’s going to happen, but other than that is pretty much a Buffy virgin. I didn’t realize how exciting it would be to watch with someone who doesn’t know that blank becomes a blank, or that blank turns into blank, or blank comes back to blank, or that blank dies, or blank dies, or blank dies, or blank dies. I also now understand how hard it is to refrain from saying something minor about character development (Ben, I officially forgive you for your Blank is a Blank comment; Ninja, I haven’t forgiven you yet; Guy who used to live on my floor in the dorms, I will never forgive you and you are a jerk). But more importantly, I am getting to re-watch the show and still find that I love it.

Buffay oz-vampires-explained Angel-Got-Milk

When I re-watch episodes, I typically stick with the later seasons: “Him,” “Once More With Feeling,” “Hush,” “The Yoko Factor,” etc. I had forgotten how great the core four of Buffy, Willow, Xander and Giles was at Sunnydale High. Yes, this show was made in the 90s (the outfits are pretty clear on that), but it still feels modern. The issues they face with classmates, extra-curricular activities (non-demon related), choosing a career path, and dating is all relatable.

Season one starts out a little slow, but that’s to be expected for most shows (Parks and Rec, anyone?). Season two has everything, though: love, passion, life, death, and lots of heartbreaks. While season one was about dealing with being the slayer and coming to terms with that, season two is about more realistic problems, like dealing with love and losing your innocence. That’s what makes this season stand out from any of the others. Just about every character experiences heartbreak in one way or another, but they all pull together and still are a team fighting to do the right thing in the end. It proves that everything that you fear might go wrong can go wrong, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never move on. As Joss Whedon says,

“Bottom line is, even if you see ’em coming, you’re not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does. So what are we, helpless? Puppets? No. The big moments are gonna come. You can’t help that. It’s what you do afterwards that counts. That’s when you find out who you are.”

Also, because this is part of the Come Geek Halloween Series, let’s talk about the monsters in this show. I’m also a huge fan of Supernatural, and one thing they do well is have a variety of different evil that they’re hunting. Buffy has some variety, but I think it is strongest because of the never-ending supply of vampires on the Hellmouth. We’re always confident in her slaying abilities, and that helps us stand behind her when she’s facing an apocalypse or The Judge or The Master or another apocalypse. One thing that should change, though, is the terrible werewolf costumes. Yikes.

What is your favorite monster from Buffy?

watch-buffy

Come Geek Halloween Edition: Lore Podcast

Lore PodcastI had gotten all caught up on my regular podcasts and the new episode of Undisclosed was delayed, so I needed a new one to download for my workout. I looked at the top ten list and found Lore, a bi-weekly podcast about the history behind scary stories run by author Aaron Mahnke (http://www.lorepodcast.com/). It’s fantastic.

While I don’t typically read supernatural books, two of my favorite shows are Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Supernatural, so I figured it was a pretty safe bet that I’d enjoy this podcast. Seven episodes in, that has proven to be true. Mahnke has put in a ton of time doing research into common myths and beliefs. He tackles the history of zombies and werewolves, citing actual events in history that we can look back on now and realize they were wrong to blame on the supernatural, but at the time it makes sense they would react the way they did.

The latest episode I’ve listened to is “In the Woods,” which talks about the unknowns in the woods and focuses on one area in Massachusetts where a man and his dog experienced a sinister creature beckoning to them. I didn’t finish the episode because that’s when I arrived at the park where I was planning on taking a hike alone. While the trail was pretty crowded, I did find myself alone a couple of times and assumed every rustling was a creature coming to take me away. It was just squirrels.

Lore released its last episode, “Hunger Pains,” was just released October 19th. I encourage you to visit the website www.lorepodcast.com to check out that episode and poke around. You can download the episodes, shop in the Lore store for digital downloads, and you can check out Aaron Mahnke’s supernatural books, Indian Summer, Consumed, and Grave Suspicion. I have not read any of his books yet, but I’m planning on picking them up. If he puts this much time and research into a podcast, I can only imagine how much he puts into his writing.

Come Geek Halloween Edition: iZombie

To get in the Halloween spirit (pun intended), the next two weeks are going to feature Halloween/Monster/Horror type posts. Read at your own risk…

clive liv-comic  ravi

This weekend, the boys were out camping so I had Saturday to myself. I sat down with my lunch and decided to watch an episode of iZombie on Netflix while I ate. Thirteen episodes later, I had finished the first season. I have no regrets.

iZombie stars Rose McIver as Liv Moore, a zombie who works in the coroner’s office and finds that the brains she has to eat to stay normal give her visions of the deceased’s life as well as parts of their personality and talents. She uses these side effects to pose as a psychic and work with Detective Clive Babineaux in the Seattle Police Department to solve homicides. Her coworker, Dr. Ravi Chakrabarti, is the only one who knows her secret and is trying to find a cure for her. Her ex-fiance, Major Lilywhite, doesn’t know her secret, but is involved in ways that are much more fun to watch than for me to tell you about. It’s like Tru Calling meets Psych meets Veronica Mars. That last one shouldn’t be a surprise because iZombie was adapted for TV by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero, the creator and a producer of Veronica Mars respectively.

I’m not a huge zombie fan, but that didn’t stop me from loving this show. Yes, the zombies play a huge role, but it’s not the typical depiction of real people being chased by zombies. It’s more like how vampires exist in Buffy but no one really knows about them, or at least everyone pretends not to know about them. Liv Moore is a pretty typical girl in her twenties, but she needs to eat brains to stay that way. The show is more about day-to-day normal life than running from mindless, monster-like zombies.

One thing I really like about this show is Liv’s character is always developing. It’s not as dramatic as Dollhouse where the dolls get a whole new personality installed, but Liv does change episode to episode depending on who she ate. The effects can be as minor as she’s now a trivia champion to something bigger, like she is a trained sniper. Her innate goodness stays constant, but it is brought into question depending on her last meal, so she maintains a level of unpredictability that keeps viewers on their toes.

iZombie was based off a comic book by the same name created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred and published through DC Comic’s Vertigo. I have not yet read the comic, but it’s on my To Buy list. Has anyone read the comic? Let me know in the comments below what you thought about it!

izombie-poster
iZombie airs Tuesdays 9/8C on the CW

Images taken from iZombie Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/cwizombie)

I Love Munchkin a Bunch-kin

Ninja and I decided a few months ago to start hosting Merry Monday Munchkin Monthly Meetups (or Mmmmm). On these nights, we invite three to four other people and play a game of Munchkin by Steve Jackson Games. We all eat pizza, have some drinks, play Munchkin, then the winner gets a prize: to create a treasure or door card of his or her own to be played in all future games. It’s great fun, and everyone who has attended has at least said they enjoyed it.

For anyone who hasn’t played Munchkin before, it’s simple: Kill the Monsters. Steal the Treasure. Stab your Buddy. This game isn’t for anyone who doesn’t enjoy screwing people over or getting kicked while they’re down. It’s modeled after the typical RPG dungeon crawl games, but it’s ridiculous. For example, you might go into battle with Spiky Knees and Slimy Armour against a Potted Plant. And you might lose to a Potted Plant (which is embarrassing).

The Munchkin website (http://www.worldofmunchkin.com/game/) has a great break down of taking a turn:

munchkin-door munchkin-monster munchkin-treasure munchkin-win

The most important part, Stabbing Your Buddy, is not explained there, so I’ll do so here. Throughout the game, you will acquire some cards that you can use on other people, like curses and potions, or ones you can use to help a monster defeat another player. You can save these for an opportune time so you prevent another player from winning, or, as our little one likes to do, you can be a complete wild card and screw people right and left with no rhyme or reason.

So far, we’ve only played with a couple of versions and boosters – we’ve played the original, Unnatural Axe, and Clerical Errors, plus we’ve also added in cards from some boosters and promo cards. We played with The Need for Steed in the deck one time, but no one ended up getting a steed so I don’t think I can judge that fairly. So far, the Princesses have been my favorite pack added to the decks. It’s a pack of 15 cards which allow players, both boys and girls, to be princesses, which is in addition to also having a class and race card. There are also other cards like “Rescue Yourself! Go Up a Level” which flips the typical damsel in distress theme to give princesses more power. My only complaint is there aren’t more of the cards, but hopefully they’ll make another expansion.

zipper-pullsWhat I really like and find genius about Steve Jackson Games, the company that makes Munchkin, is anything you buy that is Munchkin-related has a card or a rule with it. For example, Ninja bought a dice bag and dice that came with the rule if you use the dice and roll a Munchkin symbol, which replaces the one, you count that as a seven instead. This can be very useful when you’re rolling to run away from a monster because it gives you 50-50 odds.  Ninja also ordered the Munchkin Zipper Pulls which has the following official rule: You may reroll a die once per game per zipper pull attached to a bag or item of clothing you are wearing. You can only reroll each roll once. You must actually zip (or unzip) that zipper to reroll the die, so please consider your zipper pull placement carefully!

We’re coming up on the Magnificent Munchkins Match, which is what I’m calling the tournament of champions. The five winners from our games will be facing off to see who is the Munchkiniest Munchkin of the round. I’ll keep you informed of when I become the champion.

munchkin
Munchkin
Steve Jackson Games
Originally Published 2001
http://www.worldofmunchkin.com/game/

I’m in Love with Love Letter

love-letter-card-circleNearly a year ago, we picked up Love Letter after playing it from the board game library at Geekway to the West. We loved it, but just recently we started really getting into it more.

The premise of Love Letter is you are trying to woo over the Princess by sending love letters. But that’s not really important. In fact, it’s almost better not to describe it that way because people will think it’s mushy and lovey dovey, which it very much isn’t. In fact, it’s pretty cutthroat.

Love Letter consists of just 16 cards, 13 tokens of affection, and a lovely pouch to carry it in. This is awesome because it means you can take it anywhere. If fact, we sleeved the cards for a little extra protection and I carry it around in my purse so if we’re ever waiting at a restaurant or on a car ride, we can break it out and play it.

Gameplay is simple: everyone has one card. On their turn they draw one card and play one card. Each card has instructions on what to do. You want to knock other people out of the round until you’re the only one or have the highest number card at the end of the round. Winning the round earns you a token of affection. To win the game, you need a certain number of tokens of affection which is determined by the number of people playing (7 for two players, 5 for three, 3 for more).

Here’s a quick rundown of what each card does:

Guard: Guess one other player’s card. If you’re right, they’re out.
Priest: Look at one other player’s card.
Baron: Compare hands with another player. The lowest card is out.
Handmaid: You’re protected from other players til your next turn.
Prince: Choose someone (yourself included) to discard his/her hand.
King: Trade cards with another player.
Countess: Must be discarded if your other card is Prince or King.
Princess: If you discard this card, you’re out of the round.

Every card played remains face up, so you must use your deductive skills to decide which card to guess or who is the best person to discard their hand. One card gets “burned” before cards are dealt so you can never know for sure who has what cards until the end.

I’ve seen that some people recommend ages 10 and up, others 8 and up. We played with our 9 year old and he didn’t have any trouble with it. I think kids as young as 7 would be able to play successfully.

Love Letter also follows the same branding as games like Uno where you can have the same game play, but different brands. Right now, there is regular Love Letter, Tempest Edition, Kanai Factory Edition, Legend of the Five Rings Edition, Wedding Edition, Munchkin Loot Letter, Letters to Santa, Batman Edition, and The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies. Our first thought was if it plays the exact same way, why would we bother buying another version? But we do own regular Uno, Batman Uno, and Mario Party Uno… so now we also own Munchkin Loot Letter (it comes with a promo Munchkin card!).

Has anyone else played Love Letter or one of the editions? What do you think about the game?

Love Letter

Love Letter
Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG)
First Released 2012

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Reading Through The Library: Blade of the Immortal Vol. 1 Blood of a Thousand

IMG_0843Although I’ve seen presentations about manga, I’ve never actually read any myself. That’s why I decided my B book should be Blade of the Immortal: Blood of a Thousand, the first book in the collection by Hiroaki Samura. I was hesitant to read it at first because I’m not much for the blood and gore, and that’s pretty much the title of this volume. But if my goal is to read every book in our library, I’ll need to read some books I normally wouldn’t.

Blade of the Immortal follows Manji, a samurai who has been cursed with immortality for the bad things he has done in his life. This does not seem to be that big a deal until he is forced to witness the death of his sister. This is a wake up call for Manji, and he decides to embark on the quest to kill one thousand evil men, which will lift the curse.

IMG_0845Meanwhile, Asano Rin is also forced to witness the death of a loved one – in this
case, her father – followed by the attacking and kidnapping of her mother. This murder was done by a group of master swordsmen who appear to be destroying all dojos until theirs is the only one that exists. Rin thirsts for revenge and after two years is directed to Manji, who reluctantly becomes her bodyguard and joins Rin on her journey to avenge her father’s death and the destruction of his dojo.

An important note: Manji wears the symbol “crux gammata” on his clothing. Most people would recognize this as the swastika. Samura chose to use this symbol not for the negative connections, but for the ancient and honorable origins that were especially important in Japan. In no way is this connected to Nazi Germany.

I have only read the first volume, so this is the extent of my knowledge of the storyline. I don’t know if Manji stays with Rin the entire time or not, but it seems like this group forming a new dojo is pretty sizable and possibly part of a larger scheme. I wouldn’t be surprised if he sticks with her because it seems like there was a lot more to that plot and the group is definitely 1000 evil people deep.

I really enjoy the symbolism and thoughts of life and death. This story is set in the late 1500s Japan, however Samura made up much of the world so he wouldn’t be restricted to history. In this setting, samurais are in abundance, which is why immortality and death are such strong themes. Samurais see death as an honor and should welcome it when the opportunity comes because they are dying out of loyalty. Manji is robbed of this opportunity because of the bloodworms in him. Those are what make him immortal. Also, gross.

Would I recommend this book? It really depends. If I was just told about this book, I wouldn’t read it just because the subject matter isn’t something that interests me. However, having read it and seen the attention to detail and respect for the characters, I have a different appreciation for it. I am interested in what happens to Manji and Rin and I want to continue the story to follow their journey. The fact that the book is in black and white takes away from the shock factor most stories use for blood and gore, and that helps too.

Also, there’s a character that does sword painting. I totally want to do that – but with paint and not blood. Ew.

Blade of the Immortal
Blade of the Immortal: Blood of a Thousand
Writing and Art by Hiroaki Samura
Published in English 2010 by Dark Horse
Originally published in Afternoon 1993, Japan