I’m still obsessing over board games. It’s pretty bad, in a distracted, non-productive way. And by bad, I mean I even enjoy reading board game reviews, rules discussions, people’s top ten lists, that sort of thing. I don’t get much chance to play, partly because I just have too many hobbies and interests. When I have time to play, it’s mostly with close family (wife and daughters), who aren’t generally “into” the sorts of long-playing strategy games that I am most interested in, though I appreciate and enjoy lots of other types of games, too.
On the Fourth of July we met up with some friends and played some games; the most involving was simply blackjack, played with poker chips, which was a nice hanging-around-and-chatting game. We also went through some trivia cards. Although they are not my favorite genre of games, this sort of thing makes me want some more party games to play with family and friends at get-togethers. I recently read about a “werewolf” style game called “Resistance” that sounds great; I’d also love to try “Cash ‘n Guns,” although the cost for that game is very high, perhaps because it no longer in production. (Another problem with that game is that it centers around everyone pointing foam guns at one another, which might be excessively violent for certain people’s tastes within certain contexts, but among my adult friends I think it would be great.)
Over the past few days I finally managed to get my board game fix by playing Mice and Mystics with Erin. I bought a copy a couple of months ago and had not had a chance to play it, but when I asked last week she jumped in.
The game is fairly simple as far as its basic rules, but is given a pleasant complexity by the players’ ability to make a wide range of decisions, the variability of the game board, and the long-term nature of the game’s story line. If players choose, it is a heavily story-based game, proceeding through “chapters” that tell a story in which the players are humans who have been turned into mice and must accomplish missions to thwart the plans of an evil sorceress. Gameplay involves moving one’s mouse figures across castle room tiles and defeating enemy rats, roaches, and other critters in combat.
After some though, I picked up the game based on: 1) Many reviewers said their children really enjoyed it; 2) Lots of adults really enjoyed it; 3) it has simple elements of strategy and combat tactics, appealing to the miniatures gamer in me; 4) the game components and artwork look appealing and well-designed.
I was a little worried that my immediate family would be turned off by a game in which the heroes ran around killing rats with swords, since we are such a pet-rat-heavy family, but thankfully the game rules and story line are not explicit when it comes to the bloodshed. You can interpret “defeating” your enemies however you want. If a mouse-player is defeated, he or she is captured, not killed.
Erin and I finished the first chapter last night, and she seemed to really enjoy it. Jill jumped in a played a little, too, and was interested on-and-off in the proceedings. It went well, we won the chapter, and Erin said she wanted to keep playing to see what happens next, so I am very happy!
I’d love to pick up another game sometime soon, but it’s hard to decide what. I think Ticket to Ride will probably be next, since it’s high on so many people’s top ten lists of family games AND games every gamer should own AND “gateway” games that would be enjoyed by non-gamers. I even just heard one game reviewer call it one of the very few games that he would call “flawless.”