Failed Resolution: #PlayThemAll2015

At the beginning of 2015, I chose a somewhat ambitious New Year’s resolution. I set out to play every game in my family’s collection by the end of the year.

I came up short. :/

I played a lot of games, but going into December (the busiest month of the year), I knew I wasn’t going to make it. I had too many games left that I couldn’t knock off the list w/ my kids (who were heroes and helped me get the majority of the games played). There were several I just ran out of time for and a couple I didn’t want to play and couldn’t get rid of before the end of the year (I’m looking at you Descent). Oh well.

So, here’s what I’m going to do for 2016: I’m going to get the remaining games played by the end of 2016.


  1. Ticket to Ride (US) Played 2016!
  2. Warhammer: Invasion
  3. Android Netrunner
  4. Descent Sold!
  5. Ground Floor
  6. Zeppelin Attack Played 2016!
  7. Machine of Death
  8. Epic Spell Wars: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre
  9. Pint Craft Played 2016! Bound for Bookmans
  10. ROFL Sold!
  11. Coup G54 Rebellion Played 2016!
  12. Bomb Squad Played 2016!

It’s certainly a much shorter list this year. Though, I think I may still have to plan some game-specific nights/sessions in order to pull this resolution off. By all means, if you see a game you want to be in on, let me know!


Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds

Mouse Guard has been a part of our family for a few years now. We’ve bought a few of the books, checked out a couple from the library, and keep our eyes out for new releases. Both my wife and I have loved reading to the kids as well as giving them a turn. I’ve said it before and I can’t seem to avoid saying it again, it’s been a delight to watch them encounter new vocabulary words, discuss meaning, and even work through reading difficult words that appear in highly-stylized handwritten text.

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 cover

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 was our first journey into the Mouse Guard universe of Kenzie, Lieam, and Saxon. Winter 1152 followed. And then we found our noses buried in Beginning The Black Axe and even the Legends of the Guard books.

In the last few pages of Fall 1152, there are a couple mice gathered around a little game in a tavern. I remember the kids exclaiming at the tiny mice tokens when we read it for the first time.

Little did we know we’d have that same game on a table in our ‘tavern’ a few years later.

Kickstarter Campaign

Writer & Artist, David Petersen, teamed up with Game Designer, Luke Crane, to create a light strategy game and put their concept on Kickstarter.

A two-player board game from the Mouse Guard comics—for guardmice, patrons of the June Alley Inn and their fans.

Long story short: we backed it.

The Goods

Thankfully, the Kickstarter campaign succeeded. Once our copy showed up, my son and I were the first to put it through its paces. It’s a chess-like game that looks and feels as though it was magically extracted from the pages of the book, and most importantly plays easily enough while hiding a lot of depth. I’m sure we’ll get Swords & Strongholds to the table a lot around this house.

Over this last weekend, my dad showed up to Dice & Decks – a local board gaming club/event I run. I had to introduce him to the game.

Now, I’ll admit that I was so wrapped up in being thrilled that he came, that I forgot just how good my dad is at chess.

Early on in our first game of Swords & Strongholds, my dad captured one of my pawns, and then another. I felt like I fought back valiantly and managed to recover both after a few more turns. Although, it was only my third playthrough, so I’m sure to a seasoned player of chess or chess-like games I looked like a fish flopping around in a puddle.

He eventually whittled me down to one pawn and was able to maneuver one of his into the winning, stronghold-making position.

He called it a practice round and eagerly asked to play again.

I wanted to pass along a heartfelt “Thank you” to David Peterson and Luke Crane for the wonderfully delicious anguish over the decisions made while playing Swords & Strongholds. It’s a brilliant little package with a ton of charm; there’s so much game there. Excellent work, gentlemen!

Buy from BurningWheel | Buy from Paizo


Play Them All in 2015!

As the new year starts, I’ve decided to commit to a couple resolutions. Most of them are fairly personal. But one… while admittedly very geeky, I’m comfortable sharing with you.

I’m going to play every single board game in my family’s collection at least once before the end of the year.

My grand plan is to record the games as they get played in a list below. I’ll probably throw them up on Twitter & Instagram (#playthemall2015) as they get played, and then update the list in batches… when I remember. 😉

Yes, the links below are Amazon affiliate links.

The List

  1. Flash Point: Fire Rescue 1/1/2015
  2. Planes 1/3/2015
  3. Power Grid 1/3/2015
  4. Yardmaster Express 1/7/2015
  5. Ticket to Ride: Europe + 1912 exp. 1/11/2015
  6. Sushi Go! 1/14/2015
  7. Tokaido 1/31/2015
  8. Escape 2/6/2015
  9. Mice & Mystics 4/2/2015 (Chapter 11, finally!)
  10. Pathfinder: Adventure Card Game 4/7/2015
  11. Dragon Slayer 4/9/2015
  12. Star Wars X-Wing Miniatures Game 4/11/2015
  13. Terror in Meeple City 4/11/2015
  14. Love Letter: The Hobbit Edition 4/25/2015
  15. Eminent Domain: Microcosm5/15/2015
  16. Smash Up 5/17/2015
  17. Hobbit Tales: From the Green Dragon Inn 5/29/2015
  18. Dominion 5/31/2015
  19. Takenoko 6/21/2015
  20. Eminent Domain 6/27/2015
  21. Belle of the Ball 6/27/2015
  22. Space Hulk: Death Angel 6/28/2015
  23. Monopoly: Millenium Edition 7/4/2015
  24. Cornerstone7/4/2015
  25. Avalon 7/17/2015
  26. Age of War 7/17/2015
  27. Cypher 7/18/2015
  28. Survive: Escape from Atlantis 8/1/2015 #GenCant
  29. Lords of Waterdeep 8/1/2015 #GenCant
  30. King of Tokyo 8/1/2015 #GenCant
  31. Exploding Kittens8/4/2015
  32. Tsuro 8/9/2015
  33. Hot Rod Creeps 8/9/2015
  34. Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds8/10/2015
  35. Skyline 8/29/2015
  36. Lanterns: The Harvest Festival 11/14/2015
  37. Portal – The Uncooperative Cake Acquisition Game 11/14/2015
  38. Bomb Squad Academy 11/15/2015

The «book by it’s cover» lesson

Image courtesy of Dice Hate Me Games

Disclaimer: This is not a review of Belle of the Ball. It’s a whole-hearted recommendation that you go buy it. It’s also a small look at how putting it on my table is affecting my children’s perspective.

Back in August of last year, I backed a game on Kickstarter called Belle of the Ball [BGG]. The designer, Daniel Solis, subtitles it — “A fancy, schmancy card game.” One of the benefits of becoming a backer was that you instantly had access to a print & play version of the game. I spent some time fiddling with the PDFs, fighting with the FedEx/Kinkos website, and took a trip to their store to pick up a playable version.

I roped my family into trying it with me. At the time, I was playing with my 7-year-old daughter, 9-year-old son, and wife. While unintentional, I think the fact that my version was printed in black & white allowed me to ‘pull one over’ on my son. He didn’t really notice the feminine ‘lean’ to the game’s theme.

In Belle of the Ball, players are hosting formal parties and attempting to invite ridiculously and brilliantly named guests to their parties and match them into groups with common interests represented by icons on the Guest cards. Belle cards let you manipulate your groups, opponents’ groups, or cause some act of mischief.

The theme is really engaging and production quality is fantastic. What I like best about the game is the mini-drafting gameplay mechanic for the Guest and Belle cards. You start the game with a few Guest cards turned face down. The card backs are envelopes that you use as currency called ‘Regrets’. Paying regrets to guests you pass in the line in order to invite the one you desire feels simple and refined; fits the theme perfectly.

As I said earlier, I backed Belle of the Ball a little over a year ago. The physical version finally showed up about a week ago. The box is brightly colored and features a female character that looks like she stepped out of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. My son—now 10—resisted playing at first.

“It just doesn’t look fun, Dad. It looks like a game for girls.”

My daughter and I goaded him into playing with us. Amusingly, he didn’t recognize it until we’d each taken a few turns and the Guest drafting mechanic finally jogged his memory. He visibly let his guard down and allowed himself to have fun with it. He started announcing the guests’ names aloud as he invited them into his groups and really got into finding the perfect Belle cards for his hand. Perhaps most amazingly, despite the fact that my daughter won, he admitted he really liked the game and would play again!1

It was a perfect example for both of my kids to see that they can easily deprive themselves of a really enjoyable experience by avoiding something because of how it looks.

Thank you, Mr. Solis, for a great experience on the table!


Dead Man’s Draw

I got sucked into a new iOS game today.

While waiting for my wife to finish her CT scan this morning, I ran across a tweet promoting the game’s new price today – Free. That’s a tough price to pass up.

Dead Man’s Draw is a two player, pirate-themed, push-your-luck card game. You draw cards – if you dare – until you draw a card with the same suit as one of the cards you’ve already drawn. I guess it’s the opposite of a set collection game.

The app does a really good job of starting you off with the simplest form of the game and then layering on new card mechanics as you progress. For example, one of the suits (Mystic, I think?) lets you reveal the top card of the deck before you draw it – giving you the chance to avoid busting. Another suit lets you discard a card (or later, all cards of that type) from your opponent’s hand.

I’ve found it really addicting. It’s simple/approachable, plays quickly, and feels really satisfying when you win.


Aren’t you proud of me… No lame pirate jokes in this whole write-up!


King of Tokyo: Halloween

At its heart, Richard Garfield’s King of Tokyo is a push your luck dice game that’s really similar to Yahtzee. However, he’s wrapped it in a really fun Japanese monster king-of-the-hill battle full of amusing ridiculousness. And, well, it’s got a special place in my heart.


King of Tokyo is a game that seems to appeal to all ages. I’ve had a ton of fun playing it with my kids and it’s gotten a decent amount of play at Dice & Decks nights at Cartel (adult game nights at local coffee shop/bar).

What’s New?


So what’s new in the Halloween expansion? King of Tokyo: Halloween adds:

  • 2 new monsters: Pumpkin Jack and Boogie Woogie.
  • New card type — Costumes
  • New set of oversized dice — orange, of course
  • There’s one more item in the box, but I’ll get to that later.



My daughter and I gave it a test run this evening. It’s really fascinating to watch her play. Which die results does she keep? Which does she choose to re-roll? What makes a card interesting enough to buy? Her decision-making process is something I get to see in concentrated form during games like this and as a dad — I love it.

She ended up jumping into an early lead and despite trying, I couldn’t catch her. She was the first monster to occupy Tokyo and I couldn’t deal damage quickly enough to ‘convince’ her to leave. So, she was earning 2 points each turn in addition to whatever she gained through dice rolls. She proved to be the superior monster. 🙂


I won’t dare call myself enough of a critic to conduct a formal review of the expansion. I will say this. The costumes are definitely a fun sub-theme addition to a game with a really fun main theme. While the new expansion doesn’t add a ton of new features or a huge new mechanic, it definitely notches up the charm of the game.

One More Item

As mentioned earlier, there’s another item in this box that’s new. They’ve included a promo card for King of New York. I guess we’ll be stomping around amongst the Big Apple’s skyscrapers soon! I’ll place my wager now that the dice in that box will be colored red. 😉

Monster Dice

NOTE: The dice in King of Tokyo are oversized… It makes sense. You’re huge monsters, after all. This makes it hard for someone with small hands to sufficiently shake and roll all six dice in one throw. We’ve found that having younger monsters shake and roll with a cup (and preferably into a dice tray of some sort) really makes it easier for them.


Winning While Losing

Ready for your heart to melt?


Publishing to Kindle

Learning a new board game can be tedious. Thankfully, it’s usually offset by the anticipation of playing for the first time.

Dilemma: Pint Craft rules

The game is great; the rules are disappointing.

I was excited to get my copy of Pint Craft1, but that excitement was dampened when I opened the box and discovered the rulebook. Now, the game components (cards and tokens) are really great! But these rules, oh man… They’re printed on card stock which makes it impossible to leave open on the table in order to glance at them while you look through the game components. Additionally, there are cross-references to different page numbers that don’t actually hold the content that you’re looking for. After encountering this, a wish enters my mind — to be able to read the rules text (and search!) on my Kindle (old grey, keyboard version).

How hard could it be?

Approach 1:

Email PDF > personalized Kindle email address

For Kindle users, Amazon creates an email address for users to easily send themselves documents using a method they’re already familiar with — email attachments. It’s a great idea and it’s worked well in the past. However, since the game rules for Pint Craft are laid out in two colums on landscape, the emailed file doesn’t translate well once it arrived on my Kindle. It was nearly impossible to read.

Approach 2:

Convert PDF > Word, send to

Since the columns seemed to be the problem, I decide to convert the original PDF to a Word doc and get rid of the columns.

After a few minutes, I remember just how much I abhor using Word — for anything. Yuck.

Approach 3:

Convert PDF > InDesign doc, export to .mobi

Assuming there’s had to be a better way to do this, I started searching for another approach. Much to my surprise, I stumbled upon Amazon’s publishing tools which includes a command-line publisher, an InDesign plugin that allows you to publish to Kindle-friendly .mobi format, as well as a previewer. Score!

Wow. So, I download & install both the plugin and the previewer. I race through getting the original PDF contents copied into an InDesign document. I came across a video on that walks through the automatic generation of an extremely useful Table of Contents based on document styles. It worked surprisingly well. I was also able to resolve the problematic cross-referencing by creating bookmarks directly to content/sections where required. The whole process of publishing was very technical but I ended up with a nicely formatted, easy-to-read .mobi file that I was able to email to my Kindle. With Amazon’s Kindle app being available on a plethora of devices2 – making the rules available in this format would make really readable rules available almost anywhere!

In the future, I might consider doing this to a couple other games that have lackluster rulebooks3. One thing I’d really like to do is include higher-resolution images in the Kindle versions… Perhaps I can beg them from publishers in exchange for offering .mobi file to them?

Future Approach 4:

Convert PDF > Markdown, export to HTML, convert to .mobi

Of course, about two days after I finished doing this, the creator of the game – Nick Hemholdt – sent an email to all the Kickstarter backers with some rules clarifications/corrections. I wondered if I should have just done all of this in a format that I’m more comfortable with from the beginning.

KindleGen vs. Calibre

There are two ‘epub engines’ that I know of at this point. Calibre and Amazon’s KindleGen. I’ve decided to mark up a base .md document and then test out publishing with both just to see what the differences are. I’m throwing these links here for my own good… I’ll update this post once I’ve given them both a shot.


Supported HTML5 / CSS3 tags



For now: Enjoying Pint Craft

I’m no snooty reviewer of games, but boy-howdee will I play them. Now that I’ve gotten extremely familiar with the rules, I must say Pint Craft is rather enjoyable – especially with some actual beer.

Speaking of… I’m pretty sure there’s a Sam Adams’ Cream Stout in the refrigerator calling my name.


  1. Pint Craft was a Kickstarter project in the fall of 2012 and is published by MacroSpectra#
  2. Kindle Reading Apps are available on: iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Mac, Win8, Win7, and Windows XP.
    Kindle Cloud Reader works in any modern browser. #
  3. I’m looking at you Space Hulk: Death Angel#

Lego Heroica

My son had a birthday last week. Instead of a party, he opted for a trip to the Lego store in Chandler, AZ. We’d never been… and I’ll admit that I was as excited as he was.

Before I get ahead of myself, I want to call out one of the employees at the store. Tiffany was amazing. She made our birthday/first-time visit a truly memorable one. I don’t know if it was simply because we were the first customers in the store that day, but she went out of her way for us – making sure we were enjoying ourselves, found what we needed, offered smart product suggestions, and even guided us to the nearest bathroom when an urgent need was made known. 🙂 High-five, Tiffany!

Here are some photos from our trip.

My find-of-the-day was a Lego Heroica set: Castle Fortaan.

Heroica is a new game from Lego that basically serves as an introduction to fantasy boardgames. The set we picked up is the larger set out of the 4 currently available. After cracking open the box, you build ‘rooms’ and connecting paths that can then be combined in a myriad of arrangements to form the board for your game. The game features different classes of heroes (wizard, knight, druid, etc.), weapons, potions, treasure, my daughter’s favorite: keys for locked doors, and several other fun elements. The complexity is simple enough for our 5-year-old to play along, incredibly engaging for our 7-year-old, and nerdy enough for this thirty-something dad.

We’ve played only 2 games so far and our family loves it.  It’s been fun to watch Joey and Abby celebrate together when they take down enemies and console each other when wounded. With three other sets available and plenty of room for ‘house rules’, I’m sure we’ll be playing this game over and over again.

Buy Lego Heroica on