Let the Parties Begin…

The Saturday after Thanksgiving is our kickoff for the holiday party season. Jill’s family (the Curry’s) and another (the Waitt’s) have a tradition dating back more than 20 years (25? 30?). Originally, the two families gathered on Christmas eve but over the years as the children grew to adulthood, married and had kids of their own, it became more and more difficult to get together near Christmas. These days, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is reserved for this party. Every year, 40 to 50 people ranging from a few months to many decades gather at the home of Jill’s parents. We talk, we eat, Santa shows up and all the kids receive a couple of small gifts.

This year was no different. We arrived about 6pm and we snacked until everyone arrived. After dinner, Santa showed up and passed out presents to all the good boys and girls. Jill and I were able to catch up with folks we see only a couple of times a year and sometimes only at this party. I’m not a big fan of large gatherings so I stuffed the pockets of my jacket with games — the big one held Havoc and in the smaller two I had Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper and a prototype of Tres Amigos that KC gave me at BGG.con.

After Santa left, a few people started playing Euchre. I mentioned I had a new game that was interesting and several folks at the table wanted to hear about it. After some discussion, I taught Dawn, Mike and Adrianne (Jill’s sister’s family) and our friend Fred how to play Havoc. We played two games of a shorter, 6 battle version. There was a lot of activity going on around us so it did take longer for everyone to get the hang of the game but by the second game, everyone started clicking with the game and enjoyed playing. Fred, who teaches middle school, indicated he was interested in purchasing several copies to start a gaming club at school.

Jill and I have taught Havoc to more than 10 people in the last 3 weeks and everyone has thought well of the game. We’ve taught it to gamers, non-gamers and everyone in between. Regardless, anyone that plays enjoys the game. I don’t know if that will translate into sales for Havoc but it certainly speaks well of its general appeal.

Turkey and Games

Nothing better than a little board gaming on Thanksgiving. Before dinner, Jill and I taught the boys how to play Cartagena. I picked this game up at BGG.con after Jill and I played it with KC and Rita one evening at the convention. The boys caught on quickly and everyone had a good time trying to ‘leap frog’ each other to the boat. In this picture, Tristan positions one of his blue pirates while Caleb watches. In the end, Jill craftily moved her last two pirates on the boat and left the rest of us to fend for ourselves in the tunnel!

After we finished, Tristan headed over to the computer to IM with some friends while I taught Jill, Caleb and Logan how to play Ra. I picked this up about a month ago using points I’d accumulated this summer at my local FLGS. I played a couple of sample turns the night before to get the mechanics down. The game is easy to set up and only takes about 10 minutes to explain. Everyone picked it up well enough after a turn or two. I kept winning auctions with very few tiles and as a result, my score was horrible. Jill and Caleb scored a couple of very nice auctions during the game and they tied for 1st place at the end of the game. Jill won the tie breaker with more points in her suns.

After our games, Jill and I finished getting a semi-traditional Thanksgiving dinner on the table. Logan has had strep throat the last couple of days so he rested on the couch in the office while we had a tasty dinner in the dining room. Afterwards, we all pitched in to clean up the mess. We’ve been watching Stargate SG-1 with the boys lately. We popped in a DVD and finished a 2 parter (The Tok’ra) that we’d started some time ago.

Today, our good friends, Jason and Kelly, and their girls (Katie, Emily and Erin) came over this afternoon for dinner and a little gaming. While the kids played downstairs, Jill and I taught Jason and Kelly how to play Havoc, another game we picked up at BGG.con and published by our friends (KC, Rita and Chris) at Sunriver Games. We played a shortened version, 6 battles instead of the full 9, of the game. In the first game, I decided to be aggressive and cry Havoc early and often. Unfortunately, I didn’t win any battles and I struggled to put together a decent battle hand for the rest of the game. Jason and Kelly seemed to do OK. Jason pulled out the first game with Kelly a close second.
After a little dessert, the adults were ready for another crack at the game. In the second, I held back a bit but jumped in when Jill cried Havoc for Agincourt. I prevailed but had to spend a lot of cards for it. Again, Jason seemed to have a natural feel for the game. He also won the second game with Jill placing second this time. They both enjoyed the game. Although it’s natural to enjoy a game that you’ve just won, I do believe Jason really enjoyed the game. Will they pick up a copy? Who knows? We introduced them to Bohnanza in the past. That was another they really enjoyed and eventually picked up a copy!

Earlier today, Caleb and I tried out the battle of Pea Ridge in Battle Cry. He played the Confederates with superior numbers and I was the Union with better field position. The Union held the field this day although a couple of my units were on the verge of being eliminated as the battle came to a close. Logan wanted to Memoir ’44 so he and I played a couple of scenarios (Sword Beach and Pointe du Hoc) today too. I’ve been playing the ‘Little Generals’ version with him. The only difference is we remove all the special command cards from the battle deck so that there is no reading involved. He does very well when he plays. I won both scenarios today but only by a point each time and he had the card he needed in both cases to eliminate one more unit on the next turn.

With Saturday and Sunday still ahead, I plan to do a bit more gaming before I head back to work on Monday. A short little game of TI3 is scheduled for Sunday but what tomorrow holds is not yet clear!