The Builders: Middle Ages

“The Builders: Middle Ages” was a small “game in a tin” that caught my eye at the friendly local game store. At an MSRP of only $17.99, it was arguably an impulse buy. Let’s see if it was worth the impulse!

Players each start with 10 coins and an apprentice.


Players get three actions on their turn. The first option is to “Start Construction”. There is no spending of coins, merely the selection of one of five cards from the building row. The building card is immediately put into play in front of the player.


The second option is to “Recruit a Worker”. This is similar to the Start Construction action – no cost for recruitment.

The third option is where money comes into play – “Send a Worker to Work”. The worker cost is paid and the worker is played on a building in the player’s tableau.


Players continue to assign workers to buildings until the resources they provide match or exceed the requirements of the building. At this point, the building provides coins and is flipped over to reward victory points.


The player who is first to have 17 points worth of completed buildings brings about the end of the game. Left over coins are worth 1 point per ten coins. Highest score wins.

This is the type of game that scratches my “build buildings / place workers” itch in about 20-30 minutes- perfect for a school night or for a filler while waiting for another game to wrap up.

Looking forward to many more plays!


February 2014 Gaming Recap

Off to a very strong start this year, as I played 30+ games in the shorter month of February. The highlight of the month had to be the RinCon fundraiser day (covered in a previous post). I certainly found many other gaming opportunities with friends and family as well.

Leading the way were four plays of Monster Factory and three plays of Galaxy Trucker. Keyflower was played twice, as were Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small and Rattus.

The last game I purchased and got played in February was Gravwell: Escape from the 9th Dimension. I bought this based primarily based on the high praise it received from the State of Games podcast by Chris Kirkman. The rules are not complex, but the game is pretty mind-bending as you really have to try to anticipate the moves of your opponents. My son played his cards so randomly that it was comical to see how often my plans were foiled!

I suspect that March will be a bit quieter in terms of total games played, but having 58 plays in in first 59 days of 2014 is an excellent start!


Recap: RinCon fundraiser game day (2/22)

Having attended Tucson’s RinCon 2013 in October, I was compelled to make the 2-hour journey back down to Tucson to hang out with some of the great gamers I had met 4 1/2 months ago. The experience was great – 13+ hours of gaming split among published and prototypes. Here is a brief recap:

Lords of Waterdeep w/ Skullport expansion (Wizards of the Coast): our agreed upon first game of the con, and my first play of Lords of Waterdeep. I know it was highly regarded, but just hadn’t found the opportunity to play until this day. In preparation, I did download it on iOS and played 2-3 games.  Dan/Will/Dillon/Jon and I had a great game and really had a great time. I believe that I wouldn’t want to play without the corruption expansion now – such a good mechanism!

Isle of Trains (pre-published design by Dan Keltner/Seth Jaffee through Dice Hate Me Games) – I had met Dan last fall, and already knew Seth, so playing their newly signed game on this day was a given.Your hand of five cards contains engines, box cars, tankers, and cabooses. There are different levels of each type of car, which expands their speed or capacity. Players attempt to construct a train and load it with enough goods to fulfill the contracts required by the isle. The isles themselves have a 2nd side that is another contract worth additional points.  Isle of Trains packs a lot of punch for a 54-card game. I was impressed with how much Dan and Seth fit into the game and look forward to many future plays once it comes out. Look for this on Kickstarter soon!

Isle of Trains

Pay Dirt (pre-published design by Tory Niemann through  Crash Games) – I had seen Patrick Nickell and others play testing this design a few times in the past year, but had always been 15-30 minutes late in getting in on a game. Tory has struck gold (pun intended) again on this design. Really enjoy the worker placement nuances in this simulation of the Alaskan gold rush. Having to divide up your workforce between moving dirt and keeping your equipment maintained gave my mental faculties some great exercise! Looking forward to the Kickstarter campaign for Pay Dirt!

Pay Dirt

The Great Heartland Hauling Company (Dice Hate Me Games) – my first play of Jason Kotarski’s cube hauling card game with adults (usually play 2 player with my daughter). It was great to finally play with a higher player count. The extra players really tightened up the locations for pickup/deliver. Such a great game – glad it is getting a 2nd printing this year!

* Update: Jon Peoble (@peoblej on Twitter) reminded me that I also played a game of Keyflower with him (and I happened to win). Feels good that I didn’t make that the focus of the day! 🙂 *

Notre Dame (Rio Grande Games) – I am pretty fond of Stefan Feld games, and this one did not disappoint either. Probably good that it is currently out of print – otherwise I’d be making a trip to the local game store for a copy. This one certain has some of the “punishment” mechanics associated with Feld’s games, but is truly a game that fits the “elegant euro” classification.

Gold West (prototype by J. Alex Kevern) – given that I had the 2-hour ride back to Phoenix, I almost passed on the opportunity to play “just one more”. SO glad I stuck around for this! Kevern and his artist Adam McIver had been tweeting about Gold West for a few months (nice PR work guys). The game was nothing short of fantastic. I loved the mancala planning aspects (slightly reminiscent of Trajan) and the territorial expansion (reminiscent of Terra Mystica). These mechanics, along with the other aspects, make for a brilliant design. I really look forward to this one getting published!


Rylie’s Top 10 Games (as of 2/1/2014)

Rylie is my nine-year-old gaming daughter. She got started with Carcassonne, Forbidden Island and Ticket to Ride at age seven, and has been “subjected” to a wide range of medium to medium-heavy games over the last couple of years 🙂

Her top games fluctuate often, but here is her current list:

1. At The Gates Of Loyang – “I like all the actions to choose from”
2. Caverna – “I like the caves and the farms, instead of just farms”
3. Steam Park – “It’s like having people come to an amusement park that I built.”
4. Trains
5. Russian Railroads
6. Bruges
7. Galaxy Trucker
8. Legacy: The Testament of Duke DeCrecy
9. Downfall of Pompeii
10. Kingsburg


January 2014 Gaming Recap

I had a big New Year’s Eve gaming event and after we welcomed in 2014, we started off the new year with Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia. A week or so later, I got in my first play of A Game of Thrones.

The rest of the month was primarily gaming with my kids, particularly my gaming daughter. We got in a Glass Road, Russian Railroads, Steam Park, Scopa, Merkator and most excitedly ended the month with Caverna: The Cave Farmers.

Total plays for the month were 24 – not too bad considering the lack of ” official” game nights!


Weekly Plays 2013: 12/7 – 12/14

In my quest to play the top 25 on BGG, I was able to knock out the current #11 game on Saturday: Brass [by Martin Wallace, published by Eagle Games]. My verdict: it was a GREAT experience; the game is worthy of its high ranking.

Got in my 2nd play of Race For The Galaxy (RFTG) [by Tom Lehmann, published by Rio Grande Games], but it came in the wee hours of the night after playing Brass. My 1st play of RFTG was also at the end of a long game night, so my judgement on this game really needs to come after STARTING a night with it. 🙂

Earlier in the week, my daughter and I played a new game to our collection that we really enjoyed. Legacy: The Testament of Duke DeCrecy [by Michiel Hendriks, published by Portal Games]. This one is a worker placement / family tree building game that invokes fun stories about the cultural ramifications of arranged marriages in 18th century France. Okay, that might not sound “fun”, but trust me, it is.

It’s who you play with, not (just) what you play

As many in the hobby have professed, I too spent my formative years playing the mass-market classics of Aggravation, Uno, Operation and the like. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve cutthroat games of house-rule Monopoly against my ruthless (and very competitive) younger brother. The memories persist, not so much about specific games but rather the people I played them with. The games do however play a key role in forming these memories.

I’ve been in the board game hobby since November of 2011. This may be hard for some to believe, but I still had never heard of “Catan” at this point in time. It was a co-worker’s mention of the great gateway game, Carcassonne, that started me down the hobby gaming path. My purchase of Carcassonne was followed by Ticket to Ride and Forbidden Island.  Each of these games were purchased with a particular gamer in mind — my daughter, who was age seven at the time.

At the time of this post, I’ve amassed a growing collection of about sixty games (and counting). Some of the games I’ve purchased are currently too difficult for my daughter. Why purchase these games that I cannot play with her (yet)? It is due to the fact that I have made additional friends that love to play games that she cannot yet play. Through sites such as and, I’ve built a small network of friends who share a passion for “meaty” games like Through the Ages, Ora Et Labora and Dominant Species. I’ve rubbed shoulders with game designers and have enjoyed playing their prototypes, regardless of how rough around the edges they were.

So much of my enjoyment of the hobby comes from meeting people who enjoy a hobby on a similar level that I do. I appreciate the fact that some people love games because of rich thematic overtones while others enjoy games for the mechanics and puzzles they offer. I am still new enough in the hobby that I am willing to try any game at least once – and I’d play with anyone at least once as well. I hope this mindset never changes.