Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Princess Bride Games?....INCONCEIVABLE!!

"Then make your choice."  
"I will, and I choose - What in the world can that be?"

If you recognize those words then you are a true fan of a great film.  The Princess Bride has been a staple in our household for many, many years and I am proud to announce the release of another set of 3 new card games.  Everyone fan of the film has their favorite moment and now you can add 1, 2, or even all three of these great card games to your collection.  Each game is based on some of the greatest moments from the film.  

The quote at the top is the clue to the first game's title.

Did you guess??

That's right! The Battle of Wits!
The Battle of wits pits up to 10 (yes 10) players against each in a bluffing battle.  Each player will take sips throughout the game.  Too much poison, you're dead! Will you live or fall prey to the Sicilian? Only the most intelligent will survive!  Will it be you?

I'd like to add that this would be a fabulous game to grab a bottle of wine and really role play the whole thing :)  Why not, right?

Here's a clue for the next game's title.

"Grandpa, maybe you could come over and read it again to me tomorrow."

Do you recall grandpa's answer?

That's right, AS YOU WISH! and that is the title of the second card game.  In this game you are wuv, tru wuv.  To do so, you must collect a set of cards based on the desires of the character you are playing.  But it is not as easy as it seems.  Certain cards contain skulls that threaten to remove valuable cards from your quest.  Will you be the one to come out victorious?
trying to tell the story of

OK, Here's the clue for the final game.

"I've seen worse."

Need another hint?

"You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles."

Got it now?

That's right! The final game is called Miracle Pill and you are the one trying to put a little magic into a not so little pill.  You have 3 rounds to make this happen and each round pushes you a bit further.  Will you save the Man-in-black or will your experiment fizzle?

So there you have it.  Three fabulous new card games coming soon to a table top near you.  The games are currently on Kickstarter, but only for a limited time.  The campaign ends Tuesday, November 25th.  To secure your copies visit the campaign page here so you will be sure to be one of the first people to own these fun new games!

Monday, November 17, 2014

My Table Top Toddler's 2014 Cool Geek Toy Picks

  I don't know about your kids, but mine has begun making his wishlist and I wanted to share what my little geek is most excited about this holiday season.

  Many of you have probably seen (or at least heard about) the newest Disney movie, Big Hero 6. Well, it wouldn't be a holiday movie release if it didn't also have awesome toys to go along with it. Bandai has released a collection of action figures and you can choose your favorite heroes, use their special powers, and save the world from evil villains.

  Bandai has also released the Baymax Rocket Fist and Mask Set.  My son is begging for this one. He loves to dress up and play the part.  I can see the fist flying through my house now. The flying fist is made of a soft material keeping it safe for kids to play with.

  My son is a HUGE fan of all things Superhero (Marvel in particular) and the Mr. Potato Head Mixable Mashable Heroes have made this year's list.  He has always liked creating his own silly faces with the original Mr Potato Head, and we have even added some of the the Star Wars Taters to the collection, but these little guys mix the fun of Mr. Potato Head with Marvel parts to create Wolverine, Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man, Iron, Man and more.  They are sure to be a hit in any home with a Superhero fan.

Not a superhero fan, you can always try these awesome Dr Who themed Taters too!

  The last "Toy" to make the list so far this year is also video game based.  My son loves Mario and he LOVES the Mario Micro sets.  He would like more for Christmas :O)

   These are all fun toys, but what has my son the most excited this year is the release of Skylanders: Trap Team.  He spent a good portion of last year collecting, sorting, and playing Swap Force and now he's gearing up for the newest set.  He even took the initiative to write his own list to Santa and I was very proud of his 4 year old Handwriting.  Bonus Handwriting practice!!
   I have to admit, I was not sure about him playing this game.  I knew it had a heavy monetary investment.  The first game was given to him as a birthday gift and he had so much fun with it from the start that I just couldn't say no.  It has also become a special father/son bonding time that I think is well worth the money in the end.

   Now, In order to reduce some of the need for him to own everything all at once, we did institute a sticker chore chart.  He can exchange his stickers like cash for things he would like to own and it's been great.  Over time he has begun to understand that things cost money and it has taught him the value of saving.  And the two things he saves and uses those stickers for more than anything else, Skylanders and Board Games!

  My son was born into a house that loves board games.  In fact, his father owns three retail stores and publishes his own games.  Logan is only 4 and has already been to Gen Con and Pax East.  He is no stranger to the world of Games.  That being said. This is his list of board games for 2014.

King of New York: 
  King of Tokyo was such a hit, that it is no wonder that it is first on the list.  Oh, and he beats me every time!

Ravensburger Labyrinth:
  Yes this is an older game, but he has just learned to play Enchanted Forest and this is a great companion game.

Zelda Monopoly: 
  Daddy plays Zelda, son watches daddy play Zelda, Daddy collects cool editions of Monopoly.  Enough Said!

Firefly Yahtzee:
  OK, so this is not on his list, but it is on MINE! and what kid wouldn't want to own a replica of the Serenity that is also a dice cup?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Game Night Guide

   Face it, as Gamers, we long for uninterrupted blocks of time dedicated to playing the latest and greatest games. We dream of weekends free from obligations where we can gather and bask in the joy of defeating the Cylons, curing the world of Pandemics, or reaching the paragon tier with our newest heroes. Then life dawns on us and we are back to the work that needs to be done, commitments that have to be kept, and responsibilities that lead us to believe that we will never again have the time we once had to enjoy our hobby. I’m here to tell you that it can be done.
With a little bit of organization, a reality check that life happens and things come up, and someone willing to take on the role of organizer, I promise that you can be back to gaming in no time.

Step 1: Calling All Gamers
 So you want to get a group together for regular game nights. Who do you invite? You know that Steve lives down the street, but his work schedule isn't always consistent, Josh and Amanda both have weekends off but you’re not sure they could get time away from their two kids, John has a new girlfriend, Mike is usually free but lives about 30 minutes away, and Bill and Stacy would love to get together as long as they can be home before 10. Sound familiar? One of the easiest ways to get a group going is to begin with a casual game night invitation. Casual gaming creates an atmosphere where no one feels pressure to attend every time. Begin by sending an invitation, whether via email, Facebook, or an online invitation service such as Evite, suggesting to everyone that you would like to get a regular group together to play games. Have them reply with days, times, and spaces that work for them, as well as any major commitments they may have during the month. As the initiator, it is also polite to offer your own space as the first place to meet, assuming you have the capacity to host.

Step 2: They've Replied, So Now What?
  You have received replies and just about everyone has expressed interest in attending. The trouble is, not everyone’s availability meshes. Don’t panic! This is going to happen and the object is to find at least 2 times that work for a fair share of the group during any given week.  You will not be able to involve everyone every time, but the good news is that you have their schedules and can adjust the game nights to give everyone an opportunity to attend. By planning two gatherings a month you should be able to get just about everyone to attend who wants too and no one feels overloaded, If it works out that you can get together more often, all the better! In all honesty, it is usually better that everyone cannot make it. The best number of people to have for a game night is 4-6 anyway, since most games support this number of players. If you find you have a large group, party games or multiple games going at the same time might be in order. So let’s say, after assessing the days and times your friends have suggested, you discover that the best days would be Wednesdays at 6 and Sundays at 4. Taking into account the wedding Bill and Stacy told you about on the first weekend of the month, you send back the dates for your first two game gatherings.

Step 3: Games Anyone?
  The dates have been set, and you are well on your way to your first game night. Your next challenge, what to play? If you have a large collection of your own, send out a list to the group and get some feedback. Let the others chime in with favorites of their own and thoughts on what they enjoy. Not everyone is going to like the same type of game, and getting this clear and in the open from the start will help the group enjoy their time together far more than if someone ends up forced to play games they don’t like. Like any group situation, there needs to be compromise and you can often get past these battles by being proactive. Let’s say Mike is dying to try Keyflower and suggests it to the group. The others don’t know much about it, but Josh and Amanda have seen the game displayed in their friendly neighborhood game store and believe that it will take far too long for them to play. There are a few things they need to consider. First, time. Some games take hours to play and can take far longer the first time through. Second, complexity. Many of the others involved in this particular group have only really played more accessible board games like Apples to Apples and Carcassonne. While they are interested in learning more complex games, this one might be a little too complex for a first get-together. Third, appeal. Keyflower is a game that has a certain feel to it and might not be for everyone. Most people will give games the benefit of the doubt, but if someone has strong feelings against a suggested game, it would be wise to find another time to play with those who are interested. It’s not worth making the whole group miserable just because you want to play a certain game. And the same goes for suffering though a game if you know you can not be happy playing it. The point is to have fun, and if you are not, then you are missing the point of games entirely.
So, after a few more emails back and forth, the group decides on playing Carcassonne and the suggestion of King of New York, a game you just picked up. Keyflower has been put on hold, but it appears that there is a fair share of people interested in trying the game, and a time will be worked out for a future game night. Remember that as the host, you should familiarize yourself with the games you are planning on playing (especially new ones) and be ready to teach it to the group. If you have to spend time reading the rules before you play you will lose out on precious gaming time and possibly not get to all you had hoped to accomplish.

Step 4: Remember the Snacks
  The game night is fast approaching and you just realized you forgot something, Food! This is one area that some people tend to overlook. You will most likely be gaming for several hours and snacks, if not a meal, will be welcomed and appreciated. Food can sometimes be tricky, as it needs to be easy to eat while playing (no grease on the cards please!), able to feed a decent number of people, and relatively easy to prepare. As the host you should provide the basics for the meal, but there is nothing wrong with asking others to provide drinks and snacks. Since the host is providing the space, the dishes, and the time to get the group assembled, it is only polite for the guests to bring something to share. Over the next couple weeks, I will be providing you with some great gamer tested recipes for you to try at your next game night.  Here's a quick recipe to get you started.

Barbarian "Chick"en Barbecue Chili

1 large Vidallia Onion
1 tsp. Mminced Garlic
1 lb. Ground Chicken
2 cups Chicken Broth
2 28 oz. Cans Stewed Tomatoes
1 cup Water
2 tbs. Dark Brown Sugar
2 tbs. Cider Vinegar
1 tbs. Honey Mustard
1 tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbs. Molasses
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 15 oz. Cans Kidney Beans (rinsed and drained)

Brown chicken in a large pot. Add onions and garlic and saute until onions begin to look transparent. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 hour. (You can also place it all in the crock pot, set it for 6 hours on low and it will be ready when your guests arrive!) Serves 8.

Friday, November 14, 2014

NH Holiday Happenings

Well, it's official.  Snow has begun to fall in New Hampshire.  It's time to starting thinking cozy thoughts of comfy blankets, hot cocoa, warm fires, and lots of fun outside activities.  New England is a great place to get outdoors and once the temperatures drop, many people start to think Christmasy thoughts.

I have gathered a list of great NH events to help you and your family get into the holiday spirit this month.

Christmas at The Fells: Deck The Halls

November 15-16, 10am-3pm

456 Route 103A
Newbury, NH 03255 

Event Fee: $22.50 at the door; $5 children.

Looking for great holiday decorating ideas or just an enjoyable way to get into the holiday spirit then be sure to come see Christmas at The Fells: Deck the Halls. Experience the historic Fells Main House, transformed to the theme of Deck the Halls! Get inspired by fireside stockings and the twinkling of lights.

Santa Has Arrived!

Make a Date with Santa at the Mall of New Hampshire!
November 5th - December 24th

Visit a Festival of Trees 

Check out beautifully decorated trees at New Hampshire's various Festival of Trees events. Trees are often donated and decorated by local businesses in an effort to help fundraise for local events and activities. You can bid on trees, enter raffles, indulge in cookies and cocoa and more.

Southern New Hampshire Festival of Trees 

November 28th - December 6th

Sherburne Hall in the Municipal Building 
6 Village Green
Pelham, NH 

Event Fee: 12 & Over: $5; Under 12: Free.  Multiple day passes are available.

14th Annual "Fez"tival of Trees

November 22 - December 30
Bektash Shrine Center
189 Pembroke Rd.
Concord, NH

Event Fee: Adults are $5; senior are $4 and children 12 and under are free

Nashua's Festival of Trees

November 29 - November 30,  December 6 and December 7: Gala is on Friday, December 12
Hunt Memorial Building
6 Main St.
Nashua, NH

Event Fee: Free

Zoolights at the Stone Zoo

November 27 - January 4, 5 pm - 9pm

Event Fee: Members and member guests: $6 Tuesday - Sunday; $4 on Member Mondays
Non-Members $7 

Description: This annual festival of lights will dazzle visitors of all ages this holiday season. Meet Reindeer, visit with Santa, and enter a magical holiday world filled with fairy tale characters and dancing plush animals. 

Take a Ride with Santa on the Ho Ho Hobo Express

Exit 32 on I-93 in Lincoln, NH on Rt 112, directly opposite McDonald's.

Description: This 1 hour and 20 minute holiday excursion follows along the winding Pemigewassett River from Hobo Junction in Lincoln to Woodstock and then returns to Lincoln. You will travel in restored vintage train cars decorated for the season. 

We took my son on this trip last year and it was a complete hit. Everything from the festively decorated train cars, to the cookies and hot chocolate made the experience magical for my son.  We even wrote a list to Santa, which my son personally gave to him on the train.  If you have a child who loves trains or the Polar Express, this is definitely a trip not o miss.  

Visit a Christmas Tree Farm

Bring some of the beauty and fragrance of New Hampshire into your home this holiday season. Christmas trees are available at farms where you can select and cut down your own or bring home a fresh pre-cut tree. Special activities like sleigh rides plus treats and hot cocoa add to the seasonal festivities and make lasting family memories!  

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fist Bumps, Robot Hugs, and Microbots

  November marks the start to a few fabulous things.  The beginning of family gatherings, fabulous food, the Christmas season, and of course some great family movies.  This past weekend brought us the opening of Big Hero 6, the tale of a boy named Hiro who has a real knack for robotics.  His brother realizes his potential and encourages him to pursue his dreams by bringing new innovations to the world.  Unfortunately, a tragic event claims the life of his brother and leaves Hiro to navigate the world alongside his brother's invention, Baymax the lovable inflatable robot.  Soon a devastating event forces Hiro to transform his friends into a band of high-tech heroes and save the city.    

  Big Hero 6 is loosely based on a marvel comic of the same name, which has been infused with the magic of Disney animation.  Even though it is not the same as the comic and the characters have a very different look, the movie has been very well done.  Family, friends, action, drama, and of course the big robot, Baymax, make this movie an enjoyable film for the whole family.  Don't be surprised if your heart melts soon after Baymax's very first appearance.  Besides his non-threatening marshmallow of an appearance, his adorable naivety and selfless nature will capture your heart.  For these reasons, Big Hero 6 is proof that Disney will continue to produce great films.  The Disney revival is not yet over and I am eager to see what they will cook up next.  For now, Big Hero 6 will join the ranks of Wreck-it-Ralph, Tangled, and Frozen as some of my most favorite Disney Films.

If you haven't had the chance to see this film, I highly recommend that you do.  Just try to watch this trailer and not get excited. I dare you!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

I'm Back!

    Yep, that's right.  I know it's been a while, but it's time for me to jump back into the blogosphere.
When baby number 2 came, life became a whirlwind of appointments, play dates, and sleepless nights.  I couldn't even begin to think about setting aside time for writing.  I instead I continued to keep up with the world through Twitter and Facebook.  For all my random thoughts and ramblings be sure to follow me @AmericanGeekMom.

    Well, life has finally started to slow down (a little) and I think its time to start sharing my thoughts and experiences again.  This time around I want to share what it has been like to raise two little boys in a game filled household.  And let me tell you, my four year old is getting to be quite the little board gamer.  I will be sharing stories, strategies, and freezer meals (You can never have enough of those!) to help keep you sane and free to enjoy the occasional game night yourself!  So, join me as I jump back into sharing my life as a mom, gamer, wife, blogger, and recently inducted MOMS Club President.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tis The Season for Games

Tis the season for family visits. With Thanksgiving this weekend and Christmas fast approaching, you are frantically trying to get things organized.  This year you are hosting and your in-laws are arriving tonight! Grab some games and liven things up a bit.

You start by perusing your game shelves. You may be very tempted to pull out your new copy of Firefly or Nothing Personal, two games you have been itching to play. Then it dawns on you that, while your in-laws are open to trying new things, they have had very little gaming experience. Most of their game play has been limited to the traditional games of your childhood.  The sum of their gaming experience consists of many games of chess, rummy, monopoly and the occasional game of Settlers of Catan. You envision their eyes glazing over as you try desperately to explain the complexities of Malcolm Reynolds and his crew. No, you need to find something you can all enjoy.

Choosing the right game is a very important task, particularly when you are playing with a group that isn't experienced, or has had a poor gaming experience in the past.  Those poor experiences can be very tricky to overcome.

So how do you ensure that this does not happen?

First, choose games that will provide a fun, light experience, and that suit the personalities of the group. If your family and friends find the experience enjoyable, they will be far more likely to want to play again the next time.  If you know that your in-laws prefer mental challenges (you always see them completing the crossword or Sudoku puzzle in the paper), then consider games that stimulate thought like Carcassonne or Ticket to Ride.  If they love word puzzles, try Quiddler, Kerflip!, or Word on the Street. And If they enjoy a more lighthearted type of game with lots of interaction and laughter consider party games such as Time's Up, Cover Your A$$ets, The Princess Bride: Prepare to Die, or (for those families with a more twisted sense of humor) Cards Against Humanity.
Second, look for games with simple, easy to follow rules that still challenge and offer interesting choices and strategies.  This will allow experienced gamers to feel challenged without overwhelming those with less experience.
Third, choose a forgiving game. One that will allow a few mistakes without costing a new player the game. This will help ensure that the experience is enjoyable.  Nothing is worse than losing a game due to a simple mistake that happened at the beginning of the game.  Especially when it is your first time playing.
And finally, Start Slow.  Only introduce one or two new games at your gathering.  By mixing them with games they know and love, you will help ease them into the new game.  Start with a game they love, get them laughing, then introduce the new game.

Even when you make an effort to choose games that fit your group, you may still run into objections.  Some people simply want to stick to tradition.  So when all else fails, grab that copy of Monopoly or Yahtzee.  You'll still be playing a game and at least it's themed out with Star Wars or Dr. Who, right??