San Marcos Board Gamers More fun than you can shake a meeple at


Last Night at Cephas House: 5/11/17

Posted by Chris Aylott

We had some classic games out last night at our Cephas House meetup, including the old Knizia favorite Through the Desert:

Check out the event listing for more pictures, and join us next Thursday night for our next meetup!

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October Meetups and Memberships

Posted by Chris Aylott

Last month wasn't so great for blog posts, but it was a winner for October meetups and memberships!


September Meetup Roundup

Posted by Chris Aylott

New families, new games... it was a busy September meetup at the San Marcos Public Library last week.


August Library Meetup Roundup

Posted by Chris Aylott

We had lots of new faces at our August library meetup! It's great to have new people to play with, and bodes well for the "organization" as we move into the fall of our second year.

It was a good day for current favorites as Roll Through the Ages and Smash Up hit the table. These games hit a sweet spot for the group -- easy to play, easy to teach, with plenty of random silliness and a reasonable number of strategic choices. I'm sure we'll be seeing more of them in the future.

The other side of the room brought out some new-to-us games. I did not get a chance to test out my current prototype-in-progress, so that offense against gamer sensibilities may have to wait for another day. On the other hand, we did get to unleash the mighty fury of Hanabi!

Okay, Hanabi may not actually be furious. However, it is a clever game of communication and cooperation. The group is allegedly working together to put on a fireworks show, which is expressed by putting five colorful suits of cards into the correct order. All you have to do is play and discard cards, but the twist is that you can't actually *see* your own cards. It's Evil Cooperative Indian Poker where everyone sees everyone else's cards and tries to give each other the clues they need to make the right plays.

It's a tricky game, and our scores were mediocre, but we definitely did better in the second game.


The fleet is on the move in Battleship Galaxies

The other new game of the afternoon was Battleship Galaxies. We jumped in the deep end with the four-player scenario, and almost bit off more than we could chew. There are a lot of pieces and a lot of cards, and it was not immediately clear how everything went together. However, the game emerged once we got into the swing of things. When you take away the cards and other exceptions, it's a rather elegant light miniatures game with a simple core loop: gain energy, activate your guys, then move them around and blast stuff.

I especially liked the targeting / defense system, where you roll two dice and compare the coordinates to a grid superimposed over a silhouette of the target ship. Big ships fill lots of the grid and are easy to hit, small ships leave a lot of empty space and get missed a lot. It's incredibly intuitive and a great callback to the original Battleship.

All in all, the August library meetup was a great success. Our next meetup is tomorrow at the Hungry Gamer, and we'll be back at the San Marcos Public Library on September 21. See you there!


Board Game Bash Report

Posted by Chris Aylott

Board Game Bash 2014 was held the first weekend of August, and it was a blast! I saw several members of the San Marcos Board Gamers running around, and I hope they had as much fun as I did.

Jonathan Grabert has been running this convention for several years now, and it's settled into a comfortable routine. Much like the larger BGG Con held up in Dallas in November, the convention is focused on opening up a few large rooms and getting people together to play in them. There are some tournaments and raffles, along with a flea market, a math trade, and a small vendor room, but they all take a firm second place to casual play.

Board Game Bash: games and gamers of several  generations

Board Game Bash: games and gamers of
several generations

That suited my young daughter just fine, and she gently but firmly steered me away from the Dominion tournament I was eyeing so that we could play games that she liked. It's a measure of the convention that she had no trouble finding fun. Board Game Bash is by no means kid-oriented -- almost every attendee is an adult and some of us are getting downright creaky with age. Despite a ten to fifty-year age difference, though, everyone we met at the convention was inclusive and welcoming. This is a convention that knows about the balance between serious play and relaxing fun.

The convention hotel isn't quite as welcoming as the membership, and seems to be getting less so as time goes by. The location has never been fantastic -- several blocks away from the heart of Austin, with few appealing options for food or drink -- and that's particularly noticeable when the hotel begins enforcing corkage rules. This is in no way the fault of the convention staff, which did the best it could with the situation, but it may be time to look at other locations for future conventions.

In the meantime, however, Board Game Bash is a lot of fun. We had a good time playing Splendor, Navegador, Tales of the Arabian Nights, and other games that may appear in a review soon. And once again I had to drag my daughter home to plaintive cries of "Can't we play Werewolf just one more time?" Conventions don't get any better than that.


July Library Meetup Roundup!

Posted by Chris Aylott

We had a special guest at last week's July Library Meetup! Aidan Diaz at the San Marcos Daily Record came by to take some pictures and talk with the group. It's hard to tell if this will turn into a story -- board games are fun, but they're not as dynamic as Lego events or Pearl Harbor veterans flying in biplanes. It's great to be noticed, though, and we'll continue to spread the word however we can.

In the meantime, we had a good time doing our usual activity: playing games! Sopwith was back on the table, with more improvements and upgrades to the models. That set is turning into something spectacular.

Sopwith at our July library meetup

A slightly better look than last month at the coolness
of modded-out Sopwith.

Roll Through the Ages was another popular game this month. I've played this a lot as an iOS app, but this was my first time rolling the dice and building my civilization in the real world. It's a lot harder than that way, and I was forced to ask my daughter to bring her mad dice-rolling skills to my assistance. She helped me build the Great Pyramid in just one turn, but alas! It still wasn't quite enough to catch up.

Other games played included The Duke, Qwirkle, Takenoko, Kingdom Builder, Smash Up, and the only slightly disturbingly over the top Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mt. Skullzfyre. That title says it all, and there's even a completely useless to the game itself but still cool cardboard standup of Mt. Skullzfire:

Who wouldn't want to have an epic battle for this mountain?

Who wouldn't want to have an epic battle
for this mountain?

Weird mountains aside, our July library meetup was a great success! Join us on Sunday, August 17 for our next library meetup, and don't forget our meetup tomorrow night (July 22) at the Hungry Gamer!


Old and New Games at Our June Library Meetup

Posted by Chris Aylott

We had a great turnout at our June library meetup! Lots of Fun People Who Like Games in attendance, lots of games played, and one of our broadest age ranges in both the games and the people.

On the people front, I have to give props to eight-year-old Brandon, who took on the task of learning Smash Up with gusto. I hear he later proclaimed it to be his new favorite game, which is understandable since he got to play Dinosaurs AND Zombies. (He also got in a lot of reading practice figuring out what all the cards did, but he doesn't have to know that games are good for you.)

On the games front, we had several new games hitting the table. I brought in Sail to India, a 2013 entry among the Japanese micro-games that have been making their way across the Pacific. This is a surprisingly deep economic game built around 26 cards and 52 little wooden cubes; I'll have a more detailed review soon.

Eight Minute Empire -- a lot of game in a little box.

Eight Minute Empire -- a lot of game in a little box.

I enjoyed Sail to India, but Eight Minute Empire outshines it in speed and elegance. Designer Ryan Laukat crammed most of the best mechanics from civilization games and area control games into a tiny box and a blazingly fast game. You set up, you buy eight cards and do what they say, and the game is over, but there is a lot to think about in that simple procedure. Eight Minute Empire and its younger brother Eight Minute Empire Legends were played several times over the afternoon, a testament to both its speed and fun value.

I didn't get the camera close enough to do justice to this Sopwith set.

I didn't get the camera close enough to do justice to this Sopwith set.

New games aren't the only games, though. Dominion and Zombie Dice were on the table, but the Old Master of the afternoon was Sopwith, a 1978 game that can claim Air Force / Dauntless, Wings of War, and X-Wing among its descendants. Sopwith has the pre-planned movement, firing arcs, and progressive damage that we've come to expect from flying games and (based on my look-overs from another table), still plays remarkably smoothly for a mid-seventies wargame. It also didn't hurt that the game was beautiful, thanks to David's lovingly constructed miniatures and playing aids.

A good time was had by all at the June library meetup, and there are plenty more to come this summer. Look for our next meetup on July 27, and don't forget our meetups every other Tuesday at the Hungry Gamer!



Racing and Settling at Our May Library Meetup!

Posted by Chris Aylott

We had a great turnout for our May Library meetup, so things were just a little bit cozy when a piano recital put us into the San Marcos Public Library's smaller conference room. That said, the big conference table was the perfect size for the whole group to gather and put down a couple of good-sized games.

On the left side of the table, we had a hard-fought game of Settlers of Catan: Cities and Knights. I saw a lot of cities rising and didn't hear any cries of rage, so I figure the knights were out in full force and the barbarians were kept in check.

Cities & Knights: the serious Settlers variant for serious settlers.

Cities & Knights: the serious Settlers variant
for serious-looking settlers.

Meanwhile, the rest of the group was racing around Monaco in Formula De. This old favorite is a roll and move game with a twist: each of your car's six gears is represented by a different die, from a four-sider with 1s and 2s on it to a thirty-sider with 21 through 30 on it. Players who want to win have to think carefully and hit the right gears in the tricky parts of the track. Players like me just roll and shout and crash a lot.

Three close contenders -- and a crash -- near the end of the race.

Three close contenders -- and a crash -- near the end of the race.

Both games ran fairly long, so the afternoon ended with a quick game of Munchkin: Axe Cop. I joined in and confirmed once again that no, I don't like Munchkin -- but the company was good, and good company can make any game fun. Our next Hungry Gamer meetup is May 27, and our next library meetup is June 22, so come keep us company then!


April Library Meetup Roundup!

Posted by Chris Aylott

The dead were on the loose at our April library meetup! Fortunately, they were the polite sort and let us get in some other games too.

Short and evil were the order of the day early on, as The DukeHey! That's My Fish and Quicksand hit the table. Hey! That's My FIsh has sassy penguin figures and looks like it should be cute and adorable, but it's really a cutthroat game of carving out territory and leaving all the other penguins stranded.

Quicksand is just as vicious -- it's a race game where everybody pretends they're helping each other to the finish line, all the while looking for ways to get their own pawn out ahead and strand the others.

The pawn that will win the game for you is a secret, so there's a bluffing element, and I'm proud to say I had my own daughter fooled all game about which piece I was secretly rooting for. I'm not quite as proud about the fact that my pawn finished near the back of the pack, though.

Fleeing the dead at our April library meetup.

Fleeing the dead at our April library meetup.

Dead Panic was the big game of the afternoon. Its older brother Castle Panic is a local favorite, so we were eager to give this one a try. We were actually a little tripped up by our knowledge of Castle Panic -- the systems are just different enough that knowing the rules of the first game makes it harder to learn the new one.

The first round was a bit of a slog as a result, but the pace picked up as soon as we actually knew what we're doing. It's a fun game with lots of opportunities for roleplaying and zombie mayhem, so I suspect it'll be hitting the table again.

This week is a busy one for the group -- the April library meetup was yesterday and we have more Games at the Hungry Gamer tomorrow! Those Tuesday gatherings are off to a good start -- look for them to happen every couple of weeks, and we'll see you back at the San Marcos Public Library on May 18!


March Meetup Roundup

Posted by Chris Aylott

I'm still having trouble keeping this blog up to date, but there's a good reason for these March meetup notes to be late. The game I've been working on was released worldwide on March 27 -- it's called Star Wars: Assault Team, and you can find it on iTunes and the Google Play store worldwide. It's doing pretty well, but let's get on to the meetup!

We had a great turnout for our March meetup, and some fun games hitting the table. The most offbeat game had to be Kolejka, a Polish game about life in the breadlines in the bad old days of Communist Poland. Each of the players patiently lined up their meeples, then schemed to boot the other players' meeples out of the line so they could get what little was on the shelves. From what I heard at the next table, the game is vicious in all the right ways.

In Soviet Poland, meeples play with YOU!

In Soviet Poland, meeples play with YOU!

Not everyone at our March meetup remembers the Cold War, though. My daughters had brought along their new copy of Sorry, and well... the picture below says it all.

She's not Sorry at all about bumping her daddy back to the start.

She's not sorry at all about bumping her daddy
back to the start.

Other games included Qwirkle, The Duke, Ta YuTrans America, and probably at least one other game that I just don't remember two weeks later. I'll try to do a little better for our April meetup, which is coming up fast. Join us Sunday, April 27 at our usual spot in the San Marcos Public Library -- but watch out for the little girls. They play to win!