Each month the podcast crew takes an episode to talk about their gaming highlights for the month. It’s one of my favorite episodes because I don’t often get to game with them, so hearing about their exploits helps me keep in touch with what they’re playing. So, I thought that for this post I’d hit some of my gaming highlights for the summer.
My first gaming highlight is actually a series of them. At the end of July, we headed to Utah for a couple of weeks. My in-laws were having a family reunion at Bear Lake. The first night, I broke away for a bit to go hang with the Meeple Nation crew at HQ. While the game we played wasn’t a huge favorite, it was made better by being able to hang with Nathan, Andy and one of his daughters, and Doug.
The next night, the family played games at the rented cabin. I taught one of my sisters-in-law and her daughters how to play Love Letter, while my wife taught some other family members The City. While playing, the power went out. Without missing a beat, we pulled out our phones to use as flashlights, and someone in the other game wedged their phone in the chandelier so they could see the table, and we continued playing. An interesting experience, to be sure, and yet another reason why I like small games.
A couple of weeks later, my family had a reunion. Now, this being my family, we had a lot fewer planned activities, and we largely ended up hanging at the family cabin and playing games. I introduced some of my brothers and nieces and nephews to Mystic Vale, which was a huge hit. Mystic Vale is a card crafting game where you use transparent inserts to modify the abilities of a card, rather than adding new cards to your deck. It also has a fun “push your luck” component to how you prepare to take your turn. We probably played a half a dozen games over a couple of days. Another game that was a hit was Splendor. One of my nieces picked up the game very quickly, despite being only eight years old. She loved the game, and was pretty dominant. Another fun memory was the Jeopardy game that we put together that had some family history elements to it. We formed family teams and had a lot of fun. My sister-in-law, Shawna J.C. Tenney, was hard at work most of the reunion. She has been the artist on a few games, and was working on a new game that will be showing up on Kickstarter in November. It was interesting to see her work, and learn how she goes about creating artwork for a game.
About a month later, I once again left Washington for Utah. This time I was headed down to attend Saltcon End of Summer. Now, I should point out that I generally dislike long drives, especially when I’ll only be at my destination for a short time. My wife, knowing this, assumed that I was going to fly and asked me when she would need to take me to the airport. But I had looked at the cost of flights and decided that it was significantly cheaper for me to drive, so I decided to bite the bullet. Spoiler alert, this decision will come back to haunt me. My intent when I left was to join the Meeple Nation crew at HQ for our usual pre-Saltcon gaming. However, the trip did not go according to plan. After traveling for a couple of hours, I stopped for lunch in La Grande, Oregon. When I went to got back on I-8, I found the on-ramp closed. Turns out there was a fire along the freeway and they had closed Eastbound I-84. It wasn’t clear then how far it was closed, so I decided to figure out an alternate route down to Baker City where I would try to get on the freeway. That plan worked up to a point. I was able to get to Baker City, but
unfortunately, found the freeway closed there as well. Google helpfully sent me on a different route that paralleled the freeway, but that too turned out to be closed. After looking at the map, talking with the workers at the gas station I stopped at, and other travelers, I had two choices: sit in Baker City and wait for the freeway to open, or take a route that would add three and a half hours travel time to my trip. I chose adventure and headed out. The route took me through Easter, Oregon, and into Hells Canyon in Idaho. Very pretty drive, with some very winding roads, and no promise that this was the right choice. If the freeway opened shortly after I left, I’d lose time. I eventually made it to Boise where I learned that the freeway had opened about an hour before I arrived, so it turned out to be a good move. But the delays meant that there was no chance I’d make it to games that night. In fact, I got to my hotel after 1:00 am, some 13 hours of travel time. But, the trip was definitely worth it. Hanging out with Meeple Nation and the HUGG ladies was a blast. I had the opportunity to run a couple of games: Formula D and Dungeon Fighter, which were a lot of fun. Probably my favorite game that I played was Return to Dark Tower. That tower is amazing! I liked it so much that I jumped in to back the recent kickstarter when they opened up late pledges. Another highlight was to play one of the games that my sister-in-law worked on: Creature Comforts. I don’t know how I missed that one last year, I normally back everything she works on. I’m hoping that when the next installment in that franchise comes out that they’ll have a pledge level that gets the original game as well as the new one. The game was a lot of fun, but it’s one of those kinds of games that I struggle with. There are so many shiny things to focus on, and I end up trying to do a little bit of everything and spread myself too thin.
All in all, a fun summer, lots of board games, lots of time with family and friends. My one regret is that I have struggled to get my monthly game groups together, which is a constant battle in the summer. So, what were your summer gaming highlights?