22 Jun 2014. It had been a long time since Michelle and I last played Carcassonne, and it was like catching up with a dear old friend. This game used to be very heavily played when boardgames first became my hobby. This was a little surprising, because prior to that when I only played boardgames sporadically, I used to think the best boardgames were those like Axis & Allies and Samurai Swords. I didn't know about German games or more complex wargames then. Even when I first played Carcassonne, I wasn't particularly taken to it. I found it rather simple, and also a little weird, because I hadn't been exposed to German games. However after I bought it, Michelle and I played it more and more. Michelle was willing to play frequently because it wasn't a game about war or fighting. So I should thank Carcassonne for turning boardgames into my hobby - something I do every week, not a few times per year like with Axis & Allies.
My copy of Carcassonne contains the Inns & Cathedrals expansion and the Abbey and Mayor expansion, plus a few other smaller ones that came with magazines or were gifts from friends. I've lost track of the smaller ones. In this photo you can see the barn (large house-like piece) which is part of the Abbey and Mayor expansion.
Michelle beat me by 3 points! 203:200.
28 Jul 2014. During the Raya break I also played Pickomino with the children. Shee Yun (9) was considering her options very solemnly. I find that the children tend to be more conservative, and are willing to take a worm die result even when there is just one worm rolled. I tend to be greedier and I usually pick another number, hoping to roll more worms on the next roll. My policy might not be the best one though. I don't do all that well in this game.
Chun Rui (7) likes this game and sometimes requests for it, and she does well. I'm not sure whether she's just lucky, or she really instinctively gets the strategy.
Look at that stack of tiles next to Chen Rui. She already has four. The game is ending soon - there are only two face-up tiles at the centre of the table. The rest have all been turned face-down due to failed attempts to claim tiles.
She gets five 2's, which is not good - you want big numbers (a worm has a value of 5). Thankfully she has one 1, which she can choose to lock, and then she can reroll all those 2's and hope for something better.
The tiles on the left are Chen Rui's - 9pts. The tile on the right is Shee Yun's - 1pt. I scored 3pts.
After that we played Viva Topo!. This is a children's game, and it is truly a risk management game. Just don't use this term to sell the game to parents or to children. You have four mice and you use them to claim as much cheese as possible. They move by die roll, and the bigger pieces of cheese are always further away. There is a cat coming after the mice. Any mice caught before they can claim any cheese will have to leave empty-handed. The risk management comes in how far you want to move your mice towards the bigger pieces of cheese, and whether you should just grab the smaller pieces before you get caught. You are gambling on how much time your mice have before the cat catches up with them.
This was the early game, and many mice were still sneaking behind the cat. Eventually the cat will go around the track and chase the mice from behind. In the later part of the game, the cat will move more quickly - two steps at a time instead of just one. So the game builds up to a climax. When I play this with the children, they tend to want to help all their mice equally, while I try to focus on only some of them and I aim for the big pieces of cheese. In a game where the cat moves quickly, trying to move all mice can be disastrous and yield low returns.