Some little stories from recent boardgaming...
I played Mystery Rummy: Al Capone and the Chicago Underworld with my family. The Al Capone cards in this game are the hardest to collect a full set of. There are eight of them. However if you manage to complete the set, you can potentially shut your opponent out, i.e. deny him of scoring points, for that particular hand. When we played, Chen Rui (8) was particularly obsessed with Al Capone. Once she played an Agent Meeting card to fish for an Al Capone card from other players. She managed to get one. As we waited for her to lay down a meld (of three cards), she discarded a card to signal the end of her turn. Michelle (her teammate - we played partnership rules) asked what are you doing??! It turned out that Chen Rui only had one Al Capone card when she tried to fish for one more. We had all assumed she already had two, and needed a third to form a meld.
Chen Rui plays how she likes, which is not necessarily the most logical way if you are trying to win. But then who is to say that is wrong if she enjoys it that way? Maybe we as adults can learning something from her.
I was quite intrigued by Kobayakawa and eventually decided to buy a copy. I tried it with my family (i.e. non-gamers). When playing only with the kids (10 and 8), they tended to think less (much less than I did when I played with other gamers), and that turned the game into a luck-heavy microgame. Later when my wife Michelle joined us, everyone started putting some thought into the decisions, which brought some strategy back. The children still tended to be impetuous, deciding to place bets most of the time. They went bankrupt quite easily. One particular round was quite funny. I had the 3, a very low card, and the Kobayakawa was a 14, a very high card. If my 3 was the lowest card (highly likely), I would gain the Kobayakawa bonus which would guarantee my victory. So of course I placed my bet. Both Chen Rui and Michelle decided to bet too, and I was secretly filled with glee - that meant more winnings for me. To my surprise, my 3 turned out to be the largest card! Chen Rui had a 2, and Michelle a 1. What are the odds?!
One afternoon when I was napping, the children helped themselves to some games - Love Letter and Spot It. I learned of it much later that day, and I was pleasantly surprised. I was proud and happy. This would sound silly to normal parents. I'm a gamer parent, and my children choosing boardgames over the iPad or TV means a lot to me. I don't harbour hopes that they will become gamers. They don't follow boardgame news like I do. They don't keep an eye out for new boardgames. They don't even ask to play boardgames all that often. They have no ideas about game designers or game publishers. I am contented enough that they enjoy playing boardgames. That's what matters most.
Something funny happened in one of our games of Love Letter. On Chen Rui's turn, she had an 8 and a 6 in hand. The 8 could not be played (else you'd be eliminated) so she could only play the 6. The special ability of the 6 was to swap cards with another player. Chen Rui chose Michelle. She gave the 8 to Michelle. When she saw the card she received from Michelle, which was a 1, she started laughing evilly. A 1 can be used to guess the card of another player, and if the guess is correct, that player is eliminated. Now that Michelle had an 8, no matter what card she drew when her turn came, she must play that new card, and the 8 would stay in her hand. So by the time Chen Rui's turn came around again, she would be able to use the 1 to correctly guess the 8 in Michelle's hand. Michelle was cornered!
Then something unexpected happened. On Michelle's turn, she drew a 1 herself! Since she had just given another 1 to Chen Rui, she knew what Chen Rui's card was. It was Chen Rui who was eliminated instead. What a dramatic turn of events! One good reason to love Love Letter.
Lately I have been gaming in a passive mode. I seldom think of what games to play before game night. I just show up and play whatever others suggest. This worked out well for me. I got to try some nice games which I would not have played otherwise, since they were not on my radar, or not on my to-do list. It was also nice to be lazy for a while, not reading rules, making reference sheets or teaching games. I am a lucky person. This wouldn't work if you're the only hardcore guy in your group. I am surrounded mostly by hardcore guys in my regular group.