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A single mom, raising two boys, living life as it comes

London board gamers

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Game Crawl a huge success

For boardgamers like me, every day is Game Day. For everyone else, there’s International TableTop Day.

To celebrate TableTop Day this year (April 30), I took my Twitter account on the road as part of London’s Game Crawl. A number of local businesses teamed up to create a boardgaming map with various stops on the crawl. These stops featured various activities, such as game demonstrations, tournaments and open tables to play. People were invited to visit as many as they wanted, as each location would be giving out maps that doubled as entry forms to win prizes. The more stops you make, the more chances to win.

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The crowds at each stop along the route showed just how popular board games have come. The back room at The Game Chamber was busy with various groups of people trying new games. They were also ready to demonstrate their unique game of Mario Kart X-Wing. And that’s where I tried Bling Bling Gem Stone — similar to Jenga but beware the pickaxe!

Next up was a quick visit to The Comic Book Collector. The short wait to play Exploding Kittens was well worth it! This game made history when it became the most-backed game in Kickstarter history and was the campaign with the most number of backers, ever. But really, how could you go wrong with kittens . . . and laser pointers . . . and catnip sandwiches . . . and explosives?

Before long, we found ourselves at the Central Library in downtown London. The Game Crawl area was crowded with people — younger families were looking through the titles of free-to-play games, young adults were filling up tables. We sat in on a seven-player game of Mysterium, a co-operative game of ghosts, murder and  . . . psychics? Yup. It reminded me of Clue, an old family favourite, but the people I played with kept comparing it to Dixit, which I’ve never played, but is now added to my must-play list.

We stopped in at Imperial Hobbies and Games, but the tables were full. This was unfortunate, as I was really looking forward to trying Ashes: Rise of the Phoenixborn, one of the demonstrations there.

We watched a game of Blood Rage at L.A. Mood Comics and Games. Definitely something I would look into further!

The Cardboard Cafe was busy as well. Although we were able to grab a table and play Elder Sign, we watched a number of people leave, as there was nowhere left for them to sit down and play. It was disappointing to see tables being used for selling used games, instead of open for walk-in players to use. During Game Crawl, I strongly feel like the day is for playing games and getting the total experience of the various locations — that’s what will bring people back.

Lunch was spent at Uber Cool Games, most likely because they had a food truck situated behind the store! Like, who could pass up Goodah Gastrotruck grilled cheese?!? In the store, there were various game demonstrations — Schmoovie was a fun one. This is where we purchased our THIRD copy of Pandemic Legacy. (Watch for a game review coming soon!) And we *may* have played King of Tokyo while waiting for our lunch 😉

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Honestly, the best part of the day . . . all these places were free to attend! Game on!


REVIEW: LORDS OF WATERDEEP

I have never played Dungeons & Dragons, so seeing that name on the board game cover scared me . . . a little. Lords of Waterdeep takes place in the Dungeons & Dragons setting of the Forgotten Realms. Other than that, this Euro-style strategy game is nothing to be afraid of. It can be easily taught in minutes and takes about an hour to play.

Everyone takes on the role of a powerful Lord with a secret objective. There are simple game phases to this worker-placement game. Players choose to place their agents on buildings or locations. Through those agents, you earn resources or rewards and expand the city by purchasing buildings that open up new actions on the game board.  Resource management allows players to complete quests to earn points (which is the goal of the game). Intrigue cards can be played to help your plan — or hinder the plans of your opponents — with opportunities to gather free resources or to steal resources from other players. This gives the game a very tactical feel.

There is not much ‘luck’ in this game, as it really is more about managing your agents and resources than anything else. The Lord with the most points after 8 rounds of play is declared the winner.

I’ve played with the expansion, Scoundrels of Skullport, which includes three mini game boards, adding more worker placement locations and a corruption track to the game. The corruption mechanic adds very interesting decisions. You may get resources quicker, but with the possibility of losing points at the end of the game if you are holding any corruption tokens. There are ways to remove corruption from the game and score points for having less corruption than your opponents. Will your Lord be more corrupt than your fellow Lords? I’m not sure I would ever play Lords of Waterdeep without the Skullport module again!

This is a game an entire family can enjoy. I’ve played Lords of Waterdeep with both two and four players and it was great fun each time. One of my favourites 🙂

Lords of Waterdeep

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LONDON BOARD GAME CALENDAR

Daily — Cardboard Cafe, opens every day at noon, stay and play for $5, thecardboardcafe.com. Tuesdays are 2 For 2, Stay and Play.

Wednesday to Sunday — Non-stop gaming, including open gaming on Saturdays, at The Game Chamber, thegamechamber.com

Sundays — Open table socials, 12-6 p.m. at No-Dice Games (free to play games), www.no-dice.ca

March 22 — Uber Cool Games Night, 6-10 p.m. at Marienbad Restaurant/Chaucer’s Pub, www.facebook.com/ubercoolstuff

April 30 — London Game Crawl, held at various locations in London during International Tabletop Day. Explore the map! Try new games! Win great prizes!



— Family fun day —

A day of gaming fun for the whole family was recently held in London. Hosted by Forest City Comicon, Uber Cool Stuff, L.A. Mood Comics and Games and Project Play, Family Games Day was held on February 15 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in the basement at Centennial Hall.

There were literally hundreds of board games available to the public, to learn and play, as well as two local vendors set up selling their products. It was very easy to choose age-appropriate games for families with young children or for adults who were gaming with friends. Volunteers were on hand during the Family Day event to help set up games and explain rules to people trying new games.

Not only were there board games for people to play, there was a Lego area for younger children, a giant Carcassonne set to play with and an X-Wing Miniatures battle at the back of the room. Local game creators were in attendance, including Rick Hewson (of 3D XYZ Chess), Tristan and Ethan Mitchell (designers of Rise of the Runesmith) and author Anthony Uyl. London town crier, Bill Paul, was on hand to welcome everyone to the event and a snack bar was also available.

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The event was very similar to Uber Cool Games Nights, where people are invited to learn and play new games at the Cardboard Cafe. The board game cafe allows access to more than 300 games in their library for only $5 a day per person (admission to this event was $5 per person or $10 per family of four).

I thought it was a successful family event, as there were upwards of 200 people when we arrived. It was easy to choose games that we were interested in (Codenames and Carcassonne) and having volunteers help us with set up and explaining rules of the game, made it faster to get started.

For next year’s event, I would suggest setting up the games available to play as soon as you walk in the room. Having vendors immediately as you come through the doors seemed to confuse people looking for games to play. There was no clear signage as to the difference between vendors tables and free-to-play games tables.

But all in all, this is a Family Day event that shouldn’t be missed next year.

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LONDON BOARD GAME CALENDAR

Daily — Cardboard Cafe, opens every day at noon, stay and play for $5, thecardboardcafe.com

Thursdays — London Gamers Meetup group game night, 5-11 p.m. at The Game Chamber, open to everyone (free to play games), thegamechamber.com

Sundays — Open tables at No-Dice Games (free to play games), www.no-dice.ca

March 1 — Uber Cool Games Night, 6-10 p.m. at Marienbad Restaurant/Chaucer’s Pub, www.facebook.com/ubercoolstuff

April 30 — London Game Crawl, held at various locations in London


— Bringing back family game nights — 

Growing up in the early 1980s, I was the biggest fan of Monopoly. My siblings and I would pull it out almost every weekend and fight over who got the race car piece; bet on who would go to jail first; and, of course, we all wanted Boardwalk. That classic board game brought our family together on a regular basis and created some amazing memories.

When my now-teenage boys were young, Monday night was considered Family Game Night. This meant jumping into our pyjamas right after dinner, gathering together back at the table and quickly setting up a game so we could play a few rounds before bedtime. Each week, we would take turns choosing a board game to play, with Candyland, Clue and Monopoly Junior being the favourites. Even Operation guaranteed a night of fun and laughter.

Ten years later, we are still gamers. Granted, the boys spend more time on their iphones and the video game consoles are rarely quiet, but we all enjoy playing tabletop board games together. On a recent games night, we found ourselves reaching for Dominion, Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. The names may have changed, but the excitement of friendly competition and an evening of family entertainment, haven’t.

No matter what games you choose, playing together forces you to spend quality time interacting with your family members in a positive way. Why not start a fun new tradition this year with a family game night?

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REVIEW: TICKET TO RIDE

Build train tracks and ride the rails towards your chosen destination. Ticket to Ride is a cross-country train adventure with simple rules that can be taught in minutes. In family-game territory, Ticket to Ride is recommended for ages eight and up and can be played with 2-5 players. The board shows a map of Canada and U.S., with pre-printed routes to various cities. During each turn, players may choose coloured train car tickets, claim any route on the board with their plastic trains by playing the corresponding number of matching cards, or choose up to three new destination tickets. At the end of the game, if you’ve connected the cities on your destination tickets, you gain points — if not, you get negative points. There’s also a 10 point bonus for the player with the longest continuous set of trains.

Ticket to Ride can be played in about 30 to 60 minutes. It is a great game for families, as it’s incredibly easy to learn and can be taught to any level of board gamer. There’s enough action to keep players engaged, with a variety of strategic and tactical choices at every turn. With simple rules, surprising depth and a little luck, Ticket to Ride is definitely a good choice when planning your family game night.

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LONDON BOARD GAME CALENDAR

Daily — Cardboard Cafe, opens every day at noon, stay and play for $5, thecardboardcafe.com

Thursdays — London Gamers Meetup group game night, 5-11 p.m. at The Game Chamber, open to everyone (free to play games), thegamechamber.com

Sundays — Open tables at No-Dice Games (free to play games), www.no-dice.ca

Feb. 9 — Uber Cool Games Night, 6-10 p.m. at Marienbad Restaurant/Chaucer’s Pub, www.facebook.com/ubercoolstuff

Feb. 15 — Family Games Day, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Centennial Hall, $5 per person or $10 family, www.facebook.com/events/1706302726281898

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