Ashland Fun and Games is the hub of the gaming community of Northern Wisconsin. We also proudly carry the largest selection of family games, party games, educational games, role-playing games, and collectible games in the Northland.

Please come by and use our large gameroom and try out a board game, play in a Magic tournament, or just meet other game enthusiasts in the area!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A Salmon Slappin' Good Time

Secret Game Night recap - 7/5
We play board games every Tuesday night at Ashland Fun and Games at 7:30pm. We call it Secret Game Night because it’s outside of the store’s regular hours, but anyone is welcome to come down and play some games with us.
We had 19 people at various parts of the night, and it was truly one of the sillier game nights we've had in awhile, and we had a nice group of younger players joining us for the first hour or so tonight, ranging from ages 5 to 10.  

The kids started off with Coconuts, a dexterity game from Mayday Games.  In the gaming hobby, there is always talk of good "gateway games".  These are the games that you want to introduce your non-gamer friends to that typically have fast play, easy to learn rules, and of course are fun and addictive.  I think Coconuts is my go-to gateway game for kids 8 and younger. You get to fling little rubber coconuts across the table using an adorable plastic monkey.  That's pretty much it and that's pretty much all it needs to be.  

Next the kids and grown-ups got together to play a couple of crazy, run around the table type games in Happy Salmon and Dancing Eggs.  We introduced Happy Salmon to our game night last week to rave reviews, and the kids seemed to have just as fun as the adults this week.  Dancing Eggs is a game where players end up holding rubber eggs in awkward places (under the chin, between the knees, in the armpit, etc) and then trying to do things like race around the table.  You typically look ridiculous trying to do so, which makes for some great laughs.  So if you had to decide between the two, which would I recommend?  Happy Salmon is cheaper, faster, and requires less rules explanation while generating about as many laughs.  Both are good, but I think Happy Salmon gets the nod for now.

While the kids were working up a sweat running around one table, the next table over had some adults playing the copy of Girl Talk: One Direction Edition I found at Goodwill. The game tries to encapsulate the fun of a sleepover and does a pretty knock up job.  Maybe some of the other attendees have some Snapchat pics of the players having to do sit-ups as a dare, or having to bark like a dog for 10 seconds.  Now, whether they were just being funny in an ironic way or if they were secretly glad they could finally show off some One Direction trivia they secretly knew is undetermined.  

After the younguns went home and I was able to tear away a fourth player from Girl Talk, we began the featured game of Quadropolis.  This is a new game by Days of Wonder, which is a publisher known for releasing very few games but they all tend to be excellent.  Quadropolis is a city building game, using building tiles that score points in a variety of ways, like the apartment buildings that score more points the higher you stack them or factories that score points if you manage to put them next to harbors.  The best part of the game is the manner in which players acquire and place these tiles, which is also happens to be the most terrible part of the game as well.  All tiles are placed on a 5x5 grid.  Everyone has "architect" tiles labeled 1-4.  Players then take turns placing their architect either next to a left/right row or next to a up/down column of tiles.  If you use your #3 architect and place it by a row, you take the third tile in that row.  Then you place it on your personal city tile in either the #3 column or the #3 row.  It's very simple and unique - but maddening!  It's often dizzying when you see the exact tile on the 5x5 grid that you need to score points, and then forget that the number on your architect that you used to get said tile doesn't match an area on your city space where you want it.  The game pretty much held my hand throughout this first game, and I definitely had a few "ah ha!" moments when the game started to make sense.  Unfortunately those moments also made me realize I was losing.  Still, it's a very slick design and I'm sure I'll be talking about it more in the future.  

While our group was building up cities, the next table over was destroying them while playing "Terror in Meeple City".  This game has been a favorite of several game night regulars, and if your collection is missing some sort of dexterity game, definitely give it a look.  

Telestrations made an appearance too!  Talk about a game that never disappoints.  I still think Pictomania is my favorite drawing game, but Telestrations has the advantage of being a filler game and perhaps one of the best icebreaker/party games out there.

Finally we closed out the night with another few tries at Escape from the Aliens in Outerspace.  This may turn out to be the most requested game of 2016.  Hidden roles, hidden movements, eating your buddies, waving to your buddies as you blast off in an escape pod...what's not to like?
Next week the store will not be available on Tuesday night so we'll have our first official "Away Games" week.  The location is still being determined but I think this might be a fun thing to do periodically.  In the mean time, happy gaming!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Secret Game Night recap - 6/28

Secret Game Night recap - 6/28
We play board games every Tuesday night at Ashland Fun and Games at 7:30pm. We call it Secret Game Night because it’s outside of the store’s regular hours, but anyone is welcome to come down and play some games with us.
We had 11 people play this week, including Davis and Shiloh who both happened to be in town and Caleb who played with us for the first time.

We started off with a big game of 2016 Spiel Des Jahres nominee, Codenames. This is a really nice game and definitely deserves it’s place as one of the top games of the year, but it fell kind of flat tonight. I personally had fun, we all laughed and joked a lot, and everyone was pretty involved, yet I was ready to move on after playing just three rounds of it. Maybe it was because of the game’s problem with analysis paralysis, or maybe we had too many people playing. Party games like these are best when you can start to think like, and get on the same “wave length” as your friends around the table. If I had to pick, I would probably go with Dixit or the upcoming Hive Mind game to achieve that “get inside someone’ else’s head” kind of fun. I’m still going to recommend this game as one of the best party games on the market, but I think it serves better for a more icebreaker/cerebral party game experience than a social one.

I played a 5-player game of Machi Koro next. After playing Machi Koro a ton when it first came out, this was actually the first time I got it to the table in 2016. It really does it’s job well as a light gateway game that is just satisfying enough to keep someone with a mid-weight preference engaged. This game is great for families with kids 8+, or casual gamers who are looking for their first foray into board game collecting. The most obvious comparison is Settlers of Catan, and I could definitely see someone going with Machi Koro because of the theme and quirky artwork.

We had a little time to wait for the next game to get setup so I took the opportunity to break out Tem-Purr-A again as a filler game. Tem-Purr-A is very cute push your luck/faux trick taking game with a theme of cats eating sushi. This was actually my favorite experience with the game and I think it’s earned a place among the micro games we stock. The theme alone will be a big enough selling point for some people.

I wrapped up the night with a few games of Escape from the Aliens in Outerspace. This game has been a hit lately. It’s certainly not perfect, but when the game works it is excellent. Our first game was a bit of a clunker as we just had an unusual run of white cards being drawn and very little information for the aliens to go off of. Game two we had a hilarious ending where both humans coincidentally entered the same unsafe area and both drew red cards. Both were immediately eaten by the aliens from the same attack. Game three was the best. It was a cat and mouse game before the aliens finally got Jackson, leaving Luke as the only human. Luke turtled around the bottom of the map, waiting to make his move. Jackson, now an alien, made a guess as to where Luke was hiding and found…another alien, eliminating him from the game. Luke had almost gotten away, but was sadly eaten just one space away from his escape pod. There’s a lot to like with this game. Unlike most hidden movement games, everyone gets to have fun secretly moving around the map. Also, games like Fury of Dracula and Letters from Whitechapel take about 2-4 hours to play, you can get several games in of Escape from the Aliens in Outerspace in one hour, depending on player count.

Other players got in a game of Puerto Rico, and closed out the night with a rambunctious game of Happy Salmon. This was probably the game of the night, judging by the laughter and by how many people immediately asked if we had any copies in stock. I think I had almost as much fun watching them play as I would have if I played myself. Almost. Next time I will be the happiest salmon.
Happy gaming!