Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Board Game Review: Bananagrams

To be fair, this isn't really a board game, as there's no board. The game equipment consists entirely of 144 letter tiles and a banana-shaped zipper bag in which they are all stored. Even so, it's a lot of fun, and I'm going to review it for you now.

For starters, we have the statistics

Strategy: 2
Randomness: 4
Complexity: 1
Humour: None
Attractiveness: Useful
Expected Length of Game Play: around fifteen minutes.

The game is amazingly simple. All the letters are placed face down in the centre of the play area. Each player takes some tiles (the number depends on how many players there are). Someone calls 'Split!' and all players turn over their tiles. Each player uses his tiles independently and simultaneously to create a crossword-style grid of words. When a player uses the last of his tiles, he calls 'Peel,' and all players take another tile from the centre. If you have a tile you don't like, you can return it in exchange for three new tiles.

Once there are more players than tiles remaining in the centre, the first person to use his last tile calls 'Bananas!' The other players then get to inspect his grid. If there are any errors (proper nouns, misspelled words, non-words, &c.), that player is out and the remaining players continue. If there are no errors, he wins that round.

That's all there is to it.

This game is fun and easy, and best of all, amazingly portable. The bag containing all the tiles can easily be carried with you, and in fact, one of the rules variants is designed to keep you entertained at a restaurant while waiting for your food!

If you want to try it before you buy it (and I recommend that you buy it; it's a worthwhile investment!), there is a facebook application that excellently models the physical game.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Google Wave

Hello and welcome to another installment of the Game Dork's Gaming Corner. First, a quick note: I'm sorry it's been two months since I last updated this blog. I recently got a new job which has been taking up a large quantity of my time and the vast majority of my energy. Every time I sit at the computer, I think to myself, I should update my blog. But I just don't have the mental energy to think of something to say. So, for that reason, I'm going to change the way I update this. It's not going to be an 'every Sunday' activity. I will update this blog when I have something to say. Hopefully that will be roughly once a week, but probably not. Just be aware. It may be easier for you to use the RSS feed or to use your Google account to follow me. That way, when I update, you know, without having to come here to check for yourself.

Now, on to the actual post. I have recently been able to get on the test version of Google Wave. This excites me because I read an article about gaming on the Wave. I have managed to find some people who are interested in trying this with me, so hopefully once everyone has activated their Google account and shared their contact information, we can begin the preliminary details of deciding exactly which game we're playing, agreeing on ground rules, and character creation.

What really amazes me about this is how some people, especially some of the more hard-core gaming fanatics that I know, are opposed to the idea of gaming on Wave. I mentioned on Facebook that I was trying to get people to join me for a play-by-email game on Wave. This seems remarkably obvious to me, since Wave allows for easier organisation of the emails in the gaming thread, messages to specific people in the same thread, and simple and easy integration of images and other objects within the messages themselves.

So imagine my surprise when one of my friends replies, 'Google wave seems like it would be a better tool for prep and between game stuff.' Perhaps he's suggesting that PBeM is not as viable as in-person tabletop gaming (which, honestly, I'd prefer, but I have to take what I can get). But it really sounds to me like he's suggesting that Wave would not work as well as regular email for PBeM games. Which seems silly to me.

Anyway, I think the potential for Wave in gaming is incredible, and hopefully I'll be able to share the results of my experiments here at some point in the near future. Incidentally, if anyone else is interested (or even if you just want an invite), let me know. Maybe we can work something out.