The big thing that happened this past week is that I hosted a public game night at a new venue. At EZY Mode I taught a bunch of board games. Up first was Go Cuckoo. This was followed by a game of Gentes Deluxified. I then broke out the 8Bit Box from Iello and we tried all three of the included games. Up next was a couple of games of Blokus. We finished off the night with a five player game of Cinque Terre.
In addition to that gaming event, after our regular Gloomhaven game this past Friday I broke out one of my favourite games from my childhood: Cats. We even live streamed our play of this classic kids game.
I did have one final game this past week. That was playing Go Cuckoo with the entire family at a backyard party at the kids’ music teacher’s house.
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I hosted a board game night at a new venue; EZY Mode eSports Lounge
A few weeks back I started to look for a new local venue to host tabletop game nights. I was looking for somewhere that wasn’t a game store and that served adult beverages. Something that would appeal to a different crowd than we are already getting out to our game nights at the FLGS. I was initially considering a local place that has a huge collection of terrible games on hand for people to play. That didn’t seem to be working out. Seeing that I was looking for a new venue, I was approached by Matt from EZY Mode.
EZY Mode is a new eSports lounge, that only just recently opened up, at the site of the old Tecumseh Tavern on Ottawa Street. They are all about console and PC gaming with a focus on tournament style games. Matt contacted me expressing an interest in branching out beyond digital gaming and potentially getting some tabletop gamers into their new venue. I jumped at this opportunity.
Due to Origins hitting in the middle of last month, it actually took us a bit to get things set up. We decided on the 29th of June for our first event, which was last Saturday. I’m very pleased to say it went very well.
EZY Mode is a great venue for tabletop gaming. It also looks great for digital gaming but that’s not really my jam. What I liked is that they had plenty of tables and chairs. The place was very well lit and there were food and drink options available. Now I will admit the food options were quite limited, only hot dogs and snacks, but that’s something they hope to improve over time. The adult beverage selection was much better, featuring local Walkerville beer on tap as well as a good variety of cans, hard alcohol and coolers.
The other issue with Saturday night was a lack of air conditioning, something that has already been fixed. It just happened a couple days after our event. Next time this won’t be a problem.
Perhaps the best part of gaming at EZY Mode was the fact that they were very happy to have us there. It’s nice to be at a venue that not only gives you the space but is happy to have you there using it.
Things went so well on Saturday that we have decided to make this a recurring event, happening every third Saturday of the month. This means you can expect to hear more about this venue and the games we play there in the coming months.
The great games I taught at EZY Mode:
Go Cuckoo was the first game we broke out at EZY Mode as something to play while waiting for people to show up. We played first with three players and then four. I talked about this game during the Origins Game Fair recap and I’m having just as much fun with it now as we did at the convention. At this point I find it rather ironic that this is part of the Haba “Yellow” line of games meant for kids, and I’ve yet to play it with a single kid. This was another case of playing with adults who were consuming adult beverages. Overall Go Cuckoo has been a big hit.
After this Deanna and I split up. She took over the hosting duties and I sat down to a four player game of Gentes Deluxified. I was teaching three new players, one of which I had never met before. That was one of the best things about this event at EZY Mode, we got some new local gamers out who hadn’t been to any of the other events I’ve run around the city.
Gentes went really well and the newcomer actually managed to beat the rest of us. I continue to enjoy this game a lot and I’m getting better and better at teaching it, which will come in handy at QCC in two weeks.
Up next was something new even for me. Since EZY Mode is a video game cafe I thought this would be the perfect place to break out the 8Bit Box. I received a review copy of this board game system from Iello at Origins. The 8Bit Box itself isn’t a game, it’s the tools to play a variety of different games all trying to capture the feel of classic console video games. Along with the 8Bit Box you get three “cartridges” and we managed to try all three.
Up first for us was a five player game of Outspeed. This is a racing game that uses social deduction as it’s main mechanic. Each round players have to chose between two or three routes to send their racer down. Each route is going to have a mix of costs and benefits, often based on what routes the other players have chosen. Some routes are limited, so that if too many players choose them then no one progresses. I found the game a very interesting way to represent a classic console combat racing game. It worked rather well and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
We followed up Outspeed with Pixoid. This is a four player “Pac-Man” game where each turn one of the player’s plays Pixoid while the other three players play Viruses trying to catch Pixoid in a circuit maze. This particular game took great advantage of using the console controller like player boards to select hidden movement directions and ranges. Pixoid was quite a bit lighter than Outspeed but also proved popular with the people playing. I was impressed at how well this game captured the feel of the classic arcade game.
The last 8Bit Box game we played was Stadium. This game cartridge is trying to recreate the feel of games like Track & Field or Summer Games. This is a team based game where teams of two or three players compete in ten different sporting events. Each event uses a different system for resolution but the entire series of events is all about managing your team’s energy level. We all found the mix of events rather cool. This game really showed off the various different things you can do with the 8Bit Box components.
Overall we had a lot of fun with the 8Bit Box. None of the games are overly engaging, but they are a good mix of quick fun games that do a great job of recreating that video game feel.
After putting the 8Bit Box away, we noticed most of the other players were already tied up in other games. People were playing Terraforming Mars, there was a game of Pandemic: Reign of Cthulhu going down and there was a big group playing The Resistance: Avalon. So to kill some time waiting for other groups to wrap up, I broke out Blokus.
Blokus is one of those rare mass market games that you can find pretty much everywhere that is actually really good. It’s an abstract strategy game that my entire family enjoys and it went over rather well at the event. We played a total of three games with a mix of three and four players. By the end of the night I was left feeling that I need to play Blokus more often. It was even better than in my memory.
At this point in the night the official event was over and most people were heading home. Now the EZY Mode is open until 2am and a small group of us decided to stay for another round of drinks and play one more game. That game was Cinque Terre from Rio Grande Games.
Cinque Terre is a hidden gem gateway game that I personally think is a perfect next step game from Ticket to Ride. It’s all about collecting coloured cards, trading those in to collect various fruits from fields and then delivering these fruits to five different villages in order to fulfill public and private order cards. It has a lot of similar elements to Ticket to Ride and is just as easy to teach while having some really solid decision points during the game. I’m a big fan of this game and it was cool to share it with three people who had not played it before. I’m pretty sure at least one couple will be picking up a copy for bringing to the cottage this summer.
So those were all the games I played at EZY Mode. Besides the games I already mentioned I also saw people playing Azul, Splendor, Gizmos, Gloom, You’ve Got Crabs, and Bang! The Dice Game. It was awesome to see so many different tables of gamers all playing together and playing a wide variety of games.
I’m really looking forward to going back to EZY Mode next month.
We live streamed a game of Cats, one of my favourite games from my childhood
Last week on our Podcast, Sean and I hosted our first ever Ask Us Anything. One of the questions we were asked was about our favourite childhood games, and during that segment I talked a lot about Cats from Chieftain Games. After the show I actually pulled out my old copy of Cats and shared a few pictures on social media. Kat, who plays Gloomhaven with us, saw these pictures and insisted we play this game sometime. I offered to play after our live stream of Gloomhaven on Friday, if we had time. Well we had time, so we did.
Not only did we play, I figured we had the stream all set up for Gloomhaven so we actually live streamed the game. Probably the first and only live stream of Cats you will ever see. For those of you who missed that, don’t worry we will be putting up a slightly edited version on YouTube sometime in the coming weeks.
Cats is a social deduction game where you have a clue like board with a bunch of rooms separated by halls on a 1″ grid. In the middle of each side of the board you will find an object that cats desire and in the middle are five cushions with five different cats on them. At the start of the game each player is secretly assigned one cat and the object that cat desires. Each turn players take exactly four moves. They can move either cats or objects or both, but only two of each type maximum. The goal is to get your cat to their prefered object.
After cats move each turn, players can play Meow cards with the names of the various rooms around the board on them. This causes the cat to rush to that room to see what’s going on, unless someone plays a Purr card which cancels one of these moves. The only other rule is that when a cat passes another cat they can hiss at that cat, moving it back once space. That’s pretty much it.
I’m pleased to say both Kat and Tori were enamoured with Cats. It’s still one of the best games from my childhood. There’s way more game than you would expect. Actual tactics are required and you can learn to play well. Something that was unheard of back in the 80s when this game came out.
It was fun breaking out Cats again, and I think I may just give it to Big G this year for her birthday and we can see if my girls dig this game as I much as I did, or rather as much as I still do.
I finally played Go Cuckoo with my kids and they loved it!
Speaking of my kids, the last game I played this past week was Go Cuckoo. This time I actually played it with my girls.
My kids both take music lessons here in Windsor and this past Sunday their teacher, Kenneth, was hosting a backyard party for all of his students and their families. There was food and drinks and lots of live music as each of his students took turns showing off what they’ve learned in the last year.
While people were still showing up and the music hadn’t started yet, we needed to kill some time. I realized this may happen and had planned ahead by bringing a couple of Haba games, Go Cuckoo being one of them. So as people were arriving and saying hi, we grabbed a spot at a patio table and played a four player game with the girls, Deanna and I.
I’m very happy to say that kids seem to enjoy Go Cuckoo as much as adults. This was my eleventh time playing this kids game but the first time actually playing with kids. A small part of me was worried that the kids may not even enjoy this one, but that was quickly proven to be unfounded. Both the girls took to the game right away. Big G even managed to win our game and since then the kids have asked to play multiple times (always when it’s totally not appropriate to play. “No we can’t bring Go Cuckoo into the Beacon Ale House where we are having dinner”).
At this point I’m expecting that Go Cuckoo may be my 2019 game of the year, which is just shocking given that it’s a game aimed at kids. So far though this game is proving to have near universal appeal. Kids, parents, gamers and non-gamers all seem to dig it.
So that was my very busy #WhatDidYouPlayMondays weekly look back. I can only hope to have more busy weeks like this going forward. How did your last week go? Did you get in any gaming?