A Place at the Table Blogs

A Place at the Table: Expansions

If you follow the TCBG Instagram (yes, we have an Instagram!), then you will have seen that A Place at the Table recently went on a spring break trip. Number One and I loaded up all the kids and drove them down to visit my parents, Nana and Popsi. While on vacation, we checked out a game store down in Austin Texas. While there, I found an expansion for Terraforming Mars titled Prelude. This is not the first expansion for Terraforming Mars which brings me to the topic for this week’s blog post: Expansions. Are they really needed? What’s the point of them? At what point do we say enough is enough? Keep scrolling through to see my thoughts on expansions.

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A Place at the Table Blogs

A Place at the Table: Earthen Ales

Hello again, gamers! On this edition of A Place at the Table, I thought that I’d introduce you to the owners of Earthen Ales, Jamie and Andrew. Earthen Ales is the local brewery where the Traverse City Board Gamers host their weekly board Game Nights on Sundays. You can find them in the Grand Traverse Commons under the water tower. Let’s get to know them a little better, shall we.

How did you wind up in Traverse City?

Neither one of us is from Michigan, but it’s where we met (and we can’t imagine being anywhere else!) We had a good friend that grew up in the area, and Andrew eventually followed him up to Northport to grow vegetables. We fell in love with northern Michigan and started plotting our move here. It’s a great community and a great beer community.

What is your relationship with board games?

We started playing board games pretty early on in our relationship. We definitely are very competitive with one another. As Kyle likes to point out, we like “classic” board games….Agricola, Dominion, Forbidden Desert, and Tsuro to name a few. Playing a board game, especially in such a digital era, is a way to slow down, engage in intentional conversations, and, of course, stragegize!

Earthen Ales with the iconic water tower on the front lawn.

If you were to make a beer for the TCBG, what would it be?

You guys are a diverse set of drinkers. Obviously, there are lot of fun board game puns we could try…Ticket to Rye comes to mind. If we had to narrow it down to one, probably a sessionable beer. Something you could drink for a couple of hours while playing a longer game. We also particularly enjoy beating Kyle, so maybe Kyle’s Folly. We’re thinking a dry-hopped session pale ale with Galaxy hops. You guys have played a lot of Terraforming Mars lately, so Galaxy hops seems appropriate.

If you had the chance to sit down and play a game with us, what game would we play?

We’ve sat down and played a few games with the TCBG before! We really enjoy Dominion. It’s a fast paced game that is easy to pick up and is easy to change up. You can easily play the same set of cards, but challenge yourself to try different strategies. Or you can completely change the card set up for a totally different game. It’s a good mix of luck and strategy. Recently, we’ve been exploring Dominion Nocturne which introduces some new mechanics.

There you have it, gamers. The next time you find yourself under the water tower (and you really should find yourself under the water tower at least once), stop by and have a pint of beer. Earthen Ales always seems to have some event lined up, so there is something for everyone. Make sure to stop by some time when they have The Cheese Lady in house making grilled cheese sandwiches. I hear they sold out quickly the last time that event happened.

A Place at the Table Blogs

A Place at the Table: Board Games at School

Today, we have a guest writer for A Place at the Table. My teenager, Janeway, has written about an experience she had on a group project at school.

Captain’s log. Stardate 72634.4. Janeway here. I know my mom has mentioned my a few times and already done a piece on who we all are, so let’s get to the point of this. I’m currently in Econ in high school. We recently had to make a board game covering everything we’ve learned so far, as a way to study for an upcoming test. I was ecstatic; after all, I’ve played a good deal of board games and had a great idea for a worker placement game. My partners, however, shot me down by saying it’d be too hard. After two days of arguing, we split the group, and I made the worker placement game. Everyone else had made a Monopoly style game or some other variation of rolling a dice and moving along a path. Every single one.

Now, I’m not saying those types of games are “inferior” to worker placement games. A lot of people had really good games, and I’m up for playing Life now and again. But with a “roll-and-move” type of game, you can’t choose what to do. You have no control over the outcome of the game. And you don’t have to apply the concepts that you’re trying to learn. You could play one of the poorer made games from my class and walk away not knowing anything about economics. But when you have to place your meeple, and decide how to use your money, you can understand the concepts a lot better. You can see how your choices determine the outcome. It makes sense when you can see what’s going on, rather than just reading it off a card.

Not only can these games be suited for studying, but they’re also really fun. The worst part, aside from my group not wanting to go out on a limb with a new idea, was that no one knew what I was talking about when I was giving examples from other games. Terraforming Mars, Lords of Waterdeep, even Ticket to Ride, no one had heard of them. NO ONE in my class, not even my teacher, knew what these games were. I’ve played these games so many times, that it’s just mind-boggling that no one knows about them. Please, feel free to bring your kids, your teens, and their friends to game night. It gets lonely having no one within a 15 year age range of myself. And, hey, maybe it’ll help them get some extra credit on the next board game they have to do in class. Janeway out.

Blogs Board Game Diary

Board Game Diary: The Success of Kickstarter

Dear Board Game Diary,

Love is the only word I can use to describe that feeling of Kickstarter. From start to finish, each Kickstarter project has an ever churning level of excitement and anticipation. I’m not the only one, as many games have found massive success through this platform: Scythe, Blood Rage, Rising Sun, Exploding Kittens, and Gloomhaven are among the most elite of Kickstarters. In fact, the top 10 most funded board games on Kickstarter have raised over 61 million dollars with many games nipping at their heels. Last year, 2337 games were successfully funded through Kickstarter. The amount of money this community can muster through its passion is staggering!

This drives my question of why. Why do these Kickstarter projects find so much success? What elements of the human psyche are coming into play here? There must be some reason for these seemingly endless supplies of cash.

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A Place at the Table Blogs

A Place at the Table: Janeway

Today’s introduction is another board gamer who is near and dear to my heart. We’ve already met Number One. So, today, let’s get to know Janeway a little bit better. Around here, I call her Janeway, but at home, she is Abby.

Abby sticking up the competition.

What is your favorite board game, and what do you like about it?

Sheriff of Nottingham because it is fun to mess with people like Kyle. Kittens in the Blender for the same reason.

Have you learned anything from playing board games?

That you have to think ahead when you are trying to solve a problem because something may come up that will affect your initial plan.

Do you ever feel that people underestimate you because you are a teenager when they play board games with you?

Yes. Especially if it is someone that I’ve never met or played a game with. I use it to my advantage like holding on to my good cards and act like I don’t totally know what I’m doing, and once they are complacent, I’ll start playing all of my good cards.

Abby with some of the family. (Left)

What is your favorite thing about playing board games with the Traverse City Board Gamers?

Kyle has such a wide variety of games to play, and messing with Kyle because his reactions are so great.

What type of gamer are you?

I think I’m like Eric in that I like to mess with people, but I don’t think I’m as good as he is. I’m not totally out to get people but I do like to mess with them.

What is your greatest achievement in board games?

Probably a time that I’ve beaten Eric.

Where would you like to see TCBG go in the future?

Having more kids and teenagers involved in game night.

A Place at the Table Blogs

A Place at the Table: Board Game Cafés

Good afternoon board gamers! I was sitting at home the other trying to decide what I wanted to write about. I started thinking about newer trends in board gaming. One of the trends that came to mind is board game
cafés. Since I’m not familiar with board game cafés, I reached out to some online friends who either already own and operate a board game
café, Kathleen Miller of House Rules in Hudson, NY, or are in the process of starting a board game café, Bill Giles of The Innkeeper’s Table. This blog may be a little longer than normal, but I hope you will find it interesting.

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Blogs New to the Table Reviews

New to the Table – Keyforge: Call of the Archons

The universe is expansive and endless with a diverse set of occupying lifeforms. In the center of this universe lays the Crucible, an artificial planet pieced together with the remains of innumerable other planets. Archons, god-like occupants of the Crucible, find themselves in an endless struggle to unlock the untold knowledge and power of the Vault: a hidden storage facility within the Crucible. These Archons, in their struggle, control a group of pieced together factions that inhabit the Crucible in there quest to unlock this hidden Vault. Intrigued yet?

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A Place at the Table Blogs

A Place at the Table: Josiah

The Traverse City Board Gamers is a fairly diverse group. We have members of all playing strengths and all ages. Our youngest players are in their teens. Today’s introduction is one of these younger members, Josiah. Josiah first started attending game nights with his dad, Matthew, in 2017. We have all enjoyed playing with the both of them since they started attending. Without further ado, let’s introduce Josiah.

Josiah carefully considering his opponent.

What is your favorite board game, and why is it your favorite board game?

Terraforming Mars is my favorite. I love how complicated it is. You can use a different strategy every time you play because there are so many different variables.

What have you learned from playing board games?

I’m sure that I’ve learned a lot, but I find it hard to explain off the top of my head. I’ve learned mostly strategies like resource management, negotiating with others, and also how to bluff.

Author’s note: Resource management often happens over several rounds, so I’d say that this teaches planning ahead. And negotiating with others is a useful skill for the future in job interviews and other situations.

Do you ever feel like people underestimate you when playing games with you because you are a teenager?

Yes. I find that it happens most with people who I’ve never played with before. It used to happen more often last year when I was shorter.

This blogger can attest to the fact that new gamers have underestimated Josiah when it comes to Terraforming Mars. They think that because he is a teenager, he won’t know what he is doing or that they can attempt to pull the wool over his eyes. It’s quite satisfying to watch Josiah beat the pants off these people. All it takes is one game with Josiah, and gamers realize that he is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to board games.

Always be cautious when challenging Josiah at his favorite game.

What is your favorite thing about playing games with TCBG?

I often get to play games that are new to me. And there are some really nice people in the group.

It is always fun to play with Josiah and the other younger members of our group. They often provide a new perspective on the game. And sometimes, they come up with strategies that would have never occurred to me. If you happen to find yourself in Traverse City, and you’ve got some teenagers with you, please stop by. We’d love to play games with them.  

A Place at the Table Blogs 2

A Place at the Table: Bugs in the Kitchen

Recently, we’ve had a small infestation in our house. We’ve got Bugs in the Kitchen. Have no fear, board gamers, it is nothing to fear. No, I’m not talking about cockroaches or silverfish invading my kitchen. I’m talking about the Ravensburger game Bugs in the Kitchen.

Sometime right around Christmas, Peep saw an ad for Bugs in the Kitchen somewhere (most likely when Number One was watching something board game related on YouTube). This game became the only thing that Peep wanted. Number One and I had already purchased all of his Christmas presents. We told him that if he really wanted the game then he could save his allowance to buy the game himself.

My Little Peep

Peep gets $4 every two weeks, and his goal was to save $20. Now, for anyone who has any experience with preschoolers, you will know that $20 is a huge amount to someone who is 4. We set up a chart so that Peep could track his savings.

Peep saved up his allowances. He cashed in all of the coins in his piggy bank. He practiced his letters by writing a letter to his Nana and asking if she would help him reach his goal. She did, and the $5 from Nana put him over his goal. We ordered the game for him and then it was a long wait for it to arrive.

When the box was delivered, Peep was beside himself with joy, and he immediately wanted to play. And we’ve been playing Bugs in the Kitchen ever since. We are actually on our second hexbug for the game.

Bugs in the Kitchen game board

This was Peep’s first big savings goal. And it was the very first game that he purchased all by himself. This was a pretty big event for our house. Being a homeschool family, we use anything and everything to teach skills. Bugs in the Kitchen has been a tool for us to teach Peep about things like taking turns and having good sportsmanship. He is also learning to plan ahead. In Bugs in the Kitchen, you turn little forks, spoons, and knives to create a path to direct the bug into your kitchen. Peep has to look at the board and figure out which path will get the bug into his kitchen the fastest. But, the other players are also trying to direct the bug into their kitchens, so spoons and forks are turning every which way. Peep is getting very good at figuring out which utensil will block other players kitchen. He’s starting to take after his father when it comes to board games.

Playing board games has benefits for children. We will delve into those at a later time, but I just wanted to share the big event that has been taking over our kitchen and lives.