Game Night

Game Night – September 2nd-9th, 2018

Unboxing the Blog



We have lots to unpack here so let us dive right into it.

This Game Night Review will feature a new segment.  David Noller, a T.C.B.G. veteran, brings his writing to the table with a segment called “Next Time with Noller”.  This Game Night segment, Noller will dive into what it means to enjoy a game and a gaming experience.

Eric Benac is back again this review with The Benac Briefing.  He gives his opinion on what it takes to run a successful game night of your own.

I have a review for Outlive for your reading pleasure.  A post-apocalyptic worker placement game with a little something extra that will have players coming back for more.

We wrap things up here with a statistical review of August 2018.  Who came out on top?  Which game should I be looking for next month?

All of this in the following Game Night Review.



Games Played


September 2nd, 2018








September 2nd, 2018







September 2nd, 2018





September 2nd, 2018




Ticket to Ride

September 2nd, 2018




Between Two Cities

September 2nd, 2018




My Little Scythe

September 2nd, 2018





Jurassic Park: Danger

September 2nd, 2018





Artifacts Inc.

September 4th, 2018





September 5th, 2018





September 9th, 2018






Tides of Madness

September 9th, 2018








September 9th, 2018





September 9th, 2018





September 9th, 2018




Sushi Go Party!

September 9th, 2018




Animal Upon Animal

September 9th, 2018





September 9th, 2018





September 9th, 2018





September 9th, 2018




For Sale

September 9th, 2018





September 9th, 2018





September 9th, 2018







Total Plays –  1

Total Players Played –  3

First Played –  Sept 5th, 2018

Top Ranked Player –  Eric Homminga (1 Wins, 100% Win Percentage)

Top Score –  Eric Homminga (44 Points)

Most Total Plays –  Eric Homminga, Kyle Delgado, and David Noller (1 Plays)










What is the obsession with post-apocalyptic themes in media?

This obsession isn’t new.  TV and movies have swarmed the topic using a multitude of earth-shattering events.  Zombies, disease, mega-corporations, asteroids, weather, nuclear war, and dragons (yes, dragons) have all threatened mankind existence.  

Why bring this up?  

Last week, I was able to see one version of mankind’s destruction brought to the tabletop.  This was Outlive.

Outlive is a worker placement game set in a post-apocalyptic world.  A water crisis has struck the planet forcing many to war. This war had claimed many lives and you are some of the remnants of this war.

My interest is starting to circle the drain. The theme here is overused.  Frankly, I’m getting tired of it and would rather see themes about being a bee.  Even window dressing a window for a flower shop is more interesting. I digress; let me take a step back.  

Outlive’s game mechanics focus around a system of workers with power levels – which ranks from 3 to 5.  These workers and the limited movement system of these workers act as a hindering factor to create tension.  

The game board has 8 locations set up in a circular fashion.  Each location is connected to the other location on either side of it.  Each worker, hero as the game calls them, stays at the location that they were placed between rounds.  Once a new round begins, players will reactivate these workers and move them to a new location.

They are limited in several ways – they cannot move to a location another worker they own is located, they can only move up to 2 locations away from their current place, and they can only move each worker once per round.

Players will also suffer complications if an opponent moves a higher powered worker to their worker’s location.  These complications can result in loss of supplies to the other player or a loss of ammunition to fend off the attack.

This form of tension really makes for an interesting gaming experience.  Every round of worker movement must be meticulous in it’s planning. Order of worker movement, turn order, and availability of supplies must all be considered.

In true postwar and post-apocalyptic fashion, the resources of the game like food, water, wood, metal, microchips, and ammunition are all tight.  Requirements of water and food to keep your tribe, the survivors at your home base that you will call points, alive. Wood, Metal, and microchips will be used to create new rooms in your underground vault and equipment for your workers.  Ammunition is used, as previously stated, to fend off attacks from other players, but ammunition can also be used to for hunting for food.

Praise for this title is high, but it does carry with it some unresolved baggage.  I have concerns about the replayability of the game. The randomly drawn events that trigger every round and leader cards that are dealt at the beginning of the game provide some variability.  Be that as it may, the gameplay and strategies remain unchanged. These factors merely change the priorities of goods on the table.

These concerns, mind you, are from a single play.  Obviously, first-time play bias may be at work here.

Overall, my play experience was a very positive one.  The game is well designed with some unique mechanics that give a certain flair that a typical worker placement game lacks.  These unique mechanics, worker power levels, tie in beautifully with its theme of the haphazard post-apocalyptic life.  My slight issues with the game are still lingering, but I’m hopeful that they are merely an issue with me as a player.  Our post-apocaluptic futures can only tell.  

Watch a full playthrough of Outlive with this Youtube video from JonGetsGames.



The Benac Briefing

by Eric Benac


Running a game night with family members or even a few buddies takes a lot more work than you might think. Just ask Kyle about how much work he has to put in every week to haul his 20+ games to Earthen Ales. And that’s just the physical labor. Having to choose a good selection of new games and old favorites likely drives him up the wall every week. However, even putting together a small one-game night once a week is a major challenge.

First of all, you have to find enough people to play. That isn’t always as easy as it seems. There are over a dozen regulars who come to Earthen Ales either every Sunday or when possible. However, our mid-week game nights are often hard to figure out. First of all, finding enough people for a game is often a hassle. Secondly, finding the right game to play is like finding the perfect snowflake – the moment you think you have it in your hand, it’s going to melt away and leave you clueless.

Thankfully, running a game night isn’t exactly rocket science. If it’s something that I can figure out, it’s an activity that anybody can do. That’s why I brainstormed a few tips that you can use the next time you run a game night. And if it’s your first time trying one out, you need to follow these guidelines to ensure things go smoothly:


1. Try to Think of a Theme – When creating a game night, try to think of a theme for each event. For example, October is only a month away, meaning that horror and Halloween-themed games should be busted out as much as possible. Focusing on a simple unifying theme makes it easier to choose the best games.

2. Pick a Good Location – If you have a quiet place in your house where you can play games, you’re already on the path to much win. However, not everybody has that kind of luxury. As a result, you might have to go to a bar or a restaurant to play. Choose a spot with good lighting, friendly staff, and good food (and brews). Earthen Ales became our spot of choice because the large windows provide plenty of light, the staff is incredibly friendly, and their beers are tasty.

3. Narrow Your Selection Down to About Four – Bringing too many games to a small and personal game night is going to make it much harder to pick something to play. Limiting it to a handful of games, anywhere from 2-4, is a good choice. It forces players to make a choice and, even if they don’t know the game, it does limit excessive debate.

4. Don’t Forget Snacks – Many games can take a few hours to finish, meaning you’re likely to get hungry or thirsty. We usually have a few beers at each of our midweek game nights. These are community liquor, meaning we often share and swap. Sometimes, we even bring food to swap. Last Sunday, Kyle brought meatballs to die for and Kate baked an incredible “Settlers of Catan” spread of cookies. Delicious and creative!

5. Pay Attention to the Game Runner – Getting together is always a social occasion and you’re likely going to want to chat before the game starts. That’s understandable, but the game runner is going to be annoyed if you’re talking and miss her instructions. Trust me when I say having to explain rules multiple times because somebody was talking about “Game of Thrones” makes game night just a bit more annoying.

6. Be Respectful – A bit of trash talk with your friends is always welcome if you know each other well. But you need to respect a person’s boundaries and never directly insult them. It’s a fine line between fun trash talk and angry insults. Just remember that it is only a game and that alienating a friend by hurting their feelings is never cool.


That’s not so bad now, is it? Of course not. Game nights should be a fun experience and something that brings you closer to your fellow gamers. Don’t hesitate

to break out your favorite game the next time you’re bored and learn more about why board games are more popular than ever.






Next Time with Noller

by David Noller


On Sunday, I became the living embodiment of frustration. Because board games.

In response to what I am certain was light-hearted, fun, playful gameplay, I grew angry and frustrated. My torso felt corseted, each breath came shallow, my heart beat hard, and my mouth could not stop forming and speaking the words, “Shut the [bleep] up,” albeit mostly under my breath.

I don’t like being told what to do. I like figuring out the answer for myself. I like to ask questions, and I like hearing from experts. It might be strategies for Splendor, recommendations for which Hugo Award winner to read, or the best technique for mixing scone batter for the best texture. I seek out information and then I respond to it.

I always reserve the right to choose how I think.

On Sunday, two other players and a spectator spent each of my turns telling me what to do. One would loudly proclaim the obvious play; one would goad me to take that action; the spectator would add his particularly unnecessary two cents, which frankly, he should have spent elsewhere.

The suggestions offered (loudly and laughingly) were usually actions I had already determined to take, or had reason to take after two seconds of thought. But I didn’t want to do it.

Taking the action meant taking the action I had been told to take, and not taking the action would have been just a rejection of reasonable advice. In neither case would my action be my action. It was only and always the thinking and the reasoning of those others, their choices passing through my hand.

That was the origin of the frustration that moved so quickly from the emotional to the physical.

Ultimately, I stopped caring about the game completely. I stopped looking for advantage. I stopped trying to learn the game. I wasn’t playing, anyway. They were playing for me. I texted friends, checked Facebook and Twitter, and withdrew, since others were making my choices for me, anyway.

I’ve been an odd combination of wildly insecure and hyper-confident as long as I can remember. I always assume I can be the best, while I get sick to my stomach over the fact that others don’t think so. That frustration is creeping back into my chest as I write this, wondering who will think this article is great, and who will judge it as unprofessional, amateurish, and pedantic.

With board games, it’s easier—my struggle ends, 30-180 minutes later, with either self-deprecating humor if I fail, or a grinning “Hell yeah!” if I succeed.

Success is personal. As a prototypical representative of Generation X, success is about doing it myself. I love cooperative games, but I tend to celebrate my own contributions more than I congratulate the team—at least inside my head. I like competitive games, too, especially when I do well on my first or second try, and especially against people who have a history with the game.  

So when you take away my opportunity to learn the game, when you take away my opportunity to experience choice and consequence, when you use my turn as an extension of your turn, you take away the part of gaming that makes it transformative.

You’ve probably heard me say, “Next time,” after losing a challenging game — you may not know that this really only comes out when I felt I’ve done well, even in a loss, but I recognize that I am still learning the game. You won’t hear it if I play poorly, or when I have judged myself and my play. It’s a mark of self-respect, and it’s really just me talking to myself.

Playing board games is silly. We move figures we call “meeple” to collect wood, ore, and stone; we build temples, outhouses or skyscrapers; we command forest critters, superheroes, or flower shopkeepers; we stack dice, wooden shapes, and blue domes atop white bases.

We do all this because it helps me be a better I, and it helps us be a better we.

We learn strategies. We develop confidence. We build our resilience. We generate creativity. We establish identity. We make friends — often with people, we might not otherwise ever know.  

Maybe this seems like a long-winded way to say “Stop telling me what to do.” That is not, however, the central point. I didn’t like my reaction on Sunday. I didn’t like getting frustrated and feeling how I felt. I bear some shame in that.

I don’t blame my friends for getting caught up in the enthusiasm of the game. They tried to help me during a game I didn’t yet know. I appreciate the enthusiasm, and I’m often grateful for the assist. This time, however, it was too much for me.

From the first round, I never made a choice that wasn’t already someone else’s. When I finally rushed a play without commentary, it was roundly criticized for its obvious lack of strategy. I had already stopped caring about the game.

This isn’t about blaming or complaining and it’s not a personal appeal to spend others’ turns in silence.

The central point is really found within a simple question, and it’s why we all got started in gaming in the first place, and it’s what makes us want to keep playing.

Can I play?


Statistics from August 2018


Plays     –     51  (-4 from July)

Games     –     33 (-2 from July)

New Games     –     8 (No Change from July)

Players     –     21  (-7 from June)

Time Playing     –     26 hours  (-2 from July)

Days of the Month Playing Games     –     7  (-6 from July)

H-Index     –     3  (3 games were played at least 3 times)

Top Logged Player     –     Eric Benac  (23 Games Played with 35 Logged plays)

Most Different Games Played     –     Eric Benac  (23 Different Games Played)

Most Total Wins     –     Eric Benac  (15)

Highest Win Percentage (More than 5 Plays)     –     Kyle Delgado  (45%)

Most Played Game by Different Players     –     Medieval Academy (10 Different Players)



Top 9 Most Played Games in August 2018


Snap Attack

Total Plays – 8






Total Plays – 4









Total Plays – 3







Total Plays – 2






Medieval Academy

Total Plays – 2







Total Plays – 2






Deep Sea Adventures

Total Plays – 2







Total Plays – 2







Total Plays – 2







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