Monday
Apr092012

Shake Out! Winner

So, after some careful deliberation, I’ve decided that the winner of the board game is Captain Spectacular.  That paragraph long smack down left my head reeling.  If he said that to me in real life, I would have no counter to it.  It was like being one up-ed by the child of Shakespeare and Asimov.  So well done to you sir! 

Sunday
Mar252012

Shake Out! Contest

So I’ve decided to run a contest.  In my possession is a signed copy of the game Shake Out!  If you want it, leave your best and most creative trash talk in the comments  of the review along with some method for me to contact you if you win.  The entries have to be free of cursing and sexual innuendo.  I’ll decide on the winner April 9th at 1 pm.  Good luck everyone!

Sunday
Mar252012

Shake Out! Review

Staking your claim in Shake Out!

Bring a dictionary when sitting down to play Shake Out!  Not because the dice game plays anything like Scrabble.  Instead, the dictionary will help in the search for that perfect word for trash talking your opponent.  It’ll happen quite often.

The dice game consists of piles of cards with the tops of each deck laying face up.  Those face up cards explain what sort of roll is needed, such as a straight or three of a kind, to lay a claim on the card.  Successfully stake a claim on a card and earn points. 

The trash talking comes into play because your opponents will actively try to block you from getting points.  If they roll a higher number, they can lay claim on a card that you had put stakes on previously.  Since it’s in everyone’s interest to stop their opponents from getting points while trying to get their own, this will happen a lot.

Louis-Nicolas Dozois, the creator of Shake Out!, seen here sporting a Bender phone cozy.The game itself is pretty easy to learn.  The game will be set up with everyone playing in no time.  Louis-Nicolas Dozois, the local native who created the game, explains that he wanted a game that was simple to learn yet had enough depth to have everyone coming back for more.

To see whether he was successful or not, I invited a few friends over to play the game.  Two of them are the type that love the more strategically minded games such as Settlers of Catan. The other, meanwhile, mainly loves more party oriented games like Taboo or Cranium.

Everyone picked up the rules quickly after the brief explanation. From there, everyone quickly began trying to one up each other. Everyone was smiling throughout the game.

When it was over, I asked whether they would come over if I specifically invited them to play the game.  The answer was an unequivocal yes.

In fact the only criticism that anyone could lay on this game was the design and packaging.  One thought that the cards themselves looked a little bland. I suppose that is a valid claim, though I’m not sure how much you can do with a picture of dice to make it visually appealing.

Meanwhile, everyone thought that the packaging was a bit excessive.  The game consists of a deck of cards and a pack of dice.  Yet, it comes it the standard board game package so it’s a noticeable bit of wasted material.  I checked into the options he had for packaging at his publisher’s website and found he didn’t have many options.  If he ever switches publishers, hopefully he’ll take that under consideration.

In the end, though, this game is a blast to play.  The rules can be picked up quickly yet the game isn’t mindless.  Everyone will have a fun time.  I can’t think of any higher praise than that.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a new word to express just how badly you’ve beaten your opponent, might I suggest “fustigate”?

 

Sunday
Mar182012

Mastering a dance with swords

 Kyle Powell unleashes a strike with his katana

Kyle Powell’s day started off with an unusual test of strength.  His martial arms group would be starting soon and he had forgotten the keys to open the room. This didn’t stop him though.

The room also has a giant metal door that overlooks the adjacent badminton court in Carleton University.  He decided to simply scale the wall of the badminton court and open that metal door from the outside.  This metal door, by the way, is at least one story off the ground.

Similar feats of strength would be on display for this meeting of the Ottawa Martial Arms Society. The level of agility and acrobatics that the more advanced members of this sword fighting group exhibit is something that would fit in nicely with an epic martial arts movie.

Today the class would be split in two.  Powell primarily trains two new novices while off to the other side Nick Press and Genny Hogg square off against each other.

The society started off humbly enough.  Initially a group of three anime and martial arts fans would gather in a field to practice their moves with wooden swords.  This setup posed a few hurdles for the group.  Mainly, they could only practice during the spring and summer.  Once winter rolled around, they had to stop due to the cold.  This meant that their skills would decay during those long winter months.

“The only way to see if the moves are working is to test them in combat to see if they’re working,” says Powell.

To make sure that those moves stayed fresh, the decision was made to bring the group indoors.  Since then, the group has expanded to 10, including the two novices here today.

Kyle Powell and Nick Press get the measure of each other before the match begins.Powell doesn’t ignore the more advanced students though.  The last bit of the class was highlighted with a bout between him and Nick Press.  The match was intense as each opponent looked for openings to strike.  Ultimately, though, the match was decided after Press took too many blows to the knuckles and could not continue.

Though that marked the end of the day, Powell hopes to see the group expand further.

“I’d like to see it expand so that everyone has several partners to spar against,” says Powell. His ultimate goal is to see everyone in his group develop a practical style through these direct matches.

With the rapid expansion of his group, it’s easy to see this goal happening very soon.

Sunday
Feb192012

A day of fun and games

 

Keegan MacDonell and MacKenzie Shaheen from Mrs. Tiggy Winkle's playing a game of Quiddler

The crowds lined up early Saturday morning, February 18th at the Nepean Sportsplex.  Everyone stood there eagerly awaiting for the doors to open. Some have been waiting for hours.  Then, at nine o’clock a.m., the doors opened to let the enthusiastic crowd in.  This was day two of Game Summit 2012.

“The show gets better every year,” said Gary from Toys on Fire. “It’s incredible!”

Launched back in 2008, it expanded quickly from an attendance of around 100 people at the Canadian War Museum to Saturday’s total of more than 1000 people at the Nepean Sportsplex.

There are all sorts of board games for everyone to try out.  There is family friendly fare such as Quiddler, a scrabble like card game.  Then there are the more niche games such as Warhammer and Dungeons and Dragons. 

Those who volunteer here are avid enthusiasts themselves. Some of the organizers even took it upon themselves to rescue “Game Day” tables from destruction.  The tables, which were created by Games Workshop for the Game Day events, feature some lovingly crafted tables.  Every facet of this table looks like weeks of work were put into it.  They’re here today solely because the organizers and volunteers didn’t want to see the work destroyed and knew those in the tournament would appreciate playing on them.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have board game designers who are demonstrating their creations and trying to generate interest.  It wasn’t uncommon to find a game by a local designer become a new favourite.

“This is the new Yahtzee for my family,” said Sen-Foon Lim regarding the board game Shake Out by local creator Louis-Nicolas Dozois.

A risky move by a Jenga playerPerhaps the reason why this event has grown tremendously in such a short time is the inclusiveness of the crowd.  It wasn’t uncommon for someone to get invited to a game with total strangers.  Wander around aimlessly for a while and the invitations to join a game would come flooding in.  It’s impossible to be at Game Summit and not have fun.

“This is the one show where I have the most fun” said Gary.

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