Holiday Loot 2016 (favorite gift received or given)

I gave my nieces a copy of Frank’s Zoo. Fun little card game that I may or may not have intended as a step along the way to full fledged gamer-dom for the little rascals.

Nice! For my son we got him a few games as well. Loopin Chewie was already a hit.

Introduce them early and often, is my philosophy.

Shinola Runwell watch. Imported from Detroit.

I got some really cool stuff this year; my wife went crazy with the gifts this year, which was tremendous fun. I’m digging the crap out of Etrian Mystery Dungeon and my new 3DS Galaxy XL. I’m also loving these little guys:

Gladly! Here’s the short version: my biggest complaint is that the box fits together too well, so that it’s difficult to open.

Here’s the longer version: I’m not really a deckbuilder expert, nor have I played all that many, but this one seems pretty darned good to me. My wife is the Potter fan in this family, and she enjoys the theming and the art. I suspect on those grounds that it’s good.

One of the conceits of the game is that you get to play through seven different games. In the box, there are seven smaller boxes. One contains the starter cards and a subset of player cards. The others add on to it. In practice, the early games amount to an extended tutorial. That said, the buildup is cool, and lets you get familiar with the particulars of the rules, and of certain villains, player cards, and enemy action cards, over time.

The gameplay is pretty standard for the genre; you’re aiming not just to assemble a good deck, but to assemble a good deck which plays off of itself. One added wrinkle: unlike most other deckbuilders, there is no mechanic to remove low-value or starter cards from your deck, so you have to think a little longer-term—do you really want that Crystal Ball on its merits, or are you just trying to get deeper into the buy deck?

I like the cooperative aspects. There’s some randomness in how bad things happen, which is good for replay (the order of the villains is random, and the deck of Dark Arts cards is shuffled), but less than, say, Pandemic. It’s nice to be able to see what’s going to happen to you over the next few turns. I suppose it would be possible to get some really nasty enemies early in the game before you’re equipped to do much about them, but I haven’t run into that.

On that note, the balance seems good. There’s a ton of variety in the player cards, but I haven’t seen a useless one yet, nor one which seems dramatically overpriced or underpriced. Since there are so many, the ramp-up is nice—you get a higher chance to see the cards from the box you just opened. So far, we’ve played four games, one with each of the first four boxes. We’ve won big twice and won with very little room to spare twice. I see some reviews saying that the only outcomes they saw were stomps in one direction or another, which seems wrong to me. (Although we haven’t gotten killed by the game yet, I’m sure it can happen, especially if you get two later-game villains early on.)

Final notes: quality of construction is excellent. The cards feel good and seem durable, and look nice to boot. There are some metal pieces in the box, which is always a nice touch, plus some cardboard counters, some of which I believe are laser-cut. Nothing felt cheap to me. Even the rulebook is printed on nice thick glossy paper. One minor complaint: the rulebook leaves a good number of points open for debate, but most of those debates have been closed by the designer on the boardgamegeek forums. There’s also an FAQ/errata compiled from those responses, which I would say is required reading, but I’m pretty intense on good rules.

Thumbs up here. Like I said, I’m not a big Potter fan, but this is becoming one of my favorite co-op games.

Thanks, that sounds perfect for my wife and I. She loves Potter, and Dominions, and we don’t really have a coop game aside from BSG. So this sounds like my wife’s next birthday gift ;)

I also gave my wife an iPad Mini 4. I don’t have a great story to go with it. I told her your Roller Coaster Tycoon story. She said that’s why she won’t touch any iPad or iPhone games. She’s convinced she’ll become obsessed and waste many hours.

She has self-control.

This was a special Christmas for the wife and I. We had, for a change, a decent amount of free cash. Long story short, we decided to get each other rather extravagant gifts. It had been a very nasty year. All things considered, we decided that we deserved something really nice.

The wife got me a DSLR camera. Not anything really pricey. It’s a Canon EOS Rebel T6. With an accessory set. I was a photography nerd in Highschool. Back then I had a Canon FTBn. I know cameras. I could, if needed, develop negatives and make prints in a darkroom. I was an editor and photographer for my HS yearbook. But it has been a long time since I had any Single Lens Reflex camera. And never a DSLR. The Rebel is a basic beginner camera. And that’s what I need. I was blown away by the gift.

Meanwhile I got the wife an Apple watch. I was lucky enough to get pictures of he opening her gift with my new camera.

The thing is, this was one of the first years that we didn’t just tell each other what to get. It was a surprise me thing. And we both did real good.

Something like this may very well never happen again. And if it doesn’t. so be it. But this year was so very special. I’m a lucky guy.

I got me a Radeon RX 480 and a new office chair, both of which were sorely needed.

But the best part of the holidays is my Sister and her Husband moving back to Oregon from the east coast, so I’ve been having a ton of fun hanging out with my niece Felicity:

Now THAT is awesome.

yeah, we did something similar. Bought a huge photo frames that are essentially made up of 6 smaller photo frames with a hand crafted FAMILY word in between and put in photos of the grandkids and all of us in close up. My mother was thrilled over it and hang it on the wall.

As for myself, I gotta say that the one gift I received that I have been using non stop for the past 3 days was from an unexpected stranger in QT3, @arrendek who kindly sent me license keys for GameMaker Studio. That was a truly kind gesture!

I gave my little sister the NES Classic Edition, and then watched her post a Facebook video showing my nephew listens to her about as well as she listened to me when playing Mario which was great.

I gave my nephew a new 3DS Black Edition handheld console, with Mario 7. He had no idea what it was, showed no interest in it at all until my little sister charged it and started playing it… and he barely let her get through the first race before he decided he needed it right now.

As for me, awesome little meeples for Pandemic at the top of the list, Borderlands Prequel and Space Food Truck PC games also high on the list as I love playing games, obviously.

My wife bought me this beauty. It’s the one thing in life that I didn’t know I wanted but now I can’t imagine life without. It’s now displayed proudly in my nerd lair, filled with sodas.

I got “The Art of Atari” book. It’s a wonderful look into the box art from the 2600 era. Also got a copy of Dixit. Already played it a couple of times with the family. A surprise hit with everyone.

Ohhhhhh, I’ve had my eye on that. Sounds like I need to pick it up.

What kind of office chair? I really need a new one, and we seem to be of similar manly size. :)

On topic, I gave out a few of these LED pen lights to family, everyone loved them and commented on just how bright they were.

My sister got me a 4 pack of Duke Cannon soap, which I really enjoyed last year , a nice big bar that lasts a good month or longer I am all set for 2017!

You may want to consider showering more often. :)

I’m glad you’re enjoying it! I hope you can come to QT3 in the future and use us all for feedback for your new game. :)

It’s this one:

Much more comfortable than my last chair, and appears pretty sturdy so far.