Category Archives: Games

Old Man Celebrity Game

As my friend Carrie can attest, I invented the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game several years before someone else did. Most people probably don’t remember that game any more. Anyway, here’s my newest creation. I thought I’d get it this one out to the public so that when someone publishes it, people will know who thought of it first.

Old Man Celebrity Game. Rules – you describe a celebrity to your partner in the way that an old man might. Your partner tries to guess the movie. Here are a couple examples. Public notoriety for the first person to guess these actors.

Who is that guy who was in the movie, his love interest was the directors wife, but no the one from the piano movie; he was also in the one with the woman whose mom was in the musical where they sang that song about staying up all night; the CNN guy was in that one too?

Who is the woman who was in the comedy, it didn’t do very well, with the guy everyone loved in the 70s; he made a lot of movies, most of them funny. She was also in the sexy one with the guy who’s always so serious; he was also in the movie with woman who played a dog trainer. I think the dog trainer was married in real life to they guy who was in the big baby boomer movie with the serious guy.


Mark’s #57 is Bohnanza.  Mark refers to this as The Bean Game.  That’s what we generally call it as well. I don’t have much to add to what Mark said. Bohnanza is the best bean trading game out there.  Really.  Ok, it’s one of the best trading games out there.  And really it’s one of the best family and friends having a good time yelling at each other games out there.


It can be enjoyed by anyone. Mark mentions a couple of expansions that we don’t have. But we do play it with the original expansion and the Isla Bonita expansion, but not with the Isla Bonita rules; in fact I don’t think I’ve ever read them; I just got it for the additional bean varieties.

Our copy is old enough that bean names are in German (the game is available in English nowadays) which early on added to the fun as we made up names for our beans, and continues to make it interesting as we offer a sick bean for a poopy bean, and new players ask, “Is this one a sick bean or drunk bean?”

All that immaturity aside, Bohnanza is a hoot. The trading can get frantic as those not involved try to influence the goings on. We have a very good-natured gaming group/family, but I’ve even seen things get a bit tense during the wheeling and dealing. My favorite is my brother-in-law, who when presented with a we-both-score-a-coin trade often counters that he’s really giving a third of a coin, only to receive a fourth of a coin in return.

Great game that I’ll play any time.

Railroad Tycoon

railroad tycoon

My daughter was laid up with a bad ankle a couple weekends ago.  She wasn’t able to put any weight on it, so she spent most of her time immobile, board, and willing to try a new long board game with me. Railroad Tycoon was new to her, but not to me.  I got this gigantic came a few years ago from my pop.  It’s one I like a lot.  Each player takes on the role of an old-timey railroad magnate expanding his or her empire across the continent.  Well half-way across anyway.  If this board, which stretches from the the east coast to Kansas City, was any bigger, most folks wouldn’t have the table space for it.


That’s one of the fun thing about this game. The pieces are big and cool and giant and awesome.  Game play is pretty simple, although you have a lot of choices.  But basically players take turns doing something until everyone has done three things.  The things you can do include building routes between cities, delivering goods on these routes, and upgrading you trains so you can make longer deliveries.  After everyone has done their three things, income is collected, debts are paid, some cards are flipped over, and you start again.  As goods are delivered, cities lose the little wooden goods cubes.  When enough cities dry up this way, the game is over.


It took my daughter and I a couple hours to finish our game.  I beat her, but not by much.  She spent a lot of her time chasing big bonuses for connecting various cities while I built up my empire around Chicago.  And just like those old-timey magnates, in Railroad Tycoon everyone is going get obscenely wealthy, but it’s important to get more obscenely wealthy (in the form of victory points) than everyone else.  So it’s fun just building your empire, but it’s more fun to make your empire bigger than everyone else’s.  I’m up for this one about any time.  I’m glad I got my girl to play with me.

Vegas Showdown

Mark’s #61 is Vegas Showdown.

vegas showdown

This is a game I love.  I’d play it any time.  I guess that would make it a 10 for me on Board Game Geek.  Several years ago I found myself sitting on several auction games, too many.  I surveyed my family; I saved a few and sold and traded the rest off. This is one of the keepers.  It’s funny how some poker chips and few cardboard tiles with labels like “Lounge,” “Fancy Slots,” and “Space Age Sports Book” can make you feel like an old school casino magnate.  And while no one gets rubbed out in this game, the bidding can be nasty enough that you kind of feel like Rocko is standing behind you daring your opponent to bid higher and see what happens (a turn or two down the line). And the building of the casino takes me back to my days playing Prize Property, an ok game, but with great pieces.

prize property

Vegas Showdown is another game that you can teach to anyone. You bid, you build, you collect your income.  So simple, yet so fun.  I recently (on paper) reduced my game collection down to 101 games (give or take).  If I cut it again to half of that or a quarter of that (ouch, painful to think about), this game would be on that shorter list. (And I’d have games hidden between the walls of my house.)

The other auction games in my collection:

Boomtown — fun for the whole family, and one that my non-gamer son enjoys


Masterpiece and High-Bid in the same box — everyone in my family will play these; (and if they’re in the same box, it only counts as one game


high bid

Industria — I totally groove on this game, but few will play it with me; usually that means it leaves the collection, but I have to have a few just for me


Modern Art — my second favorite auction game–a classic; I always come in 2nd because I’m too tight with my bidding; there are a lot of versions out there–I have this old one.

modern art

Santiago — wait, maybe this is my favorite auction game, or second favorite, I don’t know; another that I love more than most people do


I guess I still have several auction games.  It’s a great mechanic.

This post is dedicated to my first auction game, no longer owned, but not forgotten.

going going gone

Nexus Ops

Coming in at #68 on Mark’s list is Nexus Ops.  This may need to be played this weekend. My daughter and I enjoy it a lot. We’ve yet to get anyone else into a game yet. It may be the amount of amazing pieces and the cool module board, and the cards and dice that puts some people off. I remember we did get dad in on a game once, and he wasn’t crazy about it, and he’s usually up for anything. This one he never quite got his brain around, although I’m sure he could if he wanted to. So unlike many of the previous games on Mark’s list, Nexus Ops is not a great non-gamers  game. However, if someone is willing to take the next step, to learn a couple rules, this is a great one. It takes less than an hour. There’s not all the waiting that  I experienced in the one game of Axis and Allies (a game with a similar system) that I played–me: let’s attack now. Partner: we have to build up our forces more. Me 30 minutes later: now? Partner: we need more forces. Me more later: ok, I’m attacking. Partner: I donnnnt knooooow. Nexus Ops on the other hand rewards getting after it–exploring uncharted territory, capturing the monolith, and going after your opponent. Resource management is important, but if you sit back and wait until you’re ready, the game’s over and you lose.

nexus ops

Besides being fun, look at the cool neon soldiers and monsters (at least in the old version) you get to control over the barren, but pretty, alien world. Add managing your secret missions and surprising your opponent with a doozy to win the game, and you have a great game.

After writing this, I did indeed challenge my daughter to a game. She beat me last time our forces clashed, but this time I was able to come up with a victory.

Daytona 500

Mark’s game #70 is Daytona 500.  I still remember finding this game almost 20 years ago in a Goodwill I used to frequent in Norfolk, Virginia. I recognized it for a desired game.  It was sitting out, near the checkout like someone had set it there while they ran back to grab one more thing.  Or, I thought as I approached it, they had a change of heart as they reached the register. I’ll just keep an eye on it for them, I said to myself as I stepped toward the game. The box was in very rough shape. I opened it up and surveyed the contents. It seemed to all be there. I looked around. “This anyone’s?” I asked quietly inside my head. No one answered. I slowly packed the game up and moseyed toward the checkout. I really didn’t want to snake this game out from under someone. Hopefully I didn’t.

Anyway, I bought it, and it’s been a favorite of my wife and myself for years. Not only was the box in rough shape, the cards were bent, the insert flattened, and the cars were half stickered, half not. And we’ve played the dickens out of it. This is another of those games that you can easily teach to the non-gamers in your life. This seems to be a family common denominator on Mark’s list. Daytona 500 has been taught to many friends and family.

daytona 500

I’ve also picked up a few other tracks, some designed for this game, some that came with other racing games.  We play these as well.  One of them is very long, making it tricky even to finish the race.  And at one point I toyed with, even to the point of designing and printing out cards for, a variant that allowed players to buy mostly violent upgrades for their cars and play a Road Warrior inspired game. I think my friends played a race or two with me, but development didn’t go any farther than that.

I’ll echo the thoughts that this is a game ripe for reprint. It would be nice to play with non-mutilated cards.


Mark’s #75 game is Stimmt So!  I’ve never played this game.  But I do own (and have played (not true for all the games I own)) the game that grew out of Stimmt So!, a game that Mark is kind of well know (in gaming geek circles) for disparaging every time he talks about Stimmt So!  That game is called Alhambra.  It won the German Game of the Year back in 2003.  That’s probably why I bought it.  Having not played it’s predecessor, I can’t speak to the greatness of Stimmt So!  But I can say that we’ve enjoyed Alhambra quite a bit in our house.  In fact, one of the things that my daughter first liked about this game is the building of your pretty little Alhambra as the game progresses.


If you come into this game thinking you’re going to play a stock market game, I can see where you could be confused and disappointed.  But if you know you’re going to be playing a game about building you fortified palace using four different currencies to, I don’t know, pay four different nationalities of carpenters (you know the theme on some of these Euros can be a bit thin), then I think you’ll enjoy it.  And it’s another of those that can be played with the whole family.

Wyatt Earp

Mark’s game number 83 in his countdown is Wyatt Earp.

I bought this card game years ago to play with my wife.  It’s been out for over 10 years; I’m surprised this is the first time it’s appeared on Mark’s list.  It’s an Old West themed rummy game.  By playing cards in front of them, players are trying to score more points for various cowboy outlaws in order to collect the reward money–little dollar bills that get placed on reward posters throughout the course of the game. There are also cards that allow you to do cool things or to hurt your opponent.  After someone has collected $25,000 in reward money (usually 4 or so hands), that person wins.  The game works great with just 2 people, and while there are decisions to be made, it’s essentially rummy, and my wife and I can visit while we play.  It also works great with three or four.  And it can be easily explained to and played by anyone as it’s not a rule-heavy game.  So I’ve played this some with the non-gamers in my life as well.

Finally, I like the theme.  The wild west theme in games is under represented, especially in my collection.
wyatt earp



A man named Mark Jackson (aka pastor guy) has a blog where he writes about mostly about board games and God. Every few years he posts, over to the course of about 100 days, his top 100 board games. I’ve thought about doing something like that on this blog, but I don’t really consider myself qualified. I have a lot of games by any normal person’s standard, but when it comes to real board game geeks, I’m in the minor leagues. If I did a top 100 list, it would mostly all be games that I own. There would be a few games that are owned by friends and family that would make such a list, but not many. I tend to be the game buyer/owner in my gaming circle. Also, I’ve recently tried to curb my game buying and even game keeping; recently I trimmed my collection, at least on paper, to just 101 games. So unlike these major league geeks, there are a lot of games out there, new, and not so new, that it haven’t played. So again, I don’t think my top 100 games list would be that helpful, meaningful, or impressive.
But back to Mark. He’s recently started the 2014 top 100 games list at his blog. And I’ve decided that when he hits one of my games, or one that I’ve played but don’t own, I’ll link to his post, and add some of my own comments.
Number 92 on his list, Rampage, is the first place where a game I own shows up (he’s counting down from 100). It’s one that is played and loved by our entire family.  Despite my previous statement about cutting down on game purchases, last Christmas I splurged a bit and bought a few for the family. They weren’t all hits, but this one was. I bought this one with my son in mind; his not the game geek that his father is. It was a hit with both him and his game-discerning mother. I mean, everyone plays the part of a giant Godzilla monster destroying a city and fighting with one another.  Really, enough said. But the city actually collapses, building by building, vehicles are hurled across the board, people are eaten; you can even use your monster breath to blow down buildings and each other.  It’s really a thing of beauty.