Well, here we are, well into the second month of quarantine. When this first started, it was very hard to imagine that we would still be here, two months later, with no real end in site. I am definitely an introvert and often look forward to my alone time, but we’ve surpassed even my high quota for time alone and time at home. I did fairly well for the first few weeks, but started to feel the weight of it all right about the time that the Gathering of Friends was cancelled; it’s the event that I most look forward to every year, and it’s the first time in 21 years that I wasn’t there, so it was hard to accept and wrap my mind around. However, I have found that gaming has been the key to keeping myself somewhat sane during all of this. Having a game scheduled, whether that’s in person with my husband or online with friends, helps add a much appreciated dose of normalcy and fun. Still, the days seems to be all blending together and I find myself having to be reminded multiple times per day of what day it is.
Prior to the pandemic , I was not much of a fan of online boardgaming. Sure, I play a few turn-based games on boiteajeux to keep in touch with a few friends who live around the country and around the word, but it’s more of an occasional, a few minutes here, a few minutes there kind of thing. I never understood the desire to trade physical pieces for a mouse and a screen. I am at a computer all day for work, even when I am not working from home, and love that board games (usually) take me away from an electronic device. I was resistant at the start, but was invited by a friend to join their weekly game group, which had moved online. I wasn’t super excited by the idea at first, but decided to give it a try and I am glad I did. Online boardgaming is never going to replace in-person gaming for me, but it has been far more social and fun than I expected, especially with a discord voice channel to facilitate discussion, socializing and trash-talking.
This was not my first on-line game, nor my first beer while playing an online boardgame. However, it was the first game where I thought about what I should pair, since I knew what I was playing in advance.
I had somehow never heard of Snowdonia before. My friend Josh suggested we play, so I went and looked it up. I thought maybe it was just not memorable and would recognize the game once I saw it, but nope. I have never seen or heard of this game before. I don’t know why, since it turns out to be really fun.
You can read our full review here, from way back in 2013. It’s a historical game in which you are recreating the construction of the Snowdon Mountain Railway in Wales. It’s rugged terrain and the weather is unpredictable, and you have to take all of that into account while trying to build the best railway you can. You generally get two actions per turn; these actions are used to clear rubble, lay track, buy trains, build stations and generally improve the railway. It’s a very tight game that rewards efficiency; you don’t have enough actions to do everything that you want to do, and in my two plays the game ended well before I wanted to. I really enjoyed both of my plays of this game so far, and look forward to giving this one a play with an actual copy one of these days.
While the game and the company was good, the beer was not on the same level. Berkshire Brewing Company’s pale ale looked great when it was poured, but the taste did not live up to the color. Any hop flavor was overwhelmed by an odd sweet flavor that was overwhelming. It paired perfectly to the theme of the game, but it’s not a beer I need to seek out again.
I want to send a shout out to the Suburban Outcast Gamers for welcoming me into their game group over the past few weeks; they are just far enough away to make physical attendance difficult on a weeknight under normal circumstances, but it has been great to hang out with them during this, both the people I already knew and the new friends I have made.
OH MY GOODS
I remember when this first came out in 2015, mostly because I remember thinking “what a terrible name for a game!”. I avoided playing it for a while; the name really turned me off, and I didn’t yet know Alexander Pfister, whose name on a game box now would make it an automatic “must try”. One of my friends, who had been touting what a great game it was, brought it to the table.
I stand by my original statement that it’s a terrible name for a game, but I was wrong to judge it solely on that; it turns out to be a great game. We don’t seem to have ever written a review for it on this site, so here’s a quick overview, although if you’ve played Expedition to Newdale, you’ll recognize the basics here.
This is an engine builder. Players are artisans in medieval Europe, producing goods for the realm of Longsdale. Your goal is to produce the best, highest-quality goods that will get you the most reward. You do this by building cards from your hand; the cards let you produce goods. Cards have relationships with others cards, so you ideally want to build a symbiotic chain of cards that allow you to streamline production and turn your lower-level goods into high quality products.
It’s very easy to learn, but there are a lot of nuances and different strategies that make the game far more interesting and strategic than it first appears.There are also two expansions that add a story/campaign element. We have just started Longsdale in Revolt, although that is not represented here. That adds goals in addition to the usual engine-building, as well as some flavor text to make it feel more thematic.
I paired it with a Night Shift Oh My Quad, a quadruple IPA. I had never had or even heard of a quadruple IPA, but when I saw the name I immediately thought of this pairing and had to pick it up. It was quite tasty, but I think a quad might be a bit too much. It has a good, hoppy, citrus flavor, but it was overwhelmed a bit by the alcohol. It was still delicious, but I prefer it when the actual beer flavor comes through.
CATCH THE MOON
Dexterity games are having their moment with me, and I am not quite sure why. I am terrible at them, and I usually get bored a few minutes in. Lately, however, two have caught my attention – Men at Work and this one, Catch the Moon. I can’t quite put my finger on why, although both have more to them than just piling pieces on top of each other, and for some reason, despite my competitive spirit, I mind less when the pieces fall. These are also great games to lure in the non-gaming members of our family and friends, who get nervous when they see cards and a board, but don’t hesitate to try something like this.
I reviewed Catch the Moon here about a month ago; it’s a great little game that works well with a small or large number of players You roll the die and place the ladder on the structure in accordance with that roll. If you fail in anyway the moon cries and you get a teardrop; the person with the most teardrops at the end of the game loses.
Pairing a beer with a dexterity game creates a meta-game- where exactly do you put your beer so that the pieces don’t fall into it or knock it over? We have a small side table which gets put into service as extra space when we play a large game, and it serves us well here. It does mean I forgot to take a good picture of this delicious beer, though. It’s a rich, roasty stout that manages to incorporate the coffee flavor as an element of the beer, without overwhelming the delicious stout base. I also appreciate that it is not an imperial stout; the lower ABV (5.6) is a better pairing with games in general.
And now to find a beer that will pair with Maracaibo; suggestions are definitely welcome on that front. Cheers!