Wednesday 15th October

18 Oct

The OMGFREEWIRELESSINTERNET at the etap was working in my room this morning, so I checked mail and Geekmail then chatted with Otto for a while. That seems to be working well, albeit weirdly – the soundcard on our desktop PC won’t support a microphone, so I use my built-in webcam to chat to her and she occasionally types something. That’s not entirely easy for a 5 year old, but she really likes the emoticons. Apparently she chatters away to me while I am talking – I’m sad that I don’t get to hear it, but the having to type is sure to be good for her. I left my work PC, which can be hooked up to a mic, but it doesn’t seem to have come out yet. She’s very good at xxxxxxxxx and ooooooooooo (kisses and hugs), too. (Biggie was at a party – she’s a great little typist and we have had some great conversations).

Werner picked me up around 10ish and we headed into Karlsruhe for a little bit of sightseeing. Karlsruhe city centre has two main central points. One is the marketplace, which is the central point where the tram lines meet. OK, not only tram lines – some of them are more light rail, and even switch from tram lines to regular train tracks. This is also the site of the pyramid that holds the ashes of the Carl that Karlsruhe was named after. There was a flower market today, selling both cut flowers and plants. Very pretty.

The other is the Schloss, or castle. Its claim to fame among gamers is that it was drawn wrongly in the first edition of Thurn und Taxis – it’s not a square block, but the two wings at the side are angled out from the central wing. The town is cleverly laid out so that the 7 main streets radiate out from the Schloss, so you can see it from any of those streets. Even better, behind the Schloss there is a big park – it really doesn’t feel as though you are in a city at all, except for all the bike riders whizzing past. Also, there is a cafe, where they serve hot chocolate with whipped cream. Oooops.

But before we did tourist sightseeing stuff, we did gamer sightseeing stuff. First, the toy shop across from my hotel – Aussies, think something like Toy World – with all the standard mass-produced Mega Blocks, licensed material and Barbies – except that it had a better range of games than most games shops I’ve visited. Many standard types – Monopoly, Risk, etc – but also Carcassonne and some other Euros – and in particular the same sorts of racks of card games that I had seen at Munich airport. Lots of what English speakers will know as the Playroom games – Reinhard Staupe’s kids’ game range – including the new tins that they are packaged in. Very nice.

Second was the big toy shop in town. This had a much bigger range of games, including Thurn und Taxis, Keltis (yes I was seeing the Spiel des Jahres effect in action) and many others. Very impressive.

But our third gaming stop was the specialist games shop. This was nicely set up, with a big room for boardgames, a smaller room for their open gaming evenings (we had considered going there on Tuesday night but it would have really been too late to do much by the time we got there), and a smaller area for miniatures and roleplaying stuff. The gaming room had a range of opened games – a GOOD range of opened games – and tables and chairs. The shop – OMGTHEREWERESOMANYGAMES. Seriously. So many games. Although points must be deducted for having Karlsruhe Monopoly in the display window (I know, I know, commercial reality requires it …). Friendly staff who obviously love their games and know their customers, and a really great range.

We looked at Quick, which is a new (Essen release? 2008, anyway) cardgame from Amigo CORRECTION: Kosmos. oops.. Each player starts with a hand of 5 cards, each in a different colour with a picture of a flame and showing a number and a letter. A “task” card is turned over, showing how the cards must be sorted – alphabetically, numerically, by colour or by size of flame(!). Players must then sort their cards into the appropriate order by putting them face-down (in piles?) on the table. The first player to finish the task (correctly) gets a counter and another card. For the next round, another card is added – now they are sorted according to this criterion, but with ties broken by the first criterion. So if the first round saw cards sorted alphabetically and the second saw them sorted by flame size, the tie breaker in round 2 would be the alphabet. I don’t think I am explaining this week, but that’s how it goes. The winner is the first player to get to ?6? chips – the trick, of course, is that each time you win you get one extra card, and so it becomes harder to be the fastest to sort your own cards. Clever idea, nice quick filler game, VERY small cards (think Ticket to Ride or possibly even smaller). I will definitely pick up at least one copy of this in OMGESSEN!

Also saw the box for Herr der Ziegen – I had expected this to be a card game like last year’s Ziegen kriegen, but it is actually a middle-sized box game. I’m thinking the box is probably comparable to Louis XIV. It’s going to have to be a lot better than I expected it would have to be to make the cut – I have cardgames in general as no-brainers – buy before you try, if you like – but bigger boxed games will need serious packing effort and are therefore less likely to make the grade. At least, that’s what I tell myself. In practice, I expect to be taking a huge box of games off to the post office by Thursday or Friday morning. Or should that be, “my first huge box of games” … ???

Wandered around Karlsruhe for a while, had some lunch (possibly a local specialty – Maultaschen, which have nothing to do with Moles but rather with mouths – they’re sort of veggie-filled dumplings. I had mine with grilled bacon and cheese. mmmmmm.)

Next we caught the interstate tram (hee!) to Rheinland-Pfalz, over the Rhein and back. I just wanted to say “interstate tram” – because, hee! – technically, though, this was also the light rail.

At some point, I also bought some postcards. Yay, me.

Sightseeing over, we headed back to Werner’s for some games. I would say that Werner had a winning streak but the more accurate truth is that I had a losing streak. Much like when we play on BSW, really. Lots of games that were new to me, but that didn’t really explain quite how badly I played. The games I can remember are:

  • Fantasy Pub
  • Spank the Monkey
  • Ticket to Ride: Switzerland
  • Lord of the Rings children’s game (Kosmos)
  • Lord of the Rings co-operative game

The last game is the reason I can’t say Werner won every game, because my luck sucked us down into doom. It is, however, accurate to say that I lost every single game.

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Posted by on October 18, 2008 in games, travel


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