Nerdvana 2012

Every year for the past six or seven years, my friend Jasen has organized a little board gaming retreat. We spent a couple nights in a hotel in Canmore surrounded by mountains only to sit facing the middle of a table playing board games for two and a half days. Well, I gazed at the mountains a fair bit actually. That and I ate very, very well.

I ended up playing 17 different games, 15 of which were new to me. The people participating were great sports and everyone was patient as they taught the rules to newcomers.

Kingdom Builder is very quick to learn, never the same set up, and can play 2-4 players. I played it 3 times and I could have played it more too. Another great thing is that it is a relatively short game (30 min).
Troyes is a more complex game with lots of variables. I definitely would like to play it again. Plus, I won my first time playing.
Biblios is a deck building game that ends in an auction. Pretty decent and quick game play. Easy to learn.
Takenoko is a quick, easy to learn game that kids can pick up quite quickly. The goal is to feed your panda by cultivating bamboo in different gardenscapes by ensuring they are irrigated and fertilized.
Hawaii is super fun and reminds me quite a bit of Stone Age
Dvonn is a game from the Gipf Project. You have to collect tiles by jumping over tile spaces and claiming your opponents tiles by stacking on top of them. Very neat strategy game and far more advanced than checkers.
Trajan is another multiple component, have to play 3 times to be able to develop a decent strategy board game. I'm sure it's good, but I don't know if I want to invest much time learning it (again).

Paris Connection is fantastic. It's a bit like Airlines Europe, but simpler, faster and with a twist. Each player gets to build their stock in different colours of trains while at the same time building the value of the train lines in France. Of course if a line gets too valuable, everyone wants the stock. I won at this a couple times.
Vanuatu is perhaps my favourite from the weekend because of the stress and competitive rounds. It didn't take too long to learn, but the challenges weren't anticipated making the game very exciting.
Strasbourg was probably my least favourite, but it's because I wasn't anticipating that the game was so short and rigid in the ways to achieve player goals.
Tichu is a great team card game similar to 200 or Rook. The trio I played with were very patient with me and I managed well enough to win and even call "tichu" on my own.
Bits is a tetris/dominoes kind of game where you get points for joining certain colours in certain patterns (the goals are different every time). Quite fun and I totally dominated!

23 is a new card game that is still only available in Europe (we had to look online for the rules since the game only included Germain rules). It's a terrific game of manipulation and gambling - I rocked this one too.
7 Wonders wasn't new to me but I still enjoyed playing with the heroes expansion. Games are short and vary everytime you play which keeps it fesh.
Octopus's Garden
Gipf is one of the Gipf Project games and I have to say that it is quite addictive and very challenging. It's a tile collecting game. I played it a couple times and since the rules are easily understood I was able to immediately engage some strategy and win. Twice.
Can't Stop is a gambling game where you try to make different combinations of numbers with 4 die. You van quit any time and sit with your scores or risk it all with further rolling. Makes for great excitement and also builds math skills. Blaise really enjoyed this one.

And did we eat! For starters, the hotel gave us a deal on the in house restaurant (Chez François) breakfasts which were both delicious and filling. The kids ate the continental breakfast before we sat down to a late breakfast, so they helped Amber with her plate of food.

Our first evening though, we visited Thai Pagoda which is owned and operated by a Belgian chap who loves beer. The beer menu is beautiful as a result. The service was a little slow, but the food was delicious. I was disappointed with the beer I ordered as I found it tasted a bit soapy. I didn't complain since everyone who tasted it said it tasted fine. Next time I'm not fooling around, I'm getting the Young's Double Chocolate Stout.

Saturday night we went to the Korean BBQ Restaurant and oh did we eat! I don't remember all the food we ate, but the hot pot was superb, especially with the added hot sauces and bean sprouts.

Before leaving Canmore on Sunday, we fattened up at La Belle Patate, the premiere poutine eatery west of Québec. Amber and I shared the large smoked meat poutine and didn't even finish it - so much food.

We look forward to Nerdvana 2013!

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