Rx: Best Board Games To Fight Boredom

By Angus McPeters

I found myself in a doctor’s waiting room just this past week.  How I got roped into driving Laura’s mother to the doctor’s and being stuck there I still haven’t figured out.  One minute Laura’s mother was piling a basket of fruit on her head and singing “Bananas is My Business,” and the next Laura was pushing me into the driver’s seat as Carmen Miranda hops into the back like I’m her chauffeur.  As the GPS is scolding me left and right for missing my turns (as I was supposed to go right then left), Mrs. Fruitcake clucks on and on about how she wouldn’t have a foot abscess if I took better care of my lawn. Well, that was the last straw.  Really, it was, since she had just finished off the last bit of lawn that was in decent shape following one of Ewan’s little ‘parties’ with the young rams from the hood.

As if having to listen to the old sheep carry on and on about her foot abscess for the next twenty minutes on the way to the doctor’s office wasn’t bad enough, I then had to wait for two hours with nothing to do but leaf though a bunch of outdated, boring magazines that have nothing to do with sheep. How hard would it be for the office manager to buy a few board games to leave in the waiting room so patients don’t die of boredom before getting in to see the doctor?  Patients could pass the time enjoying themselves instead of worrying about some depressing diagnosis they’re going to receive.  Isn’t that worth placing a board game or two in the waiting room?  And don’t tell me there’s not enough time to play a game while waiting for the powers that be to finally call your name and let you see the doctor.  Balanx has an average playtime of 20 minutes while Gemstones can be as short as 10 minutes!  Or for those times when the doctors are running behind (and when aren’t they?), games such as Mad City: Plan as Fast As you Can and Oceania rarely go beyond 30 minutes.  For experienced players such as myself, I’m sure you can even squeeze in a game of Catan with some amended rules. Of course, there’s the Catan Dice Game that only takes 15-30 minutes and has the advantage of allowing a player to play by him or herself… a particularly nice feature when everyone else in the room seems to be hacking their brains out.

If you’re not convinced, think about how many times you’ve spent waiting in a doctor’s office, avoiding eye contact with the other desperadoes, while you twiddled your thumbs (okay, I don’t have thumbs to twiddle, but I would if I could) wondering why you must sit there like a lamb waiting for slaughter? Instead of complaining to the office staff about the wait time, demand they place a few games in the waiting area. You have the power to change the way the medical profession treats us, so rise up and insist upon the proper amenities in your waiting room. I’ll insist upon the same… right after I’m done driving Miss Crazy home.

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Best Board Games for a Date

By Claire O’Brien

If you’ve read my previous post about playing a board game on your date, then you’ll know what a great ice-breaker a game can be, especially for that first date when you need a way to relax, have fun and just be yourself. The first time I tried this new approach to dating, my date and I played Balanx. We had so much fun that we never got to the other games I had brought with me.

Our second date was when things got a little awkward. My date was interested in zoology, so I grabbed the only animal themed games I own, Antler Island and Karnickel, and headed out the door. We had finished setting up when I remembered that Antler Island could get a bit racy, given that the stags are getting ready for the rutting season. I made it through without embarrassing myself, despite some suggestive looks from the other side of the table. Needless to say, we arranged another date, and I was asked what other games I know how to play. I don’t think I was being asked about board games…

I learned a valuable lesson that night. Put a little bit of thought into choosing your games when you’re heading out on a date. I mean, if you’re shy, you may not want to play a game like Antler Island that gives many opportunities for suggestive remarks. Of course, if you want a great game that can set the mood for serious flirting, go for it. If you’re the sly type and want to see if your date squirms at the mention of the law, play FBI. Or if you want some easy-going fun for all, try Shear Panic (also a good way to see just how brave or skittish your date is when the threat of shearing comes up!) And don’t forget, if you get to the point in your relationship when a double date will work, there are numerous games such as Settlers of Catan which are perfect for groups of four.

The right board game can set the mood for your date. Give some thought to the games you choose, but most importantly, let loose and have fun.

Get down and dirty and “Rut Your Stuff” with Antler Island!

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Anti-Social Media

By Angus McPeters

I’m tired of all of this social media brouhaha. Every time you turn around there’s a new social media site popping up, and if you don’t join in, you get left behind. Who has time to learn the nuances of every new social media site, let alone become active on them? Some of us actually work for a living. And if you’re not visiting your social media of choice site posting useless information about yourself, you might as well not be on the site. You become stale if you haven’t tweeted, liked, pinned, posted or whatever the verb of the day is in less than 24 hours!

Has anyone calculated how many hours people spend on these sites anyway? And to what end? Touching base with people you haven’t seen in 20 years? Becoming friends with people you don’t like? Or, worse yet, gaining new friends you truly know nothing about, will likely never meet and probably could care less about you? The ultimate travesty is the time social media takes away from doing the important things in life, like playing board games! Shut those computers, laptops, pads, smart phones, smart watches, and anything else that runs on an electrical charge. Instead of frying your brains on electrical currents and getting carpal tunnel syndrome from texting 24/7 (yes, it’s a real possibility, check it out here) try playing the timeless games of Settlers of Catan, Shear Panic and EuroRails, or some newer games that take you to far off regions of space such as Star Trek Catan: Federation Space and Rocket Jockey. You’ll find all the friends you want sitting right there across the table from you.

Let’s recap what’s out there and be forewarned, I like to tell it as it is. I don’t sugarcoat anything, unless there’s a bowl of oatmeal involved. So, open your eyes people and give me a good reason why there are so many social media sites. LinkedToWhat? Insta Drab. Faced with Boredom. ReadWhat (and quite frankly, why)? YouSnuze, Twitless and UnPinterested. The choices are dismal.  Why don’t they just merge and become an all-in-one site called “Interested in InstaRedFaceLink, YouTwit”?

It’s time for Anti-Social Media. Or, better yet, let’s do something truly positive and create a flurry of Gaming Media! That’s it! I’ve found the true flaw in social media… the premise. Social Media shouldn’t be about socializing, but gaming! Let’s convert those useless sites into meaningful ones: GameLinked, InstaRam, GameFace, PlayedIt, YouPlay, Wittier, and GameStake. With the focus on gaming, everyone will benefit. We’ll have access to more games, more players, many places to share game ideas and strategies and for those of you who are sticklers for rules, a place to debate them.

Take the leap to Gaming Media, everyone. Start by closing down your Social Media sites (except if you’re following me, my tweets, view my pictures or want to know what’s going on in my fascinating life). Otherwise, get rid of those sites and start supporting Gaming Media!

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Fall in Love with Wool All Over Again

By Bob MacWordell

At last, Fall has arrived and, with it, cooler weather and new fashions. The seas of DayGlo tank tops and shorts with Crocs give way to subtler shades of ochre, brown, forest green, and mustard. Along with the change in color, the breezy cottons and whatever science fiction monstrosity they make Under Armour out of give way to that emperor of textiles: Wool.

And I bet all you people think that we sheep would just fall all over ourselves for Fall fashion. And you’d be partly right. I mean, Angus and I have used this very blog to discuss the horrors of Summer when you’re perpetually encased in a woolen shell. But typically, Fall’s cooler weather is the only upshot of our ovine existence.

The rest of you get to pull old favorites out of boxes, celebrating their cable knits and long sleeves. You begin to think in terms of layers; stiff collars through the neck holes of argyle sweaters. You get to wear blazers!

Just typing the word blazer fills my nose with scents. Pumpkin pie, dry straw, pipe tobacco. Good times, friends, good times.

Good times I’ll never be allowed to have in a blazer. Because unlike the rest of you with your Fall and Winter wardrobes, we sheep have to wear the same thing we always wear. Admittedly with less sweat.

And it’s just not fair! Here we are, naturally wearing one of the single most distinguished pieces of clothing devised by either human or ovine mind. I have to wear what amounts to a blazer all year! Except without the distinguished air a blazer brings to the table!

But no longer! This year, I’ve got a plan. And it’s as delightfully simple as it is fiendishly clever.  And it can all be shopped from the comfort of my office chair.

First, I buy these. How did I not see it? Those elbow patches have to come from somewhere, right?! Then, I buy these. I stick half of my second purchase onto my elbows and the other half onto my first purchase.

Are you starting to get the picture? If Mohammed won’t come to the elbow patches, then the elbow patches can get velcroed onto Mohammed!

I won’t be alone, either. My best buddy Angus is going to be all over this idea. Oh, you don’t think so? You think he’ll decide I look ridiculous or just opt not to care about Fall fashion? Oh no, readers, almost nobody knows Angus as well as I do. And I have the perfect bait to get him to come along with me on this Fashiontastic Voyage.

Just check these out. That’s got McPeters written all over it. Literally for all I know.

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Get To Know Your Date With One of the Best Board Games Ever!

By Claire O’Brien

My friend Shirley is going through a rough patch (not the grassy type, the boyfriend type). She’s trying to get out there and meet some rams but she complains about the type of dates she’s had. Going to a movie, while fun, doesn’t give her time to get to know her date. I agree. Dinner, can also go very quickly and let’s face it, no one feels comfortable when they’re worried about whether or not a piece of clover is stuck between their teeth, or if they’re chewing like a cow (not a good look for anyone, especially a sheep). It’s not an ideal situation in which to be yourself. I didn’t know what to tell Shirley, but I did have an idea, one I had to test out before recommending to my best friend.

You see, I noticed that I tend to let my wool down when I’m gathered around a table playing Settlers of Catan and other board games. I’m more relaxed as I’m completely focused on learning the rules (or sometimes just remembering them!) and trying to out-strategize my opponents. While I’m not cutthroat about winning (yes, cutthroat is not a great term for a sheep to use, but I couldn’t find a better one) I can be competitive. Since I’m so focused on my gaming, I don’t have the chance to stress about how I’m coming across to others. I get to be myself. And isn’t that what a date should ultimately come down to? My mother always tells me you have to be yourself, so the other sheep gets to know the real ewe.

I asked my latest date to play a board game in a coffee shop for our first date. It was a nice, neutral place to meet. Surrounded by tea, lemon grass and other scrumptious snacks, we were set to relax and just have fun. I had brought Balanx, a perfect game for two players. With 10 white or black marbles, each player must use strategy to occupy the opposite corner of the board. It’s NOT as easy as it sounds. While you get to leap over entire columns of marbles at a time, you have to leave your own corner to advance on the opposite corner. The mind-bending part is that the board is elevated and tilts when marbles are moved, which means your marbles shift essentially on their own, destroying your strategy mid-play. Getting Angus to shut up for 5 minutes would be less challenging!

While I did bring Anasazi and Elasund The First City of Catan along in case my date would have preferred a longer game, Balanx ended up as the perfect game for that date. It’s a fun game that’s easy to learn, and generally takes around 20 minutes, so you can play multiple games on a date, giving both people the chance to win and get to know each other along the way. Neither of us lost our marbles, literally and figuratively, despite the maddening tilt of the board with every move. The time flew by without the usual stress of a first date. Now the question becomes, what do I do for a second date?

Have fun gaming on your next date night!

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