Monday, February 15, 2016

2015's Top Played Tabletop Games at Our House

With it already being February of 2016, I figured it was a good time to record what the kids' favorite games were in 2015. Heaven knows this year will bring about a new list. With new games coming out all the time, topped with my job at a game/comic book store, topped with my participation as a Double Exposure Envoy Herald, our game selection is always growing. It's fun to introduce games to the boys. And the boys love gaming. So here are the top games they played this last year.

Disclosure: At the start of 2015 my boys were 5,6, and 8 with birthday celebrations in August and November.  I say this because while games always have a suggested age on them they don't always give you alot of information as to what that means for how kids will respond to them. These are games my boys love and often play by themselves now. They may or may not be good for your family ;)

This game was a big hit this year. I often found it out on the floor as the boys left it after being called away for meals, school, bed, you name it. For the most part this is a dice rolling game. You get a fun cardboard monster with stand and corresponding health and life tracker. You roll 6 dice with have six different symbols, you then choose which dice to keep and which to re-roll over 3 successive rolls. The goal is to the be the last monster standing or reach 20 Victory Points. It's great for boys. The monsters are colorful and fun and the mechanics are really simple. There is some reading. There are energy card which you purchase by collecting energy cubes. That being said these cards are face up and can be read out loud by one player for all to hear. The biggest obstacle for my boys: trusting their oldest brother to read the cards so that they knew it's advantages.

As with all Munchkin games is satirical card game that parodies super heroes and villains.  If you've never played Munchkin, here's a summary from
Munchkin is a satirical card game based on the clich├ęs and oddities of Dungeons and Dragons and other role-playing games. Each player starts at level 1 and the winner is the first player to reach level 10. Players can acquire familiar D&D style character classes during the game which determine to some extent the cards they can play.
Fair warning because it's satirical some of the cards can be edgy. Take the spray painted on body suit for example.  Mostly it all goes over my boys head. They like it cause they get to be super heroes fighting the bad guys, gaining treasures such as ray guns, jet powered pogo sticks and others. Plus Munchkin is a game that encourages you to team up for one move and betray your opponent in the next. What boy doesn't love to gang up on his brothers?
We purchased the Munchkin Level Playing Field which includes a board and munchkin tokens. This helps the boys keep track of their level plus has a place to put the draw and discard piles. It has been a very very helpful addition.

More toward the beginning of last year top favorites included Tenzi and Zombie Run! Both are quick, easy games that are a lot of fun. Tenzi is a dice rolling game. Each player has 10 dice that they roll until they all match the same number. The goal is to be the 1st player will all the dice the same. You then yell out Tenzi! Lots of fun. All chance. And of course your own rules such as only rolling with your non-dominant hand, or no thumbs. :)

Zombie Run is a card game where the goal is to have the lowest score. If you have played Rat-a-tat Cat its the same concept only without any special power cards. You have 4 cards in front of you. You can look at 2 at the beginning but not after. Then you draw a card and either discard it or change it with one of your own. Once you think you have the lowest score you yell out "I got Brains" and count of the total. Aiden especially loves this one. While it hasn't got alot of play lately it was a bit hit earlier in the year.

While this game showed up in a stocking Christmas 2014, it wasn't until early that we finally sat down to play it. Fluxx in any form is tons of fun. It's the ever changing card game. If you have never played a Fluxx game, the basic rules are draw a card, play a card. The card then change the rules and goals of the game. Allowing you to draw more cards, play more cards, change what goal wins the game. You then work to collect Keeper card in front of you to match the goal. But as we said the goal is always changing. Fun and fast! Star Fluxx's theme integrates Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr Who, Firefly and Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy into the cards. So the goal could be Time Traveler where you need the Time Traveler and the Time Machine Keepers to win. Or add in Creepers, bad cards that don't allow you to win unless the goal specially call for them, and have a goal of Evil Robots where you need  Evil Creeper and the Robot Keeper to win. This game often gets played a round or two just before bed.  Aiden is a big Fluxx fan. When he visits me at work he loves to play the original version and Zombie Fluxx from our demo library. 

Small World is a great Risk like game. You have a race with a special power that you use to conquer regions to gain coins/points. The more areas conquered the more coins. After a set number of rounds (which changes depending of the number of players) the person with the most coins wins. Running low on troops or just not happy with your race's ability to conquer? Place your race in decline and pick a new one. Now start conquering all over again. There is a great random element that allows for lots of replay. The special powers are paired with the race cards each game, meaning this game we might have Seafaring Giants and Merchant Wizards and next game we could have Seafaring Amazons and Mounted Ratmen. Another thing to love about this game is it offers two different boards: a smaller board for 2-3 players and a larger board for 4-5players. This means the game lends itself very nicely to 2 player games. So Ian and I can sit down and play a fun game, and later we can all as a family sit down and play. This is another game that I often find set up on the landing upstairs or even in Ian's room. They play all the time. And Small World Underworld is on our ever growing must have list.  

Exploding Kittens is a game of Russian Roulette with Kittens made by the creators of The Oatmeal. Game play is really simple. You play cards from your hand to gain advantage; either see what cards are coming up, make your opponents give you certain cards, skip your turn, or make your opinion take a turn in your place. After you have played any cards you want you draw a card to end your turn. If you draw an Exploding Kitten your out. Unless you have a Diffuse Card which allows you to place the Exploding Kitten back into the deck. Counting cards IS allowed . ;) It mindless fun, but the cards are hilarious. This is the Oatmeal though. So you have cards such as Attack of the Back Hair, Nope Sandwich with Extra Nope Sauce, TacoCat, etc. The boys find the cards funny, and love trying to  make their brothers pull the Exploding Kitten cars. 

A few other top games include Ticket to Ride, Castle Panic, Spot it, Flash Point, Five Crowns and the ever present Chess. And like I said our library is always growing. And I imagine this year will bring a new list of favorites. Already some new games being added to the mix are Boss Monster, Castle Panic Wizards Tower and Batman Fluxx. Plus there is the every growing list of games we love to own but don't that include Formula D. King of New York, Dixit and several more.  Gaming is such a great way for us to sit down and spend time together. And it makes me happy to find the boys sitting around a table playing a game during time at home.  What games do you find yourself connecting over?

Happy Gaming!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Menu Plan Month- A month of meals

Is it really February already??? How time flies when you're having fun. Or something to that effect.

Last months' planning of a month worth of meals worked out so great I'm doing it again. Really, it was so nice to have a plan, know I had all the ingredients (cause I did all my shopping immediately after my planning) and know that things were going to be taken care of. It made my life less stressful and it made things easier on my husband who has to feed kids 3 to 4 of the night out of the week. We won't go into why I have to plan and get everything ready. It's our reality and sometimes it's just easier to go with what works than to fight.

Biggest hit meals last month were the crock pot pulled pork from Living Well Spends Well , and shakshuka from  Nourish Atlier

I figured I should fess up for a moment. While I'm not one to reinvent the wheel, I also don't follow recipes to the T. While I almost always link to others recipes, I hardly ever follow their steps exactly. I tend to view recipes as more as guidelines than rules. I say this because this month especially I'm going to be deviating from what is written on the recipes. I may even take the time to post about how I changed things up and how it was received. We'll see.

Reminder: I have a kid who eats gluten free. So I always substitute corn starch from flour, use GF noodles instead of wheat and make sure that the meal does not contain gluten when I serve it. I realize this doesn't help you if you are new to a gf diet because I'm not giving you instructions on how to do so as well. But it does show that it's almost always possible to rework recipes so they work for you and yours.

February's Menu 
Week 1
Monday: leftovers -clean out the fridge day
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Mexican Rice
Wednesday: Broccoli Cheddar Soup in the crockpot
Thursday: Baked Egg Ham Cups with tater tots
Friday: Fend for yourself
Saturday: Crockpot Pulled Pork, chips, carrots
Sunday: Popcorn Cheese and apples

Week 2
Monday: Frito Taco Pie- use Pillsbury's Gluten Free pizza crust
Tuesday: Crockpot Rice lasagna 
Wednesday: Crockpot Ranch Onion Chicken, roasted potatoes, peas
Thursday: Sweet Potato and Chicken Hash
Friday: FFY
Saturday: Groundnut Stew in the crockpot- original recipe from More with Less Cookbook- going to see if I can convert it to the crockpot. More information to come later
Sunday: Popcorn Cheese and Apples

Week 3
Monday: One Pot Shrimp and Rice 
Tuesday: Crock pot Ham and Bean Soup
Wednesday: Crock pot Coconut Chicken Curry- recipe to come later
Thursday: Lo-mein 
Friday: FFY
Saturday: Crockpot Lentil Casserole - original recipe found here
Sunday: Popcorn Cheese and Apples

Week 4 
Monday: Sweet Potato, Bacon and Sage Pasta
Tuesday: Crock pot Pesto Minestrone 
Wednesday: Crock pot Beef and Broccoli- served over rice
Thursday: Pizza Braid
Friday: FFY
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Popcorn Cheese and Apples

Need more inspiration? Check out Organizing Junkie and all the linked menus there.  Happy meal planning!