Two-player games: All Creatures Great and Small

Posted by barb on Jan 21, 2014 in Games

All Creatures Great and Small Game

Andrew and I have gotten back into board games. We first got into them a few years ago when we took a couple board gaming classes through our county’s community education program. We’ve played on and off over the last few years, but not with any regularity.

For 2014, we’ve committed to two things that will help us reconnect with our gaming-selves. First, we are hosting a gaming event at our house once a month for a small group of gamers (at least a small group to start). Second, we’ve committed to playing games together at least once each week or every-other week (if we’re busy on gaming night).

Our first game of the year was All Creatures Great and Small, which is a 2-player version of the game Agricola. I’ve never played either, so I can’t say how the 2-player version relates to the full version.

Each player has a farm, and the game is played in eight rounds, with three turns for each player in each round. There are several actions a player can do with their turn, from building fences for their animals, collecting resources, taking in animals, building stables or a new cottage. At the end of the game, players get points for the number of animals of each type and certain buildings. Once an action is taken by one person, it can’t be done by the other. (At least, not in the exact same way.) At the end of each round, pairs of animals have babies (as long as you have enough room for them).

I kept finding that I wanted one more turn each round, which, of course, is the point of limiting the rounds. There was a balance to how early to obtain animals, when to build a structure and when to enclose a pasture. We played two games, and I certainly didn’t feel like I figured out the strategy in that time. I suspect, as with any good strategy game, the strategy changes each time, depending on what your opponent does.

I’m looking forward to playing this one again, and might even look into the full game for our gaming parties.

Here’s my board at the end of one of our games:
All Creatures Great and Small Game


Have pistachios. Need M.U.L.E.

Posted by barb on Mar 18, 2008 in Games

I’m feeling a little nostalgic for the Socorro days. For those of you who have no clue what the title means, the last year that I lived at the House ‘o Bob, he set up a Commodore 64. A favorite game for all of us residents was M.U.L.E.

In particular, I remember one day when Mushi and Matt were setting up a game of M.U.L.E. I’m pretty sure I had a pile of homework, but they talked me into taking an hour out of the day to play a game. We sat with the front door open, a spring breeze cooling us, and a pile of pistachios in front of us.

The twinge of nostalgia came with a small bowl of pistachios and the scary amount of work I need to get done by yesterday. I can’t help but think that a good game of M.U.L.E. right now would make this thesis-thing better.



Quiet Weekend

Posted by barb on Apr 17, 2006 in Crafty Me, Games, Pictures

After the hellish week I had, we decided to have a quiet weekend at home. We rented a couple of PS2 games (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and X-Files: Resist or Serve), and I gamed much of Friday, since I’d already put in more than my 30 hours.

Harry Potter was quite fun, though we came close to defeating the game by the end of Saturday. (We had gotten to Voldemort, but didn’t quite defeat him – we didn’t try again, but most of the fun of the game was done.) Goblet of Fire can be played by two players simultaneously for many of the levels – not the Tri-Wizard challenges or final fight with Voldemort, but all other levels. So, Andrew and I were able to play together, which I think is the first time we’ve done that. I can hardly wait to pull out Tak and Lok and play that with Andrew.

The rest of the weekend I spent scrapbooking. I finished up the “Wedding Odds ‘n’ Ends” book that I’d been working on. Here are a few of the spreads I did:
Wedding Odds 'N' Ends Scrapbook spread  Wedding Odds 'N' Ends Scrapbook spread  Wedding Odds 'N' Ends Scrapbook spread

You can check out all of my scrapbook photos on Flickr. Next up? The eclipse cruise scrapbook!

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Quiet Weekend – Gaming and Shopping

Posted by barb on Mar 6, 2006 in Games, Random Thoughts

Andrew and I wanted to do as much of nothing this weekend as possible, so we rented a couple Playstation 2 games, bought bad-for-us food, and played video games for much of Saturday and Sunday.

We rented Ribbit King, a silly game where you play rounds of frolf (frog golf) on different courses on different worlds. The game can be played either in “story mode” where you’re trying to get ribbinite by playing rounds of frolf against various computer-players. The game can also be played with two players playing rounds of frolf against each other; however, unless you also play in story mode, the number of worlds/courses are limited. Andrew and I both had fun playing, which is difficult given that I’ve played a lot more video games that him, and am generally better at the games, and look for more challenging games.

We also rented Tak 3: The Great Juju Challenge (warning: the web page has music, but it can be turned off), which promised 2-player simlutaneous mode. Unfortuantely, we were unable to figure out how to invoke the 2-player mode until late yesterday. By then, we were mostly gamed out (and Andrew wasn’t feeling particularly well), and the Oscars were close to starting (which I always watch). It’s too bad we didn’t get to play much, because the little bit we did play was pretty fun. It feels a lot like Sypro, my favorite series of games, so the fact that Andrew and I could play Tak 3 together could make it a good game for us to own.

In between playing games, we also did a bit of shopping. The cruise is coming up quickly (two weeks from today we leave for Italy!!!), so we went out to get a few things for that: new walking shoes (which we both found at Timberland – they have an awesome shoe with soles that feel really, really comfy right out of the box – I highly recommend these for anyone looking for good walking shoes), money belts for each of us, a document wallet, a watch for me, and a new memory card for my camera. We also looked for jeans for me, but the only thing I could find were “stretch, flared” jeans – ick – so I made a quick Eddie Bauer order.

We’ve consulted a few web pages on what to pack for a cruise, like this one; but, if there’s anyone out there with some suggestions that either might not be on the list or that you can’t understress the importance of, please leave those in the comments.

So, a productive and relaxing weekend. (Not a usual combination!).


Game Night

Posted by barb on Dec 11, 2004 in Games

We had a few friends over tonight for games and dinner. We’d been talking about it for over a year, but with the wedding plans, we just never got around to it. Too bad, because it was a lot of fun, and I hope we make it a regular feature at our place.

Neil arrived first, so Andrew, Neil and I started with a game of “La Strada” — a road building game that we played during the games class we took this summer. Andrew and I had brushed up on it last week, and found that it’s a lot of fun for two players along with being great for more players.

After Stef and Doug arrived, we set up “Carcasonne“, a game we had heard about from the teacher of the games class, but had only played a couple times ourselves. It is a tile-laying game where you build up cities, plains and roads to get points. It, too, is fun for any number of players. Andrew bowed out just before we started because Kendall and Kate arrived. I found that Carcasonne took on a different feel with more players. In the first game we played, the farmers were the most important point-gatherers; however, in a second game with five players, completing a key 17-tile city was the key to the winning score. We haven’t figured out the best strategy for the game, and perhaps there is no “best strategy”.

Finally we played a game of “Munchkin“. We had played last Thanksgiving with Mushi and Jeff, but couldn’t remember the rules, so we muddled through the poorly written instructions. It wasn’t as fun as the others, perhaps because of the myriad exceptions to the rules and confused instructions. We think it might be more fun in subsequent games when we have the game play down.

All in all, though, a very fun evening.



Posted by barb on Sep 12, 2004 in Games

It has been months, maybe even over a year, since I’ve had the time and energy to play any of my computer or PlayStation games. Since the wedding planning is going so well, and I have the next two weeks off from work, I’ve been playing Tropico every night for the past three nights.

Tropico is a game where you play the dictator of a small tropical island. The game starts in 1960 and goes for 10-60 years, depending on how you set up the game. The goal is to develop the island for one of several goals: capitalism, military strength, the size of your own Swiss bank account, the overall happiness of the citizens, or some combination of these.

In the past when I played, I never reached the end of the game — I usually got frustrated after about 20 years when I was getting very far into debt. These games, however, I seem to have gotten the hang of the first 30 years now. However, once again, the economy goes south after 35-40 years. At that time, the people start to rebel, and I’ve been ousted through a coup in each of these games (but I’ve lasted several extra years each successive game).

I’ll probably play again tomorrow. Here’s hoping I make it through my entire 50 years of rule!


Great Outdoors puzzle

Posted by barb on May 2, 2004 in Games, Pictures

Another puzzle finished. This was one of those where all the pieces are shaped the same (except the edge pieces, but all the edge pieces were shaped the same), and there’s no picture on the cover of the puzzle box. You have to assemble 60 mini-scenes using 9 pieces each, and then figure out how they go together using clues in the scenes. It was actually quite fun.

Great Outdoors Puzzle


Shakespeare puzzle finished!

Posted by barb on Feb 24, 2004 in Games, Pictures

I haven’t actually had much time to work on puzzles in the past 6 months, so this one has been on the puzzle caddy for a long time. But I finally sat down and worked on it for nearly two days straight, and finished it. I think this is the first puzzle that I’ve done where I didn’t complete the frame first — that’s because this was one of those puzzles where it’s way too easy to connect the wrong two pieces without realizing it.

Shakespeare puzzle


Wizards of the Coast is closing :-(

Posted by barb on Feb 12, 2004 in Games

Since the Wizards of the Coast stores, and Gamekeeper stores, are closing, Andrew and I decided to head to the nearest one to get some good deals on games we’ve been eyeing. They were down to 30% off of everything, and 50% off of select items when we went tonight. We saw a bunch of games that we’ve been considering, like City Scape, Carcassone, and Settlers of Katan. However, we only walked out with a 2-player Lord of the Rings game and a couple games for kids to have at our wedding reception. Andrew wanted to research the games a bit more before we decided which ones to get, so we’ll return this weekend and get a couple.


Beyond Monopoly

Posted by barb on Oct 3, 2003 in Games

We had tried signing up for the September 18 section of this class, but were moved to the September 25 section. Then Isabel came through DC, and disrupted the September 18 class, and ultimately caused our section to be moved to today.

Totally worth the wait!

The class introduced us to board games designed for adults. Especially those types of games that require strategy over luck to win. We started by playing “Through the Desert,” a German game in which you try to build up caravans. You earn points during game play by taking over water holes and reaching oases. Once game play has ended, you also earn points by having the longest caravan of various colors. The game was quite engaging, and I found that I wanted to pay attention to what everyone was doing, rather than just being interested when my turn came around. I think Andrew and I will end up buying this game soon.

The second game we played was “Trans America”, which is a railroad building game. Each round, you have a set of cities, one each from the south, east, midwest, west and central US, which you need to connect with railroad. I don’t think either Andrew or I found this game as engaging as “Through the Desert”, though still far more interesting than other chance-based games.

The final game was “Wooly Bully”. In this game you lay down tiles with town, pasture and/or forest (and sheep) to enclose the largest number of your sheep as possible (in one enclosure — I missed this point, so totally missed the point of the game). This one was also fun, and the teacher mentioned that it can be quite fun with just two players (the other games wouldn’t be as good for two players). I think I liked this one more than “Trans America”, though “Through the Desert” was my favorite of the evening.

Most of these-type games come from Europe. American games tend to be more in the category of luck or party games. This can make these more engaging board games hard to find in American game shops. A good web site to find these types of games is Fun Again. Some games to look for are those that have won the “Spiel des Jahres”, Germany’s Game of the Year award or Deutscher SpielePreis. The Germany award tends to be more family-oriented while the Deutscher award tends to be more strategy games, though for many years the same game has won both awards.

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