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Sunday, October 28, 2007


10 Days in the USA

Another game that has been collecting dust for some time. I finally had a chance to play 10 Days in the USA and have played several games with different players.

Let me lead with my bottom line: More of a geography teaching tool than a game, but probably a fair teaching tool and not a horrible game.

10 Days in the USA is one of a series of geography games by Alan Moon and Aaron Weissblum. So far the other three games in the series are 10 Days in Africa, Asia and Europe. The theme is that you visit one state every day for ten, and you need to create a chain of linked states.

Players can place adjacent states next to other in their hand. Players can play an automobile card between 2 states that have a 3rd state as a mutual neighbor. States are also one of 4 colors and airplane cards can be played to travel between states of the same color. (Special rules for Alaska and Hawaii, of course.)

For example I can place Washington, Idaho, Automobile card, North Dakota, Automobile card, Wisconsin. Washington is connected to Idaho. You get from Idaho to North Dakota by traveling via automobile through the state of Montana, and from North Dakota to Wisconsin by traveling by car through Minne-snow-ta.

The catch is that once placed a card cannot be moved. Every round players draw one card and can either discard it or play it by replacing a previously played card in their hand. If you have a card that needs to be in another spot in order to make a logical connection you first need to discard it and hope to pick it up from the discard pile on your next turn. There are 3 discard piles, so you need to hope that no one snags your discard and that no one covers your discard with their discard.

For example (referring to my above example) if the cards after Wisconsin in my hand were Ohio and Michigan (in that order) I would be so close, yet so far. I couldn't just wait to replace Ohio with an auto card because although they are adjacent states there isn't a third state with a common border to both Wisconsin and Michigan that you could drive through. In order to change the order of the cards you would have to discard both and hope to pick them back up on subsequent turns.

Confused? Don't be. The game is pretty easy and will be clear after a round of play or two.

That's about all there is to the game. I should note that players hands are secret an only revealed when a player claims to have won. A game with strategic thinking adults shouldn't last more than 20-30 minutes. Could take much longer than that with children.

Picked up my copy in a discount bargain bin. I'm glad I didn't pay full price. I will be playing it with my kids occasionally.

Monday, October 22, 2007


Nexus Ops initial impressions

Finally. After a boardgame drought this summer I spent two evenings this last weekend playing games.

Friday was Nexus Ops. Two games. Initial impression: Pretty good. Surprisingly good, even. This little 90 minute, Axis-and-Allies-esque wargame should be widely available at WalMart, Toys R Us, etc. I think it would have mass market appeal if it were properly marketed. I've had Nexus Ops for a year or more and this was our first opportunity to play. I can see this game being very popular with the teenage boy crowd.

Don't know what to say about it, though. It is a balanced shoot-em-up with units of differing strengths, costs, and abilities. It is not a simple wargame that devolves into massive armies squaring off with lots of dice rolling, nor is it subject to the controversial "turtling" strategy (holing up, amassing units and busting out when opponents have weakened themselves).

Players draw secret goals every round and earn a few points (1-4) for accomplishing those goals. First player to 12 points wins. Goals might be kill a unit of a certain type, or win a battle and have a unit of a certain type survive the battle, or place a unit on a certain terrain type. There are many different goals. Even if a player wins a battle but has no specific VP that he can claim for winning the battle he still earns one VP for winning the battle. In addition players need to control mines to get get money to buy units, this leads to a lot of fighting that has nothing to do with gaining VP, but your opponents can never be sure of the purpose behind the attack.

Give it a try. Not a great game, but still highly recommended. As much as that sounds a bit contradictory, I stand by it. Call it a good gateway game for your videogame playing nephew.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Overheard the kids playing

"Okay, we are going to hide out at this farm for a while."

"But we help the people why we are there."

"Let's pretend they have us do some work while we're there."

"Leeeeeeet's say we have to do some stuff before breakfast."

"Like what?"

"Collect eggs, milk the cow, kill a pig, stuff like that."

Kill a pig? Before breakfast? I guess you need bacon to go with the milk and eggs.

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