by Andrew Longo

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you had a good time watching the ball drop or not doing that, whatever floats your boat. I had the pleasure of watching the new James Franco & Seth Rogan vehicle “The Interview” on New Year’s Eve and spending some quality with friends as we hailed in the new year. However I’m not here to dwell on what I did last year; I want to share with you how I started out 2015.

photo 1 - Board games

We came to game

My friends Chris and Molly Manning had the great idea to play a full day of board games. You might remember Chris as being the most underrated player according to William Jensen, but what you may not know is that Molly is an acclaimed author whose book ‘When Books Went to War’ just came out. My star studded hosts put together a list of games we were going to play and included the approximate start and finish times for each, there was also time built into the schedule for lunch and dinner. Our start time was 10:30 am and we planned on finishing at around 10:30 pm. With this kind of schedule they meant business so I had to bring my A game, or at least a B+.

The first game we played was Through the Ages. Since it was our first time playing it, the instructions recommended the simple version of the game which would only take about 2 hours. That’s two hours for the simple version; the two other versions are Advanced and Full Game which take five to six hours to complete. A game has to be very good to keep players sitting at a table to complete the full game in 6 hours and this game definitely was. You start the game as a civilization in its early ages and you have to build it up as the game goes along improving sciences, arts, religion, infrastructure etc. which you need to increase your culture rating, which are basically what you use as points to determine the winner. Although this was just the simple version I thought this game was amazing and I am looking forward to playing the full version. If you are wondering who had the most culture it was Molly, she used Michelangelo and crush me and Chris. [Manning(s) 1 – Longo 0]

photo 2 - Through the Ages

Through the Ages

Before the next game we had lunch which consisted of personal pizzas that Molly made. Like the game we just played it was amazing and I gave it 5 out of 4 stars.

photo 3 - pizza

5 out of 4 Star Pizza

The second game we played was Tikal. In this game you play the role of archeologists who are exploring ruins in Central America. You score points in this game by discovering new temples and digging deeper in them. Because the board is comprised of random tiles that the player places, you never play the same game twice. This game was fun and I would recommend it to people who like a little more variance in their game. The most successful archeologist was Molly. [Manning(s) 2 – Longo 0]

photo 4 - Tikal


The third game was one that I brought over called Endeavor. In this game you are a European explorer who is looking to colonize and set up trade routes in foreign lands. The winner of this game is the explorer who had the highest total of Industry, Culture, Finance and Politics, which are what you expand when you discover new areas of the map. This was also a good game that I would recommend, but because of all the pieces it is kind of annoying to set up. The best explorer and winner this time was Molly again! [Manning(s) 3 – Longo 0]



The fourth game we played was New York which is based on the game Alhambra. In this game you are a city planner whose job it is to expand your city. You do this by either purchasing different types of buildings or collecting money on your turn. You score points if you have the most of a certain building type e.g. museums, churches & skyscrapers. I liked this game and think it’s a great game for beginners since the rules are so easy. It also has practically no set up/clean up time. The best city planner this time was yours truly. [Manning(s) 3 – Longo 1]

photo 6 - New York

New York, more like a cardboard jungle

We ordered Thai food for dinner and while we waited for it we played our fifth game: Splendor. You play a merchant in this game who is trying to further their prestige by collecting gems and gaining the favor of nobles. Not only was this game great, but I was impressed by the materials that were used for the game pieces. The coins were heavy chips instead of card board, the cards were sturdy and the illustrations were well done. The most prestigious merchant was once again moi. [Manning(s) 3 – Longo 2]

The joke was on us as we played Sitting Ducks

The joke was on us as we played Sitting Ducks

While we ate our meals we watched a youtube video instructional for our sixth game: The Castles of Burgundy. As a French aristocrat your goal is to expand your land by building shipping routes, towns, castles and mines. The player who did this the best and scored the most victory points is the winner. While I liked this game, I felt that the pieces were a little too janky. Everything was flimsy card board and it wasn’t intuitive what each piece did. Jankiness aside, I would play this again since it was quite fun. Chris was crowned the winner in this game. [Manning(s) 4 – Longo 2]

We were all getting a little punch drunk by our seventh game so Chris suggested a light game called Sitting Ducks. You win if you are last duck floating. This game was more for children then adults since there was no real strategy other than playing the cards you were dealt. If you have a kid you might want to buy this game and play it with them, otherwise stay away. My ducks were strong and I wound up winning, but I felt that just by playing this game we all lost. [Manning(s) 4 – Longo 3]

Sitting Ducks

Sitting Ducks

We ended at a little after 10:00 pm which was right on my host’s schedule. While I had a great time playing all the games, I am really looking forward to playing Through the Ages again at a higher difficulty level. I’d like to thank my hosts Chris and Molly for spending their time playing all these game with me and Matt Jones (who at no point was punch or any other kind of drunk).

Andrew Longo has been playing Magic the Gathering at a mediocre level since 1994. He managed to get lucky on the backs of his teammates to win Grand Prix Providence Rhode Island. When not playing magic he runs a D&D campaign, plays video games, and reads comics (a real triple threat for the ladies).

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