Friday, February 16, 2007Friday Coffeehouse: Rio Grande Games
As my profile reveals on here, I'm quite a board game fan. My husband and I drag our friends into board games whenever we get the chance. Back in California, this would involve a few people coming over and me putting my boys to bed while their children wandered around, playing... staying up irresponsibly late while we tried to keep our voices and laughter down from one of our favorite games. I long for those days again. Along with buying books with spare money, board games are another cause for vanity that I struggle to moderate: our hallway closet is full.
As such, I consider myself somewhat of a game connoisseur. I've only played two or three games that I actually didn't like. Everything else has its proper time and place. Word games like Scrabble or Scattegories are for a certain mood, just as party games like Cranium or Apples to Apples are. We even pull out good old Yahtzee every now and again and play with our kids. Then there are the strategy games like Risk or Axis and Allies, which are wonderful learning tools if you have older children as well as just plain fun if you can devote the time to it.
Most casual gamers do not know about Rio Grande Games. They don't know what they are missing! This company publishes some of the most fantastic strategy games EVER and there are a few components that contribute to making this company such an award winning one year after year. First of all, most of their games involve a perfect time length. While I love Risk, I can't pull the all-nighters we used to before we had children to play it. But the strategy games of the Rio Grande company usually last under an hour. So it doesn't monopolize your entire night to play an interesting game.
Another reason I love this company is that the games are artistically interesting to look at. They are simple, usually with wooden pieces, and pleasing to the eye. Furthermore, these games are almost always historically educational... would be a great resource for older children to supplement history lessons in or out of the home. I'll highlight the two games we own, though my wish list includes a few more I'd like to get!
This game is the most popular one this company produces because it has won numerous awards and many serious gamers recognize it as the ULTIMATE strategy game... meaning there is almost no "luck" involved. Every move you make affects everyone else and vice versa; throughout the game you have to constantly adjust your strategy to be the most efficient settler to raise and ship crops from Puerto Rico island. There are a lot of rules to go over so the first game is slow and complicated, but once you get it down a vociferous appetite develops to play it again and again.
This is another popular game and the company has produced many variations of it. This is nice because it can be played with 2-5 players and my husband and I have often pulled it out on weeknights and enjoyed playing it together; the game changes each time you play and you become more and more aware of the dimensions involved. "A clever tile-laying game. The southern French city of Carcassonne is famous for its unique Roman and Medieval fortifications. The players develop the area around Carcassonne and deploy their followers on the roads, in the cities, in the cloisters, and in the fields. The skill of the players to develop the area will determine who is victorious."
I highly recommend any Rio Grande games on the market. Your basic Target/Wal-Mart stores won't carry these games. Their website has a list of which stores in your area you can find them in, or you can purchase them on amazon.com.
Labels: Books Music Culture