zwischenzug (ZVI-shen-tsoog) — noun

A chess tactic in which a player, instead of playing the expected move, first interpolates another move, changing the situation to the player's advantage (such as gaining material or avoiding what would otherwise be a strong continuation for the opponent).

Showing posts with label intro. Show all posts
Showing posts with label intro. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Catching Up

Well, it's been almost two months since I have posted to this blog. It's been busy around the house and at work, and I haven't gotten to play as much as I would like. That said, we did get in our February and March game group sessions. 

In February, we brought out an old favorite, Acquire, and had a blast playing it. That's one game that I will never get tired of. Since that game takes about 90 minutes, it took the majority of our time, and the only other game we were able to play was King of Tokyo.  So there's no game to review from the February session, we played good old favorites.

On St. Patrick's Day, we played medieval themed games. I actually have a game related to Ireland, Hibernia, which is also medieval. However, we didn't end up playing it. The Irish ambiance was limited to the food and drink: corned beef and cabbage with beer. We started the afternoon with Dominion, and played a couple rounds of that.  The new game was Rheinländer, an area control game like China, but Rheinländer is not quite as complicated and actually plays better with a larger number of people. We played with four players, although one of us had to leave before the game was over. We just left his pieces on the board as obstacles. Not only would the game have been better had the fourth person stayed, but it really could have used a fifth player.  

I need to catch up on reviews now; hopefully I can do that soon. In the meantime, you can check the existing reviews for some of the games we played over the last couple of months.  And you can take some time to play some great games.

It's Your Move!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Goals for 2013

Image by Columbia Pictures
I am not a big one for New Year's resolutions.  They seem to be strong assertions that often are just abandoned.  I personally believe that leaves a lot of people feeling bad about themselves.  I do believe in goals, however.  I have one for this year, and its a big one.  Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man size big.  It will probably be my goal for several years.  And it's about gaming.

As of today, 28 January 2013. my family's current game collection stands at a little more than 250 games.  (Say, 10% more-ish, but who's counting?)  The past two years have seen a lot of game acquisition.  In 2011, the number of games grew, well, significantly.  The total number didn't grow as much in 2012, largely because I traded away games I knew would never get played for new titles.  Looking at the situation, and specifically looking at the shelves filling up, I realized that this year has to be about something different.  So I've slowed down.  (Okay, I guess getting three games since New Years Day fails to be a shining example of restraint, but I'm a work in progress.)  I realized that I have games that I have had for years and never played.

So this year, or rather starting this year, I am going to play through the unplayed games in my collection.  Not all of them will get played; I really don't feel the need to play games aimed at preschoolers.  However, that still leaves a stack of games to be played, and I am determined to get through them.  In order to do that, I am going to focus on not getting new games.

King of Tokyo is rapidly becoming a favorite - and could
probably use a Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man!
What does this mean for you, the reader?  Does that mean that I will run out of games to write about?  The answer to that is "no", not for a while.  You see, that leaves me with about 50 games to try.  My gaming group meets 11 times a year (not in December), so I have a solid four years of games to review.  Of course, as I discover the dogs I will get rid of them, either by trading or selling, and  acquire new games.  And so it goes. 

Of course, this won't go smoothly.  In February, we are playing economic games, prompted by a request for Acquire.  I will try to squeeze in a new game, but since Acquire is on of my all-time favorites...  I can't say I will give up all of my favorites for four years while I get through the unplayed titles.  In fact, since I hope to discover some new favorites, this might just get harder and harder to do.  We'll have to wait and see.

It's Your Move!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

Our normal New Year's Eve, which normally sees a few games played, really didn't happen this year.  Instead, the year passed with great conversation.  I hope you got in a few more games than we did.

Over the holidays, our family received two games.  My son received 7 Wonders, which I already have.  While he is only 15, he is starting to collect the games he plans to take to college.  He actually has a pretty good collection started, and will take quite a few great games with him.

I received The Castles of Burgundy, which is a little more complex than the majority of my games.  We may play that in the gaming group in March, but probably not sooner than that.  It supposedly excels as just a two-player game, so that I may get to play it sooner.

Hope everyone has a great year. 

It's Your Move!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yearly Summary 2012

Last year I posted a sort of "year in the life" post that summarized my gaming.  Now, with the theme from Rent running through my brain, I will do that again for 2012.

The busiest year in gaming gave way to the slowest year.  I stopped this blog in February, moving over to the Father Geek website to blog.  What a great group of gentlemen, but I found that I was missing half my audience.  The guys at Father Geek are focused on family gaming, but I am trying to reach the casual gamer also.  As a result, and also probably because I was one of many writers, I really didn't write much at all.

Another factor in writing: this year was a slow year for actually playing games, both favorites and new games.   It was a very busy year outside of gaming.  Over the course of the year I have played 21 different titles for a total of 59 plays to date.  I am sure I will play a few more times this year.  It will most likely be the same titles, so the count will end up around 21/62.  Of the 21 titles I played, seven were new titles.  All of these numbers are about a third of last year's numbers. 

I did slow down my game acquisition this year - just 47 new games.  One group of games I received were from our neighbors cleaning out their closet.  Quite a few of my new games were acquired in trades, as I realized that those four hour marathon games, no matter how good, just weren't going to be played.  Neither were those extremely complicated games, as they generally don't appeal to my gaming group.  My group falls somewhere between "casual gamers" and "hard-core". 

Best Acquisition of the Year:  Werewolves of Miller's Hollow.  I will review this game at some point, since this is my favorite group game.  All but one of the plays of this game were on my son's 8th Grade trip to Washington DC.  In fact, all of those plays were in five hours on the way home!

Most Played Game of the Year:  Werewolves of Miller's Hollow. Same story.  See how limited my game playing was?

Our gaming group celebrated four years of getting together.  However, we also had our first missed months.  After 3 1/2 years of meeting, we missed roughly four of the next six, for both good and bad reasons.  We really started pulling back together in the fall, after school started back up.

Since there really wasn't a group hit of the year, so I will go with:

Game Group Flop of the Year:  Small World.  After exactly one play, the gaming group suggested I trade it away.  There was no interest in trying it again.  I haven't reviewed it.  I didn't see the magic, but there are so many people who love the game that I figure I must be missing it.  Oh, and I did trade it away in a multi-game trade which netted me Notre Dame and YINSH.

A close runner up to Small World would be Warrior Knights, which is a complicated marathon game that I will keep.  It's a medieval multi-player wargame that is just the kind of thing I love!  I think we played our one and only play of that in the group, too.  But maybe I can sneak it in sometime this coming summer...

What's really remarkable this year are my favorite games that I didn't play, most notably Acquire.  That will certainly be played early in the year in 2013.

Finally, just like last year, I will list my Nickles and Dimes: games played 5 and 10 times respectively.  (Once more I won't count the 100+ games of chess I played online this year.)


Plays / Game
10       Werewolves of Miller's Hollow


Plays / Game
7         Hive
6         Bananagrams
5         Chess (over the board)

Both Pandemic and Carcassonne are likely games to hit the table in the last few days of the year, so I may have a few more nickles yet. 

Here's hoping that 2013 is a better year of gaming - for all of us!

It's Your Move!

Related posts and links:
Yearly Summary 2011 
In the Company of Teen Werewolves (Father Geek)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The List

My son had some friends over for a couple of hours the other week.  There were three of them, and they struggled for something to do.  They ended up playing video games, but I got the sense from the conversation that it really didn’t work very well.  I asked him why they hadn’t tried board games, and he expressed reservations about his ability to teach the games he loves.  He does tend to like games that are fairly complicated, and hard to teach.

I took a few minutes over the weekend and looked at my collection database.  I keep my inventory on BoardGameGeek, and the data can be downloaded into an Excel file.  Someone had published an Excel tool for sorting and filtering a collection, which I have personalized.  Dumping my collection download into this tool lets me find games for the right setting.  In this case, I used the filtering to flag my collection for games that are good with at least two players (He normally has only one friend over at a time), play in an hour or less and are of low complexity.  I sprinkled in a few of his favorite games, flagging those I know he could teach, even if they don’t quite fit the criteria.  I then filtered on the flag I had set, and viola!  We have a set of game that might work.  I gave him the list, and suggested he go to the “game room” (the portion of the basement where my hobby lives) and look them over.  He could then mark the games he wants to learn.

[Okay, I realize that some of you can’t concentrate on reading this now due to that incredibly loud Nerd Alert that is going off in your head.  Yes, I have an Excel filtering tool for my collection.  Those of you that know me are either saying, “That’s awesome!” (Laundress Sue) or “Oh no – now I’ll have to explain why I let this guy near my kids!” Those of you who don’t know me are trying to see if I have another blog games and OCD. (What did you think this is?)  Breathe deeply.  Ready?]

My son was actually glad to have it.  Or he was buttering me up.  Not really sure, but I digress.  Another version of the list can be found here.  My question to you is, “How many of these games have you played?  Heard of?”  There is another world out there waiting to entertain you, and it doesn’t exist in Vegas or on riverboats.  It can be in your house, at your calling, ready to build friends, families and memories.

It’s Your Turn

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Yearly Summary 2011

Now that Christmas is done, many of us become introspective.  The new year begs us to look over the old, and learn what we can.  So, what can I do but review my life as a gamer...

This past year has been the busiest year I have had from a gaming perspective.  Not only did I start this blog, but I have grown my collection of games more this year than ever before, adding an embarrassing 65 games and expansions in just 2011.  (I like to think of this as my own economic "stimulus package"!)  Most of these were trades, Ebay purchases or thrift store finds, so it really isn't as bad as it sounds.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Best Acquisition of the Year:  7 Wonders.  Given the number of plays and the excellent play, this is the best buy I made this year.  Star Trek: Fleet Captains still needs a few plays for me to really have a feel for it.  Overall, though, the best game related purchase of the year was the shelves my wife bought for me; I really needed those!

Since I started tracking my plays in 2008, this has been the second busiest year for game plays (just behind 2009).  I played 44 different titles this year a total of 180 games played.  A few more games will probably be played New Year's Eve.  Of these 44 titles, 26 of them were games I had never played before this year.  It didn't feel like I had as much time to play this year when compared to 2009, a year when I was playing a lot on lunch breaks.  However, between the chess club at school and Boy Scout outings, I have played more games with kids this year. 

Most Played Game of the Year:  Hive. This game is a huge hit at Scout outings, and that accounts for most of my plays of Hive.  There are now four copies amongst all of the members of our troop!  This is a great game: really a "must own" game in my opinion.

Our gaming group expanded this year as it celebrated three years of getting together.  Tastes are broader, and it can get a little crazy trying to figure out who is playing what, but it has been great fun!

Game Group Hit of the Year:  Pandemic. This year alone, I played Pandemic 19 times, and all but one or two of those plays were with the gaming group.  This was easily the most played game for the group, and is another "must own" game.

Finally, I will list my Nickles and Dimes: games played 5 and 10 times respectively.  (I won't count the 100+ games of chess I played online this year.)  Interestingly enough, most of them are games actually purchased this year, too.


Plays /Game
13No Thanks!


Plays/ Game
8    7 Wonders
6Bang! The Bullet!
6 Hey, That's My Fish!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top Tens

It's sort of a gaming tradition to publish top ten lists at the end of each year.  I published mine today, with links to my reviews and to BoardGameGeek.  They can be found by clicking:

Top Ten Lists

or by selecting the tab towards the top of the page.

It's Your Move!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Why is this man blogging?  Why in the world is it named Zwischenzug?  We all know life can be pretty demanding.  We have to be at work, we volunteer time at church (or Scouts, or coaching or all of the above!).  We have to run kids around to their activities.  Somewhere in all of this we need to eat and sleep. 

And relax, right?

This blog is about what I do when I am not doing what I am expected to do.  (In chess, that’s zwischenzug.)  Whether that’s my monthly, scheduled gaming group, camping for the weekend with Scouts, or just wringing a few moments of fun out of the day, this is where I will talk about it.  Primarily it will be about boardgaming, and often about chess.  Gaming is my main form of escapism; it takes a relatively short period of time and completely occupies the mind.  It is more social than many activities, though I do play the occasional solitaire game.  I plan to write about my playing experiences, and my adventures in teaching chess at the grade school level.   Occasionally I will provide a brief review of a game, and provide other musings of dubious quality.  Hopefully my enthusiasm will help people find more fun in the time they spend with their family and friends.  If not, I’ll still have fun.  

I am blogging for essentially two reasons:

I hope my enthusiasm will encourage more people to try boardgames.  Spending quality, interactive time with family and friends can be very challenging.  I will introduce games to those who have never played many games in the past, and have no idea how much fun they are missing.

I expect to showcase a wider variety of games to those who are already family or casual gamers.  There are over 50,000 games in the BoardGameGeek database, which includes everything from TicTacToe to The Civil War (a 20 hour, two player wargame covering the entire American Civil War) and beyond.  A great number of these provide new challenges which are approachable by kids of all ages, not just the hardcore hobbyist.  These games that have broader appeal are the ones that tend to line my gaming shelves.  (Just ignore that copy of The Civil War over there…)

What qualifies me to do this?  Absolutely nothing.  A few years ago, my son received Ticket to Ride as a gift, and my time loving games was reawakened.  I started back in the hobby, but had trouble crossing the valley between occasional gamer and hobbyist.  It is precisely because I am not a gaming guru that I might be able to help others.  While my family’s 200+ games are a pittance compared to others, it provides me with just enough knowledge to think I know what I am talking about, and can relate to those still getting started or just wanting to play casually.

Have fun reading this.  Ask questions, tell me what you want to hear, and help me make it better.  Your comments are welcome.

Roll on!