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 storage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label storage. Show all posts

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Revising my collection...

A few years ago, in my initial rush of enthusiasm, I managed to collect a good number of games that I was keen to play. These games included war games, fantasy games, sci-fi, and a few other games that would provide an epic story to tell. Here I am three years later, and some of them still have the shrink wrap on them.

It's because I am a geek.

It turns out that the same personality trait that provides all of the games for my gaming group is the same trait that makes me interested in fantasy, sci-fi and epic-length games - the genres that the rest of my group is not interested in playing. So, I am changing my collection. After all, a game that no one will play really doesn't have much value.

I have traded away most of my war games for very light war games. My boy loves fantasy, and I have conceded that he will probably take most of those with him to college. Some of my two player games will just have to go.

My wife tends to prefer abstract games, and I am okay with that. I like abstracts, some of them very strongly, even if it isn't my favorite genre. Our gaming group likes European style games, and there are a lot of fantastic games that I enjoy from that vein too. I have bought a few solitaire war games to satisfy that particular itch.

My dad always said, "To have a friend you have to be a friend", and that has always stuck with me. And so I salute those great games I no longer own, even as I go join my friends a game a can all enjoy.

It's your move!


Related Posts

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Growing and Maintaining an Ideally Sized Game Collection | The Opinionated Gamers

This is an interesting post about growing and maintaining the size of your collection on the Opinionated Gamers website. My limiting factor is space; I don't think I will have room for anything over 250 games...

Growing and Maintaining an Ideally Sized Game Collection | The Opinionated Gamers

It's Your Move!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Games in the Car – While Waiting!

Like many people, our family can be waiting for our turn, whether it is at a restaurant, the doctor’s office, or some other place.  Like many gamers, my solution is to have games available to play.  I have seen “car kits” put together by gamers to put in their automobiles, but I was never completely convinced on the solution.  I guess I was looking for something neat and tidy, and many of these kits were in plastic storage boxes; the kind I really don’t like in the car.

Then I saw someone had used a backgammon case for their car kit.  Whoa!  What a great idea!  After all, backgammon is a great game that many people can play, and our son needs to learn how to play.  I decided that was the way to go.  I grabbed our backgammon set (the full size one, not one of the two travel sets we own!) and opened it up.  The pieces and dice have their own space.  Aside from the dice cups, the playing area can hold a few items.

What to put in it?  What games should I carry?  I ended up with the following games in my car kit:

  • BackgammonKind of obvious, but worth mentioning if only for to make sure I count right at the end of this post!
  • Chess.  I have a small Drueke chess set from around WWII that fits nicely inside.  Chess is my favorite game, how can I not have a set in the car kit?
  • Brandubh.  This is sometimes referred to as Irish Chess, though that’s not entirely accurate.  The game predates chess in Ireland though, and is related to a family of tafl games that is various traced back to the Vikings, Welsh, Saxons, and Irish.  It is a print-n-play (that you print at home and make in a small amount of time), with aquarium/floral stones of different colors used as the pieces.  Printed on card stock, the board takes no room, and the 13 stones take very little.
  • Zombie in my Pocket.  This game has been around for a few years as a print-n-play game.  Zombies are chasing you through a home that you have never seen before, but which you know has the talisman inside which needs to be buried in a mystical place in the back yard.  This is silly, solitaire fun that can keep me entertained for a little while.  It easily fits inside a 3x5 plastic baggie, and then into the car kit.
  • Standard Playing Cards.  We are set for solitaire and two-person games, but there are three of us in the family.  A deck of cards is also a pretty obvious choice, since it’s essentially a whole bunch of games in a pocket sized packet that will work with any number of players.  With that goes a…
  • Cribbage Board.  This can be played multi-player.  The only problem with this is than I am the only one who knows how to play.  That can be fixed though.  To conserve even more space, this tiny folding board fits inside the backgammon dice cups when they are placed top-to-top.  Not much else would fit in there.
  • Bandits.  This game might be taken out of the car kit and go permanently into a Scouting bag of games.  The younger Scouts seem to love it, but it seems a little light.  While my wife likes lighter games, this one isn’t her style.  I will look for a replacement if I do.
  • Bananagrams.  The whole family likes this game; I reviewed it a while back.  This game is a little thick to go in, but I will push it a little bit.  It might help if I took it out of the banana-shaped bag, but what’s the fun in that?

That makes eight different games that can be in this kit.  Yet, as the infomercial says, “Wait, there’s more!”  With these components there are a few more games that can be played, and that’s not counting standard deck card games:

  • Liar’s Dice.  Many people who are aware of this game know it through the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie.  This is a centuries old game with many variations; my favorite is Mia
  • Fox and Hounds.  This is really a checkers variant, but could easily be played with the chess pawns. 
  • Lines of Action, Crossingsthese are games published in the great book, A Gamut of Games by the late, great Sid Sackson (who also designed Acquire, another favorite of mine.)  You might have to use more of the chess pieces, or draw a checkerboard to use with the backgammon disks.  This might be a little ugly, but what the heck.

Promotional Image for Treehouse Pieces
There are other systems to include too.  There is a whole set of games surrounding Treehouse (aka Icehouse) pieces for example.

As you pack the car for your summer outings, what will be in it?  Don’t forget the games as you head out of the house!  However you pack them, in a box or in a backgammon case, having a few games along might be the difference between your time being fun in the sun or bland in the sand.

It’s Your Move!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Take this game and shelve it!

My apologies to everyone for being so late this time.  I normally try to post on Friday, but work overwhelmed my gaming life.

A corner shelf being assembled
I have to say that I am one of those lucky guys who’s wife supports his hobby.  Not only does fix food for my monthly gaming sessions, but she plays games when she isn’t too busy with other stuff.  However, the strongest support she gives is in providing me shelf space.  In fact, she found the shelving units we use for games.  It’s a little industrial in its look, but it holds the games wonderfully.  There are several things I love about these units: they have more than sufficient strength, they are deep, and they come with many shelves in each unit.

One of my shelves is getting pretty full...
Strength?  Really?  We are talking about games, right?  Yes, and some of these are heavy.  Additionally, I don’t have to worry about the poker chip carrousel, which is a heavy old wooden one that my parents have.  Additionally, if I were ever to get into miniature wargaming (heaven help me!), they accumulated lead figures would be fine.  In the end, this is not so much a great thing as just a potential issue relieved.

Depth is far more important.  These shelves are 18 inches deep, which allows more games to go on the shelves.  “Big box” games can go on the shelves with the short side showing, and that is a great space saver in the long run.  These big boxes often are holding games with a lot of theme, which tend to be the kind of games I love.  With normal bookshelves, which are 12 inches deep, those games must be placed lengthwise.  This is not only space consuming, but also ugly. 

Lastly, and most importantly, there are six shelves per unit.  Now, if these shelves are so strong, why does it matter?  While the shelves can hold the weight, game boxes cannot.  Stacking games more than two high is a little risky.  Unless they are exactly the same size, so that the sides can hold the weight, the larger box will “dish”, or become concave.  (Some people insist that games should be stored vertically to prevent this.)  Many shelves allows better use of the space when stacking two high.  (Okay, three in a pinch.)

We added a table to the space, and now I have my gaming “room”.  We don’t always play there, but when a game takes a long time, we can leave it set up to finish later.  I really love the space.  My wife thinks it looks a little to “industrial”, but I like it!

This table, while cozy in the space, is great for games that can't completed in one sitting.

Where are your games stored?  A closet?  Shelves?  Regardless, it warrants consideration.  As your game collection grows (and it will!), give careful consideration to where you store them.  It will save your games a lot of wear and tear, make them easy to get to, and visible when you are choosing what to play.  Where will you keep them?

It's Your Move!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Game Storage - On Speed

This past weekend I was camping with our Scout troop.  It was a lot of fun, as usual, but I was racing around Friday morning trying to find all of the stuff I needed to pack in my backpack.  Normally, I just have to pull together my clothes and whatever games I am taking (of course!).  Most things are largely ready to roll, since I have like items packed together in large freezer bags.  To be honest, I started reflecting on how plastic bags have become part of my organizational strategy in life, and particularly in camping and gaming.

Last month I wrote about making tuckboxes to store the cards in your games.  I mentioned plastic bags briefly then, but I want to talk about using them to organize game play, not just storage.

It is pretty easy to see that plastic bags keep like things together so they are easy to keep track of.  Pandemic has twenty-four disease cubes for each of four different colors.  Keeping each color in a plastic bag helps with keeping them from getting lost.  That’s important because running out of a color ends the game, so you have to have the right number of them.  Z-man Games, the publisher, provides bags in Pandemic.  The bags are large enough lay out the cubes in a single layer while still in the bag.  This allows me to square them up into a 4x6 rectangle, so I know all twenty-four are there without opening the bag.  Keeping each color separate also speeds play, since we don’t have to pick through all of the cubes to get the right color.

There is another, less obvious way to use bags to speed game play.  I am talking about getting the game started.  There are lots of games where the set up takes some time, which can lead to reluctance to play the game, particularly if you are running short on time.  Organizing the setup in the box is a great way to speed things along.

One game that could use this idea is Monopoly.  Players start with an assortment of money totaling $1500.  Rather than count that out at the beginning of each game, it would be faster to make “player packets” by packing four to six sets of starting cash into several plastic bags.  Then, to start a game, each player just needs a bag of money and a player token, and play can begin.  At the end of the game there will be enough money on the table to reorganize the packets quickly, rather than just putting all of the money back into the money tray.

For games with multiple phases, this concept can be used to organize the various phases.  When Phase 2 needs to come out, it is already organized into its own set of bags, and is set up in no time.

I have used this with The Fury of Dracula, which probably has one of the longer set up times in our game collection.  Between the player packets and the tuckboxes, everything is organized to start play, and the game table can be ready in just a couple of minutes.

I find that 3”x5” (76mm x 127mm) plastic bags are the most useful, since they can be used to store a decent number of anything, and can hold a small deck of cards in order if necessary.  They are available in most craft stores.  Honestly, though, sandwich bags will do.  Just remember, organizing the game in any way tends to speed things up.  After all,

It’s Your Move!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Game Storage and OCD

Tuckboxes by mrkaf
Lately, I have started making tuckboxes for my games.  Everyone who has ever played cards with a traditional deck of 52 cards is familiar with tuckboxes; they are the cases the cards come in.  My niece, who thinks 200+ games is obsessive anyway, would probably say this is an OCD issue.  (Feel free to weigh in on this, Ang.)  What are the alternatives?  There are three that I know of, but they all have their issues: free floating cards, rubber bands (ouch!), and plastic baggies.  Let’s examine each of these, and then I will explain how I go about getting tuckboxes for my games.

The easiest way to store cards, and the easiest was to dismiss, is just letting the cards lie loose in the game box.  That’s because it is the easiest way to lose cards.  There is only one time when I will do this, and that is when the box insert has a well for the cards that will be covered by a heavy game board.  Even then, I stick some tissue paper on top of the cards, so they can’t travel to the top of the well and slide out.

Rubber bands are the ruination of card decks.  Applied across the deck, the cards tend to fan out at the ends, creating some cards that are warped in one direction or the other.   Of course, one could run the rubber band one way, give it a twist, and then run it the other way, so that the deck is bound both in width and length.  This is certainly better, since it keeps the cards from warping.  I don’t do this because there are games, Like Fury of Dracula, that only get played at certain times of the year.  After a year of storage, the rubber bands tend to either break (see above!), or worse, melt.  There is also the problem of the Rubber Band Gremlins in our house, who always have stolen the exact size of rubber band I need at the moment, leaving behind only the ones that won’t work.

Plastic baggies are the best solution of these three, but can also have their issues.  Common kitchen baggies will keep the card from getting lost, won’t warp cards, and don’t melt or break.  However, the cards can slide around within the baggie if it’s too large, allowing the small possibility of card damage from heavier game components during transport.  For several years, I used 3” x 5” (76mm x 127mm) craft baggies.  They work great, but won’t hold many cards, so a deck has to be split amongst several baggies.  That’s really the only downside, which admittedly isn’t much.

So, why did I convert to tuckboxes?  First of all, all of one type of card goes in one container, rather than several.  This allows for faster setup and cleanup of the game.  How to put the game away is now clear to those helping, and even more so to anyone who borrowed the game and is cleaning up on their own.  Secondly, there is the Awesomeness Factor; it just looks much better.  Lastly, it gives me a way to work on my collection without spending money buying new games.  (I know; it’s pretty sad.) 

How do I get the designs?  Tyson Manwarren has created a tuckbox creation website.  After providing the needed dimensions for the tuckbox, and uploading jpg artwork for it, the website creates a pdf of the tuckbox to be cut out, folded and glued.  Prior to going through that process, however, I check the file section of that particular games page on BoardGameGeek to see if anyone has already created one to download.  The Fury of Dracula pattern was created by BGG user Helen Holzgrafe; I just downloaded it. 

I use 110 lb paper in my printer.  The boxes aren’t very solid, but they are going inside the game box, so they really don’t take a beating.  Besides, I can remake it if I have to replace it.  My wife is taking over making them for me, since she has craftier hands.  (No, she is not OCD. She is a loving supporter of my hobby!)

So, I guess the final thing I have to say is: FOR THE LOVE OF HEAVEN, PEOPLE, STORE YOUR CARDS RIGHT! 

Umm, sorry…

Rather, for the sake of your games’ longevity, decide on a good way to store your cards.  Use baggies as a minimum.  Unless you have another idea, of course, which I would love to hear about.  While you are deciding that, you can also decide on whether I need a twelve step program or not.  Feedback is welcome – in the meantime,

It’s Your Move…