the Little Red Reviewer

Gamer geek fun!! and how to find your fellow geeks

Posted on: February 28, 2012

A number of years ago my husband dragged me kicking and screaming to a “game night”.   This was not your mamma’s scrabble night. On the table were Mystery of the Abbey, St. Petersburg, Ticket to Ride, and probably some others. That first night I wasn’t so sure about this whole Euro-gaming thing. Victory points? Nobility track? Resource tokens and Trade Goods? how in the world was I supposed to keep track of all of it??

It did take a while for me to get the hang of it.  At least a year, probably two.  (You know how some people aren’t math whizzes? I’m not a “resource token” whiz.  I just want one of those red cubes, I don’t care if it’s supposed to be rum or tobacco or gold pressed latinum, I just know  I need a red one!)

But boy am I happy I did!  I dont’ think I’ll ever be that gamer girl who games 5 night a week or more, but a few times a month with my friends makes me a very happy camper. err, umm, gamer.

I live in a college town, and every year in early spring the local university hosts a gamers convention.  Organized by students and held on campus, if you’re brave enough to search for a parking spot you can enjoy 48 hours of gaming and geekery. Euro-games, roleplaying games, a LAN party, collectible card games. . . . .  and of course games and cards for sale and overpriced food in the basement. I’ve never been into roleplaying games, but there was a Vlad Taltos system that tempted me!

This years university gamer convention was last weekend, and I ran Ticket to Ride: Europe, which is my favorite kind of Euro-game: the kind where you can learn the rules in 60 seconds, the game takes less than 2 hours to play, and it isn’t going to fry your brain.  Even better, I got to introduce a buddy of mine to gaming. I pretty much dragged him kicking and screaming to my table and said “you’re going to play this!!  okay?”

and he had a good time, see?

Ticket to Ride: Europe is a simple Euro-game based on a map of Western and Central Europe.  Cities are connected by train routes consisting of one to eight (most are three or four) tracks. Players must collect cards of different colors to complete their routes and maybe screw their neighbors.  Victory points are scored by laying track between cities and for finishing your secret routes. This is one of my favorite series of games. The most basic version is Ticket to Ride America, and besides Europe there is Nordic Countries, Marklin (Germany), Asia, and I believe the next one coming is India. Each version beyond America has it’s own little twist.


I also got the opportunity to play Santiago de Cuba. Another quick and simple game (really quick!). The object of the game is to travel around Cuba collecting goods that need to be loaded onto a ship.  You get points for loading the correct goods, controlling buildings, and sometimes you get points for screwing your neighbor.  The game looks a little complicated, but the tokens are dice on the board showing the quantities of goods needed, coins, victory point tokens, and the dreaded colored cubes.  The great thing about this game is that everything is randomized each game – what you can get, where you can get it, and what you need to get. We played a two player game, and it took less than hour. I can see how a four  player game would get cut throat!!

A small sampling of other games that were floating around:

Twilight Imperium – This is one of those RPG/board game hybrids. The hex map is randomly built at the beginning of the game, and after that it’s explore the universe, take over valuable planets, and reach the center hex first by beating off anyone else who tries to get there.  Although not as complicated as this photo makes it look, this is still a fairly complicated game. Every alien race has special things they can do and a unique tech tree, along with different available political roles.  It looks really cool, but I tried this once and it’s the perfect example of “more game than I’m looking for”.

Sunrise City – I didn’t get the chance to play this, but it sure looked fun. The fact that I saw two teenagers at the table led me to believe it’s a game that even I can understand!  And I’ve a weakness for these tile-placing games.

That’s one of the problems with gamer cons like this: Every four hours or so new games started up. That’s wonderful, except there were like three different tables I wanted to be at!  Possible solution: cloning.  Or what they did in that David Brin book Kiln People.

There were about a dozen tables of miniatures. I’m not sure what you do with these things, but they sure were cool to look at.  You can’t tell from this photo, but this guy’s layout is covered in about a hundred detailed and painted warriors, each one different.  I complimented him on his dedication, and he said this represented about three girlfriends. umm, okay.


What’s the point of this post, you ask?

well other than geeky fun and terribly photography, it’s to let you know that whatever fun geekish things you are into that others are into them too.  Science fiction, fantasy, fanfic, writing, gaming, RPG, Warhammer, Magic the Gathering, manga, or anything else, you can find people in your community who want to play, talk, read, and discuss the same things you do.  for bookclubs, check out your local libraries, bookstores, even the big guys like Barnes & Noble will sometimes host genre book clubs if they know they are the only game (no pun intended) in town. Check out bulletin boards at comic shops and game shops, even ask the store owners if they host a game night or comic swap evening.

Don’t get me wrong, I love all my internet friends, really I do!  but it’s nice to find geeky friends right around the corner too.


14 Responses to "Gamer geek fun!! and how to find your fellow geeks"

I want to get into stuff like this. I really do. My biggest problem is that no one I know is a “fellow geek,” and I don’t get out much (read: ever). Time to go find some friends, I guess. 🙂


The game you couldn’t identify is Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40K – it is a turn-based strategy / RPG. Games Workshop have a huge range of similar games and they all have miniatures that you paint yourself – very time consuming but tons of fun 🙂


ahh yes, that makes perfect sense. there was a whole big thing in the program about how there would be a ton of Warhammer 40K stuff, but I didn’t know what it was, so I didn’t know what to look for.


I just went to look up what a euro-game is . . . and I own one! It is really good, though I only bought it because I am a total Tolkien nut 😀


The Ticket to Ride: Asia and Ticket to Ride: India map packs (each pack has two maps, on a double-sided board) are in stores now. The “Team Asia” map plays up to 6 players in 2-player teams, and is a blast.


I’ve played Asia but wasn’t sure if India was available yet.

The teams in Asia is such a different dynamic! the first time we played on the “regular” side of the board I needed the game to end at a certain point, so I just built through a bunch of heavy mountains and burned train tokens really fast! both sides of that board are a blast, I can’t wait to play India!


I only recently got into these types of games, when my wife and I discovered that our new neighbors are into Euro-style boardgames. The game we’ve been playing most is Carcassonne, right now with the Inns & Cathedrals and Traders & Builders expansions. I definitely recommend checking it out!


I’ve seen Carcassonne be played, but I’ve never played it. It looks really cool, and there are like a zillion expansions to choose from! I will certainly be on the look out for it!


Trevor & I had a great time playing, Andrea, and you were a great instructor!


thanks for playing! Sorry the crowd was so small on Saturday, I blame the weather. Last year there was about twice that many people.


My husband and I love Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan. We recently discovered Pandemic, which is really cool (though a little on the depressing side). Everyone plays for the same side and you either win as a group or lose. Really different game dynamic. We have trouble finding people who want to spend hours playing these kind of games; we keep wanting to start up a game night, maybe we will! Thanks for a fun post.


You should totally start up a game night! all you need to start is four people. we found a local gaming group originally on MeetUp, and now through Facebook.

oh, Pandemic is great! you just can’t think about what you’re really doing. . . there’s an expansion pack that I played once or twice where one person plays the bioterrorist (bad guy), and it’s everyone against the game and against that person. I’ve only played Settlers once, and I remember really liking it. Have you ever played Small World? Totally different dynamic, but similar difficulty level as Ticket to Ride, and hilariously fun.

I don’t know that I want to spend hours playing these, but a game that’s done in 90 minutes? sign me up! and then chat a little, have a glass of wine, and start the next one!


I have Ticket to Ride: Marklin and Twilight Imperium. Twilight Imperium (no kidding) takes about 8 hours to complete, but it is surely the most epic game I’ve ever played. There are two expansions, which, if you can believe it, add even more Bits to the array shown in your photo.

The best eurogame I’ve come across is Agricola (though it’s a bit on the involved side). If you’re looking for lighter eurogames, I can recommend Dominion and, a personal favourite, 7 Wonders.


yeah, i got started on a game of Twilight Imp once, it pretty much fried my brain. Just too much going on, and too many little plastic pieces to keep track of!

I’ve never played Agricola, but I played Dominion once, and i think I played a spin-off version of Dominion, where you are fighting off monsters or something? I find that I really like the “train games” – Chicago Express, Ticket to Ride anything, Railways of Europe, Railways through time, China Rails. there’s something about me and trains.


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