Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Print, Motrin and Play

How cool is it to find a game you like that is free? All it wants is a few common household items and a couple hours of your time.

One of the first print and play games I found was Kardinal & Konig: Das Kartenspiel. The printing turned out to be the hardest part since the download was for the European paper size called A4 rather than our American 8 X 11. Once I twisted my printer’s brain to speak European, I found the cutting out of the cards rather relaxing—don’t forget to round the corners.

Then I discovered Dschunke: Das Legespiel, the original version of Rat Hot. We enjoyed this game so much that I printed up a second copy of the tiles and put them on a thin piece of masonite and cut them out with the band saw. My dear husband then built a small box to hold them, complete with a sliding lid.

Before Himalaya, there was Marchands d’Empire. Yep, I put that one together, too. Now we’re talking quite a few pieces to cut out but I still enjoyed it and I think the board is much nicer looking than the Himalaya version.

So on Monday when I checked out Rick Thornquist’s new site and found a print and play game that is a triangle-based version of Blokus called Tricky Tiles, I fired up the printer and got out my “common household items.” Card stock, poster board, sticker paper, old cutting board, metal yardstick, scissors and a hobby knife.

I wanted the pieces to be thick enough to pick up easily so just printing on both sides of card stock wouldn’t do. No, I decided to print them on 2 pieces of card stock and use spray-on glue to put them on a piece of poster board, one on each side. This took some time but they came out almost perfectly aligned.

For a board, I’m usually satisfied to use sticker paper and make the board one big piece which I store standing up in a closet but this time I wanted to try to make a folded board. This actually turned out pretty well for a first, cheap effort using just poster board and sticker paper. My board now folds into quarters and is compact enough to fit in a box the size of the Kosmos 2-player line.

Most of the day was spent cutting out 88 small, strange-shaped pieces with a hobby knife. This is where the Motrin comes in. My back hurts from bending over the table (I’m short so sitting and leverage don’t go together); my left hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder ache from keeping pressure on the yardstick to keep it from slipping out of place; and the tip of my index finger on my right hand is numb from pushing on the knife.

Was it worth it? Yeah. I coerced Richard into trying it after supper and found it to be both tougher and easier than Blokus. The first thing that makes Tricky Tiles tougher is the strange shaped pieces with their odd angles. We spent more time placing pieces as we had to fiddle with several to get them to go where we wanted to go. Another aspect that makes it tougher is a wider choice of places you can place pieces because you can match not only outside corners but any triangle point within the piece, even along a straight edge. The many and varied pieces seem to make it easier to fill the in-between spaces but as with Blokus, get those big pieces out there early. I like that the playing area on the board changes with the number of players, reminding me of Einfach Genial (Ingenious).

I think if you’re a fan of Blokus, this would be worth your time. If we’re lucky, it’ll be picked up by a publisher so everyone can enjoy it. Until then, warm up the printer and bring out the Motrin.

I haven’t played a full game of anything this week (you may post your condolences here). By the time we sat down for Thanksgiving dinner, I was getting a headache so passed on the chance to twist arms but Richard was kind enough to play Ingenious with Chris, Jessica and her father. After that, the turkey kicked in and we all sat around watching either football or Garfield’s Thanksgiving on DVD followed by one of our favorite Christmas movies, Christmas Vacation.

I received Kreta this week, which Cori, Richard and I tried out on Sunday evening but it had been a long day and after 9 provinces, we agreed the game should be called on account of yawning. None of us were playing our best so I’ll withhold any comment until I can play it with a working brain.
Until next time, buy stock in Ziploc.



gamesgrandpa said...

You and Richard should go into business custom-crafting game sets (within copyright limits, of course). Your great photos show your work is most impressive.

Glad to hear you've started the Christmas movies. That's my plan for this week, as we decorate the house and put up the tree.

ekted said...

Looking forward to your impression of Kreta when you get a chance to play it awake.

- Jim

DWTripp said...

Criminy Mary! What a great job! While I don't have the time or inclination to make copies of games I have to hand it to you, yours look fantastic.