Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar

In case I have never mentioned it (here, here, here, here or here), my family loves to play board games. I’m not just talking about David, either; my brother, sister, mom and cousins are all equally addicted. When our family is together, games are played.

Don’t be picturing Monopoly or Risk, either. Around my house, even Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride and Carcassonne are scoffed at as “gateway games.” We are deep into the whole European-style strategy board game catalog at this point.

David plays a ton, and he plays with a lot of people who like the newest and latest games, so he has a lot of variety in his game play. Mom, Gina and I tend to find a game we like and stick with it for quite a while. First it was Alhambra; then there was the “Summer of Agricola;” then Stone Age, which even the kids got into; and, until quite recently, they were addicted to Grand Austria Hotel. Now, however, the game at the top of the heap is definitely Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar.

Although I have watched it being played on my very own table many times since it came out in 2012, I just played my first game of Tzolk’in. (I like to play games I already know how to play, rather than taking up my time constantly learning new ones.) It was cool, I’ll admit. Quick to learn, with worker placement that reminded me a lot of Stone Age and Agricola. Its cool component, though, is the gears that move your pieces every round. It keeps you on your toes, making you think ahead on all fronts so you maximize your points and (hopefully) keep yourself from getting kicked off any given wheel.

I’m no professional game reviewer, believe me — I just know what I like, and it was fun. I’m not the only one, either. Mom and Gina played three games of it tonight; my cousin, Julie, is buying her own copy to get all the relatives in Reno hooked, too.

Check it out.

Plan #5 – Play more games

Some of you might be aware that David likes to play board games.

Yeah, I know – that might be the understatement of the year. He loves games. For the past eight or nine years, he has been in regular weekly game groups (something that I support and encourage, in case anyone wonders). Since school started this year, though, he has hardly played games at all. His friend Kevin, who has been hosting on a weekly basis for ages, hasn’t started back up this fall, and David – who usually hosts a couple of times a month – hadn’t scheduled anything this school year either.

Games here

Tonight, though, we had games over here! And – miracle of miracles – I actually played TWO GAMES. They needed a fourth for the first game, High Society, and then our friend Rachel lured me in to the next one by pulling out a word game. (She knows my game preferences well.)


It was cool. More of a word-association game than anything, really. I am in love and want it for my birthday or Christmas, but naturally it is out of print. (Of course, as our friend Ben commented, “out of print” has never kept David from getting a game.)

Codenames cards

Lessons learned tonight: Be open to playing games on game nights. Do fun things with David. Enjoy the friends who come over. Get Thai food. Make the effort. Don’t just hole up in the bedroom doing boring paperwork or cleaning or reading fan fiction. Be present.

In completely unrelated news, I got to go to the incredibly fun Blazer game last night, where we crushed the Memphis Grizzlies and were just plain awesome in almost every way. I say “almost” because I don’t like the sleeved jerseys. (Except perhaps on Meyers Leonard.) One million thanks to our friend Jon for taking me along!


The team that was predicted to be the worst in the NBA after losing four starters is now on top of the Northwest Division. Ha! RIP CITY, BABY! Go Blazers!

God bless the board gamers, every one!

anonymous giftWe have a lot of Game Days at our house: some Friday nights, some all-day Saturdays, some (when Q and I are at Scout Camp) weekend blowouts. Our many tables (and many more shelves of games) are put to good use.

At the Saturday Game Day in November, there were quite a few games of Caverna played. Billed as “the new and better Agricola” by some – not by me; Agricola is my favorite game – Caverna was at the top of David’s wish list, so I’d gotten it for him for his birthday. (With a $90 price tag, he never would have bought it for himself.)  The game was left out on the table at the end of the night, all set up and ready for future play. Alas, someone also left a large plastic tumbler of water on the table, and sometime in the wee hours of the morning, one of the cats tipped it over.

Caverna, for the uninitiated, is a game with a cardboard playing board… and many, many cardboard tiles… and lots of cards. None of these, of course, do well after sitting in a lake of water for countless hours. The board swelled, the tiles separated, and most of the game is now an unplayable mess.

It was a sad time in our house. There was no saving the waterlogged pieces. Of course, the ruined game was the newest and most-expensive, just as car accidents always happen in the nicest car a family owns. We set the parts aside with the hope that we might be able to order replacement pieces from the publisher for somewhat less than the cost of a whole new game.

Last Friday, I was vacuuming – getting ready for another game day – when Bones started barking madly. I tried to shush him a few times, then peered out the window to see if he was distracted by someone walking by, but I didn’t see anyone. Hours later, when I took out the trash, I saw a shopping bag on the doorstep with a wrapped gift inside. There was a typewritten note attached:

Thank you for hosting as often as you do.
Also, I am guessing you can guess what this is, so I will not hide it. I was just so sad to hear about your loss.

It was unsigned.

We were both so touched by the thoughtfulness of someone to anonymously replace a $90 game that was damaged by our cats. I have to admit, I smiled at the tragic tone of the note, but David was seriously disappointed when it happened. He is even happier, though, to have such kind friends. I’m thankful for that, too. The people he plays with truly are good friends and have been a real blessing to him over the years.

The Christmas spirit is alive and well around here!