Friday, October 4, 2013

Day 4: Gateway Games

     Yesterday we talked about party games and how they are games with little set-up, easy rules, and a quick playing time. So when you have played party games and are starting think maybe you want to try something a little different, it is time to move to a gateway game. Gateway games are a bridge between party games and strategic games.

     Gateway games have more components than party games. There is often a board with cards, tokens, or markers and there is some set-up involved. There is also a longer playing time. Games can last 2-3 hours. Rules are a little more complicated than party games. Someone will need to read and be familiar with the rules before playing. Their are numerous gateway games. Today I will discuss four that our family has played. Settlers of Catan, Pandemic, Ticket to Ride, and Flashpoint.

     Settlers of Catan is a HUGE game! It has a large fan base. It even has it's own website, www.catan.com. Settlers of Catan was first published in 1995 but we did not discover it until 2005. My husband heard it was popular and we thought we would give it a try. We immediately liked it! The game is for 3-4 people (or 5-6 with the expansion). Ages are 10 and up. The game takes place on the island of Catan. Players build settlements, cities, and roads using their resources. Resources are gained by the placement of your settlements and dice rolls. Of course it isn't as easy as it sounds. Resources need to be traded and a robber pops up to steal them! Resources are wood, grain, brick, sheep, and stone (these resources are so popular plushies have been made of them). The first person to reach 10 points is the winner. This game is very popular. We go to gaming conventions and this game has local, national, and international tournaments!  If you have not played it please give it a try! There are also numerous expansions to change up the game play. You can purchase it on Amazon or some Target stores carry it.

     Pandemic is a popular cooperative game. Cooperative means players work together to "beat the game". However, Pandemic can be a hard game to beat!  Players become disease fighting specialists and must cure diseases that have spread around the world. The diseases must be contained and cured before a pandemic occurs! Players can choose a character card with specific roles and skills. Roles include an operations specialist, scientist, medic, dispatcher, and researcher. It is recommended for ages 13 and up. Play time is 60-90 minutes. There are also new expansions and character cards.  A fun party would be to watch World War Z and then play Pandemic!

     Flash Point: Fire Rescue is another cooperative game. It was published in 2011 for 1-6 players ages 8 and up.  Players become firefighters and work together to rescue victims of a house fire. Players assume different roles such as the Fire Captain, Paramedic, Rescue Specialist, and others.  Each role has different skills to contribute to the game. But you need to hurry because there are hot spots and fires are continually breaking out! How about having friends over and eating some spicy buffalo wings then playing Flashpoint?

     Ticket to Ride is a great game! It was published in 2004. It is recommended for 2-5 players ages 8 and up. Playing time is listed as 45 minutes, but it usually takes us a little longer than that. Players build a train from one US city to another determined by their destination cards. The tracks on the gameboard are colored and players must match their color cards to the track in order to build it. The person with the most points at the end of the game wins. The tracks overlap and intertwine so chances are someone is going to take the track you need. Then you will have to re-route! This game is especially fun because as tracks are being built you talk about cities you have been to or want to visit. It is a mini US geography lesson as you play! There are also expansions for Ticket to Ride. When you have ridden the rails through North America the expansion packs will take you through Europe, Africa, or Asia.

     Again, there are many gateway games. Games which are a step up from party games. I chose these games because all four of them have been a hit with our family. We have played them with all ages! Everyone enjoys these games! It is so much fun to sit around the table and see your children laughing along with your parents and connecting with other! Think about pulling out a game at your next family dinner during the holiday season! Or better yet, don't wait for the holidays...play a game this weekend!