Geek Girls Rule #38 – New Games I’ve Played Recently

Well, the worst of the Plague is over. Granted, I still have no voice, and due to burst blood vessels from coughing fits, my eyes look like the eyes of the zombies in 28 Days Later. No seriously, they do. The whites of my eyes are all completely red with blood.


I’ll probably have someone take a picture tomorrow and post that just for my own entertainment value. In the meantime, I’d like to talk about some new (mostly to me) games that I’ve played in the last little bit.

Ark. This is a German card game, published in the US by Rio Grande Games. Basically you have to load the Ark with creatures and supplies while trying not to overbalance it one way or the other, and also without placing prey animals in the same cabin as larger predators, or animals from tropical climates with those from arctic climates, or placing herbivores in the same cabin as the supplies. It comes with the cards of animals, five rain cards (the illustrations are adorable), as well as a series of counters. The rain cards are shuffled into the deck, and when the last rain card is drawn, the game is over, regardless of how many animals are left.
The box says the game is for 8 and up, but it took three adults several rounds to really get the gist of it. It is a lot of fun. Basically for ever animal you successfully place, you get a little dinosaur counter and at the end the person with the most counters wins. There is a free pdf of the rules on the Rio Grande site.

Bohnanza. This game is WAY more fun than any game about bean farming has a right to be. This game is also published by Rio Grande, and after several bottles of wine was hilarious. My friend Liz had been talking about it to me for months, and I just did not see how it could be fun. Basically it’s a strategy game about planting enough of various types of beans in order to harvest them for gold. At the end of the game, the person with the most gold wins. The end of the game comes when you’ve gone through the deck three times. When you draw your bean cards, you do not get to arrange them in your hand, but rather have to plant them as they came into your hand. You may also trade with other players for beans, or even just donate them to people. It does take a fair amount of strategy and thought. And like I said, far more fun than any game about bean farming has a right to be.

Gloom. This game by Atlas Games is a lot of fun. You take charge of a family, and you work to make them as miserable as possible before killing them. The illustrations are exceptionally reminiscent of the art of Edward Gorey. The cards are transparent, so that you can stack them on top of one another and you count all the numbers you can read. You do not count the points on a character unless they are dead. When you play a misfortune on a character, it gives that character a negative point value, you may only kill characters with negative points. However, there are also cards that may give characters positive numbers. You get to play two cards per turn, and can play them on anyone’s characters, not just your own. Games around our house tend to get cut-throat pretty quickly. The game is over when the first person kills all of their family. The person with the highest negative score wins.

Parlay. We are big on word games in our house, and the Mister is really into poker. So when he found a game that incorporated both word games and poker, he was really excited. It’s basically a seven card stud variant. The cards have both suits and letters on them. In the first part of the round, you build your words from the five cards in your hand and the two in the center of the table. Now, after that comes a point where you can either Fold, or you can Stay and wager on the strength of your poker hand for either bonuses to your word, or you can lose and get nothing. I was dubious, I’m not a huge or good poker player, but I got him the game for Christmas. Our friend Tammy came over and between them and the handy little cheat sheet of what poker hands were and how much they were worth, I puzzled it out. It was actually pretty fun. I enjoyed it a lot.

Jungle Speed. This is high-speed matching card game is a blast. 2-4 players sit equidistant from the Totem, which is a short wooden dowel. Then you deal out equal parts of the deck of cards, and start flipping your cards over one after the other, when two of you have matching cards, the one to grab the totem first wins and the loser has to take their cards. The goal of the game is to run out of cards first. There are also cards in it mean anyone can make a grab for the Totem, or that everyone flips their cards all at once. The Mister heard about it on several of the podcasts he listens to, and was really excited about it. This was another game that degenerated into giggles the more wine we all had on New Year’s Eve. Memo: Me – trim nails before the next game. I accidentally took a chunk out of one of the other players.

That will do it for this week.  You can find reviews of these games at or in Paul Tevis’ podcast Have Games Will Travel.  Ok, I need to go.  Chowder is on the Cartoon Network.  Since the Mister is an excellent cook, and has actually gone to cooking school, he finds this cartoon irresistibly funny.  More later.

4 thoughts on “Geek Girls Rule #38 – New Games I’ve Played Recently

  1. The art for Ark is by Doris Matthäus, who is the Doris in Doris & Frank (the German publisher). She’s a minor celebrity among game geeks for her wonderfully cute art.

    She has a great fondness for hedgehogs 🙂

  2. I saw that! That makes me happy. I collect hedgehogs and have owned two African Pygmy Hedgehogs. I’m hoping to get a third some time this spring.

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