Tara’s Top Ten Board Games: Part Two

Console games, online gaming and apps are all great ways to connect with friends, practice problem solving skills and just have fun, but my absolute favorite type of game is a board game. You can go ahead and call me nerdy and old-fashioned. (I’ll wait.) Okay, are you done laughing at me yet? Because, seriously, board games are the best!

Image result for pile of dice

Last time, I shared five of my faves. Here in no particular order are the rest of my Top Ten Board Games.

Image result for kittens in a blenderKittens in a Blender – This adorable, little game has a horrifying name and I feel a little guilty every time I play it. Each player chooses a color and tries to keep their kittens out of the blender while – Bast help me – blending the other players’ kittens. Cat smoothie, anyone? I’m sorry, kittiiieees!!

Ticket to Ride – It took me a while to really get into Ticket to Ride. It’s a train game, and I just don’t get the fascination with trains that some gamers have. But it’s also, basically, a resource collecting game like Settlers of Catan. Once I realized that, it became more fun for me. Each player is given random route cards and has to build tracks between two cities. You collect cards of different colors to create your tracks. If you’re really a jerk. You figure out where your opponent is trying to reach and block them. I really hate that trick. It’s also a good way to learn some geography. The original game features a U.S. map, but there are additional versions with maps from all over the world.

Image result for zombie diceZombie Dice – This is a super-fast, super-fun game that only requires 13 zombified dice. Each die has pictures of brains, footsteps and shotgun blasts. You try to “eat” as many brains as you can without getting shotgunned. It’s similar to other dice games like Farkle or Fill or Bust, but it’s way cooler because zombies.

Image result for telestrationsTelestrations – The best thing about this game is that you don’t actually have to buy the game; you can totally re-create it with paper, pens and a little creativity. It’s a cross between Pictionary and that grade school standby, Telephone. The advantage to purchasing the actual game is that it comes with a deck of word cards. Otherwise, you have to make them all up yourself. Each player picks a card and draws what is listed on the card. They pass their drawing to the player on the left who tries to guess what it is. Pretty straightforward. Here’s where it gets confusing. Each player writes down their guess on a new sheet of paper and passes that to the player on their left who now draws the guessed answer to what the first player drew. Are you still with me? The new drawing gets passed, the next player guesses, and play continues like this until the whole thing gets back to the first player. Then you read through all the crazy guesses and drawings and hilarity ensues. Draw, guess, repeat.

Cranium Cranium is great for families or friend groups who can’t agree on what type of game to play. It’s like four games for the price of one. One component is all trivia (for my brainy sister who loves Trivial Pursuit), one is all drawing and sculpting (for my artist niece who kills at Pictionary), one part features word puzzles (for me, the word nerd) and one component that revolves around singing and performing, like charades. (No one in my family likes that part.) You make your way around the board, participating in all four types of play with your team until you get to the giant purple brain at the center of the board and you solve one final puzzle (of your opponent’s choice).

Happy Gaming!



Tara’s Top Ten Board Games: Part One

Console games, online gaming and apps are all great ways to connect with friends, practice problem solving skills and just have fun, but my absolute favorite type of game is a board game. You can go ahead and call me nerdy and old-fashioned. (I’ll wait.) Okay, are you done laughing at me yet? Because, seriously, board games are the best!

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Here in no particular order are half of my Top Ten Board Games. (I’ll post the rest next time.)

SetImage result for settlers of catantlers of Catan – It’s takes some time to learn, set up and conquer, but it’s totally worth it. Settlers of Catan consists of an ever-changing landscape of mountains, hills, forests, fields and pastures. Each player strategically builds settlements and cities in order to receive and control different resources on the island of Catan. There are also dozens of expansions like Seafarers, The Great River and Wizards & Dragons that can add different dimensions to your gameplay. Settlers is a great game for a game night with a small group of friends 

Image result for codenames gameCodeNamesCodeNames is a cool game in which two spymasters give their team of secret agents clues as they race to figure out which spies are on their side. It helps if the team and spymaster are familiar with each other’s thinking. I’ve played this game with people I know so well we can practically read each other’s minds as well as with near strangers. Even when I don’t win, it’s always a fun game!

Munchkin – There are a ton of themed Munchkin games including pirates, zombies, steampunk, ninjas, fairies, superheroes and even Rick and Morty! The basic idea is that you’re a small, selfish, tricksy creature known as a munchkin. You are crawling through a dungeon and must kick in doors, fight monsters and collect treasure. It is also well-known that munchkins cheat, so feel free to play creatively.

Image result for fluxx gamesFluxx Fluxx is another game with a zillion different versions. I think my personal fave is Monty Python Fluxx, but I haven’t met one I didn’t like. You draw cards, and try to collect objects to meet a goal, but it’s okay if you don’t understand the rules; they could change any minute! As you play, various cards will change how many cards you draw, discard, hold in your hand, and even the goal of the game! It’s a game that’s constantly in flux. (Get it?)

Image result for scrabble catScrabble – There are a lot of great word games out there, including Word on the Street, Quiddler and Unspeakable Words. But, imho, you just can’t beat the classic Scrabble for wordy, nerdy fun! No gimmicks – just pure vocabulary, strategy and luck. If you want something a little less intense, check out the games mentioned above. They’re all phenomenal!

Calling All Witches and Wizards

Have you ever wanted to learn spells and charms? Have you taken every quiz ever written to determine your House? Have you dreamed about what it would be like to actually live at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Here’s your chance! The Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery app is here and it’s pretty enchanting.

(Sorry. I couldn’t resist.)

The Game:

You start off by creating and naming your character. The choices to start with are a little limited, but as you play and gain levels, more options for clothing, accessories, hair styles, etc. become available. And you can always go back and change your character’s hair color, eye color, skin color and facial features. So, don’t feel like you’re stuck once you’ve created a character. Also, you CAN make in-app purchases, but it’s totally not necessary. Anything that you can buy with IRL money can be acquired through gameplay. It might take a little longer, but where’s the fun in buying your way through a game anyway?

You will start off in Diagon Alley. The graphics are pretty darn good for a mobile app. There’s the Leaky Cauldron, Ollivander’s and Flourish & Blotts, among other recognizable settings from the books/movies. Other students and magic-wielders are bustling about the Alley. Here is where you meet your first new friend. She’s easy to spot as she has an exclamation point above her head. (Her name is Rowan in my game, but they may randomize the NPCs in different games. I’m not sure. If you play too, leave a comment and let me know if your details are the same.) Any NPC (non-player character) with an exclamation point or other symbols above their head has something to share with you. The game will let you know what things you NEED to click, but you can also try tapping random stuff like house elves and ghosts to see what happens.

When you arrive at Hogwarts with all the other frantic first-years, Dumbledore lets everyone know that the infant Boy Who Lived has been safely placed, and Voldemort is in hiding. It’s kind of cool to play in a pre-Harry setting. There are some familiar characters like Bill Weasley, Nymphadora Tonks and all the professors, but you get to experience a different story that centers around you.

Once in the Great Hall, you can choose your House. I, of course, chose Ravenclaw, because Ravenclaws are the best. It’s just a fact. There can be no argument. You can explore your House Common Room, the Castle Grounds and all sorts of places! Some doors will have Lock symbol on them. These rooms or floors can’t be used until you’ve reached a higher level.

You get to attend classes, learn spells, mix potions and even duel! Because, of course, there’s a nasty Slytherin bully. Also – surprise! – Snape is a jerk-face. As you explore the school and meet its students, you also discover a mystery involving your brother and the clues to solve it!

Tara’s Analysis:

Even though, the game leads you through your lessons by telling you who to talk to you and what to do to cast spells, I like that it’s not just a bunch of mindless clicking. As you go along, you’ll be asked questions and given choices, and some of the options are definitely better than others. Your answers will affect your gameplay. I’m glad that the characters are so customizable. There’s a range of skin tones and eye and hair colors. (Sadly, no green hair. I’m hoping that opens up at a later level. If Tonks can have pink hair, I should be able to have green!) Mostly, I love the scenery, characters and spells. The graphics are beautiful, the NPCs are engaging and the whole game just feels like visiting old friends and they are just as wonderful as I remember.




My Adventures in Free Comic Book Day!

Saturday was Free Comic Book Day!



This great mural is outside Rockhead’s Comics and Games in Kenosha, WI.


Every year, the comic industry releases a few dozen comic books specifically created for FCBD. Comic stores (and even sometimes book stores) can opt to receive (purchase) a limited quantity of each of these books that they, in turn, give away FOR FREE!


Some of the FREE titles available this year! Photo taken in Double Daggers Artisan Emporium in Kenosha, WI.

Many shops have additional events like sales or raffles or cosplay contests going on in tandem with FCBD. You can choose to spend the day at one or two stores to see all the cool stuff going on and hang out with other people who are just as into comics as you are. Or, like me, you can take the Gotta-Catch-’Em-All Approach and try to hit as many comic shops as possible to collect all the available FCBD comics released that year. Most shops limit how many individual books you can take to 2–5 comics per person. So, you have to go to a lot of stores if you want to get all 50 that came out this year.


More excellent artwork outside Vortex Comics in Milwaukee, WI.

Two friends and I go every year and we share our bounty, so we just need to make sure we get all 50 between the three of us – much easier! I usually call it “trick-or-treating for grown-up geeks” although, there are certainly a lot of families with little kids excited to pick out their free comics too.

This year, we only made it to four comic book stores, all located in Wisconsin. We almost got all 50, but the last two stores we went to were already out of the more popular titles, so we missed a few.

Highlights of the Day:

I found some back issues of some of my favorite series! These weren’t among the free comics, of course, but I was thrilled to find them anyway!

Wonder Woman was performing her hero duties at one of my favorite shops in Kenosha, WI, raising funds for The Walk to End Alzheimer’s.


Wonder Woman doing her part to defend those in need – Rockhead’s – Kenosha, WI

Magic: the Gathering Mana Boxes and ALL THE SUPERFIGHT!

Finding Neko Atsume plushie kitties!


Kitty Collector toys at Lost Worlds – Milwaukee, WI

Finding a real, live kitty! Boo the shop cat at Lost Worlds was not interested in my paparazzi act. But she did enjoy spending some time in a comic book box.


The End.



International Games WEEK!

So, everybody knows that Halloween is drawing nigh, but what you might not know is that International Games Week is nearly here also!

International games week

In past years you might have participated in International Games Day. Well, a day of games was so much fun that we’ll be playing games all week this year! It starts on Sunday, October 29 and ends on Saturday, November 4. There will be video games, Yu-gi-oh!, an Escape Room, Uno, board games and even an after-hours session of Dungeons & Dragons on Friday, November 3 featuring gaming, snacks, and a live performance by Dan the Bard! Parental permission slips are required for the after-hours program so make sure to register soon and get your paperwork in.

You may notice that there is nothing planned for Tuesday.  That’s because Tuesday is Halloween and we wanted to give y’all a day off to enjoy the holiday. However, if you don’t have Halloween plans and trick-or-treating isn’t your scene, you are more than welcome to hang out in the Vortex to play a board game, create a game-related craft-on-the-go, or check out one of the games in our card game Maker Kit! We have three Yu-gi-oh! Decks, three Magic: the Gathering decks, standard playing cards, and Uno. Just present a library card or school I.D. at the Vortex desk to check out any of our new Maker Kits.

Game on!




My last two blog posts have focused on the first two words of Fountaindale’s Summer Adventure theme, Create, Explore, Connect! And I hope you found a boatload of programs and services that called out to you. This week’s post is, of course, all about connection.

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We all know that the library is a great place to learn new things and develop yourself as an individual, but it is also an amazing place to connect with friends, your community and the rest of the world.

Dungeons & Dragons at Fountaindale!

Want to play a game of Yu-gi-oh with your friends? Want to soak your friends in an epic water war? Want to just relax with a movie and snacks? Want to meet other people who like anime, manga and fandom? Want to volunteer and give back to your community? Want to learn about another culture? The Vortex offers all this and more!

wild cards

Wild Cards Club Yu-go-oh! game at Fountaindale!

Just look at all the great stuff we have on our calendar! You can limit the age group to show you only programs open to teens. You can also browse events by category. Clicking on one calendar day will show you everything happening that day and clicking on the event name will bring up a page with more details and registration information.  

Go check it out and sign up for some great programs today!









International Games Day is back and better than ever! Join us on Saturday, November 19 from noon to 5:00 p.m. for non-stop gaming awesomeness! Make sure to eat lunch before you hit the library because you’ll need to keep your energy up for THREE tournaments and so much more!

We’re going to kick off the day with our annual Connect 4 Tournament at 12:15 p.m. We’ve seen some serious strategists over the years. Will you be a contender this year? Register here to reserve your spot!

Image result for connect 4 tournament 2016

B-9? B-4? A-4? You sunk my LIFE-SIZE BATTLESHIP! Come sail the high seas and knock your opponent clear out of the ocean! Tournament runs from 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. You can register here.

What day of tournaments would be complete without Mario Kart? Join us for a 2-hour (3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.) Mario Kart extravaganza! This one is sure to fill up fast so don’t forget to register.

Other Fun Stuff
D&D Q&A – Our fabulous Dungeon Master, Jason, will be on hand all day to answer any questions you might have about the fantastic worlds of Dungeons and Dragons.

Trivia Wheel – Spin the wheel to find a category. Ask a question about such topics as Manga, Science, or Gaming and win a piece of candy! Ooo, piece of candy!

Opportunities for Games Galore! – We’ll have our library of board games out and ready play. With so many gamers around, it shouldn’t be hard to find another Yu-gi-oh! Player for a duel or a group for a quick game of Settlers of Catan! Feel free to bring your favorite Collectible Card Game deck!