Sunday, August 16, 2015

"Cardboard Adventure" Quest

Since we didn't find out about Quest Scouts until late May, we were playing "catch up" to try to complete 5 older quests even as new summer quests were released.  This meant we started working on several quests at the same time, doing activities as we could fit them in. Luckily the founder of Quest Scouts decided to extend the deadline for retiring the older quests, giving us until SEP or OCT to complete them.

A fun quest for us was "Cardboard Adventure" since it revolved around games and puzzles. Right up our alley!  Here is a synopsis of the possible activities to earn a minimum of 1,000 points:

MEDIA – Big Screen Games
We had our choice of 4 game-related documentaries/movies to watch.  All of them sounded good, but we chose "Under the Boardwalk: The MONOPOLY Story".

Martini Man comments:
We just got thru watching Under the Boardwalk and it was fascinating. It was enjoyable learning about the history of the game and the world championship tournaments. But just as interesting were the people and watching their personalities play out. Can't say I cried much when the pompous lawyer got bounced. And while we rooted for the American, we were pleased to see the young fellow from Norway win it all. A fun, fun watch.............

Wisconsin Hiker comments:
We watched "Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story" tonight and being compatibly geeky people, we both enjoyed it! It brought many memories of playing Monopoly as a kid and teenager. I had no idea that there were championship games, not only nationally, but internationally. I liked the format of the movie, the discussion of why people preferred different tokens in the game, the fact that one tournament was played on a train and the focus on personalities of various players. Like Martini Man, I was glad the pompous lawyer was a big loser, but also not surprised there were several lawyers in the tournaments. I was very interested in all the statistics the teacher annotated on his board that he used with his students. Thanks for letting us know about this interesting movie!

LITERATURE – Choose Your Own Adventure!
This quest's literature objective was to read Lost in Austen by Emma Campbell Webster. Reading the book is a game in itself. The story asks you to make choices and answer trivia as you navigate the familiar landscape of Jane Austen's world. Your choices and answers will affect how your story progresses.

Martini Man comments:
OK, this was not my favorite read. I think because it was in a game format it was a little more tedious than if I had more forthrightly played the game and maybe I will go back and give that a try. I was amused by the language, the utter mash-up of Jane Austin's characters into one narrative and also by the rather "interesting" ends your character could have inflicted on them if all does not go well. But, in truth, not one of my favorite read in Quest Scouts.

Wisconsin Hiker comments:
Well, I am sorry to report that I have few Accomplishments and many Failings. Although I developed a few Superior Connections and my Confidence was growing, my Fortune was small and my Intelligence was dwindling. That may explain why my first fate was quickly being attacked by a gang of gypsies who disfigured my face, so that I wasn't able to attract any sort of husband my livelong life. On my second attempt I made it a bit further before I ended up in melancholy solitude and ended my days in poverty and obscurity. Oh woe is me!! An entertaining book/game, but I'm glad I didn't need to persevere until I snagged a rich man! It might be years until I made the right choices...

VISIT – Friendly Local Game Store
For this objective we had to visit a "Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS)". This was defined as a term that tabletop gamers use to endearingly recognize the value of shops that specialize in board games. This was certainly no hardship for us and we enjoyed our time poking around!

Martini Man: We have been busy! Today we had a chance to visit Board Game Barristers in support of the Cardboard Adventure badge. It WAS overwhelming. But we managed to spot something we thought would make a nice gift.

Wisconsin Hiker: We visited "The Board Game Barrister", a FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) today. They had lots of familiar and not so familiar games and we had fun browsing around (and also made a gift purchase). A bunch of gamers were in the store and winners were being announced for an earlier game.

RESEARCH - Board Game Geek
To satisfy the requirement for this component, we were asked to familiarize ourselves with the Board Game Geek site. It is an interactive database of virtually all board games ever produced and is dedicated not only to cataloging board games, but also provides reviews, forums, and much more. Our task was to identify 3 games that we may want to play in the future and then post the titles of the games, along with the reason we thought they sounded interesting.

Martini Man: I thought using Board Game Geek was a pain. It seemed cluttered and rolling thru the categories of games is a real time sucker. Having said that, there is a TON of information here and I did run into some games that read well to me. I like strategy games like Ticket to Ride, so the following fit my tastes.

Sid Meier created a great computer game called Civilization that has gone thru many iterations over the years. So I was pleased to see there was a board game version as well. The theme is you are a leader of a nascent civilization and you race your opponents to create a dominant culture whether thru science, the arts or military.

Food Chain Magnate
Here you try and become the big "cheese" among other food chains. This attracted me more for the tongue in cheek approach to the game.
This was a game of the year in 2014. It sounded interesting. You move thru the bazaars of Istanbul, wheeling and dealing to get the most rubies before game play stops.

Wisconsin Hiker: I have to admit that although I love games, I didn't really like researching games on the BoardGameGeek website. I prefer Googling to find lists of games and places where they are reviewed. I couldn't figure out how to create good search criteria on the BGG site, but I plodded through the site to identify some games that looked interesting. Although I like a big variety of games, I tried to find some new party games for larger groups to play at a Game Night (which we like to host). We already have a TON of games, but these 3 looked like they would be good additions:

Activity 2: 3-16 players. A party game where you have to describe words verbally, by pantomiming or by drawing. Unfortunately this game is readily available and it seems there may only be a German version.

Synapse: 4-24 players. Described as a high-spirited game of teamwork and laughter. Form a sentence to get your team's Guesser to say a word. The Guesser has 60 seconds to get the answer...the faster you answer the more points you score. Sound easy? The catch is that team members must take turns adding one word to the sentence without consulting each other. Your synapses might not match your neighbor's. That's when the hilarity begins! Be ready for surprised looks, unusual sentence structure and outbursts of laughter as connections are made...or not! Unfortunately this is another game that is not readily available.

Rollick!: 6-24 players. Description: the entire team collaborates together to act out clues for one or more players to guess. It’s a hysterical, fun, fast-paced, team competition game that’s an absolute riot at parties, family gatherings, work events, holiday celebrations, with friends, and even loved by teenagers! This is a bit easier to find on-line, but the store I went to didn't have it. I bought a very similar game instead called Reverse Charades.

ART – Games Reimagined
Since tabletop game boards, cards, pawns and miscellaneous pieces are full of amazing designs and colors, for this objective we were supposed to choose a board game to inspire an original painting.
Not done

PHOTOGRAPHY – Game Component Snap
The Photography component also asked us to focus on highlighting the beauty of a tabletop game and its components by taking an artsy photo.

WIsconsin Hiker's photo of a game called Zitternix

DIY – Print & Play
This activity introduced us to Print and Play games, which area a subset of games that are born from a PDF and your own two hands. Game designers make them available for download and you then print them on your computer, cut them out, and play the game!

Wisconsin Hiker chose the game Take-Back-Toe (

It was a pretty simple game to understand and only required 40 pieces of something (we used poker chips). We played 3 rounds and started to get a good feel for the strategy. There is definitely an element of chance, due to the dice roll, but also a lot of skill to play both offensively and defensively! Wisconsin Hiker personally liked the micro game "Coin Age" (see below) a bit better than this game, but Martini Man preferred this game. 

FIND – The Cache Examiner
In order to complete this objective we had to find a mystery letterbox with a newspaper puzzle theme. Mystery boxes require that you solve some sort of "puzzle" in order to determine where the box is placed. The instructions were to find a box that required solving a crossword, sudoku, or any other typical "newspaper puzzle." We've found several of these in the past, but because Quest Scouts wants your activity to be INTENTIONAL (doing it specifically for the quest, not some prior activity), we had to determine where some new boxes might be that we hadn't already found before. I asked several of our letterboxing pals if they knew of any in their areas, but before we had to travel to find one we got a surprise. Our friend PackerBacker created a new mystery letterbox and she cleverly used Quest Scouts info in both the crossword puzzle and the clues (and the stamp). And to top it off, she very conveniently planted it in a park within 10 miles of our house!! We immediately solved the puzzle and headed out to find the"Quest Scouts" letterbox tonight. Thanks PB! (She has also started doing Quest Scout activities, as have a few of our other LB friends such as SZSrocks and HowD girls.)

Here is the crossword puzzle we had to solve:

The circled letters had to be unscrambled to determine the park name and then we had to follow additional clues to find the box.  Here is a bit of the clue that includes some QS references: 

"Today you get to be a Park Explorer! Your objective is to successfully find, and log, this awesome letterbox. If it’s a hot day, be sure to bring some H2O with you. ..... Head over to the trail sign, where All That Came Before you started their quests too.

.... Soon, choose left and listen to the sounds of balls being hit. If hit hard enough, some may soar to Such Great Heights. After crossing the bridge you will see a tree of Epic Proportions pointing you in the direction you need to go. .....

We stamp into the Quest Scouts box

GAMES – Play!
This component noted that "Games are a source of entertainment and brain stimulation that, for many, can help lead happier lives."  That is true for us!   We had the opportunity to earn up to 600 points by playing games in several categories (150 points per category). By playing a game from each category, we experienced both classic and modern games and "small" and "large" games.

CLASSIC BOARD GAMES - We chose Scrabble, a favorite of people who delight in vocabulary and strategy.

The game begins
Martini Man: As you can see, we played Scrabble and there's a lot of intensity in that picture. It was hard fought and I thought I'd squeak by. But I pulled the Q and could not figure out how to dump it. Hard fought game with Wis Hiker, as usual.

The game finally came to an end (good thing we have lights on the patio!)

Wisconsin Hiker: As usual, it was a very close game between Martini Man & I when we played Scrabble tonight. It took ~ 2 hours for the game and I emerged the victor by a measly 5 points because he had to subtract points for the "Q". 

CLASSIC CARD & SMALL GAMES - We chose Phase 10, a game that has been popular in our extended family for many years. My sister Diana and her husband Mark came over for a cookout on the 4th of July and that was the perfect opportunity to play a game to satisfy this category.

MODERN BOARD GAMES - Our friends Acorn & Golden Boy brought their "Ticket to Ride" game along with them when they visited us in August. We played it and we loved it! The box cover said it was the 2004 Game of the Year in Germany. We had the opportunity to play a couple of rounds of with them and we would gladly play it again. They left it with us for a while, so if any Quest Scouts are in the area and would like to play it with us, let us know!
Learning the rules

We used train cards & tokens to build routes between U.S.A. cities, based on our individual destination cards

CLASSIC CARD & SMALL GAMES - We borrowed Bananagrams from our niece Jessica.  The next day when our friend Joy stopped by we talked her into staying for pizza and two rounds of play. Martini Man won the first game and I emerged the victor the next time.  It was a close game between the three of us and very fast paced!

This micro quest challenged us to take a creative photo of a letterbox. We were encouraged to take some time to make the photo something special by using creative angles, highlighting an unusual perspective or relying on the scenery around the box to make our photo "pop".

Martini Man's photo of a letterbox on Alcatraz Island in WI

Wisconsin Hiker's photo of a letterbox at the Exploring the Seas event in Oregon

For this one we watched the documentary "Made for Play" about the process of producing and manufacturing games.

Martini Man: This was pretty fascinating to watch. What I liked were the ingenious machines you see at key facets of the process. Those machines have to cost millions. I also marvelled at the folks who did what I would consider mind-numbing tasks. Watching the assembly line for the games was daunting for me to watch and I am sure I would have shut down the line myself.

Wisconsin Hiker: The video reminded me of my career in the automated material handling field. One of the most interesting aspects of my job was seeing all the amazing machines and equipment created to manufacture everything from Fritos, to automobiles, to Boeing aircraft. I had fun contributing to many projects and systems at a variety of industries, but never at a game manufacturer. This video did a good job of showing the manufacturing process. The big game trade show in Germany looked very interesting, especially since the general public could attend.

MICRO QUEST 3 - Microgame
Most often tabletop games have a large number of components. However, a new trend, the "microgame", is challenging designers and players to squeeze the maximum amount of fun from as few components as possible. This micro quest asked us to choose a game to play and then comment on it.  I chose CoinAge which is played on a space the size of a credit card.  Here is the official description:

Coin Age is a microgame for two players that's played with a single card and pocket change. Players take turns placing coins on a map to control spaces, outmaneuver their opponent, and score victory points.
Coin Age uses an innovative "coin slap" mechanism to determine available actions. On a player's turn, he takes one of each of his remaining types of coins in hand (one quarter, one nickel, one penny, and one dime), shakes them up, then slaps them on the table. Based on the number of coins that match his "side", he can then either place coins on the map, move previously placed coins to an adjacent space, or remove them altogether. When placing coins, players may also place their coins on top of the opponent's coins if their size/rank is smaller, so while a quarter will give you the most victory points at the end of the game, it has the highest probability of being covered by your opponent.
Coin Age is a quick-playing area control game with lots of player interaction and a bit of push-your-luck gameplay.

Wisconsin Hiker: We played CoinAge tonight and we really liked it! It takes a while to figure out a strategy. It's pretty complex for a simple "Print & Play" game. We will definitely play this again! (I played it again with our 13-year old niece when she visited and am keeping it handy for other spur-of-the-moment game playing opportunities.)

MICRO QUEST 4 – Random Acts of Puzzle
This micro quest required us to print some type of puzzle, such as a Word Search, and then anonymously place it in a public place, along with a note that encourages community participation. After a day or so we are supposed to return to the location to see if anyone has worked on the puzzle.

Wisconsin Hiker
I thought I had a good idea by putting some dog-themed Word Search puzzles at our local dog park as a "Random Acts of Puzzle". However I was disappointed that there was very little participation.

This required us to solve a puzzle with a drop quote puzzle. Above each column was a series of scrambled letters. We had to “Drop” a letter into the correct square directly below the letter to reveal the quote. It was pretty quick to solve since Martini Man and I have done similar puzzles recently (except the other ones are harder since they have a choice of letters for both rows and columns, alternating each letter in a line). We love puzzles and have 4 different "Page-a-Day" puzzle calendars, so we do them regularly.

We needed to get at least 1,000 points to complete the quest and we both exceeded that.  We thereby earned our third badge! This was an easy badge for us because we love games & puzzles.

"Cardboard Adventure" badge

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