board games

Siberian Fireball

Tunguska Blast

I have always been fascinated by the remoteness of Siberia.  A board game that I played as a kid was called Risk.  I loved it.  Each player tries to conquer the world with armies.  I liked looking at the geography of the map on the game board.  Places like Kamchatka, Irkutsk, Siberia, Madagascar, and New Guinea all captured my imagination.  When I would hear or read about places like Lake Baikal in remote Asia, my mind would race back to my Risk playing days.

When I created the board game Treasure Trove I wanted to include strange places, exotic animals, ancient cities, and fabled treasure that would capture the imagination of young minds who might play the game.  One such place was the mysterious blast in a remote part of Siberia that leveled over 80 million trees.  The Siberian Fireball as many now call it, took place near Tunguska in 1908.  It was not seriously scientifically evaluated for many decades later.  At first it was assumed to have been a meteorite, but there is no large crater.  Now it is thought to probably have been a comet that exploded in the atmosphere.  There are plenty of other hypothesis including:  A black hole went through the earth, a chunk of antimatter falling from space( I am not exactly sure what antimatter is), a natural H-bomb (whatever that is), or the explosion of an alien spacecraft.  A lot of Star Trek theories I suppose.

I have several places on the game board of Treasure Trove that involve strange phenomena such as the Bermuda Triangle or The Giants of Nazca.  It is fun to expose kids playing the game to the many fascinating places our planet has to offer.

Galapagos Islands

Biographies have interested me since I was a child.  Each week my classroom at school would venture to the library for about 30 minutes.  I was always jealous of the girls who were good readers.  They seemed to polish off their reading quite easily while mine was a slow slog.  It is still that way for me. I learned early on that I liked history and biography.  Each week I would check out a book about some famous person. 

I remember reading about Thomas Jefferson and how he was challenged to a swim race by an Indian.  The Indian was stronger and a better swimmer but Jefferson won the race because he paced himself.  So what?  I don’t know, it is just something I remembered when I read his biography.  Same goes for Henry Ford when he built a car and could not get it out of the garage.  He had to tear down the garage door to get the car out.  How about Abraham Lincoln liking to wrestle?  Just quirky little things that I remember.

            One day in the biography section I picked up a book called Charles Darwin and the HMS Beagle.  At least that is what I recall.  I had never heard of him.  He was an Englishman who had journeyed to an island that had all kinds of strange animals.  It opened up my mind to people who study plants and animals.  I guess at the time I just called them scientists because I had no idea what a botanist or a zoologist was.  I also had not realized prior to reading the book that there were giant turtles.  I don’t remember anything special about Darwin and also do not recall the book saying anything about evolution.  I suppose it did, but it did not register on my radar screen.  I just remember him encountering a lot of weird animals and writing in his book to categorize them.

            I choose to place Galapagos Islands on the game board of Treasure Trove because it has an unusual name and because they are unusual islands.  I was hopeful it would be of interest to kids who play the game.  I never really knew why they were called the Galapagos.  Sounded like one of the strange animals that was found there.  Well, that is partially true.  Galapagos in Spanish means saddle.  The Spanish sailors who discovered the islands encountered very large turtles that had shells shaped like a saddle, hence they named the islands after the large tortoises.

            The Galapagos is an archipelago of about a fifteen islands 60 miles west of Ecuador, discovered by the Spanish in 1535.  English pirates frequented the islands for centuries waiting to raid Spanish galleons of their gold and silver.  Charles Darwin arrived in 1835.  There are about three dozen indigenous species to the islands which are now a national park of Ecuador.       



Some animals just capture our imagination, or should I say, our fear.  Piranhas are one of those creatures that definitely fit into this category.  I cannot recall exactly when I first heard of piranhas, but had been told they were flesh eating fish that attacked in groups eating other fish, or whatever else is in the water, to the bone.  I think my oldest brother mentioned piranhas when I was young.  In Junior High I saw a movie at school about the Spanish explorers.  One of the men went swimming in the Amazon, and guess what?  Let’s just say I was convinced to never swim in the Amazon.

            I have always been fascinated with the diversity of animals on our planet and how each of the continents has its own unique, often strange, animals.  I love watching documentaries on wildlife, or shows such as River Monsters.  When I created the board game Treasure Trove, I wanted that sense of adventure and exploration to be evident as players travel the world in search of treasure.  I deliberately mentioned some of the exotic animals indigenous to the various continents.  Some of these I placed with drawings on the game board, while others I placed within the situation cards.  I placed the following card in the stack of cards for South America.


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