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Too Many Games!!!

My wife and I love to play games together. Join us for the journey!

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T.I.M.E Stories

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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T.I.M.E Stories is the hot game right now. It seems that just about every game media outlet has nothing but the most exalted of praises to say about this game. Even the criticisms (“the The Marcy Case is not as good as the others”) still come off as glowing (“but the game is still the best thing I have ever played.”) Given how many good things I had heard about this game, I really wanted to play it. However, what I knew about the game made me feel fairly sure my wife would absolutely hate it. Recently my friend,
Cody Jones
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Franklin
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, coordinated it so that along with a few other interested gamers we could get experience this current hotness. So did this make for one of my greatest gaming stories ever or is it just out of time?

Game Overview
Before going any further, I should state that everything written here is spoiler free. It should also be stated that I have only played the Asylum adventure included in the base box, and by the very nature of the game I have only played it once. This will be the most basic of overviews.

In this game the players are a group of time travelers, who jump back into the bodies of other people (like Sam Beckett if you are a Quantum Leap fan). Based on the scenario there is some sort of task that has to be done or puzzle that has to be solved. Each player picks the “receptacle” that they enter and then they are off to figure things out. Players have a map of locations they can encounter. When a player enters a location several cards are laid which makes a picture of the location and each card represents a way in which the location can be interacted with. Players will pick which section they will encounter and then they read the card that of that section.

Some cards just have information, and others have challenges. Some challenges are mandatory and others are optional. Whenever players do challenges, it will cost a time unit. To do a challenge, dice are rolled. The number of dice rolled is based off of character stats, and the challenge dictates the number of successes needed. If multiple players are encountering the card then they may all roll for the challenge. If it is a combat challenge, then failing to get a success can cause damage to the player. If they lose their life points, then a player is in some sort of temporal limbo until they can rejoin.
When a player moves from one location to another they will roll a die to determine if 1,2,or 3 time units are spent. For the initial runs, the amount of time is limited. If the players reach zero then it is possible that they are taken out of the run. Everything will be reset and the players will begin again. Items and events that are story essential (or that the player think are story essential) have to be re-done.

Each run through could be considered a single session, but I think the standard way most people play is go through the whole story from start to finish in one run. The game ends when the players complete the story of the scenario they are teaching, and a group score is determined based on what they did and how fast they did it.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale. Of course this time it is just my score, but I am using the same scale for consistency.

My Rating: 2.5 (do not care for)
My Thoughts: When it comes to game play I was a little let down, but I honestly think that has a lot to do with too hyped of expectations. Seriously, a lot of game media as well as people I know have talked this game up to astronomical levels. This game does have some very clever things in it. The way locations are encountered with the display of cards is very innovative and very fun. It delivers the sense of exploring a location and the cards do help create a story. In a lot of ways these cards make the game feel like the analog version of a point and click video game (such as Myst). The use of puzzles that exist outside of the game mechanics is also extremely innovative inside a board game, but they are the kind of things that RPGs have been inserting into their adventures for decades. This game occupies a weird spot for me. It is more open ended and less structured than a thematic game like Touch of Evil, but it is more limited than something more like a traditional RPG. In my play through there was not any kind of roleplaying element and the story honestly took a back seat to the mechanisms. We treated it less like playing a story and more like a co-op game. That is not to say it is bad, it just did not wow me like I thought it would. Part of the issue is that one of the big selling point of this game was the immersive story. However, I have played other very narrative heavy games that I enjoyed more, thought were better games, and told a better story (specifically Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and Watson & Holmes: From the Diaries of 221B). I did not dislike the experience of playing T.IM.E stories, in fact I had a lot of fun playing it. However, I would rather play one of the games mentioned here or just play a role playing game.

I know that I just said I do not dislike playing the game, but that my rating says that “I do not care for it.” That is in part because I have opinions about the game not related to game play that very much impact my opinion on it. The big debate of this game comes down to is it worth it for one play. Obviously, when it comes to value everything is subjective. However, I do not see this experience as worth the cost of entry. I know the common argument is to compare the cost of going to a movie theater times four to cost of the game. However, that is comparing apples to oranges. I am ok with games having a limited number of plays (such as Pandemic Legacy, Consulting Detective, dungeon crawl campaigns, etc). However, all of those have more plays than a single session of T.I.M.E Stories, for not terribly much more money. When games are compared to games, T.I.M.E stories is not a poor value. It is my opinion that the cost is not worth the experience.


Verdict
My wife did not play it, but if she did (and let’s be clear there is zero chance she ever will) I can just about guarantee her rating would be one, and her comment would be “the artwork is great but I hated everything about the game.” T.I.M.E Stories has its fans, so for many there is clearly something to it. For me, the game is just OK but it has some serious issues with the cost and the one and done nature. If someone wants a deep, story based experience I think there are more fun game options (mentioned above) or better find a role playing group.
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Wed Jul 20, 2016 10:12 pm
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The Purge: Roll for the Galaxy

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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We have too many games. There are some games that sit on the shelf unplayed for a while, sometimes years. Normally when we do a purge, we play a game that has not been played for a while. Then we use that one play to determine if the game stays or if it gets purged to make room for something else. We have played this game a lot recently, and our opinion on this game has changed dramatically. Will the good times roll or will this game roll on out?

Brief Game Overview
In this game players will be building their space empire by using their citiznery to develop and settle (or conquer) worlds. Everyone begins the game with a starting world, a double tile starting faction (consisting of a development and world), and five dice.

Two of these dice are available to add later, and players begin by rolling three dice. On the face of these dice are symbols representing the various phases in the game. Players roll their available dice and then match them up according to face type. Players can then choose one die of any facing and assign it to the phase they want to ensure happens this turn. Wild dice can be assigned to any phase, and there are ways in the game to reassign dice from the rolled facing to be used in a different phase. All of this rolling and assigning is done in secret.

Players will reveal their dice assignments, and only the chosen phases happen. Anyone who has dice assigned to a phase will get to use them in that phase.

For the explore phase, each die can be used to get new tiles. These tiles are double sided with a world one side and development on the other. The explore die could also be used to gain two money.

In the development phase, dice are assigned to developments under construction. Each development and world has a cost. When there are dice equal to the cost on it, the development is completed and is placed in the tableau. Any ability it grants is now active. Settle is similar, only with worlds instead of developments. Completing new worlds is a player's primary way to get additional dice in a the dice pool.

In the produce phase each die assigned there can be placed on a production world to be a produced good. In the ship phase these dice can be shipped (with one ship action per assigned dice). The goods dice can be traded for money or consumed for points. A consumed die will yield 1 to 3 points, depending on conditions.

After all of the selected phases have been completed in the listed order, players can buy back dice. All used diced go to the citizenry pool. Each die cost $1, and players will always have at least $1 available to them. A new round then begins.

The game continues until the victory point pool is expended or a player completes their 12th tile. Players then count up their points. Each development and world is worth their build cost. This total is added to the number of victory point tokens collected plus any bonus points from six cost developments. The player with the most points wins.

What We Previously Thought
I thought the game was very unique and I liked the dice manipulation. I thought the game had a lot of replayability. My wife loved the combination of dice with Race for the Galaxy, and she thought it would be a game she would be playing a lot.

Verdict
My Verdict: Purge
At this point we have well over 30 plays of this game recorded. I have tried playing a variety of strategies and I have tried to approach this game in multiple ways. This game feels like a set of gears that just do not quite match up, and grind terribly. This is especially true when it comes to doing any kind of consume produce strategy. The expansion fixed this to a degree with the black die (it replaces a starting white die, has more options, and counts as all goods), but in a lot of ways that die feels like a patch. The dice manipulation is neat, but often it feels like a lot of work to get very little done. I think part of the issue for us is the game is just not optimized for two players. The dice can be manipulated, but sometimes a die is just going to get assigned to what it rolled. With more players the odds of more phases getting picked is higher. However with two players, these options dry up. There is a white die rolled to determine a random phase, but it is just that. . random. It does not always help and can not be relied on. Too often to many dice just go back int the cup, and the game feels like it plods and grinds.

Her Verdict: Purge
Her Rationale: Just on principle, I really want to like this game. However, the more I play this game the less I like it. This game is just boring. It is so hard to actually get anything going. This game has the feel of Race for the Galaxy, but none of the fun of putting a strategy together. It is so hard to get tiles to work well together, and it is frustrating when one person draws the perfect starting tile combination and the other player does not. Even though the play time for this game is not that long, it just feels like drags. Playing this game just makes me want to play Race for the Galaxy instead.

Final Verdict
Purge

We had initially said that we thought there was space for both this game and Race for the Galaxy on the same game shelf. There is some truth to that because the games are mechanically different enough. Even though Roll for the Galaxy uses different mechanic to do it, the game does try to capture the same feel and tableau building of the card game. After many plays and trying to convince ourselves we are wrong, we have to conclude that it fails spectacularly at doing that. There are some people who consider this a replacement for Race for the Galaxy, and we disagree with that opinion. We both feel that Race for the Galaxy is the superior game, and we have come to both think there is no reason to have both.
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Tue Jul 19, 2016 4:30 am
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200 Words or Less: Mini-review Edition

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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The idea of these posts are to take a few ideas that I have thoughts on but not enough thoughts to really flesh out into a full post and write about each topic for 200 words or less. There are several games that I have played that my wife will probably not play, so these are my thoughts on those in short form. Given the world limit per game, this will just be opinions on the game. I am sure though if you are looking for a rule overview, it should not be hard to find. So here are my thoughts on five different games in 200 words or less:

Coup: Rebellion G54

I have played a lot of Coup, and I have played it a lot with the same groups of people. This is a game that suffers from serious group think, and that means that a lot of games played our similarity. That is why I love Coup Rebellion. It has the same deception and bluff game play but adds in a lot of variety. I really like how there are multiple roles for each card type, and they can be combined in a wide variety of configurations. Having a different layout of roles adds a new level of strategy, as I have to try and figure out what the best way to play each round. The downside is that every now and then the combination of cards works out so the game can reach a sort of stalemate or very stalled out state. I have only had that happened a couple of times out of dozens of games. This is my preferred way to play Coup and I imagine I will rack up the plays in this game as well.

Deception: Murder in Hong Kong

I really enjoy the experience of playing Mysterium. The activity of trying to communicate concepts in abstract ways so that other players can “get it” is a really enjoyable experience. I also like traitor mechanics where one team tries to sabotage the other. This game combines those two experiences wonderfully. This game is really well designed as many of the clues that the technician can give tend to always fit more than a single picture. This is where everyone has to get creative. This includes the murder, because they have to derail the investigation without giving themselves away. While I love the concept of this game, and I had a lot of fun with the experience I do wonder about the balance. I have played the game several times with different groups, and the investigators won every time. In fact, only once was it even close. I think playing with the accomplice is a must, but even then I wonder if it is too easy for the investigators to win.

Time Bomb

I have played this game as Time Bomb, but it is being reprinted as Don’t Mess with Cthulhu. This is another game in the social deduction category. Players are on two teams and the good team wins by picking the successes, while the bad team wants the one bad card to get picked. I like the concept of this game, and I do like this genre. This is one of the quickest games of this nature, but I do not think I care much for it. I have played it several times now, and it seems the terrorist players always win. There is no reason for the terrorist players not to tell the truth until they get the bomb. It is also too easy for one terrorist to play it straight and then cut the wire of the other one. I think every time I have played this game the terrorist have won, and that has left me with little desire to play it much more.

Onitama

I am not a big fan of abstract strategy games. I tend to be a much more intuitive player that goes with what feels right, than someone who uses pure logic and maths out every option. This means I am terrible at abstract strategy games. Onitama is no exception, but I think it may be the best game of this type that I have played. I truly like how accessible this game is. The cards allow the pieces to move in unique ways, but players do not have to keep a lot of rules straight. The use of the movement cards also give this game a depth of variety that is often missing from abstract strategy games. Yet, unlike the similar feeling Duke or For the Crown, this game has no luck. My biggest complaint, like most abstract strategy games, is the winner is the one who made the least mistakes. Even though I am terrible at this game, I am seriously considering getting it to teach my son since the game is so much more accessible than chess.


Watson & Holmes: From the Diaries of 221B

I played Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective first so it is the one that I have, but this might be my favorite Sherlock Holmes game. The cases in this are a lot easier, but the competitive nature is extremely appealing. In the case I played at least, I really appreciated how the game did not spell the solution out explicitly. The information still had to be synthesized and a safe assumption made. I also appreciated how it was possible to figure the case out without seeing everything, as long as a player is comfortable making some logical leaps. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is an interactive story with game elements, but Watson and Holmes feels much more like a game with story elements. The biggest downside to this game is that like Consulting Detective, each case can only be played once. However, I thoroughly enjoyed playing this game.
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Mon Jul 11, 2016 12:31 pm
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Salmon Run (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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Three years ago when this game came out I remember being intrigued by the concept of a deck building racing game. However, when it came out I had just bought several games so it quickly fell off my radar. This year it popped back up when it was posted on the Geekway to the West math trade. Getting this was a trade I was pleased with making, and I was even more pleased that it finally made it to the table. So is this a game that spawns good feelings or is it all washed up?

Game Overview
In this game players take the roll of salmon seeking to be the first one to make it back to the spawning pond. The game is played on a hex-baed river board that is made of several geomorphic pieces. Players begin with a starter deck of movement cards, and they will have a hand of four cards.

On a player's turn they can play up to three cards. If these are movement cards, then they move into the hex indicated (left, straight, right). Many hexes have symbols on them, and the symbol determines what kind of card a player gets. There are double movement cards, but there are also some cards representing obstacles that can be played on future turns to trip opponents up. For example, the current card can actually move everyone backwards while the eagle discards a card from an opponent's hand. If a player ever plays three movement cards then they suffer a fatigue.

There are waterfalls that have to be jumped up by playing two cards in tandem, and doing this gives fatigue as well. Fatigue are wasted cards that do nothing. There are some spaces that allow a player to remove cards.

Once a player gets to the spawning pond it is game over. The game has equal turns and if two players make it then the player with the least fatigue wins.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.
My Rating: 3 (It's OK)
My Thoughts: For me this falls into the wide selection of games that is good but not great. This game works well, it plays at the right temp, and it is fun enough. However, it did nothing to really stand out for me either. I have played much more engaging deck building games and I have played much more engaging racing games. I do like the challenge of trying to read the river board and plot the best course. I will play this game, but I fear it may spend a lot of time collecting dust as it gets passed up for other games consistently.

Her Rating: 3.5 (It's OK)
Her Thoughts: This is a cute little game. I could really feel the theme and I felt like it came through well. This was a very calm paced racing game. There is a little bit of "take that" but it is mild and not overly annoying to deal with. I like that this game has a nature theme instead of having sport like competition or violence as the main theme. I think this has strong potential to be a good family game.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 6.5
This is in that zone for us where we could go either way with the game. Usually if we are holding onto a game with this rating it is because I want to, but this time it is my wife's turn. She does think this game has a lot of accessibility and a theme that is not a turn off to non-gamres. We will be keeping it for now as a potential family game and as a deck building gateway game.
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Fri Jul 8, 2016 4:16 am
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Race to Adventure: The Spirit of the Century Exploration Game (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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In 2014 Zeppelin Attack! was a big surprise hit for us. We both loved the game play, and I especially adored the adventurous pulp theme. Zeppelin Attack is set in the Spirit of the Century universe, so this got me interested in the other Spirit of the Century game, Race to Adventure. I was really happy to get the opportunity to trade for this game at Geekway to the West this year. So is this a race to adventure and excellence or just a slow crawl to mediocrity?

Game Overview
In this game players are racing to visit nine international locations, do amazing tasks there to collect passport stamps, and then be the first to make it back to the century tower wins. The board consists of a 12 section grid, with the tower forming one whole column and the other nine locations are randomly placed.

Each turn players are going to pick one of the six possible items to use that turn. Three of the items are transportation items. The bi-plane allows a player to move two locations orthogonality. The jet pack allows players to move diagonally, but they must use their fuel to do so. The zeppelin allows a player to move to a location with a zeppelin icon. The other three items are for adventuring. The magnifying glass gives players clues which are needed to complete adventures at the location. The map and laser gun are needed at several location to complete their adventure and get the passport stamp. If a player picks the plane, then every other player may hitch a ride and move one space (if they did not use an alternate form of transportation already).

If a player is at a location and they can meet the passport conditions they get the stamp. This often means having the map or gun and a set number of clues to spend. Two of the locations are a bit different. Atlantis has a prisoner who has to be rescued and dropped off back at the century tower in time, and Egypt curses a player so that they can not win the game until they visit a specific spot to heal.

The tiles are double sided and can be played on a shadow side. Some of the shadow sides have barriers which can restrict movement. Once a player collects all of the stamps and makes it back to start they win.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 2.5 (did not care for)
My Thoughts: I get the sense that they were trying to make a family style game, because this game is extremely simple. This is unfortunate, because if that is true the game is too abstract. Reading the rule book makes the game sound exciting. Each location has a thrilling adventure, but the bland mechanics do not carry this through. The artwork is decent, but it does not do enough to adequately carry the theme. I also think replayability suffers. The only variety comes from where the tiles are placed in relation to each other. Every game involves the same tiles and doing the same thing, such as rescuing the guy from Atlantis. I think even if someone found the game enjoyable, it would wear thin quickly.

Her Rating: 1 (never want to play again)
Her Thoughts: I play games to have fun, and this game is just too boring. It was dull. I felt like I was just plodding through the motions trying to get to the end. Part of the problem might be that this game does not seem good for two players, but the experience was so uninteresting I have little desire to even attempt it with more.

Verdict
Combined Rating:3.5
I do agree with my wife that this would work much better with more players. I am interested in trying it, but the odds of getting it to the table before the Gen Con math trade are low.
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Thu Jul 7, 2016 4:07 am
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My Gen Con Short List of Games

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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Have you seen the Gen Con 2016 Preview geeklist? It has over ten pages of games that publishers are debuting or featuring at Gen Con. Ten pages! That is a lot. After a somewhat frustrating experience a couple of years go, I came to peace with the fact that I can not see or try everything in the exhibition hall. It is just too big and there are too many people. That is going to be doubly true this year as the exhibition hall is now even bigger. Despite the extra space it is going to be just as busy, and this is especially true for the big publishers. The extra space does not mean that there are going to be less people in the Fantasy Flight Games line and many of the other major publishers are still going to have constantly packed demo areas. Last year, I made a list of the games that are my biggest priorities and then I sought out those games first. That worked really well for me, and it elevated a lot of the “have to see it all” pressure.

Looking over the list of Gen Con games there are a few things I noticed. First, demoing games for upcoming kickstarters is still a big thing. I can understand why publishers do this, but with how many games there are available to buy there, I am not much interested in spending the money on a kickstarter when I could buy a game right now. Of the demo only games, Colony and Fate of the Elder Gods are the only two that stuck out to me as something I might want to seek out even though I can not buy it there. I also noticed there a lot of games with higher player counts. My wife and I have learned that games that play 2-5 or 2-6 are big yellow flags because it is uncommon for them to play well with two.

Here is my shortlist of games that I want to check out at Gen Con with intents to possibly purchase. Of course it is in descending order for dramatic effect.

10. The Networks
Of the games on this list, this is the one I may not make it around to. I think the theme is interesting, but the game mechanics did not instantly grab me. I could be wrong, but I got the impression that this is a game that would be hard to demo, and I do not think having someone give me a sales pitch would give me enough of the feel for the game.

9. Merchants & Marauders: Broadsides
In general I like naval combat, and that is especially true for age of sail ships. I am curious if this will be the holy grail of ship combat games my wife will actually play. It is hard to say, because there is almost no information about this game.

8.Via Nebula

We have had a lot of success with Martin Wallace games, and this one seems to be right in our sweet spot. It looks to be in the territory between lightweight and medium weight game, which is an area of games my wife likes a lot. It also uses some mechanics we really like such as route building and pick up and deliver. The biggest hesitation on this game is the price. At $60 this would be one of our big game purchases.

7. We Come in Peace
I watched the Origins video on this, and it seems to have a strong King of Tokyo feel, only in space! I like the theme, and I think the wholesale destruction this game promises looks fun. My biggest concern is the player count. It is 2 to 6 and it really seems geared more to the higher count. In a perfect world I will time it just right to get to demo this just as two player game.

6. Islebound
This game looks really good. The only reason why it is not higher is because I have a sense this is going to be one of the hot games of Gen Con, and it is going to be hard to get or play. I love the the theme of exploring and creating a sea based empire. I am also extremely intrigued by the multiple paths to victory this game promises. Last year, it seemed that Red Ravens games booth was always full (and they sold out quickly). I will make it a priority to go there, but I will not be surprised if it is hard to find a spot at a demo table.

5. Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Beginner Game

Going to items 1 through 4 are a higher priority for me, but after I look at those games I will be venturing to the Fantasy Flight area. The past couple of years I have avoided their booth space, but I am really interested in this. I adored the West End Games Star Wars RPG, but I have mostly ignored the new FFG system. However, I am intrigued by it and the sequel setting really has my attention. I am hoping they are demoing this, and if they are one of my Thursday goals is to wait and sit down and play it.

4. City of Spies: Estoril 1942
I really like the way that Blood Bowl Team Manager uses cards for an area control style game, and it sounds like this game does something similar. I also really like the WWII spy theme. From reading the comments, I get the impression that this is more of a card game than a board game, which is great because my wife and I love interesting card games. I also really like the theme.

3. Covert

So the odds of buying a spy themed game are high this year. I think city of spies looks good, but I like the looks of this one a bit better. This game uses the popular dice allocation action for actions, which is a mechanism we have very represented on our shelves. Again, I like the theme and it sounds like this game delivers well on it. In a perfect world, I will be able to demo this then demo City of Spies and then buy the one I liked the best.

2.Mysterium: Hidden Signs
This is more or less an instant purchase. I will not be in the exhibition hall until the early afternoon, so I am just hoping they are not sold out by that point. I love Mysterium, and the game could use an influx of new cards.

1. Guilds of London

Just by looking through the list, this game seems to be the most likely candidate of a “must get” game for us. One of our favorite mechanisms is cards being used for multiple functions, which this does. We also like card games that have a lot of depth and interesting cards, which this seems to also have. My wife is a bit odd with area control games. As long as there is not too much “take that” or “mess with my stuff” she tends to really like them. A couple of the comments made on the game gave me the impression there is not a lot of messing with one another. As an added bonus, my wife loves everything London themed. I know this game sold out at origins quickly,and it might do the same at Gen Con. Either way, this year Tasty Minstrel will be the first booth I head to this year.

That is what popped up on my radar. What about you? Is there something you think I am overlooking?
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Mon Jul 4, 2016 1:54 pm
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End of the Month Recap (with mid year stats!)

sean johnson
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I was gone for a week this month being a volunteer director at summer camp. I thought that being gone would decrease my number of plays for the month, but it did not hurt things to badly.

Game Play Statistics

Most Played Game: Codenames (12 plays)
Highest Rated Game This Month: Codenames (combined rating of 7.5)
Number of Games Reviewed this month: five
Best New to Me Game: Onitama

State of the Collection
New Games Added: 3
Games Removed: 1
Total Number of Games: 215
My family gave me Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective on father's day, and I got Codenames because it was on sale at Target. We were given Greedy Greedy Goblins but we did not like. Since it was given to us, we just passed the kindness along.

Mid Year Statistics
The end of June gets us half way through 2016. Here is where I stand at the 2016 halfway point.

Total Number of Plays Recorded: 387
Number of Unique Games Played: 134
Number of Games Played More than Once: 60
Number of Games that Are New to Me: 50
Number of 2016 Releases Played: 10
H-Index So Far: 9

10x10 Challenge
Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 Completed!
Warhammer: InvasionCompleted!
Ticket to Ride Completed!
Fleet Completed!
Tides of Time Completed!
Glory to Rome
Viceroy
Deus
Roll for the Galaxy
Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Bruges

At this point Bruges, is officially our extra game that is not making it. We have completed half the list, and with the exception Imperial Assault the other half is half way there. We may not finish in October like last year, but we are in a good spot.
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Fri Jul 1, 2016 4:37 am
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Rattus Cartus (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife and I have a tradition that has been going on since we started it in 2009. During the summer months, we buy a random game to play together. We get a game that we have not played and that we know nothing about. We blind buy based on what is on the box. Last year we got Deus as our random summer game because Miniatures Market had a ding and dent copy at Geekway to the West. This year I got Rattus Cartus the same way to be our random summer game. This is a fun tradition, and overall it has worked out well for us. Of the eight games we have bought in this fashion, only two were duds. Was this one of them?

Game Overview
In this game players are trying to gain influence with various factions in a medieval European city all while trying to keep the rat population under control. The game is played over a series of turns (the number of players determine the number of turns), and the same things happen each turn.

First, new building cards are revealed. Each building card provides a certain ability and all players can choose one of these abilities to do. The combinations vary, but the options are discard rat tokens, draw people cards, or peak at nun cards (more on those in a second).

Next, the start player will put their marker in the first spot of one of the buildings and they will declare how many people cards they are playing. Following players who wish to use the same building, go on a lower spot.

Players will move up a reputation track for the building color for each person card they played. However, players will get a rat token for each card they played that did not match the color of the building. The player in the first spot will also get a decent bonus of some sort, and the player in the second spot a smaller bonus.

Once the number of rounds has been reached, the game ends and players get points. The player with the most reputation in a color will get 10 points for that color. Second gets five, and third gets two. There are also bonus points for most people cards left in hand and most special cards in hand. Finally, the nun cards are turned over. At the beginning of the game five people cards are set aside. Each people card as 0-4 nun markers on them. If any player mas more rat tokens than the total value of nuns on the nun cards, then that player can not win the game. Once players are eliminated in this fashion, the player with the most points left standing wins.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating
: 3.5 (It's OK)
My Thoughts: This game has some interesting mechanics. I like the rats but I wish they gave more tension. This game feels kind of like an area control game, but there are no areas. It is unique. It also feels kind of soulless. The theme just is not there and the artwork is bland. All of the mechanics work together but they do not engage. For me this falls very squarely into the "it's a good game but not a great game" category.

Her Rating 3 (It's OK)
Her Thoughts: I had fun playing this game, but it just did not excite me. There is nothing wrong with this game, but there is also nothing great about this game. It fits into the kind of cards game I like, but it does not stand out. I have no problem playing this game, but I also have no problem trading it.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 6.5
This is a kind of average game for us. Nothing terrible but nothing stands out. Part of the problem is that there are just so many great games now. Had we played this circa 2010, it probably would have impressed us a lot more. I do want to try this game with more than two players to see how that changes the experience. We will probably not see to trade it at Gen Con. We might break this game out a few more times, but unless something about the game connects with us more after a few more plays it will have a short tenure with us.
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Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:51 am
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Penny Arcade: Paint the Line ECG: Red Tide

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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When this game came out four years ago, I was instantly intrigued by it. Penny Arcade is a guilty pleasure of mine. I did really like their Red Tide storyline, and I tend to like games that simulate sports in fantastical ways. One of the local(ish) game stores had this (actually they still have it, and it is in the same spot on the shelves), and I have contemplated buying it on multiple occasions. However, the $30 price point kept me back every time. However, at Geekway of the West this year I did manage to trade for it. So is this ping pong themed card game based off of a webcomic an ace, or does it get skunked?

Game Overview
In this game each player has a deck of cards, and they are attempting to be the first one to score 7 points.

The serving player will always take the first turn. Who the serving player is, changed after each point so it is possible that a player will have back to back turns after a point is scored.

The first thing a player does is un-tap their stamina and draw a card. Then they may tap stamina to play a shot card to their arsenal. They may also un-tap a single shot card (rotating it 90 degrees. Finally, they may play a shot card from their aresnal to send the ball across the net. Each shot card is double tapped when played in this matter. If a player does not have a shot card or chooses not to, they may always use a default shot card. To see if the shot is successful they roll a D20 and see if they reach the target number. The target number starts at 6 and increases by 2 for each successful shot. Some shot cards will give modifiers to this roll.

It is then the opponent's turn. They do the same process, and play a shot card of their own. If the die roll succeeds it goes back to the start player's turn and they do the same. Each shot card has a type. Using a Rock-Paper-Scissors mechanic, each shot card has advantage over another. Advantage can grant more powerful modifiers to the die rolls.

Eventually someone is not going to make the die roll. When it fails the rally ends and the other player gets a point. The serve marker passes, and it all begins again.

This came has a bunch of CCG tendencies so the individual cards can have special abilities as well. Also, each player has a coach card that grants a special ability. Once a player gets 7 points they win.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating: 3 (It's OK)
My Thoughts: I really do enjoy the artwork, and the game captures the feel of ping-pong well enough. I am not wild about the CCG aspects though. The game feels too much like a derivative of Magic the Gathering and not for a good reason. The back and forth rally is the heart of the game, and the theme could be captured there without stamina, tapping, etc. In the end, I am not sure there is enough game in the box. I am not sure if this game has a lot of replayability. It was fun enough for the initial plays, but I do not see that holding up over the long haul.

Her Rating
: 1 (do not want to play again)
Her Thoughts: I really was just not feeling the theme in this game at all. I do not lot really like ping pong so I had no connection here. I did think the game was needlessly complex and it became a mess of cards too quickly, especially when a lucky die roll was the determining factor more often than not.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 4
There are some non gameplay issues with this game as well. The rulebook is not very good, and the components are lackluster. The cards are very flimsy and it could really use some additional components in the box such as a serve token and generic default shot cards. I am happy that after four years I got to satisfy my curiosity and play the game, but it is a game we will be looking to trade.
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Tue Jun 28, 2016 4:14 am
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Codenames (One Couple's Reviews)

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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I have played Codenames on multiple occasions, but I did not own it. However, Target had it on sale this past week and I needed it for a youth group lesson. We also hosted a game night, which meant my wife played it. I was very unsure what her thoughts were going to be on this party style word game. So did she have some good words or some choice words to say about this one?

Game Overview

In this team game there is a grid of 25 words. each team has eight or nine words they have to correctly identify. One person on each team is the spymaster, and they know which words on the grid their team has to guess. The other players are the guessers.

On a team's word, the spymaster will give a clue followed by a number. The number means how many of the words on the grid correspond to the clue. So for example, if two of the words on the grid that the team needed to guess were "baseball" and "New York" the spymaster might say "Yankees".

A team must always guess one word, and they can guess one more than the number given. If the team guesses one of the other team's words the other team gets to mark it as guessed correctly. There are some neutral words, and there is a black word that if guessed is an auto-lose.

Assuming no one auto loses, the first team to correctly guess all of their words wins the game.

Our Thoughts
As a reminder we rate games on our own 5 point scale. When our scores are added together, it is where we as a couple theoretically rate the game on the BGG 10 point scale.

My Rating:4 (like it)
My Thoughts: As the spymaster (giving the clues) this game is a five for me. I absolutely love trying to find connections between the words and give them to people in a creative way. As a guesser this game is more a three. I will play it and it is fine, but being on the spymaster side of the table is much more appealing to me.

Her Rating: 3.5 (It's OK)
Her Thoughts: This is a very clever and well made game. I have a real love/hate relationship with this game. When I figure it out this game is exciting and awesome. When I get it wrong I get really frustrated. I think I like being in the know on the spymaster side a lot, but I do find it the harder side to play.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 7.5
I was somewhat surprised by how much my wife liked this game, because it is not a style of game she tends to like. We also played the two player game, which is cooperative. Codenames as a two player experience feels quite a bit like two player Mysterium. It actually works really well, and we enjoyed it that way as well! Codenames is kind of against type for the kind of games we like but it is one we do enjoy.
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Mon Jun 27, 2016 3:05 am
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