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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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The Federation Commander Ship Tournament

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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My wife informed me that for about the next two weeks we will not play many games together. This is because she loves the Olympics, and every four years she watches as much of it as she can. I will watch them some, but my zeal for swimming, gymnastics, and track is not as high as hers.

I could use this extra evening time to play Fallout 4, but post Gen Con I am all hyped up to move some pieces and roll some dice. That leads me to this little project.

In case you just stumbled upon this blog, I love Federation Commander. It is my favorite game. I have everything made for the game, and my wife has pointed out that I will never play with it all. She is probably right, but I will still try.

I am going to take ships from 16 different factions and put them against each other in one on one duels in a single elimination tournament format. This will allow me to explore some of the factions I am not very familiar with and fly a wide variety of ships.

I plan on writing about this little tournament to give others a better feel for this game, its factions, and maybe a small sense of why I love it so much. Unless I can rope a few people into playing with me, most of these plays will be solo. That means I will probably also end up playing sub-optimally, so I look forward to comments telling me how I messed up. I actually kind of mean that, because then I can improve at playing the game.

If this is not your kind of thing, then please hang with me because in a couple of weeks I will get back to our regularly scheduled blog post of writing about the games we play. We have a whole slew of Gen Con games to experience together.

I am looking forward to diving more into my favorite game ever, and I hope you enjoy coming along on the journey with me.
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Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:13 am
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Box of Rocks (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
Indiana
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There were a lot of big new releases that came out at Gen Con. There were games that people lined up for and stampeded to get every day. This was not one of those games. However, I think this game was a big hit at Gen Con. Their booth was always busy and I have a sense that they sold a lot of copies. I know that we bought one. My wife tends to hate trivia games, did this break the trend or did it sink like a big rock?

Game Overview
Players are on a team vs. a box of rocks. A trivia question is asked and the answer will be 0,1, or 2. The players will decide upon an answer. A box with marked rocks will be shook, and this will create an answer of 0,1, or 2.

If players get the answer right they get a point. If the rocks get an answer right they get a point. The first side to get to three points wins. If it is a tie then play continues until one side gets a point and the other does not.

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 is more than the sum of it's parts. The trivia questions are really well written because many of them are ones that a lot of people can make educated guesses on. The concept is funny, it works well, and the game length is just right not to wear out it's welcome. This is actually the kind of co-op game I like, because if we loose it is our fault and not the game being oppressive. I think this is a great game as an opener or closer, and it will work really well with non-gamers.

Her Rating: 3 (It's OK)
Her Thoughts: This is a dumb game, but it is also undeniably fun. I liked it, and I think it is a game that anyone can play.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 6.5
This is not the best game ever made, and it will not be on many people's favorite games list. However, it is a good game to play. It is a game that can work with any group, and it is a game that anyone can have one with. We are glad we got it.
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Wed Aug 10, 2016 1:43 am
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Gen Con 2016 Recap

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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You can read my Gen Con play by play on this geeklist: What I Played and Bought at Gen Con 2016. I hope you do because I would love to have some discussions with people about the games I played.

This post is more about general thoughts and impressions about this year's Con. First, some quick superlatives:

Best Game Played: Battlestations: Second Edition

Biggest Surprise Hit: Merchants & Marauders: Broadsides

Biggest Disappointment: Sailpower: Fun Scale Combat in the Age of Sail

Top Five Games I Wanted to Play but Missed Out On: Star Wars: Destiny, The Dragon & Flagon, Dead Last, Star Trek: Ascendancy, Via Nebula

Last year I had stated that I thought it was the best experience I had ever had at Gen Con. This year easily ties or rivals 2015 for that title. The downside to this year is that my wife did not attend with me, and I missed sharing the experience with her. The plus side though is it allowed me to play in some events such as miniatures and role playing games that I would not have done if she was with me.

Including RPGs I played 34 unique games this year, which is just one less than last year. This was a good spread, and it includes some really meaty plays, like an entire Star Wars: Imperial Assault campaign.

I was a little event heavy this year I thought, but for the most part I was happy with all of the events I participated in. There are a lot of events that get added after event registration opens, so I am wondering if next year if I want to have a few open times, a few generics, and jump into what ever is open and interesting at a given time.

Like last year, something I did this year was make intentional time to spend with friends. Going into Gen Con I had set aside time to hang out with some friends who I have not seen in a while. On Friday it also just worked out that I got to meet up with some game group friends and play a game. I really, really enjoyed that. It was fun to talk with them about all of the Gen Con buzz and hype. I know most of my game group tends to meet up in the evening of Gen Con. Next year I need to be mindful not to load my evening with events, so I can spend more time with friends.

I really liked how Gen Con reconfigured the space. The exhibition hall was bigger. The big booths like Fantasy Flight still had ridiculous lines, but I feel like overall the crowds were better dispersed. The gaming area was also better organized, and well laid out. Oddly, I feel like Sunday was the most crowded day. This is the family fun day so there were more families which meant more strollers in the exhibition hall. One of the people I gave a ride to mentioned that he felt like there were more cosplayers on Sunday. I do not know if that is true, but it did seem that way. I wonder if the people who want to come just to pose for pictures are opting for grouping up in four and getting a family fun one day badge?

I like taking advantage of all that Gen Con has to offer, so every year I try to do something completely new. This year I had three Gen Con "firsts". I went to the Double Exposure playtest hall for the first time. I think I like the idea of doing this more than actually doing it. The big plus to the playtest hall is that it is one of the few free things that can be done at Gen Con, and it is a guaranteed way to experience a new game. The negative is that it is a bit like a blind date. The game I picked to play, Gnosis Conflict, was average at best. I am not sure if this is something I will do again or not. Maybe if I did it with a friend.

The second new thing I did was go to the arcade room. The arcade game offerings were better than the average bowling alley, but a little shy of the coin-op arcades of the 80's and 90's. Overall, I enjoyed the hour I spent there. I do wish they had a Mortal Kombat or X-Men arcade game cabinet though. Next year I am taking my son for the first time, and I know I will take him there.

The final new thing I did was I added to cardhalla. This is an area full of massive card houses and structures. I added a small pagoda that was only about 18 inches tall. It was a minor thing, but it was fun to participate.

Some final quick thoughts: I took advantage of the Gen Con parking pass this year. I parked in a lot that was a little bit of a walk from the convention center, but it was totally worth it because I knew I had a reserved spot. This really helped easy my anxiety about parking, and it was totally worth the walk. Also, the arcade cabinets in one of the hallways was nice touch.

Gen Con remains one of my favorite times of the year. I had so much fun this year. I am already looking forward to 2017 which will be my tenth Gen Con.
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Mon Aug 8, 2016 2:39 pm
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Gen Con Game Giveaway!

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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It is Gen Con week! This means that it is really all that I can think about. I am really excited about it.

Over the past couple of years, there have been a couple of occasions where someone recognized me from this blog. Each time that happened it made my day. I know that in the grand scheme of things, we are a really small deal. We are not the Dice Tower, or a podcast, or even reviewers in any kind of semi-pro sense. However, we both really love to share our thoughts on games, and it brings us joy to know that people we do not even know read our opinions.

We want to give away some games at Gen Con. I realize this is somewhat self serving, but to get a free game all you have to do is find me and tell me you read this blog (you do not even have to like it!). If you do this then, you get your choice of the following games:


I realize these are not the hottest games in the world, but they are small so I can carry them with me.

I should be easy to find. Here is what I am planning to do: N/A and here is where I will be in the exhibit hall: Gen Con Exhibit Hall Attack Plan!

To make it even easier, here is what I look like:


If you really want to find me you could even track me down by twitter stalking by following @seanxor.

I am really looking forward to the second half of this week, and I hope to see some of you at Gen Con this year!
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Mon Aug 1, 2016 2:33 pm
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End of the Month Recap

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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This month started off slowly for getting games played, but as the month went on we picked up steam and ended up getting a decent number of plays in.

Game Play Statistics


Most Played Game: Penny Arcade: The Game – Gamers vs. Evil
Highest Rated Game This Month: Garden Dice (Combined Rating: 7)
Number of Games Reviewed: 6
Best New to Me Game: Monikers

State of the Collection
New Games Added: 8
Games Removed: 10
Total Number of Games: 213
We participated in a trade table exchange this month that saw a lot of games come and go. We bought a couple of games, but ended up giving them away after playing them.

10x10 Challenge
Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 Completed!
Warhammer: InvasionCompleted!
Ticket to Ride Completed!
Fleet Completed!
Tides of Time Completed!
Roll for the Galaxy Completed!
Glory to Rome
Viceroy
Deus
Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Bruges
In August I am doing a full Imperial Assault mini-campaign at Gen Con. We should also be able to finish Glory to Rome, so that we have all but two of our games completed.
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Mon Aug 1, 2016 2:02 pm
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Gen Con Math Trade Results

sean johnson
United States
Edinburgh
Indiana
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This has kind of become a standardized post at this point. There was some drama this year, but the moderator handled it well and the results appear to be in. As in the past, this post is mostly for the benefit of my wife so she knows what is going and what we are getting. However, we welcome any insights or comments anyone has about the games we are getting.

We give Race to Adventure: The Spirit of the Century Exploration Game and The Princess Bride: A Battle of Wits for Greed. This is a drafting game by the designer of Dominion. I do not know much about the game. However, the few times I have heard it mentioned in board game media it is always in the context of the game being under the radar or underappreciated. We are trading two games we do not care for, so it seems like a chance worth taking.


We are trading City of Remnants and Steam Torpedo: First Contact for Conquest of Planet Earth: The Space Alien Game.
Sadly we owned City of Remnants for over a year and we never played it. This is in part because for some reason I just could not get through the rulebook, and what I did get I was sure you would not like. I am very excited though to be trading this for Conquest of Planet Earth. This is a Flying Frog game that I have played, and I really enjoyed. I think this is going to be a really great trade for us.



We are trading Star Wars: Armada for Mansions of Madness.
I am sure you are thankful we are trading Armada. I was kind of surprised to get it at Geekway to the West, and after playing it decided it was not worth the investment. Mansions of Madness is a game that I have wanted to get in a trade for years now. It is an all versus one game about exploring a haunted house. I have been thinking about it, and I am nor sure will you where end up on this game. I think you will like the exploration aspect, but you will need to remember it is a haunted house so in the game there will be things that jump out to surprise you.

We are trading Roll for the Galaxy for 1944: Race to the Rhine.
Hold on before you freak out. I did not trade Roll for the Galaxy for a war game. Race to the Rhine is a pick up and deliver route building game that just happens to have a WWII theme. This is the trade I am most excited about. This is a game that I have been very interested in, but the high price tag kept me back. I am really glad we traded for it because I think this game will combine mechanisms you really like with a theme I really like.
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Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:39 pm
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Garden Dice (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
Indiana
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At a big gaming get together earlier this month we copied the trade table concept from Geekway to the West. It turned out that one of my offerings was one of the first games to be picked, which meant I got to select next when the selection was the greatest. This game was my first round draft pick. I knew nothing about it, but it had dice in the title and my wife loves dice. So is this a game that is going to grow on us or is it going to wilt?

Game Overview
In this game players are getting points from growing vegetables and collecting sets of vegetables.

The game begins with a blank garden board which is a grid to place tiles on. On a player's turn they are going to roll four dice. The players then use those dice to determine the actions they will take.

A player make take seeds. There are five different types of seeds, corresponding with 1-5. Whatever number die the player spends they may take a bag of seeds equal to that number or lower.

A player may spend two dice to place seeds in the field. This is done by cross referencing the numbers on the die to determine what plot it gets. Once the seeds are on the board the player can spend a die to water a tile and flip it to the vegetable side. The die spent has to be equal to or less than the tile number. When a seed is watered it can chain. Any seeds adjacent to the watered seed might also grow if they are lower than the number of the watered seed. This continues as long as the next tile in the chain is lower.

In the same way players can harvest vegetables by spending a die. Once again harvesting causes a chain in the same way. Harvested plants score points equal to their value. It is possible to harvest other player's vegetables. If this happens the other player still gets the points, but the harvesting player also gets a point.

There are some non-vegetable tiles that can be placed. The sun dial allows for some dice manipulation, and animals can be used to mess with other players stuff.

The game ends when the last seed tile is taken. Players will get extra points for the different types of sets the collected and the player with the most points 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: It is weird how some games feel like they are played after so many plays and others feel like they can be played over and over again. replayability is a much sought after "x-factor" in board games. My initial impression is that this game has this. The rules are simple but the dice mean that every play is going to be very different. Players should have a strategy but the dice and the actions of other players require this strategy to be flexible. The theme is a little dry, but overall I was pleasantly surprised with this game.

Her Rating: 3.5 (It's OK)
Her Thoughts: This game combines two things I like: set collection and rolling dice. It also combines them extremely well. I feel like this is a game that I should love a lot more. I really enjoyed playing it, but the game did not really excite me. I think the theme of gardening has something to do with it. There is a lot of abstraction in this game as well, so the thematic connection is kind of weak. I am also a little nervous about the potential to be kind of mean in this game.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 7
It turns out at the trade table we chose wisely. This game is a pleasant little addition for us, and we both look forward to playing it more in the future.
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Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:26 am
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Gen Con Exhibit Hall Attack Plan!

sean johnson
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Edinburgh
Indiana
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Gen Con is a week away, and my excitement is reaching fever pitch. 2014 was a bit of a pivot year at Gen Con for me. This was a year when a lot of people began to really complain about the crowds, and it became just about impossible to see everything in the exhibition hall. At the time I got extremely frustrated by this. Last year my solution was to create a list of games that I would check out first, and seeing these would be my priority. I did not get to see and do everything last year, but because I did my list first I got to see what I really wanted and I left feeling really good about that.

At the beginning of the month I made My Gen Con Short List of Games. Over the month that list has changed a bit. For instance, I have dropped Guilds of London. After further review, the game will be too mean for my wife. Plus, I am not running for it, so getting it is am impossibility anyway.

I a week from today around 1:00PM (after a game of Federation Commander) I will be walking into the Exhibit Hall. Here are the first ten booths I am going to and why. While this is the order I plan to weave around the exhibit hall it is not hard and fast. While I am hopping from booth to booth, if I see something that really stands out to me or if there is an open demo I might stop. These are listed in the order I plan to check them out:

1. Booth 243(Rather Dashing Games)
Reason: We Come in Peace is on my short list of games to possibly purchase. I want to try and get a demo of this game in, and ask questions about how the game plays with just two.

2. Booth 809 (general area)- Fantasy Flight Games
Reason: I have never played the FFG Star Wars RPG, but I am very interested in anything set in the Force Awakens time period. I am very tempted by the Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Beginner Game. In the past, FFG has had a demo spot for the RPG in their massive area. I am going to stop by and see if they are demoing this new introductory set. If they are, I will be trying to get in a demo to see if it is worth getting.

3. Booth 1619 (general area)- Asmodee
Reason: I am going to go from one big publisher area to another. Via Nebula is a game that my wife is very interested in. I think that Asmodee is going to be very busy, so I am not sure how easy it will be to get to demo this game. Hopefully I can at least get a good idea about the game by peeking over someone's shoulder. If the opportunity presents itself at Asmodee I would also like the chance to demo HMS Dolores. I really like the idea of turning the prisoner dilemma into a game, and I think it would be fun to play.

4. Booth 2039- Indie Boards & Cards
Reason: The Resistance and Coup are some of my favorite games. While, One Night Revolution was a big misstep for me, I am still very interested in trying Grifters. Bluffing and set collection sounds like a good combination. I want to play this game to see if it is worth picking up.

5. Booth 2304- Renegade Game Studios
Reason: Covert is tied for the top spot of my short buy list. If the game is still in stock and they are offering demos, I am willing to stand and wait up to an hour to play this game.

6. Booth 2323- Stronghold Games
Reason: Covert is tied with City of Spies: Estoril 1942 for my top spot. These two booths are close together, and if this game is available to buy and demo I am willing to wait to play it as well. I am hoping that one of these games just really wows me and after playing both I choose one to purchase.

7. Booth 2657- Red Raven Games
Reason: I am interested in Islebound. The past two years, I have not had any luck playing things at the Red Raven booth. They seem to always be extra busy. I will stop by though this year and see if I have a little luck on my side this year.

8. Booth 3043- Gamelyn Games
Reason: I am stopping by here for two reasons. I want to see whatever they are showing for Tiny Epic Quest. I also missed out on the Tiny Epic Western kickstarter. It is game that I am interested in possibly buying, so I am hoping they are demoing it.

9. Booth 2527- Bézier Games, Inc.
Reason: At this point I would have crossed the entire exhibit hall to look at everything I am most interested in buying, so I will start making my way back to buy whatever I decide on. On my way, I am going to stop buy Bezier games to see if I can demo Colony. I have a feeling the demos for this game are going to be highly sought after, so it may not work out.

10. Booth 1460- ThinkFun
Reason: Stopping by here will get me back on the side of the convention center I started on. To promote their Escape the Room: Mystery at the Stargazer's Manor, ThinkFun has created "Escape the booth" a half an hour Escape the Room scenario. This sounds fun, and extremely unique. Unless my timing is terrible and I just miss a session, I am willing to wait around a few minutes and give this a try.

By this point I would have seen what I most want to see, so I will be able to start on the East side of the exhibit hall and the wander through it taking in whatever is neat or open.

So that is my exhibit hall attack plan. Is there anything that I am really missing?
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Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:48 am
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Operation: Kindergarten (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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Back in September of last year I made a post Gen Con/Pre-Essen list of games I was excited about and this game was on the list. Essen came and went, and I kind of forgot about this game. That was until it popped up in a recent coolstuffinc.com sale. I wanted to buy the new Mysterium expansion anyway, so I got several items from that sale. My wife and I were both really looking forward to trying this game. So did it pass with straight A's or does it need to get sent back a grade?

Game Overview
In this game each player is a teacher who is responsible for keeping the kids under their care safe and getting back to the classroom to be picked up at the end of the day. The game is played over six turns, and each turn has multiple phases.

The board represents a playground with a sandbox in the middle and four play areas on the side (referred to as "danger areas"). For the first three turns there is a special phase, where the playground is populated. In the first round little children come out, then tykes, and finally the older kids.

The major phase of the game is when dice are rolled and assigned. Players will take turns assigning one die to multiple areas. Players can assign dice to determine what direction children will move in and ow many spaces. A die is assigned to move the head teacher, to determine each player's movement, and to select a "routine (a bonus action).

The head teacher then moves. His location determines start player and there is also a risk of losing more evaluation points. Next, the children move according to the assigned dice. The stacking limit is three, and if there are ever more than three children a collision occurs. This creates "boo-hoos" as kids cry and this will lower a player's evaluation.

After the children move in player order, the players take a turn where they can take an action (which includes movement) and take a reaction. Possible actions include ordering an adjacent child to move somewhere, regroup children from any adjacent space to another, clean up chaos markers on the board, remove "boo hoo" discs, or heal (remove) boo-boo cubes. After the first three rounds players are going to want to move their children back into their classroom, and the carry action is helpful for that. It allows a teacher to pick up three kids and then deliver them somewhere. The challenge is that the teacher has to start next to the kids.

After each player has had a turn, there is a chaos phase. During this phase the chaos markers on the board activate. This is stuff like scissors or poop on the playground, or noises like an ice cream truck. These chaos markers can create "boo-hoos". Each turn new chaos markers come out on the board.

Finally, players lose evaluation points for each boo-hoo marker and boo-boo marker they have on the board. If the head teacher is in the sector where the markers are then the player looses additional evaluation points. At the end of the sixth round players lose evaluation points for kids they did not successfully return to the classroom. Each player starts at 100 evaluation points and the player with the most points left at the end of the game is the winner.

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 love the theme of this game, and I find the game play to be very unique. If I were to describe this game to someone at my game group I would say it is like a "euro game version of Survive: Escape from Atlantis!." The game has the same vibe as players are trying to manage disaster around them, and get their people to safety. The dice allocation works well, and there is a deceptively high level of messing with each other in this game. I like the game, but I have a big complaint about it. Namely, this is a four player game and it really has no business being played by two. The two player game is a bit boring, and it really feels like half the experience is missing.

Her Rating: 3 (It's OK)
Her Thoughts: This might be one of the most fun themes of any game I have played. I especially liked that the theme really came through. I want to play this game again, but it would have to be with more players. This is not a good two player game.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 6
Publishers, look, I know you want to sell games. I get that. But if your game is not good at a lower player count, then do not put that player count on the box! We both want to play this game again at the full player count, because then we think we will get experience the game as it was meant to be played. We will probably hold onto the game for awhile until that happens, but this will not be a permanent addition to our game collection.
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Thu Jul 28, 2016 3:33 am
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Nox (One Couple's Review)

sean johnson
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I show a lot more restraint and discretion than I used to, but I am drawn to cheap games like a flame. Nine times out of ten a game is deeply discounted for a reason, but I am always enthralled by the possibility that this might be the time that I find a diamond in the rough for a price that is a steal. Earlier this month I ordered the Mysterium expansion from coolstuffinc. This was during one of their promotional sales, with some deeply discounted games. It included the Machi Koro expansion we did not have and Operation: Kindergarten. They also had this game for 99 cents. I checked and adding it did not change my shipping, so I figured any game is worth a buck. Was I right?

Game Overview
Nox bills itself as a "take that" card game. The game consists of three suits of cards that are numbered 1-15, with multiple copies of each number in each color.

Each player is dealt three cards. On a player's turn they will draw a card and play a card. A card can be played in front of any player. Each player can have up to six stacks in front of them. Cards can create a new stack or they can be added to a stack. To add a card to a stack it must be the same color of the stack. If at any point a player has two stacks with the same color and same number, then the two stacks combined into one.

The round ends when one player has six stacks. As long as a player has at least one stack of each color they score the value of the top card of each stack as points.

Cards are shuffled, the start player passes and the game repeats until someone gets to 150 points and 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: 2 (do not care for)
My Thoughts: This game is fairly simple and easy to play. However, I did not find it very interesting and engaging. There are some "take that" things to do, but every action that hurts someone else is a turn that I do not use to increase my own score. This leads to a "pass the buck" problem, where every player wants someone else to stop the leader, but they do not want to be the one who waste a turn doing it. I am not a big fan of that dynamic.

Her Rating: 3 (it's OK)
Her Thoughts: This feels like it belongs in the same family of games as Skip-bo, UNO, or Phase 10. It has an unique deck of cards but still feels like a traditional card game. I kind of had a soft spot for those kind of games and I did not mind this one. It is a lot of luck. This game did not really excite me, but I will not complain about playing it either.

Verdict
Combined Rating: 5
We both agree this is a game we do not need to own. We played it with my mother-in-law, and she enjoyed it more than we did, so we sent it home with her. So all in all I would say it ended up being worth the 99 cent purchase.
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Wed Jul 27, 2016 3:17 am
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