Meepleonboard

When I am not putting notes on paper I like to play. Here are my scribblings.

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18th July 2016 - my week in gaming

Nick
United Kingdom
Somerset/London
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With me away for work on Monday and also from Thursday, so only at home for two days, it was always going to be a tough week for gaming, but we managed to sneak in a play.

Tuesday:

Another box unplayed over the past year, but one that I have recently freed from its cardboard confines, I didn't have great memories of this one, but we fancied playing one of our old classics rather than grappling around trying to work out new rules. After a quick refresher we were up and running for our first game playing the scoring correctly, and it only took a few minutes for me to remember how much I'd forgotten about liking this game. Tight, tense and taught, when you score you use one of your cubes, so you need to be that much more careful about where you place on the board, else, as happened to me once in a game that still causes KT much amusement, you can end up backed totally into a corner.

It was pretty much neck and neck all the way through, and I felt that, even after a year away, I was picking up new ideas about how to play. At the end, through, KT just stretched her legs and went out to win 6-4, while I just couldn't get enough crystals together. Thoroughly enjoyable, and a lesson in getting games back to the table more often.

I also played some Blue Moon Legends against Keldon's AI later in the week, two games and two losses. We used to own this and then traded it away, and I still don't really get it at all, which is a shame, but I'll keep at it, at least until I can win a game...

Happy gaming!
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Mon Jul 25, 2016 10:07 am
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Let them see the light of day!

Nick
United Kingdom
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When we moved out of London a couple of years ago we bought a lovely cottage in Somerset, significantly smaller than our house in The Smoke, but still just fine and dandy for the two of us and the cats. I have a small office at the front for my writing, KT's is at the back for her study, both rooms just about big enough for us, but hardly expansive. Despite my rather small collection by BGG standards it still took up three very large cardboard boxes during the move (last into the car, first out), but just as I was preparing to put in some kind of shelving in our new abode I was given a very fine and very elegant if somewhat lived-in wingback chair. It was a wonderful thing...until I put it into my room, where it sat like the proverbial elephant.

Since then my choice of games has always been defined, if only a little, by the knowledge that certain of them are right at the bottom of the lowest of three huge cardboard boxes, but today was the day that the chair went to our local hostelry where at least we will have visiting rights. First task after it left the room was to get the games all out of their boxes and pile them neatly and carefully. Those to be traded and sold have been taken away from public view, while everything else is now on display.

There is something inherently joyful about seeing those boxes all lined up and ready to play, eager to be denuded of their lids and to have their rulebooks fondled and their components gently tickled. Having mentioned it to KT several times over the past weeks, we also eventually got to play Blue Moon City tonight as well - so much easier just to move a couple of boxes and slide it out rather than indulge in what feels like practice for weight lifting for Rio, and while I have lost a rather nice chair, I feel that I have been reacquianted with my collection.

Happy gaming!
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Wed Jul 20, 2016 12:00 am
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11th July 2016 - my week in gaming

Nick
United Kingdom
Somerset/London
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Wednesday:

After a day of trekking around the county for various appointments we settled down in the evening for a couple of games of Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age. There seems to be something about throwing a bunch of dice that seems to lighten the mood chez nous - maybe it's just the physical fun of it, or maybe it's the "ooh" and the "aah" of the lucky or unlucky roll, but it was a good choice for the evening. This is one of those games that I just cannot seem to get right, even if I know deep down that building up the cities is probably the way to go, and Wednesday was no exception - two games played, two more victories to KT, meaning that she leads 23-7 over our thirty plays. Ouch.

Thursday:

We played a couple more games of Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age on Thursday. We were looking for something light - KT was tired, I had had some draining news - and went back to this. While dice chucking is not a style I would always turn to first of all, sometimes I need that ease of play rather than sorting through a hand of cards to try to work out some kind of effective combo. We also seem to be enjoying this game more and more, which is good to realise, rather than getting tired of it. Again, I simply could not keep up with KT, and she beat me twice again, first 25-7 and then beating her previous high score to demolish me 42-19.

Friday:

Having played this for the first time last week we brought it back to the table, as I like to try to play new games in two or three times in quick succession if I possibly can. Short-term exposure can make us realise in fairly short order if a game is for us or not, and so it proved with Tikal. We both enjoyed our second play very much indeed, but neither of us was as enamoured with it as we thought we might have been. KT said she would be happy to play it again, but that the thought didn't excite her as much as playing other games, while I found it strange to end up more than once with action points I did not want to use. I think that I much prefer the "not quite enough options" type of game, Agricola springing immediately to mind as an example, and I imagine that this game would be much more involving with more players, also that spending 5 AP to place a guard on a temple would be much more of a viable option. We both enjoyed our plays of it, and of course there is a tighter 2-player version around, but there are other things we would probably prefer to play. Had we discovered this when it first came out I think it would have been a revelation, and it stands up pretty well, but it is just a little too relaxed for us. Were it available online, I think I'd be very happy to play it with a full complement of players.

Saturday:

Talking of relaxed, we both had a very wonky day on Saturday, so Codenames was what I chose to bring to the table for some light cooperative gaming. KT was too exhausted to play anything much more demanding, and I was up against the clock before a trip to London. We went carefully this time around, mainly offering 2- and 3- value clues, but also because the words were proving tricky to link, and scored 4 both times.

In all it was a good week of gaming, despite being pushed for time, and we seem to be settling into a frequent hour or so of gaming of an evening rather than marathon sessions, but I'll happily take that! Next week will be a tough one for games, as I'll be away for work for a week and a half, but then we have three weeks together in a cottage in the Lake District. What to take?

Happy gaming!
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Mon Jul 18, 2016 12:00 am
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Rolling on (through the ages)...

Nick
United Kingdom
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We played a couple more games of Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age last night. We were looking for something light - KT was tired, I had had some draining news - and went back to this. There's something about throwing a whole handful of dice that takes the weight out of the whole decision making process, at least until the dice have been thrown, and while it's not a style I would always turn to first of all, sometimes I need that ease of play rather than sorting through a hand of cards to try to work out some kind of effective combo.

It got me thinking - what are the other dice-chuckers we own? The answer is that we don't really own very many, and that the dice games we do have are ones where the results can be altered or mitigated or ignored to some extent - Seasons, The Castles of Burgundy and Grand Austria Hotel, for example. I would think that the game we've played that is closest to RTTA is probably Reiner Knizia's Decathlon, which is not only good but also as close to free as things are likely to get. It is also a pretty decent approximation of the thing it claims to represent, at least to the extent that I challenge people to do better with eight dice and a scoresheet.

Mind you, even though our collection is light on dice in general, we also have Rallyman, and that's not a bad little play, certainly when played in time attack throw-them-all-at-once mode. Like Decathlon, it is also a pretty good approximation of the sport it represents. Some just might not get the nature of the beast (it's about the best time rather than "finishing first"), and I always feel bad about asking KT if she wants to play it, possibly because she sees cars mainly as a means of getting from A to B rather than as a source of mud-splattered entertainment...but she has enjoyed it when we have got around to playing it, even if we have yet to tackle the full three-stage bonanza.

Rallyman has teetered on the edge of my collection for so long, especially as I just can't seem to get into it as a solo game, but, like RTTA, maybe I need to consider it more of a have-a-go dice chucker. That, I think, would get it to the table more often, and that can't be a bad thing.

Happy gaming!
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Fri Jul 15, 2016 7:09 pm
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Some plays, a new name, and goodbye to an old friend

Nick
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After a day of trekking around the county for various appointments we settled down in the evening for a couple of games of Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age. There seems to be something about throwing a bunch of dice that seems to lighten the mood chez nous - maybe it's just the physical fun of it, or maybe it's the "ooh" and the "aah" of the lucky or unlucky roll, but it was g good choice for the evening. This is one of those games that I just cannot seem to get right, even if I know deep down that building up the cities is probably the way to go, and yesterday was no exception - two games played, two more victories to KT, meaning that she leads 23-7 over our thirty plays. Ouch.

KT loves her civ games on the old computer, and this doesn't so much as scratch that itch as just waft a gentle breeze above it, so before going to bed last night I looked a little longingly again at Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization. In its favour is the whole Vlaada Chvátil thing, and the general buzz that it is the game to turn to for that civ-building experience without taking as long to play as, well, building up a civilisation. Against it is (a) its complexity, (b) its length, and (c) the large pile of unplayed games we still need to get through. We shall see.

The two other games I brought down to the table were Lost Cities and Patchwork. The former we have played nearly seventy times, but we think that we have both reached the stage where we are done with it, that our taste in gaming has changed enough that there are other games we would prefer to play in that kind of niche. Still, it has worked out at around 30p a play, which represents some kind of value. As for Patchwork, the jury is still out. I certainly admire the game, but cannot quite get as enthusiastic about it as I feel I should, and I wonder if my taste lies elsewhere. I said to KT last night that if you told me I was going to play something like 7 Wonders: Duel ten times in a row then I would leap at the chance, while saying the same about Patchwork would make me grit my teeth and get my gaming head down for the long haul.

We have noticed this with a couple of other games of late, not enough to signal a radical shift in taste, but just enough to make us aware that we have encountered what some military chap might call mission creep. Or maybe it's more like curling, that strange amalgam of skating and housework, our trajectory imperceptibly refined by the games we have played, and that is why I think that something like Troyes, which we found very dry when we first played it, only a couple of years into our serious exploration of the hobby, might now be a greater success - although I wonder if it may well find its place taken by Grand Austria Hotel.

As our aim becomes sharper it is also becoming easier to work out what might appeal, and I feel less uneasy about letting certain game go. Our copy of Lost Cities, what a car dealer might euphemistically refer to as "pre-loved", may well go to our neighbours, still right at the very start of their gaming journey, their shelves burdened only with a copy of Codenames. After all, as we on this site know, a game is a game, but two games is a collection!

So farewell then to Lost Cities and possibly in due course also to Patchwork. I doubt I will find myself missing them much, but they free up slots in our collection for the shorter end of our unplayed pile - Yomi (second edition), The Duke and Summoner Wars: Master Set, good games all. Out there on the horizon is also Tatsu, which might well suit us very well indeed, thank you - KT loves Backgammon, I'm not quite so smitten, but I love Hive, KT not quite so smitten. With something like that out there, and with me still chasing my bonsai collection of games that constantly improves in quality rather than quantity, I do not feel so bad about saying goodbye to things we have likely outgrown.

So also the name for this blog. I liked we2areboard, it felt very good, but meepleonboard has been calling to me for a long, long time, hence, finally, the change.

Happy gaming!
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Thu Jul 14, 2016 8:04 am
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4th July 2016 - my week in gaming

Nick
United Kingdom
Somerset/London
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Thursday:

1x Tikal

This was in second place on my "What should we play this week?" poll at the time, but I had prepared a crib sheet for it, unlike the leading choice, so I decided to get it to the table, and we enjoyed it very much indeed. I thought it took a long time, but maybe I was just worried that KT was bored, as when she told me that she didn't think it took too long I suddenly didn't think it was too long any more! Still, I'd like to try the medium and short-length variants. I think that KT made a couple of errors with the placement of her camps, which allowed me to explore a lucrative area of the jungle pretty much undisturbed, and that tipped the balance in my favour, despite KT having by far the greater number of treasures, so I won 195-174. Hooray for the Cult of the Old!


Our second game of the evening, and our second new one, was this, and it proved to be better than I had hoped. Once you have your head around the rules, which sound a little more complicated than they are, this is a clean and quick play, taking around thirty minutes or so between the two of us. This was definitely a learning game, but there is more to it than meets the eye, and, in terms of amount of game per box content it is pretty impressive. I liked it and KT liked it as well, which was a surprise, and although it is early days, this has great potential. Katie won 59-56.

Friday:

We played Bullfrogs for the second time, and while I was gradually getting my head around various subtleties of the game, KT admitted that she was choosing her cards more or less at random. I did help her on a couple of placements once or twice, and that probably contributed to my defeat 54-47. It's a neat little game, and I think it's a keeper. It's an abstract area control game, but with the allure of something like Hive rather than the austerity of Onitama, and the artwork is wonderful too.

After we had played Bullfrogs I received a bit of bad news, and KT was not feeling great anyway, so we decided to pull something light and brainless off the shelf, something that we had kept around for emergencies.


What is there to say about this that needs to be said? KT went for an aggressive strategy, taking blocks out from the bottom of the tower without even checking that they were safe, while I went for a tappity-tap approach that led to scorn and trash talking from my gallant opponent. Clearly the trash talking worked, as my softly softly approach was doomed to fail. Down came the tower, scaring the cat, but it had cheered us up, and that was needed.

Happy gaming!
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Mon Jul 11, 2016 10:07 am
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27th June 2016 - my week in gaming

Nick
United Kingdom
Somerset/London
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We only had the single day of gaming this week, but at least we got in a few plays to make up for not doing so the rest of the week.

Thursday:


I can't remember why, but I was a little bit of a grumpy bear on Thursday, totally out of sorts, but KT managed to persuade me to sit down and play through a game of Hanabi with her. No matter how much I feel I might not be in the mood for gaming, that I cannot make the effort to do it, I know that I always feel better once I'm gaming, and so it proved this time around. Despite jettisoning the red '5' quite early on we managed to plough on to a score of 22, but we were blocked towards the end when KT ended up with all three remaining '5's in hand and I was unable to tell her which was where. Not a bad score, but still aiming for that elusive 25.


The original Guildhall had swung back into rotation, so it felt like the right time to have a go at this reboot. Our last plays of the original and its expansion had felt decidedly wonky, so the gloss had fallen off this, and I cannot say that I am wholly on board with the fantasy retheme...but I really do think that AEG have taken everything that was slightly awry with the original and fixed it. The box is a much more sensible size, the VP tokens are better, the iconography is clear, but now there are also reminder cards to explain the abilities, and this box feels nicely balanced with four reskinned professions and two brand new ones. They have also added new game "modes" as well, including a quick four-profession only, first to three completed chapters version, which we might try.

I enjoyed this game much more than I had remembered, and by the end of our play I was beginning to string combos together as I tried to work out what I wanted to do. I'm still on the fence about which version to keep, whether to go all in on the new set, despite the theme, or to stick with the original, but it's safe to say that KT and I enjoyed it. It was nip and tuck all the way, but I snuck home 21-19 thanks to my Rangers.


Some coop Codenames to finish off the evening. We were pretty relaxed and happy at this stage, trying some weird and wonderful clues along the way, so our scores were not quite as high as they could have been, but we won three times and were betrayed by the double agent once. We then went for a fifth game, and KT gave me the following clue; Nation, 6. I dug out five of them, but stumbled badly on the sixth, eventually picking out the double agent by going for "Band" rather than "Satellite", so it was a short game, but it could have been triumphant. Hopefully not the last time KT will throw out a 6er!

Happy gaming!
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Sun Jul 3, 2016 11:51 pm
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20th June 2016 - my week in gaming

Nick
United Kingdom
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Well, what a week. Anyway, gaming...

Thursday:


Hanabi - 1 play

A single game of this between KT and me in the pub on Thursday evening as we passed a little time there. Sometimes this game just purrs along, but at other times you get stuck quite early on and it is difficult to find a way out. We managed to get all five different "1" cards onto the table fairly early on, but I've learned over our plays that having the "5" cards in hand early on can be a hindrance, and thus it was this time around. With only higher value cards it was tricky to get the various fireworks going, and several times we ended up in positions where either a risky play or a risky discard was in order, and I finally ended up jettisoning the only card that would have kept us in the game. To be fair to me, there were several cards still in the draw deck and I had three possible cards to choose from in hand, so to have it in hand and choose to discard it was a mite unlucky, but there you go. We scored 17, which the rulebook seems to think is half decent, but having managed 24 a couple of times in the past I really, really want to get a perfect score now..!

Friday:

Quadropolis - 1 play

For a decent proportion of this country Friday was on the baffling side, so we cracked open some cardboard to take our mind off the chaos. We began with a game of classic Quadropolis, light, breezy, colourful and fun too. It is only the third time we have played this properly, but I enjoy it as I find it offers just about enough thinkspace to be involving but not overwhelming - any lighter for its length and I could probably blow it away with one light puff, any heavier and it would be competing with other games in our collection. I went for Factories and Shops while Katie diversified and managed to build up a Harbourfront all along one and a bit sides of her board, gaining 15 points. It felt like a close run thing, and the scoring was pretty much even until we got to the Harbours and the bonus points on the tiles, at which point KT stretched her legs, winning in the end 61-49.


We then played our 182nd game of Race for the Galaxy with the Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts cards, and with this play it officially outstripped Dominion as our most played game - for something that takes longer to play that is quite an achievement, but it remains KT's favourite game, and I consider myself a lucky man. KT had some strong Alien cards in hand from the start and managed to hold onto them as she built up her miilitary strength in order to play them to her tableau, while I went for a mixed Uplift/Genes approach. It felt quite close throughout and the final result was an appropriately Referendumesque 39-38 to KT. It was worth it, though, to take our mind off things. I keep thinking about securing some of the other expansion arcs, but the one time we played The Orb we quite enjoyed it, so we might, just might, go exploring in that direction next. 200 plays, here we come!

Saturday:

I am trying to make sure that all our games get at least a fair share of their time off the shelf, and to that end I have a spreadsheet (yummy!) up and running that keeps me informed of what is overdue a visit to the table. Because of this I picked this out for a play on Saturday, and was astonished to find that we had not played it since February. At least the spreadsheet seems to be doing its job. A quick scan through the rules and the various victory conditions and we were off, and it did not take me long to recall how much I enjoy this game. I just love having to keep an eye on everything KT does, all the while trying to secure my own civilisation's safety and prosperity. The military track seemed pretty stable early on, and I was confident of heading on to a decent points victory, but by Age III KT was becoming more aggressive and I could not prevent her getting the Military card she needed for victory...but she could not afford the resources to build it! I was safe, I thought, but she instead sold it and used the next card she took to build (with the coins she had gained) the Wonder that enabled her to move the Military marker all the way across to my side for the victory, her third military win in a row. Given that the marker had started Age III in the middle of the board, this was swift and ruinous...how apt!

Happy gaming!
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Mon Jun 27, 2016 8:20 am
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Duelling Wonders

Nick
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KT was feeling a little tired and tense yesterday, so I drew a couple of quickish playing games off the shelf for her to choose from, and she eventually went with 7 Wonders: Duel. I was slightly surprised to see that we had not played this since February, given that I recalled enjoying it very much indeed, so we needed a little refresher on the smaller details, but then we were off and running.

Through Ages I & II I managed to stretch my legs, gathering Scientific symbols along the way and enough resources to build two Wonders to KT's one, a decent pile of coinage and a healthy spread of different coloured cards. By the start of Age III the Military marker was sitting in the middle of the board, so I assumed that I was safe and in for a fairly straightforward ride to the end of the game. However, it was at exactly this point that KT clearly decided that her only chance of victory was to invade and destroy my civilisation, so, while I beefed up my prosperity by inviting various Guilds into my domain, KT slowly and surely started building up her military, sniping at my outposts and diminishing my resources. Before I knew it, she was only a couple of steps away from my capital, and I was in a position where a revealed red card could have spelled doom. Lo and behold, the next card was red but, thankfully, KT could not afford to build it and instead discarded it for coins. I thought I was safe, but my opponent was too slippery for this - she took the next card and, with the coins she had earned from the previous round, built a Wonder that allowed her to move the Military marker to its final position. My bold, brave (and, I should add, highly cultured) civilisation was no more.

I enjoyed this game very much indeed, more even than I had remembered, and need to make sure that we do not go another four months before KT destroys me again. After all, she's on three Military victories in a row...

Happy gaming!
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Sun Jun 26, 2016 2:08 pm
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Fun and games...

Nick
United Kingdom
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I woke up this morning and, no, it hasn't all been a dream. We really are going ahead with this, apparently, but everything is tickety-boo so far - petrol prices up, credit rating down, interest rates looking at going up, bold referendum claims now being described by their claimants as "unwise". Well, at least we have strong leadership and opposition to steer us through all this..oh, wait, hang on...

So where to go for sanity? Why, games of course! Seeing as we're probably looking at the break up of the Union as well (no, not the European one), we played a couple of build-em-ups yesterday, just to take our minds off things (neighbours sniping at each other on Facebook, that sort of stuff), and it actually worked.

We began with a game of classic Quadropolis, light, breezy, colourful and fun too. It's only the third time we have played this properly, but I enjoy it as I find it offers just about enough thinkspace to be involving but not overwhelming. I went for Factories and Shops while Katie diversified and managed to build up a Harbourfront all along one and a bit sides of her board, gaining 15 points. In the end she won by 61-49.

We then played our 182nd game of Race for the Galaxy with the Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts cards, and with this play it officially outstripped Dominion (181) as our most played game. KT had some strong Alien cards in hand from the start and managed to hold onto them as she built up her miilitary strength in order to play them, while I went for a mixed Uplift/Genes tableau. It felt close throughout and the final result was a Referendumesque 39-38 to KT. It was worth it, though, to take our mind off things, and let's see what today might bring...hopefully more fun and games, but only of the cardboard sort.

Happy gaming!
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Sat Jun 25, 2016 9:58 am
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