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ABX Boardgamers' Group (What we're playing)

A weekly AAR for what we've been playing at our weekly Boardgame Day at Augusta Book Exchange in Augusta, GA. http://comics-n-games.com/backlot/

Archive for Mark Bakke

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AAR for 29 Jun 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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WOW! It was actually under 100 degrees today! Time to break out the long underwear.

Bring Out Yer Dead
A new game from Upper Deck with the theme of trying to get the most prestigious spots in the cemetery for your dearly-departed loved ones and not having their caskets dumped into the river. Players choose three cards from their hand secretly at the start of each turn. These cards give them the ability to load caskets onto the cart or take other actions to improve their standing in the graveyard. There are two separate sections that the first player (the gravedigger) can choose from each turn and each has its own strategies for optimal placements. After a maximum of eight rounds, whoever has earned the highest number of VP wins. Not anywhere near as zanily morbid as an older game called "Plague", but still a light-hearted treatment of the theme. Interesting strategies for game play can make each turn critical. We played one two-player game and could easily see that the game could be a real battle with 4-5 players.

Progress: Evolution of Technology
Another new game that is reminiscent of "Civilization", but features only the tech tree. There are three Ages to play through. Players try to acquire and develop a series of interconnecting technologies that increase their skills and bonuses and VP levels. We had a three-player game and found that this one plays smoothly and quickly with plenty of planning certainly being necessary for success. We didn't use any of the advanced options, but they look like fun.

Nations: The Dice Game
Four players for a quick round of this one. I took Greece and the game evolved into a two-player race to see which one of us could get the best final turn. I settled for 2nd place after watching a 5VP Wonder get built.

Splendor
Continuing with the ongoing tournament. There were three games today with three players each. One more week to go in this one. Players need to play at least three games to qualify for prizes and all players so far have done that.

Roll for the Galaxy
Three-player game that came down to the very last turn to determine a winner in a very close race. I would have won if there had been one more turn, but, such was not the case.

Spy Alley
Three of us did our best to bluff and deceive our way to potential victory. One player acquired *two* Wild Cards, but got successfully guessed before he could win. I thought I was going to sneak in the back door and win, but I also got guessed at the last possible moment.

Sun Tzu
Two-player strategy game using the backdrop of the historical wars of Sun Tzu. Players compete for control of five provinces whose VP values change with each scoring phase. Scoring is done after Rounds 3, 6, and 9 and is a simple differential total. You play one card face down for each of the five provinces each turn and, when they are turned over, battle is resolved with the winner receiving armies and/or taking away opponent's armies according to the comparative values of the played cards. Lots of clever strategies here as some cards are powerful, but can only be played once each game. Other cards continue to go back to your hand after each round. Our game was decided by only 1 VP in the very last round.

Elysium
We tried out a two-player game using Apollo, Ares, and Hermes to see what they could all do. They added quite a bit of new wrinkles to play and had the effect of boosting scoring pretty dramatically. I won with 76 VP against 68 for my opponent.


Other games played today included: Forbidden Stars...
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Tue Jun 30, 2015 4:13 am
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AAR for 22 Jun 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Spring gave us a lot of Summer. How about if Summer repays the favor?

Star Realms
Played shorter games early today since there was a Dice Masters tournament scheduled for the evening. Four game of Star Realms is always fun. I won three of them. I can't imagine getting tired of playing this one and there are still new goodies for it to be released shortly.

Baseball Highlights: 2045
Introduced a new player and he took to it pretty quickly. Beat me in the mini-series, two games to one and then jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the World Series. But, in an amazing comeback, I managed to win four games in a row to take the Series, 4-3. Great game!

Dice Masters
Another in our series of Dice Masters tournaments. This time, the format was Marvel/DC only and players could only use *female* characters along with actions. This made people do some thinking and they put together some very interesting armies using characters that might not otherwise see much playing time. I enjoy exploring the possibilities of new characters and, every now and then, I find some that had been overlooked and are actually quite good. My army featured Stargirl and other characters that pumped up and worked off maximizing my Sidekicks. I went 3-3 for the five games of the tournament plus one additional friendly where I got "revenge" for an earlier defeat. My army was pretty good, but I made a few glaring mistakes playing it that cost me a couple of games. But, as usual, it was a fun tournament with good people.

Spy Alley
We had two four-player games to finish the day on a lighter note. I was close to winning the first game, but got guessed correctly when the last player before me took a flyer and hit it. I had correctly called out another player earlier and survived a subsequent attempt to guess me.


Other games played today included: Werewolf, Forbidden Stars, and Boss Monster...
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Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:26 am
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AAR for 15 Jun 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Hey, weatherman! You *do* know that it's still "spring", right? So, what's up with this two weeks of 99+ degrees?

Legendary Encounters
Today was not a good day to take on Alien lifeforms, it would seem. We played three games today and got horribly beaten twice. Our first two games played the second movie scenario and were each with three players. The Combat Zone filled up quickly with high Strength aliens and we all took "Death by Strike" in short order. So, we reset everything and tried again. This time, we were able to survive and defeat the Queen thanks to some timely Coordinate cards and the help of the Sentry Guns in the Airlock. We added another player and moved up to the third movie. I quickly went down to a Chestburster and the other three players were methodically hacked to pieces by Aliens.

Splendor
Many games of this were played today as we're trying to get enough people involved to be able to run an 8-player tournament in the near future. I played in six games altogether with various groups of two, three, and four players. Looks like the tournament could be a popular event.

Elysium
Four people vied for the favor of the Greek pantheon. I didn't do a very good job of coordinating my effort and ended up settling for a distant 3rd-place finish. This game is quickly rising up the list of favorite games for me.

Nations: The Dice Game
Quick three-player game introducing two new players to the game. I put on another spectacular display of inept dice-rolling as I *never* rolled more than one Gold on any of my turns. That made it rather difficult to acquire many good tiles and led to my taking a nasty drubbing.

Spy Alley
Another quick three-player game introducing new players. I was the German spy and was doing fairly well, but the French player hit his roll exactly heading for his embassy and had a Wild Card in hand to help give him the win.


Other games played today included: Dice Masters, Android: Netrunner, and Relic...
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Tue Jun 16, 2015 5:06 am
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AAR for 08 Jun 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Summer gaming convention season is underway. Origins is first. GenCon to follow. Looking forward to all the new goodies!

Splendor
Getting interest ramped up in this great-looking and quick-playing strategy game in anticipation of running a tournament event in conjunction with Asmodee's new tournament series for their popular games. Three games played today with three players each. I won the first and last games and had the card in my hand to win the 3rd game, but wasn't able to play it before another player hit 15VP and I didn't have another turn available. This is one of those games I thought was a bit ho-hum at first, but the more I've played it, the more it's growing on me.

Elysium
Another popular new game gaining more players with repeated exposure. Three players this time and, for once, I didn't completely suck! I was able to Transfer the entire Zeus family set on my last turn for 11 VP and ended up winning the game by 9 VP.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Another favorite game that just gets better and better the more that experienced players battle each other. We had two games today, one with three players and another with four. The three-player game ended up in a two-way tie at 88 points, but I won the "largest castle" tiebreaker. The four-player game saw a Bonus card runaway with a winning total of 104 points.

Nations: The Dice Game
Two games today with three players each. I played Greece both times, but this game has no differences between countries as does its "big brother" board game. I was able to win both times on the strength of high-VP Wonders and managing to stay ahead on the Books track for extra VP each turn. I did pull off the amazingly-inept feat of rolling four red/military dice three times and failing to achieve six swords on any roll to earn a 4 VP bonus when the average expected total for such rolls would be eight.

Core Worlds
An old favorite back to the table and featuring the new "Revolution" expansion. This one adds a deck of Hero Tactics card to enhance the shenanigans that your faction Hero (and others you may acquire) can perform. They also added a set of Advancement cards that can be acquired and attached to your controlled Worlds for more special abilities. Our three-player game saw one player get a brutally-efficient combo going that let him run away with the win.


Other games played today included: Dice Masters....
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Tue Jun 9, 2015 5:25 am
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AAR for 01 Jun 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Good weekend... Kevin Owens beats John Cena clean. The Minnesota Twins are in 1st place. I finally won a Dice Masters tournament.

Legendary: Villains
Two tries to beat the Uru-Enchanted Iron Man and the Fear Itself plot. Three players for both games and neither one worked out in our favor. Iron Man drew too many Command Strike cards too early in the game for us to have much chance to take him down until it was too late and we got overrun by the Plot Twists.

Legendary: Encounters
Four players with a couple of newbies -- new to Encounters, but not to Legendary. We played the first movie and got off to a fast start. Then, I got *three* Facehuggers in one turn and got a Chestburster in my deck. Fortunately, we had "Look at the top card and kill it or discard it" cards to play and one of them got the Chestburster and saved me. One of our team went down on Strikes after pulling one for 5 damage. We got The Perfect Organism in the airlock on my turn and I was able to make 10 Strength after drawing a card, so we beat the scenario just as it was getting a little dicey.

Nations: The Dice Game
First time out for this short-and-sweet dice game version of the empire-building epic game, Nations. This one has its own strategy as you use and manipulate dice rolls to acquire building tiles, Wonders, Leaders, and colonies along with getting more and better dice. The competition has many ways to gain VP through building and resource management. The game plays in about 1/4 the time of its big brother, but is still quite fun. This will likely be seeing much more play as a filler and introductory game.

Dice Masters
We had a tournament using a constructed format and the Marvel/DC sets only. Eight people entered, so we played three Swiss-style rounds to determine standings for a final single-elimination bracket to a finish. I tried out an all-Lightning team for the first time. After dropping my first two games, I came back strong to win in each of the next four rounds and end up taking the tournament by upsetting the dreaded Sidekick-boost army for the tournament win. Hawkeye "Longbow" was my MVP, as it kept on shooting the key character of the opponents and cycling back around quickly. This slowed down what they wanted to do and gave me the chance to get my nastiness going.


Other games played today included: Castles of Mad King Ludwig and Smash Up!...
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Tue Jun 2, 2015 5:37 am
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AAR for 25 May 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Slow day for gaming on Memorial Day as most people have all sorts of other things to do on this "first weekend of summer".

Elysium
First time out for this game based on writing legends based on Greek mythology and trying to appeal to the gods for a better place in the afterlife. Players acquire cards representing followers and deeds of five different Greek deities. These cards will be used to write legends, i.e., creating matching sets that will score victory points at game end. You acquire cards and Quest tokens using four different colors of columns that match icons on those cards. But, you have to give up one of those columns each round, so your options start getting more limited as the round goes on. It's easy to not be able to get the stuff you need. Opponents, of course, will try to help your problems get worse. We had three games today, one each with 2, 3, and 4 players. They all ended up being rather close finishes, with the three player game having to go to a "most Gold" tie-breaker. Plays in about an hour, but has lots of meaningful decisions every round.

Castles of Mad King Ludwig
One game with two players and another with three. I managed to win the three-player game by getting a ton of points off a nice set of Bonus cards. Nice to see this game win a Mensa Select award for 2014 as it has been a group favorite.

Star Realms
Broke in a new player today to what has become my favorite two-player card game. Between the card game and the Android app version, I've been putting in a *lot* of time playing this one. Even though the new player lost both of the game that we played, he enjoyed the game and wants a rematch.


Other games played today included: Dice Masters and Android: Netrunner....
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Tue May 26, 2015 4:12 am
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AAR for 18 May 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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We all saw the Houston Astros being the best team in the American League at the 1/4 point in the baseball season, right? Liars!

Castles of Mad King Ludwig
Nice to get this one back to the table again after too long away. We had a couple of two-player games where each of us scored a blowout win. One game, nothing goes right. The next game, absolutely everything just falls right into your lap. But, that's why we keep playing, right?

Spy Alley
A new game from a Barnes and Noble sale. "New" to me, but it has been published since 1992 and won a Mensa Select award, so I went for it. Turned out to be a pretty good buy. This one saw four plays today, two with three players and two more with five. Players are spies working secretly for one of six different countries. They are trying to gather four key items for that country and land on their embassy without any other player being able to guess what country they are working for. Deduction, bluffing, planning, and picking the right time to guess the identity of other players combine for a fast and fun game. This could easily be one of our new favorite fillers.

Roll for the Galaxy
One game with four players and another with five. I had good engines going in both games, but each time I came up one turn short of being able to finish it off in my favor. It also showed how many points players could rack up in a five-player game. The *lowest* VP total in the five-player would easily have won the four-player game.

Thunder Alley
We finished off the gaming day with a five-player race on teh Saint Adriana Speedway track. Big track with four lanes and only two laps. This one turned out to be very tight with nobody gaining a clear advantage until the eventual winner managed a two-car breakaway and was happy not to see a Yellow flag pit stop and restart right at the end. I had a three-car pack go across the line, but they couldn't overcome the 1-2 finish by the winner.


Other games played today included: Android: Netrunner......
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Tue May 19, 2015 5:40 am
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AAR for 11 May 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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Already we're into the 90s for daytime temps? What happened to "Spring"?

Dice Masters
More testing out of armies and cards. Just throwing together some basic ideas now. The armies are still all-DC and aren't anywhere near tournament-ready, but playtesting is producing valuable insights into how the new cards and ideas work. Four games today using a variety of armies against a variety of opponents.

X-Men: Mutant Revolution
First time out for this one. WizKids licensed the "Spartacus" game system from Gale Force Nine and is using it with an X-Men theme. Some new improvements have been added, including having *all* players participate in a Mission-based combat system. Enough similarites that any Spartacus veteran can easily pick this one up, but enough new stuff to make this game not be just a copy of the original. We had a four-player game to try this one out. I got down to needing to win a 1v1 battle to win the game. I had three chances to succeed at a 50-50 attack roll for the win, but failed all three of them. Fun game, even though it's not quite as cutthroat and nasty as Spartacus.

Trains: Rising Sun
Four player game with two new players. I put myself out of contention early on and watched as a big builder strategy went up against a dedicated economic strategy. In the end, the builder won. This seems to be more common in this version as opposed to the original game.


Other games played today included: Super Dungeon Explore and Android: Netrunner...
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Tue May 12, 2015 4:49 am
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AAR for 04 May 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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May the 4th be with you! We did more demoing and checking out of new stuff -- especially Justice League Dice Masters -- than game-playing today. But, drooling over new goodies is always fun, too.

Francis Drake
First time having a four-player game and, as expected, it does change the game play quite a bit. Now, it's more difficult to get your ship provisioned completely and there's far more competition for high-value destinations. I made plenty of mistakes and, as you might expect, ended up with a rather dismal final total. Makes me look forward even more to seeing what a bloodbath a five-player game might produce!

Dice Masters
The new Justice League expansion for this popular franchise arrived in the store a few days ago, and Dice Masters addicts have been buying and sorting and trading and making new armies ever since. I got in three games today against two different opponents trying out my Green Lantern "buckets of dice" army. It had me averaging 7-8 dice rolled per turn. That's a good thing. However, my poor dice-rolling "skills" often kept me from fielding the combos necessary to make the strategy really sing. But, when it worked, it worked really well. So, we'll keep tweaking on it.


Other games played today included: Dragonball Z, Tentacle Bento, Betrayal at House on the Hill, and Assassinorum: Execution Force...
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Tue May 5, 2015 5:18 am
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AAR for 27 Apr 2015

Mark Bakke
United States
Augusta
Georgia
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What happened to "Spring"? Outside of the blizzard of pollen and swarms of honey bees, I think we went straight to Summer again.

Legendary Encounters
Four games today in a couple of different sessions. First off, we had three players going for revenge after our defeat vs. the final movie scenario. This time, we were able to prevail. I got the Ripley ultimate card and gained several high-strength aliens. At one point, I managed 46 Fight points! Needless to say, the Queen and the Newborn were no match for that sort of firepower. Later, two of us played each of the first three movie scenarios and we were able to defeat all of them. They get progressively tougher as you go along, but we avoided some dicey situations and came out on top.

Francis Drake
Three-player game of provisioning, pirating, plundering, and profiteering in the New World. With three players, it's a game of trying to maximize the spread of your attacks more than of not being able to grab enough provisions. In the end, two of us ended up in a flat-footed tie at 93 points, but the other player won the tiebreaker by being first back to Plymouth Harbor.

Dark Seas
More good piratey stuff. This was a four-player game that featured getting little to no movement from the unfortunate dice results. I had an engine set up where I would gain lots of pirates and lots of Infamy just by circling as fast as possible. But, when you're only moving one hex or less per turn most of the time, it just didn't happen for me. So, I had to sit back and watch one player run off and hide by nearly doubling the total Infamy that anybody else was able to gain.

Baseball Highlights 2045
Introduced a new player to this favorite new baseball-themed deck-builder. I was able to win the World Series by a 4-1 margin. I highly recommend that players get either the Deluxe Edition or obtain the expansion card sets for the base game as they add quite a bit to the game.


Other games played today included: Red Dragon Inn and Android: Netrunner...
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Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:49 am
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