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Kitchen Table Games

Games I've played on my kitchen table

Archive for Max Jamelli

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New #16

Max Jamelli
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There's a new entree to the top 20. Coming in at #16 - 1989: Dawn of Freedom.



I have always liked card driven games. I've enjoyed 1960: The Making of the President and Founding Fathers immensely and I tried to learn Twilight Struggle but never really got the grasp of it. I read about 1989 over the summer and watched a few review videos enough to realize that I wanted to at least try to play it. It took until WBC week in August for me to get a chance to play, and even at that I was only able to demo it for a few turns.

I liked it enough to pick up a copy at the GMT Booth before leaving. I've been able to play a couple games on the table and that's been enough for me to examine my top 20 and see where this game may fit. For me, I would still have Notre Dame just above it, but for me it slots pretty safely above Havana.

What I really like about the game is the idea of "leaders" - political, student, journalist, etc. That idea comes into play with the power struggle - which I've been told is a mechanic "borrowed" from Hannibal (A game I've never played). I like that even the player with the most area controlled may lose a power struggle - but the stronger a player's position, the less likely that truly is.

I also like the fact that there are no headline events and there is no DEFCON chart. The one thing that I wish I was stronger at was geography. I'm in the first stages of an online game currently and it does take me a while to figure out where my opponent is placing influence.

Final Thoughts
I'll probably not get to play this enough to become a master at it, but I do plan on introducing it to a friend of mine who is a big history buff. I hope it's not too complex for him as he's not a gamer. I think he'll appreciate the work that's gone into the events though.
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Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:49 pm
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My top games - #36

Max Jamelli
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#36 on my list - Formula D



Formula D is a mechanically simple racing game and a reimplementation of Formula Dé. I was introduced to this game by some friends from Gettysburg a few years back. Couple of really good aspects of this game -- it can play up to 10 players! It's a very easy game to teach, especially if you're playing with just the basic car cards.

When we played through, the first thoughts I had were of growing up and playing Le Mans with my dad. We set up the track and had a dice-fest race. It was a good way to show me a new style of game, and it was one I could beat my dad at whether he was trying or not. It came down to who rolled good dice. (those of you who know my father and I know the answer to that is usually neither of us roll good dice, so the game became who rolled better dice than the other.

Formula D brings in a new aspect and that's the gear shifter mechanic. If you stayed in first gear you'd finish a race in about an hour. Formula D allows you to use multiple sided dice which are designed with varying minimum values. For example, the 8 sided die isn't number 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8. It's numbered with values from 4-8 (so you can't roll a 3 no matter how hard you try). There is a 20 sided die with a minium roll of 11. The fastest die is a 30 sided die with a minimum value of 21 - so while you don't know what you'll roll, you'll have an idea of how fast you'll be going. That becomes important as you enter curves or encounter other various objects in your path.

That's all fine and dandy if you are playing with other gamers. What I saw Formula D as when I first played it was my version of Lemans for my son and I. I can see it now -- I'll show him the board map (which is a lot nicer than Lemans as you can see)


(image credit: rsolow)

vs.


(image credit: glassairports)

But hey, we're talking about a game published in 1961 vs a game published in 2008 - the graphics are obviously going to be better. Although I have to say, FD took a lot of mechanics from Lemans and jazzed them up a little graphically.

Back to my original thought -- I'm thinking when he's about 6 years old, I'll pull out the map and show him the dice and show him how the game works. All we'll do is roll dice and move our cars. No need to worry about damage or whether or not we stop in the middle of a curve. Just fun dice rolling and space counting. I'm sure he'll out-roll me sometimes and there will be times I out-roll him. I see this as a chance for him to learn how to win and how to lose. Then when he gets a little older, I can show him car damage and the stopping in curves aspect of the game.

I also like the fact that there are some readily available expansion boards for FD. Some of them are harder to find, but I keep a look out for them with the hopes that Derek will someday grow to like the game. I feel pretty good about that since I showed it to his 7 year old cousin when she was 6. She thought the map was pretty and liked rolling the big dice and counting how far she went. She even asked me to bring it along the next time we come out to visit. I thought that was really cool.

Maybe by the time Derek is old enough, we can play really big races with his cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Mommy and Daddy. If Grandpop plays, that's a full 10 and we could have a big race.

Final Thoughts
The cool thing about this game is the custom dice. The D20 with a min value of 11 for example gives the game a level of strategy you don't think you'll see with a dice racing game.
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Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:33 pm
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My top games - #35

Max Jamelli
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#35 on my list - Archaeology: The Card Game



I was introduce to Archaeology by a friend of mine at a game group meeting. I think we had 4 players and I think 4 is a great number for this game. It can be played with less, but the random events that come out are better with more players. It's an Indiana Jones-like theme of finding buries treasures - it's got a very small element of searching through a pyramid for treasures. At it's core, it's a set collection/push your luck game.

There's a lot to like about this for me. First, it's really a small game so it's very portable. It's also extremely easy to teach and learn. It's also pretty cheap, er affordable. Aside from that, it's really a quick fun game.

Players will have a hand of cards with various values on them which allow playesr to interact with a market. The push-your-luck aspect comes into play as treasures or artifacts are collected.


image credit: Futza

On each card you can see varying points can be scored for scoring different numbers of cards. For example, you can score 2 coin cards for 5 points. If you waited and collected 2 more coinds, you would be able to score 4 coins for 18 points. You don't want to hold too many cards though, because sand storm cards and thief cards are in the deck.

If a sand storm hits, you lose half of your cards! If a thief card is drawn, one of your opponents (whoever drew the thief) may choose to steal a card from you -- especially if you have a lot of cards in your hand or are the presumed leader.

This was a game that was out of print for a while, so I designed my own cards and had Artscow print them. I re-named my card game Treasure Hunters (or something to that effect). I saw Archaelogy was available at last years WBC for $5 or something like that, so I was glad to see it back on the market. For what it costs, it's a great game.

Archaelogy (or treasure hunters in my case) was one of the games I took on vacation with me and my family when we visited Orlando back in 2009. It fit in my carry on bag, so it was a no-brainer. We spent the nights in our apartment playing through it and had a good time. I'm pretty sure it was the last game we played in the year 2009 too (although Scripts and Scribes was also on that trip) and I forget honestly.

It's a small game and it's a short game so I don't have a lot of fun stories to remember about it. If I had to include some of the new games I've learned since putting this list together ... it probably gets bumped down, but it's still a very fun game.
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Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:40 pm
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My top games - #34

Max Jamelli
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#34 on the list is 1960: The Making of the President.



I first saw 1960 here on BGG back in 2007. I got some money for Christmas that year and put my first ThoughtHammer order together. Among that first order was 1960. I was really excited about it because I was always a fan of election games. I've already gone into that detail in my blog post on CM08

When I first opened the box, I was surprised at how large the map board was. I was also impressed with the graphic design of the board. I went to work on the rules and found them to be easy to understand. I got to play it for the first time on January 19, 2008 with my dad. I played as Kennedy for the first few plays despite choosing sides randomly.

At the time, 1960 was a top 10 game for me easily. If I had to make a list, I probably had it 7th. The thing that really appealed to me was the card draw. Because of the card draw, each game would be/should be different. If it was 7th before, why is it 34th now? I guess it's a combination of a few things. Some newer games obviously, and I think seeing a strategy of really hammering issues to win pushed it down. I love the CDG aspect and I still have 1960 rated a 9.

I've enjoyed 1960 at home and at WBC events where I was able to meet some new gamers as well as get throttled by one of the best 1960 players at the con, Chris Withers. I GM'ed an online version for the BPA a few years back on gametableonline, but decided to stop for a few reasons. Attendance for that first tournament was right at the cut off for a sanctioned event, and GTO had just started charging for the ability to play human players. It's not a major cost, but I didn't want to force BPA members to pay another outside cost to participate. There are other online versions of the game out there, but I moved on to GM other games instead. I've tossed around GM'ing CM08 on Yucata .. we'll see.

Jen has had her difficulties with this one. She's come close to winning a few times, but she's 0-9 against me. Maybe that's why she rates it a 7. I think with a win, she's push that to an 8. As it stands now, it ranks 17th on our combined ratings geeklist. Funny thing is, she rates CM08 a 7 as well, and she has won that a few times.

Final Thoughts
I've done blog posts on Campaign Manager 2008 and Founding Fathers as well. Between those and 1960, Jason Matthews and Christian Leonhard are two of my favorite designers. I've tried Twilight Struggle a few times, but haven't really gotten the hang of it. Thinking about it now, I think I'm going to have to try it again via ACTS and Cyberboard with my dad (who will be patient with my noobness) I have also seen that Mr. Matthews designed a game called 1989: Dawn of Freedom - this looks a lot like his other designs, but based on the end of the Cold War. After looking over some comments from the GMT P-500 page, this may be a pre-order for me.
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Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:12 pm
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My top games - #33

Max Jamelli
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#33 on the list - The Pillars of the Earth: Builders Duel



Builders Duel was a Christmas present last year from my sister. I had purchased The Pillars of the Earth at a WBC convention a while back and my wife really liked it. She also started reading the book and became even more intrigued by the game. When I saw a 2P mini-game was coming out, I figured it would be something she enjoyed.

Before I got the game I was able to see it in action by watching Tom Vasel's review. I like being able to see videos about games because for me it's easier to learn them that way than wading through a rulebook. (Thanks Tom!) I was intrigued by the coin flipping system and the tic-tac-toe mechanic as well.

The first time we played it, Jen and I killed the rules. We didn't play through an entire deck, we only played one tic-tac-toe board per round. (offhand, I think there are four in each deck, so we essentially skipped 6 rounds or so). We thought, there is NO WAY anyone can ever build these buildings. Then, we figured out how we screwed up and played again and really liked it.

I've since showed the game to my dad, and I think he enjoyed it as a lighter game but I don't think he'd be banging down the door to play it over some of our other favorites. I enjoy it as a change-of-pace game though, as does Jen. Jen's rating of 7 is slightly lower than my 7.5.

Final Thoughts
This game's flipping mechanics are really the only dexterity system I feel comfortable doing - although I did have to teach Jen how to flip a coin. I was amazed that she had never flipped a coin before playing this game.
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Thu Dec 29, 2011 8:28 pm
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My Top games #32

Max Jamelli
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Chambersburg
Pennsylvania
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#32 on the expanding list ... Yspahan



Yspahan is a game that I was introduced to at a Central PA Gamers club gameday. I like to try new games and that club gives me a chance to do that often. It was not a hard game to learn, rules wise - but there are some subtle strategies, caravan strategies, etc. that I really don't play enough on the table to fully get - but in my online plays I've been trying to do different things.

The first thing that I noticed about the game when we opened it was ... the boards were kinda bland. Oh well, amazing artwork isn't necessary for a good game. The next thing I noticed were the really cool wooden camels. I am a sucker for neat components. The camels fit that bill. Finally, what are we supposed to do with all those dice? There has to be 100 dice in there.

For someone like me, who has some rough luck with dice, Ysp offers a nice change. I mean, you can't roll that many dice unluckily. No matter what I rolled, I was able to find something useful. Now, when the other players roll - that's another story. But that's the game as well.

After I played that initial game, I came here to log it and rate the game - and found that there were several options to play online. I immediately downloaded an AI version and played a few times and set up a few games on Yucata. I discovered there was a 2P variant (that I'm still not certain of) and have enjoyed several games there up to this point.

Yspahan is a tournament at the WBC, but schedules never worked out for me to make it. Hopefully it's back in 2012 and I can make it in for a heat.

Final Thoughts
I wish I had something pertinent or thought-provoking to add in this section. I'm at a loss. For a game that I've played on the table one time, I think 32 is a good spot for it. So, yeah ... that's what I have for a final thought.
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Mon Nov 14, 2011 3:57 pm
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My Top Games - #31

Max Jamelli
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Chambersburg
Pennsylvania
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#31 on my ongoing list - Daytona 500


Daytona 500 is a cousin game of my #22 game Detroit-Cleveland Grand Prix.

As I explained in that earlier post, I won DCGP as a prize at a game day. I played a round with my dad and really enjoyed it. When I read here on BGG that there was an earlier racing game that used the same mechanics, I added it to my watch list just in case I ever had the chance to pick it up.

A while back, a BGG'er held an auction in State College. I looked over the lot of games he was offering and there were two games I REALLY wanted - Attika and Daytona 500. There were two others that caught my eye as well, but those two were biggies for me. I posted a help-request on facebook and a buddy of mine who lives in SC answered the call for me. He went to the auction and Attika went down to a die roll. Turns out my proxy dice are as unlucky as my real dice. My guy lost the die roll and lost out on Attika. (A couple months later I would find out that a buddy of mine from the Central PA Game Club won that die roll). I WAS able to score the copy of Daytona 500 though, and aside from the cost of the game all it cost me was a beer draft.

Daytona 500 plays similarly to DCGP, so I was able to "speed through" the rules. I like the fact that the game is based on one of the most famous car races, and that the board and track are a match. I like the fact that it's a racing game, but an economic game at heart. There is a different strategy to a game like this vs. a game like Formula D - but both are very good game.

When I introduce games to my son (who will be 3 in a few weeks, so we've got some time) I'll probably introduce Formula D first, and wait on a game like this -- although this game isn't overly complex and I can see where a child would be able to pick up the mechanics (maybe not deep strategy though).

Final Thoughts
This was the first racing game I taught to Jen and her mom. They enjoyed it, but I don't think they're in a hurry to play it again.
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Thu Nov 3, 2011 3:56 pm
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My top games #30

Max Jamelli
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#30 on my list ... Le Havre



Le Havre is a game that I may not have ordinarily purchased. I bought Agricola when it first came out and thought it was ok. Looking at LH, I saw the obvious similarities and at the price I would have normally waited. But as luck would have it, my sister in law wanted a website designed and I did it for her. In lieu of monetary payment (which would have felt weird), I told her she could buy me some games. LH was one of the games she picked up for me.

Since I am a weak rulebook reader/learner - I knew I was going to need someone to help teach me. Scott Nicholson taught me Agricola, but I wasn't sure if he was going to teach me LH. Tom Vasel tried, but it didn't click for me. I was lucky enough to go to a FLGS in my area, Neverland Games, where the owner sat down with me to teach me the game.

My first thoughts about LH in my game comment section:
I like this a little more than Agricola because the goal is to accumulate money as opposed to creating a diverse farm. I think the feeding mechanism plays out better as well which allows you to focus more on the economic issue, rather than spending half your turn trying to figure out your food mechanism.

I liked the fact that feeding was a part, but it felt "easier" to feed. With Agricola, if I tried to do something "new" I always seemed to fall behind in food and spent turn after turn warding off begging cards. With the few games of LH I've played, I've found I was able to do other things a little more.

LH is pretty lengthy game. Playing time aside, the learning curve is there as well so with new players it should take a little longer. Because of this, it's been a long time since I've been able to play LH. I taught Jen, her sister Julie, and Julie's husband Bill how to play a little while after Tony taught me (because I was really pumped about the game, Julie had bought it, and I knew Julie like Agricola, so I thought LH would work). Sadly this game was 2 years ago.

We all did enjoy it, but it's just one of those games that doesn't get pulled out very often. I guess it either speaks to the solidness of this game or my experience in gaming that a game that I rarely play is ranked this high.

Final Thoughts

Le Havre's cover art was an inspiration for one of my BGG Christmas Cards.

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Sat Oct 15, 2011 3:00 pm
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My Top Games - #29

Max Jamelli
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#29 on my list - Railways of the World



I was first introduced to Railroad Tycoon by my gaming group back in 2009 I think - except we played the England version of the game. This group is heavy into train games and obviously RT is a game that they enjoy. I enjoy it a great deal as well. (No kidding, since it's in your top 30). The artwork is exceptional and the gameplay is fairly easy for as deep a game as it is.

The first thing that I like is the category. I love economic games. RT is different in that you don't start with any money. You have to take shares to get money and in the end, the more shares you have the more points you lose. I love that mechanic.

The game itself is pretty simple. There are three turns per round. On your turn you can do a couple different things - from build track, to deliver goods, to drawing cards, upgrading your train, and so on. Building track costs variable amounts of money depending on terrain. Obviously it's easier/cheaper to lay track on the plains than it is to lay track across/through the mountains. It makes connecting cities a strategic thing.

The other thing about the game I like is the variability. I enjoy games that rarely play the same way twice. Because of the bonus cards and the way each city is initially seeded with goods, the game will always set up differently. When a super-duper crazy card comes out at the start of the game, the initial auction can play a big factor in who wins. (That part I'm not crazy about since I am not an expert on the game or cards, but I do appreciate the fact that a game with experienced players can see such an important decision on the first turn).

The one thing I don't really like about the game is part of the components. The game comes with brown miniatures to help build the board up as you deliver all the goods from a particular city. When a city loses all it's cubes, it's considered scored and marked with a mini like this:


photo credit Nicolas Acosta

Since I'm not an expert on the game, I tend to need to look at the board a lot and some of these minis are pretty cumbersome compared to the rest of the board. Also, I'm clumsy enough to knock them over when I am building tracks. They also are big enough to block the color of the city, so I have to move them when I am trying to see what color cube a particular city will take.

A while back when I was looking to add RT to my collection, I came across a now infamous Ebay auction. I put a bid in and was lucky enough to get my money back, but I was disappointed that I didn't get a copy. It took some time, but eventually I was able to procure a copy through the BGG trade system. Even though it's in my collection, I haven't attempted to show Jen how to play. I am afraid the size of it will scare her a little - but someday I'll break it out and show her.

Final Thoughts
The last game of RT I played (as of this writing) - a buddy of mine took 37 shares, which I have to believe is some kind of record. He didn't fare all that badly on the scoring track despite that as well. Kind of remarkable.
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Sun Oct 9, 2011 3:25 pm
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My top games #28

Max Jamelli
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#28 on my list - Carcassonne.



There was a time (2007) that Carcassonne was a top ten game for me. I wasn't a "new" gamer, but I had never played it before and when I did I was very impressed. The first thing Carc did for me was introduce me to the Meeple. What a fun component the meeple is! There are many varieties of the meeple, but I'm pretty sure he originated in the world of Carc.

Other games on my list that have meeples or versions of meeples -
Cuba (the worker meeple)
Stone Age (cave-meeples! My favorite by the way)
Vegas Showdown (population meeple)
Vikings (Vik-eeples!)
The Pillars of the Earth (worker meeples)

And so many more as well.

This is probably one of the more famous meeple pictures out there -- just awesome.

(credit Esa Kujala)
The one thing about Carcassonne that will always stick out to me is the rulebook. Carc is a fairly easy game. The toughest part is usually the farm scoring, but at it's core it's very simple. However, Carc is always the example I give to people when I tell them how awful I am at reading rules. I bought the game over Christmas break of 2007. I got it at a GO! Games store in Pittsburgh just after the holiday and got a good price on it. I went back to my in-laws house and opened it up. I struggle with rules so much, that I needed my brother in law to read and teach me how to play for the first time. Simple game, simple mechanics, struggling me.

I had always enjoyed the mechanics of "building the board" as you go along. I first encountered that with Tikal and since then many other games of that variety have appeared in my top games list. The base game comes with enough tiles to make a solid game, but the added tiles in expansions really made the game a lot better for me.

My favorite expansion has to be Carcassonne: Traders & Builders. I liked how it brought a sense of economics to the game, as well as gave people incentives to finish other people's cities. I thought that was a neat touch.

At first, Jen and her family liked the game. I think the added expansions drained us a little bit, and the fact that our table got too small for all the tiles. I rated, and still would rate, Carc as an 8. Jen gave it a 6 at last report - saying:
Quote:


This game irritates me. I don't like building the board and moving it if it gets too close to the edge of the table.


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gave some great advice about using a tablecloth and moving that as well as the tiles towards the middle, but we don't have a tablecloth big enough to fit a game on.

I have played a few rounds on BSW with my dad. He's not the best Carc player, and often I have to remind him of the rules when we do play, but he picks them back up pretty fast.

I wanted to bring up Days of Steam as well. I GM'ed the Days of Steam event at the WBC this past year. I had to re-learn the game in order to do so, but essentially DoS has taken the concept of Carc and created a pick up and delivery game. One big difference is that in DoS, you have a hand of 3 tiles to choose from. I like that and would be interested in seeing how that would change Carc if you played with that variant.

Currently I'm a Middle School Computer Arts teacher. Technically, I'm a long term sub, meaning I sub for the same teacher every day. I'm here until Thanksgiving. {hopefully} when I get a full time job I'd like to initiate a board game club. Carcassonne will definitely be one of the first games I teach because it's easy to teach and learn and one of the better gateway games out there.

Final Thoughts

I love Carc-art. I think it's awesome. I saw this picture and was floored:


(credit Henning Förthmann)

I found this back in 2008 and used it as my wallpaper at work. I had several co-workers ask me about what it was and where it was from. I never got to play a game with them, but it got them thinking at least.


(credit Christopher Taylor-Davies


Some of my other favorites:

The power grid guy with a meeple - brilliant!


(credit Franco Marchiori)


I just found this one actually -- this is incredible and underrated here. Give this man some thumbs.


(credit Rosco DuBellieu)
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Tue Oct 4, 2011 5:09 pm
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