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GCL Mafia 53: Ideals
Mc Jarvis
United States
Bloomington
Minnesota
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Welcome to GCL Mafia Division's weekly list! If you stumbled onto this list by accident (or on purpose!) and want to know more about the Game Chat League concept, please see the wiki. If you want to look at past GCL Mafia lists, go here: GameChat League: Mafia Division Subscription Thread.

Our current roster in order of preparation (next week's poster in bold):

Rishi
dolus
petroleumjelly
seppo21
ecargo
McJarvis
1awesomeguy
Lemur
mith
tscook
Thesp
Butterfly0038

The first few items are intended to foster discussion.

Please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of January 15-21, 2012. List any games played along with any other information that you deem appropriate. Also, feel free to give life updates, fun facts, or any other super exciting and utterly interesting thoughts you may have.

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1. Board Game: Big Shot [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Bloomington
Minnesota
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When playing games there is ideal play[or optimal moves, I guess], and then there is what the rest of us do on any given turn. I've noticed that other players not doing what is ideal can hurt some games significantly[like German Railways, or Risk], but perspectives on what a good move is can vary quite a bit and it's not always apparent which player is correct. At the same time, I find discussing strategy frankly and without bias("Oh yeah, you should totally demolish me.") a great way to relieve table tension in general.

How close do you feel you come to ideal play in games?
What motivates you to instruct players on strategy mid-game, if you do?
If you don't teach strategy, why not?
Do you find it helpful when others tell you how to play, or insulting? (or maybe something else?)
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2. Board Game: Quest for the Ideal Mate [Average Rating:3.30 Unranked]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Bloomington
Minnesota
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Short and simple: What games do you find ideal to play with a loved one? Why do you favor them?
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3. Board Game: Perfection [Average Rating:4.19 Overall Rank:11040]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Bloomington
Minnesota
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What do you look for in the perfect game? Is it mechanics, a feeling, or something unique? Something else?

By "perfect game" I don't necessarily mean one specific game, but rather the perfect storm of things which make you want to buy any particular game.
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4. Board Game: People Game [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Bloomington
Minnesota
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What is the ideal gamer you'd like to play with like?
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5. Board Game: Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.58 Overall Rank:89]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Weekly Plays

Dominion - 17 (15 isotropic)
Agricola - 2
7 Wonders - 1 (with Leaders)
The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac - 1
Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game - 1
Le Havre - 1 (with Le Grand Hameau)
Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game - 1

All the Dominion was early in the week... Isotropic on Sunday after a two week absence, and while I started well (4-0-1, including two games against a top 5 player) the rust started to show by the end of the day. Monday, I visited my Lewisville gaming friends, and it happened to be Dominion night for them, so we played two (heroically long) 5 player games. The first was Pirate Ship into Duchy/Duke which I won handily (only one other player focused on ships, and Warehouse being a much better opening than money). The second was a nasty Mountebank game, where I fell behind early trying to make sure I did the most attacking, and then fell just short of coming back (with a Province buy in hand when the game ended on piles). Anyway, it made me miss playing with fast players.

I went to the Dallas Games Marathon for the first time this weekend, and had a blast. The only game I played Friday was Civilization - took about 4 hours including the rules explanation, which felt pretty reasonable. I like it quite a bit, and hope I get a chance to play it again soon with a different Civ to see how the strategy changes. I won with the Egyptians, setting up a massive Culture city (getting some pretty nasty cards to hamper the military player), then transitioning into a comfortable Economic victory. They probably could have stopped me if they had recognized the threat sooner, but because the military player looked so scary early everyone else was focused on that until it was too late.

Saturday started with an annoyingly close three player Agricola loss (38-37) in which I forgot to bake bread at some point, costing me a whole bunch of grain. I played a four player later and cruised with 51 points (no negatives!).

I played The Adventurers with the same father/(daughter? step-daughter? not sure) pair as he first Agricola game. The boulder got consistently big rolls, and so I prioritized running as fast as I could. The guy had more treasures than me, but failed to get out of the water without dumping a bunch of them (and would've been crushed by the boulder anyway). I was the only one to get out alive, with 20 points. (Pretty similar to my first game, at BGG.con. My rating of 5.5 still feels right here... it's too random for my tastes.)

Next was Blood Bowl Team Manager... This seemed a bit random as well, partly from the draws but also just from opponent's choices prioritizing one match over another. It was fun... but I didn't like it as much as I wanted to. (I've played fantasy football for years, so a board game that really captured that would definitely interest me... this just didn't do it.)

After the second Agricola game, it was getting close to raffle time, so a group of us decided to get in a quick game of 7 Wonders rather than try to rush for food. My last 7 player game was the final of the tournament at BGG.con, where I came in second, 20 points behind the winner. I wasn't expecting to have anything like that happen for a long time... much less beat that margin in my very next 7 player game. I came in second with 71 (pretty well-rounded, with double digits in science, military, leaders, blue cards), but the winner had 92. Very impressive.

My final game of the evening was Le Havre, which I hadn't played in a long time. It was 4 player, which isn't ideal, but I think plays fine (just long). I was floundering a bit early, but then I spotted one of the special buildings coming up and decided to try a crazy Fish strategy... with the Fisherman's Hut, I ended up with 255 Fish, converting them to points with the Storehouse... and it was just barely enough to win (192-189 or something like that). It was scary, especially the first few turns where I was only gaining 4 fish or so and was worried about having to eat them, but once I got going...
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6. Board Game: Antigua [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:7331]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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3x Monopoly Deal Card Game

Last week I spent in Guatemala. It was a missions trip with my church where we were helping do construction and work at a church in Coban. We also got to see Antigua and Guatemala City. Since I was gone all week, there wasn't much game playing, but one pastor brought Monopoly Deal, which I've been interested in playing with the good things I've heard about it. I won 2 of the 3 games, and I do feel that the game is determined mostly by chance, but even so, the game is fun enough and has enough variety and decision making in it to be a fun, short game. I enjoyed it.
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7. Board Game: Mage Knight Board Game [Average Rating:8.15 Overall Rank:8]
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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1x Flash Point: Fire Rescue
1x London
1x A Few Acres of Snow
5x Mage Knight Board Game

With my girlfriend moving out and us breaking up, my game playing has changed significantly. Now, my only chances to play with other people are one night a week at a FLGS, one night a week at my house with the UGOI, and online ('Gric on Boite, TTA on BGO, and Brass on OotH). That said, it was a good week. On Friday night, we played Flash Point: Fire Rescue. It was fun but felt too much like Pandemic for me to want to pick up a copy. I also got to play a 3-player game of London for the first time since Ohio Buckeye Gamefest. That was a blast. We then started a 2-player game of Ora et Labora but had to pick it up due to weather.

On Sunday night, my buddy, Geoff, came over and we played a game of A Few Acres of Snow. It was my first time playing in months and my first time playing with the new rules. Geoff took the Brits so I couldn't tell whether the new rules blunted the Halifax Hammer or not, but it was a blast to play. Hopefully, I'll be able to convince him to play it again the next time we're faced with just the two of us.

Finally, not this past Friday but the Friday before, I was in my FLGS waiting for the night's games to start and I wandered over to see what they were selling and found Mage Knight. I had heard of it and, based on Jesse Dean's recommendations and my reading of a couple of reviews, it looked interesting but not anything I needed to pick up right away. However, two things sold me on it. First, it supports solo play and I suspect my solo games will be going up in the months to come and second, it was under $50 at a time where most of the OLGSs were selling it for $60 - $85 plus shipping. It has far exceeded my expectations. It is definitely in my top two games of 2011 (the other being A Few Acres of Snow). I have now played it 5 times (and as a result have not gone to bed before 1 am in a week). I've got the play time down to about 2 hours now (sometimes more). I suspect with more plays, it may go down more; however, the AP of trying to maximize the use of my hand will probably keep it at at least 90 minutes (including set up and clean up) for a long time to come. It is a D&D, dungeon crawl game that uses Euro mechanics. The only randomness is the order of the cards you draw, the placement of the world tiles, and which units, advanced tactics, and spells come out for acquisition. There are (usually) 6 rounds and during each round, you will go through your deck once, potentially acquiring more cards to add to your deck. Hand size starts at 5 and moves to 6 at around the middle of the game. Since you start with 16 cards, this makes for approximately 3 - 6 turns per round and 18 to 36 per game. While the rulebook is good, there are a lot of rules to learn and, therefore, a lot of looking back at the rulles during the first few plays. I am loving this game and look forward to playing it each night.
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8. Board Game: 1830: Chattanooga Promotional Card [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Stephen Smith
United States
Jackson
MS
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Plays

I haven't entered my plays here in quite a while. A lot of that is because we haven't been playing a lot since we moved. Here are the plays since Oct. 16, the last time I posted any plays:

Loopin' Louie x8
Château Roquefort x6
Dominion x3
CHUGGA CHOO CHOO! x2
Quarriors! x2
Sorry! Sliders x2
British Rails x1
India Rails x1
Khet: The Laser Game x1
Star Wars R2-D2 is in Trouble x1
Ubongo 3D x1

That doesn't seem like a lot of games to have played in 13 weeks.

Last weekend (Jan 13-15), I got to attend the Chattanooga Railgaming Challenge, something I have wanted to do for a number of years. I got to play a considerable number of train games:

Empire Builder x2
India Rails
Lunar Rails
Russian Rails
Iron Dragon
Silverton
18NEB
Metro
Express
Union Pacific
Ticket to Ride: Switzerland
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia
Ticket to Ride: Europe

In the past week, I've also been able to play:

Click Clack Lumberjack x2

The highlight of playing at Chattanooga was meeting the wife of the designer of Empire Builder. She apparently is responsible for the distribution of the load cards in the 3rd edition of Empire Builder (which is my favorite version of the game). I got to play with her in Iron Dragon and finished a semi-respectable second (with only four turns until winning myself).

I then managed to qualify for the Empire Builder final. It was a five player games on the map with Mexico. We managed to finish in about 2-1/2 hours. For those not familiar with the game, that is a pretty good completion time, especially since we were playing with regular speed trains and all of the events. I ended up winning about 2-4 turns before the rest. I didn't win anything for the game other than bragging rights.

Acquisitions

I have acquired more games than I wish to admit since my last post here, so I'll refrain from mentioning all of them. I will mention the arrivals from last week, though.

Finca
Ora et Labora
RoadZters
Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 – India & Switzerland
Click Clack Lumberjack
War of the Ring (first edition)
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9. Board Game: Super Dungeon Explore [Average Rating:7.12 Overall Rank:634] [Average Rating:7.12 Unranked]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Super Dungeon Explore (x1): New to me. A pretty straightforward dungeon crawl game, with nothing particularly unique that makes it stand out. That being said, it wasn't a bad game (though I think its rating is a bit high) and I would play again if the opportunity arouse.

Gangster (x1): New to me. This was an okay area control/influence game. Nothing particularly remarkable about it and it may have played better with four or five instead of three. Still, I'd play again if it so happened but would not be likely to suggest it. Its rating is probably fairly accurate to my feelings about it.

For Sale (x3): Filler. Fun.

Roll Through the Ages: The Bronze Age (x2): I very much enjoy this game as it's quick and light. I do need to try The Late Bronze Age someday soon. I even have two sheets printed out and sitting in the box. I have no excuse!

Biblios (x1): More filler. More fun.

Homesteaders (x1): This is almost turning into a nice, under-an-hour filler for me. It's easy to teach and the rounds play quickly.

Thunderstone + Wrath of the Elements (x1): Thunderstoney goodness. I pounded a bunch of horde and won.
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10. Board Game: City Tycoon [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1505]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Bloomington
Minnesota
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Plays:

Kingdom Builder
Parade
City Tycoon*
Tournay*
German Railways
Santiago de Cuba*

*new to me

The only thing new to me that I liked at all was City Tycoon. I just wish the game had a little more personality-- or if it does, I wish I had paid attention to it. When I'm building giant shells for buildings with no cultural context, it robs the game a little bit of its shine. I wish it had more of a Sim City feel, where I could build a football stadium and generate happiness/culture/whatever that way.

Or an airport. Or whatever. Am I making sense?
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11. Board Game: A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.82 Overall Rank:37]
Rishi A.
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Plays last week:

No Thanks!
A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition)

I really liked the game mechanics of Game of Thrones, though I'm not sure I enjoyed the play experience. I left after 7 hours because I had two territories left and wasn't really having fun any more. We conducted negotiations in private away from the table, which added a lot of time.

Also, it was frustrating as I was playing Lannister and both the Greyjoy and Baratheon players had an alliance with Stark, leaving me their only good target. Though I left before the end of the game, I learned that Stark had an easy victory. He got to 5 points (you need 7 to win the game early) without fighting a single battle. I have to hand it to the Stark player - he was a decent strategist but he played the social game perfectly.

Definitely want to play again. I'd even play with the same group, if there was a way to speed things up. I think negotiations should take place at the table.
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12. Board Game: RoboRally [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:222]
Christopher M
United States
Goleta
California
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Late to the party this time

.10! The Resistance
_8_ Odin's Ravens (new!)
_8_ Stone Age
_8_ RoboRally (new!)
_8_ El Grande (new!)
_7_ Sid Meier's Civilization: The Board Game + Expansion
_6_ Mage Knight (new!)
_6_ Asteroyds (new!)

Odin's Ravens was a welcome surprise of a two-player game. Quick and easy. Would be a good game for girlfriends (Just kidding, Grace!)

Stone Age was a gift from a friend for my birthday. I was relucant to pick it up before but am so glad I got it as a gift. The gameplay is quick and simple. It is like Agricola light, perfect for my AP-prone girlfriend who loves Agricola and loves taking 3 hours to play it!

This was my first time playing RoboRally. It was exactly what I imagined and so much more fun! I really enjoyed it and so did my girlfriend.

El Grande was another classic I tried this week. It was really good too. Exactly what I always wanted in a territory-control game in the exact way I wanted it. Will definitely want to play it again.

Mage Knight was interesting. I did not enjoy parts of it because it took so long and that is one reason I may be reluctant to play again. But I did enjoy the mechanics and the theme.

Asteroyds was one of the most confusing games I've ever played. Think of it as RoboRally with a 20 second timer to do your whole turn. I think we hit asteroids every single turn and it turned into a game of who could survive the longest haha. I need to give it another shot.
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