GCL Mafia 57: Wisdom From Our Ancestors
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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mb This is GCL (Game Chat League), Mafia Division! Welcome to our weekly list. Please feel free to join the discussion by adding comments (or an item) as appropriate.

If you stumbled onto this list by accident and want to know more about the Game Chat League concept, please see the wiki.

Members (next week's poster in bold)

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

(tscook is on a temporary involuntary hiatus, and will return in a few weeks, it seems.)

The first items below are intended to foster discussion, but also contain the "theme" for this week's list. In addition, please add an item to represent your gaming life for the week of February 12-18. Please list any games played along with any other information that you deem is appropriate, from game descriptions to thoughts on the games to new acquisitions to how fun Skyrim is.
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Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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This idea is inspired by the linked GeekList from a year ago.

Give me a Twitter post that encapsulates solid strategy advice on a game you can think of. If it couldn't be posted on Twitter, it's too long. Be pithy.

(Feel free to post several for different games.)
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Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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Write us some haikus
About any game you like
Thumb for great glory


Edit: Also, I will tip a small fraction of GeekGold to people who are able to correctly identify the games referenced in the haikus.
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3. Board Game: Worst Case Scenario: The Game of Surviving Life [Average Rating:3.41 Overall Rank:10368]
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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Non-gaming question:

What piece of advice for life do you wish you had before you could have used it?
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4. Board Game: Balderdash [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1289]
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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I almost forgot the Balderdash question this week! Here it goes:

We've had a name picked out and ready to go for years for either a boy or a girl. So when we had a girl, she received the name AnnaMarie Elise. If AnnaMarie had been a boy, what would have been her name? (First and middle names, please. )

Please send your answers by GeekMail. Results will be published Thursday night.
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5. Board Game: Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
Robin Levins
United States
Round Rock
Texas
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Games Played
Race for the Galaxy: The Brink of War x8 (campaign)


Very light week of gaming this week. Today, though, I expect to teach Trajan to Kristen, so we'll see how that goes.
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6. Board Game: The Climbers [Average Rating:6.89 Overall Rank:1094]
Mc Jarvis
United States
Bloomington
Minnesota
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Plays:

Risk Legacy x2
Planet Steam
Homesteaders
Kingdom Builder
Power Grid: The First Sparks
Puerto Rico (Anniversary Edition)
The Climbers

This was notably the first time I've played Puerto Rico at an actual gaming event. For being a top-ten game it has remarkably little love.

So many things to comment on this week, since I feel every single play that I did was significant. However, I'll focus on The Climbers since this was the most novel game I played, and I played it by request. The climbers is a game with blocks of three different sizes. There are cube-shaped blocks which are the middle-sized blocks, there are blocks which are exactly half of one of those cubes(the small-sized blocks), and blocks which are exactly double the size of these cubes. (the large-sized blocks) You have a climber dude who is just tall enough that he can peak over the small blocks when they are down on their side.



Each block also has six colors painted on it. Five of these colors correspond to player colors, the sixth one is a universal color. Your dude is allowed to move up levels if he can peak over the side of the wall himself, but he can only stand on his own color or the universal color. Before your turn starts, you take a single block from the existing stack of blocks and you are allowed to orient it however you wish and replace it on the stack, then move your guy. You are also allowed to move a block and then pass on movement: eventually this will be necessary.

The point of the game is to be the highest on the tower at the end of the game. The game ends when everyone in a single round passes. As you might expect, it starts very easy to climb and ends being not-so-easy to climb due to blocks getting buried underneath the climbers themselves. You also have two ladders you can use: these are single-use items which let you scale a taller wall than you normally could. Then you have a disc which you can place on your turn to prevent anyone from moving a block for one turn.

I was a little confused on the use for the brick during my game until the winner used it to trap two players and prevent them from moving, ending the game. Overall I really like the game, and am pleased to see it's still in stock at several retailers despite being an import. Yay!
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7. Board Game: CHUGGA CHOO CHOO! [Average Rating:5.25 Unranked]
Stephen Smith
United States
Farmington
MO
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Games:

CHUGGA CHOO CHOO! x3
Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit x1

I played the three games of Chugga Choo Choo with the kids all in one sitting. It's a fairly chaotic, giggle-inducing, quick game. We probably played all three games in 10 minutes or so.

Last Monday, we took all of the kids to see the 3D release of The Phantom Menace. On Wednesday, Grace wanted to play a game of Queen's Gambit. The game was a surprise in a lot of ways. It took us less than two hours to set-up, play, and put away. That in itself is an accomplishment. (With my previous opponents, the games along have tended to exceed three hours.) She also made a pretty respectable showing. She got further along the Anakin track than anyone I've ever seen. Granted, I don't have an extensive number of plays, but we've always seemed to have really poor die rolls. As a consequence, I played far more starship cards (only one left at the end) than I've ever seen played. I was starting to get really nervous about her making it through to the end. Fortunately, her luck stalled and I was able to wipe out her palace forces. When I declared victory, all that remained were the red (true) queen and a palace guard. It's a good thing, she had a pile of bonus cards for the next round after a lowly palace guard picked off Darth Maul with a lucky shot. Of course, while we're playing the other three kids are all dancing around the table, leaning over, picking up pieces, and getting in the way. I hope everything made it back in the box and not into the dog's mouth.

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8. Board Game: Legend of the Moonsword [Average Rating:6.50 Unranked]
Travis Dean
United States
Escondido
CA
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Plays:
2x Legend of the Moonsword

We played this game twice. The first time I had a terrible run of luck. I needed three items, one of which was picked up by another player before I could get it. I lost with hardly make any progress in the game.

The second time, I had an easier quest to do. I needed one item, and to take it to two locations. I did this easily enough, and then visited nearly every trap space before I found the right place. I think I had two trap places left to check.

Our friend, who introduced us to the game, revised/clarified the rules, so we played with the updated rule set.
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9. Board Game: Merchant of Venus [Average Rating:7.21 Overall Rank:412]
Neil Wilson
United States
Tacoma
Washington
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Captain's Log
1 x Merchants of Venus (5-player)
1 x Songburst (3-player)
3 x Rorschact (8-player)
1 x Empire Builder (2-player)

Made Saturday game day again. This time I got sucked into a very long (5+ hours) game of Merchants of Venus, which I had never played before. It is essentially a pick-up-and-deliver game. (We did not play with aggressive items like Lasers). There are roughly 12 different civilizations (something like 1A, 1B, 2, 3, 4A, 4B, 6, 7, 8, 9A, 9B, 10), and each civilization will buy goods so long as it is a few civilizations below them in the loop (so 4A will buy goods from 3, 2, 1B, and 1A or so). You have to navigate around the board using dice rolls, but you can make your ship more efficient by making it faster (giving you more dice) or buying "drives" (that let you skip over certain colored spaces on the board).

The goal of the game is to be the first with $2000 in cash or deeds (to Space Stations and Factories). During the rules explanation, everybody seemed to not think that building a Factory was worth the effort... but after I kept asking about them and getting the full picture, I thought they sounded quite nice! I ended up building seven Factories and I won the game by a considerably wide margin. By the end, I think everybody else was reassessing their opinions on Factories.

By that point it was already very late in the evening, so we only got in a few party games -- Rorschact and half a game of Songburst. Rorshact is a very pretty game (it has inkblot pictures) where everybody secretly decides which of 7 available inkblots looks the most like the prompt card (which could be something like, "Which looks the stickiest?"). If you match somebody, you exchange a token with them. If you don't match anybody, you get one of your own tokens. You win by being the first to get a token from everybody (including yourself). As it turns out, the first game the host won; the second game two other players won; and in the third game, everybody but the three previous winners won!

And tonight/this morning, I just taught my Mother the game Empire Builder; after rules explanation, we probably started at about 1:25 in the morning (!!!) and we finished at about 5:30 in the morning (!!!). Note to self: do not start a game of Empire Builder this late ever again.

I still don't think I have a very good grasp on Empire Builder: something about how my brain works just makes me suck at it. I still managed to win, but it was a close thing. Still, it was nice not having to play with absolute sharks at the game (Robin, Kristen, Craig, Stephen) for once.
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10. Board Game: Planet Steam [Average Rating:7.38 Overall Rank:384]
Rishi A.
United States
Alexandria
Virginia
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Light gaming week:

1812: The Invasion of Canada
Planet Steam

Thanks to Mike for bringing Planet Steam and recruiting a friend of ours to teach it. It's a very good economic game. I especially like the way that the commodities market quickly changes and that resources all have multiple uses. And the components are great.

Having said that, the components don't need to be as fancy as they are. I suspect this game would sell very well if a $40-$50 version of it were produced.
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11. Board Game: The Castles of Burgundy [Average Rating:8.07 Overall Rank:11]
Philip Newman
United States
Richardson
Texas
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Weekly Plays:

Brass - 5 (all online)
Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization - 3 (all online)
Dragon Valley - 2
The Castles of Burgundy - 1
Elder Sign - 1
Hansa Teutonica - 1
Kingdom Builder - 1
Kingdom of Solomon - 1
Last Will - 1
London - 1
Race for the Galaxy: Rebel vs Imperium - 1
Santiago de Cuba - 1
Werewolf - 1

DGM this weekend, so lots of new games...

In addition to my usual Brass additions, I started up three games of Through the Ages mid-week; the first one already finished with a close win (with the strongest player declaring war on the weakest three times, gaining a lot of culture but finally causing him to resign on the third, while I made up the difference with some big scoring cards at the end). The other two are on final turns, and aren't looking good for me...

(I still enjoy it, but playing it this week has made me more inclined to dust off my copy of Civ IV than it has to play TtA often enough to get good at it. Not sure what's missing there.)

Thursday night, I learned The Castles of Burgundy, which was quite cool. Each round players get two actions (represented by dice) which can be used to draft tiles from a central pool, play tiles to the player's board, sell goods (obtained from one type of tile), or take workers (which allow you to adjust the value of a die up or down, giving you more options). There are different types of tiles which must be played in particular regions of the board (but each board is different) and give various extra actions/abilities, and you get points for completing regions, playing all of a type of tile (with the first to do so getting the big bonus and second getting a smaller bonus), selling goods, and from bonus tiles.

Friday, I started with a bunch of three player games. I learned Last Will which I have heard some glowing reviews of... The theme was excellent, but I'm not so sure about the game play... It seemed like a light version of some non-existent game? (Much like The City felt like a too-light version of Race.) Might be better with more players, perhaps?

Got in a game of Race next, not including the third expansion. I had a great trade engine, but couldn't seem to draw anything to turn into points (settled on a few high scoring alien cards and the alien 6-dev). Pretty close game, with the winner having a bunch of developments culminating in Galactic Federation.

Kingdom Builder next (my copy, even), and I won pretty handily despite only picking up one tile thanks to a combination of Miners and... whichever scoring card gives points for being around castle and location hexes. The ship location is in the middle of a bunch of mountains, so I started there and hardly got away from that location.

Then came Hansa Teutonica, which I had only played with five previously. I came second again, this time by a single point. I scored most of my points from a route of 8 cities with the full 4-times multiplier, but I was hurt by never improving my color-placement.

I finally gave in and played a game of Werewolf... 11 players, 3 wolves, 1 seer, 1 hunter (gets a kill after dying, regardless of how he dies). I was lynched for being too charismatic, heh (basically, they were in too much of a hurry to lynch, and I was talking a lot to try to get them to answer questions and just generally think about what they were doing). Town still won. Clearly a very different play style, and they don't seem to spend much time thinking about strategy (i.e. no lynch at 4 players so the last wolf has to rule someone out). ~shrug~ I might play again sometime, but I think I would be as frustrated with their randomness as they would be by our slow pace.

Learned Elder Sign for my last game of the evening. I found it preferable to Arkham Horror in that it didn't take nearly as long, but the theme wasn't quite as engrossing and mechanically there just isn't much meat - the big decision making process is figuring out the likelihood of success vs. the benefit for each room you can explore... and after that it's just rolling dice.

Saturday was the Dragon Valley tournament, which took most of the afternoon; I arrived at noon, and we didn't start playing until close to 1, since most of the players were new. Both games were three player, which seemed a little more prone to AP (dividing 15 things into three somewhat even piles in order to get the other players to leave the one you want... that's tough!). I won the first by leeching on another player's siege and then completing my own... and finished second in the final after I went exploring with a lone knight and found the only location where knights don't contribute (with the winner eventually jumping in to complete that siege). I won a cool poster with artwork from the game.

Another "light version of another game", with Santiago de Cuba. I thought the idea was pretty neat... sort of a shared rondel, where you take the action corresponding to the location of the car (but can move the car forward more spaces by spending money), getting an immediate benefit plus the chance to use one of the buildings of a particular color. I found it a little lacking, however, in that we seemed to get stuck in the same pattern of actions (10 spaces, 4 players, with Jason and I each spending a coin once per trip around to skip a space). The shipping part was a little weird as well (since it can be skipped), and random due to the dice determining demand.

The same group played the kickstarter game Kingdom of Solomon next. It's a worker placement game, where you are trying to build buildings (for points and addition actions you can choose to use your works on), parts of the temple (for points, or to compete over the high priest title), and roads (to connect regions together, allowing you to take the all the corresponding resources with a single placement). My favorite mechanic was that there are some number of bonus spaces (number of players - 1), which require that you place all your remaining workers, so figuring out whether they'll still be available after another round was key... Strangely, the players who did best (I won by a couple points over Jason) both felt like there was something not quite right mechanically (we both had significant road networks, and the last round gained massive quantities of resources which emptied several of the supplies and shut one player out), while the others loved it.

My final game of the evening was a three player game of London. I was confused at first about a key mechanic (that you can play as many cards as you want when you're playing cards), and that left struggling to catch up. Ultimately, I took too many loans (but had the least plague), one player had too much plague, and the other found the right balance and won easily. I want to see how this plays with two, as that will probably be the deciding factor in whether or not I eventually pick it up.
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12. Board Game: Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization [Average Rating:8.21 Overall Rank:3]
Grace P.
United States
Turlock
California
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Busy/lazy weekend, so I'm a bit delayed in my post. Regardless, here it is!

Mage Knight: Board Game (2x): I managed to pick this up from the marketplace for only $35! Both of these plays were the "First Reconnaissance" scenario; the first one was solo so I could get familiar with the rules again and the second was 2-player with Matt (and he really enjoyed the game!).

Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 - Team Asia & Legendary Asia (1x): This was my first Team Asia play, with two teams. I really did not like the team rules and basically felt like I was in a 3-legged race - just gimped in what I could/want to do. Not sure I'd really bother suggesting Team Asia again. I should check if there are variants to play the Team Asia map with regular rules.

Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 2 - India & Switzerland (2x): Played both sides of the map. India is definitely a crazy tight map and doing the mandala bonus scoring is really important. Switzerland is also fun; I like the country cards in which you can have different values depending on which connections you make.

Cartagena (1x): This was a 5-player game. Still a good filler. Very crowded with five.

Homesteaders (1x): This was 4-player and I lost terribly. People seem to really enjoy the game though, probably more than me but that's okay. It is a quick play too.

Last Will (1x): Finally got my hands on this, as I was pretty excited about the concept of having to spend all your money. I played 2-player and it may be better with more, however it was still an interesting game. Need more plays to really figure out my opinion on it though.

Through the Desert (1x): This was my first play with five players. Crowded board, but I liked that everyone was down one color.

Through the Ages: A Story of Civilization (1x): Ted taught me this and we played the full game in about 3 hours. A deep game indeed, with a lot of interlocking parts. Definitely need more plays to understand how everything works together but I am at least ready to join the next Mafia play of this on BGO.

Tikal (1x): I hadn't played this in awhile. I've only played with two and three players, so I'm still curious how it plays with four. This would have been a more enjoyable play had one of the players, who had played this game a lot, not been directing turns.
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13. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.13 Overall Rank:6]
Jimmy Okolica
United States
Washington Township
Ohio
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Since I only played one game this week and since I never got around to posting last week's games, here are my games for the last two weeks:

2x Agricola (one of these was this week)
1x Mage Knight Board Game
1x Vanuatu
1x Colosseum
1x Puerto Rico
1x Quarriors!
3x Bobbin' Bumblebee
1x Gulo Gulo
1x Sorry! Sliders

We are getting close to the final days of the divorce. My (soon to be ex-) wife closes on her house today and moves out this weekend. So, things have been kind of hectic and game plays have been minimal. I got to play a few games with my daughter last week (Gulo Gulo, Sorry Sliders, and Bobbin' Bumble Bees). She continues to put a smile on my face and playing these games with her has been fun. Other than that, I got out to my FLGS two Saturdays ago. We started with a 2-player Quarriors filler that was not bad. I'd play it again but wouldn't ask to play it. We then played Colosseum. Again, not a bad game and one I'd play again but it just didn't grab me. I'm not big on set collection games, particularly ones that are so dependent on what tiles flip. Then we finished with a 5-player game of Vanuatu. We had a lot of fun playing, but we ended up talking more than playing and we called the game 6 moves (75%) in after 2 hours of playing. Other than that, I've had my weekly UGOI gaming (with 2 plays of Agricola and one play of Puerto Rico) and one solo game of Mage Knight (I still haven't won ). I don't think this week will be any better for gaming, but perhaps next week will.
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14. Board Game: A Game of Thrones: The Board Game (Second Edition) [Average Rating:7.83 Overall Rank:36]
Christopher M
United States
Goleta
California
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Not much to report this week. Due to work, I have not had the chance to play a real in-person game since January.

But I have been moderating/playing a PBF Game of Thrones 2e game along with Travis. I like the format a lot since you can be very very sneaky with your alliances and you have as much time as you want to think about strategy. I found myself looking at the map for almost an hour once, just thinking about strategy.

Here's a link for those curious: AGoT 2e PBF #1: Is It Getting Cold in Here?
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15. Board Game: 18AL [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:1054]
The Pariah
United States
Ronkonkoma
New York
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18AL x1
Homesteaders x1
Illuminati: Deluxe Edition x1
Pit x1
Saboteur x1
Mü & Lots More x1


Sorry for being AWOL all week -- all-week training at work; and the evenings were no better (HS Basketball Championship Week - and I've been going to the games since forever).

So, all the games were played on 2/18 -- four of us got together to give 18AL a whirl -- very similar to other 18xx, only smaller in scope and shorter. I made a fairly dumb move -- launched one RR at too high a price and suffered until someone else helped me float it. Finished way out of the lead.

Got to play Homesteaders - and I liked it quite a bit. It may go back on my wish list (although, it was just up on Tanga, and no one else wanted in on it with me ... grr....). As I said - it's got the elements I really like. Long term strategy balanced with turn-by-turn tactical choices.

After dinner, one of the four of us left and two others arrived -- we now were at 6 (as my wife joined us). There aren't a lot of GREAT games for 6 (and, plus, since Super Bowl, 5 of the 6 of us had spent every weekend together gaming, and we didn't want to replay anything).

So, we struggled through Illuminati, which really hasn't held up well over time. It will be hitting the trade pile soon.

Then, we played a 6 player game of Saboteur (and, interestingly, with the 4/2 split, the good dwarves won all three rounds -- last week, with 5 and a 3/2 split in each round, the saboteurs won each round. The rules call for 7 cards to be shuffled, and then, there's the possibility of a 4/2 or 5/1 split; but we opted to go with the 4/2 split -- and, even with the odds slightly better for the saboteurs (than a 5/1 split), the good dwarves had no problems.

My wife went to bed, and we played Pit, where I inadvertently insulted the wife of another gamer -- for some reason, EVERY time the round ended, I was one card short, and she was holding it. And, finally, I asked her, "You know, if you're holding a single card of another commodity, there is NO WAY you can actually win." Apparently, 3 weeks in a row might've been our limit. I finished in dead, dead, dead last place.

And, we ended with a game of Mu and Lots More (the Mu game). This has grown on me -- it's still not as enjoyable (to me) as Tichu; but I'm starting to get it more. A few of us hadn't played it before, though; and that made it a little more hesitant (but, again, I think I finished third or fourth, so I'm certainly no expert)!
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