GCL Phoenix 60 - The Big 60!
Handsome devil huh?
Welcome to the Phoenix Game Chat League
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Theme of the Week
I love Top 10 lists, and want to take a look back at games from the past. I am also a definite member of the Cult of the New, and am curious if the rest of you are better able to evaluate the games of our past than perhaps I am.
Membership and Host Rotation:
chally (up next)
Handsome devil huh?
Games Played: (Links to play details, with my ratings in color, and milestones noted in red italic.)
_.6. Kiki Ricky 15th play!
Ella requested a game of this after school and I happily played it with her before dinner.
_.8. Quarriors!, play #2, play #3, play #4, and play #5 10th play!
My long-time gaming buddy came over with his fiancé to play some games, and she fell so much in love with Quarriors! that she bought my spare copy, and returned three days later for a couple more games.
.10. Kick it - Das Spiel x7 15th play passed!
This continues to be an absolute gem of a dexterity game. It's full of tension!
_.9. Sentinels of the Multiverse x3 15th play passed!
Daniel loves coops and with just the two of us we played a series of games.
New Games in My Collection:
Unity of Command, and Battle Academy: Market Garden. The latter is an expansion for my favorite PC wargame formerly called Battlefield Academy (now Battle Academy after threat of a lawsuit by EA). I also bought a complete DLC bundle for Burnout Paradise as I really love that game!
Week in Review:
Another very busy gaming week by my standards. It was not quite as busy as last week, when I managed to replace all ten games in my most recently played games widget, but it was a blast nonetheless. I one again failed to take some pictures while playing Kick it, but it keeps delivering very quick and thrilling gameplay. I also adore the theme and sense of accomplishment as you pull off some great combo in Sentinels of the Multiverse. I'm also very happy that I disregarded the nay-sayers, and bought Quarriors! as I really enjoy the game a lot.
I once again elected to go with Kick it - Das Spiel, how could I not? It's such a favorite of mine that it has embedded itself firmly in my top 10. If you ever get the chance to try this game, please do so!
Plans for the Week:
It's spring break! My wife and our daughters are off from school (my wife's a teacher) for a week. Hopefully we'll squeeze in some gaming, and I've already put the call out to my buddies for some extra game nights (unfortunately they're still working though).
Board Game: 18MEX
[Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:2310]
_6_ 18Mex x1
I thought this was going to be an easier pick this week. With 18Mex as my one play most of the week and my introduction to 18xx, and all my games packed up, that should be it.
I'm underselling 18Mex a bit in my rating as I decided to put myself on the waiting list to get 1889 instead.
_9_ Outpost x1
However, my two boys and I ended up at BAP again, squeezing out one last game day before our trip. I played my third game of Outpost and I am maintaining my tradition of losing horribly, and new chamecials couldn't stop me from ending the game with 49 points. Kevin, who joined us for his first game, received 59 points, Dave/rynelf had 70, other Dave 74, and surprise, Aliza's microbiotics empire won the day with 85 points.
Later on Dave played my boys along with his son and another in a second game of Outpost, but I went on to learn another new game.
_8_ Antiquity x1
Wow, that was crazy. I played with the other Dave who taught and another John. We ended slightly early as we agreed that John won with Santa Maria dual condition, as he was pretty close to having all buildings built, as well as the proper number of goods or close enough. At the time we conceded, other Dave (not rynelf) was having major troubles with graves and about to be "bankrupt," and not able to fulfil his San Giorgio "area enclosure" condition. I was making good progesss toward's Santa Barbara's condition of having all buildings -- I was about three away -- but graves were just starting to overtake me to the point I didn't have room for the final buildings and they were about to start hitting my existing buildings.
I could have dug out of the mess by building a fourth city, but that would take another few turns and I wouldn't have got there before John did. I also had the misfortune of accidently cheating, not having whatever the building is that allows Inns to be built, but building Inns without it. I thought all I needed was to use a Cart and have food for the Inn. Oops. Anyway, a great introduction for my first game of this, although I joked I think the game itself has a winning condition as we all suffered quite a bit.
There's quite a bit of harshness to this game, but after a round or two I had most of it down, not counting a few rules mistakes. I'd certainly play this again. It just slightly lost out to 18Mex though as that game broke my brain for a day or so and Antquity just stunned me slightly.
Board Game: Last Will
[Average Rating:7.31 Overall Rank:235]
[Average Rating:7.31 Unranked]
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason." -Jack Handey
_9_ Magic: The Gathering 12
_8_ Dominant Species 1
_8_ Last Will 1
_8_ Yggdrasil 1
_7_ Pandemic 1
_7_ Eminent Domain 1
Week in Review
I recently got my own copy of Last Will and got it to the table at my Wednesday group in a 3-player affair. I used the learning level of starting wealth: £70. It was surprisingly easy, perhaps because I had two plays under my belt using randomized starting cash (which is usually higher and never lower). I convincingly won on day 5 based on master manipulation of the real estate market. The game was well received and I hope to have a closer game next time.
After Friday Night Magic, I brought back Eminent Domain for Saturday night. We hadn't played it in a while and everyone ignored military this time. My friend and I dabbled in production and trade while his son hammered on colonization to win the game with a large tableau of conquered planets.
We then revisited Yggdrasil after last week's loss and won with three angry gods. I still like this game quite a bit and want to start aggressively increasing the difficulty. BRING ON THE RAGNAROK!
Sunday began with a quick game of Pandemic to teach a boardgame neophyte something she might like. It was a success with the satisfying oohs and aghs when diseases spread and epidemics hit. We won and she had fun. I've never lost on Introductory, but apparently the third player at the table which surprised me.
From there, the newbie left and three more showed up for a five-player game of Dominant Species. I taught, as one of them had played once and the others not at all. We began rules around 9 and started play about 9:30. We ended after 3am and everyone scattered to sleep before work the next day. Epic.
I won Dominant Species for the first time and by a large differential. The others were very close and I would have been in the mix but that one player used a strategy of adding tiles to the board for bonus points in the late game and did it all near me, which gave me a lot of free migration into new areas. That set up a lot of end-game domination/tile scoring.
Doubles Wild 9
Utopian Rummy 3
It was my life, like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was to let it be.
_9.5 _Earth Reborn 2
_7.5_ PAX 2
_7_ Dungeon Petz 1
So my exploration of Earth Reborn continues with two plays this week. The game continues to delight not just me but my weekly ER partner, C, who is as much on board with this game as I am. It has grabbed us both by the imagination and is only squeezing tighter. The phrase "an investment in excellence" has been banging around in my skull to describe the process of learning the game through the programmed instruction scenarios. There's no question that the game requires a commitment of regular play to learn and grok the rules. We've made it through scenario 5 with the goal of getting through all learning scenarios (9 of them) such that we can play the full game. I can see how this process might be a barrier to entry for a lot of people but the reward has been absolutely great. The game has delivered so far in terms of excitement, tension, balance, and theme. I'll write notes on the game for those who are interested in that and then notes on the sessions which I think is of interest to only a few people.
Notes on the Game
You use "order tiles" to assign to your characters which give them up to 4 different actions (orders) they can take. They can take as many orders when they're activated as they're allowed (each character has an action point limit per turn). These order tiles basically serve as cards in a CDG in that they give you multiple uses, may limit what you can do, and create a "fog of actions" in that you don't know what your opponent is/is not capable of doing next. Each scenario layers in more chrome that -- at least so far -- settles into the framework of play in a complementary and intuitive way. I'm still amazed that the cards and board can appear so arcane with icons yet once you learn the iconographic system, it feels like it couldn't be simpler. I'm keeping the game at a 9.5 for now b/c I still need to see if the additional layers of rules chrome that are coming will continue to add depth without overloading the game. I doubt it based on what I've read from others on BGG but I need to see for myself.
But what makes this game shine is the gameplay. It tells an exciting story while offering rich decisions from turn to turn and giving you different ways to go about your business. As a contrast, I love Last Night on Earth b/c of how it plays as a zombie movie and the thematic experience it renders, however, I can't argue that the game offers great decisions. It's shallow in that regard but I tolerate that for the end result. ER offers me both. After each play we have to excitedly debrief each other both in terms of how we were managing our action points and using the rules to our advantage as well as thematically what we were trying to do: I interrupted you to try and bleed you of action points so you'd have less to use for movement b/c I wanted to bring Hollister and a Zombie over to trap Vazquez and finish her off. Letting her get away was my mistake and it cost me the game!
[Random Aside #1:] I believe the designer made tiles instead of cards simply for practical reason (ie, table space) but had he used cards, I believe people would take to this game even more. OK, I just checked and it's ranked #35 so how much more could people like it? Well, my "#1 Rule of Boardgame Design" is that people LOVE cards. Give them cards in their hand to manage and they go nuts; put tiles on the table and it's not as exciting.
[Random Aside #2:] I can't help but want to compare this and Mage Knight in that they're both excellent games that require investment by players but offer a rich gaming experience in different ways. One way that ER clearly outdoes MK is in how smoothly it plays. MK offers the wonderfully complex card puzzles that, while much fun, can slow the game down and put a kink in the flow. ER flows like melted butter such that the tension of "what's gonna happen next? omg!" is constantly ON. The die rolls add an element of uncertainty and can help balance things out while providing a natural stopping point for how much a player can plan his turn which keeps things moving.
Notes on the Sessions
Plot: The NORAD commando team of Bolter, Vazquez, and Woo enter the lightly defended Salemite compound to grab as many valuable items as they can. Shutting down the generator would help as well b/c the Salemites want to initiate the launch sequence for the missiles they have aimed at a NORAD facility (plus it unlocks all doors).
Rules introduced: Searching for items, Spy Points, Mission/Morale Points
The first play was marred by some rules misses and I (Salemites) ended up winning in a walkover, however, the second session was epic (a word I probably overuse when relating my plays of this game but it applies). As the Salemites, I decided to lock down the generator so that NORAD couldn't turn off the power as in doing so shut off the missile launch as well as unlocked all doors. Jeff Deeler searched and found the land mines, ran over to the generator and placed one there. Any character activating would have to withstand an attack of six dice (pretty big in this game). Mission accomplished as NORAD stayed the hell away.
Prof. Kendall found the zombie serum and created a zombie which helped to kill James Woo. Jessica Hollister actually did the coup de grace and we like to think there's this sexual tension b/w her and Nick Bolter so she cut off Woo's head to show Nick when she eventually caught up with him (violence is their way of flirting... well, hers anyway. She's wacked). The zombie then attacked and wounded Vazquez. It was all going the Salemites' way but I got cocky and started playing a little sloppy.
First, I left the zombie in a vulnerable place and my opponent ran Bolter over to it (damn Bolter has 7 CPs per turn and can cover some ground!) and wounded it. Vazquez was then able to run free while Bolter finished off the zombie. Also, I left the goddamn jet pack on the floor for Bolter to pick up. I forgot that it was worth VPs to NORAD as well as being extremely annoying b/c you can't block the jet pack. I ran Hollister over to the missles instead of staying to control/kill Vazquez and this turned out to be a fateful decision. Jessica was unable to activate the missiles (worth 10VP to me) and was now too far away to be of any help.
Vazquez and Bolter both searched successfully and found VP items. Only had to run to freedom now. I had one more chance -- if I could kill Vazquez I'd get 5VP as well as stop her from delivering the VP items for NORAD. Deeler searched and found a bazooka. Time to go hunting. He fired at her over two turns and came within 2 hits of killing her. As it was, she was severely wounded but alive. She ran off the board first. Next, Hollister came running back from the faraway missile room to stop Bolter but -- goddamn that jet pack! -- Bolter flew over her while blowing her a kiss saying, "See ya next time, baby!" Note to self: do not let NORAD get that damn jet pack again!
The mission points are great in that they offer goals beyond just killing one another and they fit in thematically to the scenario plot. The search rules are brilliant in that you have to be in the right type of room to find equipment/weapons and each item has a "find" cost. So you won't find a weapon in a science room nor the wiring plans in the bathroom, and when you find something, you have to have enough "find points" to take it. The search deck always reveals the top item available which creates some wonderful tension when you see something you both want. Mission points double as both VPs and special morale points that can be spent on character special actions (coming up in the next scenario), so you have to choose b/w conserving VPs and using them to take powerful special actions. We don't interrupt often each other often but it's very interesting when we do b/c sometimes we'll use it just to bleed the other of action points and other times it's quite serious as the winner of the duel bid gets to strike first/escape and it's the difference b/w life and death.
Scenario 6 introduces 1) Salemite characters who are actually traitors to NORAD, 2) Radio Scrambling, 3) Character Special Abilities. Radio scrambling means you've tapped into your opponent's radio frequencies and hampers their ability to act. Of all the rules, this is the one I'm least excited about. I'm afraid it will prove to be too annoying (limits character APs) and fiddly (have to keep track of those limitations for each character).
Dungeon Petz is a keeper for now as it's certainly different from the other games I have, but it's not going to be a favorite of mine. My group was excited about it, however, and want to play it again soon. I need another play to ascertain my thoughts, so here are my first-play bullet points:
Pro: I really enjoyed the management of needs and using my cards, artifacts, and cages to deal with circumstances. Having the freedom to move pets around the cages from turn to turn gave me the latitude I wanted and I'm glad the rules allowed for it. The pet theme is cute and provides for some humor during the game.
Neutral: I'm not a fan of blind-bidding in general but I was happy to find I wasn't really bothered by it. Sure there was the occasional "oh, I guess I should've bid higher, now I've wasted my turn order advantage" result, but I enjoyed the tension (which I always value highly) in creating your work groups. All in all it netted out to neutral.
Con: The part that I found annoying was the transparent action values that you can compute. Towards the end of the game, I felt forced to either calculate how many points doing A vs B vs doing nothing is or else I'm conceding points to my opponents, e.g., 1.5 points vs 1 point vs 2 points vs keep the guys home to get gold which will be worth a half point each so... This slows the game down and isn't very exciting to me though I know other people love this type of computational competition. This was particularly pronounced in relation to the last two exhibitions -- I could've spent time deciding how best to use my last turn in preparation for them but just said the heck with it. I ended up coming in last in one and first in the other but with excess points that could've been balanced to the exhibition where I came in last had I spent the time.
I ended up winning the game by one point thanks to a buyer who matched my pet for 18 points but I'm not sure yet how much of that was planning and how much was serendipity. Ultimately it becomes a game that happens primarily in each player's head rather than on the board as you're competing to see if you can out-do each other in the solution to your individual puzzles. If it turns out that the result of all that puzzling is too dependent on the cards and buyer tiles, my enthusiasm will drastically wane.
PAX was bought at the recommendation of
and I'm happy to report it did not disappoint. It's from the designer of Peloppones and is similar to Scripts and Scribes in the way you draw and assign three cards (though you can acquire a power to allow you to draw all three at once). The interesting dynamic is how you play against Rome as well as against each other. There are two sets of victory conditions, one for when Rome wins and one for when the players beat Rome. Only two 2P games in so more to explore here as far as variability and player counts but the first impression is good. Dave, I see you played this but I missed your report last fall when I was away from BGG a bit.
"L'état, c'est moi."
Roger's Reviews: check out my reviews page, right here on BGG!
Caution: May contain wargame like substance
This is the week that was:
San Juan 3
I'm typing this on my iPhone from the Sun Peaks ski resort where I've been since Thursday. We're heading back today. My experience as a seasoned indoorsman has been handy as I've been suffering from the worst cold I've had in a very long time. The old adage is true - treat a cold and it will last 7 days; untreated it'll last about a week. With 18 people at the chalet, myself included, it's been a very pleasant convalescence.
Dist of Columbia
Dist of Columbia
.10! Twilight Struggle
_8_ Planet Steam
_6_ Hansa New!
_5_ Stronghold New!
_4_ Power Grid: The First Sparks New!
A lot of new stuff this week, though not a lot that particularly endeared me to it. Planet Steam solidified itself as an 8 on a second play; Hansa proved to be an entertaining minimalist two-player dance; and I simply struggled to wrap my head around Stronghold's strategy.
Power Grid: The First Sparks - Power Grid: The First Sparks was easily the most disappointing of the new games played. The game follows the general Power Grid: Buy technologies that produce a currency, spend the currency on expanding your network and on buying new technologies that produce more currency to further expand your network, etc. The auction mechanic has been streamlined, which I consider to be a large plus, but the remainder of the game was simply too wide open and lacking tension. It is almost purely a race game, with little significance to turn order posturing and no resource scarcity to speak of. We played with six players, which I had hoped would create a tight, brutal game. Instead, currency was abundant and the essence of the winning strategy was simply to maximize net income each turn (I won, for what it's worth).
Board Game: Mondo
[Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:972]
Nicolai Broen Thorning
Games Played Week 8:
2x The City
1x By Golly!
1x Glen More
1x Ticket to Ride: Europe
Game of Choice:
Mondo proved to be a very pleasing game, functional graphics, interesting gameplay (only the base game played) and lots of fun building your little world. I was hopelessly behind after the first round (21 points on V.) but ended winning the game with 44 points in the last round, 1 ahead of M.!
E. surprised us all by creating the near-perfect world on the last round with a lot of different small islands. I think this could be fun.
The Week in Gaming:
We began the week with a very competitive game of Ticket to Ride: Europe with B. in which I won, but had the game lasted another round there was every chance that B. would have nicked it.
Tuesday saw us split a double session of The City. Still a fun game, very quick and easy to pick up.
Otherwise this week has been in the name of Innovation. A double session on Wednesday and then a game on Saturday, all fairly quick games, with one of us in the driving seat. Today was a 1-hour seesaw ride back and forth. I thought I had the upper hand (though down in achievements) but then V. used Mass Media to clean all my 7's from my score pile and I was on the back-foot then. She duly won the game, even if I was in the 10's and she only at 8.
A quick game of Glen More (25 min) saw me hammer V. by 58-32 points. It was great to come out ahead again in that game, though I did get a great distribution of tiles.
Today we have played a number of games with the kids. The above mentioned choice of the week - and then while V. was preparing the dinner, I was hammered in By Golly! and following that also Saboteur - great fun though, especially seeing E. win the first game of memory just ahead of her brother.
The Week Ahead:
Gaming planned all week, before a concert (and Ikea visit) Saturday and Au Revour day with V. on Sunday. She is leaving next Monday for a 12 day stay in Holland on school business.
Powers:Coleridge:Milton: Faith...must be, if anything, a clear-eyed recognition of the patterns and tendencies, to be found in every piece of the world's fabric, which are the lineaments of God.
That's Tim Powers' fictional Samuel Coleridge "quoting" John Milton in _The Anubis Gates_.
Scorecard for the Week/Month/Year as of 25Feb2012:
10/41/70 plays of 6/26/42 total games, with 2/7/9 expansions employed.
Plays with 16/33/51 distinct opponents.
0/1/3 games acquired (plus 0/0/1 expansions.)
With son #2:
1x _7.3_ Phoenicia - He wasn't impressed - in comparison, at least, with Outpost. He found Outpost distinctly easier and clearer - and I suspect he enjoyed the nice space theme better, too.
1x _7.3_ Innovation with Echoes of the Past - We'd not played yet this year, so it was fun to get it back to the table. Definitely a nice 2p game, even if I'm still a bit dubious about the everone-for-themselves 4p version.
1x _8_ Outpost - And both of Jon's boys and JC's younger son. Not entirely surprisingly, the youngsters aren't (yet) quite as skilled at the game as Aliza is. I think the youngsters enjoyed themselves, though: they're fun.
With the I've been Diced! guys:
1x _6.7_ The End of the Triumvirate - Provoked by the recent podcast on "3-player games": this was a suggestion from a listener. It's quite cool - though very distinctly abstract (rather than a thematic Roman romp, like The Republic of Rome. Even PAX has more Roman theme.)
1x _8_ Poseidon - We were tempted by 1830: Railways & Robber Barons, but (in the end) decided to go with something shorter for reasons of time. I think we got it mostly right: the chances of working toward that "real" 18xx title is pretty high in the medium term.
With the no-longer-on-Fridays gang:
1x _7.3_ Phoenicia - They did better than son #2 - but not by a huge margin. They were a lot more enthusiastic about the experience, though. Phoenicia is hard. It's not an easy thing to play the first time out.
With folk at BAP including Jon & Aliza:
1x _8_ Outpost - Jon's reported on this one already. It was interesting: there were a few different patterns visible than I'd previously seen. I think I like the fact that when one loses at Outpost it's possible to (delusionally) blame the card draw: "If only I'd drawn roughly-median cards, I might have been a contender", or so.
1x _7.7_ Peloponnes plus Expansion - No Jon for this game - he was playing Antiquity. I really like this one - despite the fact that it takes nearly as long (for me) to explain as to play. While I still really enjoy the 9th turn tiles (from the 2nd expansion) and the alternate strategies they permit, this was still cool - and didn't feel like an incomplete experience.
Owned-and-unplayed: 22 (No change this week. I taunted Aliza with Greed Incorporated and JC with Confucius unsuccessfully. Things will go up next week, though.)
Outlook for the week: A game order arrives from Boards&Bits. Amongst other things, it'll contain my copies of Ora et Labora, The Castles of Burgundy and Outpost - the latter of which son #2 is eagerly anticipating.
“Brothers, oh brothers, my days here are done, the Dornishman’s taken my life, But what does it matter, for all men must die, and I’ve tasted the Dornishman’s wife!”
"Oak and iron guard me well, or else I'm dead and doomed to hell." - Andal proverb.
Ascension: Chronicle of the Godlsayer + RotF (40)
As you can see, I've had an amazingly diverse gaming week.
At least I have Mage Knight to look forward to this coming Wednesday. The only real thing of note is that I received most of the available Ascension promos in the mail. I made proxies for the ones I don't have. I'm wondering if I should add them into Storm of Souls or wait until CotG shows up in the mail and add them to the first block. Hopefully I'll be able to get more than one game day in this week but I'm not sure.
Last Will x3
Mage Knight: Board Game x1
Although I played Last Will three times this weekend, there's something that keeps me coming back to Prêt-à-Porter. I still think there is a serious runaway leader problem with two-players (if not more), that's fine. S or I will now just concede when it's obvious that there's no catching up.
It's hard to say exactly why I enjoy Last Will.
Perhaps it's because my wife wins far more frequently than I - so obviously there is room for me to improve.
It's a simple enough game (except some cards can get confusing in certain situations).
It allows for some long term strategies given you know what each fashion show requires from the outset, but there is randomness in the way the cards come out so that you have to adapt to the cards that you have.
There's some tension in the first few months as to whether you'll be able to make it to the first show without going into debt and there's the constant struggle as to whether to spend/invest or hold back and take less risk.
Overall, I think it sits just in that sweet spot where it's a medium weight game with just enough to elements to make it feel heavy without really being heavy.
The Week in Review
Monday was yet another defeat at Last Will. Tuesday, I played a solo of Mage Knight Board Game, which did more to increase my curiosity in Magic Realm than make me want to play Mage Knight solo again. Afterwards, I started reading the "Plain English" rules for Magic Realm. I don't know if I'll actually sit down and play it again; I may just play in on the PC using Realm Speak instead. Or just let the urge pass altogether.
Wednesday, Last Will and Upon a Salty Ocean arrived, but work for both S and I was draining so it wasn't until Saturday that we looked at even one of them. Three games of Last Will later, I can see this game being an "evening filler" for S and I. Something along the same lines as London or Loyang. It takes about the same amount of time, requires hand management, and is a bit puzzle like. My only complaint is that I don't find spending money like a drunken sailor that fun.
The Week Ahead
I'd like to give Upon a Salty Ocean a play or two, but I won't be crushed if it stays in shrink another week while we play some of the other games that we've (okay, I've) bought in 2012.
At this point, I'm not sure my little jaunt up to the university to check out what's been going on with the game's club (of which I was a regular member for about a decade) will amount to anything. It was impressive to see a large battle in 28mm Napoleonics happening - something I tried to get going up there, but no one would commit to Napoleonic in 28s back in the late '80s. Not that it seems to have changed that much since all the troops used today were supplied by one guy.
Anyway, we'll see what happens in the coming weeks.
Upon a Salty Ocean x 2
Race for the Galaxy x 2
The Castles of Burgundy x 1
Kingdom Builder x 1
Pandemic x 1
Innovation x 3
Magnate x 1
A Few Acres of Snow x 2
Ascending Empires x 1
Container x 1
Parade x 1
Upon a Salty Ocean gets the nod this week as representative game, more for excitement for the future than anything. Kat and I like it well enough as a 2-player game, but I'm curious if it's as tense and interesting with 4 as I think it is.
Kat and I continue to enjoy Castles of Burgundy. It's a by-the-numbers eurogame, and I don't mean that as a bad thing. The aesthetics, level of decisions and interaction all fit the playing time just about right, and it all works for us. I get why people dislike Feld and find his stuff soulless and empty, but his games work for the wife and I.
I suggested A Few Acres of Snow and Kat got into it, so we played it again the next day while it was still fresh. The second play was frustrating for her - I used my reserve and my Governor a lot to keep my deck thin, and she did not. I also raided her quite a bit. By the latter half of the game her deck was large and unwieldy, and by that point it was too late to do much about it. The biggest adjustment in A Few Acres of Snow for fans of deckbuilding games is that you don't cycle through your deck quickly. I think we'll continue to play this one. We've been playing with the rules as written. I think the fixes for the Halifax Hammer may worsen the game experience for those of us who aren't pursuing the broken strategy - that's how it seems anyhow. If he wanted raiding to work that way, he would have written the rules that way in the first place.
Container was wonderful as usual - and Kat played it for the second time. She was competitive and enjoyed the game (she didn't love it, but didn't despise it like her first play either). We had 2 new players at the table, and the economy was tight as people over-invested in infrastructure. I decided to start shipping smaller shipments to combat this. This was after I bought 5 Containers from Luke for $15, then auctioned them off - he won the auction for $6. I realized that the economy was tight and that big shipments weren't the way to go anymore. I fought off the urge to take a loan and keep the containers for myself.
Kat and I played a single round of Parade. I commented that I really liked the game. She commented that she could take it or leave it and that it didn't especially interest her. I guess Parade can take a place on the shelf next to Perry Rhodan and Seeland.
The upcoming week:
Carl recently bought Age of Industry and I got him the expansion maps. I expect he'll be wanting to teach this on Wednesday night, and I've been curious about this one for a while now.
I have Alba Longa and Cavum waiting in the wings to be learned/played. Not sure if it'll happen this week or not. More of A Few Acres of Snow and Castles of Burgundy seems likely. I also ordered a copy of MIL 1049 from Game Surplus yesterday. It was pricey, but it's scarce enough that I won't have a problem moving it if it fails to impress, and it's near the top of my wishlist.
Board Game: Goa
[Average Rating:7.70 Overall Rank:56]
Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan x1
No Retreat! The Russian Front x1
1812: The Invasion of Canada x1
Notre Dame x1
Battle Line x2
Week in Review:
Wargames with Michael
Michael came over on Saturday for an afternoon of war games. We started off with Sekigahara. I played as Tokugowa (black) and he was Ishida (gold). I spent the first two turns heavily recruiting and taking over some recruitment centers on the map to position myself to have the advantage there for further recruitment during the game. By the 3rd turn I had placed every recruited block on the board and was in position both with my blocks on the board and with my hand of cards to launch an aggressive offensive against Ishida.
I had marched a large army north out of Edo and another from Sendai. I started a siege against the castle at Ueda and was able to quickly take that location. My large army that had moved from Sendai to Shirakawa to threaten the castle at Aizu was a bluff as I was weak on cards for those forces. Michael correctly called me on that and moved out to attack. He won but only cost me 1 block of damage.
The next turn I drew heavy into Date cards and was able to strike back at Michael’s army sitting in Shirakawa. Using a loyalty card caused one of his blocks to join my side and as a result I was able to destroy his entire army. That left him with only 1 block in the entire eastern portion of the map. It was running around up by Nigata and I had ran it down with an army from Kanazawa to easily defeat it.
Dominating the east put me up on both castles and recruiting locations. Michael simply couldn’t recover from that and I continued to press the advantage and moved west to pressure him. The game went the distance but by the last turn Ishida was reduced to holding just Kyoto and an army that was at a standoff against me at Hakone. The only chance Ishida had was to kill Tokugowa.
Realizing that, I had started to drop Tokugowa and another block back to the eastern portion of the map with the excuse of securing a vacated castle. I was afraid Michael would guess that I was trying to protect Tokugawa and break his army off from Hakone to try to run my leader down. He failed to see that opportunity. I ended up with a rather decisive victory for Tokugawa.
Next up we decided to give No Retreat a go. Neither one of us had any prior experience with the game so it was very much so a learning game. We played the intro scenario. I was the German side and Michael played as the Russians. The intro scenario is a very quick 5 turn game which simulates the German blitz at the beginning of the war. The Germans push deep into Russia only to realize that they were not going to be able to wrap up the war quite as quickly as they had imagined. It was neat to see how similar our game played out to match that.
On turns 1-3 I went nuts with my German units and pushed clear to Moscow. By turn 4 I was sitting at 27 victory points and holding Moscow. I needed to stay above 23 VP and/or hold Moscow and either Leningrad or Sevastopol. Both of which I was threatening and had under attack. Things looked rather grim for the Russians. However, on turn 5 things took a big turn.
There are weather effects in the game which, at least in the intro scenario, serve to really slow down the Germans and make life difficult. That proved to play a critical role in our game. I had played a card to keep the weather at just winter and not deep winter. That would make my assaults at Leningrad and Sevastopol more likely to succeed. However, Michael played a card to switch the weather back again and I thus faced the deep winter in the last turn. Not good. I ended up just missing out on taking either of the 2 locations I needed to. In addition there was a significant rules clarification that happened on turn 5.
Michael had failed to fully explain the supply rules. Simply an accident on his part that he didn’t realize until it became relevant in our game. Unfortunately that just so happened on the last actions of the game which resulted in 4 of my troops being out of supply. Surprise! I also lost a city that turn which resulted in me dropping below the 23 VP I needed for the win. Ugh!
This game was littered with significant mistakes with the rules. The supply rule being a major one which of course left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth due to the timing of that error. In addition, we found out that Michael was bringing in his reinforcements incorrectly. That gave him a significant advantage as instead of needing to move them into position from the far edge of the map he started out around some of his cities. The last snafu with the rules was in Michael not fully explaining how the Russian reinforcements work. He started bringing a handful of new troops on the board much to my surprise.
Despite the botched rules, I can certainly see the potential of this game. I’m certainly willing to give it another try but before that I’m going to read the rules myself. I’m not sure if it will ever become a favorite wargame for me but I’d probably play it if requested.
We wrapped up our little wargame afternoon with a quick game of 1812: Invasion of Canada. I played as the British/Canadian militia/Native American side with Michael played as the U.S regulars and militia. I happened to draw all 3 of my truce cards by the 2nd turn of the game. As a result I decided to put a major blitz on and try to end the game quickly. On turn 2 I played 2 of my truce cards and was up by about 5 locations.
Michael was just a tad slow in realizing what I was doing. Turn 3 I played my 3rd truce card and pushed my advantage to 7 locations. However, Michael had the last move of the game with the U.S. regulars. He had a move card that allowed him to move 4 armies and he also had a special card that allowed him to take an army that had won a battle and move/battle with them again. That combination allowed him to pull within 3. It actually would have been closer than that if I wouldn’t have used 2 Native American troops to sneak out of battles by using command decisions and take over territory he had vacated.
So I ended up winning at the end of the 3rd turn. I said it was a quick game! That worked out perfectly though with the time Michael had left and it also allowed him to get a feel for the game. He really enjoyed it so I expect it to be hitting the table even more.
I’m really digging our 2P wargame days. Our plan is to next play Washington’s War and Manoeuvre. We are also thinking about trying to dive into playing some using Vassal and Skype for a quick evening game as well every once in a while. Good stuff.
Gaming with Tori
Saturday evening I got in a 2P game of Goa with my wife. It had been a few months since we last played but Tori continued her dominance over me in this one. She ended up beating me by 2 points. It was a wonderful tense, brutal game for the duration. I misplayed the last turn and ended up 1 ship short. If I had it, I would have advanced on my tech tree and gained another 4 VP. Since I didn’t I basically had to waste my last action. I hate it when that happens. It’s like when you drive the lane in basketball only to get out of step and find yourself jumping off the wrong foot. You find yourself in mid movement wondering how in the hell you got yourself into that position and just how awkward it feels. When I explained that to Tori her response was simply to smile at me and said "poor baby."
Sunday morning we dusted of Notre Dame and got in a quick play. This time Tori got herself out of step and ended up with no money twice during the game at key points. Poor baby. We had forgotten how much we enjoyed this one. The card drafting and fighting off the plague makes for some challenging decisions in a very short play time. We agreed that it needs to get a few more plays in soon.
Gaming with Tori and my oldest daughter
Sunday we decided to teach our oldest daughter Scripts and Scribes. She has never played a game with an auction mechanic so this was a big step for her. In the first game she struggled. She got stuck with simply trying to collect a large sum of money but then failed to use it in the auction as she needed to. After the game we talked about auctions and learning to assign value to items based both off of your need and your opponents in a game. Armed with that knowledge she was eager for a 2nd game.
In our 2nd game she played a lot stronger game. She didn’t focus so much on simply acquiring money. The money she did have she was aggressive in going after cards she needed in the auction. Our next lesson is going to be on the value of the Bishop cards. I won the 2nd game on the tie breaker against Tori. I ended up with 1 more dollar than her and thus got the win. Fun game. It’s such a blast to see your kids wrestle with new ideas and then watch the light bulb flickering.
My daughter and I have been playing Carcassonne a lot in the last year. Tori surprised us on Sunday evening by getting it for us on the iPad. We of course had to try it out immediately. Very, very nicely done. I got up this morning at 6 and my daughter was already on the couch playing Carc.
Just one game of Power Grid this week. There were no good garbage/nuclear plants for all of step 1 and step 2, which resulted in the harshest coal/oil market I've seen in the base game. At one point I powered 2 cities on a capacity of 12. Good times. I actually came quite close to winning, but Melissa was able to shut me out of oil and then swoop in herself, with just enough cash to trigger the endgame, even though her capacity was 16.
Also, I decided to change my microbadges after nearly six months. VGG is finally producing some good ones.
Q:When I say "lawyer" what pops into your head? A:Someone who designs games about penguins." - Dormammu
Had two great game nights this week:
1830: Railways & Robber Barons x2
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game x1
eBay Electronic Talking Auction Game x1
The second game of 1830 was a 5-player barn burner. I thought I might finally beat my nemesis, Stephen, but ended up losing by $77 (out of about $8000). Maybe next time!
It was great doing role-playing again, for the first time in about 5 years. This time, in a faux ancient Egyptian setting (Osirion), I'm playing a flat-broke elven wizard with a ruinous taste in fine clothes. Small campaign, just me and my buddy the pike-wielding half-orc cavalier with a camel for a mount - and the GM.
Almost survived in Space Alert. Maybe one of these days we'll actually make it through a mission. Of course, we set it to the highest difficulty, so it might take a while.
eBay Electronic Talking Auction Game is a game I picked up years ago at a discount bin. It's frenetic and there's a fair amount of luck, but a great way to spend twenty minutes. The rules are simple: Each player has the same number of bid cards, from $10 to $300, with a "proxy" card that overplays any other card (including another proxy). Three items are always up for bid. The items have various colors, and if you end up with at least 3 of one color, you get double value for that those items at the end of the game. The key to the fun is that the computer voice randomly sets the bid order, so you never you exactly when you'll get to bid AND you never know when bidding will end on a particular item - the computer will simply say "Item 3 sold to the blue player." Everyone who placed a losing bid gets their cards back to use on another auction. Thirty items are placed up for bid in about twenty minutes. After bidding ends, you look at the values on your cards - each card will usually be between about half the estimated value to twice its value. Despite the obvious luck elements of the game, there's plenty of player control for my taste, and it always ends up a rollicking good time.
Last week in gaming
Container x 1
Dixit x 1
Glory to Rome x 2
Carson City x1
I am late to the party, but better to be late than never; last week already seems a long time ago.
I already talked about our game of Container, and briefly also about Dixit. One unfair advantage gamers can have if some players saw a movie that other did not or read a book other did not, and the leader says a sentence/phrase based on that. But this does not overshadow the fact that Dixit is a great game, and the artwork is so beautiful.
Our second game of GtR was a lot of fun as we all tried our best to get the best condos and most points in the Vault. Till the end of the game we were not sure of who won.
I received Strasbourg, Last Will, Piece ' Cake and Palasgefluster, but we opened and played only Piece o Cake, a cute game. I also showed it to my Grade 1 students in my school age program, they loved it.
_7_ Discworld: Ankh-Morpork x1
I'm just in from seeing Zoe (eldest) in a pair of one act plays & late dinner with her & her boyfriend, so a nice night out.
I got Onirim to mind the gap between the quotidian and what-could-be.
Tomorrow two books arrive associated with gaming:
Hideyoshi is the choice of sifting through books covering Japan at the time of Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan. Thanks to Michael for helping on our GCL, and DJ with GMs, both supportive for the hunt of a text to flesh out the events & people simulated.
Also coming is Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. I tripped over this in a lateral drift informed by re-reading Light by M. John Harrison (I'm thinking he may be the best pure writer in SF alongside Gene Wolfe) which uses dice & cards as core obsessions that accrue use and meaning outside of the gameboard, snatches of this weeks postings by ya'll that I was too busy to jump into (oh, bite my tongue!), and the kind of intense contemplation of gaming one does when one is not gaming a hell of alot. Anyway, it's a 600 page tome put out by MIT Press that has a go at structuring a theory of gaming. And I don't mean just video games as a focus - board games are a prime focus. If you're curious, take a look at the book using the 'peek inside' tool on Amazon. I'm hoping this can give my undisciplined & impressionistic experiences in gaming some language & theory. Cause I just swing that way I suppose.
Thanks to all your reports of what you're reading, and suggestions. You too Tim. All of your recommendations are on my short list. I like when these influences seep into our gaming rants.
Discworld went very well again at the family table.
I also ordered out the final wood bits to finally make Neue Heimat. It's nice to be coming out of a winters-long depression, really, and feel the urge to make stuff again. I am not one who has much experience with depression & it's loss of energy, so it's nice to be getting the ya-ya's back.
I'll catch up to all your hard work in this week's list before the weeks over. I wish I could stir things up at mid-week Mike, but I'm far too tired & contemplative these last few days and another big (non-gaming) weekend looms as Logan travels into town for a few days.
(Thanks Dave. It was cool to use the paintbrush).